Recently I drove down to little Camden, Tennessee to take a few classes with Tactical Response: Fighting Pistol and Immediate Action Medical. For those of you who are not familiar with Tactical Response, it is a training company run by James Yeager: former civilian contractor, controversial YouTube user, and controversial human being for that matter. 🙂
I went in to the class not expecting it to make me the best IDPA shooter, or the fastest shooter, that is not what the class is for. I expected to learn how to use a handgun in a gun fight if I ever had to do so. I received all of that, and a lot more!
So let’s break it down to the Who? What? Where? When? and Why?:
Who should take this class?
Anyone who wants to learn to survive a gun fight. It is that simple. I learned about what it takes to survive and that the best way to survive a gun fight, it to not be in one. If you are a new concealed carrier, a law enforcement officer, or handgun beginner, you will get something out of this class.
Who are the type of people who take the class?
There was a range of students at the class. Most of the students were just regular people: architects, IT guys, corrections officers, college students, retirees, competitive shooters, some military, and more! Most were very nice and polite, great conversation was had, and I made a few friends.
There were a few “I’m more tactical than thou.” people in class, but you will get that anywhere. My advice is to not worry about what the “tacticool” guys think and just focus on what you are there to do, train to make yourself better and prepared.
My primary focus was on concealed carry. I am not a contractor, i carry a concealed gun to protect my life and the lives of those around me.
Who taught the class?
Unfortunately, throughout my 5 days in Camden, TN, I never did get to meet the man himself, James Yeager. He was out traveling. This does not mean that I received a lesser quality product from Tactical Response.
The class was taught by Jay Gibson, Tim Morris, Calvin Lim, Jordan Winkler, and The Dave Biggers Experience. All of the instructors brought their own dynamic to the class: Jay was quiet and delivered great dead-pan comedy, Tim was gruff and cursed like a sailor, Calvin was quiet but precise and firm in his instruction, Jordan was a bit more soft spoken, and The Dave Biggers Experience added comedy, but when the time came he could be very serious.
All of the instructors care deeply about the success of their students, and it shows! You may be called a bonehead or a dumb-ass, but when you correct whatever it was you were doing wrong, you are always met with a “good job” or a couple of pats on the shoulder. Especially from Jay, he is a touchy-feely guy.
What about Gear?
I used my everyday concealed carry gear. I carry a Glock 19 with Warren Tactical sights, Alien Gear holster (Gen 1 with metal clips), SOE EDC Belt, BladeTech mag pouch, and TulAmmo steel cased from LuckyGunner.com. The Glock ran like a Glock should, tough as hell. It should be noted that we shot in the rain and mud. Every time we would reload, the mags would hit the muddy ground, we would have to retrieve the mags and then rinse them off.
After a few hours of putting mud in our guns, everyone’s guns (regardless of manufacturer: Glock, Sig, S&W, Ruger) failed at some point in some way. My Glock would sometimes fail to feed and I had one stovepipe. There was a bucket of water where we could rinse our mags, and a remote table where we could rinse out guns.
Overall, all the gear survived. The Glock ran fantastic through mud and water over the 1000 rounds I shot. The sights stayed on even after dropping the gun (on purpose) several times and repeated racking the slide with the rear sight off the belt. I did learn the failure point of my gun though in relationship to the mud, and that is an important thing to know.
I did notice some other students with stock Glock sights have issues. One of the well known issues with Glocks are the cheap plastic sights. The rest of the Glock is fantastic, but the sights are always the first thing to go for a lot of Glock owners. A student had their rear sight fly off while racking the slide off of the belt. My Warren Tactical sights are metal and held up just fine, just some scratches and small cosmetic damage (but who cares about that).
The Alien Gear holster did fine, it never came off the belt during drawing and just got a bit dirty from holstering a muddy gun. The SOE EDC belt ran, like all SOE gear, flawless. The TulAmmo shot just fine, not one failure to fire.
What did you learn?
It is hard to quantify everything! Those of you who have heard the phrase “it’s like drinking from a fire hose” will know what I am talking about. Tactical Response has their own way of doing things (obviously) and I personally did not agree with everything they taught, but I did things their way for the time I way there (that’s what I paid them for), so as I go through what was taught, keep in mind that I am referring to the Tactical Response way and not specifically to what I do.
- We learned to draw the pistol and how to clear a cover garment.
- We learned some biology, not Tim running around without pants, but where to place shots on a human body to effectively stop a threat.
- Safety (Tactical Response style)
- Sight alignment, grip, trigger control, sight picture, etc.
- Emergency and Speed reloads.
- Malfunction clearing.
