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Each day was a good mixture of range activities and lectures. Lecture topics included "Code of Mental Awareness and Combat Mindset", "Moral and Ethical Decisions Associated with the Use of Deadly Force", "Criminal and Civil Liability" - excellent information that hopefully gave everybody a lot to think about.

One of the lectures was an hour-long walk-through of what happens after you have to use deadly force. A very sobering account of dealing with the police, lawyers, court, jury over a long period of time costing you a lot of money. Yes, as the saying goes, it's better to be tried by 12 than carried by 6 - however, the aftermath is not pretty and can still ruin your life. Something you better be prepared to deal with if you decide to own and carry a gun.

It was great to see these aspects covered in detail to emphasize the responsibility that comes with gun ownership and the maturity it takes to handle it.

This practice area was jokingly called Monsters, Inc. by the instructors - Here we practiced tactical movement, clearing doorways - with plastic dummy guns, of course.

Canyons used for rifle and shotgun courses.

When nobody was shooting for a while, you could enjoy the pleasure of complete silence in the middle of the desert, which was a real treat. However, when shooting was going on, it was also quite an experience to be surrounded by gun fire most of the day, including automatic fire coming from the submachine gun course on the next range.

Climbing towers.

On the third day it finally warmed up into the 70s.

The range instructions were excellent. Top notch instructors, a friendly but challenging atmosphere, lots of dry practice alternating with firing drills, slowly moving from the basics to more advanced techniques. The targets were static at the beginning (always facing the shooter), but they could be flipped sideways and programmed to turn and show for only a few seconds. This was used on days 3 and 4 to add time pressure to the drills and forced students to up their game, focus, and train even harder.

Day 3 included several shoot house scenarios where we could test our newly aquired skills. An instructor walked us through the shoothouses and created stress for the student by yelling and cursing at them at the top of his lungs like a drill instructor. You had to try to block him out, focus on the task, calmly clear each area, react appropriately to targets hidden around corners or suddenly popping up, make shoot/no shoot decisions, shoot accurately, and of course remember our after action drills. Quite challenging.

My buddy Bill, eating lunch during a lecture.

The hotel made us a sack lunch every morning, consisting of a soggy sammich and homemade chips which, in addition to the dry air and wind, helped dehydrate us more.

Lecture for the night shoot on Sunday night where we practiced shooting in the dark using the Harris technique.

The restaurant/lounge/bar/breakfast area of the hotel. Can you tell what is really popular in Pahrump?

One of the range instructors demonstrating an exercise.

This gentleman was obviously more qualified than any of us for this course. He had the tactical pants, kneepads, jack boots, utility belt, face mask, and that bulge below his chest was probably a trauma plate. Notice how everybody else around him is wearing t-shirts and tank tops? That clearly showed what amateurs we were. Only a real pro is tough enough to wear his duty gear in 90 degree weather on the last day. His abysmal shooting and the security guard badge on his belt were probably just a ruse so us mortals wouldn't be too intimidated by his lethal skills...

The last day included a friendly competition...

...and a skill test that determined your score/grade for the course.

Yours truly, delivering a nice cluster of headshots.

Summary: The course was excellent. First rate instructors, exercises, lectures, facilities. Yes, it was definitely challenging. 4 11-12 hour days crammed full of information and drills, and biting cold the first two days, then desert heat on the last day helped us build plenty of character.

I got a lot out of it, drastically increased my skill to the point where I was surprising myself how well I shot from concealment, under time pressure, etc.

Everybody was physically and mentally exhausted at the end, but it was a great experience. I would recommend this course to anybody, no matter whether you are an experienced shooter (or think you are) or completely new to guns but curious, or even if you are averse to guns like a few people in our group. This course will change your opinion and attitude about firearms and firearm owners.

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