AAR-NOLATAC trains with Larry Vickers, Vickers Tactical-Handgun, Carbine, AK-, Albion, MI (June 4-8)
Vickers Tactical Handgun Class, June 4-5, 2010
Vickers tactical Carbine Class, June 6-7, 2010
Vickers Tactical AK Class, June 8, 2010
Instructor: Larry Vickers
Host: Matt S.
Location: Spectacle Lake Outdoors Club 11450 25 1/2 Mile Rd, Albion MI 49224
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Well, I decided I needed a little tuning up before an upcoming deployment, so I scoured the net looking for classes to take. I had a few choice instructors that I have yet to train with, and Larry Vickers (LAV) was one of them. Seeing the five days of training across 3 different weapon platforms seemed like a great deal, and I was available to train on those dates, so…..I booked it and got my gear ready.
I have read most of the AARs on the various sites about Larry’s training, and they were all very positive. I have also talked to several other industry leading trainers, and they all had great things to say about LAV. I contacted the host, MattS, and he squared me away with all the info I needed. This would be his third time hosting LAV in Michigan.
Since this was essentially 3 different classes back to back, I will try to break them up that way here.
Travel and Accommodations:
I booked my flight on Travelocity and was actually able to get the airfare, rental car, and hotel for 7 days for around 800.00. Not bad, considering that I had two non-stop flights, and my vehicle was an SUV (well kinda). My one mistake was that I thought I would save a few bucks and decided to stay at the Travel Lodge in Jackson, MI rather than a Hampton Inn where I normally try to stay. Boy was that a mistake.
STAY AWAY FROM THAT PLACE AT ALL COSTS
. It was dirty, smelled bad, water was rusty, had no elevator, towels were stained, the breakfast consisted of two cereals and two juices, and the area was not exactly “friendly”. Luckily, I was heavily armed.
Being away from home, I tried to pack light. I brought my Spike’s LE M4 Carbine, Glock 17, Glock 19, and my Romanian AK47 under folder. They were all packed in a pelican case along with a couple magazines, holsters, MARZ tactical chest rig, ammunition, etc.
I shipped my ammo and other gear in a Pelican overnight to the hotel. Even though I paid almost 350.00 to have it sent 2nd day air, it did not arrive until Friday evening (4days). Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. I called the host MattS, and when I got to the range, he had ammo waiting on me. Thanks to him and all the guys that helped me out that first day since UPS decided to slide me the brown weenie.
Test and Evaluation Gear:
Marz Tactical Gear- Marz Tactical Gear has been making tactical gear such as bags, chest rigs, pouches, etc, off the commercial radar for about 10 years. However, they just recently launched their website for commercial sales. Previously, they were only being carried by Larue Tactical. I was running their chest rig with 3 single magazine shingles, IFAK pouch, tourniquet pouch, GP pouch, and admin pouch. So far I am very pleased with the fit and performance of the kit. There will definitely be more to follow on this gear.
Spike’s Tactical- I have a video review of the Spike’s Tactical M4 LE and its performance during 6 days of Magpul Dynamics Carbine training, but decided to bring it along for this trip also. It functioned flawlessly as expected.
Endeavor Gear- I purchased a couple of Cobra belts from this guy I found on EBay. It was a shot in the dark, but lucky me, it paid off good. After talking with him for a while via email and on the phone, I found out he does make several other items also. When he sent me my belts, he threw in a single point sling he asked me to try out. I was very impressed with the quality of his belts and sling. There will definitely be more to follow on this guy. I love finding individual people who do phenomenal work at great prices and have a true sense of customer service and just flat out like helping people out. He does not have his own website, but he can be found on ebay under username “offpistekw”.
Vertex Clothing- A local police supply shop, American Police Equipment (APE), in New Orleans, LA. supplied me with some Vertex polo’s and pants to try out. I was very pleased with both, especially the polo. Vertex boasts of a “cool black” technology that is supposed to keep you several degrees cooler. I can definitely attest to the fact that even though the sun was shining, and we were sweating, I did feel relatively cool, more so in fact than I felt with other “regular” polo’s. I will be doing a more detailed review of these later.
