Rifle LVL 1 & 2 with BAER Solutions – Sept 2019

September 28 – 29, 2019 we hosted BAER Solutions for their Rifle LVL 1 & 2 courses.

What was expected to happen?

Rifle LVL 1

This is a level 1 Rifle course that will stress fundamentals, and most importantly providing the “how” and the “why” in addition to what you are trying to accomplish throughout the training day.

By the end of the day each shooter will know where they are at and what to work on as you go forward in your training. This is not a course where you will just be led through drills and told what you are doing wrong. Here we will work on fixing them based on what works for you. Identifying your deficiencies and giving you the tools to improve is the end state of the class. We will progress from fundamentals to multiple target transitions and an intro into movement.

  • The class will receive a safety brief, medical plan, loading unloading procedures, range rules, and of course filling out waivers before we begin.
  • The program of instruction for the day will begin with a standards test, fundamentals, actions such as scanning after an engagement, and progress into multiple target engagements and an intro into movement.
  • Once you are registered for this class you will receive a pre-class questionnaire to fill out and return and your class packing list.

Rifle LVL 2

This is a level 2 rifle course that will stress fundamentals, and most importantly providing the “how” and the “why” in addition to what you are trying to accomplish throughout the training day.

By the end of the day each shooter will know where they are at and what to work on as you go forward in your training. This is not a course where you will just be led through drills and told what you are doing wrong. Here we will work on fixing them based on what works for you. Identifying your deficiencies and giving you the tools to improve is the end state of the class. We will briefly touch on fundamentals before we work on movement, barrier shooting, pie-ing off doors, and stress courses.

  • This LVL 2 class is meant as an intermediate to advanced class for rifle shooting. We will cover the fundamentals for a brief part of the day before training on movement, barriers, and pie-ing off angles.
  • The class will receive a safety brief, medical plan, loading unloading procedures, range rules, and of course filling out waivers before we begin.
  • The program of instruction for the day will begin with a standards test, fundamentals, movement to static positions, continuous movement, barriers, working angles, and finish off with a stress shoot. The majority of this day will be spent moving and shooting.
  • Once you are registered for this class you will receive a pre-class questionnaire to fill out and return and your class packing list.

What actually occurred?

Day 1 (LVL 1)

Day 1 started with a formal safety brief and then right into the training. Drew has this initial drill structured in a way that if I revealed too much about it here, it would ruin the experience for those who have not trained with him (the “standards test” listed in the course description above). Therefore, out of respect for the spirit of the initial drill, I will leave it at that.

As the day progressed we went directly into hold overs, fitting the rifle to the shooter (not the other way around), vision and trigger press / working the trigger and weapon presentation. After a short lunch break, we discussed more on vision (particularly “scanning” and how to do it correctly).

Repeatable processes produce predictable results.

We covered reloads, transitions to pistol (briefly) and target transitions. The second half of the day was spent primarily on moving and shooting (not necessarily moving WHILE shooting).

At the end of the day, we all had the chance to stack our skills development in a head to head challenge. While the group had a lot of fun talking trash, cheering each other on and the such, I could tell that real focus and effort was being spent to continue to perform after a long, tiring day.

Day 2 (LVL 2)

Day 2 started out very similar to day one with the morning drill / standards test. Technically the 2 days were different courses, but all but a handful of shooters attended both days.

The first new topic for day 2 was shoulder transitions. The dry runs and methodical approach to this topic would prove to be important in the head to head drill at the end of day 2 (similar to day 1). Next we moved into barricades and covered multiple positions (and multiple solutions) on a VTAC barricade, along with a low wall and a simulated doorway.

After the barricade work we focused on shooting while moving and all the fun, pain, danger, struggle and fun (yes, “fun is in there twice) that comes along with it! In the second half of the day we had a drill that included quite demanding shots, moving while shooting and being held accountable for our shots. It was a great learning experience and even somewhat emotional for a few of the shooters. Day 2 ended up being a lot faster paced, as most of the drills included movement in one way or another.

“Top shooter” from the LVL 1 and LVL 2 classes with Drew Estell of BAER Solutions

As with day 1, we finished a long day of learning and shooting with a head to head competition. Once again, it was nice to see the group being so supportive of each other while competing against each other. Reminders, tips and helpful critiques were being shared between shooters with the main focus being to bring in everything we had learned over the last 2 days, step up and perform.

What went well and why?

Once again, we had a great group of shooters attend this class. Drew draws a bit different crowd than the other instructors we have hosted thus far and it was nice to see another group of shooters come together, build eachother up and #getlearned together for a weekend.

