AAR: Alliance Police Firearms Training Unit's Shotgun class
Alliance OH Police Department
15 Apr 2011
Alliance PD (Oh)
After reading several AARs and Pat Rogers articles mentioning the facility at the Alliance PD range I decided to check out their website.
It was there that I found a listing for a tuition free "Performance Shotgun" class listed. I shot Fresca a PM and he put me in a slot.
The class called for 175 rounds of birdshot, 50 rounds of buck and 25 slugs along with 50 rounds of handgun.
I decided to tempt fate and bring along an almost brand new gun that had just been picked up from the gunsmith.
It was a box stock Mossberg 930 SPX that the 'smith cut down the stock for a reduced LOP (as usual with factory guns it was apparently designed for NBA players only), a single point sling adapter and a 3 gun inspired velcro attached side saddle.
Scattergun ammo was cheap Winchester bird from Wally World (like I said I must be a gambler), Federal LE reduced recoil slugs and the superb Federal LE 00. The more I use their ammo with the Flight Control Wad the more I am impressed.
Sidearm of choice was my fullsize M&P9 with Warren Tactical sights and a home brew stipple job.
Gear was minimal and consisted of a Peters Custom Holsters Spada, Comptac pistol mag pouch, Ares Gear Ranger belt and a Peters/Ares shotgun shell panel that is just coming to market.
The morning started out with all of the shooters making their way to classroom area to sign waivers, go over the range safety brief and take care of all the admin stuff. We then went around with brief introductions just to see everyone's background.
The lead instructors at this point were Joe W and Mike "Doc". They went over the basics of loading, unloading, malfunction clearance, some of the common misconceptions with the shotgun, the weapons abilities, pros and cons of various modifications and touched on their approach of ballistic breaching.
We spent very little time in the classroom setting and quickly moved to the range. Once we kitted up we started out with patterning the shotgun with our individual loads at various distances.
Although this can be a time consuming and sometimes tedious process it is a very necessary evil. Most officers present agreed that the shotgun was almost an afterthought when it comes to training and quite a few were not entirely sure of what their weapons would produce a "X" yards.
With that out of the way we moved on to various drills including reflexive fire, multiple shots, emergency reloads, transitions, shooting on the move and slug select drills. All the while being constantly reminded to be aware of our surroundings and "load what you shoot".
At this time we broke for lunch. As usual with a class like this once you get a bunch of like minded guys in a setting you will eventually start to talk shop and (sometimes hard learned) information starts flowing.
With lunch wrapped up we headed back to the range. At this point "Fresca" introduced himself to the class as he had been held up by some delays while traveling back from a separate class.
We then went over the shoothouse safety brief, reminded everyone of the emergency procedures and then proceeded to lead us through a walkthrough of their house.
Let me take a second and just say that their shoothouse is outstanding. Not only is it very large but it is obvious that someone with a devious mind was involved in it's design. It also allowed us to run two teams at once in complete safety.
At this point the class split into two groups. One going with Fresca and the other with Joe. My group consisted of two area SWAT cops, two other experienced officers from a nearby city, an Air Force cop who is what some would refer to as a large human being, an AFSOC guy and myself (a short round hobbit just trying not to make an ass of himself).
We started out with two man entries under the watchful eye of Joe. After a few runs he stepped us up to three and then four man elements.
It was at this point that you could see the various TTPs and background experiences that everyone brought to the table. Everyone being the professionals that they were had no problem melding to one another and things went surprisingly fluidly considering the short time we had to work together.
This to me is a big testament also to the abilities of the APD crew. To bring together a group of shooters from various different backgrounds and skill level and within an afternoon go from square range drills to four man entries is simply amazing IMO.
After our runs the shooters (reluctantly) left the house and went back to the square range. Here we wrapped up the day with couple of runs on a Modified Navy Qual using slugs at what I believe was the 50 yard line.
After that we downloaded our weapons, dropped our gear and helped out with a quick range cleanup.
Here were the takeaways for me.
1. The shotgun while being a neglected tool in the arsenal as of late is still as a flexible and useful a tool as ever within it's limitations.
2. We need to break the scatterguns out for training more often if we ever intend to use it for more than breaching or a delivery device for LL loads.
3. TEST YOUR GEAR. While the weapons ran great I cannot say the same for the accessories. My single point sling (Magpul MS2) was not ideal for my needs. While a single is great for a breaching gun that will be secured the majority of the time it was not the best option for a primary weapon.
The other (and bigger) issue was my choice of side saddle. It was suggested to me by a very experience 3 gunner and on the surface it seemed like a great idea. What I found under use was that it would decide to randomly jettison itself from the side of my gun. Of course it would wait until we were on the move so I would find myself 15 yards from my ammo supply when I needed it. Luckily the Peters/Ares Gear shotshell panel made the trip with me and provided me with a constant source of three 00 and two slugs when needed.
In the end I have to say this was a great class. There was a lot of information and experience passed along in one short training day. I can honestly say that I picked up something from every instructor as well as the students there.
The APD guys are a class act. It is obvious that they are not only solid shooters and that dreaded "O" word but also take a genuine interest in seeing that those going into harms way get the best training available.
Between their stand up attitudes and outstanding facility it is no surprise to see that trainers of the caliber of EAG, LMS and TEES keep coming back. I am already looking forward to making the trip up to train with them again.
Good write up.