Bring it in, take a knee and read this. Today we run another installment of “Everyman Tactical”, those this is in point of fact an Everywoman Tactical. This article is by Kate Schooley, one of our minion’s minions. We offer it for those of you who are new to training, so you can get the perspective of a shooting neophyte and also to you salty American Jedi who might be looking for something to show your minions or friends (especially any who have to work through the concealment challenges of being small and/or female). That’s all – carry on smartly. Mad Duo
Learning the Fundamentals of Everyday Carry
For most young women, guns can be intimidating. However, I was lucky enough to grow up with the comfort of knowing there was a firearm close by and an adult around (usually multiple adults) who knew how to use it. I took a CCW class before I was 18 so I could carry as soon as I was legal. When I got the invite to attend a “shooting from concealment” class (my first ‘formal’ training course) I was both nervous and excited to learn new skills and brush up on what I thought I already knew.
As has been repeatedly told to me, You don’t know what you don’t know. I didn’t just pick up some new tactical skills or reinforce the basic ones I already possessed. I was surprised to learn some things that I and any other concealed carry holder should already have known before ever walking out the door to carry a weapon in public. This “shooting from concealment” class was much more than a “shooting from concealment class”. It was a humbling, informative, exhausting weekend that completely changed my perspective on everything there is to being a responsible armed citizen.
The class was called “Fundamentals of Everyday Carry”, taught by Victory First at the Tango Down range in West Virginia. My instructor was Matt Jacques and his AI Michael Dale. Jacques is an increasingly familiar name in the concealed carry world, and rightly so – his experience in firearms training and the industry as a whole is extensive. However, being fairly new to this, Jacques was unfamiliar to me. Upon meeting him, it was immediately obvious I was dealing with a courteous but dangerous southern gentleman who had dealt with many an unpleasant person in his career.
I remember thinking to myself, “I would hate to make this guy’s shit list.” (Sorry for the language Cuppa Dave.)
His assistant Michael Dale was a former LEO who had known Matt for quite some time, worked with him at one point, and also has a lot of experience instructing. He would provide much of the the one on one attention that helped many of us students correct old techniques (‘training scars’ I’ve since learned to call them) while learning the proven techniques Matt was passing on to us. Luckily I had fewer of those scars than about anyone else, but that’s because I had virtually no experience at all and knew less than I even thought I did. Dale’s ability to observe a student’s activity and then help that student out with his depth of knowledge without seeming overbearing was just amazing.
I haven’t been through too many informal shooting or tactics classes and only one formal one, but I know from my ventures as a college student what teaching methods produce the best results. I have to say Jacques has chosen one of the best methods any teacher/instructor can have. For each drill Matt set up for us, he explained what skill he was presenting to us and just as importantly why and when we would use it. He demonstrated each movement slowly to allow us to pick up on technique, then more quickly to see the action in play, repeating himself as needed. He then had us start the drill and once we had a good technique pushed us to get faster. During each drill Mike and Matt walked just behind us to observe our technique and make corrections as needed.
We first worked on our draw technique. To move an open cover garment such as an open button up shirt or jacket, you sweep the shirt to the side with your dominant hand. This puts the drawing hand on your holster while moving your cover garment in one swift movement. When you have a closed cover garment such as a hoodie or t shirt, use your alternate hand to lift your garment straight up while your primary hand moves to the holster and draws. It seemed fairly simple, but with the lack of insulation I have, (being a cold November day) I had several layers on. By several I mean I no kidding had two long sleeve shirts, a hoodie, a sweatshirt, and a coat: so I had both an open cover garment and more than one that fell down over my holster. After sweeping my coat to the side (it was an open garment- no zipper), I had to lift 4 layers of closed garments to get to my gun. That made a clean drawstroke and presentation pretty hard, but it also drove home the lessons for me and taught me to work through a lot of entanglements. My draws and presentations seemed tedious and awkward at first, but we drilled until I could draw smoothly, efficiently, and quickly.
To track our progress, Matt would test us against a shot timer. We would do a stress test drill such as “the standard”, complete a series of drills to improve our abilities, and towards the end of the day we repeated “the standard”. Our times were marked, along with the number of times we missed the target. At the end of the day we were able to look the scores over to see how we improved and where we could improve more. This made the competition not just among us classmates, but also against ourselves as we tried to better our accuracy and speed. When Matt corrected us on a technique or encouraged to go faster, he made sure we didn’t get frustrated with ourselves. He often used humor to defuse tension and actually put me in “time out” once when I was overthinking things, failing to focus on the front sight and beginning to throw my shots – he then allowed me back on the line with a quick joke and a reminder of what I should be doing, and I started ringing steel. He was genuinely concerned that all of us leave with the sharpest skill set he could give us- skills that could make us better defensive shooters – I mean, he was seriously worried that each of us absolutely left as prepared as he could make us in such a short period of time. Dale was just as concerned and equally attentive. That says something about their characters.