- Legal and moral aspects of deadly force.
- Dealing with the police, 911, and lawyers.
- Honestly, there is so much material it is hard to cover in one blog post…
What did you think of the training?
The training was fantastic and worth every penny. I came out with much more knowledge than I went in with. If I had to rate the training: 5 stars, 10/10, 100%, A+. The instructors were great, provided individual attention, and ate dinner and lunch with the students. This gave us all an opportunity to meet and get to know each other and ask questions of the instructors. You will enjoy this training regardless of your previous training experience. I plan to, and have, practice the drills we did in class, in order to get those actions into my muscle memory.
What didn’t you like?
There were a few things I was not a fan of. I think the biggest thing was malfunction clearing and reloading. In class, every time you reload your gun, you rack the slide. And you reload after every drill. It does not matter if there is a round in the chamber or not. This means for every drill, every re-load, you lose a live round to the ground. This seems like a waste to me, I want every round I can get in a gun fight.
Tactical Response’s reasoning behind this is that they only have to teach one method of loading the gun. It keeps things simple, and when you are in a gun fight, simple is better than complicated. With adrenaline running through your body you will not remember if there is a round in the chamber or not, so put in a new mag and rack the slide to be sure. Tactical Response does not feel losing one round will make a difference in a gun fight. In class, I must have lost 100+ rounds to the muddy ground. Some students would skip the racking the slide step to preserve that round, but if they did, an instructor would be on them so fast. I just kept hearing Calvin yell “We are not losing a round, we are loading our guns!”
For most of the malfunctions, we were instructed to “tap, rack, fight”. For a failure to feed (Type 1), that makes perfect sense, but for a stovepipe (Type 2)? What they had us do to clear a stove pipe was rotate the gun so that the ejection port was pointed towards the ground, then tap, rack, fight. It worked, but would cause the loss of a round. Again, I did all of the malfunction clearing the way I was instructed except for my one non-intentional stovepipe. I did sweep that stovepipe clear and continued to fight, it was my immediate reaction to sweep it clear.
The last thing I was not a fan of was the communication / correspondence. I did have a few emails go unanswered. I know that happens every so often, I’m guilty of it. It is best to probably call and get whatever questions you have answered over the phone. Be nice to Marilyn and she will be nice back. 🙂
Where is the class?
All classes start at the Tactical Response gear store and the address is on their website. Google Maps took me straight there with no problem. When you search on Google Maps, type in the address directly, DO NOT JUST TYPE IN “TACTICAL RESPONSE”. It will take you to the middle of no where. If you are staying in the Team Room (more on that later), Google Maps will take you straight there if you type in the address. DO NOT USE APPLE MAPS IN CAMDEN (or anywhere else for that matter, you’ll end up in a damn lake). Every time I rode with someone who was using Apple Maps in Camden, we went to the wrong place.
The range that is used for Fighting Pistol is easy to get to, they give you directions and you can also follow someone who knows where they are going.
Where did you stay?
I stayed in the Tactical Response Team Room. There will be more information about the team room in another post.
When did you take the training?
I took the training in March of 2015. I did this on purpose because Tennessee summers are really, really hot. In the spring and fall it is nicer. This saves you the hassle of dehydration, sweat, and stink. I really recommend going to Fighting Pistol in the spring or fall.
Why did I decide to take this class?
I only knew about Tactical Response from their YouTube videos, and I knew James Yeager was controversial in the training world. So naturally i investigated and decided to try it out. I have been looking for a course for a while and I got a buy one get one half off deal; so I also took Immediate Action Medical. That review will be coming soon. I did look at other reviews and saw all positive experiences.
- Be sure to bring your lunch and any snacks. They do break an hour for lunch, and you can go offsite. But the people and discussions that happen back at the range are great. And if you finish lunch early and there is an instructor present, you can get more practice in.
- The instructors are very friendly, we had dinner with them each night, sometimes at their house.
- Bring at least 6 magazines. You will have time to reload magazines in between shooting sessions, but it is easy to just remove all of your partial magazines off your body (not your gun) and put full fresh ones on. Once you swapped mags, then you can load the partials.
- Expect to get dirty / muddy. You will be shooting lying on your side, on you back, and maybe some other positions, your clothes will get dirty, maybe ripped or torn. Don’t wear clothes you would mind losing.
- Network! Be sure to give people business cards for later communication, add them on social networks, and talk after class! If you stay in the team room, sign a bunk and sign the guest book!
- Bring cleaning and lubrication materials! If it is raining and you are in the mud, your gun is going to malfunction. If you have time, wipe it off and field strip it to add more lube that was probably washed away.
Take this class.