AIM Precision Basic Handgun Class Review

| August 12, 2014 | 2 Comments

My friend Tank and I had the opportunity to attend AIM Precision’s first basic handgun class last Saturday. This class was geared towards people with zero to little familiarity with handguns, and overall I felt that they did a good job for this crucial (and populous) segment of firearms owners.

AIM Precision is made up of three men who are current or former military. This is obvious in their well structured, repetitive teaching style that attempts to be as clear and as basic as possible. I think that this approach is critical for teaching people who may have never picked up a firearm before.

The class was about five hours long, with one hour of classroom discussion and four hours of time spent on an outdoor shooting range. The class was bargain priced at $100 for a pair of students, which had a great side effect I’ll discuss below.

In general, AIM Precision taught a good course that will become even more valuable over time as they gain more experience in teaching the “civilian” market.

Topics covered

  • Basic parts of a handgun
  • Basic rules of firearms safety
  • Proper grip
  • Proper sight picture
  • How to load a magazine
  • How to insert and remove a magazine
  • Trigger pull and trigger reset
  • Basic holster work

That’s a good list of rudimentary stuff people should know about firearms.

At no point did the AIM Precision instructors state or insinuate that this was anything but the basics. They also carefully avoided self-defense terminology, did not discuss tactics, etc. They scoped this class down to be both rudimentary and non-threatening. Kudos to them for not trying to put too much in for such a beginner level audience.

The students

Tank is a Navy veteran, certified NRA firearms instructor and serves as a QSI Training range officer. I’m a serial fight focused training student. We don’t really count towards AIM’s audience for this class, so I’m going to exclude us from analysis.

Not counting us, there were 8 other people in the class. Remember the 2-for-$100 scheme? Fucking brilliant. Everyone had a built in buddy when they walked in the door. I’ve written about the need to welcome newcomers into our training pursuits, and bringing a pal at day one was brilliant. Good thinking, AIM.

It gets better. 6 out of 8 of the students were women. That’s awesome. That’s the highest ratio of female-to-male students in any class I’ve ever attended, and probably the highest I’ll ever see again outside of a female-only class. Great job!

At least one of the participants I talked to had her CCW and claimed she already had done a lot of shooting. As far as I know, the other class participants had almost no experience with firearms before the class, especially pistols. AIM Precision provided rental handguns to some students who didn’t own one.

Four of the six women were probably under the age of 25, with the other two possibly in their 50s or 60s.

The two men (besides us) were both in their 50s or 60s. One gent brought a .22LR target pistol and a revolver, the other fellow brought a brand new (to him, at least) Beretta PX4 Storm.

High level observations

This is AIM Precision’s first year of operation. This was also their first basic handgun class. AIM has taught a few other courses this year, and I hope to take at least some of their remaining classes in 2014.

For the most part, the class was well organized. Each instructor had a copy of the day’s agenda and topics. They had previously divided the material so that everyone got a chance to talk.

Probably due to their military backgrounds, each instructor spoke clearly and most importantly at a pace that was easy for the class to follow. It will be interesting to see if this is their default manner of instruction, or if it was their technique for new folk. Regardless, I thought it was good.

The instructors talked about the basic parts of a pistol, went through the four rules of firearms safety, the various stages of unloaded firearms, sight picture, and basic range safety. Everything was explained in a simple, procedural manner and stated repeatedly.

In future classes, AIM should apply this by-the-numbers methodology consistently, especially in regards to the gun handling parts of the class. This was sometimes due to accident / oversight, sometimes due to too many new students with their helmets on fire and not enough coverage from the instructors. I also have to cut these guys some slack for being new at teaching civilian folk, especially those as green as the ones in this class.

For example, the instructors did a good job of explaining, step by step, how they wanted students to open their pistol cases. Orient the case so that the open lid faced towards the front of the classroom. Open the case. Rotate the case so that the muzzle was pointed at the front of the classroom. Do not touch the handgun until an instructor approaches you.

Good stuff, right? People don’t know what they don’t know, and if they just said “open your cases,” I guarantee you someone would have gotten their pistol in their hand, pointed it at someone else, and looked to see if there was a round inside.

However, the class sat in two columns of three rows. That meant that the row in the back was pointing their handgun at the people in the front two rows, and the middle row at the front row. None of the guns were loaded, but the instructors had just gone through a very good discussion about treating every gun as if they were loaded. If so, then let’s not turn them towards our classmates, even if we think they are unloaded.

AIM will figure this kind of thing out as they gain more experience as an organization.

