I had never attended an event anything like the CAA Train the Trainer event in my life. We did live fire drills in circumstances rarely available to the average person like me.
Circumstances including complete darkness, running toward the targets, and clearing a building in a "shoot house" are just some of the things offered by CAA at this event. The facility itself is the stuff of legend as well. The owners of the Altair Training Solutions facility purchased the massive property in the Florida Everglades that used to be a maximum security state penitentiary, and repurposed it for use as a world class training facility. That being said, what stood out to me is probably different from what stood out to most. The instruction was excellent, the products worked very well and I learned a great deal about both.
What stood out to me most however was the Israeli mentality and just how different it is from what I usually see.
The first experience that was completely new to me was the night shoot. The bugs in the everglades were aggressive, so despite the warm temperatures, I wore a hooded sweatshirt to cover as much of my exposed skin as possible. It was very dark with only the light of the moon to illuminate the range when we were standing at the ready. When Lt. Col. Hartman (IDF Ret.) gave the command, we illuminated the targets using the flashlight included on the Micro Roni, and fired. I have never been at a range before that allowed this type of drill in the dark, further proving the point that training value for real-world situations is what guides the Israelis. Living in Israel, they have an abundance of real threats to their lives which keeps them from being distracted by some of the things that often ruin private training in the United States.
Another new experience for me was running toward the target and firing. This was part of a cover fire drill with my instructor (former IDF soldier) running right behind me. I had never run and fired a firearm before, I've never been to a private range that would let me do that. My home range in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, PA prefers I only fire 1 round every 3 seconds. But here at Altair with the CAA instructors, we fired 3 rounds at a time, while running toward the target. Most ranges and events are very restrictive about such things, usually citing safety and legal liability as reasons for not allowing such drills. The Israeli mentality is focused on training value. They train for real threats, their geographic neighbors intent on killing them pose a much greater threat to their survival than anything they will be doing while training with friendly forces. As a result they don't see or mention things that often create obstacles that ruin many events and shooting ranges run by people with a different perspective. They give no quarter to "micro-aggressions" or any other nonsense that would distract from the truth and the task at hand. Mikey Hartman and his instructors explained to us in very straightforward fashion what the IDF does to protect Israelis from those who wish to do them harm without taking time-outs to appease any delicate flowers that can't handle the truth. Fortunately no such flowers attended the course and we did not have to create a safe-space for the easily offended to go color with crayons when they heard about how the enemies of Israel are constantly trying to kill them.
The shoot house was a new and unique experience for me as well. We used frangible ammunition in the AR15s for this drill for safety reasons. It was a relatively simple drill with only a single participant at a time entering the house with live ammo. This was probably because many of us were completely new to this type of drill. The instructors followed and gave commands to the participant as necessary.
One other major difference I noticed is that when it comes to clearing firearms and making safe the range, their protocol for showing the instructor that the firearm is clear and safe is more rigorous than anything I've experienced in the U.S. whether military or civilian. This is yet another significant difference between our way and that of the Israelis. Americans are fortunate enough to have the choice to never touch a firearm if they should so choose. Military service here is 100% volunteer, and private citizens who wish not to use firearms can do so. In Israel, everyone must join the military and serve their country. This means their instructors have some participants who are potentially less well-informed, and possibly less enthusiastic about firearms and training, but have to complete it nonetheless. As a result, their protocols are different, a bit more rigorous, and slightly more time consuming than what we are accustomed to doing here where we only use firearms if we choose to do so.
The combination of the Israeli mentality of never compromising on training, the excellent people doing the instruction, the quality products we used, and one incredible training facility adds up to an incredible experience that is sure to be remembered by all who attended and is very likely to change the way firearms products are marketed in America. It may also have an effect on how private citizens train here in America.
This event was all about showcasing some amazing products. The Hartman MH1 has the largest window of any reflex optic on the market, and I really like it. I won't be able to give a full report until one arrives in the mail for some uninterrupted time getting to use it, but I can tell you that I like it more than any of the others. And I don't usually like those types of sights at all. Next is the Micro-Roni, which is a chassis for your Glock that makes it perform more like a semi-auto SMG, or if you have a Glock 18, like a real SMG. It greatly increases your effective range with the same firearm. It gets a little tricky in the U.S. because of the wonderful SBR laws, so you can either buy their arm-brace version, or do some paperwork with Uncle Sam, your choice. So while this event was mostly about these products, I learned a lot more, met some great people, and look forward to working with them again.
Thank you to CAA, Mikey Hartman, and Altair Training Solutions for having me at your event and your facility respectively.