Thursday, June 16, 2011

Finally...Tactical Defense Institute (TDI) Pistol II & III After Action Review

TDI Pistols II & III After Action Review. May 15th-16th 2011

Before I get into the review of the class, I want to talk a little more about what TDI is and who makes it that way. TDI is currently ran by John Benner who is the president and chief instructor of the Tactical Defense Institute. He is a 37-year veteran police Lieutenant and Vietnam Veteran and spent 25 years with the Hamilton County Police Association Regional SWAT Team, serving for 20 years as team Commander, he has received several prestigious awards including Contribution to Law Enforcement, Police Leadership and Officer of the Year. Mr. Benner is certified to instruct and a guest instructor for the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Council (OPOTA). John is a member of and presenter for the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors (IALEFI). John is the co-author of the nationally used CQPC Program.

Most of the doctrine at TDI has come from John’s lifetime of experiences, he’s basically been going into harms way while armed for his entire adult life and he’s still here to talk and teach about it, so I found it very wroth while to perk up my ears when he was speaking, regardless of the topic. John freely admits that most if not all things TDI is 49% him, and 51% his instructors, and they aren't slouches either.

Most of us have probably heard of or read content regarding Bowie Tactical Concepts, what we get a glimpse of on the website is Dave’s background as a SWAT officer. Dave Bowie has been an instructor at TDI for 18 years and has worked as a prosecutors office investigator, a deputy sheriff and has been on SWAT for 10 years as a team member then as team leader and has now commander for the past two and half years.

Dave also was a competitive shooter in USPSA and was a master class shooter until TDI got so busy that he could no longer attend matches. Dave is a NRA certified pistol and rifle instructor and has been a guest instructor for the Ohio peace officers training academy and for the international association of law enforcement firearms instructors and is also a member of the Ohio and national Tactical officers association.

One of TDIs assets  Greg Ellifritz, I was first introduced to Greg though my wife who attended the TDI Defensive Knife Course, through her reviews, and video of the class which can be viewed HERE.
Greg Ellifritz is a 16-year veteran police officer, spending the last 11 years as the fulltime tactical training officer for his central Ohio agency. In that position, he is responsible for developing and instructing all of the in-service training for a 57-officer police department. Prior to his training position, he served as patrol officer, bike patrol officer, precision marksman, and field training officer for his agency.

He has been an active instructor for the Tactical Defense Institute since 2001 and a lead instructor for TDI’s ground fighting, knife fighting, impact weapons, active shooter, and extreme close quarters shooting classes.

Greg holds instructor, master instructor, or armorer certifications in more than 75 different weapons systems, defensive tactics programs, and law enforcement specialty areas. In addition to these instructor certifications, Greg has trained with most of the leading firearms and edged weapons instructors in the country.

Greg has been an adjunct instructor for the Ohio Peace Officer’s Training Academy, teaching firearms, defensive tactics, bike patrol, knife defense and physical fitness topics. He has taught firearms and self defense classes at the national and international level through the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors, The American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers and Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police. He has a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management and has written for several publications including: ‘The Firearms Instructor”, “Ohio Police Chief”, “Combat Handguns”, “Concealed Carry Magazine” and “The Journal of the American Women’s Self Defense Association”.

What my wife and I both like about Greg is that despite the list above, he is very approachable and easy to dialogue with regarding almost any topic related to self-defense. On top of being a physical fitness instructor Greg is also an avid foreign traveler, which brings a unique perspective regarding improvised weapons of opportunity. Greg also teaches Field Emergency Medicine.

Another unique part of the TDI team is instructor Bill Posey, Bill has only been shooting for about four and half years but was directed to TDI early on and started in the right direction. After two years of intensive training at TDI, approximately 35 days in his first year, he obtained NRA instructor's certifications in Pistol, Home Firearm Safety, and Personal Protection in the Home. John Benner then invited Bill to join the staff at TDI as an adjunct, volunteer, instructor. Bill views his helping out at TDI as his "give-back" to the community of people interested in self defense and willing to obtain competent instruction. He is in his third year of instructing at TDI.

Bill has been a practicing trial lawyer since 1979, having litigated product liability and other cases in more than 35 states. As part of his responsibilities at TDI he gives the brief lecture on home insurance considerations and handles questions that may arise relating to personal liability in self-defense situations. Bill ran the "furtive movement" part of the Handgun 3, which will be covered in more detail later in this review.

