Alliance Police Training Facility
This was my second full EAG class this year and my first Shoot House Class. Alliance is an easy 5 hr. drive from my area in Indiana and well worth it. This is a class that has been on my training bucket list since it was introduced. I saw this class as an opportunity to test what I have learned in other classes, both EAG and other classes, and a chance to test the skills I use daily at work.
My only previous experience in a shoot house was several years ago at a MOUNT sight in Indiana. A neighboring department had rented the location and invited us along to train. The sight was extremely limited and consisted of only a hallway and four rooms. The experience was eye opening as before that we had only done dry runs or airsoft in buildings. After that training we went back to only using dry runs during our training in buildings once a year for Active Shooter.
As I have said in other AARs I work a very small department, so we are dependent on a local department for our firearms training and my only option for training in building searches is entering our local school at night and practicing by myself or the Active Shooter Training we do one day a year with a local Department. As I have said before, personally I believe that working for a small department means you need to be on top of your game and have the ability to save yourself and others without relying on other officers as backup. This is a major reason I seek out training above and beyond what is required by the state. That means sometimes the department pays, most of the time I pay as was the case with this class. I did request to use my department rifle and handgun so I could train as I fight, but I supplied the ammo, gear, travel and all expenses incurred.
Weather was hot and humid, but no different than Indiana. Highs were in the high 80’s to low 90’s and 70’s at night. No rain except for a few sprinkles that did nothing to help. Everyone looked forward to night fall for relief from the sun. There would be a random light breeze, but it would fade just as you started to enjoy it.
I fired 195 rifle rounds and two rounds of pistol.
For the class I used the following gear that is a combination of personal gear and department issued. My department will buy some equipment for me if I explain the reason why I need it, other equipment I know I need and purchase it to make life easier.
My rifle was my department issued rifle. This rifle was obtained through a rifle grant through Defensive Edge. Sully has a program where departments in need of a rifle can apply for a grant to obtain them. When the grant is rewarded the department not only gets a rifle, but also training to properly maintain the rifle. The link to original post can be found here in reference to the rifle and grant program. As you will see I have changed the rifle since receiving it to better suit my needs. The upper was replaced by me out of pocket after I made an error while installing a flash hider on the original upper. Due to skipping a step, that I knew better not to skip, I damaged the index pin in the Melonite barrel and damaged the upper. I rebuilt the upper with a Bravo Company 12” barrel and “blemished” upper.
SLR 15 Grant Post: http://www.proactivefirearmstraining.com/blog-and-equipment-reviews/august-07th-2013
Rifle: Defensive Edge SLR-15 Lower with SLR-15 lower parts kit
· MagPul Grip +
· B5 SOPMOD stock
· Mil-Spec Receiver Extension
Upper is Bravo Company 12”
· Standard A2 flash hider,
· LaRue 11” free float rail,
· PEQ-15 LAM
· DRMO Aimpoint M2 in a LaRue LT-150 mount
· LaRue Rail Clips
· Streamlight ProTac HL in a VTac light mount
· MagPul vertical grip,
· Daniel Defense fixed rear sight
· PRI collapsible front sight
Armor: Diamondback Tactical Plate carrier with add on cummerbund
· DBT Mag pouches, Hydration pouch & Dump Pouch
· CamelBak hydration bladder
· Mil-Surplus IFAK filled with items of my choosing
· Level III Plates
· PACA Level 3 Soft Armor added behind the plates
Gloves: Mechanix M-Pact Covert Gloves
Hearing Protection: DRMO MSA Sordins with mic
Mags: MagPul, TangoDown, Bravo Company, Brownells
Shooting Glasses: Oakley
Helmet: ACH with Team Wendy Zobium Action Pad SOF System
Ammo: Fiocchi 223A 55 gr FMJ BT and Fiocchi .40 S&W 160 gr FMJ
This shoot house class included a Combat Life Saver (CLS) module in addition to the shoot house training. The first three days had a 2 hour session of CLS then we would take a short break and move right into the shoot house.
CLS was taught by Kato. Kato brought to the table real world use of TCCC (Tactical Combat Casualty Care) and had been injured himself in various incidents in his career. It is an added benefit to hear from someone who has experienced the use of these techniques from both the patient side and the real world application side. The CLS portion was taught with PowerPoint, lecture and hands on exercises that drove home the information being presented. Any information presented was backed up with real world applications and lesson learned by our war fighters as far back as Vietnam.
CLS Day 1 consisted of identifying medical issues with a down team mate or partner and hemorrhage control. Multiple tourniquets types were presented along with the positives and negatives of each. We applied tourniquets to ourselves and a partner on both legs and arms and applications of the tourniquet were always done 100%, we were not allowed to slack or go easy on the application. All tourniquet applications were checked and fixed if any issues were found. Proper application of a tourniquet hurts and you learn quickly that if it does not hurt, you are doing it wrong. By the way, everyone still had all their limbs as the end of the class.