There are several organizational items that I saw from Drew that I appreciated and recognized the value in (I also teach for a living in a different industry):

  • Pre course information packet
  • He met me at the range about 90 min before students were to show up on day 1 to ensure the range was setup before they arrived (I would have prefered the day before and more sleep… but I digress)
  • Drew supplied particular targets for particular drills (simple, printer paper targets)

There were also several times throughout the training that Drew used analogies to help us comprehend and retain some nugget of knowledge. Although I doubt many of us in the courses have done much boxing, we have all seen a boxer, how they stand and how they hit. Drawing parallels was helpful to more than a few of the attendees.

Another plus that I will throw out there is how obvious it was that Drew was doing his best to provide individual feedback and attention to all the shooter in the class. This is difficult to accomplish, but it was evident that Drew was mindful of each shooter, what they were sacrificing to be there, and what they were hoping to get out of the training.

What can be improved and how?

As mentioned in previous AARs, please don’t take suggestions for improvement as a sign of dissatisfaction. I am a strong believer that the desire, intention and effort to improve is a valuable attribute of any good instructor or student. Drew Estell (and all good teachers that I know) agrees with this as well!  I didn’t get to spend as much time speaking about teaching and performance as I have other instructors, but based on his training and requests for feedback, I believe our thoughts on this topic are inline.

This section will be broken down for clarification into a few subsections based on who is responsible for the action that will lead to the improvement.

Course Host / Organizer

With each class that I host, I invest more and more into range equipment and supplies with one goal: to get more learning out of each class not only for myself but for all the participants. Day 1 was plagued with high winds that unfortunately costed a lot a time (maintaining targets, picking up items being blown around etc etc). Although I was more prepared than ever, it opened my eyes to several more items I can have on hand and things I can do to be more prepared for inclement weather in the future. Although everything survived the training days, the 2 days of shooting roughly 18,000 rounds (total, between all class participants) highlighted a few maintenance and spare hardware items that i need to ensure are taken care of before next time.

As previously mentioned, BAER Solutions attracted a slightly different crowd of shooters than our previously hosted classes and I definitely could have done a better job of introducing and explaining our local training group. Hopefully between our personal interactions and follow up information via email the word gets out.

Course Instructor

Although I was impressed with the pre course information packet, I wish the equipment list was made public before signing up. For myself (and presumably some others) I often look at the required equipment list to gauge the course… and to help budget for the course, if I were to need to purchase any new equipment. I understand why the full information packet is distributed once registered for the course, but I think the general equipment list should be provided publicly before registration.

Everyone has different learning (and teaching) styles, but from my experiences teaching over the last 17 years, I have found that a large percentage of learners benefit greatly from visual representations and/or illustrations. There were a few topics covered well, but I feel as though if I had never heard them before I could have benefited greatly from a quick drawing while explaining the principle (sharpie on a target, whiteboard etc). This would have taken more time, but I feel as though it would be well worth that additional time to help clearly explain the principle.

Course Participant

If you have read through any of my other AARs, you might recognize this suggestion for the participants from previous courses: take notes! In every course I have hosted thus far, at some point someone asks how they can practice and continue to progress after the class is over. The first step is to learn and retain as much possible, but taking notes. They next step is to review and practice the principles taught in the class, using your notes (since we know our brains will only retain a small percentage when learning it for the first time).

As the season begin to change, course participants need to be prepared for the vast range of weather we see here in Utah. Throwing an extra rain jacket, insulating jacket, beanie and gloves in the car before heading to class will go a long way in making the experience more enjoyable (and more productive).

Summary

I was fortunate enough to have just completed the Rifle Mechanics course with Kinetic Consulting just a few weeks prior, and it was refreshing to see similar techniques and philosophies taught from another respected instructor, in a slightly different fashion.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed training with BAER Solutions and would not hesitate to recommend his course to anyone looking for a good rifle course. He is quite demanding of his students, but I have found that those of us who are passionate about improving are looking for just that. We are already working on setting up a 2020 course with BAER Solutions.

Instructor Bio:

In my more than a decade long special operations career, Drew Estell was fortunate enough to serve with soldiers and instructors who were invested in his success, and as such has benefited from the years of experience that each of them had. One thing he have learned is that no shooter is the same. Fundamentals are a constant in this profession. With that said, each person has to tailor training and techniques to fit their particular needs. By programming training to maximize the learning curve, Drew can get customers from their current level of performance to a higher one much quicker. 

In his Army career drew was deployed numerous times to combat zones and had other unique experiences that bring a different perspective to training. He’s seen what bad training can do to a team and individual, and he’s seen what good training can do for those same people. His methodology is based on his real world experience, training, and lessons learned along the way. Drew believes you can learn something from everyone, and shouldn’t dismiss something new because it is outside of our comfort level, as long as it makes us more lethal and achieves our end state.  Everything we do on the flat range translates to its “real world” application. There are things that look cool, and there are things that perform when we need them to. BAER Solutions’ training is meant to perform when it counts.

Guest Photographer

Most of the high quality images featured in this AAR and photo gallery are courtesy of our buddies at Berserker Creative. You can get in touch and follow them on instagram: @berserkercreative

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