Hello Operator?

When Tactical Firearms Academy announced their specialty course for the HK MP5, I was quick to jump on the sign up. Cause why? It’s an MP5!! That’s why!

For months and months, I was waiting for this class. And it drove me nuts really, cause I really wanted to get a lot of trigger time on this gun prior to class. I would also talked to some of the other MP5 users and get their take on the weapon system, including a fellow student. Some of the big time debates we had were definitely focused on the trigger.

It was pointed out that I am probably in the upper 10% that does not think the trigger suck. Well after spending all day with the MP5 and close to 1000 rounds, I still think the trigger is pretty damn good. What I really wished for, was a way to have a lot more time on the gun to practice dry firing and manipulation with it. Would have loved to be able to master the trigger break and understand the MP5 timing on the trigger. But I guess, it came down to really learning it on the go while in class.

The Class

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Like all of TFA’s class I’ve taken in the past, the course started off with introductions and a full safety brief. We had some experienced MP5 shooters and some who are totally new. Most of us already went through some training with TFA, with the exception of one. But either way, it was a good mixed of students.

The moment arrived when we were handed out our MP5s and I can tell a lot of the student’s faces were lighting up. Some seem pretty excited. I was no different. I just wanted to skip the morning and go right to the live fire portion, but no, I had to wait. After all the MP5s were issued out, we spent about close to an hour breaking down the MP5 and going over some of the nomenclatures of the gun and identifying some of the potential failure points on the MP5.

Both instructors were no doubt were very knowledgeable on the MP5 and the history of it’s variations.

We had a competition shooter in the class that noted the bolt head on the MP5 typically is the problem source for failures, particularly the extractor spring.

Before we knew it, we were already lined up going over the dry manipulations of the MP5. This was a little new for me cause, well, a lot of my learning on the MP5 occurred mostly at the Steel Challenges since March of this year. Loading and reloading the MP5 was really easy! Well, during this class it was, cause I’ve done it so many times before. But for me, the trouble began when I had to do tactical reloads.

Doing tactical reloads on the carbine was a nightmare. Doing a tactical reload on the MP5… well that is a bitch.

Here are two things that irked me about this drill. First being is that you can’t have a fully loaded magazine, cause the chambered round will prevent the mag to seat properly. So the second issue that annoyed me is that I had to load this magazine to 28 rounds instead of the 30. Actually, any magazines that say I can load 30 but dictates that I load 28 instead is a fail. If the magazine was designed to load 30, then it better load 30. But that’s just my opinion.

After the manipulation portion of the class, which lasted about 30 mins or so, we did our first live fire, including a mag dump. I’m sure everyone was grinning big during this part of the class, except for me. I just had a big woody after that mag dump. I looked left and right downrange just to see who is the best shooter in class. Honestly it was hard to tell. A lot of us were pretty much all over the place on the smurf target while some were pretty tight. But man, I just wanted to do it again!

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Instead, we loaded up our mags and were now into the real learning portion of the class. We spent all day going over our shooting platform, trigger control, learning how to move and shoot, doing transitions from MP5 to pistol, and shooting with our reaction (support) side. And these drills led up to the qualifier course.

As we were leading up to the qualifier, I asked Dave if it’s based on Phil Singleton’s HK International MP5 Qualification Course. Nope. Instead our qualifier was based on the same one used by the local Police Department, minus the pushups and gas mask. Instead, we got sprints. But like all TFA’s qualifier (except for the beginner’s classes) we were timed. A lot of our shoots were 3 seconds and under, except for the transitions from MP5 to pistol. That was 8 seconds.

But at the end of the day we covered a lot.

The Operator Course covered:

  • General Handling Skills: Field strip and reassemble, loading and unloading procedures both right and left handed, stoppage clearance both right and left hand.
  • Shooting Position Techniques: Standing, low and high kneeling and prone.
  • Transition Techniques: Muzzle up, muzzle down and cross dominant transition techniques, both right and left handed.
  • Auto-fire Trigger Control Techniques: Effectively use burst control (consistent 2-3 rd burst) from a variety of shooting positions.
  • Accuracy Assessment: Techniques used to quickly acquire and access a lethal threat then engage in automatic fire accurately.

I asked Dave if our class is similar to Phil Singleton’s MP5 class. He said ours is similar, except ours is compressed into a full day.

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The Instructors

It was interestingly to note that Dave Sanders, TFA founder, was asked to teach this course. Not only is he knowledgable and full of experience, he is one hell of a shooter. Of course, why wouldn’t he be? Even though it’s not posted on the site, he trained with a lot of the SOF teams during his years working in the LE community. So I was just grateful to whatever little inside knowledge he would spout out. (Like the history of the Dot Drill and how it was developed by the NSW community.)

