AAR - Defensive Concepts NC Defensive Handgun - Shooting on the Move

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Oct 18, 2009
This has been posted on several forums and figured everyone here would be interested in it.

AAR: Defensive Concepts NC Defensive Handgun Shoot on the Move
Date: 17 October, 2010
Location: Trigger Time, Carthage, NC
Instructors: Chris Clifton, Steve Hawley

Those who believe that a defensive shoot in the real world will take place in a static environment similar to how many of us shoot on a square range, are deluding themselves. Gunfights in the real world are dynamic, ever changing and fast moving. The only way to prepare for such an encounter is to add movement to our training regiment. Shooting on the move is not an easy skill. Add in the adrenaline of a life or death situation, and we will not rise to the occasion, we will fall to our level of proficiency. It is with this in mind that I enrolled in Defensive Concepts, NC Defensive Handgun Shoot on the Move course.

We began assembling at the range on a cold, bright Sunday morning at 0730. Once we unloaded gear and set up the range, we began with introductions. The standard “group hug” started the morning, where the experience level, previous training, and occupation of each shooter were shared with the group. Personally, I believe this is an important step in any class. Few other learning environments require students to place such a high level of trust in one another. Though vigilance and adherence to safety standards and a certain degree of “pucker factor” is always present when taking to the range with other shooters and performing live fire exercises, it is somewhat reassuring to have some knowledge of who is to your right and left with a loaded firearm. A thorough safety brief was then conducted. The four firearm rules of safety were covered, as well as a fifth added rule: do not attempt to catch a dropped firearm. We are all familiar with the dire consequences that can result from such an action. Primary, secondary, and even tertiary medical officers were appointed. We had two full med bags positioned at each end of the line in the event of a medical emergency. We covered the procedure should an incident occur, as well as the range address and procedure for contacting emergency services.

Once on the range, we began with a 10 round, 10 second static drill from the 10 yard line as a warm-up and quick assessment of skill. Chris and Steve place a large emphasis on accuracy. The cliché “you can’t miss fast enough” is a stark reality in a real world gunfight. Furthermore, we are responsible for each and every range we put down range, regardless of our intentions. That round that misses the intended target and falls harmlessly into the berm behind it on the range may take the life of an unintended target in the real world. That’s a pretty big responsibility. Accepting lax accuracy standards on the square range will undoubtedly translate into missed shots when under stress. Following our warm up, we formed the base on which all drills conducted that day would be built. After extensive dry fire, we engaged targets while moving from 25 to 5 yards moving forward using our own method. We ran several iterations of this drill. Once our current level of proficiency was established, Chris did an excellent job presenting, and providing sound reasoning for, the method he employs and teaches. For me, this was the “light bulb” moment of the course. I had always been taught to keep front sight post movement as one-dimensional as possible. Horizontal movement was to be eliminated, and as the sight rose and fell, shots were to be broken when the sight post passed across the target. For me, this resulted in any misses sailing high and slightly left. I tallied five shots just above the right should in the black of the VTAC targets were we using. Upon further examination, these misses were the manifestation of snatching the trigger while trying to time my shots exactly as the sight past through the target zone. I will not give away the ending to this movie (you’ve got to buy a ticket to the show for that), but I can assure you that the method of sight picture and trigger control while moving taught by Chris tightened my groups immensely.

After covering moving forward, rearward movement employing the same technique was practiced. Off line of attack, and lateral movement with toes pointing in the direction of travel was addressed. Drills were worked from various distances to further refine and hone the techniques taught. We also covered movement at angles from the target. Before each of these drills were conducted using live fire, Chris and Steve guided students through extensive dry fire exercises to ensure each student had a thorough understanding of the proper mechanics of each skill, as well as the safety considerations involved. We ended the day on steel, shooting a series of drills on a shot timer that incorporated movement around obstacles, another important skill well suited to the reality of a defense shooting encounter.

At 1630, we unloaded and showed clear, bagged or gear, and policed brass. We ended the day with a debrief, and discussion of next steps in our development as shooters.


A good measure of the value of training for me is the occurrence of a “light bulb” moment, such as the one I mentioned earlier. No matter what a shooter’s level of proficiency is, good instructors are able to find the missing piece of the puzzle a shooter needs to turn on the light. Sometimes that piece is obvious, and sometimes it is subtle. For me, my light bulb moment happened at the beginning of the class. Once my inadequacy was identified, the light bulb came on, and my skill increased. I can make that definitive statement because the metric by which I measure my improvement is by no means subjective. It is objective based on accuracy on target. In this case, the target didn’t lie, and my results did indeed improve. Now that Chris and Steve have given me this tool, it is up to me to take it home to both my dry fire exercises and live fire drills to reach a level of unconscious competence with the skill of shooting on the move.

The Defensive Concepts instructors have the knowledge and instructional aptitude to identify and correct inadequacies of any shooter, regardless of skill level. Chris and Steve are able to articulate the what, how and why of the important skills needed to improve your shooting ability. They are also quick to help with questions and drills that will further develop your skill set. The drills used by Defensive Concepts are realistic and applicable. Chris is now a Vickers Shooting Method instructor, and for good reason. Those of you familiar with LAV know that he only attaches his name and reputation to the best of the best. That should tell you all you need to know.

In closing, between the extensive course list offered, and the exception price, there is no reason not to train with Defensive Concepts NC. Putting off that purchase of shooting hardware (gear), and investing in your shooting software (knowledge) with these guys will be time and money well spent. Check your ego at the door, come with an open mind, and you will leave a better, more prepared, more confident shooter.

Thanks for reading, and safe shooting,

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JF speaks very highly of your quality of instruction. If I can manage another NC trip, I'd like make the time to attend a class. I hope that it works out bud.
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