Sunday, March 25, 2012

Failure2Stop 2 Day Practical Carbine Course Review

  I first met Jack Leuba/"Failure2Stop" during my first formal (non military) pistol training class, Todd Green's August 2009 Aim Fast Hit Fast (commonly known as "AFHF" and highly recommended) class  (my review here).  I was near the bottom end of that class due to lack of experience and training and shooter fatigue on account of my gunshot elbow.  I remember watching in awe as Jack showed up, fresh from his tour training the Royal Marines and Royal Army for the British Ministry of Defence in CQB and small arms (rifles and handguns) and he proceeded to shoot sub 6 second FAST drills with a stock Glock 19 he hadn't shot in over a year's time.  Jack went on to be the class's top shooter and gave the most memorable speech on why you need to search and assess after a combative or defensive shooting.  More on that later in this review.

  After that forming AFHF class, Jack continued to train the Royal Marines and Royal Army on behalf of the US Marines, giving them the benefit of his combat proven small expertise.  Then he took a Marine infantry platoon to Afghanistan.  Once he got back from his second combat tour, this Bronze Star caught up with him.

  Jack is now out of the Marine Corps and currently running a business with another US Marine, running open enrollment pistol and carbine training classes.  His classes are neither basic nor advanced but practical.  As defined as taking you and your weapon of choice to your practical limits in accuracy and speed.  This may confound those that pride themselves on taking "advanced" classes but speaking as the graduate of multiple advanced courses; fear not, this training will challenge you.  It pushed my accuracy and speed and my endurance.

  The F2S Practical Carbine class I attended was on February 25-26th in Highview, West Virginia.  The range was simply outstanding.  Steel targets and even old cars were placed as targets from 150 to 300 yards.  Remote and in beautiful country, the range did not disappoint.

  The first day was.....cold.  The temperature never got above 30 degrees.  Snow fell constantly and the wind never seems to stop blowing.  The layers started accumulating on the students and speaking for myself as I've learned the hard way in the Corps, environmental factors change.....everything.  Weapons manipulations, rate at which one grasped the knowledge the instructor presented, everything is changed.  My fellow students were a solid mix of active duty military, competitive shooter, government employee, full time law enforcement officer, and armed citizen.  Rifles were uniformly AR15s of varying configurations with the exception of one 5.56mm FN SCAR which performed flawlessly and was ran in an admirable manner by its owner.

  The day began with the mandatory "about me" speech by Jack and his partner Chris, coupled with the mandatory safety lecture and a presentation followed by practical application on weapons and gear manipulations.  As we proceeded to zero our rifles, the snow began to fall.

  We started zeroing with iron sights.  F2S Consulting teaches that one does not have to follow the maxim of one must master irons before moving on to magnified optics and/or RDS (red dot sights) but all that being said, a shooter should know how to use iron sights in addition to the far preferable RDS and should always have their iron sights properly zeroed.  "Properly zeroed" when in this class means "zeroed for point of aim, point of impact at 100 meters,"  as F2S Consulting advocates the 100 meter zero as justified below in a follow up email from Jack:

When the optic is adjusted to place point of impact at the point of aim at 100 meters it greatly simplifies close-range engagements. The trajectory of the bullet will never rise higher than the line of sight, and the path from muzzle to the zero distance will be "flatter" than any other zeroing scheme. What this means to the shooter is that hold-overs for close range shots will be more similar across more distances than any other trajectory. The differences in trajectory are lost on many that do not adhere to high precision standards. Hitting an 8" circle with consistency at 3 to 25 meters is not difficult; hitting a 3" circle across that range spectrum is a bit more technical in nature. The ability to consistently hit that 3" circle is heavily dependant on the shooter being intimately familiar with the amount of hold-over his sights require to place the shot where he wants it. A good shooter that knows his hold-overs will be able to achieve those hits, regardless of zeroing method. The 100 meter zero enables the shooter to use more broadly defined hold-overs with a lower necessity to accurately gauge distance.

