This AAR was provided to SSD by a talented young lady who recently attended a Haley Strategic Partners Adaptive Carbine 01 in Victoria, TX – Oct 2-4, 2013. It’s great to hear things from her point of view.
A few weeks ago I attended Haley Strategic Partner’s Adaptive Carbine One course at Arrowhead Firearms Training in Victoria, Texas. The amount of information I received over the duration of three days was extremely valuable. It was applicable not only just to carbine manipulation, but also to other weapon systems and even my perspective on everyday life as an armed citizen. I thought it would be helpful to evaluate the course in the context of my personal background and training experiences thus far.
As a woman, I often find myself surrounded by men at gun ranges who tend to be very aggressive and condescending towards me. I’ve had experiences where men have told me that I “can’t handle” a .45 caliber handgun, or assume that because I’m a woman, they automatically know more than me. There are many women out there who feel exactly the same and have had to battle this relentless “good old boys” attitude. Thankfully, at the beginning of this year I joined the Sure Shots, a women’s pistol league based in Austin, TX where women just like me can come together and learn how to shoot without the pressure of their boyfriends, husbands, or any other men who try to limit us.
It is when I joined the Sure Shots that I began to take shooting more seriously than just a fun hobby or practice to become a better hunter. I began to seek out training programs that would expand my capabilities as a shooter. The first class I took was a carbine class for the Sure Shots administered by Legion Firearms. I had never shot an AR-15 before (actually, I had never shot a rifle that wasn’t some type of bolt action hunting rifle). The class pushed me passed my physical limits, but I came out the other side more familiar and proficient with the weapon system.
A few months later a fellow Sure Shot and I took the Magpul Dynamics Handgun One course conducted by Steve Fisher, who happens to be an excellent instructor and just an awesome person to be around in general (even if he called me “Rihanna” for 3 days straight). Despite the fact that we were the only girls in a class of experienced shooters, we held our own. If I had one word to describe the three days of the course, it would be “intense.” While the class focused on technique, handgun manipulation, and accuracy, the most important thing I got out of it was discovering and experiencing my personal physical and mental breaking points. I broke bad habits and began to learn new ones. I came out a completely different shooter.
During the first day of the HSP Adaptive Carbine class I immediately began to realize that the teaching style was completely different than anything I had taken before. First of all, Travis Haley and Brannon LeBouef were very personable and welcoming. The course itself was extremely cognitive and internally focused. I began to concentrate on my mental awareness and focus. We didn’t even shoot that many rounds the first day. Yet, somehow the fewer rounds I put through the barrel, the more I was learning and improving. Their goal for the course was for us to become “thinkers before shooters.” Each day consisted of multiple stories and lessons that they shared with the class.
While the Magpul Dynamics class made me a completely different pistol shooter, the Haley Strategic class made me a completely different thinker. Both classes provided extensive training in fundamentals, which are universal to all weapon systems. The things I learned about “feel, eyes, finger” in the HSP carbine class have already made me a better handgun shooter. Likewise, the intensity and fast pace I learned in the Magpul Dynamics handgun class have helped me to be aggressive and proficient with carbine techniques.
If I were to provide advice for women looking for training, I would recommend taking a Haley Strategic Partner’s class first. It would have been interesting for me to see how my acquired mental awareness would have helped me in Steve Fisher’s class. Furthermore, don’t resist taking a class because you are intimidated, scared, or don’t want to be “yelled at.” I think it is vitally important to be pushed in that way. You need to be able to face your barriers so you can cross them. It is important to diversify your training to discover which techniques works best for you. Also, you will discover that the firearms community consists of some of the most welcoming and friendly people you will ever meet. Everyone wants to share their gear, stories, and learned lessons with each other, especially with women who are taking the initiative to make themselves better. They want to be part of that. Just remember, stay open to all types of training and don’t be afraid to try something new.