Basic Handgun and Arizona Concealed Carry Permit (CCW)
On July 28th I had the pleasure of joining my mother as she worked her way through her CCW class and basic handgun with Independence Training’s owner Glen Stilson. I did not shoot the course, I sat through the CCW portion then observed the range session.
My mother grew up around guns, but never took an active interest in handguns, concealed carry, or any handgun skills. After the murder of Rob Krentz, a family friend along the SE Arizona border, I took a renewed interest in furthering my own skill sets, and out of concern for my family, was able to get my mother on board with her CCW.
For Basic Handgun & CCW, Glen invited me to attend the classroom portion with my mother, as there have been many changes since my own CCW class, and without the training requirements for renewal, my last classroom experience was my initial course. I did not shoot the Basic Handgun portion of the class, which gave me a distinct opportunity to both watch Glen train other students, as well as watch other students to see their successes and failures as I was not concentrating on my own performance. I was able to take quite a few pictures, which hopefully Glen will be able to use either for demonstration purposes or marketing purposes as I feel what he offers to the community, especially locally, is invaluable and should be made as available as possible. Independence Training focuses on quality civilian-minded training that is affordable to many people. With so many instructors charging large sums of money, often requiring several hundred dollars in ancillary costs, a large segment of quality training is out of reach of most people. Independence Training remedies this by charging a fair fee structure.
Glen did an excellent job of combining the DPS-required material, real life experiences, current events, as well as incidents, many well known throughout the shooting community, to present a total picture that goes beyond just the required material. He uses a PowerPoint presentation that is engaging, well presented, and visually demonstrates concepts to the students.
During the class he spends a great deal of time talking about mindset, your responsibilities as a CCW holder, and things civilians will be confronted with, and the choices you will be forced to make under stress.
The range portion of the class covered basic marksmanship, working from a holster, administrative loading and unloading, speed and tactical reloading, as well as shooting the CCW required course of fire. Malfunctions were also covered with students forcing malfunctions, as well as most students experiencing at least one or two malfunction throughout the day as a minimum. All shots were taken from close range, and the furthest shots were the 10 yard CCW qualifying shots. This allowed the fairly new shooters to see how proper fundamentals affect shot placement, recoil reduction, etc., all related to engaging targets in a concealed carry type situation. Things like buddy loads kept the students on their toes when it came to running out of ammunition and forcing reloads. As the day progressed the class switched from working on the fundamentals, to working the same fundamentals from a concealed carry perspective. This was definitely an eye opener for some of the students who had not considered some of the difficulties in working from a static position at 10 feet, to fully concealed from varying distances.
Because of the small class size, only 4 shooters, Glen was able to do lots of individual work with the shooters to correct flaws in their technique, and work with any limitations they may have. Admittedly I was taking pictures so my description of the range portion is somewhat lacking. However, it was very apparent that Glen had a vested interest in making sure the students understood all of the concepts presented, and were adequately proficient with each skill before progressing onto the next. My mother would have liked a little more dry fire practice of some of the drills but I agree with moving the class along in order to cover the whole range of materials. She understood the concepts and was successful, but being an elementary teacher she would have liked a little more repetition on a couple of the more difficult courses of fire.
The handguns represented in the class were fairly standard from a civilian perspective. My mother shot my Sig P6 from both an Atomic Dog OWB and Crossbreed Supertuck IWB holster. Her preference was for the Crossbreed as she felt the retention on the kydex pancake was a little too stiff. She shot well out of both and was successful throughout the day regardless of method of carry. One gentleman had a small Taurus auto, another with a Kahr 9mm, both with thumb break holsters that gave them fits at varying times. The other woman in the class was carrying a snub-nosed .38 Special that gave her problems all day. While the gun functioned as it should, the long, heavy trigger pull was giving her fits with accuracy throughout the course, and combined with a thumb break holster made it a difficult day for her. However, Glen worked within the limitations of her gear and despite her getting flustered occasionally, she did well and finished the course. It is a perfect example of husbands thinking they know what is best for their wives, leading them to difficulty when it comes time to actually utilize their equipment.
