What: Tom Givens (Rangemaster) 3 day Instructor Development and Certification
Where: Americus, GA
When: Oct. 5-7, 2012
This was Tom's 3 day Firearms Instructor Development and Certification Course. $479 was the price of admission per shooter for close to 30 hours of instruction from one of the greatest instructor's instructor of our times. I say over 30 hours for a three day course that would typically be 24 hours form most three day courses. We started a 0900 each day and went to around 1830 hours, with only a 30 minute lunch break each day. So range and class time were maximized, and there was homework on two of the three nights.
On the Thursday before the class I arraigned for a group dinner, as is my custom, to get the class together and break the ice before the learning began. We had three new faces in addition to five of the usual suspects.
Friday started out at 0900 in the class. We were given a 179 page manual that contained info needed for the class, articles on a myriad of subjects, courses of fire, and tips for instructors. Tom introduced Lynn and their back up dog, Skeeter. He then began by telling us what we could expect from the course, and what he expected from us.
He continued with what he taught and why he did so. He provided examples of his 60 students that had prevailed in their shooting incidents. He introduced his methods of operating a handgun and why he used them.
We made it to the range about 1130 and began shooting. He had use perform a few drills to gain an understanding of who he was working with. We then branched off to some other skill building drills and broke for a quick lunch. We returned and began shot a diagnostic 30 round drill on a NRA 25 yd bulls eye with a minimum passing score. After this we were back in the class room for more lectures and instruction. We were assigned a presentation topic for Sunday and given homework of reading the 179 page manual.
Saturday started off at 0900 again in the classroom and then off to the range. The day was broken back and forth between the two. On the range we were introduced to several different drills to improve and or diagnose skills. We were also introduced to the FBI handgun qual and later shot if for score.
In the classroom we were introduced to public speaking and each of us stepped up in front of the class. We had to take a few minutes to tell the others about our background and why we were at the course. We were further indoctrinated in methods of teaching others and broke around 1830 til the next day.
We started again at 0900 on Sunday and went right to the range where we shot the FBI qual for score. We then went back into the classroom to talk about legal issues before breaking for lunch.
It should be noted that a few months ago I went to work for a new department. Due to some unforeseen circumstances I had to work every night of the class, to include the night before it began again. I was working off of brief periods of sleep immediately before the class and at lunch. So, I was starting to get tired now.
We then shot the Rangemaster Instructor Handgun course for score. This is a much more trying course than that of the vaunted FBI. It is a course that should be shot once a month to use as either a benchmark or a wake up call.
We retired to the classroom and took the nine page written test. I was getting even more tired at this point. Thankfully, Lynn had let Skeeter out in the fenced in area. He was having a great time running around and wouldn't come back to her. I chased him without avail, but woke myself up pretty good during the process. At this point I established a perimeter, cut water, sewage and power. I blocked Skeeter's cell phone reception and called in a negotiator. It was at this point he saw the error of his ways and turned himself in to Lynn.
When all students finished the test and Tom graded it we were back in class to make presentations on our assigned topics. Everyone did well with limited resources, for those that traveled in. We finished this up and Tom showed us two separate videos to illustrate differences in mindset and tactics. This was accompanied by his thoughts on the matter.
We moved off to the range to work on movement and a few more drills. We then returned to the classroom for handing out of certificates and such. Three of us shot the course with our carry guns and holsters in the way we do on the streets. A good friend of mine got the overall top gun award. He scored 100 out of 100 on the FBI qual, higher than me on the Rangmaster Instructor qual, and we tied on the written test. I came in second with a 100 out of 100, 244 out of 250, and 96 out of 100 respectively.
He shot a relatively stock G17 from concealed AIWB throughout the entire course, and I shot a stock G22 from a safariland sls/als. Not to knock them, but others in the class shot a variety of modded guns, some in range holsters, with and without concealment. Again, this is not a put down on them, or bragging on us, but we did it the same way we would have on the streets to “keep it real, yo.”
Everyone had a good time and learned a lot. Every single person said they would take another Tom Givens class and I had several ask me when he was coming back. In fact I have three already signed up for his next course here. Thankfully we did not have a “THAT GUY” in the class, as is normally the case with all of the classes I host.
I have been through a number of instructor rated schools and Tom's is one of the best, and I believe the best currently available. He has my unsolicited and highly thought of recommendation for any and all training he chooses to provide.
Notes/Deep Thoughts (without Jack Handy):
Students guns: M&P 9, M&P 40, 2 G19s, G19L, G17, Walther PPQ, and G22.
No one experienced malfunctions except for me. I had a few failure to feeds during one hand work due to me not having a proper grip on the gun. As I have discussed on her before the sides of a Glock are a little slick for me. I will be applying some grip tape to the gun since I cannot permanently mod it due to it being an issue piece.
Due to my extremely high grip, and the extra snap of the G22 I experienced lacerations to the web of my shooting hand. When cleaning the thing at night I noticed dried skin and blood on the cocking grooves. I have since installed a smooth backed grip force adapter and it has solved the problem. It does add a noticeable (for me) extension for my trigger finger. I can still operate it at speed without compromising trigger reach/control, but would prefer a built in tang extension.
After the last course Tom taught here I espoused my personal opinion (for me) on grip reductions. I was shooting a highly modified G19 and a stock G19 for the course. I opined that I could not tell a performance difference between the two in my hands.
This time I shot a stock G22. The difference in the extended and enlarged grip circumference, in addition to the snap of the cartridge it is chambered for, has changed my mind. In a full size Glock, for me, a grip reduction would be very beneficial. Also, some type of traction on the sides. I will have to live with the circumference, but will fix the slippage.
The only shots I blew really bad, were when Tom was conspicuously behind me watching like a hawk. This has only happened to me before with the Gunner's Guru. It was called “tricycliphobia” at that time and place. As Tom has pointed out, he is the Colonel when he does that/ I have no doubt the spirit of Jeff Cooper had dripped into his soul.
The importance of good support equipment was noticed by several. Thus they will now have improved holsters/mag pouches and sturdier belts. We fired right at the prescribed 1000 rounds each.