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03-02-2011, 12:20 PM #1
An OFA DH1 Review, well my DH1 Review Really......
Intro - I'm going to do this in parts, amongst several posts, as it's my story of how I got to OFA and my impressions. This is going to be an essay, if you want the ‘cliff notes’
Cliff Notes – They are an incredible group, don’t ever hesitate to choose OFA for your training needs. These guys are grass roots and local, if they don’t have the class you are looking for, they’ll work with you, heck they did a Sunday class for us even when there wasn’t one. This is the way customer service is supposed to be, really simple: have customer, give service. All the while, you feel as if your needs are the focus of their attention. It just doesn’t get any better than that.
First let me give you some background on me. I'm a gun owner, a gun nut really, it didn’t happen all at once, it happened slowly read on, you’ll see what I mean. As far as guns go I have more than I need but nowhere near all that I want.
Though I was raised around guns, aside from Hunter’s Education in Middle School(yes Victoria, there really were times people brought guns to school for good), my formal training is pretty sparse. My first “training class” was in Salem(probably about 15yrs ago), which was more of a $35 lecture, but it met the requirements to get your CHL in Oregon. At that time, my main thrust was to have my CHL so I could carry if I wanted to, but I never took the time to complete the application and get my CHL, then, about 5 years ago I got the bug to start taking a more active role in the safety of myself and my loved ones. As a result I signed up for Basic Handgun Safety an NRA course taken at Douglas Ridge Rifle Club and instructed by Mike Jones. Good class, good guy, no complaints. Afterwards I applied for and got my Oregon CHL and probably a year later I got a gun I wanted to carry and a decent holster. I’ve pretty much been carrying ever since. I then started listening to Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk radio show on AM1410 here in the PDX Metro area on Sunday’s from 11-2……….mix this with a Michael Bane podcast, the Gunrights Radio Network, some firearms centric shows on TV like Tactical Impact or The Best Defense……….and you pick some stuff up, but doing is so much different than listening or watching. So I picked up a couple Rob Pincus DVD’s, pretty soon I was looking to expand my horizons even further, my in-laws lived in the Vancouver, Washington area at the time and I was yearning for a Utah permit, I could have gotten a Washington one, but why not just get the Utah permit and cover a whole bunch more ground? In essence I’m a couch potato enthusiast that has finally decided to get off the couch.
03-02-2011, 12:22 PM #2
OFA comes in the picture here…….
I poked around for a Utah class and OFA popped on to my radar during my research. I’d read a few good reviews, and I noticed they were affiliated with the best of the best in firearms training(Thunder Ranch – Clint Smith). I gave it a shot, signing up online and took the Utah Class their range in Brownsville, I knew ahead of time it was a non-shooting class, but it gave me a taste of what was to come. That was late 2009, I left vowing to take additional training with OFA. It took almost 2yrs. for me to make good on that promise to myself, and with the help of Vivian in the OFA office, that happened on Sunday, February, 27th.
OFA sent a confirmation receipt in the mail well ahead of class with a list of things you need to and thing you might want to bring with you.
“Eyes”, “Ears”, Knee Pads, etc. In addition I brought extra knee pads, extra“Eyes”, extra“Ears”, cleaning kit, lube, bore light, punch set, mallet, extra pistol, extra holster, extra ammo, my own heater, my own hand warmers because I did not know what was going to be there or how the weather was going to be.
03-02-2011, 12:23 PM #3
The weather, a prepared group, and the ProShop.....
The weather did not disappoint, the weather was….well……February weather. We started out at about 7:30am in the low 30’s with a 10-15mph wind and graduated to the low 40’s with a 5mph or so wind until about 12:30-1:00pm when the wind picked back up and it started raining sideways. I had on thermal underwear, some double thick Carhartt pants, a long sleeve t-shirt, a Pendleton wool shirt and 2 thin jackets. I still got wet.
You have to hand it to the OFA crew, they were there early and ready to go. They had multiple heaters set up and running, they even brought part of their ProShop with them to help fill in the gaps in equipment we may need/want and forgot to bring(Pertinent side note: I don’t know if any of this had anything to do with me, but I had asked Vivian if she’d have Dan bring a few sets of protective glasses down for me, that I would buy them). Personally I love the OFA ProShop, it’s not filled with “stuff”, it’s filled with equipment they personally use, if they don’t use it, they don’t sell it, it really helps you buy with confidence. This is why I was really happy they brought the safety glasses, it seems all my safety glasses fog up all the time and are generally cheap/easy to destroy/scratch etc. Aside from safety glasses they had, and assortment knee pads, hats, hand warmers, lead wipes, I’m sure I’m missing things, but you get the point.