After the CLS portion we received our brief of the shoot house. We were advised there would be no slacking when it came to safety and violations of the safety rules would be dealt with immediately. We then moved to the shoot house for demonstrations of the techniques we would be using over the next four days. We then moved to the range to practice on cones setup to simulate the 3 shapes found in every building. Lastly we ran dry drills in the house.
After a short break we ran our first daylight runs. By the end of the first day we had run two day time runs and two night runs.
Day two of CLS started by reviewing what we had learned on tourniquets the day before. We then moved onto the evolution of hemostatic agents (Celox, QuickClot, etc.) and their proper application and proper way to pack wounds. We then covered injures to the chest.
Lastly we conducted practical exercises related to penetrating wounds and chest injuries. The practical exercises were as real as it can get without an actual patient. The hands on portion was excellent and allowed you to see that the lessons learned could be applied.
After a short break we were back in the Shoot House. We conducted 3 day time runs and two night time runs. Each run had a new variable and required you to use the lessons learned on each prior run.
Day three of the CLS training covered respiration and proper application of NPA airways, clearing airways and the recovery position. Next we moved out to the range to run practical drills in full armor and helmets. This was a great exercise as we were required to respond to a down teammate, apply the proper treatment then stay with our teammate to observe them for further complications. We were required to run, crawl and drag our teammates during the exercise all while in full armor and helmets to make sure we realized how tough it can really be to provide aid. The team concept was also enforced with pushups in full gear to drive home the fact you are not only responsible for yourself, but your teammate.
We were all beat after this exercise and given a chance to grab some food and cool down. When we returned we hit the shoot house. For three day runs and one night run. The night runs were cut short in the name of safety as we had all had a long hard day.
Day four of class was spent in the shoot house. We made three runs that day to finish out the class. The first two runs were conducted the same as the other runs throughout the class. The last run of the day combined a shooting exercise and a CLS exercise. We were task with solving a shooting problem then task with performing the proper steps to save a team member that had been struck by simulated gun fire during the shooting portion. This was an excellent drill and gave us a chance to combine everything we had learned.
The day ended with everyone giving a critique of the class and the issuing of certificates.
CLS Lessons Learned
I have assisted with classes similar to the CLS portion in the past, so the concepts presented were not foreign. I believe it is always beneficial to obtain training from a different source than your original training so you have options and can pick what works best for you. The training I had received prior was top notch and helped me to understand the concepts better and perform task easier. The chance to get to work with someone who has had a hand in creating the concepts is an opportunity that rarely occurs.
The hands on portions of the class were extremely beneficial as it had been some time since I have practiced these skills. The wound packing simulation and the needle decompression practical were extremely beneficial as they gave you hands on practice for something you have to experience to understand.
The field exercises were a real eye opener in that you find out if your gear will hinder your performance or benefit you. Gear moves, comes loose and hinders movement when working from the ground or while dragging a fallen teammate. This reinforces that you must put your gear on properly every time and perform checks to make sure you are not hindering yourself or others if an incident occurs. It is no secret that hot weather hinders your ability to perform, but add in armor, helmets, running and crawling on top of hot weather and you find out quick what you are made of. I think we all learned that we need to work out more after the exercises. Slacking on the application of tourniquets was dealt with by assuming the thinking position and completing pushups in full gear. This quickly reminds you to not cut corners. The lessons were obviously learned as you could hear the moans and groans across the field as tourniquets were applied correctly.
Watching a classmate step up and volunteer to have a NPA inserted for the benefit of the class shows you the type of guys and gals you are training with and working beside in the field.
Several departments have jumped on the bandwagon of issuing IFAKS (Individual First Aid Kits) to their officers, however training on the use of these items has been lacking or nonexistent and the choice of components have been hit and miss. This type of training should be mandated by every department in the country as this training can not only save a fellow officer, but also a family member, stranger or yourself.
Shoot House Lessons Learned
One of the more important lessons learned is to pay attention to your surroundings. Small details that are missed can mean the end to your existence or a teammates. I felt like a total idiot after walking in front of an open door to only find a bad guy target pointing his pistol at me. Had I used the skills I had been taught I would have seen the target prior to moving and saved myself and my teammate.
Another lesson learned was to stick to the plan, don’t announce your intension to do one movement then make a different movement. This not only leaves your partner having to play catch up but also makes you exposed when it is not needed. Also communicate with your partner, but do not over communicate. In a stressful situation less information that is to the point is better than attempting to communicate a book.
Believe it or not you can flag a corner even with a 12” barrel on your rifle, shocking I know. Lastly pay attention to your teammate and where they are. You cannot support your teammate and they cannot support you if you move too fast, enter areas by yourself or loose situational awareness.
As far as equipment issues I only had some minor ones appear. I still have not found a more secure way to secure the front flap of my plate carrier. When I bend over the weight of the mag cause the flap to start to come loose. I am still looking for a strap that will allow for the flap to be secured but still easy to remove when the vest is taken off. I am thinking a nylon belt keeper may be the way to go.