The outdoor portion of the class had a very nice pace. The first few drills were done dry at the 7 yard line. Then the students loaded and fired one round at a time. This was smart for several reasons:

  1. It gave the students more repetitions of AIM’s shooting procedures.
  2. Students could take a moment to “reset” themselves after firing a round. Remember, many of these students never fired a handgun before.
  3. Instructors could verify that chambers were unloaded in between repetitions. They checked magazines after every rep to make sure ONLY ONE round was loaded.

After the single round drill, we did the same thing with three rounds at a time (slow speed shooting only!) and then with six. Then the AIM guys backed us up to the 10  yard line and we did strings of six again.

There were a few moments to review our handiwork. It was amazing / scary to see the inconsistent shooting and inaccuracy that new shooters can exhibit. Training and practice pays off for sure.

One student brought her friends micro 1911 chambered in .45 ACP. This was way too much gun for a novice (and probably even an intermediate) shooter. Of her first five shots, only three were on paper and none were at her point of aim. At 7 yards. Eventually one of the instructors graciously provided his personal .22LR training pistol, and her shooting improved. I think by the time she got the .22 in her hands the student’s confidence was low and her recoil anticipation high. I’m going to let the She Shepherd write about how damaging it is for dumbass “friends” to give new shooters, especially female ones, weapons they aren’t ready for, but let’s be good shepherds, people.

The 3-to-10 instructor to student ratio should have been plenty of coverage. However, the AIM guys basically had 8 students who all needed one on one attention. The good news was that they inspired 8 new shooters to take a class. The bad news was that they had 8 new shooters taking a class. The gal with the .45 1911 micro? If an instructor (rightfully) concentrated on her, that left 2 guys to cover 7 other people. Everyone needed individual attention, both to improve their shooting and to make sure they were being safe.

This could be another opportunity to leverage their procedural teaching strategy. Maybe at the beginning of class each student could fire their single round, one student at a time, with one instructor watching the student and one watching the target. The other instructor could watch all the other students.

Another possibly strategy, to borrow a military term, is to use the other students as a force multitplier for safety concerns.

QSI Training’s safety briefing at every class empowers students to point out safety problems to anyone else. This also includes telling the instructors if they are doing something unsafe. I like this approach and think AIM Precision and other organizations should adopt it.

Tank and I were conflicted. This wasn’t our class, this was our first class with AIM, and it wasn’t our place to butt in. However, the guy next to me with the Beretta kept putting his finger on the trigger when he wasn’t supposed to, and several times started to futz with his pistol while an instructor was in front of him. The gent with the revolver refused to shoot it double action, and repeatedly held the trigger with his right hand while cocking the hammer with his left hand.

Unfortunately, one of the instructors had to leave before class was over, and now the remaining two instructors were juggling four newbies apiece. I think they did the best job they could, but it would have made me feel more safe if I had been given leeway to tell the guys to keep their fingers off the triggers.

Conclusion

I think many, many people who own or are around guns should take a class like this one. I’ve suggested to the guys at AIM as well as my “home” training org at QSI that something similar should be a requisite or at least a “strong recommendation” before people take any fight-focused training.

I am glad they had so many new shooters, especially female shooters. The two-for-one pricing system was genius for lessening the “is anyone going to be nice to me” anxiety some people have. I would also humbly suggest that they maybe up their price to 2-for-$150 and see if the attendance is the same.

Lastly, I think the students would have benefited from a clear message regarding the scope of what they learned. It was the bare minimum they needed for safe gun handling. It was not a self-defense course in any way. The AIM guys did not state that it was, nor did they advertise the class as such, but I am afraid that (particularly the Beretta guy) will think the one class was all they needed. The class ended with everyone in good spirits and smiles. AIM could have used the opportunity to promote their next classes, and how important it was for the new students to take another class from almost anyone as soon as possible.

Anyway, I was glad to take this class, to support another fight-focused training organization in my area, and to be given the opportunity to watch three veterans attempt to grow their passions into a business.

AIM Precision has more fight-focused classes on the books for the rest of the year, and if you’re in the area I suggest checking them out.

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.
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2 Comments on "AIM Precision Basic Handgun Class Review"

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  1. Sopater says:

    Thanks for the review. I’m considering taking their “Reactive Carbine” course. Have you had a chance to take that class? I think that their prices are awesome, but worry a bit that I might “get what I pay for” if you know what I mean. I want to make sure that I’m getting an education that will be worth my time as well as my money.

    thanks

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Their Reactive carbine course was quite good, Adam did a good job translating his military training and experience to a more domestic / civilian setting. Lots of emphasis on movement, cover/concealment, etc. that applies to anyone studying the defense use of a firearm.

      Unfortunately, 2016 was AIM’s last season. Adam is moving on, as well as his other instructors. If you are interested in alternative recommendations please let me know and I will contact you.

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