Advanced rifle class from QSI

| August 6, 2014 | 2 Comments

Last Saturday the She Shepherd and I had the privilege of taking an advanced rifle course with QSI Training. The class built on a lot of what we’d learned from them in their basic class over the years as well as training from other organizations. The class was approximately 8 hours long, with 30 minutes for lunch. We broke for dinner and returned for the low light / night rifle class, but that’s another post.

QSI primary instructor Erik Pakieser led the class, with three range officers present. The 13 students were broken into two firing lines for most of the day, which resulted in a 4-to-7 instructor to student ratio. The class was broken down into smaller groups during the variable shooting position drills, and even smaller groups during the barricade drills and immediate threat drills. Students ran the last drills of the day one-by-one, with two range officers on each half (left and right) of the line, with a third range officer watching the entire line.

After a safety briefing we checked the zero on our rifles and then jumped immediately into the “100 round drill.” Students fired two shots at a target 40 yards away, moved, fired two more, and so on until they had fired three magazine’s worth of ammunition. After the drill we let our rifles cool down and inspected our accuracy. My 6.75″ AR15 pistol chambered in .300 Blackout did extremely well. I pulled one shot off of the man-sized target, otherwise my grouping was at the top of the class. That being said, I can do better and need more trigger time.


Here’s an overview of the drills / skills we covered:

  • Shooting from a barricade (repeated from basic)
  • Using cover, shooting and reloading from cover
  • Rifle to pistol transition (repeated from some basic classes, sometimes this is taught depending on class size and skill level)
  • The 2-2-2 drill, wherein we mixed speed and accuracy to engage three targets at short range
  • Dealing with height-over-bore sight issues, particularly at close ranges
  • Hostage rescue with a rifle
  • Shooting from various positions, including low crouch, kneeling (both sides), military prone, roll-over prone (both sides) (partial repeat)
  • Shooting while moving forwards and backwards
  • Moving to multiple locations and shooting from various positions at targets at various distances. The students had to problem solve for angles, cover, etc

We did not review things like trigger reset, malfunctions, when / how to reload, etc. It was assumed that the students already knew how to do these things (which was good). If a student encountered a situation they were on their own to solve it.


Student makeup

Every student was a repeat student and a graduate of the basic class. The background of the students ran the typical QSI gamut, from a gentleman in his 60s who just started shooting about a year ago to a young, former US Marine who is currently serving in another branch. The She-Shepherd was the only gal.

There were many of us of mixed racial heritage, and some representation from the Alternate community. I write this in case this post shows up in a search result — if you’re afraid of going to a class taught by judgmental neckbeards, don’t worry. Come on out, everyone’s friendly.

Thoughts on the class

QSI had a huge boom in both quantity and quality of students late last year. I have met a lot of new people this year, but the regulars and even the repeat newbies have shown a lot of commitment and improvement. The classes are starting to become more advanced and I am glad QSI offered a second-tier class this year.

This would make a great intermediate rifle class. I felt like we extended the concepts in the basic rifle class, but didn’t get so far ahead that I was learning something completely new. The movement drills were very helpful, and I did my best to use cover better.

In the future, I’d like the advance class to cover topics like transitioning the rifle to the opposite side and shooting with one’s off-hand, shooting and reloading while wounded, doing more drills with disabled optics / backup sights, and more movement drills. I’m not knocking the movement in the current  class, I just want to do more.

Erik gave loud and consistent commands. The range officers repeated the command up and down the line, and that was a huge benefit for those of us along the edges once the shooting started.

I love shooting steel, but one thing I hate about it is that people use the audible feedback to determine if they should move on to the next target or not. This results in people gaming the drill instead of doing what they were trained to do. I am a little guilty of this, too. For example, we’re told to fire two shots, move, and evaluate. At one point I heard the range officer yell out “MISS” and I fired two more shots. I should have fired my pair and moved, as I was instructed to do.

