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Combat Rifle Course Review–Idaho Falls, ID SEP 2015

October 8, 2015

(The reviewer who wrote this is a former US Navy SEAL (verified BUD/S graduate), who, as he points out in the last paragraph, has been out for while. As always, my comments are bold, italicized, and in parentheses. My wife, HH6, pinned him with the nickname SCUBA Steve, JR, immediately upon discovering his background, since the SCUBA Steve moniker was already taken, and she’s not nearly as humorous as she thinks she is [and she will read this, so, “I love you.”]

Posting has been scant lately. We’ve been on the road teaching back-to-back classes for several weeks now, with a few more weeks to go before we get to return home for a break. My apologies for delayed responses to emails and the scarcity of entertaining—or obnoxious—blog posts.–JM)

AAR Narrative about the John Mosby Combat Rifle Class 2015108


A review and some lessons learned.

As someone who attended JM’s Open Enrollment October Combat Rifle in the vicinity of Idaho Falls, I can verify it was well worth the time, effort, and money. I’m not the only participant feeling this way. The class was attended by twenty students, many of whom had driven 8+ hours to attend the class, and one gentleman had driven 14+ hours.

An apparent side effect of having to travel so far means that participants who did make it really (REALLY–JM) wanted to be there.

This was a three-day class, from Friday through Sunday, with most people traveling on Thursday. Many made the drive home on Sunday, meaning they arrived home around midnight. The people who traveled far really had to set aside four or five days, one for travel each way, and three days on-site. That level of commitment seems to have provided a bit of participant self-selection as the class had no knuckleheads, busybodies, or other questionable characters. Apparently this is not always the case, which is why JM practices OPSEC with burner phones, and last minute link-up instructions, keeping a hard barrier between training contacts and his family (for the most part, students in these classes have been genuinely awesome people, just FYI, but it only takes one dude pissing in the pot to ruin the soup. –JM)

JM started things by having the class gather round and asking anyone who had military experience to raise their hand. He then pointed to each raised hand and asked about service and training particulars and in general, worked to get a good feel for the participants (To be honest, I do this largely out of self-interest. When I find out I’ve got guys with relevant experience, I tap them to help out as AI/Safeties, etc, as I did with SSJR…–JM). Out of our class of twenty, only a handful had any military experience and most were just “regular people.” The average age of participants was actually forty-plus, with only a couple “young bucks,” and many “seasoned” folks sporting silver hair. We also had multiple husband-and-wife or father-son teams show up.

Back to the participants and self-selection: These people were there because they really wanted to be there and it showed in their humility, attitudes, and focus. Throughout the weekend, the participants paid attention, stayed engaged, and practiced safety and muzzle awareness. I’m sure some of this was due to JM’s teaching ability—and his ability to inject a bit of “fear” when needed, such as, “if you move without putting your *&^&&^# safety on, I will tackle you and land points down—elbows and knees—so that you do NOT enjoy it!” but a lot of it was also due—again–to the caliber of the participants. During the verbal AAR, JM indicated that this is usually the case. Participants are generally good to go.

Training: The focus of this training is gunfighting, and JM reminded the participants of this fact throughout the weekend. This one lesson—gunfighting–came up again and again as participants battled with the balance between “excellent” and “good enough.” “Good enough” might be the single greatest takeaway from the weekend for many as they came from hunting backgrounds and were not used to “good enough.” Many of the tactical drills were graded on the “C zone,” which John continually pointed out is “good enough.” (Yet, as those that were there will note, the one shot I threw into the C, and out of the A Zone, completely pissed me off….”Good enough” is relative to your own standards. –JM) Yes, plugging a 3×5 card at 100M is great—if needed—but losing the fight because you took too long to set up the shot, going for excellent, and the enemy made the “good enough” shot, means you are still hit, will probably not make your shot, and now are a casualty. Focus on “good enough!” (And then improve what defines “good enough”–JM)

Drills: The drills and explanations are in JM’s book. Buy the book, review the material, and get to the class. Enough said.