Not all of TDI’s instructor cadre is SWAT Police or lawyers. Clay Smith’s day job is in the 401k business. His shooting background started young with his father who was a competitive trap shooter for most of his life, around the age of 18 he picked up an interest in handguns, and other firearms of a "defensive" which eventually led him into pistol competition sports including IDPA and USPSA and led him to seek out professional training. Clay began attending TDI in 1997 and began instructing there in 2003. Clay has also attended NRA Instructor Certification, Glock Armorer's Certification, training from Tactical Response in Tennessee, and Bob Vogel, and will also be attending the Roger's Shooting School in Georgia this year. Clay still shoots in competition at the local level when his schedule permits.

Two other instructors mentoring me while there were John Motil and Forest Sonewald. John is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and Forset is a twenty year veteran of his police department in Northern Ohio and has served as their firearms instructor and as a SWAT team member. He's been teaching at TDI for around six years.

That is not even the entire list of instructors that were there during Pistols II and III, if you’ve ever felt that the staff at a shooting class was spread too thin and if you’ve ever been shooting well enough not to warrant the attention of an instructor as others need more help, you will NOT feel that way at TDI as there were 12 instructors in all including John Benner. With a class of around 24 you get a 2 : 1 Student to Instructor ratio which in this industry is outstanding! Not only will you get time with an instructor, you get time with 11 or 12 different instructors, that’s a lot of viewpoints that look at different things and give different feedback on your performance. When you look at the cost of training classes TDI is not that expensive and it is money well spent as you will get time with an instructor regardless of how well you’re doing and as outlined above the instructors are top notch.

Now we’re going talk about the class.

Pistols I, II, & III are offered by themselves, or as a three day class. I chose to skip day one as it took place on Friday and was mostly entry-level stuff. Originally I was only going to take Pistol III and my wife was going to take Pistols II and III so that we could take their Team Tactics Course later in the year. Turns out my wife is currently carrying our second child and it was probably for the better that she not attend this go around in order to prevent lead / noise damage to the baby, as the class was all ready full, I took her Pistol II slot. I’m glad I did. Initially when conversing with Greg Elefritz regarding classes he said that everyone who has taken Pistol II (regardless if they “needed” it or not has enjoyed it and come away learning something new and this is indeed the case. After our next child arrives my wife will be attending Pistols I, II and III as after a few months of not shooting she’s going to want the Pistol I refresher. I plan on taking II and III (and possibly I just to see what I missed) again as it was a great experience.

Pistol II:
We started Pistol II with a discussion on TDI’s variation of OODA – Loop, ODE-Loop which is as I recall Observe, Detect/Decide, Engage, repeat (loop) this is pretty much standard in your defensive classes these days and is simply the thought processes involved in staying aware of your surroundings, not going to go into much detail on that.

We then went into a lecture given by Bill Posey regarding home owners insurance and things you can do to strengthen your policy to help protect you in the event that you shoot and wound/kill an intruder. It was interesting to receive this information from a lawyer and I do intend to follow up with him for a refresher of the items he reviewed in class. It’s often not discussed in the self-defense world and something that should be considered.

Next on the agenda was a discussion / video on a police officer and two shootings that he was involved in. In the first shooting his partner was killed and the assailant took an incredible volume of hits including a head shot before he was stopped. The recreated video of this deadly brawl was eye opening to many in regards to the ability of the human body to sustain such damage and keep going and very well illustrated that you better expect to have to fire as many shots as you can in order to stop the fight. If you would like more information on this you can look up “Steve Chaney: Ultimate Survivor”. After the narrative of the first shooting is complete there is interviews with Chaney regarding the after effects of his shooting including his feelings of survivors guilt and coping with killing another human being. It highlights the need for professional counseling / discussing your mental state with those who’ve been there. At the time of the fist shooting (early 70’s if I recall) the mental health profession was ill equipped to deal with such matters and even if they were “men didn’t talk” about their feelings. Officer Chaney eventually did find camaraderie with veterans of Vietnam who had both killed aggressors and lost comrades.

Eventually Chaney found himself in a similar incident to his first shooting but being better prepared was able to end a deadly force encounter with an armed aggressor with one well placed shot without hesitation.

To say it was an interesting story would be to say the least.

The lecture then turned to Police training and politics related to police agencies, keep in mind that most of the instructors at TDI are prior or current law enforcement. They reviewed your basic patrolman’s weapons training, 9-1-1 response times from various Ohio agencies etc. The point of this lecture? That you are on your own until they arrive, after they’ve been called, a time ranging from 7 to 45 minutes. And then they do arrive they may not be well enough equipped to do you any good. It was amazing to see the eyes of the students widen at this realization, especially hearing this from long time law enforcement officers. It was good to see some of the reactions.

