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Firearms & Defensive Training Schools

Discussion in 'Education & Training' started by emanon, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. emanon

    emanon SE Portland, Oregon Member

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    I'm looking for your reviews of firearms / defensive training schools, including local martial arts schools. More specifically, I'd like to hear about your training experiences: the good and the bad, the overpriced and the best bargains. I am particularly interested in hearing from anyone who has trained with Gabe Suarez.

    Personally, I'm pretty much a newbie but so far I've taken a class each at Front Sight, Firearms Academy of Seattle and Insights Training Center. I'm happy to share my opinions on the classes I took if folks are interested.

    Ps. I am also looking for folks who are interested in sharing costs to take classes and in helping host classes locally.
     
  2. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    You've listed some good schools........Insights and Seattle Firearms.

    I've trained with Surez twice. He's an intense guy, that understands the many situations that one can get into. Has many good things to offer, and things that anyone can work on long after the class.
    Some have said they think he's too intense about survival things, but in this day and age one needs to be very serious, and I didn't take him this way.
    A good instructor needs to be passionate about their work, and Surez is very much that way. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

    I definately have the means and facilities to host calsses, what in particular are you interested in?
     
  3. transformerguru

    transformerguru Lebanon, Beaver State USA Member

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  4. Ballistic

    Ballistic Salem, Oregon Active Member

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    I haven't taken any of his classes, but people i know who have had only good things to say about him.

    http://jimjacobe.com/

    I met him once when he was teaching a class and i was shooting at the same place. He let me shoot alongside his students, with his targets, and offered some pointers on my shooting. He didn't have to do that, but i appreciated it and thought it a class act.
     
  5. JumpWing

    JumpWing NK WA Member

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    You don't have to ask. Trust me, people are interested. Start sharing! :thumbup:
     
  6. emanon

    emanon SE Portland, Oregon Member

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    wichaka,

    What classes have you taken with Suarez? I have heard that he has pretty much the best AK courses available currently. These sound like good instructor characteristics to me: "intense", "serious", "passionate".

    As for hosting classes, I am interested in pretty much anything weapons and self-defense oriented:
    - Awareness, Avoidance and De-escalation
    - Emergency medical care for dealing with injuries from weapons and / or when EMS care may be delayed or unavailable
    - Unarmed
    - Impact / improvised weapons
    - O.C.
    - Knife / Counter-Knife
    - Pistol
    - Rifle
    - Partner training
    - Home and Vehicle

    My list of "traveling" instructors and schools that I am interested in training with includes:
    - You
    - Gabe Suarez
    - John Farnham (Defense Training International)
    - James Yeager (Tactical Response)
    - Andy Stanford (Options For Personal Security)
    - "SouthNarc"

    I am very open to suggestions for other trainers.

    transformerguru,
    Please tell us more about your experience at O.F.A. and what their class covered. I am certainly interested in taking classes there.

    Ballistic,
    It was nice to meet you yesterday and I enjoyed checking out your rifles. Jim is definitely on my radar and I would happily take a class with him. The folks at the Firearms Academy of Seattle spoke positively of him.

    JumpWing,
    I'll post a more detailed reply later. For now, let me say that I liked, learned from and would return to all of those schools under the right circumstances. In my opinion, FAS offers the best training value and I am most likely to return there. If Insights classes were less expensive then I would be more interested in returning there.
     
  7. wichaka

    wichaka Wa State Well-Known Member

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    Have taken, and co-taught CQB with Gabe, when he taught at my dept. 2 years in a row. That was in 2004 '05

    I kinda ran out of gas in the afternoon yesterday. Taught all last week, and was running on 5 hrs of sleep. So by the time we got to rifle, the tank was low.

    Hoping to do more shooting with the pistol next time..............300+ rounds, of basic marksmanship, moving, CQB, and positional.
    But that depends on the group, and how quick everyone picks it up. As once we start doing the above, everyone has to have their head in the game 100% or accidents happen.

    What I'm thinking is just having a rifle day, as it seem I'm trying to stuff in too much in one day, or should I say..........4-5 hrs.