  After confirming our zeroes on both iron and red dot sight and running a 100-75-50-25 meter aggregate test; we moved onto something designed to get the blood flowing and of course, build a foundation for learning and refining of other skills to be used throughout the next two days.  The proper aggressive stance for standing carbine shooting.  Designed to negate recoil and to provide a solid, repeatable platform for fast, accurate follow up shots; we learned that stance inside and out, weak hand and strong hand, even one-handed.

  Learning the stance naturally transitioned us into presentations; a key to doing well (read passing) at this course's very high timed and graded tests.  Presentations.  As Jack personally corrected me:

Snap the barrel up.  Drive the rifle.  Don't swing it up into your focus; SNAP it up.  Force your grip and thumb up against your deployed front sight for an index point.  Push with your support hand, pull with your strong hand, and stretch that rifle into a proper grip and stance.

  We spent the rest of TD1 (Training Day 1) working on our stance, presentation, multiple shot strings, shooting on the move, and more support side/weak hand shooting.  The way the material presented and the constant repetition made me shoot better from my left side than I had ever thought possible.  It was a day when many mental "clicks" occurred within my head and learning took place.

  Towards the end of the sunlight, we began our lowlight shooting lecture.  Unfortunately, the temperature was dipping towards 20 degrees and I had a two hour drive home to get to a Belgian Malinois who needed feeding waiting upon me so I had to bow out of the night shoot.  For more on the night shoot and an excellent writeup on this class by a fellow student, click here.


TD2 was thankfully much warmer.  The absence of snivel gear and gloves reduces shooter fatigue, allowing for more learning to occur.  A trend that began during the high round count (over 1k rounds shot!) TD1 continued:  weapons malfunctions.  A 14.5 Bravo Company mid length with the VLTOR A5 buffer would not run reliably with Wolf ammo.  After the course, the problem was diagnosed as a buffer weight problem.   During the course, repeated dousings with the light weight bicycle lube TriFlow kept the weapon running well enough to train with.  The owner reduced the buffer weight and the problems went away.  A very nicely anodized tan DPMS ran terribly throughout the entire course, prompting the owner to borrow another student's spare rifle in order to get a good run at the graded drills.  Another DPMS carbine with a BCM BCG (Bravo Company Manufacturing bolt carrier group, great kit) ran poorly until a new buffer spring (courtesy of the training cadre) was installed, bringing it back to 100% reliable performance.

  I myself, had a tough time getting my 5.45 S&W AR on steel at 300 due to the impact area being wet and therefore not providing a dust cloud as to ascertain where my rounds were impacting.  With a little help from Chris of F2S Consulting, I got on target and had no more issues.  However, given this rifle's previous performance at 300 yards, I'm began to wonder if I'm getting close to wearing out my second 5.45x39mm AR barrel......

   All of that being said, guess what?  The aforementioned problem carbines had ran fine at the range before training.  Training is where you find out what really works and that your pet weapon that fires "500 flawless rounds a year" really does have problems that need to be rectified.  I personally had no problems except for newer manufacture C-Products mags (glossy black) that simply would need feed reliably.  Moving those out of my rotation and depending on ASC and older manufacture C-Products mags kept my 5.45 S&W M&P15R AR running like a trusty Gen3 Glock.  As the day went on, I realized that I had forgotten to resupply with a fresh tin of 5.45 ammo.  Fortunately, I had brought my Sabre/Bravo company 5.56mm mid-length rifle for backup in case of mine or a classmate's equipment failure.  You might remember said rifle from this blog post.

  Obviously, this class was an excellent opportunity to see if the weapon could be run hard reliably.  It.  Did.  Not.  Disappoint.  I shot it all day in very high round count drills, using a mixture of brass and steel cased ammo with not one problem (the internet fun forums are rife with warnings not to do this).  I used a mix of Tango Down (these worked perfectly, FYI), older Lancer, USGI, PMags, and Troy magazines.  No problems.  I am very pleased with this rifle's performance and extremely happy with the Aimpoint PRO red dot sight.


  After banging on steel at 200 and 300 meters, we moved onto working the sitting and kneeling positions with appropriate drills after each lesson.  That's one aspect of this class that always pushed a shooter; the continued tracking of performance.  Several meticulously kept spreadsheets followed each shooter's progress with Jack personally monitoring each shooter's performance and checking progress throughout the course.  Naturally, this culminated in a shooting test at the end of the course.

