On the 14th and 15th of November, in the year of our Lord 2015 AD, I was one of three proud participants in a training course that took place about 1,837 miles East (and slightly South) of Goffs, California. More specifically, the training took place at Double Tap Training Grounds LLC, which is just slightly East of Calera, Alabama. Using Alabama directions, and if you are traveling East on State Highway 25 from I-65, it is just before the second set of railroad tracks.
I would like to approach this review in three phases; the training facility, the instructor, and the training course itself to provide a complete a picture as possible of the entire experience.
DOUBLE TAP TRAINING GROUNDS LLC – THE VENUE:
“Double Tap Training Grounds LLC is a multi-faceted training facility that offers training opportunities for all. Prepared citizens, law enforcement officers, casual shooters — all will find a facility that can support basic to advanced level training and recreation. Our two story tactical house is designed for practical and tactical training with regards to interior tactical issues. The tactical house can be configured as a residence, hotel, office suite or apartment. A camera system is available to record training for immediate feedback and learning opportunities. We offer two classrooms and a defensive tactics training area. Our two outdoor shooting ranges can be configured for various weapon types and distances. There is a wide array of range equipment and features that can be used to enhance your range time. We offer overnight lodging in the Double Tap Bunkhouse for traveling students. We conduct open range sessions and host courses taught by professional instructors. We are a family owned business that is flexible and ready to work with you for family or corporate events, private training, agency training or the enjoyment of spending a couple of hours at the range.” – Courtesy of Double Tap Training Grounds LLC.
As a “traveling” student, I took advantage of the Double Tap Bunkhouse, and I was not alone. Several students from the Appleseed Project course, which was being conducted the same weekend as the Bare Bones Gunfighting course, also shared the more-than-adequate facility. “The Double Tap Bunkhouse provides complete respite from a hectic day of training for both male and female participants to include “bunk” space, showers, and restrooms for each. A “Common Room” provides relaxation space where range folk can mingle, talk, share experiences, eat a meal, or simply read or watch television. A microwave and refrigerator provides the means to store and cook food (of your own provision). Restaurants and grocery stores are within a short driving distance from the facility, as are motels.” – Source: Double Tap Training Grounds LLC. While I had brought enough of my “survival” gear and food, there was ample opportunity to partake in an “off site” meal, and especially a local barbeque restaurant that serves up some great barbeque plates (if you are willing to take a short drive into Calera).
My Son-In-Law accompanied me on the trip and we both took advantage of two nights at the bunkhouse. CR Williams (our instructor) also “bunked” with us and that gave us an opportunity to interface with him before and after training sessions in a relaxed atmosphere. We also got a chance to tour the Double Tap Tactical House, which is actually housed in the same building, but separate from, the Double Tap Bunkhouse. Additionally, a large classroom is also in the same building and has conveniences in place for formal presentations.
Double Tap Training Grounds LLC is family-run and we were treated like family during the entire experience. It was a pleasurable experience and my thanks go out to Double Tap Training Grounds LLC for providing such.
The Appleseed Project course took up the main, outdoor range space while the four of us Bare Bones Gunfighting course people had our own little place on the range so that the two courses did not interfere with the other. The dichotomy between the two courses was evident; the Appleseed Project course is about shooting; wheras, the Bare Bones Gunfighting course is about fighting. Double Tap Training Grounds LLC can, thankfully, accommodate both. (See RESOURCES: at the end of the article to obtain more information about Double Tap Training Grounds LLC, as I can only scratch the surface in this article.)
CR WILLIAMS – THE INSTRUCTOR:
The training course, Bare Bones Gunfighting, was presented by InShadowInLight founder, CR Williams. CR is a professional instructor, author, and consultant. A former Suarez International trainer, CR has since branched out on his own to present his experience and philosophy of fighting with the gun and not just shooting one. His books include; Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence (a series), and Facing the Active Shooter. (See RESOURCES: at the end of the article to obtain more information about his books, as I can only scratch the surface in this article.)