I began carrying on the hip bone, then wound up moving it back to about the 4 o’clock-5o’clock position. This was the best place for me to carry and keep it from printing as badly, and it was more comfortable as well. This created additional issues for me on the draw because it was so far back – and as I mentioned I was already wearing several layers of garments – but that’s the way I’d actually be carrying so I knew I had to get used to it.
I began the class shooting my Glock 26 and I wasn’t hitting accurately or consistently. I also repeatedly had double-feeds. Turns out I was “limp wristing it” because the grip was short. I switched to a Glock 19 and with the different grip I was better able to control the weapon. I no longer limp-wristed it and was immediately more accurate (the “muzzle flip” of the shorter barrel on the Glock 26 was causing me issues, which were resolved by the G19). I continued using the 19 until I grew used to the drills and drawing from concealment I went back to the 26 because that’s what I have at home (so that’s what I wanted to train with). Even after switching back I had to really focus on my grip with the 26 to keep from suffering malfunctions (still occasionally limp-wristing it), but I was able to much better manipulate the weapon and begin increasing my accuracy. Most importantly after using both weapons and the instructors walking me through what I was doing, I was able to self diagnose and continue working to correct once I got home. I no longer have any issues shooting the G26 but it did take some time to get used to and it was a rough start.
One thing about weapon selection – though I considered changing to a G19 for my daily carry, the length of the grip still prints very badly on me because I have a small frame and I decided against it. There’s just no good way for me to conceal it without wearing a mumu. For that matter, even the 26 is somewhat challenging for me to conceal because of the width , especially if you want to dress like a girl. I don’t like to carry “off body” so I have had to alter the way I dress and sometimes carry the weapon in my pack. I’m considering trying the Glock 42 to see how the size of the single stack .380 shows up under my clothes. We’ll see how that works, if all else fails until Spring I have jackets and hoodies to wear anyway.
No matter what I wear, I now have a much better idea just how much more difficult it is to actually draw and fight from concealment than on a regular range in an uncovered holster. As Matt says, “Cover garment’s a bitch.”
So if you are a new shooter like me, going into something like this will be overwhelming maybe even more so if you’re the only female there. It didn’t bother me, but for some girls will and that’s okay – just don’t single yourself out or acknowledge you’re the only girl there. Be a student. Male or female, there will likely be many shooters who are better than you but you’re there to soak up as much information as you can and get better, not to compare yourself to anyone else on the line. Hopefully you’ll be stuck with a bunch of really good guys like I was (seriously they were awesome, and thanks again to Jimmy from F3 Tactical for squaring me away on some gear I needed!). That will go a long way toward making your first experience will be positive and memorable, but mostly that is going to be in your mindset. I was also thankful to have awesome instructors who were able to tend to my needs as a beginner without sacrificing their ability to instruct the more advanced students.
I count myself very lucky that my first real “professional” paid-for course was with a men of Matt and Mike’s caliber (pun intended).
This Victory First class was one that not only did I benefit from as an inexperienced shooter, but more advanced shooters benefited from it as well. It quickly became second nature for me doing things like scanning after a threat is neutralized to make sure there are no more threats (really scanning, not just swiveling my head back and forth really fast) and I also learned what to expect when shooting in close proximity, shooting multiple targets, and performing tactical-reloads while stressed. Even after the skills and knowledge I just learned in November, this is a class I could take again and still learn valuable information from (I will try to take it again before I attend his second class, “Fighting from Concealment). Victory First has their schedule posted on their calendar, please check it out on their website and sign up ASAP. If you can’t do one of their full 2-day classes, they often run one-day seminars I hear are well worth attending (like this pistol workshop).
FYI Jacques was recently the focus of a Q&A article in RECOIL, you can preview that here.Victory First is on Facebook ehre: https://www.facebook.com/Victory1st, and at the request of his some of his students Matt set up a “professional” Facebook page here (that took some convincing; once you meet him you’ll know how incongruous that is). They’re also on Instagram (@victory1st). Subscribe to the Victory First newsletter online here.
If you’re interested, you can read Kate’s experiences at the Sage “Citizen Response to Active Shooter” class (which she took a few months after this one from Victory First) here.
About the author: Guest writer Kate Schooley is a 22-year old (21 when she took the class) “everywoman” who has recently begun her “training journey”. Currently a college student pursuing a degree in nursing, she may well be the first garden gnome every hired in an ER (she claims to be 5’4″ tall and ‘growing’ but that seems like an exaggeration of at least a foot). To date she has attended a Greenside Training class (tracking), the Victory First Fundamentals of EDC class reviewed above, one Dark Angel Medical class and most recently a Graham Combat class. She is serious when it comes to training but is apprehensive every time, eat approximately twice her own body weight every day and loves White Cheddar Cheezits with a great and terrible love. Watch for further AARs and equipment-related commentary in the future as she chronicles her training.
Additional images from the class: