Here are some pictures and a review of the first day of a Two Day Advanced Rifle Gunfighting course taught by Gabe Suarez of Suarez International out of Prescott, AZ.
This was not a basic course and the skills taught required that the students had some level of training prior to shooting this class. This created a professional atmosphere with a lot of instruction and learning taking place.
As usual I will not attempt to detail the drills and lessons, but instead show what a class like this consists of and hopefully encourage other shooters to participate in classes like this sooner than later.
ADVANCED RIFLE GUNFIGHTING
Our Rifle Gunfighting Course has set the standard for close range rifle training, but there is a limit to what can be done in two days. Where Rifle Gunfighting is all shooting and focuses on short range applications, Advanced Rifle Gunfighting adds material that pushes both the weapon system and operator to new levels.
In addition to this we have added Small Team Tactics (2-3 shooters), Team Immediate Action and Movement Drills, Rifle in Alternative Force, as well as several Rifle Force on Force exercises with our Airsoft Rifles. Finally we will spend some time working on Vehicle Gunfighting With Rifles as we study how to operate in and around vehicles with our long guns. Days will be long, intense, and filled with life-saving information. This class will set a new standard for civilian and professional rifle training. Not For Novice Rifle Shooters.
Duration: 2 days
Ammunition: Approximately 750 rounds (Minimum) , 50 rounds of pistol ammunition,
Requirements: Rifle (Any Action or Caliber suitable for use within 50 yards), All weapons must be equipped with a sling, Also bring a Pistol with at least two magazines, Belt, Holster, Magazine Pouches, Rifle Ammo Pouches, Ear & Eye Protection, (knee & elbow pads are strongly suggested)
This course was held at the Casa Grande Police Range in Casa Grande, Arizona. It’s a great venue for a shooting class
. It’s close to both Tucson and Phoenix. It’s got great views to the southwest and a big hill / mountain that the ranges point into to the east.
The students all showed up early and the class started at 9am sharp. It was about 40 °F at 9am, it warmed up to about 64 °F by 1pm and stayed warm the rest of the day. Day two was not as mild..
Gabe talked about when and where we (civilians) might need to use rifle gunfighting skills. There are really a lot of situations where a rifle could be a valuable tool. With that in mind Gabe offered a subtitle method of carry for urban situations
First a few drills to warm up and get gear and weapons situated
Like most rifle classes, Gabe stared the class off with a quick zero at 25 yards. This was no marksmanship class, and these students all knew how to shoot and their equipment was in working order, so there were no surprises here and this was taken care of quickly
Gabe started right away with instruction and the pace of the class was not slow. It was not too fast, and I didn’t notice any students being left behind. Questions were asked and answered, but for the most part the students were focused and learned quickly
This class concentrated on close quarters (CQB) distances so many of the drills were fairly close to the targets
Most of the drills were done in two groups so that one on one coaching was easier, Gabe is obviously comfortable with a class of this size and there were no issues with hearing commands or safety issues
Gabe offered new techniques and drills. He would break after a drill and gather the whole class to lecture and demonstrate the next drill. He would offer more or less information depending on the complexity of the skill being introduced.
These students were there to learn. There was some joking around occasionally, but for the most part the drills ran smoothly and one after another.
Gabe has taught for a long time, he knows his curriculum and didn’t refer to notes. Each skill progressed in logical progression that made more and more scense as the day went on.
Topics covered were really sections of skills, or refined skills. Student knew how to move, now they know how to move in a calculated direction. They knew how to clear a malfunction, now they know when to do that and when to transition to a pistol instead.
This large class was one of the most interesting I’ve experienced. There were all ages and professions. A few students were current LEO, Some prior military, a few guys were traveling together from a gun shop in New Mexico. A few students had traveled from California and at least one from back east. There were even three students from Italy who have trained with Gabe in Italy
The gear used was as varied as the students. AK47s, AR15s, a AK74S-U (Krink) an MP5 (Full auto) a HK-91, and a Ruger 10-22.
Students used chest rigs, drop leg pouches, and many used Gabe’s ‘Sneaky Bag’ which is a low profile shoulder bag that looks like a laptop bag or camera bag. It has hidden straps that allow the wearer to strap it securely in place when needed.
