You just bought your first AR-15 rifle, or owned one for sometime but have a shallow knowledge of it’s fundamentals and defensive use. You heard about some fun carbine defensive tactical courses but knowing you don’t qualify because of not having the basic solid foundation skill set require to operate this rifle platform in the way it’s meant to. Are you a concealed carrier who want’s to know how to use a rifle in self-defense efficiently?
Minute Man Rifle Course is the gateway course to other intermittent and advance defensive AR-15 courses such as, course offer by Green-Ops, the legendary Pat Rogers (unfortunately who left our world 😥 , and many more well known advance rifle classes and training companies. The class takes place on a private outdoor range in Culpeper Virginia.
Minute Man Rifle class is taught by the skilled and humorous John Murphy who is the lead instructor and owner of FPF Training, he also teaches other handgun courses on this private outdoor range.
John starts out the eight hour training course with the classroom portion first. This is where he feeds your brain with AR-15 anatomy, functions, history of the AR platform, how it evolves and advances through time, and the vast optional accessories. He also goes over the few top quality AR-15s and his personal recommendation. I pretty much knew who are the top 4, BCM, Smith & Wesson, Daniel Defense and Colt, any of these are mil-spec or exceeding. Pretty much every armory in the country makes AR-15 these days, but those above are well known and are proven. Sure, there’re other brands out there that are just as good too. The Smith & Wesson will cost you around a grand (speaking of the T or Tactical model which is the one I have) and the best bang for the buck when it comes to quality along with the few Colt models in the same price range as the M&P T model.
Up next is out on the range. First starting with a non-live firing drill. John drills you down on the fundamentals; how to properly load, reload, grip, safety, sling usage and the various types of malfunctions and clearing them so you can rapidly get back in to the fight. You’ll be provided with dummy rounds for this portion. Basic rifle manipulation might sound and look easy but it’s not quite as brisk as you might first think, especially if you’re a beginner such as myself, this really gets your brain cranking.
Let’s assume you’re a skillful concealed carrier and taken a few advance pistol courses over the years and practice on a regular basis, we all know how smooth and easy is to draw the pistol from the concealment, reload, charge and clearing malfunctions.
How about driving? We don’t really think to apply the breaks or shift gears (assuming you drive manual), it’s called second nature. Learning to use a new and completely different defensive tool is the same thing. You can quickly overcome the challenges and turn it in to an enjoyable day thanks to John’s way of training. He constantly trains and applies what he learned from other rifle instructors such as Pat Rogers and other well known rifle instructors. I’ve observed other students in class who really had very little knowledge on how to zero, reload or marksmanship, and were struggling earlier but excel pretty well in the latter part of the day’s course.
Gary who is John’s assistant instructor was there as usual. Me being an NRA pistol instructor knows that it’s always preferred to have more than one instructor when running a live firing course, unless you’re doing a very small class or one on one. The more eyes the better when it comes to safety and efficiency for any range time of the class.
Now switching gears to live firing for the rest of the day. You will first do your cycle operation drills that you’ve learned during the dry firing portion of the class at the 15 and 25 yard line. Note that your rifle sling is equivalent to a pistol holster, meaning when you’re not firing or manipulating the rifle, it will be slug, always! Once you got the basic rifle manipulations down, it’s time to zero your rifle. Here is where everyone gets to zero their rifle. Couple of students were shooting iron sights. Fortunately my Aim Point PRO was pretty much zeroed (called it being prepared and doing my homework, hey, but not required 😉 ). I only had to make slight adjustments in my elevation. Others had to spend some more time sighting until their sights were zeroed.
Up next it’s time to tackle the big four shooting positions. Standing, kneeling, sitting and prone.
You will be instructed to do multiple drills with each position, various distances and target types that will take up the majority of the class. Call it the “core training”. Here you’ll learn how to control and keep your rifle stable in each position, while trying to improve your accuracy by maintaining proper control of your rifle and minimize wobbling. After each shooting set, it’s what John calls, the moment of shame or moment of pride! Every student will stand in front of their target as John determines what correction is needed or whatnot.
We learned why the POA is about two inches different than POI when you shoot your rifle at close distance (within 10 yards), and why it’s useful in real life defensive situation.
The last drill was shooting at the 100 yards line at steel silhouette targets with each shooting position.
What an excellent opportunity to put your rifle to the test along with your mounted accessories. Light rain nonstop for the whole time we were out on the range. I use Froglube and applied it correctly. My rifle devoured about 400 rounds and ran smooth like butter. I shot the .223 Wolf Gold from Taiwan with zero malfunctions. My Streamlight TLR-1, Aimpoint PRO, Troy backup iron sights all did well without becoming loose or any failures. Only one hiccup that occurred about half way in the class, the sling hook on the bottom of the factory M&P buttstock broke off during manipulation. I should have loop the sling through my A4 buttstock from start, but ended up doing this after it broke and no more problems thereafter. I used the the two point Magpul MS4 sling. If SHTF situation type or bug out day really comes, I’m confident that my rifle with the current setup will live up to the uncertain and unexpected conditions it may face.
Those of you who are living in Northern Virginia or Virginia in general and are looking for some solid AR rifle beginners course, I highly recommend Minute Man Rifle class by FPF Training.