Glock has added a new course to their training schedule earlier this year: the Glock Operator Course. My wife and I took this 2 day course through our membership in the GSSF at the Glock headquarters in Smyrna, GA on November 1st and 2nd, 2017.
The course is 16 hours and costs $300 per person and covers the following content:
Class room (approximately 4 hours)
· Introduction, equipment, and safety
· Range procedures and commands
· Nomenclature of the Glock
· Ballistics and Dry Practice
Range (approximately 12 hours)
· Presentation and draw
· Fundamentals of marksmanship
· Manipulation of the Glock
· Ready Positions
· Target engagements (large portion of the class)
· Shooting on the move (large portion of the class)
Taking the class with us was 6 others (1 of which was another Glock trainer, auditing the class to start teaching it in the near future). Our class had a total of eight people, though the class can accommodate up to fifteen. Our instructor was Scotty Banks and he did a great job, a few of his often repeated quotes from throughout the 2 days:
· “Not ‘the’ way, ‘A’ way”
· “Try it for these two days, like it? Then use it, if not you never have to do it again”
· “On the gas for the mechanics, off the gas for the fundamentals”
· “I need to take care of my business (keeping your gun operational) so I can get back to work (shooting)”
Note: Though the class was very well structured, there was some flexibility in the course, so different instructors may teach the class, or focus on certain drills, differently than the class we took. For example, low light was listed as a drill that we did not do, but we did spend more time at the end of the class working on shooting from kneeling and clearing malfunctions while injured (e.g., one-handed).
The first seven items in the Glock course outline are the core classroom topics which were approximately 3-4 hours the first day and included basic discussions on practical shooting, and the skills we were to work on in the range. The remaining 12-13hours was 90% live fire drills and 10% dry fire/dummy round drills. We shot just under 400 rounds the first day and just over 500 rounds on day 2.
The drills: Almost every drill was done from holster on command and I estimate that I drew my gun approximately 500 times in 2 days. Likewise to how often I drew my gun, I estimate that between live and dry fire drills I reloaded about 130 times in two days. We primarily used the same target for all of the drills on both days; we really grew to dislike this guy
Range and Target:
We did accuracy drills both days at 5,7,10,15,20, and 25 yards. Most of the rest of the drills were at 7-15 yards and the live fire drills included (some of these are my terms and not Glock’s and many times we did multiple minor different versions of the same type of drill):
· Multiple malfunction drills
· Controlled pairs
· Failure drills (chest, pelvic girdle, head and all three – i.e., your previous shots have failed to stop the assailant)
· Multiple targets (up to 4)
· Box drills
· Shooting while moving (forward, backward, laterally (single and multiple targets)
· Multiple shooting from various kneeling positions, dominant hand, support hand
· Specific reloading drills (often reloads were simply a part of other drills).
Dry fire drills occurred towards the end of the course and included one hand (non-injury) malfunction clearance and reloading followed by dominant and then support hand only injury malfunction clearance and reloading drills. Having to draw from a retention holster with your support hand, rack the weapon, encounter a failure to fire, conducting a tap, rack & roll clearance, followed by having to clear a failure to feed (dropping the magazine, racking the slide multiple times, reloading a new magazine, and then getting back on target) all with just your support hand was a challenge to say the least.
THE TRAINING (my personal perspective)
The ‘Glock’ way (‘A’ way, not ‘the’ way) had a few key components that differentiated it from other similar training I have taken.
1. Stance: The course had us shooting with our left leg (if right handed) forward and leaned into. So an extended Weaver stance with our center of gravity moved forward and the majority of our weight on our left leg. The advantages were a more stable fighting stance (especially if an encounter goes from distance to up close) and better balance for taking multiple shots quickly. This is not the stance I have primarily trained with (isosceles) and was challenging for me to use for all the drills (my left quads were fairly sore after 2 days). My 5’8” wife found this stance easier to use, as she noticed that the taller the person, the harder it seemed to be able to get into this stance – also it’s important to note that our instructor was not a tall person, so he may have found this easier as well. At 6’2”, this was a bit of a struggle for me.
2. Mechanics versus Fundamentals. Though never explicitly stated, we were effectively being directed to use aimed shooting (full sight picture) in most, if not all, of the drills (no flash sight picture and no point shooting). The ‘lesson’ in every drill (and likely the main lesson of the entire course) was push down on the gas (i.e. go as quickly as you can and get smooth and fast through constant dry-fire practice) for your Mechanics (drawing, presenting, malfunction drills, reloading) but ease back on the gas for your Fundamentals (grip, trigger, sight alignment: ensure you have a good grip, have aligned your sight picture, and smoothly press the trigger for each shot). The focus was getting each shot on target.
3. Grip. My dominant hand was tired after 2 days. I have been taught, and use, a firm dominant hand grip (solid contact, and firm enough that the gun does not move, but not tight, think firm handshake) followed with a stronger support hand grip. The course taught us to put equal strength in both hands and to grip with your dominant hand as hard as you can without shaking. This resulted in a very different feeling grip for me and proved to be a challenge for my trigger discipline during most of the drills.
QUALIFICATION: THE ‘TEST’
The course ended in a series of timed drills (the skills test) incorporating almost everything covered in the course. We were originally going to be given 3 tries, but due to time constraints we only got to shoot the test twice. Though outside of no video or photos, there was no discussion about keeping the details of the course quiet it was clear they did not want details of the specifics of this test released, and I will honor that.
What I will say, is that it was a very good (and humbling) test of where you are currently at. Everyone in our class were fairly to very experienced/trained/solid shooters and half of us (myself included) scored only in the first category (my ego requires me to remind the good reader I was fully using a stance and grip I normally do not use, and my score was also primarily due to throwing two support hand shots). None of us got ‘rock star’ status (4 stars), though one just missed it (3 stars) and three placed in the second rank (2 stars), my wife included.
Operator Patch with 2 stars
Was it worth $300, 2 days, and 1000 rounds? Without a question.
What skill level should you be at? Comfortable and safe with speed reloading, and drawing, and have at least basic fundamentals down solid. Each person has different experiences and skills, but I would say a minimum skill level for the course is somewhere beyond a few basic classes, so at least one class already taken that has focused on some more advanced drills (drawing, reloading, malfunction drills).
What will I use from the class? I will definitely incorporate the concept of on the gas for mechanics, and off the gas for fundamentals and this conceptualization will end up in my classes as well. I am not convinced (though I understand the reasons) to adopt the more aggressive dominate hand grip and forward leaning stance. A few of the drills (versions of the failure drills and malfunction drills) I will use as well.
I think the biggest ‘ah ha’ moment for me was that we started each day doing accuracy drills at 15 yards. For years I have always ‘warmed up’ first, getting ‘into the groove’ by shooting about 50 rounds at 5-7 yards. As we would shoot 5 rounds at 15 yards three times I saw how sloppy my first 5 were, slightly better by second 5 rounds and by the last 5 I was ‘zeroed’ in. I have been training myself for years to ‘dial in’ my fundamentals through my warm ups, which means those skills would not be fully there immediately when I need them. I immediately changed this aspect of my training due to this course. I also liked the idea of always drawing like you mean it (in a safe direction) even when simply clearing your gun to optimize every opportunity to reinforce good skills).
A final note: There was some during the breaks unofficial discussion among the Glock trainers that The Operator Course was designed to fill the gap soon being created by Glock revising the Instructor Workshop and planning to actively enforce the limits on who can attend that course. Thus The Operator Course, at least in part, was created to be a more open alternative to Glock enthusiasts that will no longer be able to take the Instructor Workshop course.