    Normally the basic combat pistol is 2-3 days, and the rifle is the same.
     
  8. Ocanada

    Ocanada Way North Member

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    Just replying on training schools. Being former law enforcement, and now in the armed security business, I have travelled from Canada a lot to find and try training different from what we get at our police academy. Usually two to three times a year, I go through the planning and paperwork to go south and train.

    N.R.A. Law Enforcement, N.R.A. Civilian Programs, Firearms Academy of Seattle, Nebraska State Patrol, Glock(armourer and instructor), Valhalla(Rob Pincus-Combat Focus is now I.C.E.) and Oregon Firearms Academy. On my list to do is Insights, Thunder Ranch and John Farnam.

    All have been good for training and given different input to dealing with critical incidents. Most are reasonable in price and easy to get to. Some are hosted around the country at various ranges. Check out the schedules.

    The one that has been the most consistent in reviewing and upgrading the material taught over different courses is Oregon Firearms Academy. They have ranges, scenario(shoot)house and large classroom for lectures. Instructors include an E.M.T., lawyer and sheriff. With all the instructors, they are able to run a square range with steel and paper on three sides, and have people going through scenarios at the same time. The scenarios are either live fire frangible on steel and paper, or airsoft force on force, shoot no shoot scenarios. They do firearms, openhanded training, knife training(look up CEOTWK). There is no standing around, waiting for anything. After two days, you are worn out.

    Although I always look for other schools and ideas on training as we all should, I know if I go back to O.F.A., I am not only getting a reasonable price for two days, I'm going to get good sound training.

    I am interested in Gabe Saurez. Any northwest courses coming up?

    Ocanada
     
  9. greenLED

    greenLED Beaver Nation expat Member

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    I've taken several courses (at least 8, if memory serves right) at Oregon Firearms Academy (OFA) and can attest to their outstanding instruction. Although I live abroad now (Costa Rica) I'll do my best to visit OR and train at OFA as often as possible.

    I cannot say enough good things about training at OFA. The instructors there never cease to amaze me by their expertise, the positive and encouraging way they interact with students, the high quality of the instruction, and the extreme attention to safety.

    In addition to the instructors themselves, the facilities are top-notch - full with a modular structure for force-on-force simulations, super clean bathrooms, break room with munchies (on the honor system), a large classroom for presentations, and a great range setup (with moving targets for different drills and stuff - really cool). The range itself's got a 4-star rating.

    I love their approach to training... first you crawl, then you walk, then you run. I started with whatever stage it is that comes before crawling and the OFA instructors have coached me to the point where I can consistently hit a threat (they don't have "targets" at OFA - it's a small part of the mindset they'll teach you about). A nice thing about training at OFA is that I didn't just learn to shoot, they taught me how to fight with a gun. And I don't mean that in a macho-bravado type of way. I mention it because they made me realize how much I didn't know (or had flawed misconceptions) about carrying a gun for protecting myself and my family. Everything from the legalities of self-defense (taught by a lawyer, no less!), through basic shooting skills and gun drills, to force-on-force scenarios where I got to experience first hand how quickly things can go downhill if you're not paying attention to your surroundings or don't do enough to avoid potentially dangerous situations.

    Despite their name, OFA is not only about guns (handguns, rifles, etc.), they also teach empty-hand self defense skills. They even have a women's-only, unarmed self defense class (my wife took it and was greatly empowered by it), and a wilderness skills series that I hear is also top-notch but I haven't had the chance to take.

    Overall, I think OFA offers the best firearms training you will find in the PNW.
     
  10. emanon

    emanon SE Portland, Oregon Member

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    Welcome to the forum Ocanada and thanks for weighing in on this discussion! :)

    It's great to have a Canadian on the forums. I was telling folks here that Canadians really do still have cool guns: http://www.northwestfirearms.com/forum/showthread.php?t=449 but I'm not sure they believed me...:p Heck, there are even a few schools up there that teach civilians defensive firearms usage. By the way, where in Canada are you based out of and how did you hear about NWF?

