The Dry-Fire Project (Part 2/2)
What made SWAT International stand out for me personally was that they actually had a well firm structure to their firearms courses.
I have been seriously comparing firearms courses across Australia, New Zealand and other parts of the world for a good couple of years now. I have had hands-on work in the CPP industry in Australasia, I can quite safely point out that most courses that I have come across (either CPP or Security Firearms) have been very 'tick-box' oriented. For example, "Show me that you can do xyz, let me tick this box to cover my backside as now you are (safety oriented), move on to the next module". Some of these courses in the Security Industry are an 'airborne disease' that spreads between RTO's and rather than teaching the student, it gives them a false sense of hope that they fully understand the subject as their RTO's are telling what they want to hear since they paid for the course.
The amount of stories I heard in Sydney alone is ridiculous. As a consultant and a Private Investigator, I have seen Cert IV's locked up in their offices put more effort in Risk Matrices than visually inspecting potential risks on site. I have heard of PI's messing up investigations due to bad surveillance practices, even not knowing how to get positive ID on their subject then presenting it as evidence in court. If that isn't bad enough, these RTO's are still operating! With firearms, you will not have the luxury of a second chance and I certainly was not prepared to take on this risk.
Now back to SWAT INTERNATIONAL, they are aware of this point-system approach when it comes to teaching. My plan was to find instructors that cared about my professional development in order to help me achieve a specific goal and I definitely was not disappointed.
Two words..."Bloody Awesome!". It was great day over in the Gold Coast. The sun was beating down, very light breeze. A perfect day to be out on the shooting range. Despite preparing for this day, I must say I was pretty darn nervous and I did not know why. Was it because it was my first time taking on a Tactical Firearms course or was it because it was going to be my first time that I'd fire a pistol? Was I going to screw up on the draw or when the timer put me to the test? Was the Dry-fire training that we invested in really worth it? But first, let us talk a little bit about S.W.A.T International.
About S.W.A.T. International
SWAT International is run by Shane McAuley and Mick Roberts. The feedback that stood out about them before I decided to give them a call was how passionate they were about teaching safe yet practical firearms applications to a wide range of students. What is unique to them is their 3 Tier Tactical Pistol Course which is the first of its type I have seen in Australia and New Zealand.
SWAT International in partnership with TALON Education which is a RTO so you can do your annual firearm re-certification with them in addition to your class A,B,C,D and H safety courses for QLD. Just to clarify, SWAT International and TALON Education are owned by Shane McAuley so expect the same high level service. They also offer training for military and law enforcement as well as one-on-one firearms coaching. The guys have literally decades of experience between themselves and it was a good start for me to get some hands-on experience for practical firearms application. They also offer self defence and they have partnered up with Alternative Options Security Group to offer a comprehensive CPP course for hostile environments. Call the team for further details.
The course was a one-on-one coaching session conducted by Mick Roberts over at the Gold Coast Pistol Club in Southport. Mick literally has years of experience worth their weight in gold ranging from ADF to working as a Team Leader protecting some of the most important assets in the Security Industry in addition to training both military and civilian personnel in some of the world's most hostile territories.
Over the course of the first hour, I started to feel my stress drain away. It was definitely a pleasure to get to know Mick in person as his friendly character helped put me at ease, which I knew at that time was the most critical thing I needed to do to get the most out of the day's session. After all, for me personally, I did not think we would get through all the training in just under a day. Even two hours in I was thinking "How the heck will I pick up two weapon platforms in this amount of time?".
The day's schedule was broken down into three levels. The requirement was that each part had to be completed before moving on to the next level with level one consisting of basic drills on the Glock 19 to shooting multiple targets on the move and from around corners using the Ruger .22LR and the Glock 19. Other drills included turns (static and mobile), timed shoots in addition to malfunction drills. The training was RICH in content but not overwhelming.
What I liked about the training was how well organized it was. I signed up for one-on-one coaching in order to prepare myself for a more advanced course in CPP for hostile environments. It was not a session where you rocked up casually to the range, fired a few rounds and the instructor made it up as he went. I discussed what I needed 'or thought I needed' to cover with them in advance and they tailored the training accordingly. There was thought that was put into this program outside of training.
You might ask why I keep stressing the importance of good training? I have personally competed in a hobby on regional and international level outside of the security industry and being an instructor with 15 years experience, I know from experience that two factors go hand-in-hand when it comes to getting the maximum out of your training. An eager student who practices in their own time and an experienced trainer who has intimate knowledge of what they are passionate about.
It was clear that the quality of instruction was what got me that far on that day. I visually compared my groupings against two black steel targets and I can confidently say I watched my groupings get tighter in the space of a few hours. Mick struck the perfect balance between going slow to make sure I picked up everything and pushing me on the timed drills and shooting on the move where it was needed.
It was not a session where you would get a "Mind Dump" for 1/2 an hour and hope like heck you remembered everything when you picked up your weapon but rather a session where the drills got more progressively challenging with a series of small tips that cumulatively added together to form a comprehensive, well-rounded course. Despite the structure, the training was very laid back. We still went through 500 rounds over 5 hours!
As mentioned in our previous blog, no amount of dry-fire will prepare you for the real experience. Just to paint a picture for those like me a couple of weeks back that have never picked up a pistol, you are effectively trying to direct a 'controlled explosion' when your pistol goes off and nothing can simulate that. I still have a long way to go with regards to my recoil management, trigger control and there is always the potential for better draw times and improved accuracy.
Dry-fire before this course had helped alleviate a significant amount of stress which helped me get the most out of my training that day. I believe that Firearms are a profession on their own and the last thing you want to be doing is trying to remember a set sequence when your main focus is to be driving as many rounds down range as possible.
As you are aware, a lot of stupid thoughts will go through your mind when you are under stress and 'muscle memory' will make you resist the urge of doing something stupid. You are now problem solving rather than impulsively reacting to your body's stress. This needs to be done at home AND under a qualified instructor in order to get the maximum benefit out of the firearms training program you have set for yourself.
I have gained a lot of knowledge and confidence going through the program SWAT International have put on offer. Whether you are serious about firearms training or an absolute bigger, I highly recommend you check out the SWAT International.