Student AAR from the Racine County Line Close Quarter Handgun class, Aug 29th

Posted with permission, AAR from a student that he is posting on the Lightfighter site;


On 8/29/15 I attended Agile Tactical’s Close Quarters Handgun, held at the Racine County Line Rifle Club.  This was a one day course, focusing largely on pistol techniques, marksmanship, and manipulations at close range.  The class listing identifies the main teaching points as:


“Issues with defensive use and deployment of handguns at close and very close ranges

-Considerations in drawing a handgun at contact and near contact ranges, entangled in-fight weapons access issues, and drawing/firing from non-standard positions

-Close quarters shooting,

-Weapon retention and disarming/deflection,

-Working around bystanders or family members in close quarters and the “down-range” problem,

-Wound ballistics and “Tactical Anatomy”,

-Malfunction clearances with one and two hands”


Class stuck pretty well to schedule, and we hit on each of these points.  Other aspects of close- quarters gunfighting were added, as well.



Chuck Haggard, retired from the Topeka Police Department, was our instructor.  Chuck needs no introduction from me; suffice to say that he’s seen a lot in his 28 year law enforcement career, he’s been recognized in state and federal court as an expert witness in use of force, and is a self described “training whore”.  His experience alone speaks volumes; combined with his clear and concise reasoning behind his techniques and methodology, his arguments advocating or opposing existing TTPs are hard to ignore.


Class make up:

We had about 12 students on the line, the majority of which were LEOs, with some prior military thrown in.  Everyone had at least some prior training or experience in competition.  No one seemed to be in over their head.  Accuracy standards were kept high and we all were for the most part holding up our end (more on this later).  LFers Rick Finsta and Dusty Varmint were in attendance.



As with other AARs I’ve written, I won’t go into specific drills or TTPs learned.  I consider them to be in many respects intellectual property of the trainer.  I also wouldn’t want people to cheat themselves out of the course, the learning experience, or the instructor’s published material if applicable.


After introductions, Chuck explained his overall rationale and goals for the course.  Bottom line is that several skills and TTPs aren’t practiced nearly as much as others, especially as one leaves the academy (in the LEO world).  Three great examples are in-battery reloads (with and without retention), malfunction clearance, and firing from retention.  In comparison to other important shooting/gunfighting skills, these don’t seem to receive as much training.  Chuck worked us through several drills for tac reloads and Phase 1 and 2 malfunctions, as well as his philosophy on teaching and performing them.  His methodology also aided in more realistic setups for each drill, which added value to the training, and gave me some ideas for making my own training more realistic and valuable.  He outlined the 4 step draw stroke, noting that it allows firing from multiple points along the presentation, and stressed the importance of holstering slowly, especially if working from concealment.


Many of Chuck’s exercises involved working with a partner to setup or reset the drill, which aids in efficiency and allows for coaching, critiquing, and a little competition at times.


After lunch, the second half of class focused mostly on close quarters drills, such as developing shooting skills from retention/position 2, and shooting from position 3 into position 4.  Chuck also had us work on this in pairs, using dummy guns, to get a better feel for when each position was appropriate.  This, IME, is one of those initially trained then neglected skillsets.


Class also delved into some material concerning “the downrange problem”, i.e. moving a bystander/loved one/partner/unknown out of the line of fire in order to engage a threat.  This was again a partner drill, and I had the pleasure of working with Rick Finsta again, as I had throughout the day.  We also worked through some of Chuck’s material regarding weapon retention in and out of holster, weapon disarms, and ended with an intro to some combatives involving the handgun.  Always good stuff to work on.


At this point, Chuck ended class with a review of the material presented, as well as our personal takeaways.  Experiences were universally positive, and Chuck was frank about wanting constructive criticism.  Following this, we packed up and departed.



My marksmanship is pretty good, for being a bit out of practice.  I seemed to be keeping up pretty well in the speed and accuracy department, though I need to work on slowing down my holstering, in order to ensure the trigger guard is clear or cover garments, strings, etc.  Chuck had us mostly shoot the VTAC target, as he likes the IPSC/anatomy overlay, and feels that the placement of the “A” box, especially the upper half, and the credit card box in the face, are well placed and sized.  The discussion about targets and tactical anatomy was great, and was reinforced by Chuck’s target selections and his accuracy standards.


