I was invited by my best friend Jeff @muzzleflashmedia to attend a shooting class that really sparked my interest, an Every Day Carry class from Iron Works Tactical. I completed the one day class on Saturday and I’m very glad that I did. Here’s my After Action Review below.
I’ll start off with a question: when was the last time you took a class that involved you carrying your EDC pistol as you would in reality (concealed) and run it from that position?
For me, with 8 years in my Law Enforcement career, this was the very first class of it’s kind that I’ve taken. And No, this isn’t your CCW class where you get a certificate for your CCW permit or get legal knowledge on carrying etc. It was geared for the students to learn how to run their guns from their concealment setups safely, validate their equipment and work on their marksmanship-because EVERY round you fire counts!
Iron Works Tactical is owned and operated by Brett, a Full-time LEO and veteran, who is known for building precision AR’s. He runs IWT along with his instructors, who are also Full-time LEO’s, on their few days off that they have. They run training classes to help the shooting community improve their knowledge and skills. The lead instructor for this class was Johnny (@rattlesnake44 on instagram), I’ve known Johnny on Instagram over the years and I finally got to meet him in person at the class. He too, works with the same agency Brett does, and is also a veteran. Johnny really wanted to teach an Every Day Carry class for some time and this was the first class of it’s kind offered by IWT.
We started out at 0800 and there were 9 students total including myself. 6 were civilians, some had CCW permits, some were planning on getting one and 3 were full-time LEO’s myself included. Everyone had varying experience at shooting, none of us were beginners. At the beginning, Brett and Johnny went over their background, experience and went over their concealment setups and the reason for each piece of their kit. Then they had every student do the same so that we all could see all of the different ways people ran their kit. It was interesting to see all of the different setups, everyone is their own “special unique little snowflake” according to Johnny. What works for one may not work for someone else. Everyone did a great job not printing from the get-go.
What I ran for my kit: my pistol is my back-up gun at work and my EDC, the tiny Glock 43. All of my magazines have Taran Tactical Innovations base plates (1 plus one and 3 plus twos) I ran it in an Appendix In the Waist Band (AIWB) custom kydex holster made by @thomas_tactical_precision with input from Brett. I also ran for the first time, an IWB magazine holder, also made by TTP. TTP made this kit for me to run through this class specifically and he made sure that it was all in FDE. I will do a separate review soon on the TTP kydex gear. The belt is a very important part of your kit, my belt was made by @vagabondstitchingco. I have their regular guy 1.5″ belt with a cobra belt buckle in coyote Tan and I’ve been using it everyday for over three years. I conceal everything with a T-shirt.
After the show and tell, Johnny made us do some stretches and short PT to see if any of us printed, had to adjust our kit and if we could comfortably perform these movements, because you don’t simply stand still when you are carrying concealed.
Now that we were all limbered up, we started sending rounds downrange. Johnny made sure we had all the opportunities available to practice our draw from our concealed holsters under clothing. I’ll be very honest, my Glock 43 isn’t my favorite pistol to shoot. It’s pretty common for little guns to be undesirable to shoot, they recoil a lot more than bigger pistols and after a large round count, it starts to get uncomfortable. Before this class, I’ve shot maybe a couple hundred rounds total through it and all slow fire, at 22 feet on a static range. It isn’t my favorite gun to shoot, so why is it my EDC? It is because concealment is my top priority when I carry and with my body type and lifestyle, which is very active, this is my best solution.
We started with the keyhole drill to work on marksmanship. 3 rounds with no time limit; at 3, 5, 7, 15 yards. I was shooting low and left, which took some time for me to fix with instructions from Brett and Johnny. My grip and trigger finger placement needed to adjust, since the G43 is a slim, single stack pistol and all of my shooting revolves around double stacked pistols.
Johnny’s method of teaching was to have us crawl, walk then run.
During the keyhole drill, we all got comfortable with clearing our clothing with both our support and gun hands, and firing from the concealed position (not from behind a bush, but from a concealed carry draw).
Next we shot with an object in our primary gun hand, yes gun hand, if you’re a LEO, you’re trained to never have anything in your gun hand. That makes total sense when you’re open carrying in a duty holster, but in a conceal carry situation, your support hand has a very important job, to move your clothing out of the way in order for your gun hand to grip the weapon. So when you’re carrying concealed, holding things in you gun hand is totally reasonable. So we practiced holding a empty ammo box to mimic a smart phone in our gun hand and having to shoot from there. In order to accomplish this, all you have to do is simply let go of the object and start your draw. After we got acclimated to multitasking with an object in our gun hand. We switched it over to having the object in your support hand. This makes things a bit more difficult, now you have to clear your clothing with your gun hand before you draw. This took more time and coordination. I noticed that my shot placement was the worst during these drills. Adding an extra step most likely subconsciously made me want to speed up to make the shot and miss some fundamentals. One thing I learned to do in this was class was to slow down and make my shots count.
