I’ve struggled to write this After-Action Report since taking Mickey’s class, and not just because having a two-year-old constantly trying to help makes things a little more interesting. I haven’t had the opportunity to take many courses since joining the civilian world, and every time I read an AAR for a course the focus seems to be primarily on the shooting and drills conducted. If I were to do the same, it would be a disservice to the depth and content that Mickey brings with his courses. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with courses focused purely on shooting technique, I wouldn’t consider a Carry Trainer course to fall in that category.
The best way I can describe it is to state that Mickey teaches his students how to continue living their lives with firearms, mindset, and other tools being assets to that life, not the focus. If you took what you wanted those standard concealed carry classes to teach, and yet currently fail to, that is what Mickey brings to his courses. In truth, that description falls very short of what is covered. Mindset, analyzing hard data, escalation and de-escalation of force, shooting from retention, shooting from lousy and difficult positions, on the move, and a host of other topics and drills are covered.
I can’t remember exactly when I first came across Mickey’s content on his Carry Trainer Instagram page. At some point in 2016 I found one video put out by Mickey, which led me to further explore his page and see what Carry Trainer was all about. What I discovered was that Mickey, and his company, were focused on bringing necessary and lifesaving skills to the average person. He didn’t focus only on cool guns or gear or lose his focus by living at the range. He was able to focus more broadly on helping the public. His posts never seemed to focus on the gear itself; rather he tried to demonstrate that small changes we implement consistently will have a far greater effect on our lives.
In the drill above students were required to take several steps laterally and engage their targets. The idea here is that with no prescribed number of steps students were bound to bump into each other, the focus was on safely reacting to those around you while also accurately engaging your target.
The video that comes to mind when I first found Carry Trainer included him struggling to load a magazine with his weak hand. If you’ve never tried this, next time you’re at the range or loading mags beforehand, switch hands and see how much more challenging this simple task becomes. His point was that this simple task could have an impact in improving dexterity by making one simple change. It’s not a life-altering switch from to the way you do things, and it’s not all that fun, but this small change can have a greater impact on your future performance.
Whether you decide or even have the opportunity to take a class after reading this, take a few minutes out of your day and find some of Mickey’s content for Carry Trainer and see for yourself what the man has to offer. I’m not being paid by him to write this. I paid for this class out of my own pocket and simply want to share with anyone reading about my experience and why they should take the time to learn as well.
Above my good friend David Bruce engages a series of targets as he moves laterally. The goal was incorporating lateral movement and engaging the targets as you approached them, not before.
The course I attended was a two-day course in Denver, PA. The class was accidentally overbooked, but it didn’t seem to hinder any of the learning, and surprisingly of the twenty-six people in attendance on the hottest days of the year, there were zero heat casualties. Our course took place at the private company range of TA Targets, with the class split into two groups of thirteen. There were no slow periods, the non-shooting line spent time jamming mags, pounding water, or learning by listening and watching those on the shooting line.
Mickey’s class focused on gun-fighting for the average person, which means more than just getting that sub second draw and smooth reload down, not that there is anything wrong with those skills. A lot of his teaching focused on mind-set, and I hate to use that word because it’s become a buzzword that people use without any depth to their thinking. Mickey had a strong focus on avoidance and de-escalation, and what steps must be taken if the situation continues to go sideways. These weren’t simply words he’d memorized or a stale lesson to throw in between shooting strings. He broke down the specifics with each topic presented. He had statistics on hand, hand-outs for every student with hard numbers and good sources for further research, as well as stories of actual events to further emphasize the information presented. The content provided helped keep the shooting in context, and while you simply cannot treat a paper or steel target like a living breathing human, it did bring a measure of seriousness to the training we did.
Above Dave engages steel targets as he moves in a serpentine of obstacles to simulate other people. The goal here is not to just engage the targets, but muzzle awareness as well, not muzzling or bumping into the simulated people was a priority. Joey of D-Dey Response is seen following Dave, ensuring safety for every shooter through and giving advice at the end of the shoot.
There was a heavy focus on accuracy, with punishment in the form of a 300-yard hill sprint, incorporated towards the end of day two for anyone that struck a hostage target. The course taught the core aspects of shooting and added more complexity to the drills, such as shooting from your back and learning what changes to your shooting need to be made to adapt appropriately, such as finding a solid base while on your back or knees. There was also never the statement “This is the way you must do this every time.” He simply covered more effective ways to try something and allowed the students to practice it.
There was a bonus feature to the course as well, in that Joel Gupton of D-Dey Response Group was working as Mickey’s Assistant Instructor. Joel spent a lot of years as an 18D, which means we were privy to a free basic trauma care lesson over our lunch break on the second day. It was not as heavily involved as a normal trauma course would be, but it showed many students what the essential tools involved were and what methods should be applied. It was also interesting having an IC Unit MD in the course to confirm what Joel taught, as well as adding some additional information. The short lesson also served to demonstrate some holes in some students’ medical preparedness, as well as giving a lot of us the desire to take a full course from D-Dey.
I struggled to pace myself with this drill, it is easy to engage the targets before they have been reached, but measuring your speed and engaging the targets at the appropriate time is the goal of this exercise.
Simply because I know some readers will want an idea of what shooting drills were taught, I will cover what I remember most. Each day began and ended with an accuracy drill, from 3/4” targets in the morning of day one, to reduced A zone steel at roughly 35 yards at the close of day two. As mentioned, the course began with less complex drills, such as accuracy grouping and progressed to firing more rapid strings, basic movement and target engagement, firing from retention and from the ground, shooting and reloading on the move, and culminating with multiple target drills involving movement and cover. Further detail of the drills doesn’t strike me as necessary because as I stated before, the act of shooting isn’t the true focus of the course.
Noah Alkinburgh of Wise Men Company and I perform the serpentine drill laterally, engaging steel targets, some with hostage swinger attachments.
Shooting is fun and attending courses with high round counts and a focus on just shooting performance have great merits. However, we often lose focus of why we are training, or at least why we say we are training. Building those skillsets is very important, but it is so very important that we keep that training in perspective. You will have fun at a Carry Trainer course, that’s a guarantee. The atmosphere is friendly, and jokes are constantly being made, both to put new shooters at ease and simply for the sake of fun. However, the true purpose of the course, the seriousness of what you are training for, is never forgotten. If a student forgets and targets are engaged with less focus and intensity than is appropriate, Mickey finds a way to bring the focus back to where it belongs, immediately. If you have the time and the money, a Carry Trainer course is something I highly recommend scheduling as part of your training.
One last note, as you can see there aren’t any pictures or very much video content for 16+ hours of learning. As a student that paid my way to be there I wanted to learn first, the article came second. I’m also not the greatest photographer/videographer, special thanks to my good friend David Bruce of Freedom Armory for sharing some of his video recording from the event. If you want more content from one of Mickey’s courses his IG and YouTube channel have hundreds of higher quality videos with much more depth. I encourage anyone interested in seeing more to go and learn from these sources.
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