Victory First – Fundamentals of Everyday Carry AAR
Instructor: Matthew Jacques
Assistant Instructor: Jeff Wood
Location: Echo Valley Training Center in West Virginia
Round Count: 800
Duration: Two days / 8 AM to 5PM both days
I attended The Victory First Fundamentals of Everyday Carry on March 21 & 22, 2015 at Echo Valley Training Center in West Virginia. Matthew Jacques is the head instructor at Victory First. Matt is a former Marine, retired LEO with experience as a detective and SWAT officer. He was also a lead instructor with a federal agency unit. He is also a consultant for many top name manufacturers in the firearms industry. In addition, the assistant instructor was Jeff Wood. Jeff is also a retired LEO and training consultant.
Before I get started I would like to state that I may get some of the exercises and drills out of order or even forget some. The knowledge imparted by Matt and Jeff was so detailed and expansive retaining only 10% of it would make anyone a better shooter.
Also I will highlight areas where I personally found “nuggets” of wisdom with a *.
Matt started the day with his background. He offered that anyone could view his credentials, certificates and commendations which he kept in a binder in his truck. Personally, I knew of Matt’s pedigree because I trained with a friend that was part of the government unit where Matt was a trainer. Jeff Wood did the same. In a day and age where everyone is an expert but rarely offers up a way to vet them, Matt’s proactive approach was refreshing.
The day started with Matt showing and discussing the various pieces of kit he had acquired over the years. He showed and discussed various handguns, lights, holsters, red dots, and methods for off body carry. He stressed pros and cons of each piece of kit, his preferences, and that a person needs to experiment until they find what works for them.
This then led to his training philosophy. He emphasized that what he teaches is A way not THE way. He used the example of finger placement on the trigger. Some say middle of the finger print pad other say get the finger past the first joint. Matt offered that you need experiment to see what works best for you to get a smooth trigger press straight to the rear.
We began the shooting portion with a paper target 3 yards away. The drills were done so Matt could gauge our level of proficiency with sight alignment/picture. *He then went into his methods of a quicker and more efficient way of aligning the sights for a quicker sight picture. Interestingly enough this also works for those who use red dots on their pistols. Matt also went into finger placement like I mentioned before. *He also showed us an exercise using a rubber band placed on your trigger finger to simulate a straight back trigger pull.
We then went into the various ways to manipulate a cover garment from a draw. We discussed how to manipulate open, closed, and multiple cover garments to get to your gun. Matt’s motto is “Cover garments are a bitch”. His meaning is that cover garments are unpredictable, uncooperative, and will vary based on your needs that day. If you don’t train with them, Mr. Murphy and his luck will be along the next time you really need to draw your weapon. In fact, we had one person in class draw his gun and it got stuck in a “pocket” in the lower inseam of his shirt. This shirt was a branded as a conceal carry shirt by a well known “tactical” company. Looks like cover garments and under-tested products are both bitches.
We then went to discuss Combat and Tactical Reloads. *I picked up the proper way to grab the magazine so a proper indexing of the magazine can be accomplished. My reloads are good 95% of the time. But 5% of the time I get a beer can like grip and look like a seal (the animal not the operator) with a bar of soap. Matt’s technique got me squared away.
This was followed up with immediate and remedial action. He included consideration when you have a magwell on your pistol which I do. Suffice it to say I had not considered the issue before.
After a short break we came back to quarter scale steel targets. We drilled one shot, two shot and reload presentations. The various drills eventually had us walking all the way back to 100 yards. With Matt and Jeff’s help every student was able to hit the target at 100 yards at least once.
We also did timed drills like El Presidente to establish a base line to be compared to tomorrow.
Other instruction included one handed (both strong and support hand) shooting and why we should train it. Multiple targets shooting was also explained and drilled.
Most of the class went to dinner with Matt and Jeff at a local Steakhouse in Winchester, VA. Over a fantastic meal, we had great conversations about everything. Philosophies on self defense, life in general, family, our backgrounds, etc. were discussed. It was a great time.
Back at the hotel, some of us enjoyed a cigar and a beer or two. Great stories were heard and shared by all. Matt and Jeff shared their wisdom and experience openly. Some of the questions were about this trainer or that trainer. Both men expressed that if they did not know them personally they would not comment either way on the individual. Matt always deferred to the “if you can’t say something nice…” philosophy. Both gentlemen are class acts.
Day two included:
Shooting from cover vs. concealment
*”Point” shooting using the rear of the slide as a reference at 3 and 5 yards”
Turning then shooting and why
Shooting while moving and why
CQB aka Bad Breath distance engagements
Turning then shooting while moving
Target acquisition for various angles
A quick competition to help us deal with target angles and problem solving
The day culminated with a competition called Tapout.
There were three barriers that corresponded to three steel targets 25 yards away. Each barrier required you to shoot from the behind it. You shot two shots in each position: right side kneeling, middle squatting, left side kneeling. When complete you moved to the other barrier. If you were ready to advance, but the person ahead of you was still there, you tapped them out of the game.
As a side note, I usually shoot with a red dot on my pistol, but I did about 25% of the class with my iron sight only Glock 17. For this competition, Matt pushed me to use my iron sight only gun instead of the RMR equipped Glock 19 I had switched back to. I thought this was only fair since everyone else was shooting with irons. Then I saw how much kneeling we would be doing (I have bad knees; my left one is a total replacement) and I started to think of ways to con my way back to my red dot. But I swallowed my tongue and nutted up.
Suffice it to say this exercise was brutal. You want to win, you want to be fast, you have to control your breathing to hit the steel at 25 yards, you are consistently moving between stations, you need to be careful not to sweep anyone, all while the adrenaline is pumping. What an eye opener! What would happen if this was real situation? It was hard to hit your target 25 yards out while kneeling behind cover, breathing hard in perfect light….and no one was shooting back. Again….what an eye opener!!! I was lucky enough to win Tapout. I was exhausted, bewildered, and satisfied all at the same time.
In conclusion, Matt and Jeff finished the day asking what we each took from the class and if we had any questions. The comments reflected that everyone knew they improved as shooters. The newer shooters that didn’t even have a proper grip at the beginning of the class were running with the advanced shooters during Tapout at the end. The more “experienced” guys all picked up a ton of nuggets that individually would have been worth the price of admission. To finish up, certificates were handed out, handshakes were exchanged, friends were made, and learnin’ had occurred.
Be Good. Stay Safe. Get Training.
-Scott "Jedi" Jedlinski