Sunday, November 8, 2009

AAR: Louis Awerbuck Yavapai Firearms Academy stage 1 and 2

for more.

Louis Awerbuck is a nationally known firearms instructor who has been teaching for many years, including at Gunsite.
I took both the stage 1 and 2 classes at Reed's indoor range in Santa Clara CA.  Note: the curriculum for YFA handgun stage 1 and 2 are slightly different at Reed's than at other facilities.

Both classes require that you already own a firearm and a holster and mag pouch, and that you're familiar with its basic operation.  Note: for both classes you should either bring a lunch or have a plan to go somewhere in Santa Clara for lunch.  There is a one hour lunch break in the middle of the day.

The stage 1 one-day class focused mostly on marksmanship, with Awerbuck going into deep detail in the classroom, then diagnosing everybody's problems on the range.  His ability to see and correct people's mistakes is uncanny.   Near the end of the class, he had everybody shoot at a small ammo box from about 15 yards away, and everybody hit it or almost hit it within 2 shots.  One fundamental of shooting that he focuses on a lot that many people had a problem with is follow through and trigger reset.  When you shoot, you should pull the trigger fully to the rear and hold it there for a moment, and then slowly let it out until it retreats and no further, while keeping the sights aligned on target.    When people shoot and then take their finger off the trigger quickly, it can misalign the sights even though the bullet has no fully left the barrel.   This doesn't get emphasized enough by most instructors.   He went over safety, drawing from a holster and tactical reloads, but otherwise it was not really a 'tactical' or defensive course.  The description on Reed's site mentions coverage of handgun and use of force laws, but there wasn't really any of that.

The stage 2 class started with a review of safety and asking if anyone was having any shooting problems.  On the range, we warmed up with a review of the things that were covered in the first class until everyone was shooting satisfactorily.   Once that was done, they set up 3 dimensional curved paper targets, which changes the game somewhat.  For example, if the target is standing somewhat sideways to you, you don't want to shoot in the middle of the chest (between his nipples) because that will not damage as much tissue as hitting somewhere on the side of his body that's closest to you.  So in other words as the target turns, you need to hit at the center of the target relative to you, and not keep aiming at the same spot on the target.  The targets were also tilted from 45 to 90 degrees sideways, which again presented challenges in terms of deciding where to shoot on the target.

Later, shooting on the move was added, including moving sideways and forward and back.   Movement is important both to help make yourself harder to hit, and also to gain the best angle to hit the target with a stopping hit.
Finally, no-shoot targets were added.  Now movement was even more important in order to find the right angle to hit the target without hitting the no-shoot target, which could be in front of or behind the target.  
At the end there was a very cool drill while Awerbuck set up a set of mannequins that were moving on pulleys and you were supposed to head shot one of them without hitting the others.  Everybody was able to do it within 2 or 3 shots, and many within 1 shot.

During the class he also covered tactical reloads, speed reloads, shooting from kneeling and clearing malfunctions. 

Note: for both classes, students were allowed to pick up the brass off the range at the end of the class, which may be useful to know if you reload.   It would definitely also be useful to bring brass sorting trays since a lot of different calibers were being shot.

After completing the stage 2 course, you get a card which entitles you to shoot on the right hand side range at Reed's, which includes the privilege to shoot from the holster and to rapid fire.  I think you have to stay 'current' which means shooting there at least once a month.

Both classes were well worth while, and I would say especially the stage 1 is very worthwhile if you have any problems with your shooting.  The stage 2 was very good, but just make sure you understand what you're getting, which is an intermediate level shooting class.  Again I felt like there wasn't so much of defensive, gunfighting material.   I would say actually from the perspective of all-around defensive firearms training, the 2-day pistol class taught by Brian Normandy at Jackson Arms was a lot more well rounded.


Tam said...

This was an interesting read for me; especially to note the differences between this and his 3-day Handgun I course at Boone County.

Did y'all not cover "draw-turn-and-fire" or shooting from kneeling or prone? What was the time limit with his "South African Computer"?

Jumpthestack said...

We did do shooting from kneeling very briefly, which I forgot to mention. No prone. I guess just due to time limitations. It was a 2 day class, about 7 hours each day not including lunch break, and some of that being classroom time.