03-02-2011, 12:24 PM #4
On to the class:
Sunday was one of “those days”, it’s where you find out, “you don’t know what you don’t know, until…….you know what you don’t know”.
There were 13 participants, 5 instructors, a ratio that kept an instructor almost always within arms reach, it gives a new meaning to the term “hands on”.
To get started the OFA crew had us sign in, sign the obligatory waivers and proceeded on to introduce themselves and their credentials at the end of which we got to introduce ourselves, name, town, gun brought. I brought a Smith & Wesson M&P in .40, a Smith & Wesson 442 and a Smith & Wesson 99 in .40 as well and stuck with the M&P the whole time. The rest of the class consisted of an Ed Brown 9mm 1911, a couple CZ’s, an XD, a Glock, an M&Pc in .40, lots of Sigs, no wheel guns.
I love it when learning is so incremental, that at the end of the day, the skillsets acquired are worlds from where we came. Sunday was one of those days.
At check-in, everyone was given a course outline in their own OFA manila folder and instructed on the importance of building our own documentation package to be kept with all our important items. Though most of us already know self defense isn’t just about being able to carry and use a gun safely, effectively, and appropriately guidance and documentation such at this are where OFA shines and it’s just the tip of the iceberg .
Next we transitioned in to the Four firearms safety rule & Pre Range Safety and Conduct briefing. Safety is paramount with OFA and they are thorough. Safety does not just apply to firearms, for medical safety they had a “booboo” first aid kit, a litter, a full EMT style first aid kit, and even their own AED.
03-02-2011, 12:54 PM #5
Now for the range:
What you won’t learn: You won’t learn high-speed, low drag, tacticool, mall ninja moves.
You WILL learn: How to safely draw, fire and load/reload, clear malfunctions without taking your eyes off the target. You will be able shoot with both hands, strong/dominant hand only, weak/non-dominant hand only and transition between hands all while maintaining control of the firearm. You WILL learn how to pay attention, not only to what is in front of you, but what is around you as well. You will learn how to use/shoot around cover, kneeling.
You start your range time just learning to draw and reholster, no firing. For those of us who have not done a ton of this without looking down(me), it took a bit, but came pretty quickly. From there we built and we built slowly, changing things up, along the way and then doing things over and over, but it was never monotonous. Upon the completion of each drill we cleared the line, guns holstered, hands out and got into a circle for more instruction, another skill. Then it was back to the line to put in to practice the new skill that had been demonstrated to us.
During the day I saw no major malfunctions. No safety issues. I personally had only one malfunction that was not intended/part of practice that I believe was due to an unseated magazine, but I just followed the drill, tap, rack, assess, bang……..these guys had trained us so well, I almost didn't even realize I did it, I don't know what the malfunction was, and it doesn't matter. I corrected the situation and moved on. I was in amazement of myself. I love tactical reloads, retaining the magazine and topping your gun off.
Training with OFA is like it's own drug.....in the end....you are looking forward to your next class. Until the next class my goals are to retain the skills I've gained. I wanted a good base to my first active training class, I think I got that now.
Suggestions for other who choose DH1, magazines, bring more magazines. I had 5 and that was about what I would think would be a minimum. You are only loading 6 rounds at a time until you get over half way through the class, so when you break from shooting into the learning circle you're loading magazines while you are learning. Aside from that, invest, invest in yourself and your training, there other schools out there, but OFA is not only local, they are amazing, I will be back.
03-02-2011, 12:57 PM #6
We ended our day putting it all together in a test/qualification, similar to what law enforcement qualify on. During the course of fire we got 2 runs at it. You either qualify Bronze, Silver or Gold. We had some good shots in our class, and no bronze medals were handed out at the end of the day.
I did happen to qualify Gold, but I should have grouped better. The best thing about training with OFA for the day was I got a Two-fer. The class was taken at Tri-County Gun Club, so afterwards I stayed to qualify for the action pistol range, which, yes, I passed as well. The end result, I have no more excuses not to train more consistently.
