There is really no comparison in the firearms world when presented with those who have received formalized instruction, and those who have not. Typically, such investments in training can result in dramatically improved firearm skills, confidence, and situational awareness. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend several courses offered at Asymmetric Solutions USA and LLC, and although I have a military background it opened my eyes to just how much more my skills could improve.
Located approximately 70 miles south of the metro Saint Louis area, Asymmetric Solutions has recently been featured on talk-radio, the Internet and YouTube, and more recently Principle Instructor Grady Powell and Jared Ogden will participate in National Geographic’s Ultimate Survival: Alaska Season 2 coming airing on December 15th. Their staff crosses a wide range of current and former Special Operations, Federal employees, Law Enforcement, and private citizens. Their staff’s specialized backgrounds can lead one to be somewhat intimidated, expecting the training to be akin to military-style boot camp with burpees, intensive shouting, and high-stress situations. I found nothing could be further from the truth.
Some of the amenities offered at Asymmetric Solutions include; an enclosed Tactical Operations Center with sniper tower, two 25m small-arm ranges, an 8,ooo Sq. ft. ballistic shoot house representing a school/classroom, office space, and residential area. There is also a 2,000m Precision Rifle range, six Carbine ranges (varying between 100-600m), 70 miles of off-road trails with engineered obstacles, a vehicle/ambush range, a 100-person classroom, and sleeping quarters for 40 personnel. In addition Asymmetric Solutions also offers a fixed-wing runway, surveyed drop zones, a helipad, a vault in vault storage, and have licensed gunsmiths and Federally licensed explosive experts.
The courses I attended were Carbine Level 1 and 2, Urban Combat/Structured Defense, and their new Armed Citizen Response/Active Shooter course. Each class ran from 9am to 5pm (or until all participants ran out of ammo, time, or yielded to weary muscles) and consumed approximately 350 rifle rounds per course, so naturally this review incorporated several days of attendance. The class sizes varied between 3-10 participants, and their more basic courses (which sometimes ran concurrently at other on-site ranges) had around 15 or more. The staff often attempted to keep a 3:1 student to instructor ratio or lower, so direct instruction was often commonplace along with safety. Their instructors were clearly familiar with working with civilians who themselves do not come from a military world – providing instruction consistent with the pace of the overall group, and not pushing students beyond their capabilities. Indeed, working with indigenous populations is often the hallmark of Special Operations and the former training and professionalism of Asymmetric Solution’s staff was clearly in place.
The Carbine Level 1 and 2 Classes covered the “basics” of utilizing the commonplace AR-15 rifle. Beginning with static line drills the course moved along a crawl-walk-run pace taking students from the static line drills and moving into tactical movement drills, positional engagement, engagement at varying distances, and finally movement as a “team” down a length of vehicles and retreating back in a tactical manner. Additional iterations as presented by instructors like Sam, often pushed the students to realize their own limitations by presenting a series of targets requiring both rifle and secondary weapon engagement, movement, and time.
The Urban Combat/Structured Defense Course is much akin to the US military’s Movement Over Urban Terrain training. Here students were presented with varied situations inside Asymmetric Solutions 360-degree shoot house. While the walls of the shoot house are only 1” plywood, their inner core is a minimum 2’-thick mixture of earth and rock ensuring zero over-penetration up to and including .308 calibers and high explosives. The overall experience gave students the concept of moving tactically within structured areas and holding such terrain in a hostile environment. The applications of this training can be used in securing private households and is clearly of benefit to the citizen sector.
Lastly, I attended the Armed Citizen Response/Active Shooter course, and given recent events in the news such as the Washington Naval Yard shooting, I felt it relevant to both my professional safety, and home setting. This is where I had the greatest eye-opening experience. Given my background in main-line conventional military forces, the more dynamic and specific training of Concealed Carry and Active Shooter Response is something unknown to me, despite having a CCW for a number of years. Most gun ranges simply do not offer this level of experiential training – limiting themselves to static shooting stalls where the shooter cannot move or draw from holster.
The course again utilized Asymmetric Solutions enclosed shoot house that has three distinct zones; office, school, and residential. First we held a classroom session discussing today’s modern mass/active shooting events, and the involvement of armed citizens in such a setting. Topics covered included Draw/No-Draw situations, hand and arm placement, and link-up with law enforcement first responders.
Then the class moved to the shoot house where several iterations first provided students the understanding of moving within a mass crowd to a threat, and then individually going through the shoot house searching for the active shooter to give a sense of the stressors in searching for an active shooter. To add realism, the staff had hung 3-dimensional static targets throughout the shoot house to stress Friend/Foe identification. We then paired off at a separate location to review reacting to an active shooter threat while with your spouse or child, how to cover and protect while still engaging the threat.
Finally the course transitioned to air soft guns (provided by Asymmetric Solutions) and the complexity of the course was increased. Now out of the entire class only one student was the active shooter, one was the armed citizen responder, and the rest of the students represented live civilians attempting to do a variety of reactions intended to stress the intensity of the situation. This rotated until each student had participated as both the active shooter and responder, and truth be told the air soft added a fair amount of a “discomfort” to the learning curve when you failed at responding to the active shooter. Overall, the Armed Citizen Response/Active Shooter course was by far the most insightful in those I have participated in, as not only does Asymmetric Solutions have the only practice range open to the public that allows for this level of force-on-force training, but the lessons learned as a CCW holder were invaluable.
So what does the coursework at Asymmetrical Solutions offer you? Competence as a shooter to effectively use the tools you’ve chosen, and improved skill on a range not typically available to the public. You’ll find instructors and staff who are open and honest, and among some of the most skilled you can find with extensive backgrounds to match. They have facilities to accommodate the individual and large groups from out of town, as well as unique aerial operations if possible. However, the greatest appreciation you’ll gain will be for increased situational awareness – both in yourself and your environment as a shooter. You’ll be hard pressed to find such a unique and comprehensive training environment anywhere else. I cannot stress the importance of legitimate training, because without it you are more at risk to hurt yourself, or those around you, than actually doing something correctly (or worse turn yourself into a “perceived” threat). If you would like to know more about the courses, instructors, and facilities you can find their corporate website at; http://www.asymmetricsolutionsusa.com/civilian/.
Other reviews I have written for Asymmetrical Solutions coursework can be found here.