AAR Pat McNamara 2 Day TAPS (VMI-MO-10)

Pat McNamara 2 Day Tactical Application of Practical Shooting
From VMI-MO-10 on Lightfighter.net.

Instructor: This was Pat’s first open enrollment course and he set the bar very high for himself. There are several things that make Pat an outstanding instructor. First is his demeanor. He is approachable, easy going, funny however he is very intense and loves what he does. I felt comfortable just shooting the shit with him on down time or asking him what I was messing up. Next is his diagnostic ability. He can look at your performance and tell you exact details of things you are doing wrong, what the cause of something is, and how to be more efficient or improve. Another aspect of Pat’s style that I got a lot out of was his ability to give you the “why” behind things. He walks you through a technique or procedure telling you how it can be done. Then he tells you the why it is done that way. He demonstrates the real world necessity for what he teaches. This allowed me to grasp in much greater detail everything that he taught. The final aspect that made Pat an outstanding instructor is that he is just a good guy. On day 1 most shooters shot over the expected round count for pistol. On day 2 Pat still wanted to shoot some pistol drills, so he brought in 9mm and 45acp and it was open to who ever needed it. He also brought coffee and Gatorade for the students each morning.

Pat going over pistol:

Grey Group: These guys are great. If you needed help on anything from a place to watch the superbowl, to getting some gear, or getting some ammo these guys were always willing and able to help you. I only saw a small glimpse of what they do and really have developed an appreciation for how they run.

Class Conduct:
The first thing Pat did was give us his version of a safety brief. His brief is similar yet totally different from the stereotypical “4 safety rules of treat never keep keep”. His safety brief applies to more than just the administrative side of a live fire range. His rules span from the firing line to the line of departure . He explained the why behind his thought process and it led to a very “ahh that makes sense” or “why didn’t I ever think that way” experience for me.

This course started out with rifle and BRM type work. Shooting from the 50m and 100m. Pat wanted students to focus on getting a solid zero and working any kinks they might have. He would occasionally pull shooters in and in part some wisdom or the “why” behind what we were doing. He kept an eye on shooters throughout this process both on the firing and target line and addressed any individual problems students might be having. We finished on rifles with a competition round where some awards were presented.

After a solid morning of rifle we moved over to the pistol range. There Pat raised the point of “training like you fight”. He discussed how it is not always necessary for training to suck and how sometimes you need to get away from the mindset that you must do everything in armor. Pat Stated rather than “training like you fight” you should “train for a fight”.

We shot a variety of pistol drills. Some were accuracy heavy, others were speed, some were a combination. One common theme was that you must be accountable for every shot you fire. We culminated the pistol work with another competition and then Pat gave us the “why” for what we had worked on all that day.

Day 2 started out with the safety brief again. However some of the points were further elaborated on and more information was given to further encourage each student to think about what was being said and digest it.

Barrier work:

We moved into rifle work around barricades. Pat demonstrated various methods of accomplishing different tasks and allowed shooters to do learning on their own on barricades. Pat would address individual issues or bring the class in too address larger points.

Everyone has a bad day:

We culminated the morning with the Scrambler drill. This drill is a very solid tool. It is ambiguous in nature and forces the shooter to think, problem solve and display a sense of tactical awareness. I am not going to spell it out because it will defeat some of its purpose.

The Scrambler:

We moved back to the pistol range after lunch and worked a variety of drills. Some required speed, others accuracy. But all of them demanded accountability for every shot fired, were ambiguous in nature and forced the shooter to think and problem solve. We ended with a walk back drill and once again brought it in to discuss the “why” of everything that we had done.

Random light bulbs

Belt set up: VTAC Brokos belt with a single bladetech AR mag pouch, a 8cell GP pouch and Safariland holster. I understand and want to utilize the concept of removing weight from my shoulders and placing it on my hips. For static range stuff a belt seems fine. However when I start to move, jump, climb, duck the belt seems to become more of a hassle. It rides up sinks down etc. I am not giving up on it yet and like I said I want it to work, I just have not been successful so far with my body type.

Turning the map around: It seems a lot of shooters train and train something, and analyze it from their point of view however fail to look at it from the eyes of the enemy. Ultimately they (the enemy) has the final say on if your TTP is efficient/effective enough. This really brought out some glaring problems with the current way I have trained and exposed some severe weaknesses. I am now going to have to rework the way I approach and problem solve things and ensure I look at what I am doing from the “down range” perspective.

Thinking and shooting: The drills shot were typically ambiguous and required quick thinking and problem solving. There was no point system. Drills were either a go or a no go. This allowed shooters to use what they were good at in different ways to solve the task at hand. Seeing how other shooters problem solve and move on was very beneficial and caused a huge amount of information flow among students. Mission, ROE, execution. Everything in-between is up to you.

Fail fast: everyone knows failure/shit happens. We can try to mitigate it but it happens. So in order to get shit done in an environment where failure is going to happen we must learn to fail fast. You fail at something and you immediately move past to remedy and fix the situation. You cannot afford to stop and dwell on it, you must figure out an alternate COA and jog on.

Understanding target dimensions: One of Pats safety rules is understand your targets foreground, back ground and flanks. You must develop the ability to look at your target and know where the bullet is coming from, where it is going, and what it is going to hit if I miss or it goes through the target. We had a specific drill that looked like a gang bang of IPSC targets 5-10m in front of the shooter. The shooter had to engage the targets in a sequential order. Each target could only have one hole in at the completion of the drill. Because of the gang-bangness of the targets the shooter was forced to move and look for different angles to engage the targets to ensure a surrounding target was not hit once the round had passed through the intended target. This was another example of forcing shooters to think and execute under time constraints.

Multiple Skill encompassing: Some course work on speed, some on accuracy. This course worked on both. It required a fast trigger sometimes. Other times it required slow fire. This allowed each shooter to do what they are comfortable with, but also pushed them to strengthen their “total shooter ability”. With all drills however there was strict accountability of all rounds fired.

Location: This class was taught at Trigger Time in Carthage, NC. This was a great range. No unwanted people came strolling in. The range was setup very well to allow students to work out of their vehicles.

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