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  1. #1
    Expert SmokinSigs357's Avatar
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    Training AAR: Fortress Defense Consultants Level I Pistol

    My first AAR, my first weekend of proper training with a handgun.

    Fortress Defense Consultants

    Level I Pistol

    Saturday and Sunday, September 21 & 22, 2013

    Sand Burr Gun Ranch, Rochester, IN

    Frank Sharp; Lead Instructor/Owner, Fortress Defense Consultants.

    Fred and Chuck, assistant instructors.


    I'm not here to dangle from Frank's jock...His website and credentials speak for themselves: Welcome to Fortress Defense Consultants

    Frank assembled a small class of friends and acquaintances for this weekend. He could have handled the small class of 5 by himself, however, he had 2 assistant instructors helping all weekend...professionals in their own regard and a great asset in not only having a total of 3 instructors guiding and assisting, but helping cause mayhem when instruction called for it. I took 15 pages of notes and will not subject you to reading all of my notes, pony up the dough and go take the class for yourself...Frank and staff will have you physically and mentally prepared to be a responsible "good guy with a gun," walking the streets.

    After introductions, medical and emergency plans were established. The keys were in Franks Suburban and GPS was set for the local hospital. Everybody was assigned a task in case a medical emergency occurred.

    A brief world history of firearms was discussed, including embargoes, weapons availability around the world, and some personal situations that Frank was involved in.

    Safe Gun Handling was addressed along with the 4 Rules of Safe Firearm Handling.

    The basics were covered...Shooting 101 - Sight Picture, Self Control and compensating for recoil anticipation. Several exercises were demonstrated to help manage recoil anticipation.

    Stances and Arm Positions were presented; Weapon Retention vs Accuracy

    History of Firearms Training...paying homage to the pioneers and how the training world is constantly evolving.

    Learning How to Live with your Guns; Responsibly, Repetitiously.

    Lowering your expectations of your equipment and raising your expectations in your skills.

    Ammunition types. The importance of self-defense/hollowpoint ammunition.

    Legal, Moral, and Ethical responsibility for every bullet that leaves the barrel.


    Fortress Defense methods of unholstering the weapon and teaches the Master Grip (or "thumbs up" grip)...Note; I couldn't do thumbs up well, at all!!!

    Non lethal alternatives in altercations was discussed.

    Avoiding confrontations was practiced all weekend with some great drills/rehearsals that I brought home to my family. What a fantastic section of the weekend! What to say and how to act when a potential situation arises.

    How to blend in, use eye contact, and constant awareness of your surroundings was constantly used and eventually brought to the firing line.

    Break for Lunch: Note: I can tell you, when you aren't shooting, Frank is talking and you are learning. Snack/water breaks, lunch breaks, dinner at the restaurant; Frank was talking and I was learning!

    Dealing with police, post incident. Frank went in to great detail about dealing with law enforcement if you've been involved in a shooting incident.

    We learned the importance of having "Trusted Others" and friends to make sure that there is someone you can call at any time, if you are involved in an incident. There was lots of discussion on psychological aspects and what to expect if you are involved.

    Eye dominance and sight alignment were addressed before we went to the firing line. Range safety was once again addressed. Students were instructed in the proper handling, loading, discharging, reloading of their weapon.

    Accuracy was good with all the students. We were taught where and why to shoot...brain stem, center mass...object is to deprive body of oxygen/disable person trying to kill you.

    Live fire/Shooting drills
    -Spinning Steel
    -Position Sul
    -Verbal Commands
    -Mag Changes
    -Weapon Malfunctions and clearing your weapon and getting it back into the fight
    -Moving while shooting
    -Assessing before holstering

    We were constantly told proper handling, finger/trigger control...Great that instructors were observant and knowledgeable. They constantly identified and corrected our bad habits.

    We went offsite for dinner to a great restaurant on Lake Manitou. Frank and staff reviewed the afternoon with us and began the discussion about using lights in self defense.

    Upon our return to the range, we were presented with a dummy, to which we had to shoot with our muzzle only inches away from it's torso, our weak elbow up and discharging our weapons one-handed. What a surprise to feel the energy travel up the torso to your face!!!

    More one handed shooting drills were presented. By this time the sun was going down and the Harvest Moon was smiling down upon us. We were instructed to fetch our lights.

    We went through several shooting drills using the Goode and the Harries Methods of light/pistol handling.

    As we got our mags topped off and lights ready for more action, it was dark, except for the moonlight...Frank and crew had set up flares by the targets and set off several smoke canisters.

    We were then instructed to perform several live fire drills while the flares, smoke, strobe lights, and yelling instructors performed in harmony. IF you couldn't see the target, you had to position yourself to do so... What an AWESOME night!

    Pretty intense for a Level I pistol class, eh. Yes, and no.

    My personal opinion is that too many "operators" are watching too much youtube training videos or satisfying themselves with a basic NRA course and they feel that they are ready to handle a situation like the recent Kenya Mall incident. These people have not had live fire drills, people yelling and screaming, been fatigued, running and gunning, assessing, sensory depravation, etc...yet they choose to carry a weapon in public.

    Am I ready for a gunfight? Well, I can tell you that after the class, I still choose to carry my weapon and I am a HELLUVA LOT more confident carrying than I was a month ago. I have been instructed in a lot over a short period of time and Frank & Staff gave me the tools to take home and practice. Honestly, there is a bunch of mental training involved...things that I run through my head in bed at night now. Anyway, it's the end of Day 1 and there's another day to review...


    Round count at the end of Day 1: Approximately 300 rounds fired

    Day 2

    Change in instructors...Chuck went home, Dr. Dave joins us.

