Review of Kyle DeFoor 1 day Basic Carbine Course at US Training Center April 2nd, 2011
First off, a bit about Kyle. Retired SEAL with his own training company now and 100%, a proud, red blooded American. The guy drives a Ford pickup that he bought because it was one of the last built in Norfolk VA by his buddies at tyhe now closed factory there and Kyle is a born and bred country boy. He also happens to have hunted Bin Laden and the Taliban on their own turf in the mountains of Afghanistan (as detailed in this excellent book). Having worked his way through the SEAL ranks, starting out as a young BUDS student at the ripe age of eighteen and then going to sniper school at twenty one; Kyle's bio might be matched by a few people in the world but not surpassed. He now trains smalls arms, deep concealment, and other martial skills to his former team mates and a few lucky civilians on the side. As an infantry Marine, I was surprised to note the absence of hair gel and Oakleys :) Kyle also competes in ultra running races (50 milers), hunts, is a proud family man, and loves his Harleys.
The morning was cold and started off with class on the back of Kyle's truck detailing how the AR/M4 platform works, how to lubricate it, what parts break (Kyle brought examples as a visual display), and how often to perform certain maintenance. Dynamic, humble, and with tidbits of hard won personal knowledge peppered throughout, this hour went by quickly as Kyle kept us engaged despite the cold winds and near feezing temperature. Basics of marksmanship and safety rules were covered.
(pictures of class around Kyle's truck)
We then moved onto the 25 yard line to check zeroes. Doing so saved us bit of time not trying to get on paper for the 100 yard line. Once zeroes were confirmed and adjusted (with Kyle in motion non stop, checking each student's targets, a habit he would stay in for the rest of the day), we moved back to the 100 yard line. There we had talk about why Kyle advocates the 100 yard zero and how it works with practical carbine engagement distances. Kyle used newbie friendly words to describe the concept of "max point blank" which is basically the distances at which you do not have to use hold overs/Kentuck windage to hit a man's chest. Kyle also covered exactly what a killing shot is in combat and dispelled a few internet gun forum concepts on killing power, combat zeroes, and worrying about the difference between 100 and 200 yards.
At the 100 yard line is where the time honored truths of natural point of aim, bone support, shooting on the natural pause between breaths all came into play and Kyle worked these lessons individually into several different groups at 100 yard line fired from the prone and kneeling positions. Ten shot groups were the name of the game as Kyle explained three and even five shot groups can mask problems that will come out on paper with the ten shot group.
(one of my 10 plus a couple more shot groups at 100 with 80's era Soviet mil surplus 5.45 ammo)
Kyle's take on the kneeling position was something I'd never seen before and I'd like to mention it here. In the Corps, we had to use the kneeling for score at the 200 and 300 yard lines. I am lucky enough that I have "weak" ankles and can literally sit on my ankle with it being flat against the ground, outside touching the dirt. Very stable as opposed to other folk and I always shot well this way. Kyle's take on the kneeling was to lean way forward, keeping the recoil from rocking you out of your good position, natural bone support, and good sight picture. It worked and I did what I always do when new facts come to light - I change my position on the matter.
Another gem that impressed me and changed the way I think was Kyle graphically demonstrating how much movement goes into pressing the trigger with the pad of the finger versus the first knucle joint. Using the pad of the finger almost makes your entire finger pivot and pull in an exaggerated fashio whereas the first knuckle joints makes for a true straight back pull.
The day continued to be cold and extremely windy. Fortunately, the wind was at our backs, having no effect on our shooting. However, the weapons suffered a bit from the blowing sand. My S&W M&P15R 5.45x39mm AR15 ran perfectly.
(pictures of my dirty 5.45 AR)
We worked on our kneeling and prone at 100 yards with a prone group at 200 shot to illustrate max point blank and then broke for chow at the US Training Center chow hall.
After chow, we ended up on another range to work on our 25-50 yard carbine drills. Accuracy standards were heightened and our lessons from the morning on the fundamentals of marksmanship and the different shooting positions rang home. Shooting from the high ready and low ready were covered, with emphasis on situational awareness and safety and speed being hammered home. We worked on how do deal with multiple targets with Kyle teaching us to "give everybody a slice of pie (one round) hit the end of your threats (last threat not shot yet), give him two slices of pie (two rounds), and then go back everybody else one more slice of pie."
(Myself, German Synergy, an active duty serviceman friend of ours, and Paul Hotaling of Grey Group doing drills up close)
We spent a great deal of time at the 50 yard line doing drills and dodging the storms that rolled in, dumped on us, and rolled out, leaving sunshine and even a double rainbow in their wake. In one 30 minute period, we experienced sunshine, rain, darkness, falling slush pellets (almsot hail), rainbows and sunshine. Kyle worked these intervals perfectly, timing classes between drills during the worst of the downpours.
We eventually broke for evening chow and came back to an extensive class on low light fighting. Kyle told of his real world experiences in fighting at night and his hard lessons learned from them. Lasers and NVGs/NODs rule the night but for the civilian shooter, an 80 lumen or so white light mounted as close to the bore as possible is excellent. Do not leave the light on continuously and do move after shooting, something I've learned from other trainers as well (Larry Vickers). We worked on shooting steel targets at 50 yards using these techniques and even moving steel. This is where I had a gear problem. My TLR1's rocker switch did not work fast enough for me and also the light had inadequate illumination during some drills since it had to penetrate smoke and fog rolling down the line from other shooters. My buddy German Synergy using a bone stock SureFire G2 incan in a VTAC light mount graciously loaned to him by fellow student ShawnL
enjoyed much better performance and found the light much easier to actuate on and off quickly. Needless to say, I changed my gear after the class.
That wrapped up the class and once all gear was stowed safely, Kyle broke out awesome DeFoor branded trucker's hats for the students and we had an after class wrapup talk and then settled down to pick Kyle's mind on any topic we were curious about.
I really have no nits to pick about this class. Kyle accelerated the learning curve according to the proficiency shown by the class and we were constantly in motion and learning. I will say that there can be a lot of gossip in the firearms training industry but Kyle never had a bad word to say about anyone and is a patient, open minded instructor who inspects every student's target after each drill. He never raised his voice but did give praise on tight groups and was always there, making sure students got help when they needed it. I would also add that I would be cautious about looking down upon "Basic" classes. Several folks who had received advanced training elsewhere all commented on how much they had learned at this class. I plan on taking Kyle's Advanced Carbine class and training with him as much as possible. I like his jaw dropping bio, relaxed stress free training environment, sense of humor, and how he breaks drills down; not expecting you to take it all in in one sentence but making sure folks are dead certain of what they are getting ready to do and the goal they should should strive for. Not one student was ridiculed and everyone left a better shooter with a positive training experience under their belt. I don't think that you can ask for much more than that. Simply outstanding.
Grey Group was....basically little fairies that were constantly painting targets, moving targets, stapling, pasting, and everywhere, yet not underfoot making this class roll smoothly so that the students could get the most out of the instructor's time. Grey Group made this a smooth experience. All of the logistics were handled seemingly invisibly but everytime you looked around, Paul and Chris were hustling to get the next iteration underway. This is my second time training with Grey Group and it's just as squared away as the first. It's impressive that Grey Group not only facilitates world class training but their employees participate in it with you.