In short, was the class worth it and would I do it again? Yes and Yes.
To help people understand what to expect and prepare, a little background and what I took to the class and saw at the class. Close out with some opinions on the instructors and content.
In June I joined an old military range with 500 and 600 meter facilities. Up until then, the longest shooting distance I had access to was 200 yards. I seldom shot beyond 100 yards. My skill between 100 to 600 meters was non existent before meeting John McPhee.
The class was recommended to me by other instructors. I did not want another CQB (less than 50 meters) carbine class and did not want a sniper class (past 600 meters). Fast and accurate to 600 meters was my goal and exactly what this class provided.
Equipment people brought ranged from unlimited budgets to bare minimum. I was closer to bare minimum. I brought a PTR-91 GI 7.62x51 with an SS 1x6 First Focal Plane optic. I did use better than average ammo – Hornady 155gr OTM, but it was probably a little overkill.
Rifles fielded ranged from bolt guns (Remington 700 next to me) and AR-10s to SCAR Heavy and foreign oddballs like FAL and my G3 Clone. The most common was probably OBR (3 or 4 out of 12). I was able to try a variety during the class which was a great experience.
Believe it or not, rifles were not the most important piece of equipment, in my opinion. All hit the steel at 600 meters. All with the exception of the OBRs cycled flawlessly.
John McPhee urged people to bring multiple guns and there were numerous opportunities to use. I wish I would have brought a bolt and another semi auto. The class will insure you have solid zeros and confidence on all weapons you bring.
With the instruction
received, the equipment is secondary. That said, the most important pieces of
equipment were – good magazines, solid optic mounts and bipods.
I did not have a bipod and got by with a sling and borrowed sandbags, but it was challenging. My position was a little too low and I found my sights had to move around downrange grasses and dandelions. Everyone but me was using Harris or Atlas. The class covers bipods in detail. I bought a setup based on the knowledge provided in class – bipod and accessories – the week after Waterman.
Several optic mounts came loose during the two days. Pushing quantity of 7.62 x 51 down rage put violent forces on the optic mounts. None of the mounts were inexpensive. Mounts installed per manufacturer instructions came loose. Don't skimp on mounts and think twice about lever locks. As with bipods, mounts are covered in the class and the layman physics of what you need is discussed.
Bring magazines you know will cycle. There is nothing worse than video taping “click with no bang” and then messing with equipment.
I will close out equipment with optics. John McPhee will get anything you bring to work. He hits steel at 600 meters with a red dot. There was an assortment from ACOG to monster variables. I worried about my 1-6 optic and bifocals, but it was fine. Mil/Mil is a nice to have and I was glad the class covered all types and helped me gain confidence with my Mil/Mil and using the system for speed.
I do not want to talk about much of the class content. One reason, if you have any interest in heavy carbine and shooting quickly out to 600 meters – you must take this class. Another reason, I cannot begin to cover the content accurately. It is 8 weeks of content crammed into 48 hours.
Some general comments on the instructor and class.
On the first day we were told everyone would be hitting steel out to 600 meters, on the first day. Furthermore, we would find shooting at shorter distances – like a couple hundred meters – so easy it would be boring. Being the self doubter with no experience, I was positive everyone else would hit the farthest steel and I would not. By the end of day one I was hitting the 600 target and several hundred meters was cake. The second day speeded things up and turned on the fire hose of knowledge.
To say the instructors were subject matter experts would be an understatement. If you want the long math of ballistics, they will go through it. A car became a whiteboard and equations flowed for those interested. But it was taken a step further, subconscious simplification to insure speed at distance. The teachings are not just to hit steel out to 600 meters, but to do all the calculations to hit 300, 600, 450, 275 in random order quickly with changing conditions. A shot is 2 seconds or less with corrected followup – if needed – in a fraction of that time.
John McPhee teaches his way of quickly hitting targets out to 600 meters and all the pieces in the mix. It is an open class with questions encouraged – the more the better.
Bottom line, I wanted to hit 17” steel out to 600 meters, but had never shot out past 200 yards. I thought it would take complex ballistics and expensive equipment. Topics like wind estimating with mirage or terrain, bullet drop, and optics were hard for me to grasp. After only 2 days, I have a solid understanding and means to expand into complexity, if I want. I can hit steel from kneeling at 200 meters and out farther than I ever hoped from prone. And now with a bipod, wow! I can only get faster, better at ranging and windage. Perfect practice.
I will take the class again and recommend it to all shooting heavy carbine at distances out to 600 meters. Running the steel silhouette courses they put together are worth the cost of the class alone. Nothing else like it.
If you have any questions about training with John, please contact Ramia at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
AAR - John McPhee - 2 Day Gunner Marksmanship (Heavy Carbine) - Waterman IL - 05-06 October 2013
I recently attended the Heavy Carbine class held at the Aurora Sportsman Club in Waterman IL. I am a Patrol Sgt. with a local police department, and I am currently the Rangemaster, lead firearms instructor, and an Active Shooter instructor. I was also in the ILARNG as a 19D3H (Cavalry Recon Scout Instructor/Trainer) and was the unit marksmanship NCO.