    Morning brief involved the reiteration of the Medical Emergency Plan and what we covered the day before.

    Frank discussed code words and phrases that families and friends should establish should a potential incident arise...essentially, a "we're getting the hell out of here, no questions asked" scenario.

    Discussion then went on to hostage situations and resolutions and he then went on to discuss the OODA Loop.

    The importance of having/carrying a rifle was discussed. Instructors and students discussed several ways to discretely carry a rifle.

    Body Alarm Matrix and post traumatic stress, what happens when you are involved in a shooting. He went into a thorough discussion on what affects the human condition, nervous systems.

    Fight or Flight Mode: Frank went into a thorough discussion regarding what the body goes through when shot, trauma occurs.

    Post incident situations...Physical, Mental, Social affects of having been involved in a shooting...LIFE CHANGING!!! However, Frank rightly argued, "The consequences of not having my gun are unacceptable!"

    We learned about the court process and the importance of acquiring a lawyer who is knowledgeable in these situations for your defense.

    We then got on range to do more drills...refreshed the previous day's drills and were introduced to some hostage situations and performed the "mother in law drill"

    Frank went through several scenarios about home invasions, forming plans, calling 911, what to say to the police.

    More live fire ensued:

    -Brain Stem Shots
    -Spinning Steel Targets
    -Trying out everybody's guns
    -Tap, Rack, Resume Drills
    -Lock, Rip, Work Drills
    -Scanning and Assessing
    -One handed shooting/Strong and weak hand
    -Shooting when injured
    -Pinky/Upside Down Shooting

    We were then put through a timed drill/test that involved most of what we had learned.

    A final brief was given by Frank and staff. I can tell you that I feel pretty confident with the tools that I have taken away from that class. For two days, I absorbed everything I could. I read through my notes when I get a chance. I bought an airsoft gun which is an exact copy of the model I train with. It fits in the holster, the mags fit in the mag carrier, and when I have a chance, I practice my tap, rack, resume and lock, rip, work drills...along with drawing, holstering, dry firing.

    I went to the class with the mindset that I carry a gun and I should learn how to shoot the damn thing. What I came out with was a plethora of more important information...even in completely avoiding those situations.

    Frank encouraged us to keep learning. Take lessons from other companies/instructors. Keep educating yourself, keep practicing...because perfect practice makes perfect!

    By the end of Day 2, we had shot probably another 300 rounds. The class called for 500, but luckily, we brought extra!

    My personal gun report...Walther PPQ M1. Got opened up and tossed in the wet sand at some point during the afternoon on day 1. I didn't clean it all weekend and it functioned flawlessly. I finally de-gritted it and got her back to being nice 'n slick a couple of days ago...
    Last edited by SmokinSigs357; 10-02-2013 at 14:38.
    Know Thyself...

  2. #2
    Master cedartop's Avatar
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    Good report. It sounds like Frank was a great choice to start your training journey.
    Michael Swisher

  3. #3
    Expert kiddchaos's Avatar
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    Excellent report.
    With the zombies.

  4. #4
    Expert SmokinSigs357's Avatar
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    Here's a article that Frank wrote for Monderno, published yesterday...he spoke at great length about this subject:

    Ready or Not? | Monderno
    Know Thyself...

  5. #5
    Certified Regular Guy esrice's Avatar
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    Sheesh, was this course 48 hours long? That is a TON of information cram-packed into a 2-day training course. It sounds like Frank touched on a lot of excellent material. Super envious.

  6. #6
    Shooter
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    I took this same class back in June, it was great. Two whole days of shooting sure make you more familiar with your sidearm.

  7. #7
    Expert SmokinSigs357's Avatar
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    It was amazing to me how much the non-shooting portions of the weekend made me a better shooter! ...and a better "good guy with a gun!"
    Know Thyself...

  8. #8
    I have taken Frank's Defensive Pistol Level 1 course (twice), Defensive Rifle Level 1 course (twice), Tactical Medical course (twice), Battlefield Pickup course (once) and Defensive Pistol Level 2 course (once). Each time, I have walked away physically and mentally drained. While his courses are fun and challenging, there is always a lot to absorb. Frank is continually talking, controlling the tempo, putting you under stress and challenging you individually and as a group. The exercises are well thought out, reasonably safe given that you are drawing and moving on the line with a loaded weapon...but safety is emphatically stressed at every stage of the course. Thus the reason for several assistant instructors who are always on watch along with Frank for safety concerns. Recurrent mistakes are not accepted. The Sand Burr Gun Ranch is an excellent location for shooting. Frank's shooting drills take full advantage of the range, plus there are few other opportunities to experience night drills. To top it off, the price of his courses are very affordable.

    I have listened to many attendees at the end of Frank's courses saying they thought they knew something about shooting before the course, but in reality, they said they didn't know squat.

    Take one of his courses...you won't be disappointed.

  9. #9
    I also attended Frank's class that weekend and I must say this is a well-done review. You've helped me rehash and organize the almost non-stop flow of information and action making up an intense learning experience.

    This was the second time attending Level I Handgun and feel I took away as much this year as last. It is an excellent class for anyone wanting to begin or improve their defensive handgun training.

  10. #10
    Expert SmokinSigs357's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jqunac View Post
    I also attended Frank's class that weekend and I must say this is a well-done review. You've helped me rehash and organize the almost non-stop flow of information and action making up an intense learning experience.

    This was the second time attending Level I Handgun and feel I took away as much this year as last. It is an excellent class for anyone wanting to begin or improve their defensive handgun training.
    I just pm'd you...hoping we can exchange notes.

    Know Thyself...

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