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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Nearly Free State of Arizona
    Posts
    418

    Default AAR: Suarez Shotgun Gunfighting - Prescott AZ, April 7-8 2018

    It has been nearly a week since I drove up to Prescott to attend the Suarez Shotgun Gunfighting Class that took place on April 7-8 of this year. A lot has changed over the course of that week. However, let me get some disclaimers out of the way first. First and foremost, I did not pay for this class. The SI team, more of a family, were gracious enough to invite me to the class. This was a big deal for me in a number of ways. First, the class happened to fall on the 1 year anniversary of my getting injured in a vehicle/pedestrian accident (I lost that fight big time). I spent more than a month in the hospital and more than half a year in a wheelchair after. Being invited to the class on that anniversary was huge, both as a means to deal with some of the PTSD symptoms that appear to have grown out of that incident, but also as a way to 'test' myself to see how far I have come in my rehabilitation. Second, it was a chance to meet up with my brothers (both biological and adoptive) and spend some time together. Over the past year I have moved, gone through PT, started a new job and was there for the birth of my son. Many of these were awesome things, but there is just something 'grounding' about getting together with your brothers, talking shit, and shooting the hell out of things. I was able to do this with JonathanNobody, JDoza and CDX09. Combine that with the larger family of SI Instructors (Gabe, Brent and Greg - all who helped me get through my time in the hospital and Ted, who has been an absolute inspiration in getting through PT), the SI Staff (Mike and Josh are adoptive brothers....evil dwarves with guns), and Gabe's family (Cheryl and the kids are always awesome and welcoming) and you simply have a kick ass experience.

    Initial Expectations: I didn't have high enough expectations for this class. I figured that I already 'knew' most of what I needed to know. After all, I have been to every other offered SI class at least once (and many of them 3 and 4 times). Further, I have significant experience with combat shotguns. I drove up to Prescott with my trusted 870 Police (18" rifle sights) in the back of the battle wagon, right alongside my Benelli M1 and my Beretta 1301. I have done nearly ever LE shotgun course in existence and have done some of the 'other' shotgun courses (gunsite for example). I figured that this would be a 'fun' session and that I would get to evaluate my physical therapy, but I didn't really expect to be blown away (like I was in complete pistol and carbine the first times through). I seriously underestimated what I would get out of this.

    The Equipment: I already described what was in the bed of my truck - a veritable arms locker of smoothbore destruction. I have shot tens of thousands of rounds through the Benelli. I have multiple thousands of rounds through the 870. However, I opted to carry a Tac-14 for the entire course. I wasn't sold on the stakeout concept (yet!....that changes in a few paragraphs), so I went the 'cheap' route and got a Tac-14. JonathanNobody would carry the same thing and we decided that we would run those for the entire class unless we had a major failure of some sort. There were a few modifications to the PGOs. First, we installed the SI +1 tube extensions. The quality of these are outstanding, they come with everything you need (additional spring and follower), and they provide a great place to mount a sling. Second, we installed the tool steel SI extractors. Both JonthanNobody and I have signficant experience with MIM part failures and MIM does not belong on an extractor. The SI ones went on in just a few minutes. Third, we installed a rear sling mount and opted to use M1 Garand slings for both Tac-14s. These were cheap (2 for $30), simple, and worked great for what we were doing. The final changes were different between Jonathan and I. Jonathan gave me a well used (and loved) Remington 14" 870 Barrel with rifle sights and night sights. This came off of a duty carried (and used) 870 Police SBS. We installed that on my Tac-14 so we could see how the use of rifle sights would impact utility while Jonathan remained using the simple bead sight. For ammunition, we used County Sheriff "spare" slug (Federal Reduced Recoil 1oz Blue Hull @ 1200 FPS), my stash of Remington Reduced Recoil 1oz @ 1200 FPS, and Remington Reduced Recoil 8 Pellet 00 Buckshot. J Doza brought a ton of 'seized' 12 Ga and we used some of that junk and otherwise some aluminum hulled Winchester White Box #7.5 Shot. I rounded out the equipment loadout by using a HK USP 9mm (I like DA/SA) that CDX09 gave me, Jonathan used an FN FiveSeven pistol (from his CT days). I loaded all of my ammo into a maxpedition versipack that I wore slung over one shoulder. Jonathan shoved it all into cargo pockets.