Aim small, miss small. You’ve all heard that before and it proved to be true. Johnny handed out 3×5 flash cards and had us staple them to our targets. We drew and fired a single shot from varying distances out to 25 yards. I started to take my time and took all the instructions that were given to me and applied them and I could see that most of my shots landed on or very close to the 3×5 card.
Gear validation was a very important part of this class and I had absolutely no issue with my TTP kydex. Others weren’t so fortunate, we saw some holsters flying during draws, magazine holders falling apart. This was the moment of truth for us to run our gear very realistically. This includes our weapon that we carried. Not surprisingly, those who ran compact and full-sized pistols shot much more accurately than those of us with pocket pistols. I’ll get into this part later on.
With the basics down, we got into moving and shooting. First we did a random target drill while walking forward. We did this one at a time and while walking towards the target, we would be assigned a random target and would draw and fire two shots at the threat.
Then out came the steel targets. We were run through moving and shooting at multiple targets, using angles and then incorporating reloads. Drills that involve shooting at steel targets are usually my favorite parts of any shooting class. I started to shoot faster than I could do so accurately and had some misses. I was told to slow down after a miss, going against what you want to do, hurry up and make a hit. Speeding things up isn’t going to help you make the next shot, instead it was explained that slowing down will allow you to fix whatever caused you to miss in the first place and make the next shot count, rather than miss faster.
We were reminded that every round we fire counts and has the potential to go for very long distances, and in a real life scenario, there’s to berm to stop your bullet.
We finished up where we started, we worked up on marksmanship, back to the keyhole drill, with a 3×5 flash card and pushed it out to fifty yards. That’s asking a lot from a pocket pistol! Jeff placed a high end video camera behind my target and it wasn’t harmed during the making of the video.
Once the shooting was over, we did an After Action Review with all of the students. Everyone got to talk about what they liked and what needed improvement. All of the students enjoyed the class and took away a lot from it. For improvements, some wanted a higher round count and more scenario training. My suggestion was that this class would be a great beginner EDC class and there should be a follow up class that includes everything that some of the students requested. Johnny took everything we had to say down and since this was the very first EDC that IWT has hosted, he already had similar ideas as he was teaching us throughout the day. This class maybe called EDC1 in the future and there maybe a new class growing from this one.
I made a lot of observations and take aways during the course of the day and so did every student in attendance. All of us were able to validate our kit by actually putting it up to the task for which it was meant for. All of my kit worked out for me, while some kit failed for some of the other students.
All three LEO’s, myself included ran the Glock 43 as our weapon system and at the beginning of the class, we all shot low and left of center. We gradually improved after every drill with advice from Brett and Johnny. We all learned real quickly that we were handicapped by the platform. This was why I was very eager to take this exact class- to run it and improve my skill with this system because it is the best concealable platform for me. My Glock 43 is bone stock with the exception of the Vickers Tactical sights. If you’ve ever shot a Glock 43, you’ll know right away that the trigger is heavier than a standard Glock and the recoil is a bit more snappy. The recoil was a given due to it’s size and weight. Due to my agency’s policy, I can’t do anything with the trigger. I just have to train with what I’ve got. I did get to try one of the other LEO’s Glock 43 that had an OC Custom Glock Trigger that is stock, but polished and it was a huge improvement over my stock trigger. By the end of the class, I was able to get used to my G43 and I actually enjoy shooting it a lot more than I had coming into the class. The other LEO started with his Glock 43 and wasn’t a fan so he switched over to his Smith and Wesson M&P Shield after lunch and did a little better; at the end of the class he mentioned that he was planning on getting a similar M&P9C that Johnny was running as his EDC.
My agency doesn’t train us for Every Day Carry the way this class did. I’m not personally aware of any local Police or Sheriff’s Department in my area that does this type of training. You can practice your draw, reloads and dry fire from home but you probably can’t do live fire practice from your concealment at your local public or even agency’s range. So how are you really going to get some real practice in? It’s by going to classes like this.
I’m always a proponent of firearms training for every law abiding citizen and LEO because there’s no such thing as too much training. Everything you take away from the classes you attend will go into your tool box and whether you end up using that tool or not, you’ll always have the knowledge and training available.
Since my time is very scarce and so is everyone else’s, with all of the available firearms instructors out there. You definitely want to make sure that they have the experience and qualifications to make the most of your time on the range. Both Brett and Johnny are more than qualified for this task and they know how to convey it in a way for you to understand what they mean. This was a class that I needed to take for years and in my opinion, every single person who carries a concealed firearm whether it be a LEO or CCW permit holder should take.
To learn more about Iron Works Tactical, check out their website:
Very special thanks to Jeff for inviting me to attend. Brett and Johnny for teaching me how to run my EDC efficiently and accurately. Mark @thomas_tactical_precision for making all of the custom kydex gear in short notice for me!