    O.F.A. sounds well worth looking into, I'll keep my eyes open for classes that fit into my schedule. Sadly, it does not appear that there will be any Saurez classes close to us anytime soon. There are a wide range of his classes available if one is willing and able to make it to CA, NV, AZ, UT or CO though. :)


    greenLED,
    I'd love to hear more about living in CR, particularly the specifics about gun ownership and self-defense there. What I've read elsewhere sounds promising! :)

    Yet another strong OFA recommendation... I think I see a trend emerging. :laugh:


    Has anyone trained at OFA, FAS and Insights? I'd love to hear how they compare to each other. :)
     
  11. Ocanada

    Ocanada Way North Member

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the welcome.

    I live in a burb of Vancouver in B.C..

    We do have some short barrelled rifles and shotguns up here that would be Class Three for you guys down south. But, remember, all of our guns are registered, must not be carried, are only for target shooting on licenced ranges or for hunting. I would gladly trade spaces with someone in Washington!

    I surf a lot of websites, but don't always join. I guess it's web burn out sometimes. I do belong here now, Police Central, for police dog training info, and O.C.C. which is sponsored by O.F.A.. I also cruise Sig, Glock and now S&W M&P sites(going to be our issue gun) when time permits.

    Along with quality of training that fits my goals related to my work, timing in getting to courses is a little tougher for us. We must plan months in advance to book a course. It takes up to two months for A.T.F. to approve us coming south with guns for sporting or training purposes. So adding that to trying to plan vacation or time off to go, it's a juggle.

    I have been to F.A.S. a couple of times, and found Both Marty and Gila, and assistant instructors very helpful. They appear to be on the ball and up to date, and by the sounds of it spend time going to courses themselves to keep current.The ranges are varied and huge. Only one complaint, and it's minor. I found there was a fair bit of standing around waiting to do scenarios, exercises.

    O.F.A. is good also. The instructors(lots of them) have varied experience, and training. All go to courses themselves to keep up to date and they are on the ball. The range is very well thought out for a single "square" range. Used on three sides(obviously not at the same time), there is no standing around and you are busy all day when you go. If you aren't shooting, loading, doing drills and exercises, you are in the shoot house doing scenarios. The house is small, but, all walls are moveable in a few minutes and you never know how it might be laid out. It is able to be used with airsoft or frangible.
    All instructors are armourers for multiple systems, so if you have a problem, they can probably fix it or loan you a gun of the same make.

    Insights is on my list to go to. Instructors at O.F.A. give them high praise. They also speak highly of John Farnam and Clint Smith. Also to do's. Infact, waiting for the yearly schedule for different schools to be posted is a tough thing. Then the race is on to get my vacation booked, paperwork to A.T.F.(they have been pretty helpful over the years), hope it's approved, and plan the trip south. Can't wait for the 2009 schedules, so I can figure out where I'm driving to this year.
     
  12. emanon

    emanon SE Portland, Oregon Member

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    I'm definitely pretty happy with our gun laws down here in Oregon. It's worth noting that millions of people in parts of the US have lived under laws comparable to or worse than yours. Besides (most of) the USA, Canada seems really good for most things gun related compared to many other countries. One thing I really like about the Canadian laws is that they apply the same to everyone. So from what I've read, I'd have to go through the same hassles to get a PAL and ATTs etc as a Canadian would but nothing more. That sure beats what you are describing about coming down here! :thumbup:

    Have you looked into hosting classes in your area? I've seen several Tactical Response classes advertised for locations around BC and Alberta, as well as advertisements for Canadian trainers. I believe that I also saw that SouthNarc did a class in Ontario. If nothing else, maybe you could help put together a NW Firearms shoot and get-together in the lower mainland area. :)
     
  13. Ocanada

    Ocanada Way North Member

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    Actually the law is different for our southern cousins. I am a P.A.L. instructor. You don't have to do the same as we do. We have to do training courses to obtain a P.A.L.. If you were wanting to come up here for a course or hunting, all you have to do is contact The Canadian Firearms Centre prior to your arrival at the border. You would have to prove you were coming for a lawful purpose, much the same as I have to for A.T.F.. Certain guns may not be imported at all(certain handguns, rifles and shotguns and mags must be 10 or less for handguns or 5 or less for rifles) So it is restrictive and of course you can not carry a gun. Under our safe storage laws(although it sounds nice, you should fight safe storage laws) it is illegal to have a loaded gun anywhere other than a licensed range or out hunting.

