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Old September 22, 2009, 12:04 PM   #1
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AAR for YFA Carbine & Handgun Class

After Action Report (AAR) for Yavapai Firearms Academy Carbine & Handgun Course

28-29-30 August 2009

Boone County Sheriff's Office, Lebanon, Indiana

At the end of August I traveled to the Boone County Sheriff's Office in Lebanon, Indiana to attend a Carbine/Handgun training course instructed by Louis Awerbuck of the Yavapai Firearms Academy.

Sheriff Ken Campbell of Boone County has hosted many nationally known instructors at the Sheriff's Office Range in the last 15 years. Louis Awerbuck and Pat Rogers both stop there several times a year, and Sheriff Campbell himself is an adjunct instructor with the Gunsite Academy and teaches the basic Gunsite Handgun and Carbine classes himself at that range, usually twice a year.

Their website is: . On the right tool bar, you can click on "training announcements" to view information on upcoming classes.

Louis Awerbuck is a native of South Africa and did his military service in a Special Forces unit in the South African Defense Force before immigrating to the United States. He worked for a time at Gunsite under Col. Jeff Cooper and was Chief Rangemaster there when he left in 1987 to found his own business, the Yavapai Firearms Academy. He has written the books Hit or Myth: An analysis of practical range training for street preparedness, Tactical Reality: An Uncommon Look at Common-Sense Firearms Training and Tactics. More Tactical Reality: Why There's No Such Thing as an "Advanced" Gunfight, and Defensive Shotgun: Tactics & Techniques and has also produced several video tapes. He writes regularly for SWAT magazine and in the past has written for Soldier of Fortune and other gun magazines. (My personal favorite book was Tactical Reality)

We did most of our shooting on YFA's proprietary silhouette target, available from (Click on the "professional combat" target icon on the left tool bar to find them). The YFA target is done in tan disruptive-pattern camo with primary scoring zones in the head, upper chest, and pelvis. The target is printed on heavy card stock, and has reduced rifle and sight-in targets on the back.

The targets have an 8 inch primary scoring zone in the center chest and a 4 inch scoring zone in the ocular cavity of the head.

Later on the targets were turned about 45 degrees from the firing line and sometimes rotated off the vertical axis, to complicate the firing problem. Shooting at an angled target is a challenge, and the goal was to place the shot in the proper location to get a deep and incapacitating hit.

Beginning in the afternoon of the first day, the YFA targets were mounted at unusual angles relative to the shooter, and also stapled to the cardboard target backer in such a way that they were arched, somewhat simulating the shape of a human torso. Louis spent some time discussing target angles, and where on a human the shot would have to be placed to get it into the vital organs, depending on the position of the target. I found this part of the training to be very interesting.

In one stage of the course, we used photo targets from These targets were also angled in different dimensions, and the scoring zones were not visible from a distance.

Louis stressed the high degree of accuracy needed to actually get an incapacitating hit on the street in a real gunfight.

„« The target area on the human head is about 6 inches by 6 inches. From the front, aim for the cranio-occular cavity -- the eye sockets are the best place. Aiming at the forehead may result in the bullet skipping off or not penetrating the skull. From the side, try to put the bullet into the ear canal.
„« Adult males are about 19 inches tall from shoulder to waist
„« Adult females are about 14 inches tall from shoulder to waist.
„« The major difference in height between people is in the length of their legs.
„« The width of the adult body nipple to nipple is 8 or 9 inches.
„« If the target is standing sideways/bladed to you, the vital area may only be 3 or 4 inches wide, depending upon the angle.

On the afternoon of day 3 we had an opportunity to shoot in several exercises on the mirage target system. (to see pictures and a description of the mirage target system, go to and click on the "mirage target" icon on the left). In this case, the target had two plastic humanoid targets, dressed in T-Shirt and baseball hat, surrounded by "no shoot" targets. The targets can be manipulated to pivot around in a circle and back and forth, and they're also mounted on springs, to give movement in multiple directions. In the exercises we ran, one target was designated as a "no shoot" and the other as the suspect, a situation requiring deadly force was stipulated, and only a headshot on the hostile target would work to end the problem. Consistent with safety and the limitations of the backstop, we had some limited ability to move forward or laterally to get a proper angle to take a shot on the target as it was moving.

