I had the opportunity to take the NRA's PPOTH course as an Instructor Candidate. Below is my After Action Report.
8/7/15 - 8/8/15: I had the opportunity to participate in the NRA's Personal Protection Outside the Home from Sparrow Defense over the past two days. This course included both the Basic and Advanced portions of this course, spread out over classroom and outdoor range environments. I'd like to share my After Action Report of how I feel the course went and provide some insight as tot he content of the course.
The course was separated into two days. The first day was classroom instruction consisting of the initial introduction of content as well as the NRA's version of Concealed Carry. I found this piece of the class to be a "necessary evil" as this is always my least favorite part of any instructional course that I participate in. Though it was certainly not my favorite part of the course, it was informative and entertaining to the point that it was as enjoyable as possible and thorough in its presentation.
Day 2 began with an early day at the range (8:00 AM), and we would be out there until about 3:30 PM. It was a HOT August day in Georgia, which certainly added to the "shooting under stress" portion of the class as everyone was visibly becoming more physically strained as the sun beat down. From here, I will break down the report into four sections: Level of Challenge; Instruction; Content; and Highs and Lows.
LEVEL OF CHALLENGE:
This is not an introductory level course. The participants in this course have already taken the NRA's Basic Pistol Course and the Personal Protection Inside the Home course (or can perform at an equivalent skill level). All of the participants were proficient enough with their handguns to be considered safe on the range and were all within a marginal difference in their abilities. Because of the similarities in the participant's skill level, Clark Sparrow (instructor) was able to push the content at a consistent pace without boring anyone or leaving anyone behind. The progression of challenge was both logical and fun. I consider myself to be a high-level shooter, and at no point during the range phase of the course was I not interested in what we were doing. Clark also interjected a LOT of content that is not part of the standard NRA PPOTH curriculum, which means that the participants got more than their money's worth. I will incorporate more into the "Content" section as to what that entailed, but it added a ton of useful content to the curriculum. Overall, the level of challenge was excellent for this course and the participants that were in it. Everyone there, myself included, went home as a better shooter than when they arrived.
(Admittedly, I am biased in this section. I have trained with Clark and competed with him in the competition circuits for several years. I know his capabilities on the handgun, and I consider him to be a very high level shooter. That's why I choose to train with him!)
The instruction in this class was spot-on. Clark is not bashful to discuss multiple ways of performing a task, including ways that he doesn't necessarily agree with. He is good about discussing the actions with everyone as he thinks they should be performed, as well as differing opinions so that the students can try multiple methods and see what they like best. His humble approach to teaching allows for students to not feel intimidated about asking questions or offering up alternative ways to perform a task that they have been exposed to. Clark will address their questions with his honest, yet un-imposing opinion. This is refreshing in the firearm training industry, because many other instructors have a "I am smarter than you" attitude and will force "their way" on their students even if it doesn't seem right for that particular individual. Not the case with Clark... In closing for this section- I am sending my fiance to train under Clark for her continued instruction. I cannot give a higher endorsement than that.
This section of the report could go on extensively, so I will try to keep it as concise as possible. We covered a LOT of content in this class, and much of it was not exactly part of the NRA's standard curriculum. My favorite section of this course was positional shooting and shooting while moving. Specifically the use of low-barricade work because it forces the participants to problem solve and manipulate the firearm in positions that are uncomfortable. Coupled with a long day of shooting and the incredible heat, the stress inoculation was certainly a factor in the training. We shot from low kneeling (single and double knees), squatting, urban prone, and multiple other positions. We practised shooting from distances of literally touching to out at about 15 yards. We shot on the move, from behind cover, from concealment, and from outside the waistband. We worked malfunction correction for the four main types of semi-automatic handgun malfunctions. We worked on Gap Reactionary Drills to see the distance that we could adequately draw from concealment and place two combat-effective shots downrange from 21 feet. We worked on flashlight techniques for low-light shooting scenarios, as well as engaging multiple targets. In short, the content was challenging enough to allow each participant to identify deficiencies in their game so that everyone walked away feeling more educated, yet understanding specific areas where they need to improve. In the classroom following the shooting portion we covered the judicious use of deadly force as well as the specific code sections dealing with armed citizens per the laws of the state of Georgia.
HIGHS AND LOWS:
There were many "highs" for this course. Specifically I would say that the facilities and props coupled with the level of instruction were the most positive aspects of the course. The classroom setting was comfortable and professional and the range is top-notch. We shot steel, IDPA style targets, as well as the standard NRA style targets. The ratio of instruction to shooting was well-balanced and effectively presented. Additionally, I believe that among the most important aspects of this course was the legal issues that we covered regarding firearm defense. I would HIGHLY recommend this course to anyone that has the opportunity to take it, specifically from SPARROW DEFENSE.
The lows of this class were very few, but present. The primary "low" for me was the heat. The temperature and humidity of a hot August day in Georgia can be quite distracting, if not challenging- and yesterday was no exception. Fortunately, we were able to start early enough to finish before the hottest part of the day and we were blessed with sunshine for our training.
This course, with the additional curriculum included from Clark, was very informative. I would recommend that SPARROW DEFENSE finds a way to couple this class with low-light shooting at night, or that students take a follow-up course with SPARROW DEFENSE to get familiar with low-light fighting techniques. If you carry a concealed firearm regularly or you are contemplating doing so- then you need to take this course.