My second Green Ops class of the year was another run of the defense carbine I clinic on April 28, 2019. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I’ve taken this class, and every time, I get something new out of it. It’s also interesting to see how Green Ops has been evolving as a company, and how the classes change due to feedback.
Besides my usual goal of improving my somewhat dismal carbine skills, I had two secondary objectives:
- Test out my Sig Optics Romeo4M and Juliet4 combo under harder-use conditions.
- Get some runs on my AMG Lab Commander shot timer in prep for an upcoming review.
(Full disclosure: I got a small class discount for AARs I previously wrote. I didn’t ask for it, and I’d still be taking their classes without it. The amount of money in question is trivial to my situation, and thus had trivial impact on this AAR – or so I hope. If anything, you should worry that I’m biased because I don’t want to be annoy them and not be able to go to the next class!)
Green Ops is a northern Virginia-based training company, with a focus (at least on the civilian side) on pistol and carbine. The owner, Mike Green, is a special forces vet, frequent Primary & Secondary guest, USPSA competitor, and otherwise cool guy. They run two or three classes per month, with more and more two day classes in the mix. This always impresses the hell out of me, because Mike works a 9-5 job like myself, and I personally have no idea where I’d find time to plan all those classes.
The instructors at the class were almost the entire cadre of Green Ops instructors, sans Mark and Jeff. If you have been paying attention, you’ll notice that the instructor set has changed pretty significantly after many of the previous instructors went on to form Justified Defensive Concepts last year. I am very pleased to say that Fred, Chris, and Josh all did a pretty bang-up job of running the class, and it doesn’t seem like there’s been any significant drop in quality of instruction. You can clearly see that they’ve done some practice runs of the class, and SNAFUs were pretty minimal.
The class was held at the NRA HQ range from 6-10:30PM, which is the time and place for all the clinics. While I think it’s a very nice facility, you may remember my previous complaining about their ban on steel jacketed ammo. That ban is still in place, so I ran the class with a combination of M193 and “range safe” 62gr FMJ TulAmmo. There were ammo checks up front, with at least one person in the class getting busted for having bimetal jacket ammo. If you are looking for copper-jacket steel-cased ammo, SGAmmo has it for a very reasonable price. The RSOs were unobtrusive, helpful when needed, and relatively hands-off.
As I always like to mention, the quality of the students is critical to how a class goes. There were about 14 students in the class, with an instructor to student ratio of about 1:4. As is the norm at Green Ops classes, it was a diverse group of guys, both racially and in age. (Alas, no women this time – we need more women in the shooting world!) Experience level appeared to range from “I’ve shot one before” to “instructor”. I knew about a quarter of the class from various other competition and training engagements – guess I’m legit now?
My gear was my 5.56×45 “Haitian Mercenary” AR-15 SBR, along with my GGG UGF belt with various Esstac mag pouches, medical gear, flashlight, and an Omnivore TLR holster. I also brought along my AMG Lab Commander shot timer, because I wanted to see how it would do during class drills (also, you can never have enough shot timers in class!).
The aforementioned AR build was on a well-equipped Engage Armament billet lower with a DD M4V7S MLOK upper. Optics were the Sig Romeo4M reflex sight with a Juliet4 magnifier, zeroed at 50yds. I was very interested to see how these would work in a class setting; I am not a big fan of the weight of reflex+magnifier setups, but being able to selectively go magnified when useful in class while retaining the infinite eye relief of a circle-dot reflex sight seemed pretty compelling in this context – and, really, plenty of guys have done good real-world work with a reflex+magnifier setup, even if they’re no longer optimal compared to 1-8x LPVOs.
The class appeared to be all ARs with the exception of a single Remington ACR “braced pistol” (complete with three-prong brake that produced high-pitched harmonics). Come to mention it, there were a number of people running “braced pistols”, including a 7.5″ pistol with a muzzle brake. Suffice it to say, the rest of the class was not particularly thrilled with this gun due to the excessive blast and noise in the indoors range. I admit that complaining about this is slightly hypocritical, as I had brought an 8.25″ PDW as my backup gun, but I also brought a Silencerco Chimera to throw on it if I had to use it.
There were a few problems with the guns that I saw; one had a really bad zero, another had the optic go loose, and a third had a trigger pin walk. My gun had no malfunctions in class besides not hammering in the mag hard enough during a reload.
The clinic starts with a classroom section on the legalities of use of force, a safety and medical brief, and some discussion of “how to get good”. The use of force presentation is the same one as ever, albeit it looks like the cover page got updated to be a little nicer. Don’t shoot people until you’re in danger of getting killed or hurt real bad, and don’t shoot them if they decide to not do either of those things and run off. I mean, there are legal terms covered, too – preclusion, jeopardy, intent, etc. – but if you want a better discussion of the contents, see an earlier review. I would advise them to maybe spice up the presentation with a video or two from the Active Self Protection YouTube channel to illustrate some of the points – Tim Chandler got good mileage out of that in a shotgun class of his that I took.
The medical and safety brief were also pretty standard. Where things got different is when Josh Shaw got up and started really pushing competition as a key component to getting better – and that was not a bad thing at all.