Training courses conducted by CR include; Bare Bones Gunfighting, Introduction to Fighting In and Around Vehicles, and Close-Range Rifle. (See RESOURCES: at the end of the article to obtain more information about CR’s training courses, as I can only scratch the surface in this article.)
I suggested to him that he should have (for the moment) titled the course “Bare Bones Gun Fighting for Senior Moments” because all who attended were in their sixties. CR moves like a cat and some of his moves were reminiscent of Brad Pitt’s character “Achilles” in the movie “Troy” while this student moved more like Tim Conway’s “Old Man” shuffling character.
The first morning of the course, we were all eager to get to the range; however, the requisite paperwork had to be completed by each participant. Afterward, some time was spent going through some first-aid talk and exploring different tourniquets, which is necessary whenever loaded firearms are being handled. No participant, including myself, desired to apply our new-found knowledge regarding tourniquets.
The Bare Bones Gunfighting course is, essentially, a course for those who wish to transition from simple “static” range practice to more dynamic use of the handgun as a fighting tool – a fighting handgun, if you will. The level of the course is such to take an “intermediate-level” shooting to the next higher level, which I will call a “basic dynamic” shooter for lack of a better term. That’s not to say that those who have better than basic skills would be excluded from the training. In my case, I had firearm skills learned through being a LEO, working in the executive protection field, and also armed security. I did not hurt that I have a martial arts background and was a Defensive Tactics Instructor and (briefly) a firearms trainer while a LEO. While I had these skills, I had no opportunity to practice/use them in quite a long time. I felt that the Bare Bones Gunfighting course would be a good place to start refreshing those skills.
CR runs a “Hot Range” but that does not mean that he is a master chef (although, and for all I know, he could be). It means that we are carrying live ammunition at all times. Obviously, safety is first and foremost. There was only one time, at the beginning of the drills, when we ran on empty and that definitely was necessary because we were beginning to gear up for the course. After that point, everything was hot and we moved into some serious drills. There were only three rules; do not shoot the instructor, do not shoot ourselves, and do not shoot other students. We were all fine with that. Did I mention that Rule #1 was not to shoot the instructor?
I was running my Ruger SR1911CMD-A while all others ran those puny 9mms. But I was able to hold my own. I had two issues with the Ruger, but they were my issues and not of the Ruger. Compared to the others, I spent a lot of time on reloading the Ruger with a fresh magazine. The 1911 does have a downside with magazine capacity, but I knew that going in, and I got a lot of practice with combat reloads. I have to train myself to hold the pistol closer to my body while reloading; I knew that, but could not break an old habit during the training sessions. But, my holes were bigger than everybody else’s holes. That was not actually good when we were all working the same target because I could not blame my bad shots on somebody else. My bad shots were mine. All mine.
We had a lot of territory to cover in the two days, which meant that the drills were short and I had to catch on real quick. But, I was not alone in that.
All rear sights were taped over with masking tape, which meant that we were forced to focus on a point within the target (real or imagined), get the gun on that point, and hit that point. That is easier said than done, but is essential in a dynamic gunfight that nobody in their right mind should look forward to.
CR is very adept at movement; shooting before moving, shooting while moving, and shooting after moving – and I mean in all directions. It was all I could do to move and breath at the same time. Although, I have to admit, that I really wanted to try the “Viet Nam Crouch Fire” but did not want to embarrass myself by trying to get up from that position with a loaded pistol.
Primarily, work was done in presenting the pistol (staging the pistol, if you will, with the barrel level to the target) and then brought up so that the sights were a little lower than eye line. Single and multiple shot drills with emphasis on referencing the top of the slide while driving the pistol to the target. This also involved firing from low ready on up and to just below eye level in specific steps. Later, we advanced from single targets to engaging multiple targets, which brings in angular shooting. Remember that this is not IPSC or IDPA where you are looking at hitting a general area for points. This is about working the target(s) to accomplish stopping a threat and that takes more than using a rigid Isosceles or Modified Weaver stance.
