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My Two days with Tactical Weapons Training Group
by Clint Lake
Whenever you go to a new firearms training school for the first time you’re never too sure what to expect.
Will the instructors gravitate toward a ‘Stalinist’ style of teaching where they dictate from on high, expecting the peons to accept their crumbs of wisdom? Or will the instructors lean toward the ‘Yoda-ist’ style of teaching where they teach from experience, with patience, explaining the mechanics and reason behind the skills they teach?
In my past 20 years of training myself and training others I have come across both styles and believe students are more apt to learn from the Yoda style, hands down.
Since Tactical Weapons Training Group (TWTG) is located just an hour Northeast of Columbus I decided to take their Level 1 and Level 2 Pistol course and see what they have to offer. I won’t leave you all hanging till the end; TWTG is a fantastic training venue with outstanding instructors at a good price point.
Now for the specifics!
TWTG is located minutes off of Rt-3 close to the Mohican River area (15 minutes North of Mt Vernon). They are easily within driving distance of all points in Northeast and Central Ohio. The facility is carved out of one of the rolling hills that populates the landscape and consists of 4 standard pistol bays, a large general range that can be used for pistol or carbine classes, a 1,000-yard precision range and a multi-room shoot house.
The nearest city is Loudonville (15 minutes from venue), which being a vacation destination, has ample overnight housing, a descent selection of cuisine, and river canoeing or rafting for the discerning adventurer. The Lead Instructor is Ed Atherton, whose forte is explosive ordinance, is well versed in all things that go boom and has major certifications in LEO Instruction.
Ed’s XO, and translator (Ed has a major New England accent), is Jeff Wilson. Jeff has the same laundry list of LEO certifications as Ed and together they represent a formidable wealth of knowledge and skill.
Most TWTG levels are a full, one day class. Level 1 started out at 9am sharp with the infamous dot drills. Each dot is about the size of a quarter and, standing about 9 feet away, the shooter must focus on trigger control and sight picture, the building blocks of accuracy.
The class then progressed to honing drawing and reloading skills. Ed/Jeff stressed bringing the elbow of your gun arm into you stomach/ribcage so that the pistol is in the same place for every reload. This place was called "the workspace." With the pistol in your workspace you can keep your eyes up and in your threat world while performing a solid reload.
While we were on the topic of reloading, Jeff had the class perform a number of different move and shoot exercises that stressed dynamic movement while doing a combat reload (reloading a totally empty pistol from slide lock). So many of us get into the habit of remaining stationary while reloading an empty pistol because we are forced to remain in our stall at the range.
However, if you remain stationary with an empty pistol, you will take inbound rounds! Move while you reload. If there is cover to move to while you reload even better. The only way you will get practice with these type of skills are at schools like TWTG.
Others skills that we were immersed in were multiple threats and one-hand shooting drills. I would recommend Level 1 as a next step for any CHL holder who wishes to enhance their skills but who has a limited training budget and can't take a lot of time off.
Level 2 picked up right where Level 1 left off, except with kneepads! We were told in advance we were going to spend some time on the ground. Awesome! We did more warmup drills utilizing double taps, multiple targets, and more movement.
One of my favorite drills was the CQB (Close Quarter Battle). Students stood at arms length to the target and issued double-taps while holding the pistol tight to the hip. This is often called point shooting, hip shooting, etc. Regardless of its name, it is an important skill to posses because the threat may be so close that a two-handed grip is unattainable.
Next up were our ground shooting skills: shooting prone, fetal left/right side, overhead while lying on your back. It is important to feel and understand the dynamics of shooting from a ground position because you may find yourself aggressively put there.
Ed/Jeff also introduced the class to shooting from behind a barrier/barricade while utilizing the slice-the-pie methodology.
To close out the day Ed thought up a devious scenario involving a dozen no-shoot targets surrounding two shoot targets. This simulated an active shooter surrounded by numerous innocents. Of course to get to a good lane of fire you had to navigate through your classmates, barrels, obstacles before you could even draw your pistol to engage the shoot targets.
In summary, there is much I left out due to brevity, but suffice it to say that Tactical Weapons Training Group has a great facility and great instructors and I look forward to training with them again.