Student AAR, OC spray for the CCW person, McHenry Ill

I am posting this AAR by permission from the student, this was originally posted on the Lightfighter forum,

I can highly recommend Lightfighter for any LEOs, military folks and other serious students of firearms and training, it’s one of the few sites on the internets that I frequent.  Be advised, it is heavily moderated and stupid stuff is not tolerated.




On Sept 18, I attended Agile Tactical’s OC (pepper spray) course, held at the Alpha Range facility in McHenry, IL. I attended Chuck’s 1 day defensive handgun course late last month. In my AAR, I mentioned that he also held his OC course the night before. Had I known about it, I would have been there. Chuck, remembering this, PM’d me the day before the McHenry class to let me know. The stars aligned for me to get down to IL for an evening, so I took the opportunity.

The key goals of the course are:
-To gain an understanding of how OC/chemical irritant spray works, to include aftercare
-To understand where the use of OC would properly fall into a personal defense system
-To separate facts from myths and marketing, so the consumer can make a good purchase
-To develop deployment tactics and threat resolution skills, scaling up and down from OC
The course puts this together in about 3 1/2 hours or so. It’s primarily geared towards non-LEO attendees, who have a choice of what product to carry, and who have little to no experience with OC. However, as an LEO, I found the course to be very informative, especially WRT the history of chemical irritants in LE, use of force articulation and understanding, more advanced deloyment considerations, and for the reps with inert training cans. Chuck makes a strong argument for adding OC to one’s defensive load out in both the plainclothes capacity as well as off duty.
Chuck’s LE experience, going back to the ’80s, makes him an ideal instructor. He has countless OC deployments, both in the street and in training. He has also been involved in training for almost as long, and has experience and exposure with several different companies’ products. He is articulate in his reasonings and rationale, presents well, and can back up his points and answer questions with both empirical knowledge and personal experience.

Chuck began with his introduction, and covered his plan for the class. He then dove into the material. Chuck had great handouts, in the form of PowerPoint printouts. While he didn’t use an actual Powerpoint (my understanding is that he does use it for this class), the lack of a screen did not detract from the course. The best kinds of PowerPoints are those that serve as as guide for the discussion, not the focus; Chuck accomplished this by adding in some personal experiences and historical notes on the subject where appropriate. Nicely done.
The classroom material hit on all the above points. Chuck broke down the history of chemical irritants, leading to where we are now with OC. He explained how OC works to disrupt an attacker, as well as how/when that mechanism might not be effective, and touched on aftercare and decon considerations. He also had a great breakdown of the various delivery methods (stream, foam, etc.) and their advantages and limitations.
The big moneymaker for the classroom portion was in Chuck’s explanation of how OC potency is calculated/marketed. This was very informative, and I was glad to see that the product that my agency uses rated high on Chuck’s list for effectiveness and quality control. Not surprisingly, much of what’s out there for information comes with a heavy dose of marketing. Thankfully, Chuck can cut through the crap. For a person purchasing OC on their own for personal defense or for a loved one, this is great information to have.
Class progressed into practical applications, done on site in one of Alpha’s ranges. Chuck started with the basics, like how to hold the can. We progressed into aiming and deploying, as well as exercises for escalating up to (and even beyond) OC. These exercises are in many ways very revealing to those who have not contemplated integrating defensive tools or concepts, and shows the need for more of this type of training, both for professionals as well as the armed public.
As with his pistol course, Chuck ended with discussion and practice of both disarming an attacker armed with OC, and retaining one’s OC against an attacker. Without going into details, his methods are simple, direct, and effective, thus easy to remember under stress.
Class wrapped up with a quick overview of what we learned, as well as the importance of keeping up with training.

-Keep up with case law, use of force standards, and reporting. Look at past incidents to determine if OC could have been an effective option. Do this with an eye towards training for future similar scenarios, vs second guessing.
-Practice. As paltry as most LE inservice training is, firearms rightly gets a large share of what little time there is. However, DT is often neglected due to the specter of training injuries. Keep up with this, and include OC and other options. I need to get some training props.
-Experiment with integrating OC into off duty carry options, as well as plainclothes load outs. Work with training team to develop options and training on all facets of defensive tactics and firearms, geared towards plainclothes and off duty.

+Familiar with OC and its effects from prior training
+Can still aim and deploy the can effectively under stress
+Current on state statute and standards

-Work on escalating from verbal control to less lethal means to lethal options (more full spectrum training)
-Identify off duty carry solution
-Acquire training props

Gear Shakedown:
This class was minimal on gear, and the training props were provided by Chuck. NO LIVE OC was used in this class, in case you were wondering.

Casual observation:
I’ve taken several shooting courses now, from a variety of instructors. I practice on my own, teach for my agency, and read up. I consider myself a decent shot and a good tactician. However, I haven’t taken as many non-shooting classes. For armed professionals among us, as well as the armed public, keeping up with combatives and less lethal skills, and training to transition between different options, is key. Not every problem has a ballistic solution; and even some of the ones that do or could, have to be solved at ranges that people seldom practice. At the same time, sometimes carrying a gun is just not going to happen. Traveling (esp. to areas with varying and draconian laws, e.g. NY/NJ, flying, etc), students on campus, the gym, and professions where carrying concealed would be verboten and difficult due to attire or work conditions, all can put a damper on the full load out we’d all like to carry. I wouldn’t forgo the gun; but I need to keep my non-gun skillset (and gear-set) up to par. For those who believe likewise, add Chuck to the list of trainers who excel at this.

As I mentioned above, this was a bit of a spur of the moment thing for me. I’m gracious that Chuck remembered me from the last class and thought to get a hold of me. I live just under 2 hours from McHenry, so the trip was pretty easy. The gear list is minimal; a training gun or knife is a nice thing to bring (I need to get a blue gun), but Chuck has everything you need, making things simpler.

The Alpha Range seemed nice. Indoors, 20 or so yards, and rifle rated. That’s pretty damn good for a range that’s inside the city limits. The facilities were in good shape, and the classroom was spacious enough. They also have at least 1 large TV for PowerPoints or training- a nice touch. Plenty of food choices nearby if attending a school there. Didn’t see a hotel, but I didn’t stray from the main drag. The class attendees (most of whose I ASSume are range members) were all friendly and accommodating. If I lived in northern IL, I’d give this place a look. Seeing that they host some training at their site, I’m sure I’ll be back someday.

Bottom Line:
So, great training with Chuck again. I’m glad to see more less lethal/combative training being offered, and I’m glad that someone with Chuck’s training and background is offering up the training. Combined with his pistol class, this is a great close quarters defensive training package. I highly courage you to check out his website and calendar: