So why do we train? A lot of us want to enhance our self-defense skills, some of us just want to become better shooters, but most of us are geared toward the self-defense and home protection aspect in one way or another. Whether your main purpose is to protect your family at home, or to protect yourself when you are out and about, training is an essential function that we all need to take very seriously.
We tend to go through the motions when we are at the range, perhaps we don’t have access to a range that allows us to properly train, or maybe we just have no idea what we need to do to get proper training. The fact is, a lot of us are stuck in an indoor range, shooting like cattle in a stall, being forced to load at a table and keep our firearms out of the holster. This type of shooting usually focuses on tight groups, hitting the bullseye, and staying still.
In reality, that is not what I like to do. Don’t get me wrong, tight groups are important, and being able to hit your target is definitely a must, but when the adrenaline gets going, your heart starts pumping, and fear sets in, things tend to change.
I feel it is every shooter’s responsibility to further their firearms/self-defense training and education. I train to better myself, to better my awareness, and to keep me alive during a critical incident. With that being said, I have taken many classes, one recent class in particular really stands out. This class is the Sage Dynamics Defensive Handgun I class that I attended here in Ohio.
As a lot of you know, Aaron Cowan is well-known in the firearms industry, and for good reason. Aaron has done the job, had the experiences, and knows “what is what” so-to-speak. Not only are his courses geared toward making you a better shooter, but they also help to hone your mind, and train your thought processes.
Sage Dynamics classes have a hierarchy of information, Aaron teaches from the most likely to the least likely situation, and Defensive Handgun I starts digging in to the least likely scenarios rather well. Class starts with a basic safety brief, in which, his safety rules are very straight forward and full of common sense, “if it isn’t safe, don’t do it”, and I totally agree.
The first exercise we do is a basic “zeroing” so to speak, just to find out where your gun is shooting and if you need to make any adjustments to your sights, or to your accuracy in general. Once that is taken care of we start into the course curriculum. Drawing from your carry position, putting multiple shots on target, giving verbal commands and retention position shooting is all covered as a refresher to Defensive Handgun Fundamentals.
Once we are all refreshed we get into the class hardcore, this is where the real learning happens. During this time, your heart starts pumping, you induce yourself with stress and start to push your limits. We can all stand still, draw and put rounds on target, but can you do that after you get forcefully knocked on your back and put into the fetal position? Can you draw, shoot and reload with only your support hand? You will definitely find out in this class.
One of the best things that we covered in the class is the proper use of cover and concealment. Not only shooting behind barricades, but also moving to cover, identifying threats, and utilizing austere shooting positions whilst behind cover. We all know that most shooting situations are probably not going to be static and slow, so training for real world situations can only help you in the end. Drawing, moving to cover, and engaging threats were all part of this exercise and we all really started to learn our failure points.
The final exercise we did in this course was scenario training. How many of us travel with a buddy, have kids, go shopping with the wife, or are plain and simply around people out in public? We all can answer yes to this, in one way or another. Besides being able to identify a threat or a non-threat target, our final scenario was based off of protection of a third party.
During this scenario we were forced to arrive at the scene where an 8 year old child is in danger. With the stresses at maximum level and your mind plowing ahead, we had to defend this child in whichever way we deemed appropriate. Needless to say most of us chose a different method than the other. One common factor is we all watched the other person go before us, and we all tried to game it in our head.
Fortunately, no matter how much you try to plan out the scenario, it never works out, and you end up winging it and doing something completely different than you thought. For instance, my plan was to grab the child (a grown man, pretending to be a child) move him to cover, and whisper sweet nothings in his ear to calm him down, all while protecting him with my body and engaging the threats. Here’s what really happened. My adrenaline kicked in and I ran full speed towards the scenario area, I grabbed the “child” and ended up full force throwing him behind cover, engaging a target then moving behind cover with the child. At this point, I completely barricaded him with my body, pinning him to the ground (I did whisper sweet nothings, but that’s neither here nor there), and ultimately engaging the threats in whichever way was necessary. The scenario ended with me rapidly shooting over ten rounds at the final target, and my partner in pain, because I ended up violently pinning him to the ground with my knee.
So as you can see, that was a long way of saying, “sh*t got real” and adrenaline does some crazy things, even though it was all fake, which is really one of the biggest take aways from this class. Ultimately, Defensive Handgun I, introduces you to the most common and also the least likely occurrences that can happen in the real world. Aaron not only explains everything thoroughly, but he is also able to put it into a contextual form, that is very digestible to the mind. Everything you learn will stick with you giving you the ability to mentally download and apply it to your next training session as to further hone your skills.
At the end of each class, we all sit for a debrief, where Aaron goes over any other questions or concerns, tips and tricks and he then passes out the coveted “Red Sage Patch”. Though it is only a $4 piece of PVC, you definitely want to be a winner of one, and for me, it is taken as a high honor. I have actually been lucky enough to receive two of these patches, and I am humbled and honored to have received them. Aaron is not a cocky, “this is how it is” type of instructor. He is modest, personable and quite entertaining to say the least. He is just as apt to learn as we are, and I’m sure each class that he instructs, also teaches him something in the end.
“Train Accordingly” is the motto of Aaron Cowan, and after this class, it rings complete truth.