During class, you can hear Dave drop some inside tidbits on the HK MP5. For example, Dave had us prove just how difficult the MP5 can be when it comes to taking long shots. Even at 25 yards, it was quite difficult to get down to that precision shot that I was accustomed to on my carbine. But Dave also showed us how effective the MP5 was in a CQB environment.

In addition, my current instructor, Andy Blaschik, served as the assistant instructor for the day. Although I find both Dave and Andy to work well together during this course, it’s pretty funny to hear somethings that Andy would pound into my head from previous classes and then I hear Dave say it to someone else. Almost like a Deva Ju, but it’s wasn’t. What I saw again was the consistency of the training that Dave passed on to Andy and now passing on to us. It wasn’t no watered down version or anything. It was real techniques, and how we chose to acquired and retain them is up to us.

The Takeaways

I’m a huge proponent of having the right mindset when it comes to training. So it was really interesting to note that during the time when this class was announced, I asked a bunch of people if they were signing up. The majority of them said no. The reason was that they don’t own a MP5 and find that this class would be a waste of time and money. Seriously?

Personally, the class was not a waste of time. I found that while this class was new to me, a lot of the techniques were quite familiar. Just applied differently. I’ve never taken a formal carbine class with TFA. The other carbine class that I took elsewhere never really covered the “other” key skill sets of what it takes to shoot a long gun. I had to learn a lot of that on my own, through trial and failures when I was doing any multi-gun competitions. So while I was using the MP5 in this class, I know that I can definitely apply these same techniques to my carbine. In the end for those people who said otherwise, I guess they really missed out.

Probably another huge takeaway for me also was finally understanding the height over bore issue. I was aware of it on my carbine and figure I’ll just remember it when I get on that platform. But how easily did I forget. After Dave had explained it, imagine my big ass grin when we were doing the infamous “Dot Drill”. I was nailing the dots dead center… whenever I can pull off single shots while in full-auto!

Operator

Overall

At the end of the day, I was exhausted. The weather was really hot and the sun totally beat us down. Of all days, this was like Afghanistan hot. Maybe Africa hot. Just really freaking hot. I don’t know about the other guys, but when I drove home, I was literally ready to crash hard. I haven’t felt this bad since the last time I was out in the middle of summer roasting under the 100 degree dry weather. My body was literally scorching hot to the touch as if I had contracted some zombie disease. I could have done a hundred ice bucket challenge and it wouldn’t phase me at all.

But what really phased me was that qualifier. Everyone did well, except for me. I was the only one that didn’t passed. I ended up scoring 37 points. So why didn’t I pass? Weak really. I started the day with the proper mindset and towards the end I let the hot weather beat me down physically.

I let something like the heat beat me down and instead of maintaining mental toughness, I let my body dictate to me that I need to give up. And that’s pretty pathetic.

The qualifier was really simple. We shot mostly in semi-auto, did a few sprints, and wrapped up with control burst shooting. I’ve done it before, yet I was like already giving up. Maybe I didn’t drink enough water or whatever other reasons there are. But I was also exhausted from the sun and I was already feeling the soreness setting in from the earlier drills we did.

Even my fingers got chewed up pretty badly from loading the magazines! At one point my thumbs became cramped and locked itself in a closed position. I had to tape up both my hands just to keep it open. It was ridiculous. It actually got me pretty pissed that I was fighting with myself during this last part and I couldn’t keep it together.

Still, at the end of the class, we were back to doing the full mag dump one last time. Just to see if we learned anything. Sure enough, I did a lot better. I was surprised that I pulled off the single and double shots fairly quickly and easily on the command. And my full dump was a lot tighter than when we first did it in the morning.

Yet, I couldn’t stop feeling so bothered over the qualifier…

Just thinking of my buddies serving overseas, I feel like a schmuck for quitting half way through the qualifier. No one was shooting at me. I didn’t have to carry 100lbs of gear. And I wasn’t asked or assigned to do any kind of shit ass mission, other than passing my qualifier. It was as if I rang the bell asking for a DOR. And it makes me angry at myself for not maintaining that higher standards when it comes to my training.

Mike Lamb would often say that as a good guy, you never choose the time and place to deal with some asshole’s bullshit. His saying will always resonate with me. And if I’m training for the purpose to defend and protect my loved ones, then I have to have an unbeatable mind and maintain that mental toughness at all times.

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