In past classes, I’ve always noted whether there was a LEO or military lean towards the discussions, which usually revolved around who the instructor cadre was for that particular class. This was the first time I had ever seen competition as the lean, and it was utterly fascinating to see how well the class responded to it. That makes sense, right? I’m a boring mid-30s office worker. I’m not becoming a LEO at this point, and the military wouldn’t even take me if I tried to join. But anybody can join USPSA and burn down some cardboard at high speed… and attain a very high level of proficiency doing it. There’s three paths to glory in the firearms world: LEO, military, or competition. Hyping the thing most all civilians can at least do is smart from that perspective.
This is not to say that Mike Green (who’s also got an M next to his name in USPSA) hadn’t pushed competition before… but not to this degree. I should also stress that defensive gun use was covered reasonably well… just that it was interesting to see Josh give his rather unique take on things.
Anyways, we finished up in class, and moved on to the range. There seem to have been some tweaks to the class format this time, and dry-fire drills and malfunctions discussion were omitted. This was a GREAT move that allowed for more rounds down range. We went straight to zero confirmation from the prone.
We then did some drills:
- Transitions (double-taps)
- Kneeling transitions (double-taps)
- Barrier shooting
Unlike in some previous carbine classes, we didn’t have to rush barrier shooting and El-Prez at all at the end. I’m not saying that the malfunction clearance demos weren’t valuable, but putting another magazine of good reps down range felt like a big improvement. (There was not a lot of downtime, which also helped speed things along.)
The drills used the standard “tell-show-do” methodology. The instructor told you what was going to be done, showed how it was done, and then the students went and did it. We also did more drills as a single relay, which gave you some more rounds on target than previously.
I would say we shot about 150 rounds, which is about the usual for a few hours of shooting at a class. I think it would have been fun to burn another fifty doing timed bill drills to practice recoil management, or perhaps a couple failure-to-stop drills with the otherwise unused head target, but I suspect that the second rep of El-Prez had more training value overall.
Besides my so-so reloads, class was smooth for me. I need a little more work on the consistency of my recoil control technique (probably because I don’t do nearly enough live fire with rifles), and nightly dry-fire reloads would probably prove very helpful. I think it’s the little things that count at a certain level of skill – how you’re bringing up your rifle, where your feet are exactly, etc. Unlike with handguns, I don’t have grand aspirations for my skills mastery with rifles (or shotguns); if I can shoot at an above average level consistently and keep improving from year to year, that’s pretty much mission accomplished in my book.
No serious complaints about the class; I think maybe there were a couple times during the barrier shooting that I think the instructors could have been more on the ball with correcting technique, and there were a couple minutes of scrambling to figure out a set up issue with the targets, but that’s pretty minor stuff as it goes.
In terms of my specific secondary goals:
AMG Lab Shot Timer: served with distinction during the El Prez drills, and got high marks from Fred on ease of use and function. I’ll have a review up on this soon, but didn’t want to do one without doing at least a bit of hard use.
Sig Optics Romeo 4M and Juliet4: I like the combination, but the very short eye relief on the Juliet4 made it somewhat hard to use from improvised positions. I flipped it out of the way after the zero confirmation exercise and didn’t miss it. The Romeo4M’s circle dot sight was mildly helpful, but I did experience the circle part disappearing when I turned down the brightness, and that took me a minute to figure out. It is a bit odd how the circle is dimmer than the dot – maybe that’s preferred by some people, but it was not to my expectations. Also noticed the small tube more than I thought I would; an Eotech has more than double the window size of the Romeo4M, which makes a non-trivial difference in picking up the sight. I will probably eventually swap to a Romeo8 and move the Romeo4M to the SU-16D9 when that comes out of NFA transfer jail.
Bonus: for the first time, NO SLING FAILURES thanks to the PWS ratcheting endplate (this thing is damn near magic, BTW). I do think I need to swap my Blackhawk fake-45 degree safety lever to a more normal lever.
If you’ve ever wondered why I take the same class over and over, the ability to really pressure test equipment is one of the big reasons why. It’s way too easy to take your gear to the range, run a mag through it, and call it good. Training and competition are the way for civilians to put stress on gear to see how far it can go before it breaks.
At the end of class, they handed out training certificates, talked about next steps, and then socialized for a bit. I know some instructors don’t hand out the certificates by default, but let me say that I really appreciate them because it makes it easy for me to track my training in my binder. The socialization is also really important – I’ve met a lot of good friends from classes, and sometimes you’ll get way more out of a class because you’ve got a trusted buddy there giving you the moment-by-moment feedback.
I always feel like I get my money’s worth out of Green Ops’ classes. When you factor in range time and target costs, you’re only paying like a hundred bucks (plus ammo) to get some quality drills and reps in, in a way that you’d be hard-pressed to do on your own. That’s a fairly low cost in my book to maintain reasonable carbine skills. I highly recommend Green Ops and the Defensive Carbine I Clinic; it’s an excellent avenue for training carbine fundamentals for everyone, taught by very competent, experienced professionals.
(Special thanks to Ace for some of the pictures!)