Revelation: “Training hell” is right next door to “training heaven.” We pronounce this above aching, wobbly knees and throbbing everything from the shoulders outward. But also with a gleam in our eyes: After a three-day Gabe Suarez, mostly Glock red-dot course (here and here) and the two-day Glock Operator course as part of Glock Summit 2017, we think a quantum leap is in undeniable evidence in the training community.
In numerous senses, this is a boon to regular folks. Foremost is the hope of another fortification against an unhinged, insupportable, but absolutely continuous assault by gun-haters of every stripe: Our “regular folks,” progressives claim, simply aren’t capable of responsible firearms ownership, to say nothing of actual gun handling and—save us all!—shooting.
”Gen 1” instructor Chris Edwards is a GSSF fixture many would recognize. He and Director of Training “Willie” Parent, III, oversee the line. Photo by A1F Staff
What the Glock Sports Shooting Foundation (GSSF) helped jump-start 26 years ago for civilian Glock owners was the extermination of this deeply prejudiced presumption of systematic incompetence. The availability of the Operator Course to GSSF members adds a level of skills development that ought to drive a well-positioned stake into this oft-repeated lie once and for all. It’s virtually impossible for us to imagine how anyone (and we emphatically include ourselves) will emerge from an Operator Course without learning a lot.
These enthusiasms do not ring so loudly in our ears, however, that we don’t hear some rising objections. “I’ll bet it’s just for Glocks!?” Well, yes; but why does that surprise? We won’t put too fine a point on why this is a good thing: Like GSSF, you could theoretically buy a Glock pistol, belt holster, mag pouch, eye/ear protection, 1,000 rounds of ammo and drive straight to your course. Part of what makes the two days of content so powerful—and almost stunningly complete—is the fact that firearm differences do not need to be addressed. (As both students and instructors, we’ve experienced the comparatively extreme disaster this can conjure too many times. A single student with an arcane handgun can very effectively hijack a class without the slightest intention of doing so, to say nothing of the thankfully rare individuals who seem to thrive on the turmoil and attention that results. Try teaching semi-autos around this, for instance. Not a “bad” firearm per se, but hell on wheels in a class.)
And that “stunningly complete” business is no exaggeration. From bedrock safety up to shooting on the move, 14 modules range widely over both obvious and unobvious topics. Carefully disguised as “fun,” interesting” or “incredibly useful” in that latter category are what we believe to be trend-setting, important steps forward that we’re glad to see:
Range Commands — It has been bad instructional design and a relatively dangerous oversight that more—indeed most—civilian shooters have no expectation of operating under these commands and the rules they imply. Director of Training Joseph “Willie” Parent drew the welcome comparison between these and range safety/etiquette, which got us to a second improvement over lesser venues …
Hot Range — The most obvious benefit here is the least important, despite the fact that it’s still damn important: It is the only way to get to the round count we did, which in turn is so advantageous in cementing good technique. Going “hot” and “cold” repeatedly is an incredible time sink, and not as safe as you might suppose (more reps = more chances of failure; practice this in “dry” training!). Never handling your firearm except when under command (“Load and Make Ready” or “Make Ready”) is easy to teach, easy to remember, easy to execute. Work your mags and ammo? Any old time.
Scotty Banks flubs a reload—NOT. Glad the camera caught it, because we didn’t. Try to keep a straight face—or miss the lesson—when Scotty has the floor. Photo by A1F Staff
Note that enforcing holster use from the get-go is why this works: Random and/or inconsistent “stowage” between actual strings of fire is far more accident-prone when you think about it, and necessitates even more wasted time with constant firing line maneuvers.
“Throttle” — One of the most difficult things to do in firearms instruction is to suit the needs of widely varying ability levels in the same course. This conundrum is unwound by three expedients, no less valid for being simple, at least in our view: round count, round count and round count. There is a second and more serious benefit: Because of that high round count, you will reveal a flaw or lapse that your instructors will spot (we sure did). If you don’t then learn something, that’ll be on you.
Competition Is A Good Thing — Given that Glock Professional is the organizational “home” of GSSF and Glock Training, this may not be too surprising. But we’re starting to see this ice thaw elsewhere as well. It is a wise and welcome thing.
The point—and power—of this is elementary, but kudos to Glock for unapologetically legitimizing it in the high-end training world: Dangerous mishandling is very rarely found in competition shooters because their home venues are so merciless to it (for instance). Many errors that do not even involve a shot still mean you’re done for the day, and Glock instructors make it courteously but unapologetically clear they’ll enforce safety violations with the same rigor. Funny how the lesson sinks in when you know “I’m sorry” won’t fix it to the tune of $300.
Chuck Evans brought decades of military and police pistoleering to the game. A Southern gentleman and character wrapped up in dazzling prowess. Photo by A1F Staff
About That $300 — Tuition, we may say, is a smokin’ deal. This is particularly true in light of the quality of the instructor cadre (well north of a century of experience, by our count). That they’re drawn from military and police ranks at present is likely a no-brainer, but there’s more to it than that. It’s also a bit of a pet peeve: There is absolutely nothing to be gained in the preservation of the Second Amendment by the manufacture of second-class citizens out of civilian shooters. The broad measure should be one of character on which most people actually (and still) agree; the narrow, can-he-or-she-put-bullet-holes-only–where-they-belong?
Suffice it to say that nowhere in our entire two days was there a hint of anything but the best in these terms. Instructor knowledge, courtesy and shooter comradery carried the class through each and every lesson with enviable progress and laugh-out-loud good humor.
All of which brings us to the point. Discounting as much as we can our predispositions, we recommend the Operator Course wholeheartedly. Almost any level of “Glocker” will get well more than fair value out of a transit through the curriculum.
And if you’re not a Glock guy or lady, it may be time to reconsider for the same reason.
Frank Winn has been studying arms and their relationship to tyranny, meaningful liberty and personal security all his adult life. He has been a firearms safety/shooting instructor for more than 20 years, and earned state, regional and national titles in several competitive disciplines.