I have trained with Greg Sullivan (SLR 15), Chris Costa and Mike Lamb (MagPul Dynamics), Steve Fisher (currently with MagPul Dynamics) and Tom Finies (Raven Concealment) thru MDFI, Pat Rogers (EAG), John Bowman (PTI), and numerous other local trainers. This was, however, the first "precision" rifle class I have attended which engaged targets at ranges of over 300 meters.
I planned on shooting a new Savage 10TR 7.62 bolt gun topped with a SIII 3.5-10x42, which had around 250 rounds thru it before class. I brought a Kotonics 18" 6.8SPC 18", topped with a Nightforce 2.5-10x32 as a backup, which as it turned out was needed when the scope base loosened on the Savage.
There was a wide range of students at the class, which included law enforcement, hi-power shooters, current and former military, and other firearm enthusiasts. With few exceptions all seemed to have a solid grasp on the fundamentals at the beginning of the class. John and his assistant instructor Sean began class with a "pre-test" which was video recorded and analyzed, a technique which I had not previously encountered. I will be using it in the future for our department training, as it was extremely effective in correcting deficiencies in my position while firing in prone and kneeling. I cannot overstate how effective this was, and my mind was blown as to how easy, time effective, and receptive the students were to using this technique. This was also utilized during training on Sunday morning and as a post-test late Sunday afternoon so that students could see the progress they had made.
This was also when the first equipment malfunction occurred. A brand new Larue OBR malfunctioned within the first 6 rounds the owner fired at the class. There were other equipment problems, including my scope base, but I am sure I did not see all of them at my position on the far right side of the firing line. There was a wide variety of rifles at the class, including the Larues, 2 bolt guns, an HK 417, a SCAR17, an HK93, three 6.8 SPC ARs, a SIG 556, and others I am sure I am forgetting. There was also a variety of optics present, and reticles included Acog BDC, mildot, mil-hash, and Horus.
Weather on Saturday was overcast, and it began raining mid afternoon continuing into the evening. I am not sure what time we left the range, but we shot right up to darkness. John and Sean then invited everyone to his motor home, where he cooked on his grill for the class. Everyone had a good time, and the discussion ranged from topics as far flung as to why Kelvin couldn't zero, and why phallic symbols have no place on a duty gun. I have never been at a class where the instructors made such an effort and I felt it really bonded students and instructors together.
We began Sunday with a bright sunny brisk morning. We began with confirming our zero, and then targets were moved farther downrange. The wind began to pickup during the day, making it easy to see mirage early, but then it became overcast. The wind was quirky, and really swirled between 300-600 yards. Made for an interesting day, and I learned a lot from it. The weather forecast did not call for any rain, so of course it began to sprinkle, and then rain, early afternoon. Nobody seemed to care, however, and again we shot to dark.
This was not a high round count class (I think I fired around 500 rds total), but I don't think I have ever learned as much at training. I enjoyed the pace, the "classroom" instruction interspersed with live fire, and the one on one John and Sean spent with the students. I told John on Saturday I was struggling with understanding the wind formula, and both Sean and John Sunday confirmed I was GTG with the concept. John even let me shoot his carbine on Sunday, which I really didn't understand since I had just broken my rifle!
To summarize, I don't think I have ever learned more in a two day class. John and Sean are top notch trainers, and their technique is extremely effective. The only negative I found is that going forward I am going to spend a ton of money buying Horus reticles in my rifle and spotting scopes. I can highly recommend this class!John Myers
AAR on 1 Day Pistol and I Day
Rifle Class - West Point, KY - Sept 28-29, 2013
Let me preface this by stating that Dave my buddy who found us the class told me that John McPhee had never been in my MARINE CORPS and I was not hold that against him. I said I wouldn't.
Day 1 Pistol- I thought the pistol day started off well. John uses what he call the MESA system. John uses a iPad to video the student then uses a program to point out your defiencies. Of course, the video part took all morning with just us 6, so it was good that there wasn't more students. After the video was over, John went into GRIP and STANCE. John says that if you get GRIP and Stance down, you got it. I wish that I had taken pics/videoed stuff myself for later use especially the weapon clearance drills. That way, I could remember any specific details that John or Shawn the AI brought up. Also, I think that we should have went over the drills manually several times ourselves. I know how it is being shown something, but if you don't physically do it yourself, then it's not there.We fired more pistol drills with John and Shawn correcting us. Once again, GRIP and Stance were the big thing. We ended the day with a hold over shoot off on a steel target and went out over 100 yards. Since we worked through lunch (John provided drinks and chips for the day), everyone went directly to a steakhouse and ate there. After that, we all met up at John's RV. Jake and his battle buddy Brad took a slight tour of the area believing that Google maps could get you to a food joint instead of two cop's directions (Dave and I). Of course, we had eaten there the night before. Great day and night hanging out with everyone.
