AAR Sage Dynamics Vehicle Defense Course June 25 & 26 2016 Eagle Lake, TX (Falcon Tactical)
-Glock 19 with RM06 RMR & X300U
-Glock OEM & Magpul Mags
-JM Custom Kydex Holster
-Persec & BFG mag carriers.
Rounds fired: 387
Weather hot, humid and overcast highs in mid 90s.
We started day one with a safety briefing and learned a little about Aaron’s background. We went over medical plans and range safety rules which basically boiled down to try your best not to be an idiot and there won’t be any problems.
Aaron started out the day explaining the context for this class. He was very clear that for this class we should assume that the car cannot be moved and we are boxed in or otherwise unable to get the car moving. After all, what’s more effective? 147 grains or 19-50 million of them? Obviously if you’re able to, driving away or simply using your vehicle as a weapon would be ideal. But if guns need to come out, this class would make you better prepared for that.
The first topic covered was ballistics and what parts of the car can be used as cover should the need arise. We had two cars to play with for this class. A Grand Marquis and an Explorer. We shot some rounds through various parts of the vehicle and observed how they performed. We shot A, B, C pillars, doors, windows, windshield and body. Even a few through (well, into) the engine block. Both rifle and pistols were fired in this demonstration. It was pretty eye opening to see how much of the car will protect you from rounds. Aaron also had us all shoot about 20 rounds of our carry ammo through various parts just so we’d get an idea of how it performed. The “test” was obviously far from scientific and the “results” would be anecdotal but it definitely had value. Lots of misconceptions were dismissed.
A definition of cover is “anything that will provide protection from rounds for an indeterminate amount of time.” Nothing in this world is permanent cover. Eventually anything can be overcome, but sometimes the only thing you have available to you is the car itself. It’s very usefull to know just what parts of the car can be cover if needed. Yes some of them are small, but cover is cover and a little bit is much better than none at all. Some parts may only be cover for a short period of time, but knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the vehicle can definitely give you an advantage in the event you find yourself fighting from or around a vehicle.
Another topic we went over was how rounds perform when shot through windshields. The deviation was different between loads (as a general rule of thumb heavier bullets tend to have less deviation, which is no surprise) but there was always some degree with the first round fired. After a few rounds going through the same hole the deviation decreases and eventually is non existent. Aaron pointed out that it’s important to resist the natural tendency to change your POA since after a round is fired through a windshield the broken glass somewhat obstructs your vision. Instead keep a consistent POA to keep the bullets impacting where you want them to.
We ran a variety of drills with the windshield still intact. Several targets placed at different positions just to get used to drawing and firing from inside the car. It also gave us a chance to actually put rounds through a windshield which was something I haven’t had the opportunity to do. Through the next few drills the complexity increased. He added verbal cues to the mix where we’d have the targets set up as we previously did, but instead of Aaron just yelling “burn em” or “fire”, Those of us not shooting would act as role players and engage the driver in a dialogue from the passenger side window but it was understood that we were speaking as if we were the target on the driver side. We would engage in conversation and escalate the situation until, through verbal interaction we became a lethal threat. (I have a gun I will kill you, Give me your wallet or I’ll cut you, this is a carjacking get out of the car etc) At that point the shooter would engage the paper target. It added a little more thinking to the mix instead of just drawing and shooting on cue. We’d engage while seated, and then exit make our way to the rear of the vehicle.
Later we added an unarmed passenger to the mix and ran the same scenarios. Aaron went over some considerations for presenting the gun with a passenger in the car and the best ways to get the gun up without muzzling your passenger. Especially when the threat is on the passenger side or at the rear. We also ran drills where the shooter was in the passenger seat just so we could get a feel for shooting from both positions.
The last type of drill we did for the day was the same as we had been doing only instead of the bad guys being right up on our vehicle, they were inside of or taking cover behind another vehicle about 10-15 yards away. There were also innocents or “no shoots” mixed in with several threats so you had to make sure your angles lined up (be aware of your target and what’s beyond) and make sure you didn’t hit an innocent bystander.