I don’t wear a helmet often, so when I do I am always looking for ways to make it easier to wear. I have used the Team Wendy ZAP SOF pads for some time now and they seem to work. The issue I had was with my Sordins, they were pushing into my head while wearing the helmet. This had not occurred before so I was not sure what had changed. After the second day I moved the larger pads farther forward and backwards making a larger channel for the headband of the Sordins, problem solved.
I only had one malfunction during the class with my rifle. When engaging a target while standing next to a door I experienced a stovepipe. The round captured by the base of the case between the bolt and the receiver. I transitioned to pistol and dropped the target. I was advised to fix the problem prior to entering the room and performed a malfunction clearance. This was the only issue I had with the rifle the entire class.
At times we received conflicting information from one instructor to another and sometimes from one run to the next. Personally, it caused me at times to worry more about performing a task to the approval of a certain instructor vs just performing the task needed to complete the evolution. It caused me to overthink some runs and to perform to a lower standard than I felt I should have.
The staff at the Holiday Inn was friendly, parking is close and most everyone attending training stays there. I made my reservations at the Holiday Inn Express a week before arrival. When I called I ask if they had a training rate for anyone attending a class at the range, they stated they did not. On the third day of class we were advised to make sure we were getting a discount at our hotel and advised to request a specific rate. I would recommend checking with the range for the specific wording you need to use when you make your reservation as it is significant savings. I would also recommend checking out at the desk the day you leave instead of just leaving. I found that they had applied the discount to only one day, not all three. I had also reserved the room with my personal credit card and needed to pay with a business card when I left. They took down my business card when I arrived and advised me it was in the system. When I checked out my receipt showed they charged my room to my personal card. You also cannot pay for your room with cash, they require a $250 deposit and a credit card on file if paying with cash.
This was one of the best classes I have attended when it comes to lessons learned, instruction received and real world benefit gained. Sadly 98% of public service training is advertised as one thing, then once you arrive you find it actually is nothing it was advertised to be. This class was everything and more it was advertised to be.
The shoot house exercises cause you to think on your feet and take charge of a situation and work with a partner at the same time. You were required to use skills that you have learned previously in not only this class, but other firearm classes and put them to work in a 360 degree environment in proximity to a teammate and other instructors. You were also required to convey information in a fast and precise way, the same as is needed in an emergency situation. Additionally you have the benefit of being under the constant observation of world class instructors and your fellow classmates watching your every move. I believe this class gives you the opportunity to verify to yourself that you can perform under pressure and perform safely in a real world environment.
The CLS is something anyone who carries a gun should complete. The hands on portions, field exercises and shoot house run combining the CLS were great and beyond expectation. It was great to see how you perform the task when wearing your gear and in the moment vs thinking you can do it because you set through a class or watched a video.
I cannot recommend this class enough to anyone looking to test themselves and the skills they have learned. I would recommend being comfortable with the basics and your equipment prior to attending to make the experience as beneficial as possible.
Camel Crack again helped tremendously due to the heat. The 5 gallons premade was great as it was always cold and ready, no need to mix it and wait. I again brought by insulated water bottle for use in between runs and ran a CamelBak on my plate carrier for use during runs. I have never drank so much water during training, but I can say I never felt beat by the heat. The fact that I wear soft armor daily under a dark blue uniform helped tremendously with the weather not taking a toll. I was actually more comfortable wearing a plate carrier and long sleeves as I had more air flow than when I am working. I also bought my own Camel Crack and have been hydrating more since taking Carbine 1 a few week prior. Plenty of trail mix, nuts and granola bars are also required to keep going.
There was not a mandated lunch time or dinner time due to the amount of training required each day. Having food on the range was a benefit. There was a refrigerator in our hotel room making it easy to purchase food and make sandwiches to take each day. They do make a Jimmy Johns run for lunch, but I found it easier to take a sandwich. Bring a quality cooler and there is an ice machine at the range making life easier.
I brought a camp chair which was great for relaxing between runs. I almost brought my popup shelter, but did not at the last minute. I would recommend bringing one if you can to provide more room to relax and to help spread the shade. We were able to back our vehicles up to the shelters making gear organization easy.
Buy the Brite Strike APALS10-GRN All Purpose Adhesive Light Strips instead of chemlights. The Brite Strikes last for over 200 hours, is battery powered and can be set to flash or steady on. They are adhesive and can be attached to items or Velcro. Practical Tactical, the company who makes the glow in the dark name tags required for class, also makes a pocket with Velcro that you can insert the Brite Strike into. I would recommend the pockets. They are bright and I used the same one the entire class.
I have to say thank you to Pat for assembling the instructor staff he had for this class. I have always wanted to train under these instructors and this class gave me that opportunity. I cannot say enough about the Alliance training facility except I wish it was closer to home. It is a rare occurrence to see a local government and department actually working together to get their officers the best training and equipment possible. I will be back for training in the future.
Thank you to all the sponsors that help EAG and Alliance to put on great training and to provide their students with great gear.
Blue Force Gear
Peters Custom Holsters