A topic that gets precious little coverage on this blog is concealed carry. I live in MD; there’s functionally no concealed carry for average people here unless you meet some very specific criteria. This is compounded by having a job where concealed carry is not a viable option. Thus, I have the gear, but the topic is essentially theoretical to me.
When I was invited to the second day of Green Op’s Advanced Covert Carry Skills course, I was a little apprehensive. I mean, I always enjoy learning from Mike Green, who is one of the best instructors out there, and hard shooting is good shooting. The timing of the course, however, was very awkward (literally the day before Succot began in the evening) and I’m always nervous about going into day two of a course and then trying to play catch up. But they wanted me to come, and I really wanted to see Mike, so I gave in.
I can say with emphasis that I’m glad I did.
(Full disclosure: I was invited to TD2 for free, presumably due to my previous AARs and relatively close association with the instructor cadre. I’m also an admin on their alumni group, mostly because I whined at them to start it in the first place. I am still committed to writing unbiased AARs of their classes, which they’ve always supported me on.)
I will be using the Primary & Secondary AAR format for this post. I am not going to call it an AAR, because it’s a little unfair to write an AAR on a class that you only attended half of. I’ll talk about what I did do, and you can make your own judgement about the value of the class.
Class Title: Advanced Covert Carry Skills
Class Description: From the website: Initially designed for U.S. Government and Special Operations personnel for their Low Profile shooting requirements. All shooting will start from concealment, giving you the opportunity to quickly learn the necessary skills needed for conceal carry. Focus will be on shooting techniques that will allow you to rapidly eliminate threats with a concealed pistol. There will be a strong emphasis on shooting from concealed carry, flashlight techniques, moving, one handed shooting, seated shooting, vehicles, reloading under stress, immediate action drills and scenario drills. We will stress speed and accuracy while covering handgun manipulation skills that will enable the shooter to more effectively use their pistol. Students will learn self-diagnostics to continue development of their own personal performance, how to practice and tracking one’s own skill level.
Instructors: Mike Green. Chris Alvarez, Jo’shua Shaw, and Ace were there in support, but Mike really was doing 90% of the teaching in my opinion. Mike is retired military and served in SF. He’s also an IDPA and USPSA M-classed shooter, as well as a sometimes-guest on Primary & Secondary. He is also one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
Location/Date: Shadow Hawk Defense, Hedgesville, WV. The class was on 10/13/2019 from 9AM-5PM. I was there until about 4PM, at which point I had to bounce so I could make it to Baltimore before Succot.
Shadow Hawk is a huge facility with a lot of capability. We were on the 50yd range, which is gravel with very well-labeled known distance markers. There’s a large covered area in case of rain, too. (Bonus points, there was a lot of 223 brass left on the ground which I collected during the lunch break for reloading.)
Weather: 40’s in the morning, warming up to mid-60’s by the end of the day. We were in the sun, so jackets started coming off around lunch.
Equipment Details: Fauxland Special (P80 PF940C frame, Brownells slide, threaded barrel, TBRCi comp, Streamlight TLR-2, and Trijicon RMR01), 17/21rd pmags, and some hot-ish 125gr coated reloads (1.125 OAL on 4.0gr of TiteGroup). All of that rode AIWB in a Floodlight TLR holster and a pair of B-More Tactical mag carriers on my (new and now discontinued) Graith Specialist belt. Total round count at the end of class was ~450.
I had a bit of minor pin walk on the Fauxland (even after the soldering iron fixes!) and some stickiness with the ammo (I think due to inadequate crimp and lead shaving) when I tried to manually cycle the slide, but it was otherwise pretty solid gear. I am going to attack the Fauxland with the soldering iron more aggressively in the future, and I have a G19 frame in transfer. I am still loving the compensator life, and will not be giving it up easily.
The Floodlight TLR is an amazing holster. I am not used to AIWB, but I found myself able to move and draw very effectively with it. Concealment was also pretty stellar out of the box. The B-More Tactical mag carriers are something I’ll devote some more attention to later on in another post/review. They were functionally fine, but I don’t think they were really optimized for AIWB usage on larger magazines.
Preparation Drills: Semi-regular dry-fire, mostly draw-shoot-3-targets. Tried to focus a bit on my draw with the Floodlight TLR, which I think was a good decision. I wasn’t smoking fast, but I was very safe.
Author’s Previous Experience: Civilian with no military or LEO background. Have shot some competition, but no accomplishments worth bragging about. Training junkie since April 2018, and have averaged a class a month since then. I am OK with a carbine, pretty good with a pistol, and just average with a shotgun.
Class Demographics: There were about a dozen students. Racially diverse, but no women. One of them was a LEO – and slightly famous in P&S circles – but I’ll decline to name him except to say he shot quite well. Guns were a mix of striker-fired guns and DA/SA. Carry style leaned towards AIWB, but there were plenty of side IWB guys there. Didn’t see anybody have a hard failure on their gun, but did see holsters swapped out.
