Tactical Training Seminar

For the entire week, it rained here almost every morning and every evening. So driving 2-3 hours to take a tactical class with some SF dudes from ZERT, was a mixed feeling for me. Not because of the instructors but in general, the whole zombie concept. But yet it’s probably more about me not knowing anyone there.

Still I went, because it’s my mindset that I need to work on for the ZERT Tactical Training Seminar.

A non-stop, 10-hour Tactical Training Seminar that gives Members a full day of Basic to Advanced Weapons & Tactics training! The day includes: 2- four-hour tactical clinics on 2 ranges. Training covers Pistol, Rifle, & 2-Man Team Tactics!

When I arrived there, the students, most of them were decked out and kitted out ready to rock. Of course, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking: You guys are going to fry later in this Florida heat!

But I have to hand it to them, most of them stuck it out and ran their kit through out the day. I’m just glad no one wore a tactical dress or kilt or whatever. Then again, if they did, I would give them major props for doing some of the drills we did in class, while I am being traumatized by their pasty white legs dangling from the kilt, reflecting the sunlight back into my Smith Optics glasses.

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Class and Cadres

Like most other classes I’ve taken in the past, we started out with a safety brief and signing of waivers. The instructors introduced themselves and clearly reenforce the safety mentality. Soon, we were on the line and ready to do our first drill. The class was mixed with a bunch of students and experiences. Some where LEOs. Some were former or active military. A few were medics (guessing EMT/EMS) and others were RNs. Some were stellar shooters, some were slow shooters, and some seem to be new shooters.

You can tell there were a lot of different mindset on the range today and it clearly showed during the drills. But more on that later.

Instructors

Chief and Mr. Blue were the class instructors during the day. Unfortunately, I believe, there weren’t enough students to have Mr. Wolf come down and teach as well. Either way, I totally enjoyed both Chief and Mr. Blue’s instructing style. I was really surprised (actually I shouldn’t be) that both of them were laid back and opened to taking questions.

I got a chance to ask Mr. Blue some questions on TTP, but most of the stuff we were doing for the day were just drills. Still, it was very interesting and different to have a conversion with instructors that weren’t egotistical or condescending. I think both of their instructing styles compliment each other seamlessly well.

But most of the former military instructors that I’ve trained with (so far) in general seems to be really calm dudes. It’s like, they have nothing to prove to anyone or are trying to impress anyone. Probably because they’ve done it before and survived. Overall, they just seem to want to depart some of their wealth of knowledge and experiences. Of course, I just hope that I don’t end up working with a Vietnam Vet who might mistaken me for Charlie!

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The Now Drill

We opened up with a diagnosis drill called “The NOW Drill”. Mr. Blue states that the Team guys do this drill with a par time of 11 seconds. They modified this drill for their Sig P226 for a 15+1. The objective is to dump your entire mag into an 8in circle, slide lock reload with 1 follow up shot. The drill reminds me of the Bill Drill.

There were a few students that did this drill decently, yours truly of course… sucked ass. What I got from this drill is that I haven’t mastered my speed in finding my front sight focus for follow ups. This I knew. For a while now, I have been having a hard time trying to work out this issue and no amount of dry fire will help me with this other than doing it live.

Still, this drill is definitely going into my range workout. It’s also to note that this drill needs to be done cold. That means, no warm ups, no nothing.

Overall the first part of the class covered the basic pistol manipulation as well as rifle later on. While I personally knew where my flaws existed, I was a little impatient during this part. Until Chief fine tuned some of my mistakes that I never picked up or were not able to see to correct. If I had been a jerk about doing the basics, I definitely would have missed out on some of the tidbits I got in improving my pistol skills. So having an open mind here is definitely a key to learning.

The rifle manipulation seemed to go by really quick or at least it seemed to me. Turns out, I’m a much better marksman with my rifle than pistol (considering since there are more points of contact on the rifle than pistol). Still, you asked me, I really wanted to go back to the pistol manipulation and fundamentals. Cause really, that NOW Drill has been gnawing at me all morning. I really wanted to redo that drill cause I know that I can do much better.

I know that I can improve my pistol marksmanship.

But hey, this is ZERT and they shoot zombies in the face… with rifles and shit. Ok well, not really here. Here we are building the basics and level setting everyone so we can do that fun drill later on in the day!

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The Good

The class structure was well outlined before hand. So I knew some of the things that I could expect. However the down side is that, due to time, I don’t think we covered the NSW timed standards (unless that was the NOW Drill). Actually I was hoping we would be doing the modified Navy Qualifier but instead did more of a “dynamic” moving and shooting drill. Basically, it was more of a move to your cover and then shoot. It wasn’t actual shooting while on the move; although I really wish we would have covered that as well.

Interestingly enough, at least for me, there were no qualifiers at the end of the class. (Having been to other training courses in the past, I’ve always been subjected to some kind of a qualifier event at the end of the day.) But we did have a pistol competition for prizes and such, and really though, some of us kind of wanted to know who was the top dog in the class.

HINT HINT: it was not me.

I did make it to the winner’s bracket but got killed later on. Mr. Blue totally wanted me to win with my subcompact gun that I was running during the class since I was up against Glocks, 1911, and other larger handguns with RMR.

Still a fun event to end the class.