Chuck’s arguments in support of using the support hand to rack the slide during reloads, as well as the 4 step draw stroke, are convincing.  I went with Chuck’s methods for the class, and felt comfortable that my reloads speeds were still sufficient, yet the overhand technique was more “robust”, and maintained commonality with my dry fire and malfunction clearance manipulations.  I’ll keep it in the toolbox.  “Robust manipulation” was a common theme in this class.


This was also my first exposure to resetting the trigger under recoil (vs coming off recoil and resetting).  I had not tried this until this class, and I found that it was fairly easy to pick up, and improved my follow up.


Chuck’s combatives, retention, and close quarters firing techniques are excellent.  I especially liked his session on clearing the downrange problem.  If I had to offer a constructive tweak to this class, it would be to make a second day out of the combatives and movement around partners portions.  I can tell Chuck has a great deal of knowledge in this realm, and I’d love to delve deeper into that material.


Round count: 252.  300 advertised.




+draw stroke




-trigger reset

-practice malfunction clears and in battery reloads

-firing from position 3/compressed 4

-Slow holstering


Gear Shakedown:

Glock 19 ran 100%.  HD sights are great, and easy to pick up under speed.  Ammo was Freedom Munitions 115 gr. remanufactured.  Ammo was 100%; my only malfunctions were intentionally induced.  I brought my M&P Shield as a backup, with the intent to run it a little, which never happened.  Other students’ guns, mostly Glocks, seemed to be working fine.  I saw one broken slide stop spring, for which Chuck had a spare.  I used basic belt gear- Blade-tech holster, Raven double mag pouch, Maxpedition dump pouch.  The dump pouch came in handy when working with dummy guns and dummy rounds.  In retrospect, I should have worked with my Shield, or with my appendix holster for some of this class.


Class comments:

Chuck runs a tight ship.  Breaks were effectively working breaks, stuffing mags and discussing the class material and relative real world incidents.  He started class with the most in depth intro that I’ve heard.  When each student recited their training and experience, Chuck took note and asked great questions about their experiences and histories.  The medical/casualty plan was discussed, again in depth.   Due to the range’s location, our host, Jerry, made it clear that whoever called 911 should ask for a specific ambulance service, who knew the location.  Chuck also provided dummy guns and dummy ammunition for several evolutions.  This is a huge help to students who either don’t have these items, or who would otherwise have to source them from their agency to attend.


Jerry also had 2 members of the club on hand to act as assistants.  This made target posting and taping (“the Tape of Shame”), and brass call much easier.  They were also on hand to open the range gate and direct us to the correct range, and they were also tasked with opening the gate and escorting the ambulance if needed.  The range was clean, with a large table for our gear.  We had a few Easy-ups set up, which helped with the light rain that we had in the morning.


Side note: Chuck also ran his well received OC class the previous evening.  I got word of the evening class a couple days beforehand, so I couldn’t make it part of my itinerary.  Next time…


Travel Notes:

Racine is easy to get to if you’re on or near the western shore of Lake Michigan, from Chicago up to Green Bay.  I traveled light, and stayed for a night at a local hotel.  Note to self: don’t pick the second cheapest hotel in Racine.  I’m convinced that, while nothing happened while I was there, this place likely sees more than its fair share of calls for service from the local PD and FD.  Dining options were either scarce or questionable by the time I was ready for dinner (8:30, after a run and a shower).



Great class!  I picked up a lot of helpful tips and techniques.  Chuck is a great guy to learn from and listen to.  His teaching style, combined with a solid amount of 1 on 1 instruction, ensured optimum material retention.  As an LE trainer, he understands the dynamics involved in LE institutions and training.  His experience has made him witness to the evolution and current state of firearms training, especially as it pertains to LE institutions.  His insight into this alone is astounding.  As noted above, I’d gladly pay extra for a second day focusing more on his movement drills, downrange problems, and retention/disarm material.  Great job to our hosts as well; things ran smoothly, and the extra help was noticed and appreciated.  I hope to see the club host more classes in the coming years, and I hope to see Chuck in the area again.  Nice job!