Author Topic: AAR - Concealed Carry: Foundations class at FPF Training (Virginia)  (Read 487 times)

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Offline baldrage

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On Saturday, I completed the CCW/CHP "Concealed Carry: Foundations" course run by John Murphy/FPF Training in Culpepper, VA.  Link to FPF's website and course info is here:

Bottom Line Up Front:  I highly recommend this class to anyone looking for top-notch instruction provided in a safe and entertaining manner.

Mr. Murphy is highly regarded at the Virginia Gun Owner's Forum and, where several glowing AARs are posted.  I think I read somewhere that Mr. Murphy was "witty, profane, and passionate" about his teaching, and I can say that he certainly lived up to his reputation!  I would add "loud" to that description, as he certainly has Marine drill instructor volume in spades.  I will sprinkle some quotes from Mr. Murphy -- minus the swearing -- throughout this AAR to provide a taste of his unique approach to instruction.

There were 16 students in my class, including four ladies, with skill levels ranging from at least one novice to gun afficionados with a fair degree of experience.  Ages ranged from college student/recent graduate to retired (60+), and there were two married couples taking the course together.  At least one of the students had taken classes with FPF previously.  Students' weapons included a few HKs and Sigs, one Kahr, an genuine military issue 1911A1 ("THAT IS AN AMERICAN ICON!!! BOW DOWN BEFORE IT!!!"), lots of Glocks, and my SP01 Custom Shadow (I don't intend to conceal carry this weapon, but it is the only handgun I own at the moment).  As an aside, the student with the Kahr experienced numerous jams throughout the day and was advised by the instructors to purchase something more reliable, like a S&W Shield.  Of particular interest to this forum, the instructors apparently do not see a lot of CZs, although one of them recognized my SP01 and ribbed me about using my "gamer gun" in a CCW class.  Several students asked me about my pistol, and I took advantage of the opportunity to do some education/proseltyzing on CZs!  Unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to shoot each other's weapons, or I'm sure I would have sealed the deal on at least one convert.

There were three instructors:  Mr. Murphy, a retired Marine with over a decade of experience as an instructor in firearms ("BEHOLD MY GENIUS!!!"); and two "MINIONS!!!" (assistant instructors), who were a bit more reserved than John, but very knowledgeable and helpful.

The class was 8 hours long, consisting of roughly a 50-50 mix of classroom and range time.  An email sent to all of the students prior to the class included some interesting read-ahead material relevant to the training, such as videos and articles about the legal aspects of being involved in a self-defence shooting and an article from an experienced LEO on the mindset of the typical violent street criminal.  In total, we shot just under 200 rounds throughout the day on the outdoor range.

Classroom topics included: overview of the threat (street crime and typical threat encounters, including from multiple attackers, i.e., "NEFARIOUS A-HOLES!!!"); overview of basic equipment required for concealed carry, with advice on pros/cons of different types of holsters as well as other useful gear (pepper spray, knives, first aid); advice on the practicalities of concealed carry (e.g., what to do with your gear while using the restroom ("THE HAMMOCK MANEUVER!!!")) and how to interact with LEO's; and legal considerations of self-defense (drawing on both local and national cases, along  with the typical IANAL disclaimer).  Classroom instruction included real gear for demo, along with plenty of surveillance video/dash-cam footage of actual self-defense incidents to highlight decision-making considerations and provide the class with the opportunity to dissect responses to various criminal threats.

Range time covered the basics of pistol marksmanship (grip, stance, sights, trigger control), the four-step draw sequence, drawing from concealment, drawing and firing multiple shots, reloading and clearing malfunctions, and also the physiology of putting effective rounds on target ("PISTOLS ARE WIMPY!!!").  The progression from drill to drill was done in a building-block approach:  dry fire w/snap caps first; then one live round; then two rounds, etc, first at 3 yards, then 5 yards, then 7 yards.  All three instructors walked the line to offer assistance and advice throughout the drills, and enforce safety discipline ("IF ONE OF YOU SHOOTS ME BY ACCIDENT, I WILL SHOOT BACK!!!").  Mr. Murphy walked the line after every drill to assess each student's target -- a single ragged hole on the bullseye was typically assessed as "ADEQUATE!!!," with larger groupings deemed either "MARGINAL!!!" or "SPASTIC!!!" depending upon the size of the group.  Safety was stressed prior to, during, and after each drill, with students required to declare in unison either "This is a firing drill!" or "This is a non-firing drill!" throughout.  A student next to me was an almost complete novice, who struggled with flinching, racking the slide, and keeping her finger off the trigger, so one of the assistant instructors basically set up camp on her shoulder throughout all of the range time to ensure she did not endanger herself or anyone else.  Judging by the way everyone's groups shrunk over the course of the day, I would say the instruction was very effective, as even the novice next to me was getting most of her rounds on the target and all of them on the paper by the time we were done.

The formal portion of the course ended with an untimed 30 shot qualifier from 3 yards, that included single and multiple-shot strings from concealment, including a "failure to stop" (Mozambique) string.  After each of the students was photographed next to their qualifier target, we were given the opportunity for some "HAPPY-HAPPY-JOY-JOY!!!" time (a.k.a. a mag dump).  The course wrapped up with a "team-building exercise" of policing brass from the out door range.

CONCLUSION:  Without a doubt, an extremely worthwhile class.  It's hard to imagine that more material and instruction could be delivered as efficiently and entertainingly in a single 8-hour block.  Although Mr. Murphy's knowledge and experience are top-notch, his unique personality is what sets FPF apart from other training outfits (and if you don't believe me, just ask him -- "I AM A PRICELESS NATIONAL ASSET!").  Note to any readers or potential customers -- I tried to include a flavor of Mr. Murphy's humor in this post, but in case it does not translate well to the intrawebs, I would like to stress that the profanity and witticisms did not at any point detract from the instruction.  Rather, information and instruction were provided professionally and clearly, and then humor was used to reinforce the points and engage the students' attention over the course of a long, intensive, and hot/humid day.  I highly recommend this course not just to anyone living in Virginia, but to anyone on the East Coast, especially if taken with FPF's "Street Encounters" class, which is offered in conjunction with this "Foundation" class as a weekend-long block ("Foundation" on Saturday, and "Street Encounters" on Sunday, although you can take either class as a stand-alone).