    As for sponsoring a trainer to come up, the cost is what hits you. All the hotels, taxes, travel, boost the course up to $200 or more than the same course down south. And Canadian ammo prices can be twice what you pay in the U.S.. Also to keep in mind is you needing A.T.F. approval to export your ammo north for a course.

    Tactical Response gets good feed back, and I wouldn't mind trying them next summer if they come up again.

    If I am on vacation or work time, I don't mind travelling to Washington or Oregon as it is only a day or less away. And that's why I return to O.F.A. a lot. They a have a lot of different courses to offer. There is usually a schedule up early, so I can plan trips. I have been there a number of times for Glock courses, defensive pistol and knife courses over the years. It's easy for ammo too, as they can have ammo ordered and waiting for you when you arrive.

    A bonus is the hotel close by, 10 minutes, and stuff for my wife to do while the O.F.A. instructors are keeping us busy for a full 9 hours a day.

    I am hoping to be able to do two more courses at least this coming year. O.F.A. will be included, along with maybe Insights.
     
  14. greenLED

    greenLED Beaver Nation expat Member

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    CR is an extremely beautiful country. People are friendly, and it's relatively safe compared to other Latin American countries.

    Gun ownership is allowed under local laws, but it's very restrictive. For starters, you have loads of taxes on firearms (a G19 ends up costing more than twice of the US price!), so not a lot of people can actually own guns. Then there are the legal restrictions placed on everything related to firearms and self defense. For example, you can only own 3 guns, and there's a cap on the amount of ammo you can buy per year (500 rounds, last time I checked - to think I could put twice as many in a single OFA training weekend almost makes me want to cry). The red tape to register your guns (yes, gun registration is mandatory) and to get a carry permit is firmly in place.

    On top of that, there's the strong anti-gun movement within the government (according to them, civilians don't need guns to protect themselves, that's why we have police... right!) that keeps trying to add more and more rules and restrictions to gun ownership and carry. There seems to be a widespread feeling that all guns are evil, and gun carriers are crazy people looking for an excuse to go on a shooting spree... guns=violence seems to be the mantra. Never mind that there doesn't seem to be a single documented case of a legal and responsible gun owner shooting anybody out of boredom. OK, enough of that...:(

    The process of getting a concealed carry permit is similar to that in the US in the sense that you need to take a "safety class", and then take a written and practical exam. The written exam tests your knowledge about laws pertaining self defense and firearms. For the practical test, you need to place 6 shots on a standard threat target at 10 yards. Other than that, there are no other required training classes, but I was told you need to requalify every time you renew your carry permit (still gotta confirm this).

    Despite all that, there's a well established, but small, group of responsible gun owners and carriers who fight for the pro-gun rights movement. I haven't been here long enough to get to know people, but this is a small country and I'll start networking and meeting people pretty soon. Our family plays this game where we try to spot as many CHL as we can. For some strange reason people seem to carry their magazines openly around here. One of these days I'm just going to go up to them and ask why?

    There're (literally) 2 training schools were I'd consider going locally since they bring US trainers once or twice a year. I'm hearing mixed reviews about other places - apparently too much macho bravado with little "field" experience to back up what they teach. Time will tell.
     
  15. emanon

    emanon SE Portland, Oregon Member

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    Ocanada,

    I'm very happy to hear that you are a PAL instructor! :) I am interested in getting my PAL and I have a few questions for you:
    - Have you worked with folks from the US to get their PALs?
    - What do you charge for the CFSC and CRFSC courses and/or test challenges?
    - Where do you hold your trainings?
    - Do you know if the BC/Yukon CFO issues LT-ATTs to US citizens and if so, do they issue it only for BC or for multiple provinces?
    - Is it legal to transport loaded magazines and if so, with what restrictions or conditions?