Thank you OFA for making a Sunday class for us all!
03-03-2011, 11:10 AM #7
- Join Date
- May 2010
They are tops !! My story is very much the same, from beginning to end. I went through DHG1 a month ago, and DHG2 the weekend before your class. Looking forward to late summer and another (maybe the August DHG2/3). Great write up, I will point friends to your post when I'm trying to explain why I get so pumped talking about OFA.
03-03-2011, 12:23 PM #8
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
My wife and I took the Basic Handgun Saftey course and felt the same way as both of you. They group there is very knowledgeable, the student to instructor level is great, and their Brownsville training site is very nice. I look forward to attending DHG1, DS, and a few others when I have the time and money. It's well worth the drive to Brownsville.
03-04-2011, 08:30 PM #9
- Join Date
- Dec 2008
I did BHS three years ago to my CHL, DH1 two years ago, carbine last year and DH1 tomorrow. I want to start taking DH1 once a year as my annual 'qualification' to make sure that my skills stay sharp. I can't say enough good things about them.
03-06-2011, 07:26 PM #10
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
- Eastern Oregon
Great to meet you at DH-1 Saturday and thanks for getting the word out here.
Hoping to get the time to get in on DH-2 and beyond, maybe even DH-1 part deux.
Dan, Rick and Joe were great to work with and we had a great bunch of guys in class.
The man on man shoot-off at the end was worth the price of admission alone!
And to think they gave away a genuine Colt Ar-15 straight from the factory!
03-07-2011, 08:52 AM #11
- Join Date
- May 2010
Hmmmm, three classes now and no man on man shoot off yet.... saw some FB pics of guys shooting it last weekend.
I'm gonna have to bring it up early during the next class I take. Sounds like a great way to end a day!
03-11-2011, 03:26 AM #12
- Join Date
- Dec 2008
Hey Guys! It was good to work with you all; either at TCGC or at OFA!
Hope to see you around again soon!
03-11-2011, 01:50 PM #13
An addition to my OFA Training Log.
An addition to my OFA Training Log. A slot was open at Saturday’s training on OFA’s Home Range, so I resolved to go yet again, 2 times in less than a week. My brain has been reeling from all the things I learned the first time around, what better than to do more training soon thereafter? I wanted the new skills I learned to stick.
Before class I had a debate though. The first class I carried my Smith & Wesson M&P .40 Full size. I started out in my Ted Blocker DA3 IWB holster and struggled with holstering, so I changed over to my Blackhawk CQC OWB retention holster. Though this did not give me the holstering skills I wanted, it allowed me pay close attention to the many other important skills I was learning. So the debate was: a.) Take my M&P and use the same Blackhawk OWB holster and continue to “drill down” on the skills I had learned. b.) Use my Ted Blocker DA3 IWB and get those holstering skills down. c.) Train with my Smith & Wesson 442 DAO snubbie wheel gun that goes EVERYWHERE with me(I feel naked without it)?
This is where OFA gets another BIG thumbs up, not only are they local, but they are accessible. The night before the class as I was packing up all the requisite things I was to bring, I sent out a short email to Dan and shortly thereafter I received this reply: “Yes, bring the 442! Train with it most definitely. Remind me/us when you arrive what you’re carrying. You might be a bit slower at first because Pocket Carry is indeed slower to return to the holster and there is a safe way to do it! I’m glad we can work on this! Bring both guns “just in case” you get tired of the 442 or it isn’t working (I don’t see this as a problem – but who knows?” I dreaded bringing the 442, there are days it feels I cannot hit the broad side of a barn, and 5 shots………I started thinking, “why do I carry this thing?”.
I arrived a few minutes early as Dan was building a fire in the “Shooting Shack” to get keep us all warm, and Rick was setting up the range. The weather was supposed to be a balmy 45 with rain most of the day. I was equipped with my 442 in a Ted Blocker pocket holster in my support side pocket, 2 speed strips, and 3 speed loaders in my strong side pocket.
03-11-2011, 01:50 PM #14
A bit about OFA’s Home Range. What a facility! Nestled in the middle of literally thousands of acres of farm land, I think you can see 1 house from the range(aside from Rick’s place), there are no distractions because the only noise being made out there is by us. It’s a testament to what OFA really is. It’s not large and complex, it’s not tiny, it’s just right. Everything is designed with safety in mind, it’s nice to see the safety briefing done at Tri-County was the same as it was at the Home Range, except here you get a 911 checklist complete with GPS coordinates and Life Flight landing areas. You can see why it’s an NSSF 4-star range.