Day 2 Rifle-It started off with Chris showing up needing the video done and he was also shooting pistol due to a mix up. Okay, we understand that and it would be a minute. Rifle started off okay with of all things, GRIP and Stance. John explained that it would be easier to shoot the rifle due to the longer sight radius and harder for him to pick out problems versus the pistol. John did some more videoing as we all were shooting. We were shooting a bullseye target for holdover when I noticed that my shots were going to the left. It turns out that I had problems with my Aimpoint's mount coming loose and John really helped on that and got me back on track. Shawn the AI came by and pointed out some things about my slings and other stuff to work on. Great, that was what I was needing and wanting to happen. I also got the additional training of my rifle locking up and getting to mortar it a couple of times. We had a longer lull for a bit and John then went into the positions. Good review on kneeling, prone and shooting from barricades. It was raining by now and we were shooting in the open and under the shelter. This morphed us into the early afternoon and we were done! We ended the day having a mad minute on a boat on the range. John used it for a teaching moment if we had to shoot up a boat and where to aim. This did eat up some rounds though.
Overall on the class-
1. Video training-great idea as the student gets immediate input from what they just shot as they can see themselves making the mistakes.
2. Trigger time-who doesn't need this?
3. Kit/Gear-I think we all found out what did and didn't work. I made some immediate changes to my rifle the next day due to the trigger guard and grip eating up my hand.
4. One On One-I think we all got it when we needed and corrections were made. Also, John and Shawn seemed very receptive to any question and answered it whether it was firearms related, Delta related or SF related.
5. Range facilities-the range was nice and we could park our vehicles right there too as everyone had their gear and extra weapons in them.
6. Students-this was a great group of guys and fun to hang out with.
1. POC-Dave and I showed up Friday to get the lay of the land at Knob Creek. We had both been there before, so no big deal. The big deal was when no one there seemed to know that a class was being held the next day or where it was. If the staff had been aware of it or there had been a banner with a sign up sheet would have been nice. Also that would have been free advertising for Grey Group and John.
2. Syllabus- Hmmm. This might be the one thing that lacked. Not that things don't change or the instructor changes things up for the class. Maybe a little bit better plan for the day.
3. Time management-I think this goes hand in hand with syllabus. Day 2 just kind of petered due to more lull between training.
4. Drills-The one thing Dave my buddy and I talk about all the time is speed and accuracy. We want them both. If I'm drilling a hole in the target and your telling me speed up. Okay, speed up where? Maybe a better definition of speeding up? We did the holdover drill which was fine and needed. But to me, there should have been some other drills in there or I might be missing them.
I give the classes a Plus with a little minus thrown in. I would suggest to others that they take the class from John and Grey Group.
AAR #2 - John McPhee - 1 Day Pistol Marksmanship - 17 Aug 2013 - Linden, NC
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As with any training class I take, I started to think for a few days before as to what goals I wanted to accomplish and what I wanted to improve on with my attending the 1 Day John McPhee Pistol Class in Linden, NC.
Needless to say, looking back on the course, my objectives were not reached in the manner I thought they would be, and I couldn't be happier about that.
I will say I am a big proponent of always sticking to the fundamentals and doing the basics well so that the bigger and more intricate acts become easy and almost effortless. And this was the best part of this class, in that it was a mastery of the basics to the point that every single shooter saw a marked improvement in shooting SPEED and ACCURACY.
The day started off quite normally with a quick roundtable introduction and discussion of the days agenda. I was somewhat put back when it was said that we would be video taping each person as they shoot in the beginning of the day one at a time and that this would slow down the pace of the day. Then it was my turn. I shot two strings of about 6 rounds total and then John brought the video over. My mind was immediately blown. There were minor things that I was doing incorrectly but I never knew that I was doing, things that the eye cannot see in the blink of a shot. So now, with actionable coaching, I was able to correct otherwise unknown mistakes and bingo, shots started getting tighter without me even changing much.
And that was how the day
wore on. In fact, with constant coaching, every single person began shooting
faster and more accurately at the same time while conducting reloads, engaging
multiple targets, and moving at various distances.
To a person, everyone was
told that we were all soon shooting too slowly and that we needed to shoot
faster. We had unknowingly trained ourselves to shoot slower because we “knew”
that there was more time needed to get our sights realigned on the target. That
was not the case throughout the day of training.
Did I mention that all of the speed and accuracy was getting better while we were being poured on by buckets of rain? So wet weapons, mud, unsure footing and still getting to be a better shot. What more can you ask for?
I have since purchased the very program we were trained with and I can say, everyone I have coached through it has improved, the training is that effective.
So my initial goals and objectives were blown out of the water. My confidence and just overall belief in the shooting of multiple targets and strings has increased and this is translating into improved skills I hope to never have to use.
As I get ready for another government sponsored trip across the friendly oceans, I wish I had time to take more of John McPhees classes and learn even more. I highly recommend this and any course you can take, I know I will be signing up for more.