    From what I've read, we do have that advantage of sorts of having the option of not getting a PAL as you mention. For getting a PAL though, my understanding is that a)we do have to do the same as Canadians by successfully completing the CFSC / CRFSC tests, either by having completed the relevant training courses or by instead directly challenging the test/s and that b) once we have a PAL, we would then have the same privileges and restrictions as a Canadian. Is that correct?

    I am firmly in support of safe storage but fully opposed to laws requiring it.

    I was mostly suggesting that you could host trainers for the benefit of Canadians but I would certainly consider coming up for the right course. :)

    You wrote
    I cant seem to find any information about this online anywhere. Do you have a link for this info?
     
  16. Ocanada

    Ocanada Way North Member

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    Firstly, you can look at A.T.F. on line and related links on information on exporting guns and ammo. You do indeed need an export permit for ammo. If you do not have the required permits, your ammo and or gun will be seized by Canada Border Services.

    There would be little or no advantage in getting a P.A.L.. The only reason to do so would be if you had a residence in Canada part time. There probably would be resistance by the C.F.O. to giving a L.T. A.T.T. since you did not live here. Although you could call them. Look up B.C. C.F.O. on the Canadian Firearms Centre web links. But if you wanted one, you would have to take the safe handling courses. The courses range to about $300 for both but can be done for less. The problem is getting enough people together to make it cost effective. The course is 20 hours minimum. Testing included.

    I have not done U.S. residents but it is possible to do.

    Safe transport of firearms and ammo is governed by safe storage laws under the Canada Criminal Code, Firearms Act. Ammo is to be securely stored seperately from firearms. Trigger locks, locked case etc. apply. If they are not together with the firearm, mags loaded, stored secured should be o.k.. You can ask all questions to the above centre on the 1-800 line.

    Coming here to do courses is not cost effective for you. Sorry, but that's the way I see it. With so many great schools locally to you, you are better off looking them up and working it in south of the border. If it was easy to do, cost effective, I would stay north and do courses. It is easier for me to come south. More cost effective, and have a great choice including O.F.A., F.A.S., Thunder Ranch, John Farnum, Insights, etc..
     
  17. transformerguru

    transformerguru Lebanon, Beaver State USA Member

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    I took the basic handgun class. They have four instructors; one is a retired Linn Co sheriff, one is a retired lawyer, one is an ex cage fighter, and one (the owner of the property) is an enthusiast. The class goes through scenarios and the legal/personal aspects of carrying and the possible event of having to use deadly force. AND you get a couple hours of hands on range time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2008
  18. Joe Link

    Joe Link Portland, OR Well-Known Member Staff Member Lifetime Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    It's good to know our first advertiser gets such high marks from everyone I hear talking about them.
     
  19. OFADAN

    OFADAN Brownsville, OR Well-Known Member

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    Thought I'd clarify a couple things...OFA has 12 instructors and the four that was on rotation when transformerguru attended were as he described except the individual whose property the range sits on is the retired LCSO 1st Sgt - Training Sgt who is a retired, with Gold Wings and two Purple Hearts, SWAT Scout/Sniper and now is a Senior Rangemaster at the Oregon Police Academy.

    Regarding the individual he listed as an "enthusist"; although it wasn't fully disclosed in his class, this person is actually a formally trained gunsmith who used to own a full service gunshop and customized long guns for law enforcement and now teaches full time professionally. This individual recieved his survival skills experience as a vol firefighter/1st Responder, at an all volunteer dept, which he did during the period he owned his gun shop. During his stint as a firefighter he did have to perform his duties under gunfire and while working in conjunction with SWAT.
     
  20. BUZO71

    BUZO71 Emerald Valley, Oregon New Member

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    +1 for OFA... great courses and the guys are laid back and informative. BTW, chili in the winter is the best!