We also discovered that even without using sights, a target can be engaged and hit at a distance of about 25-yards while attempting to focus at some point on the target. All work before then was fairly close quarters and we were surprised at the results at a longer distance using the technique taught at closer distances.
The first day of training was very doable and I felt good after the day of training ended. I went to a very good barbeque place after the day of training was through and I enjoyed a pork plate and making friends with a few dogs that hung around the place. I don’t like eating heavy when I am in training, but the pork plate was too good to pass up. I paid for it the next morning; the mind was clear but the stomach was not happy. I broke my own rule and paid the price for doing so until about lunchtime when I started to feel better. That was a good thing.
When you are doing multiple day courses like this, the second day is somewhat taxing. Although the body was a little stiff, the mental acuity is off and concentrating takes a little more effort. The drills get a little more complex and you have to force the brain to focus on what you are doing.
After each day of training, I wanted to return to the range and run through some of the drills some more. Since I am a dedicated introvert, I sometimes do better without a crowd and can be as dynamic and critical of myself as I feel I need to be at that point. Darkness was closing in quick by the time we were ending the training for the day and I just did not have time to do this.
Day 2 of the BBG course brought a whole new level of learning with it. CR took us through an exercise similar to what I have sometimes used in the past when I needed to calm the storm of my inner self while shooting. While my technique involves an inner mantra of sorts, this exercise meant I had to vocalize a song, poem, speech, verse, or whatever as the shot were being taken. My choice was “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly. Did you know that you can get through an eight-round magazine in the first line of the song?
Later, there was a move to the “Mozambique Drill” that is one of my favorite drills in practice and I learned that I actually had to slow my shots due to the lightness of the pistol and reset after the recoil.
After several other drills that involved moving and then shooting, some three-dimensional targets were posted and this changes the game. While two-dimensional targets are fun trying to clear out the bulls-eye, three-dimensional target brings forth the reality in fighting with a handgun – the targets have depth and you are trying for an angular shot that will affect the CNS of a bad person who is intent on shutting you down. Of course, during training, the targets are static; they are not bending, twisting, running at you, or have other movements. The best that you can do for this type of training with three-dimensional targets is to move yourself, visualize the angle that you need for the bullets to reach the spinal cord, and attempt the shot. Cranial shots, of course, end the game but they are the hardest to accomplish under dynamic conditions. And, you may have to consider not just one target, but multiple targets.
Finally, the end of the BBG course was reached. A lot was taken away from the course and I’ll be integrating some of what I learned into my own drills
The BBG course is excellent, but it is not the final word in developing the skills necessary to actively engage in fighting with the handgun. I will say that I would like to continue this kind of training and, hopefully, will be able to attend CR’s other courses. I will say that I need to be in better shape that what I am in now. I need for this old bull to hang around a bit longer and I need to be less languid in my behavior. With that said, I need to push up from my chair, tumble up the stairs, and pull up a chair to the dinner table for some hot pizza.
Speaking for myself, as I cannot speak for my fellow students, the course was geared correctly for the level of student that I am; an experienced shooter with a number of training course behind me that took place a long time ago and in another lifetime. I had some prior training issues to work through, or disregard completely, if I was going to take home anything from this course. Hopefully, I was successful in doing so and I did take home a lot of information with me; drills and techniques that will be practiced, and hopefully not have to be put to use any time soon. Since my fellow students really didn’t have any bad habits to break, they did better than I did in several respects.
If you relatively new to hand-gunning, have some good target time at your local range for developing good shooting skills, but now want to get some training that will take those skills and move you into the realm of fighting with a handgun, the Bare Bones Gunfighting course is an excellent place to start. If an old bull like me, with some years of experience and training behind him can learn something new, imagine what you will experience.
The Bare Bones Gunfighting Course; Get it? Got it? Good!
CR Williams Website: http://inshadowinlight.com/
Bares Bones Gunfighting Course (and other courses): http://inshadowinlight.com/index.php/training/
Double Tap Training Grounds LLC: http://www.doubletapal.com/