I attended an intensive tactics and techniques course the weekend of July 3rd through 5th, 1998, that combined 3 gun combat team training (pistol, carbine and shotgun) with field and classroom instruction in tactical field operations for the military or law enforcement scout/ or observer/sniper. Participants came from all walks of life and skill levels. Class attendees included an active duty Army serviceman, a Martial Arts instructor, Personal trainers, an Accountant and Computer professionals. Armament varied as much as the attendees, although Glocks, 1911s, AR-15s and Remington 870s predominated. Before getting into the course, some background on the school is in order.
The American Shooting Academy (ASA) was established in 1984 in Phoenix, Arizona, and provides firearms instruction and non lethal self defense training to both civilians and law enforcement. ASA is based at the Ben Avery Shooting facility north of Phoenix and provides year round instruction in courses with varying degrees of skill levels. James R. Jarrett runs ASA. Jarrett's experience in firearms/outdoor tactics/non-lethal self defense tactics span over 30 years. He has held many positions both in the military and law enforcement over the years and is currently a University Instructor in Justice Studies.
Recently, Jarrett has made arrangements to setup a satellite training facility near Quemado, New Mexico. This facility is spread out over 500 acres and training courses are now being offered on an initial limited basis. The site was chosen because of the variety of its terrain and its private undisturbed location. The facility contains a 25-yard Pistol range, as well as several unimproved rifle ranges out to 1500 yards. The terrain is varied and offers hills, lush grassy valleys, canyons, and treed areas for specialized courses that require specific terrain. The facility has treed areas set aside for camping and also offers bunkhouse type sleeping arrangements.
Back to the course. The training started early Friday morning, July 3rd, on the Pistol range with a combat course-of-fire, designed to test the shooter in real live situations facing one or more targets. The course had 10 stages and the distances ranged from 5 yards to 25 yards. Students then ran the course with the AR-15 as the primary weapon and the shooter transitioning to a sidearm as needed. The additional stress of teamwork with a partner began during this course of fire. A short contest pairing partners against the shooting tree added a light level of competition after the Carbine course. The morning finished with each team running a dynamic course of fire which consisted of targets on the pistol range and popper targets placed in varying positions and degrees of difficulty in a wooded area adjacent to the range.
Friday afternoon was spent in the classroom receiving instruction in field craft and the art of remaining undetected in the field. These skills are acquired through learning how and when to move, how to dress for the field, what to carry and above all, these things are ingrained through practice.
On Friday evening, the afternoon's instruction was put to the test; the participants were split into two teams. The defending team was placed on a hill simulating a base camp. Their mission was to defend the camp against intruders. A valley with varying levels of cover surrounded the hill on all sides. The other team started about a mile away and their mission was to infiltrate the hill and take the defenders down. The exercise ended after 3 hours with 2 of the attackers about 25 yards from the top of then hill, unseen by the defenders but not close enough to shoot the defenders with the weapon of choice, paint ball guns.
On Saturday morning, the classroom instruction continued with additional direction in team tactics, the role of each team member in the field, etc. Particular attention was paid to what equipment (medical, survival and self-defense) to carry on LBEs (load bearing equipment) for a day exercise, what to carry in a daypack and how to pack for an extended field excursion.
During the afternoon, the course moved back to the field with a daylight stalking exercise. The team of defenders was deployed with binoculars looking for a team whose mission was to approach within 100 yards without being detected. The exercise was carried out in a valley with slight rolling hills and juniper pines for cover. The defenders were placed on a berm, which gave them a commanding view of the valley. Several members of the attacking team were able to approach within 100 yards of the berm before they were detected. The exercise was designed to show the group the difficulties of daylight approaches and how the light works in the favor of alert defenders.
After darkness fell, the evening concluded with additional stalking exercises. These were similar to the one conducted in the afternoon, but clearly pointed out how the advantage shifted to the attackers when it is dark. It was also very apparent how the light of the moon and types of clothing either helped or hurt the attackers.
The course continued Sunday morning with more combat courses of fire, both with just sidearms and with Carbine/sidearm combinations. After these concluded, the group was setup into an extended team whose mission was to infiltrate an area, reconnoiter it and then, if necessary attack the enemy. The mission was carried out in a hilly area complete with a deep sandy wash, enemy held headquarters and a guerrilla center to overrun. At 7300 feet, high temperatures and humidity, this exercise was a test in endurance and conditioning as well as tactics.
Jarrett runs a very safe operation, moreover, he covered many topics and skills too numerous to discuss in a short article, like types of field formations, how to read sign, and so forth. The 3 days were more than filled with classroom instruction and field time. Since many exercises had to be completed in darkness, the instruction lasted late in the evening. With the early AM starts, it made for very long days, but I did not hear anyone complain. The Field Tactics and Techniques course from American Shooting Academy was a worthwhile experience and I heartily recommend it for the hunter, recreational shooter and law enforcement professional who wishes to improve his or her fieldcraft skills.