ZERT does have their National Shooting Standards (NSS) qualifier. Currently it’s a self-administered exam that the shooter has to video tape and send in for review. However, I think as an added bonus, the instructors could run that NSS qualifier during the morning at the end of the pistol manipulation. So at the end of the day, we not only get our certificates, but we could get our NSS patch (if we didn’t failed). Right now, I personally haven’t done it due to time. But maybe one day I will.

The other topics we didn’t cover were typical malfunctions for pistol or carbine nor some of the typical weapon manipulation course like using reaction/support side shooting.

Other than time being short (as if 10 hours wasn’t long enough), I definitely enjoyed the mashed up of pistol and rifle and being able to run it in a safe and dynamic movement. But you can definitely see the build up of skills from the morning to later in the afternoon. Sure it seemed very simple on the calm range, but imagine having to do this kind of stuff in a “disruptive environment”. Makes you wonder how rough it is for our folks over seas.

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The Bad

While I don’t have any real negatives about the course, however there is one thing that I do want to address. That is mindset.

Like I mentioned earlier, I took this class mainly to hone my mindset. And when I say that, what I’m saying is that I need to reenforce all the “tactical” training that I’ve learned and built upon since I started my shooting career.

That meant ammo management (including tactical reloads), ammo retention, muzzle discipline, doing post shooting protocols, properly performing and executing my manipulation and all that jazz at the efficient and opportune time. More importantly, being able to problem solve my shoot on the fly.

Since I’ve gotten into various competition shooting, including IDPA (as I call it “I’d-Be-Useless”), there’s been a lot of training scars that I had to stop myself from developing; and that meant not being able to win the matches. That’s not to say that competition shooting doesn’t have any benefits either. It’s just knowing that you can’t really walk that line between shooting a match tactically correct vs shooting it to win. You just have to decide which one you want to do.

Here, I wanted to make sure that I am still performing these correctly because once again, my mindset as a concealed carry person, is to make sure I have the right skills so I can go home safely and be able to protect my family; whether that means learning to hone my situational awareness, learning to think differently and problem solve any dynamic encounter; but most importantly, being an asset and not a liability.

Where I can see the improvements for the student would be for each of them to develop and understand their own goals. That way it will hopefully put them into a mindset for them to apply the training received. Don’t get me wrong here. I understand everyone wants to get training for whatever reasons and that’s fine. To each his own. But if the instructors had asked beforehand, what are we looking to get from the class, maybe that will help remind the students to think about their goals.

A couple of times, I saw Mr. Blue, addressing some students about leaving ammo behind on the “pseudo-battlefield”. Or losing their gear. To me, that is a teachable moment for the student to make a conscious effort to remember. Sadly, some of their candid responses were (and I’m paraphrasing here): “Bleh, its training. This doesn’t count.” And that is an excellent example of a training scar.

We all need to hold ourselves up to a higher standards; because no one else will.

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The Takeaways

While the class was put on by ZERT, this was not a zombie fantasy class. It’s an actual basic tactical and fundamentals training class you can always build upon. I actually picked up a few new tidbits of techniques and drills that I can start applying to training regime.

The class definitely offers a lot of high overview of skills and knowledge if you keep an open mind. However, I don’t think it’s for someone who never fire a weapon before. I definitely recommend taking some low level weapon manipulation class prior to coming here. Like they say, the group can only move as fast as the slow guy. So try to learn and practice handling your weapons safely prior to coming to class, if anything.

Also, gear is very important. Check your gear and make sure it works for you before you come out all kitted up. But what’s really important, in my opinion, is having your rifle zero properly and understanding where your offset is. In addition to this, make sure your weapons shoot properly. Function test it or take it to the range beforehand and run a full mag through it.

Other than that, dress for the weather. It was hot and humid during our class, and we haven’t even gone to summer yet! So bring lots of water and sun block. More importantly, have fun. The class in general didn’t seem to have any douche bags.

Everyone came there to throw lead downrange, gain some new skills and make a few new friends. So if I can take away anything about ZERT in general, is that it does build a sense of fun and camaraderie in the shooting community. Definitely will be looking forward to the next class.

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Course Outline

Tactical Training Seminar

Z.E.R.T.’s Special Operations Instructors:
“Chief”, Mr. Blue, & Mr. Wolf

Seminar Outline:

CQC 1.5 – 4hours

  • Mental conditioning and combat mindset
  • Review of shooting fundamentals
  • Gear selection and setup
  • Sight-in range selection
  • Mechanical Offset
  • Pistol fundamentals refresher
  • Ready Positions
  • Tactical/Emergency Reloads weapon Transitions
  • Turning Engagements
  • Moving and shooting
  • Malfunction clearance drills
  • NSW Standards Test (timed)

2 Man Team Tactics – 4 hours

  • Team Communication and Movements
  • Bounding Forward and Rear
  • Peeling Movements
  • Break Contact Drills
  • FTX

Equipment Needed

  • Rifle & Sling, and 3 rifle magazines
  • Must be able to retain 2 Rifle & 2 Pistol magazines on your body
  • Pistol and 3 Magazines
  • 600 rounds of Rifle Ammunition
  • 150 rounds of Pistol Ammunition
  • Knee Pads
  • Pen
  • Eye and Ear Protection
  • Adequate Personal water supply
  • Open Mind

** Your rifle MUST BE ZEROED before you arrive to this course **
** No AP or Green Tip Ammo **