The facility was private ground in the form of a cow pasture with a suitable backstop. The targets were IPSC cardboard with 3×5 cards, masking tape and Sharpies. We fired maybe 250-300 rounds total, and half of that was fired in the final drill. The point is that great training can be done almost anywhere and on the cheap. High speed shooting schools are awesome and a lot of fun, but are not required to learn to gunfight (I should point out, while I have no problem with using cool-guy training aids, ranging from custom build MOUT facilities and computerized, random pop-up targets, I grew up getting the most value out of hip pocket training, and then went to school to learn to train indigenous forces in austere environments. I’m comfortable with austere training set-ups, and consider them ideal for training preparedness minded/concerned citizens, since when SHTF, and you are forced to train others, you will probably not be training them on an automated, multi-million dollar range facility. This serves as a great introduction to what is possible inexpensively and with little layout. –JM)

I do want to highlight just how rapidly the class was able to progress, from starting with verifying the rifle zero (including getting some to the point of actually shooting a group tight enough to zero with—JM), to static-line shooting, to finally, moving, shooting, and communicating, during live-fire exercises. JM successfully crammed a lot of training into three days and you are definitely drinking from a fire hose. Several students had been to this very same class before and repeated it again—yes, as paying students—to do it all again. And this brings us to the final, real point:

Was the class worth the $500 fee? Yes, without a doubt, the class is worth it. When you add up what many students spent in time, gas, hotels, food, etc, the cost of the class was only part of the overall total. Yes, $500 is not chump change, and can buy a fair amount of ammunition. The bottom line is that, if you have spent the time and money to purchase a rifle, and think you might ever have to use it, you really do need to go get training. Real training. Gunfight training. Static range work can only get you so far (which is not anywhere near the same thing as saying, “Static range work is useless.” Static range work is essential to building the basic skills that are leveraged into gunfight shooting. Anyone who tells you static range work is useless is utterly, completely full-of-shit. –JM) People showed up with a wide variety of gear; vests, holsters, slings, armor, boots, clothes, knee and elbow pads, ear protection, etc. JM did a great job of pointing out that gear is just gear. What really matters is the person working the gear. And working the gear means you need to be trained, and then continue practicing.

JM, you can include this if you want, your call:

FWIW, your humble reviewer is a former SEAL who has been out of the game for over a decade, and has not run a gun in the same length of time. I showed up way rusty, and although much came back to me, I have a long way to go. I learned some new techniques from JM, and he is an excellent instructor. Yes, I’ve been to some of the cool schools, and spent lots of time on military ranges. I would drop $500 again, in a heartbeat, to go through JM’s Combat Rifle class again. It’s that good! Good drills, good instruction, good focus. My only regret is that JM’s location back to the Midwest puts him really far away.

Final Thought:

JM may or may not do any more “open enrollment” classes. JM is still doing “private classes” as are other trainers. If you want this level of training, find others in your area and schedule a private class. It will be worth your time and money.



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  1. Az1912 permalink

    Good aar ssjr. Jm, any chance that you can get an alumni list or something where we may able to join in on some private training if the organizers are cool with it? For example, the organizer hires you to do a private training in bfe, one live’s close to bfe but does not know the organizer, and the organizer is willing to open up some slots. This would allow more opportunity to take your other courses, especially since open enrollment is in limbo.

    • We’ve (a in HH6 and myself) have been trying to figure out a way to do that. Problem is two-fold: A) I don’t have a list of former students. As soon as students leave a class, I delete numbers from phones, and etc….. B) I can’t even begin to imagine how time-consuming that would be, or how we’d go about it. Closest we could come up with was putting up a bulletin board online for students to converse, and I’m damned sure not interested in running that.

  2. SSJR,
    great assessment of JM and his classes. I look forward to seeing him up my way again soon. Coffee is on for both of you.
    SSJR, I use to spin up the guys heading over seas from Camp Atterbury Indiana. Every been thru Scout / Sniper with JD?
    Thank you for your service, I have been out since 2010. Miss the kids, THEY always kept me on my toes.
    Any of you troopers up in North Idaho, I have a range and coffee, come out and play.

    • Rick,
      Where are you at in North Idaho? I’m around Spokane.


      • RangerRick permalink

        Priest River, south side of river. I teach Survival and Emergency Preparedness every Monday night at 6 pm if interested, I think I will run the medical class the next 3 to 4 months. From home remedies to light surgery. RangerRick

  3. That sounds good! The schedule is a bit tight right now to make the Monday evening trip to Priest River, but that may change early next year.

  4. rangerrick permalink

    If we make to 2016 I will see ya in class, if not on the battle field, RR

  5. Jim Tobey permalink

    Good to know you are out there.

  6. RangerRick permalink

    As always, My Oath to my Country= Till Death do US part, RangerRick

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