“Chalk Talks” (Glen may call these something else)
Because of the relative lack of experience of the students, going back to the picnic table for reloads was a fairly common occurrence. This worked out well for the students as it gave them a forum to ask questions of Glen, discuss equipment selection, background, etc. as well as take a break from the sun. With temperatures in the high 90’s, getting out of the sun and getting hydrated was very important, and Glen did a great job of corralling the horses to water as it were. He used times like these to stress the necessity of being prepared, not only thinking through problems related to CCW, but generally speaking as well. Being prepared not only includes the ability to defend yourself, but having the means to survive any situation, whether it be lack of basic necessities, medical emergency, etc. Having regular breaks with which to discuss these topics, and the mindset that goes along with them, was very beneficial to all of the students.
This class is a great beginner instruction to handgun for anybody. It is basic enough for new shooters to succeed without becoming overloaded with information. As an experienced shooter, this class would benefit me in terms of forcing me back to the fundamentals. We all develop bad habits, and sometimes taking a beginning class helps reinforce the good habits we have, while making sure to get rid of any training scars we may have developed along the way.
For the CCW portion, I would recommend Glen and his course to anyone looking to get their CCW or just refresh their information. With the recent changes with several state laws, it was very beneficial to me as a current CCW carrier. As a new CCW student it is easy to understand and Glen does a great job of explaining the minutiae of law that is so important to consider when approaching concealed carry.
I hope this AAR is helpful to anyone considering taking Independence Training’s Basic Handgun & CCW course. It’s a great course and would be a benefit to new and old shooters alike. Glen’s attention to individuals is excellent, and his ability to take their needs into consideration and tailor their training environment to them is an excellent asset.
Defensive Carbine and Advanced Handgun
After two full days of standing, hitting dirt, eating dirt (I found out my muzzle brake is not my friend when shooting on your back) and being sore and tired, I would have to say I had a fun and most enjoyable weekend of training. We contacted Glen and asked him if he would be willing to give us some “one on one” training. Each of us had different thoughts of what they would like to see or learn. One person in our group was with drug enforcement (out of state) and another was an aid to a member of an elected person (out of state) with past law enforcement experience. Myself I was just your average “go out to the desert” type shooter. So it presented quite a challenge to Glen to give us some well-rounded training that would challenge each of us during the two days of training. All I can say is he did a great job increasing the level of training as the time rolled by each day. The three of us were really impressed with what we experienced and learned (of course, it is now up to us to keep working on some of the basics which was presented).
Glen is a damn good instructor. One of the things which made an impression right away was the fact he worked with the equipment we brought to the course. When I was calling around to various places (many of them outside the state), some organizations asked what I was running, when I told them, they mentioned I may want to upgrade before committing to the course. Now don’t get me wrong they had “very” good reasons based up experience and exposure and I’m not questioning their credibility. I may upgrade at a later date, but for now I wanted to train with what I had on my hip or in my jeep. And for that, I compliment Glen and Independence Training.
Was the training like “MAGPUL” or “GUNSITE”, I couldn’t tell you since I’ve never attended either. But what I can say is what I picked up this weekend as to my limitations, abilities, reaction under stress and possible shooting simulations was a real eye opener. Too many times in this day and age, we romanticize the gunbattle, defending our love ones and taking out the bad guy. But it is definitely a different reality when you actually put it in practice and learn about the “now and then” of what to expect if you need to make the decision to go forward.
It was enjoyable to come into the training as a small private party and to have him give us total undivided attention. I wasn’t quite as up to speed as my associates, but he made me feel very comfortable in what I was able to accomplish. It reallymade a difference of what I took from the course and building the mind-set needed to finish. And of course, at no time did the level of training get hindered due to the differing skill sets. The drills we ran are probably typical to other training, but what makes it special is that this was “our” drill. We were the ones hitting the dirt, making mistakes and learning about the reality of what it takes to survive a gunfight once you have no other avenue of escape. The reality is any training is invaluable whether from Glen or anyone else, you just need to do it.