Our class was made up of 10, 4 of us had taken DH1 before, two of our 10 are Military, so a relatively small class for OFA. We had 3 instructors Dan, Rick and Joe. Class participants were mostly local, at least 3 of us from the Porltand Metro Area, couple from Eugene, but our end of the day shootout winner was from outside of John Day and another gentleman from Drain.
Our class was much like my previous class at Tri-County, a bit more focused I’d say, maybe that’s due to weather, maybe it’s due to less going on around us(Tri-county had matches going on during our training, not really a big deal for me, just nicer when there’s no noise other than learning what our instructors are trying to teach us), I can’t say really. I was very much enthralled in learning how to BETTER manipulate my 442.
03-11-2011, 01:51 PM #15
I want to thank all you who took the class with me, boy was Dan right, I am MUCH slower with a pocket holster. Safe holstering of a pocketgun requires the holster to come out of the pocket each time the gun is drawn. This would be no big deal if I was wearing high speed low drag tacti-cool clothes, but I was wearing what I would be wearing if I wasn’t in the office, a pair of double front Carhartt’s with a straight drop pocket. The first thing I learned, I’d been holstering my pocket pistol completely wrong, not super unsafe, but not as safe as I could have been. Second thing I learned….I kept my pistol in my right hand pocket which is my support side as I am left handed. I immediately changed pockets and now continue to carry in my strong side pocket. Third thing I learned, reloads should be on the same side you draw from with a wheelgun(when you pop open the cylinder, you are holding the gun with your opposite hand and reloading with your shooting hand). It was all very similar, yet the skillset was all very different than carrying the autoloader. I am so glad I did it, so glad. This class I only qualified silver, but better than some of my previous outings with the revolver.
After class I realized it was time for a new pocket holster, and took a referral from the OFA guys and called Craig and Audrey at Lightning Arms Sports, wow, Craig asked a lot of questions and really drilled it down pretty quickly. Normally they are mail order/online order, but I was close to their office and they were gracious enough to let me come and pick it up. The PCS Blackbird pocket holster I carry now is quite the holster, there is much better access to the gun and a better grip can be had, I wish I had if for my DH1 class. I cannot recommend them highly enough, I am sure you can play the internet game a get a few dollars off here and there, but the expertise was so worth the price of admission, I would rather pay couple bucks more, and buy once having been guided by a professional than muddle my way through 3-4 purchases on my own.
03-11-2011, 02:06 PM #16
Back to class. Reloading: wow, more complicated than I ever thought. I have now come to the conclusion that though I like the concept of speed loaders(I bought mine the week before class), I don’t like them as much in a gross motor skills sort of way. When I continue to train, I will time myself to see if I am faster with the speed loaders, but I feel much more comfortable with the speed strip. I especially like that you can “top off” your wheel gun with the speed strip, no so much with a speed loader. Malfunctions: Now here’s where the wheelgun SHINES! Pull the trigger, CLICK, pull the trigger again, that’s a type one malfunction. Pull the trigger, CLICK, pull the trigger again, CLICK, reload, that’s a type two malfunction.
All in all, I am thankful that I took the trigger time with the wheelgun, I honestly would rather that pocket guns are what the old cliché is, “carried a lot, shot a little”, but I think you need to devote time to the pocket pistol, or don’t carry it. I developed and learned skills I didn’t know existed, thank you OFA. On another note, I want to thank Nate for letting me shoot part of the course with his Ruger LCR, nice gun, love the Big Dot front sight!
Lastly, the piece de resistance! After all qualifying was done we got to use the duelin’ tree in a man on man shoot off, if you’ve never seen one, it’s shot at about 10yards, 3 plates per side, the object is to shoot the plates and make them swing to the other side, if you get all 6 plates over to your opponent’s side, you win, single elimination. Yes I lost miserably with the wheelgun, but I can tell you I was amazed that the hitting power of the .40 and lack thereof with the .38 and the 9mm. Yet another lesson in a long line I have yet to learn, no it never stops, but I’m glad I started down this road……….