Training Day 2 (morning): The day started off with a recap of TD1. I wasn’t around for TD1, so this was of great interest to me. I learned a neat trick regarding concealing pocket knives in less-permissive environments, so that was kinda cool. He also brought up what the difference was between covert, concealed, and low-pro carry was, which is not something I had ever really thought about previously. It’s all about consequences for getting caught, which is something you’ve got to balance out against your loadout.
As you can surmise from the name of the class, everything gets done from concealment, preferably covert-level concealment. I would not quite say my gear was conducive to true covert carry – the mag pouches printed a fair bit – but it was shocking how much you Glock you could conceal with the Floodlight TLR holster and a loose-ish T-shirt.
AIWB carry was (and really still is) a new experience for me. I had to learn how to maneuver my jacket out of the way while lifting my shirt, how to grab the gun without getting a full awesome grip on it (because my belly was in the way of my thumb), etc. I neglected to wear a rash guard, and got a fairly gnarly rash from repeated draws right above the holster. Point being, if you’re good with an OWB holster, your existing skills don’t magically go away with an AIWB holster, but you’ll need to learn a new set of skills.
The shooting started off with dot torture at 5yds. I scored a 40/50, which isn’t great even for me. The entire difference was basically bad one-handed shooting; maybe I wasn’t used to the cold, or maybe I just having a bad day. The increasing use of dot torture at these classes is really incentivizing me to invest the time in figuring out how to clear it properly!
This was followed by a couple rounds of the “350 point drill”. This is a 70 round drill conducted at 25yds on an IDPA target. You do a variety of shooting styles and stances, and then you calculate your score at the end. I had a 299 and a 278 – no idea why I did worse the second time around, but I wasn’t the only one. This further reinforced to me how I need to have more focus on my trigger presses to not disturb the sights.
I enjoyed this drill quite a lot and intend to do it at the static range in the future. Shooting at 25yds is hard, but being successful at it is just a matter of discipline and fundamentals. You see this kind of “put them all in the B8 at 25yds” drill very frequently with a lot of the top-tier instructors now, and I really see why.
Following these precision-oriented drills, we had some movement drills in three relays. Front, back, side-to-side, and, best of all, real running and shooting drills. I have never sprinted with a loaded gun before. I’ve done a real quick trot during a USPSA match, but never went full-on as fast as I could manage it. It was an interesting experience! Mike had us sprinting, and then would call “up!” and we’d slow down to a walk while engaging with three rounds. After doing so, we’d resume our sprint until the next call for shooting.
In theory, rapid movement drills can be dangerous. People can get ahead of others, guns are moving, you can trip, etc. We were spaced out far enough and had solid-enough shooters that I never felt any concern. Mike also really had a nice grip on the pacing, and no one ended up all that far ahead of anyone else.
Now that we had moved fast, it was time to slow down… and do some barricade work. The barricade drill was simple and effective; there were four barricades, and you had to shoot around each at targets while doing reasonable position transitions and reloads. Some of the shooting was done kneeling. About the only thing that could have made it more interesting would be shooting while doing the transitions.
At this point, we paused for a lunch break. It was low-key – some kibitzing, some dry-fire, a little live-fire experimentation down range. I had brought my new Maxim 9 for some test-firing, and it worked as expected – I’ll have a proper review after I’ve run it at a class.
When we picked back up, it was Bill and Blake drills. My times for these were nothing to write home about – I was still getting used to the AIWB draw – but the point that Mike was trying to make is that your times for these are usually just about the same. This was very true for me, which is something I had not considered previously, either.
Class Debrief: Missed it. But there was a class picture that I am (regrettably) not in, so I assume the debrief is the same as other Green Ops classes. There was some brass pickup.
After Class: Missed it – but I did manage to get back to Baltimore in time for a very enjoyable first two nights of Succot.
Conclusions: This was a hard day of class, and I enjoyed every second of it. We were constantly pushed beyond our comfort zones into high performance, and failures taught as much, perhaps more, than successes.
In terms of improvements, it’s always about skills and gear, mostly the former. I need to spend more time working my trigger presses, and not just always accepting the USPSA A-zone at 10yds as good enough. I’ve also got to practice that AIWB draw if I’m going to push it back down to the ~1s I can manage an OWB draw.
Gear-wise, I’m also thinking harder about the PHLster flex system as a mechanism to stash a spare mag on the same AIWB rig. The pouches I were using were fine, and totally acceptable for side IWB carry, but they pushed the magazines up too high for AIWB with real concealment.
The class, or at the least the day I attended, is top notch. Green Ops is not kidding about it being an advanced class, and it pushes you to your failure point as hard as it can. But if you literally want to learn about how to run and gun, this is where you need to be. I was also struck by just how much Mike seems to enjoy teaching this class; some instructors have a job, but it’s clear Mike Green has a passion for the knowledge he’s sharing. The real-world anecdotes were always on point and added some context to what was being taught. If you see this class in 2020, and you’re up to the challenge, you should definitely sign up and take it to the next level – just remember to leave a space for me!