Glen – our hats are off to you and Independence Training. Myself and the other students had a great time and are looking forward to doing another private session next year.
My final comment (and shameless plug) is that Independence Training is Good-to-Go and highly recommended. If you have any questions, get ahold of Independence Training on their webpage, but for the cost of the class, you really can’t go wrong. I’m looking at having my wife take the women’s class once I see a class session comes up.
AAR Independence Training July 01, 2011
Range: Yavapai Recreation League
Course: Defensive Carbine
Glen Stilson is the owner and chief instructor for Independence Training. After serving in the US Army he continued personal training at home and saw a need for professional level training that was geared for the armed citizen. With an emphasis on 100% ballistic accountability, Glen stresses to his students that every bullet fired hits the target.
The class was held at the WLT rifle range, located about 2 miles northeast of Wilhoit. From the Phoenix area it is about 1 ½ to 2 hour drive. The Whisperin Long Tree range is nestled at 5200 feet elevation and the day temperature was well under what the valley of the sun was experiencing.
Defensive Carbine began as all open courses do, introductions and the obligatory paperwork. Six students were on hand including 2 EMS professionals and Glen’s adjunct instructor John, who would be acting assistant instructor (AI). The majority of students were known to Glen from previous classes.
The curriculum for the course included:
8-Hours of Range Instruction
Equipment Selection and Maintenance
Malfunction Clearing Drills
Unconventional Shooting Positions
Rifle to Handgun Transitions
Shooting and Moving
Cover and Concealment Techniques
Engaging Multiple Targets
All students used an AR variation with either fixed or red dot optic. There was one SBR present. Secondary weapons were Glock pistols for the majority with a Ruger SR9 and FN five-seven in attendance as well. Ammunition carriers varied from belt to chest rigs. A mix of Wolf and brass ammunition was in use.
Before hitting the range, Glen gave a detailed safety and emergency actions brief. This included the location of the range “blow-out” bag that was stocked with medical supplies. Glen advised us that he would be acting as the primary care giver, should an injury occur to any student and with the assistance of the 2 professionals (EMT & paramedic) emergency medical support was well represented. On a side note, at the top of the blow out bag was an instructional sheet for the most common types of injuries.
Once we moved onto the range, Glen was nonstop. He had the students operating from the basic level (load/unload) to simple & complex/unconventional positions. With breaks to hydrate and reload, students were in a constant state of crawl/walk/run learning the most important facets of running and fighting with the AR carbine.
We paused for a lunch break and Glen went over Independence Training’s version of the individual first aid kit (IFAK). This kit was designed for the professional or outdoorsman to have on his person and deploy in the event of a penetrating injury. As medical emergency training is lacking in the private sector (outside Red Cross offerings), Independence Training has stepped up to fill the void. They also offer emergency preparedness instruction.
After lunch, it was back on the range with a dynamic course that had the students running and gunning under time restraints.
They covered more positions and using cover vs. concealment. While most tend to think of cover as fixed, Glen’s experience has taught him otherwise. Cover may defeat some calibers but not all and once it becomes compromised, the operator on the receiving end must be aware of where the next available position is. As far as the privately armed citizen is concerned, Glen’s emphasis is on “breaking contact” as quickly as possible.
The final block of instruction touched on the topic of 2 man teamwork, movement and communication. After a dry rehearsal (or two), the students paired up for the live fire drill. This drill involved the pair fighting their way to an injured teammate (Glen) who required immediate care. A CAT & pressure bandage was provided to the teams for their respective runs.
This drill included everything they had covered through the course of the day, including reducing malfunctions and transitioning to the secondary.
