AAR from TCinVA at Pistol-Forum.com
Green Ops is a company I was introduced to by Todd Green. I've usually had excellent results by following Todd's recommendations so I signed up for their class in Culpepper this past weekend.
I thought it was going to be a sunny, warm day on the range. It was not. Temperatures dropped to just above freezing and from mid-morning on an ever increasing amount of rain pelted us.
The students who showed up ran the gamut. I've done a class or two in my time. LL has been through a class or two. VDM has been through a class or two, too. On the other end of the spectrum there were people who had absolutely no formal training whatsoever, with one person sort of in between due to military training.. I assume you are familiar with the bell curve, right? This class was like an upside-down bell curve. The majority of the class was on the extreme ends of the scale, while the distinct minority was in the middle.
The instructors, Brett and Mike, are both experienced and eminently qualified to teach. Brett has experience teaching in the military and multiple levels of law enforcement, and competes. Mike has spent time in SOF units and has been instructing military and some LE personnel for quite some time in addition to knocking on the back door of being classified as a GM in USPSA.
Class began with introductions, the instructors outlining their background and purpose of the class, and then a safety brief complete with medical plan. Then we moved on to the range.
Heavy emphasis was placed on grip and Brett had as good a breakdown on the presentation of proper grip as I've seen. I intend to steal it. After explaining grip and then observing each student's grip for correction, using a marker to give them an easy reference point (something else worth stealing if you've never seen it done before). The class began working with dryfire and then live fire on 1" squares at 3 yards...a technique I'm quite fond of myself when teaching new shooters as it really highlights the importance of the fundamentals and leaves no doubt about what they are doing wrong.
Very early on in the day students were exposed to the shot timer and the idea of standards. Complete X task within Y seconds. (Draw and shot from the holster, draw and 2 shots from the holster, one-reload-one, etc) The instructors explained that the standards were there to give the students an idea of what they would like to see from the class, but were clear that not everybody was up to that level. When timed drills were presented the process was:
- Demonstration of the drill on the time standard by one of the instructors
- A relay of students on line performing the drill with a par time set on the timers to give audible cues as to the standard as the instructors floated from student to student assessing and improving
- Each student timed on the drill individually
- The relay given the opportunity to run the drill a couple more times with the timer set to the par time
Placing students on the timer and giving an individual assessment against an established standard is relatively rare in a level I class, in my experience. It gives the students a very clear measurement of where they are and where they should shoot for right off the bat.
After a relatively brief lunch to beat the worsening weather, we worked on clearing common malfunctions.
Then, in another rather unusual move, the instructors had the class shoot an actual Virginia DCJS firearms qualifications, one that's more challenging than most you will find listed by the state. Most of the students were able to pass a tougher qual standard than most police officers are subjected to...and in a single day's worth of training. Sad but true.
In a special tribute to Todd, we all ran through the FASTest:
Todd always intended for the test to be run cold, but the freezing temperatures of Virginia's lovely March weather made this quite possibly the coldest FASTest ever run.
After that we policed brass (team-building exercise) and then Mike and Brett went through the mindset and decision making lecture portion of the class at the end. They normally do this section at the beginning of class but due to the impending weather they moved the bit we could do sitting down under some cover to the end of the day. This was a good move, as the rain really started to come down right as we got under the covered part of the range. The instructors discussed the necessary elements of using force in self defense:
- Manifest intent
An emphasis was also placed on the speed at which violent encounters tended to occur, and how a quarter of a second left on the table here or there is another opportunity for the bad guy to kill you.
The decision making and UOF part of the lecture was underscored by a simple exercise that is normally done with live fire, but in this case due to the weather the instructors substituted a SIRT gun so we didn't have to get any colder or wetter. Students were handed the SIRT gun and turned around. They were told that when they heard the beep of the timer they had to turn around and make a UOF decision about what they were presented with in 2 seconds.
When I turned around I saw two target silhouettes. The one on my left, and thus the first I saw, had a cell phone and a knife. I brought the SIRT up on the knife-armed target and tried to fire repeatedly, although with my numb hands I'm not sure I made more than a shot or two. The second target on the right had a revolver and a police badge...and I didn't shoot him. It's a good exercise in familiarizing students with the speed they need to pursue. In that scenario you do not have time to be worried about the mechanics of shooting...your brain needs to be able to absorb information from the environment and make an appropriate judgment about whether or not this dude needs to be shot.
Following the class the instructors sent out an email containing the drills that they used during the day, the timed standards used during the day, and advice on how to perform dry practice and train outside of class to meet or exceed those standards. The pace of the class was, I would wager, fast for most people...but the students in the class seemed to mostly rise to the occasion and do some quality work even in very poor conditions.
So based on what I experienced during the class as a paying customer, would I advise you to spend money on a Green Ops class?
Absolutely. I thought there was a lot of value in the class, especially for someone who had never been exposed to much of the material before. Students received plenty of individualized attention and feedback from the instructors and I think they will benefit enormously from being held to objective standards very early on. Actually having to shoot a relatively challenging qualification (no one cleaned it, not even the three more experienced shooters in the class) was a welcome surprise and something I think more instructors would be wise to fit into their program. The class accomplishes a lot in a single day on the range.