Desert Training After Action Review

Saturday’s Defensive Pistol Class was the hardest class we’ve ever put on.  In the morning, an hour before the class started, we arrived and started setting up the targets.  It was a beautiful morning and we were looking forward to having a great day of training.

Looking towards Vernalstan

As the students started to arrive, so did the wind.  The wind was brutal.  We had Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan that said it was just like over there.  The wind was picking up sand and dust and blasting us all day long.  Sand would get in the guns, in your eyes, ears and teeth, and in your sinuses.  And that wasn’t the worst of it.  We’d watch helplessly as the target boards were snapped off the stands and carried up over the berms, over the mountains.  Paper targets that were taped to the boards were shredded, and then ripped off the boards, and then the boards were ripped off the stands.   This was the worst training environment I have ever trained in.  I wanted to Postpone the class… But the students wanted to train, so we trained.

Started out with 12, ended up with 5.

The students all did a great job. They worked hard and trained hard in these horrible conditions.  One guy was having problems with sand getting into his contacts, but he stayed and trained through the end.

What you don't see here, is the Sand Blasting Effect going on.

It really felt like being Sand Blasted, it would sting, the skin and eyes.  This was unpleasant.  With the sand getting into everything, we did have some problems with some weapons.  One of the Walthers started jamming very badly and was failing to go into battery with more consistency than not.  Sand in the magazines started getting troublesome for an XD shooter.  The worst of it though was the sand contamination that brought a S&W Revolver to it’s knees.

Dave shooting around simulated cover

If there is any lesson to be learned from training in these conditions… it’s that these are the same conditions experienced by our troops over in Iraq and Afghanistan.  We expect them to perform in it.  Such conditions make doing everything more difficult and unpleasant to say the least.  But with following the basic core fundamentals of shooting technique and malfunction clearing… you can overcome the environmental difficulties.  These students can no handle shooting in situations like these… they can handle anything.  Great job to everyone that attended.

But right here is what made this class, as brutal as it was, very special to me.  Our good friend brought out his daughter to train.  She’s 13.  She had never done anything like this before and really took to it.

Dad's what else is better than taking your girl training?

She did a great job in some of the worst conditions, with a gun that was jamming like a jazz band.  Dad was proud of her, fit to bust.  I was proud of her too… I’ve known her since she was just a little tiny thing and it’s good to see her being raised right.

After the class, some of our Crusader 870 Shotguns came out to play, one had been transferred to a customer the day before and the other was Joe’s personal training gun.

Nothing makes me grin like a good Shotgun

The actions were so smooth it felt like I was shooting Semi Autos.  Cycling was effortless and fast.  There were no failures of any kind and the patterns were good with the loads used.  With the Rifle Sights, I was able to pick up targets and engage them fast and accurately, just as fast as with a Ghost Ring set up, but with much more precision.  It doesn’t have the Cool Guy winged rear sights that are popular because they look cool… These sights just work better.  When you start launching slugs, Ghost Rings are no help.  Rifle sights are what you need.

I want to personally thank my assistant instructors who were dealing these these conditions and the environmental issues we were having.  Joe and Zack, hopefully we never have to teach a Sand Storm again… but if we do – we know we can get it done.

"Really? Another target stand blown off the range?"

This was not a Fun Day at all.  It was hard.  It was unpleasant.  It was draining.  And that’s what Training is all about.

5 thoughts on “Desert Training After Action Review”

  1. That Supine photo? My eyes and mouth were squeezed shut, and I only opened them after I had sat up and pointed the gun. But I learned some new things, it really was fun. I’m so glad that I don’t need contacts.

    Thanks for sticking through it.

  2. North Africa WW II. Some guys bought their revolvers along, found out they jammed more often than the 1911’s.

  3. The worse the weather ,the better it is to train in. Rain,snow,cold,are the best. (Can tell I was in during Cold War)

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