After the last shot was fired, students gathered to fill out their course critiques and the awarding of certificates by Glen. It’s my opinion that without documentation (certificates) the training time & value is lost. Without it, there is no proof the student has conducted any formal training. In the event of an actual street shooting, the knowledge background of the defendant may come into play and any documentation can only help your defense.
Glen & Independence Training offer a diverse program covering basic to advanced courses in firearms, medical and emergency preparedness. The classes are affordable compared to multi day programs and the ammunition count is kept within reason. As one who has completed their share of training with everyone from former “Delta” operators to the lesser known (but equally knowledgeable) local resources, you can be certain that I will gladly add Independence Training & Glen Stilson to my list of schools to train with.
Until that day,
Defensive Handgun and Defensive Carbine
Both rifle and pistol classes were geared towards civilian shooters, and as such had a distinct mindset from some other classes looking to turn you into a DeltaCAGNinjaSEALWhatever. An incredible amount of emphasis was put on making every shot count, because every miss is Little Johnny taking one to the brain bucket or Sister Mary Clarence saying her prayers without any legs. Every bullet that wasn’t in the silhouette was pointed out and no punches pulled. It created a seriousness to the situation that many people don’t think about. One drill was similar to an LE qualifying drill where shots were taken from prone, kneeling, standing at varying distances, with a certain number of shots within a time period. I actually shot one round less than the course of fire called for because I knew I could not accurately place the last shot with the time left.
Emphasis was also placed on disengaging from the threat as soon as you can. In a similar vein of personal responsibility for every bullet that exits the muzzle, you are also NOT responsible for being the ODA busting down a cave door. As a civilian you’re using your gun as a means to save your life, to get away from whatever is trying to spill all your “juicy goodness” out onto the ground. Your gun is a means of escape, not a suit of armor that will protect you as you go chasing a cartel hit squad across the desert. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY is the key here. You’re responsible for protecting your life and your loved ones, no more. As a civilian, your job isn’t to seek and destroy, your job is to do whatever you have to do to stop the immediate threat, and bug out to safety. No matter how much gear you have or how cool your gun is, you don’t have fire support, you can’t call in an A-10, you don’t have a Marine Corp TRAP team to come in and get you. Shoot, break contact, and get out of there.
Shooting while moving can create its own set of challenges. Whether you are actively engaging a target while on the run, or simply moving in and out of cover, it adds another element that is wasted on those who only shoot in a lane. It’s also the most fun. It makes it harder for the bad guy to shoot you, and while it makes it harder for you to shoot him as well, hopefully you’ve practiced all this and have an advantage. It also gives you the ability to change his battlefield. You make him react to you, and you’re more likely to be successful.
Since you’re moving, where should you be moving to? Cover of course! We all know that cover is directly related to what is being sent your way. A wooden palette isn’t great cover as we found out when we performed several transexual operations on paper targets standing behind them. The lesson all of a sudden makes a serious counter point when you realize that it could be your testicles and not necessarily the bad guys. Not all is lost however, cover can also provide an excellent shooting platform when you’re forced into an unconventional shooting position. I made several tightly-grouped head shots with my pistol simply by bracing off of cover. If you have it, use it. The more we used it, the better hits we made, faster. The old “you can’t miss fast enough to win a gunfight” adage works well here.
The most global “tactical?” “civiliancal?” lesson of the day was that there really is no magic to doing any of this. Every drill built upon the previous drills, and the fundamentals of marksmanship carried throughout the day and the people who had the most success did the fundamentals the best. A guy with nothing but irons sights can shoot circles around the dude with every manner of scope, light, laser, or other various attachment he can put on a picatinny rail because the guy shooting irons probably has better fundamentals and his consistency is great. I’d like to think that I did well in this regard, but it definitely showed me how much more I need to get out and really shoot the gun, not stand in a lane and punch paper on a KD range.