    The Class: Every class has its own fingerprint. Some have some seriously quality shooters. Some have some serious soup sandwiches. This was one of the 'best' classes I have seen while training with SI. There were 15 or 16 shooters (small size that was easy to manage with 4 instructors and 3 additional SI staff). Thirteen were men and two were women. We had a cross section of weaponry, from 20 Gauge Tac-14s to Benelli M4 Combat Shotguns. We had a cross section of backgrounds, from a broken down call center worker to a Sheriff's Lieutenant to a Trauma Orthopedic Surgeon now doing Business Development. There was a huge spread of experience, fitness and position on the 'hate scale'. It was awesome. Everyone trained hard. Everyone was safe. Everyone paid attention and took feedback well. It was an outstanding group of people and I was proud to be one of them. I would train with ANY of them anytime.

    The Learnings: I'll bullet point this to keep it simple, but there was an insane amount of learning in a two day class.

    1. Don't underestimate the Stakeout - I wasn't prepared for the stakeout to perform as well as it did. I used my rifle sighted Tac-14 for everything. I shot buckshot for everything instead of using birdshot. I was never behind the curve. Performance was outstanding. I had zero malfunctions. I could shoot slugs well beyond 100 yards (using the creedmoor position and a sling for tension or just free standing). I could move from target to target using buckshot and not feel like I was lagging behind. I could easily transition to pistol (toss than PGO on the $15 dollar garand sling over your shoulder) and keep the fight going. Hell, I could run >70% shooting skeet with it. By day two I was looking more closely at the differences between the stakeout and the Tac-14 and then I could really start to see the VALUE of the SI modified system. They took the already decent Tac-14 and totally took it to the next level. There is NOTHING out there that would be better than an NP3d amphibian with iron sights and an RMR - NOTHING. JonathanNobody has already written an article detailing the differences and you would be wise to read it.

    2. Pattern your Shotgun - Different loads pattern quite differently. The same load may pattern very differently in two different shotguns. You MUST take the time to pattern your loads and then plan accordingly. Gabe demonstrated this by showing us a Federal #1 Buck load that looked like slug hits out to 20 yards (zero dispersion of the shot column). This was followed up by showing us a Federal #4 Buck load that was pie plate sized at 7 yards and pushed the edges of the targets at 15. You needed to pick your load for your planned usage. In my case, the Reduced Recoil 8 Pellet 00 buck shot a slightly tighter than desired pattern, but was so pleasant to shoot....I loved the predictability of it and will continue to use it as my primary loadout in the future.

    3. Fundamentals are Fundamentals - all the gadgetry in the world and all the specialized loads are null if you don't have your fundamentals down. This not only applied to the shotgun, but to the pistol. While we learned how to do transitions from buckshot to slugs, many of us with solid fundaments would be much better served by just transitioning to pistol, making the precision shot, and then going back to the shotgun as needed. If you can fight well with anything in your hands, you don't have to think about the gadgetry.

    4. The 12 Gauge is the KING Of CQB - Gabe spent some time making sure we understood the true power of the cartridges we were shooting. We shot Level 3A vests to understand that while 12 Ga rounds won't penetrate, they still may have the power to incapacitate and kill the opponent. We had excellent feedback from a trauma surgeon who could provide tons of additional insight. There is no better way to deliver a massive amount of killing power up close. With the right sights and training, you can play in extending the range to mid-range engagements, but the platform is really in its own under 25 yards.

    5. Movement Drills - I couldn't participate in the movement drills. My bad leg was getting pretty ugly by day 2. This was an artifact of being in the hospital for blood clot issues 24 hours before driving up to Prescott. I could only watch. What I saw was a modification to the movement matrix made by the SI Instructor Cadre based upon the shotgun and additional testing. It was smooth, logical and lethal. Yes, that means all of you SI 'experts' will need to plan on doing an additional course or two to get uptrained on the modified movement matrix.

    6. Superiorty of SI Instruction and Accessories - There is no training program that is like that done by SI. The adult education is outstanding, the progressions are logical, and you can learn a ton, be tested, and get pushed to your limits all while having a lot of fun. The quality of the accessories are outstanding and they are all thoroughly tested and thought through before coming to market. I recently was called an 'SI Fanboy' by someone. I thought through that for a moment and simply responded "I am, and it is warranted".

    I sincerely hope that there will be many more of these shotgun classes and if you haven't taken one, I strongly suggest that you do. No matter how much time you have behind a shotgun, or no matter how many times you have pointed one at someone with the intention of using it as an instrument of redemption, there is a lot to be learned from the SI class and you will absolutely find it to be transformative. To the folks that I trained with...I sincerely hope to train with each and every one of you again. It was a blast :)
    Honor is simply the morality of superior men - H.L. Mencken

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Location
    The Republic of Pirates
    Posts
    42,781
    A humble thank you. The "anniversary" issue was not by accident brother. "iron sharpens iron"
    Gabe Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Phoenix, Arizona
    Posts
    9,712
    Well summed up and good to see you doing so well brother.
    Greg "Hyena" Nichols
    Instagram: tacfit_az
    Facebook: SI Instructor Greg Nichols

    #thinkinginviolence
    #tactisexual

    Always entertaining, mildly offensive
    IANative: Indeed, when you grab Brent (or he grabs you), it feels like liquid unobtanium wrapped in rawhide... whereas Greg is just solid muscle wrapped in hate, seasoned w/ snuff and a little lead.