Gabe split the class into brief lectures. Demonstration Q&A sessions, and drills. Moving at a brisk pace, to cover a lot of topics from very close combat, to longer distances (still under 25 yards) to team tactics and even retention and combative use of the rifle were all covered in this advanced level course.
Some of the targets used during class
Gabe mentioned his reasoning behind many aspects of his course, curriculum and resources such as the targets he chose for the class. Using the photographic targets was an intentional choice and Gabe’s explanation for using them is the kind of insight you just can’t get without attending a class like this
Shot placement and choice of training were covered. Gabe stressed points and skills that students could use in their own training. He stressed that a class like this wasn’t a replacement for training at home and the local range.
A few of the interesting rifles used by students at this class; the H&K MP5 (full auto) and a sharp looking AK built to simulate one of the 100 series modern AKs
Splitting the students into two groups allowed the class to go by smoothly. WHile one string was shooting the other was drinking and filling magazines. When a drill was over the groups swapped places and this allowed Gabe to cover many skill sets while not running the students too hard
Demonstrations included students and used real weapons. Of course safety rules were followed and weapons were empty for demos like these.
Gabe was able to explain why he taught various skills. He would occasionally offer insight into the origins or evolution of some of the skills. And even why some techniques are not all they are claimed to be
Gabe has a very professional and friendly style of instruction. While he has strong opinions, and is not above ‘telling it like it is’ he keeps class enjoyable for everyone and there were plenty of laughs and the occasional kernel of wisdom I just had to write down. His choice of gear and techniques have been developed not on the training range, but on the streets in real life situations. It’s always interesting listening to learned advice as opposed recited advice
During one of the breaks to drink and get some shade, Gabe asked students to explain how the various systems worked. Students saw how the AR, AK and H&K work, how they are disassembled, and maintained. This is useful for students who might not yet own all of these examples
Gabe keeps the class moving. There are breaks a few times when everyone sat down for a few minutes, but for the most part students were on the move, either listening and watching demos and instruction, or on the line doing what they just learned. before long it was lunch, then the end of the day in no time
Skills built on prior lessons, Learning to shoot on the move progressed into where to move. Retention shooting positions progressed into combative lessons
Targets were changed a few times during the day, but students had little trouble keeping shots on target at these closer ranges. Again marksmanship is not the emphasis in a class such as this one. Of course hitting the target is important, but very few shots missed the center of mass at these distances so fewer targets could be used
Shadows were long by the time students were running the last few drills. But because of the pace and two groups running drills students seemed to have energy left at the end of the long, warm day of shooting in the desert sun. Day Two was a little cooler..
At the end of the day Gabe settled up with the students who had taken him up on the special prices he offered for his gear from his shop. Many of the students were happy to have the opportunity to buy worthwhile tactical gear, some were from places that mail order / internet is the only option. SO to have tactical gear available and at a discount, was hard to pass up and Gabe actually ran out of a few items, so he re supplied and brought back more on Day two of the class. Student said their goodbyes and headed home or to their hotels and we met up the next morning for Day Two of the Suarez International Advanced Rifle Gunfighting class
A crop duster buzzed the shooting ranges for most of the afternoon. A few times it flew directly over the class and range
I don’t shoot at the Casa Grande ranges too often, but this is the first time I experienced a plane flying over so low
This was a fairly large class, but no one was left behind, Each student received coaching and learned new skills.. Everyone returned for Day Two, which was windy, cold, raining and was just as much fun
SUAREZ INTERNATIONAL U.S.A. INC
Our training courses are focused on what actually happens in a fight, and not on what happens in the controlled environment of the training site. Likewise, we are always searching for better and more efficient methods, not locked in by any school dogma. When you ask a question at one of our training sessions, you will never hear, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it”, or “Because that’s what our instructor told us to do”. To the contrary, we know what happens in a fight. Whether with guns, knives, or fists, we’ve been there and seen it first-hand. Our training reflects the reality and ugliness of fighting to save your life or the lives of those important to you. Our training will help you prevail in such situations.