(750 rounds, over all 5-days)
Since my gear was still in transit on TD1, all I had was my G19 with a G19 mag and a spare G17 mag that I carry for concealment with my Raven concealment IWB holster. I ran that with just the two mags the whole first day which was some good concealment training.
1.Larry definitely focuses on accuracy first and foremost. One of his mantras that I have heard before but is no less true is that the core of shooting any weapon system is the ability to properly manipulate the trigger. This was the underlying them throughout the week across all weapon platforms, but he really drove it home during handgun where your errors were more noticeable and thus correctable.
2.You can effectively shoot handguns accurately at less than optimal distances. During the walk-back drills with the handguns, a handful of us were able to effectively place handgun shots, some single handed, on a pepper popper at 103 yards (verified by laser rangefinder). It was definitely a confidence builder both in yourself and your gear. While probably not realistic engagement distances, it also helps to prove that the fundamentals will get the job done every time.
3.While the night fire for handgun was cancelled due to weather, we did do some handgun night fire during the carbine class. Once thing I found very beneficial was the fact that we had people shoot their various ammunition loads to get an idea of the flash signature of different ammunition coming from different weapons. This was very eye opening. We also looked at properly manipulating both weapon mounted and handheld light systems. Lastly, LAV showed us a great techniques for using a rifle mounted light when transitioning to a handgun without a weapon mounted light.
4.It is all in the trigger press.
5.It is all in the trigger press.
6.It is all in the trigger press.
(600 rounds, 2-days)
We started day one working on
1.Larry is not a big fan of over accessorizing. Some things are so “BAD”, he even hates them with a passion. ;). He prefers the KISS system for most carbines, and I agree. However, there is a time and a place for certain add-ons.
2.Right now, for close in work, Aimpoint is hard to beat for red dot optics. Couple that with a Larue mount and you are pretty much sitting on gold. Other than a sling, 2-point Vickers of course, and possibly a Blue Force Gear Redi-mod, anything else is fluff.
3.Competition triggers are prone to failure more so than mil-spec, and the use of AFG or vertical grips is frowned upon.
(300 rounds, 1-day)
The AK class was one of the main reasons I took the week of training as it is the platform I have the least experience and confidence with. I have heard several times that LAV is one of the foremost trainers on that particular platform—I was not lied to.
1.F%*$ an under folder. LOL. Man that thing ate my shoulder up in about 5 rounds. Unless you have a NEED for an under folder, there are better options out there. I made a field expedient butt pad out of some cardboard and a towel. It helped a lot. I am going to try to both wrap what I have in para-cord and get something with a fixed or preferably side-folding stock.
2.Wear gloves- Those hand guards get hot with just a little bit of shooting. Also, the AK platform has a tendency to be riddled with sharp edges. While I typically do not shoot my M4 with gloves, in an operational environment, I can see where protecting the hands is important.
3.Larry had some great info to give on quality of guns and modification gear. He also showed us a couple of field expedient ways of making the AK platform more manageable, including how to loosen a tight safety. We also talked about some the available accessories and their relative applicability and general value to the platform.
4.Reloads- having limited experience on this platform, effective and efficient reloads were one of the main topics I was looking for. I personally like swatting the empty magazine out with the fresh one as a technique; however, he showed us several. I also learned why it is important to take that extra split second to make sure the proper angle is applied to allow the hinge effect to take place when seating the AK mag.
All told, I found Larry Vickers to be a tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy. I respect that. He definitely has his own perspective on the martial application of firearms, and it comes from his personal life experiences. His classes are informative and to the point, with a generous dose of humor and good-natured ribbing.
I would not hesitate a second to recommend Larry Vickers as a source for legit and fun firearms training; nor would I hesitate to return. Between Larry, Matt, and the group of guys over those 5 days, I feel my money was well spent.