Shooting at the mirage target was very interesting -- you had to track a moving target with your sights, be aware of the angles to get a good shot, and aware of the location of a bunch of "no-shoot" targets, one of which was also moving. (I particularly enjoyed this part of the training -- Louis had described the prototype version of the mirage target in his book Hit or Myth which came out in 1991, and I've been waiting for years to get a chance to shoot on the mirage target system in a class. My first opportunity came in a YFA Handgun class I took in 2006)

We also had an opportunity to shoot on a simple moving target -- a target cart with wheels that didn't progress laterally in a predictable manner, but instead started and stopped and changed direction rapidly. The goal was to track the "shoot" target with the front sight smoothly and then make the shot when an opportunity presented itself. (This was HARD)

All of Louis' moving targets were operated manually. With ropes. Because he's on the road all the time, he uses target systems of his own design that are simple, rugged, and don't require electricity to operate.

We did a lot of shooting with the carbine while moving. Moving forward and backward, and then while moving laterally. In general, Louis recommends taking three big lateral steps while engaging a target (with any weapon) to complicate the firing solution for your adversary and to get you off the line of force. (I don't think we did much lateral movement past 25 yards)

Many drills required headshots, and in some cases we engaged multiple targets, as in putting three quick shots into the center chest of "our" target, followed by a single headshot to the target on either side.

The height over bore of the sights on the AR-15 system is 2.6 inches. With scopes, it depends on what kind of scope and mounts that you have. I was the only shooter in the class using iron sights. We zeroed in 1 inch low at 25 yards. In my case, to make a headshot, I have to aim high on the head to one degree or another, until I'm at 25 yards. We did a lot of drills at different distances requiring one precise headshot, so that each shooter could become accustomed to the height over bore for his particular weapon/sight combination.

Louis emphasized that the loading sequence for any carbine involves PUSHING the magazine in, and then PULLING on it to ensure that it's seated well. In general, with most AR-15 magazines, a 30 rnd mag should be loaded with 27 or 28 rounds and a 20 round magazine loaded with 18 rounds, to allow for a smooth in-battery reload. Loading the magazines full makes it VERY difficult to get the magazine seated if the bolt is forward and there is a round in the chamber.

We did lots of transitions from the carbine to the handgun, and a few from the handgun to the carbine. Louis stressed that we always engage the manual safety before slinging the carbine and deploying the pistol.

12 shooters were present for the entire class, and several came just for the final day. All of the students had taken previous classes with YFA. There was one Sig 556, one M1 Garand rifle and everybody else used some variety of AR-15. For the handguns, there was one shooter with a Browning High Power, one civilian security police officer who worked on an Air Base who used his issued Beretta M9, and then the rest of the class was M1911s of various types and Glock pistols, except for my Sig 226R-DAK in .40 cal.

Most of the shooting we did was at 25 yards and closer. We did some shooting on paper at 50 yards, and shot on a steel plate at 50, 75 and 100 yards to check zero.

Many shooters found that they were not employing proper follow-through, and were unconsciously lowering the handgun or rifle to check their hits, at least on the close range strings of fire.

Nobody had any major weapons issues. The carbines were all kept well lubricated. We went through (I think) about 120 rnds of handgun ammo and just over 500 rnds of pistol ammo in three days.
You can only learn from experience if you pay attention!
Jeff22 is offline  
Old September 22, 2009, 05:31 PM   #2
Lee Lapin
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Location: SE NC
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Good review, Jeff22. Congratulations on obtaining some of the best training available on the planet. Louis is nothing short of awesome.

Mindset - Skillset - Toolset. In that order!

Attitude and skill will get you through times of no gear, better than gear will get you through times of no attitude and no skill.
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Old September 22, 2009, 06:09 PM   #3
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Location: Lafayette, Indiana--American-occupied America
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That Ken Campbell, what a swell egg.
"Arguments of policy must give way to a constitutional command." Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 602 (1980).
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