  4. #4
    I just want to thank the crew at SI for an amazing course! I've been a fan of the 12 gauge for a long time. This course really opened my eyes to the capabilities of the shotgun. The Stakeouts surprised me with how well they performed and kept up with everything else. I'm chomping at the bit to get my hands on one now!!!
    This was my second course with SI, and definitely not my last. Count me in if you guys decide to run a course solely on the Stakeout platform!
    Thanks again to the crew and other students who made this such an amazing course!

    Sent from my VS990 using Tapatalk

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    6,807
    Sounds like it was a fantastic class. Thanks for the report.
    Geek Warlord
    Dungeons & Dragons & Deadlifts

    Muscle Wizard Casts: Fist


    CRG-1 DPS
    CRG-2 CRG x 2
    SGF-1 Shotgun Gunfighting
    Trauma care under fire
    Spetsnaz Sniper
    HRO-5 Terrorist & Active Shooter Interdiction
    HRO-6 CQB: Fighting in Structures
    CRG-4 Force on Force
    HRO-5 Terrorist & Active Shooter Interdiction - 3 day
    TWOTU edition
    Trauma Medicine for the CCW Operator
    Pistol Ground Fighting (Taint Shooting Progressions)

    TWOTU since May 2015

  6. #6
    I too was part of the SI shotgun class last weekend. Thank you Chris Nobody for an eloquent, comprehensive, and accurate after action report. I found the training and knowledge provided by this class to be extremely valuable. I ran the course with a stocked, 18” Mossberg pump.

    To the items Chris discussed I will add a few other things that struck me.
    1. The first subject covered was using the “push/pull” method to hold the shotgun while firing. Though SI innovated this method to fire the Stakeout, to my surprise I found it works equally well using a stocked shotgun. To me it made a big difference in my shooting when I remembered to do it.

    2. Something I found very valuable was the opportunity discuss and observe various systems of carrying shotgun ammo. Almost everybody in the class had a unique method. These methods included sidesaddles, stock mounted, wrist mounted, belt carriers, belt clips, belt pouches, shoulder bags, bandoliers, and several variations of competition rigs. As the class progressed, some systems were quickly proven to be superior to others. I found my system of belt pouches, belt clips, and pockets not to be particularly good.

    In addition, Gabe mentioned converting a fanny pack to an ammo carrier. That is an idea I plan to try because it can carry a decent amount of ammo, can be worn around the waist or slung like a bandolier, would not be bulky, and can easily be stored near the shotgun for immediate access.

    3. Gabe emphasized the importance of having a method to separate buckshot from slugs in your carry system. The point was not the specific method, but having an effective method.

    4. We practiced something that was really fun - skipping buckshot into a group of targets. It was obvious doing this exercise how effective this would be against a crowd. Gabe also demonstrated the effect of shooting buckshot at two targets standing next to each other. If using a buckshot load with decent spread both people, if not dead, most certainly will be out of the fight.

    5. A requirement of the class was a sling for your shotgun. I discovered why a shotgun sling is just as important as a rifle sling. It allows for safe, hands free carry and makes possible a smooth, fast transition from shotgun to pistol. Not just that, but transition to pistol using a two-handed grip. We did tests between students comparing speed of shotgun reloads versus transition to pistols. Transition to pistol was generally much faster. Using a two-handed pistol grip proved far more accurate than a one-handed grip.

    6. A red-dot sight on a shotgun is just as valuable as it is on a pistol.

    7. Finally, the course opened my eyes to the capability of the Stakeout concept far beyond what I expected. The value of a short, light powerful shotgun for short-range “battle axe” work is obvious. However, observing people in the class using the Stakeout-type shotguns proved to me other important advantages of that weapons system.

    o With the right technique, shooting the Stakeout seems easier - certainly as easy - as shooting a regular shotgun.

    o With the right technique, the Stakeout makes moving and transferring the weapon right to left side and vice versa much less awkward.

    o A Stakeout can be a very effective long-range weapon. I watched many Stakeout-equipped members of our class make 100 yard hits using slugs from standing. Combined with a sling to brace the gun, along with a red-dot sight and practice, hits at that range and maybe even farther appear to me to be readily achievable by most shooters.
    Last edited by GrayWolf2; 04-13-2018 at 01:10 PM. Reason: Cleanup minor errors

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