In case you didn’t know, Aaron uses 3D targets for almost every drill. It adds another layer of realism to the experience. Obviously there will be training artificialities in any environment but 3D targets help to mitigate some of it. Sometimes the targets would be setup quartering away or showing the profile so it changes the size of the target and also where you need to aim to get quality hits. The “threats” were identified by a cardboard gun or knife attached to the target, I found this drill extremely useful because instead of just responding to a beep from a shot timer and engaging a known target, you’d have to scan, assess and then also make sure any shots you take would not endanger an innocent. Sometimes you could engage from the vehicle but often you’d have to get out of the car and utilize different points of cover to get your hits. It was a good way to practice all the skills that were covered during the day.
Video courtesy of Brushy Creek Custom Guns
Even hotter, humid and bright sun with highs in the mid 90s.
Day 2 was nothing but force on force by the way of simmuntions. For those of you not familiar with simunitions they’re a metallic cartridge with gunpowder and a primer that fire a non-toxic projectile comprised of soap and plastic. Upon impact the round will “splatter” with the colored soap. They travel at around 600 FPS. This isn’t a glorified paintball or airsoft. They are a pretty legit training tool and will leave bruises even with several layers of clothing. What sets apart Sims form airsoft or other lesser training tools is the guns are built identically to a Glock 17 (other models available too). Your mags, holster etc can all be used. Since I carry a Glock daily, this allows me to use a setup nearly identical to mine. The slide reciprocates and there’s a little recoil as well. Granted it’s not a lot but as of right now it’s the closest you can get to actual live fire. What’s really great about these force on force classes is it reduces training artificialities. Obviously some will still exist but simunutions gives you the ability to react in a 3D world with the “targets” shooting back. Add in some innocent bystanders and all of a sudden the training is gaining a lot of realism. Your heart race increases and adrenaline starts pumping. It’s a dynamic environment with moving parts. It’s perfect for having to apply skills that you’ve learned and forces you to make decisions.
We had another quick safety brief, purged ourselves of all knives, weapons, ammo etc and then set up the range. By this time the Explorer was looking pretty rough so we only used the Grand Marquis today. Throughout the day we would run a series of focus drills from the car. We’d have several students role play and act out different situations that Aaron scripted for us. Sometimes drills would require the student in the vehicle to act immediately and begin sending hate down range, other scenarios would start out slowly and then escalate to use of force. There was a very wide variety of scenarios covered and each student got to be in the vehicle at least twice that day.
This gave us a chance to apply everything covered the previous day and also use some critical thinking. Sometimes there’d be multiple “bad guys” sometimes only one. The “bad guys” would be armed with everything from a (rubber) knife or club to a gun. Sometimes there would be one threat and after he went down another would present themselves and the student would have to deal with that. Needless to say there was a very large variety of scenarios and situations. None were exactly alike so the student never knew what was coming and made it very difficult to “game” the scenario.
Aaron had quite a few sim guns available for use. He even had one with an RMR (RM07) mounted to it which is awesome since my daily carry is also RMR equipped. It gave me the ability to run a setup almost identical to my EDC. I’ve been in several FoF classes prior to this one and this was the first time I’ve seen an RDS mounted to a sim gun. I was excited that it was available.
Even though only one person was in the vehicle and “doing the shooting” there were plenty of opportunities to learn. As a role player you got to see the scenario unfold from a different perspective and you could learn from the student’s mistakes or good choices. Even as an observer from a distance, there was opportunities to analyze and benefit from the drill. If you weren’t learning something from every minute of the class, it’s your own fault.
Another really great thing about this class was the rest of the students. Everyone was really committed to their roles during the scenarios and they really got into it. I’ve been in simmuniton classes before where some folks (for lack of a better term) really didn’t give a shit about the scenario if they weren’t the one actually doing the shootingl. With FoF courses your fellow students have a large impact on the class. The better the role playing, the better training environment is created and everyone benefits more from it. The folks in this one were awesome.
After all the drills were complete we cleaned up the range and had a debrief. Everyone went around sharing what they learned and what their greatest takeaways were. I feel this class was a good mixture of live fire and force on force. Especially since I don’t have the luxury of being able to shoot vehicles. It was valuable to see first hand how bullets perform on different parts of vehicles and how to best use that knowledge to your advantage. The FoF portion was great as well because we were able to apply existing skills and newly acquired ones as they relate to fighting in and around a vehicle. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and no knowledge was withheld.