AAR: 21st Century Gunfighter Handgun 2 Austin, Texas 12/15/12
I am a Texas certified CHL instructor and a former Army officer with a very high standard as far as what I spend my money on training-wise and what I will recommend to students for follow on training. I was finally able to clear my schedule this past Saturday and attend 21st Century Gunfighter’s “Handgun 2” training course. I had seen some videos from previous classes on youtube in my Facebook newsfeed and I had very high expectations as far as content and intensity and I can say enthusiastically that I was not disappointed. What follows is a brief AAR of the course.
Stephen Pineau is somewhat of an anomaly when it comes to firearms instructors. He is not an operator and has no military resume’ to speak of. He is also not a world champion trophy-wielding gun gamer; although I have seen him shoot in a competitive environment and I can tell you that he is one of the fastest gunslingers around. He could easily have continued on the competitive track and would undoubtedly have thrived on the world stage in that part of the industry. But that wasn’t his passion. His passion is and always has been learning the best ways to train for real world encounters with bad men and to take what he has learned, refine it, and pass it on. Stephen accurately describes himself as a “lifelong student of the gun” and that mindset shines through in the way he carries himself. His passion for what he does comes across heavily in his lectures and his demonstrations in such a way that it draws the student in on an intellectual level and motivates in a way that simple technical knowledge would not. He has studied under some of the top names in the industry and has been an absolute sponge; absorbing the best stuff that is out there. The fact that he is not an operator or a world champion has allowed him to continually learn without some of the prima donna egoism that usually comes with a longer resume’. The tendency of some of the rock stars in the training industry is to preach a tactic or technique simply because they came up with it and have their name attached to it. Some of those techniques are very useful but it is not always made apparent as to “why” they work, especially when presented to everyday armed citizens who don’t sit and watch training videos all day. Stephen does not have the luxury of stamping his name on his work and calling it good. As such, he labors to make sure that each student understands in detail why his techniques work and why inefficient methods do not. Stephen teaches with authority but without any of the aloofness that has a tendency to rub students the wrong way. When you take a class with Stephen, you aren’t going to be embarrassed due to your skill level or lack thereof. He has several different lesson plans and basically lets the skill level of the students drive the pace and scope of the curriculum. Stephen knows what he is doing and he is striving to get better with every class. His knowledge and attitude on the range both receive the highest marks from me and I am no novice when it comes to training. He is one of the best instructors I have ever studied under in or out of the military.
My class was about 20 guys and was a mix of law enforcement, military, and everyday armed citizens. It was nice to see that the 3 groups were not segregated. I have been to some of these types of classes where you feel out of place because everyone is a cop or disappointed because everyone is just a civilian novice. The makeup of this class was such that there was a lot to be learned from everyone in the group. Lots of knowledge was shared and the environment of mutual respect was outstanding. This cross section of the shooter demographic that 21CG attracts is really one of the best features of their classes.
We covered the following skill sets in the class. Each of the sections was opened up with lecture portions and brief demos that were designed to show the why and how of each skill set being trained. At no point did I feel like I was being preached at or “showed off” to. It was all very intuitive and well thought out.
-The Balance of speed and precision
-Movement off line of attack
-Shooting on the move
-Shooting in unconventional positions
-Efficiently clearing malfunctions
-Shooting at distance
Stephen opened the shooting portion of the class with a vignette that supposed that you find yourself in a grocery store and are forced to deal with an active shooter at one end of an aisle. He setup the scenario and asked us if we would take the shot. Everyone of course said yes and so he backed us up to the 40 yard line and challenged us to get 10 clean hits in 10 minutes. All of us failed pretty miserably in less than 3 minutes. Opening the class with this exercise effectively “removed the Superman cape” from every shooter and gave a solid reality check before moving into the core curriculum. The rest of the content followed that model of challenging shooters to really rethink some of the conventional wisdom in context of what will actually work in the real world. I was particularly impressed with the malfunction clearance drill that we were put through. I won’t give up the whole thing because I think it is Stephen’s guilty pleasure to torture students with this drill. All I will say is that at the end of it, although my arms could barely move, clearing malfunctions had become second nature and I no longer had to redirect my mind to get my pistol back in the fight. Each block of instruction and drill had similar effects on my confidence level and mindset. With such a large class I was impressed with Stephen’s ability to maintain control of the firing line and still make his rounds to give personal instruction to students who need a little bit more TLC. He has clearly run ranges before and it was as controlled as it needed to be without being overly rigid and administrative. We were able to stay safe and push our limits at the same time with Stephen’s “big boy rules” approach. I much prefer his approach to that aspect of the square range to what is usually an overly controlled environment.
The Bottom line:
Value is the key word with 21CG. This class was under 200 dollars with a 700 round count. Comparable classes in the industry easily double that price point. This class is one that I would recommend to anyone in the shooting community that is interested in learning to survive a gunfight. You aren’t going to get a lot of overly technical type instructions and you aren’t going to get bored out of your mind with lecture and theory either. This class is a happy medium that works well for the armed citizen and operator alike. I would especially recommend this class to the everyday CHL holder. You aren’t going to find anything comparable to this outside of the military/ law enforcement community unless you want to pay thousands of dollars and travel long distances. This training is very relevant to the average Joe and I will be recommending it to my CHL students as a follow on class and will be working with Stephen and his staff at 21CG to host a class in the future. I give a very solid A+ across the board. Take this class. You will get your money’s worth and then some.