In conclusion, Glen is a fantastic teacher and really does a great job of building throughout the day so that you are constantly learning while applying the fundamentals. Everything is built upon what was previously taught and is done at a pace that’s easy to follow without being boring. Independence Training really does offer high-quality training at an excellent price that anyone can afford. I definitely want to leave this review with a glowing endorsement for what he does. With so few trainers teaching with a civilian mindset, it’s sometimes hard to get quality instruction for people who aren’t kicking in doors or crawling through caves. Independence Training comes through big time for us here in AZ, and Glen really cares about giving his students a fantastic opportunity to learn skills that may one day come in handy. I can absolutely guarantee I’m a better shooter, and a more switched on individual after shooting with Independence Training. I know I’ve forgotten things that I wanted to say here, but I hope it gives you a good idea. I will be taking more of Independence’s courses whenever I have the time available.
Here are a couple of videos from the carbine training:[pro-player width=’720′ height=’480′ type=’video’]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WHNE_gCBRU,
Let me just start off by saying this: if you own a shotgun and plan on using for self-defense, you NEED to take this course. I’ve fired thousands upon thousands of rounds of 12ga through my over/under at birds, but I haven’t run my 870 pump-action very much. I put more rounds through it on Saturday than I have since I bought it in 2006. That was a mistake (not using it much).
The class was run out of a private range north of Wickenburg. Glen Stilson was the instructor. I brought my SBS (12.5″) Remington 870. All shotguns present were 870’s which simplified instruction. Glen ran us hard all day, and he demonstrated for us that you DO need to aim a shotgun. It’s not point and shoot. I was very frustrated with my loading ability. I had never practiced getting more shells in the gun. I admit that, by lunchtime, I was ready to throw my shotgun in the nearest trash can and go home. I was very frustrated with myself. When I do something, I like to do it well. And I was failing myself miserably. This did not have anything to do with the instruction provided by Glen. It was just that his training really exposed my weakness with the weapon system. Glen persisted and I kept pushing. By the end of the class, my confidence level was WAY up.
Things I took away from this course.
My particular shotgun is really only suited for close up shooting. At any more than 25-30 feet it would barely keep 9 pellets on the target. And this was a squared up “adversary”. With a side shot, half the pellets would probably miss. This is OK for me, because the purpose of my shotgun is defense use inside my home. At the extreme, the longest shot I would take would be about 20′.
I need to take the course again after practicing at home. Selecting a load (i.e. getting a slug in the gun) is more difficult when under stress than I anticipated.
As Glen puts it: Feed the beast. If you’re not shooting, you should be loading. If you’ve never tried to load a shotgun while running and having instructions yelled at you, you’re in for a surprise.
Conclusion: I don’t know why I’ve never taken a shotgun course before. I think I felt like the world at large does: “It’s a shotgun. How hard could it be?” Answer: Really hard. If you plan on using your shotgun for more than bird hunting, I’d highly recommend a course from Glen and Independence Training.
(Same course as above)
I never considered the shotgun good for anything other than 3-gun or taking birds coming into this class. I actually held the shotgun in fairly low regard, often cursing it as I was stuffing shells into the tube on the clock in a competition. This class caused me to consider this gun in a different light. The confidence level that I have in both the weapon and my skill set to manipulate it have increased significantly.
Glen was able to effectively demonstrate the limitations and advantages that the shotgun has to offer. During the course we were able to discover the range at which our given shotguns were with the loads we had chosen. Once Glen had shown you the maximum effective distance of buckshot in your gun as well as how to rapidly and effectively load them into your gun, he taught you techniques with which you could switch slugs which drastically increased your effective range. Use of the shotgun in a variety of different positions as well as shooting and loading on the move were also covered.
In summary, the Practical Shotgun course as taught by Independence Training is a great course. I feel that the skills I was taught will not only make me a better competitor, but also opened my eyes to more “Practical” uses of the shotgun.
Big thanks to Glen.