Overall, my performance was streaky. I have room for improvement. I knew that I was anticipating recoil earlier in the day and that definitely affected my accuracy. Other times I would press the trigger and miss to my surprise. I don’t feel like I’ve done enough rifle training to “feel” what a good shot or bad shot is like, especially in contrast to my experience with a handgun. I would also like to shoot faster, but I know that my speed will come as my experience increases.

I pride myself on my movement and mobility, and it was good, especially at the night class. My reloads were pretty good. The hostage rescue drill was an emotional experience. The She Shepherd has an 8 year old, and it puts things in a different light when you imagine a real person being taken away instead of a piece of paper.


All rounds had to be in a 2″ x 2″ area. Anything else meant death for the hostage.

Lastly, this is the first class I’ve been to where a student had a negligent discharge. Near the end of the day, a student was running a complex drill and needed to go from one side of concealment to the other. They had a sympathetic movement in their hand and fired a round as they started moving.

The student was following the other three rules of gun safety, and the round discharged downrange away from anyone or anything. There was a brief discussion with the student, and the student owned what happened. The class moved on, and the student finished the rest of the day without incident.

This is why the QSI staff (and other organizations) talk about safety at the beginning of every class, and the importance of the overlapping four rules of gun safety. This also stresses the importance of the Sul position and muzzle control.


Rifles are more effective at stopping a threat than pistols. I wish that more firearm owners would own and train with rifles, but finding a range that allows for dynamic movement with carbines can be difficult. I was glad to see so many rifle classes on the QSI training schedule this year, and intend to take the next basic rifle class in the fall.

I think the QSI Advanced Rifle class had a lot of good material, and is a good step in my evolution as a student of the rifle. I would like to see another tier of difficulty next year, with some truly advanced techniques and shooting drills. As always, I just wish there were more classes, and our training season in Minnesota was longer.


About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.

2 Comments on "Advanced rifle class from QSI"

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  1. ND says:

    As the offending party for the negligent discharge, I should own up to what happened here as well. I wish I could say that I knew exactly why it happened, but I was probably more surprised than anyone else when it did. I wish I could say that it was a rookie mistake, but this wasn’t my first rodeo as I’ve been training for several years now. But we all know that the gun didn’t go off by itself…if went off because I pulled the trigger. That said, I do think that it might be helpful to others to point out a few factors that I feel contributed to what happened:

    A) I was hot and tired. As SBS said, it was towards the end of a very hot day, and I was getting a little sloppy in my gun handling skills. There is no excuse for this. We cannot expect to be at our best at the very moment when we may have to use a firearm to defend ourselves. Safety must come first regardless of our physical condition.
    B) I was cocky. Until that incident, it had actually been a really good day for me performance wise. I felt very good about my improvements in speed and accuracy. My guns & gear were all working great, which felt good considered how hard we ran everything. Apparently I let all of that go to my head and allowed myself to loosen up on the fundamentals. Again; there’s no excuse for that.
    C) I was distracted. Even though everything was working well, I switched from an HK platform to an AR platform shortly before the drill. I’m pretty comfortable with an AR, but changing guns did throw me off to some extent. I wanted to get some time on each weapon, mainly because I don’t get as many opportunities these days as I would like. And once again, there is no excuse for this. Anyone who is serious about fight-focused training ought to be able to pick up whatever weapon is available and proceed without missing a beat.

    On a more positive note, as SBS mentioned I did have good muzzle awareness, and have now received an excellent lesson on why that is important! I also was able to push through the exercise without letting the situation totally disrupt my ability to continue on. I’m thankful that the instructors and fellow students didn’t react too harshly. Perhaps it was clear that I took what happened very seriously. That’s not to say that some well-deserved shaming won’t be dished out in the future. I’m pretty sure that this event will live on in infamy as an example during the safety brief for years to come…which is as it should be.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      You owned things from the instant it happened, with no excuses or justification. I’d still run the partner tactics class with you. 😉

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