  TD2 brought about something I had been looking forward since I trained with Jack at Todd Green's AFHF class.  Jack's lecture on the need, the how, and the why to search and assess after actually having to shoot in defense of one's life or in combat is priceless.  It goes something like this:

So, you've just shot someone and contrary to what Hollywood and books make it out to be, you don't have this huge "Oh my god, I just shot someone" moral dilemma going through your mind.  You're feeling a huge rush of just how awesome it is that you fought and won.  But instead of admiring that pretty picture you just painted, you need to do two things:  find cover and find out where your friends are at.  Not just a quick glance as learned in shooting schools but really SEARCH and ASSESS.

  We then moved on to alternative shooting positions, designed to make the most of what cover you have.  Jack spoke at length on how "any cover can and will be come concealment," alluding to the fact that heavy machines guns and mortars had shredded his cover in combat.  Jack pointing out that curling one's body around and behind the wheel of a car provides excellent cover and concealment was an Ah-ha! moment for me in particular.   As we practiced the alternative shooting positions, the gear choice demon reared his ugly head again.

  Muzzle brake equipped rifles were literally digging holes into the wet packed, gravel.  Not to mention that outside of alternative shooting positions, several shooters had to vacate the line when folks with certain muzzle brakes were shooting due to the concussive flash and blast.  It's not hard to imagine how much dust would be thrown up in an arid environment, both obscuring one's view and telling the enemy "shoot here."  Of the muzzle brakes, the lone BattleComp equipped rifle was the least obnoxious.

  Jack had the following to say on muzzle compensators/brakes:

A shooter shouldn't worry about a comp until he can pass a half and half drill on demand.  

Of comps I have used, the battle comp is the best as far as practical application,

 but still will exhibit blast, concussive lateral force,and pushes dirt.

  We then moved onto barricade shooting.  However, this was barricade shooting at steel at distance.  In other words, you couldn't move to the next barricade until you had rang steel at over 150 meters.  More of that performance on demand thing we had been being held accountable to for the past two days....

  After the barricades, we moved back into a redux of our initial performance testing to track our improvements.  My own personal performance at speed improved significantly but my long distance shooting suffered from me having switched rifles and not having my secondary rifle completely zeroed for 100 meters.

  As darkness fell, our performance tests finished up, and our class certificates were handed out.  No emailed certificates for F2S Consulting, these certificates were professionally done.  Which leads me to another aspect of training with F2S Consulting:  logistics.  Everything from directions to the class to Sharpie makers and tape for the targets to on the spot armorer support was there and done before the students knew they needed it.  To put it simply, invisible support is good support.  No one waited on broken targets, staplers, or even a new buffer spring.

  On TD2, we had an observer show up.  Author Stephen Gustav of the book the "Veil War" showed up to grill the instructor cadre's brains on Marine combat veterans and their experiences in Iraq.  He ended up staying all day, taking copious notes, and asking pointed, thoughtful questions.  It was good to seen an author show up and learn from those that had been there and done that.  I believe Stephen will be at an F2S class as a student in the very near future.....

   The atmosphere throughout the course was one of professional, genial enthusiastic training.  The instructor to student ratio was carefully monitored with a 1-6 ratio maintained.  One didn't feel less for not having been in the military or certain military units; the instructors were always willing to stay late and work with the students on anything the students wanted to perfect, and the hard won lessons of combat were translated smoothly into better shooting techniques and habits for military, law enforcement, private contractor, and armed civilian alike.  This is a class for someone wanting to be pushed out of their rut; not for a shooter that wants to shoot a few targets with friends and swap stories.  I have never been pushed so hard in a carbine training class before and I think that statement sends the right message to the right people.  I'll be at another class by F2S Consulting later this year.  See you there.

  Update:  Chris Rhines of the Way of the Multigun posted his AAR here.



  1. Thanks for taking the time to create this write up. My daughter will be shipping out soon to become a Marine MP. I'm saving to buy her a carbine class from Jack and Chris.