Somewhere around here we got onto a “bunny trail” and started talking about attackers with knives and the Tueller drill, a brief discussion on getting off the “X” and angles of movement then ensued. Lesson learned? MOVE!

From there we took a break and adjourned to the upper range, I was lucky in that I took off to the range first and managed to snag a spot under the covered portion of the rain when told to line up with a target (big hint, if it’s raining you should probably do the same, be up close to the firing line during the range brief) we reviewed your basic safety rules and began our first exercise, prior to shooting we did dry fire drills with “roped” guns (A length of yellow cord/wire through the muzzle and out the magazine well) on the two methods of trigger re-engagement by using the sear reset point or the full travel of the trigger to it’s original starting point. Walking the line the instructors would cycle students slides and allow us to maintain a firing grip and find our reset points on our guns. Once that was complete we proceeded with live fire drills.

The range was probably about 5 yards and we were doing your standard “5 spot” drill where you have a target with 5 targets on one piece of paper.

Spot 1 received one shot from high ready, Spot 2 received 2 shots, Spot 3 received three shots….Spots 4 and 5 were multiple targets, transitioning from one or two shots on Spot 4 and one shot on Spot 5. During these drills you would reload on your own and refill magazines at your own pace. We probably shot close to 150-200 rounds on 5-spot drills which may seem a bit much but if gave the instructors plenty of time to walk the line of 24 students and make corrections, diagnose trouble points, and instruct the students. I was please to see them making DA/SA shooters and 1911 shooters either decock or engage the safety when going back to the ready. It also made me want to get a big piece of masking tape and write “HK: Cocked and Locked” across my shoulders, but hey there aren’t that many polymer guns carried in that fashion and the instructors were just doing their job. After about the third instructor down the line asked about the carrying method of that gun the other instructors would inform them for me and save me from having to explain it again. It was a little annoying but that’s OK it was nice to see them paying equal attention to everyone and make sure we were doing it right. I fired a lot of rounds and this was a great set of drills for me as I was still getting acquainted with the HK45 (I will talk more about my gear used in class at the end as it’s not the point of the review but is peripheral) While this may be a little too repetitive for some more experienced shooters, being able to do those repetitions was superb for getting a better feel for the gun and I didn’t mind them one bit.

After the 5 Spot Drills were finished they broke us into squads to cover “Smooth Draw”, malfunction clearing, and reloads.

First up for our squad was smooth draw. TDI teaches what is pretty much standard, the 3pt draw. Support hand to chest while you pull from the holster straight up and rotate the gun out orientated at the target to a high retention position, that’s step 1. From there you join the hands at centerline for a high, compressed ready, that’s step two. From there you extend your arms in a press out until you’re extended and sighted in, that’s step three. Re-holsering is the exact opposite, bring the arms back to a high, compressed ready, they will naturally split on your chest, and the strong hand follows the same path back into the holster. Repetitions of this weren’t over done and as we were broken down into smaller groups it was easier for the instructors to see what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong. After some dry practice we went back into the 5-Spot drill working from the holster.

This is where I first started having some issues. I was stuck in a little bit of a drill mentality rut, all the talking about search and access (I’m not sure where this was introduced in class, it may have been introduced during the first 5-spot drill or introduced when smooth draw started) went in one ear and out the other and I was pretty much getting the gun back into the holster almost as fast as it came out…in case anyone missed it, there is a “Tactical” in TDI. With a little bit of coaching I was getting my head right and out of competition mode and slowing down a bit ensuring that I was checking my surroundings prior to re-holstering.

From smooth-draw we rotated over to another area of the range where we were practicing malfunction clearing. The process taught for clearing jams was…..Tap, Rack, Bang. Sometimes the simplest procedure really is best. Of course with double feeds etc. some more in-depth procedures are required and those were covered as well. For the malfunction drills we just used empty cases off the ground (I didn’t say deck, I’m so proud of myself) that the instructors loaded into our magazines.

Moving on we went to reloads starting with your “emergency” or slide lock reload. One thing I really liked about the reloading practice is that TDI advocates stripping the spent magazine from the gun to ensure that mags don’t hang or stick. They also advocate the use of the sling/shot – push/pull method for returning the slide to battery, however I’m very used to using the slide stop, or in the case of the HK45, the slide release (Look in the manual, it’s a release per HK) it works for me, the instructors saw that and did not harp on me to conform to their favored techniques. +1 for TDI.

For “tactical reloads” or what would be referred as “reload w/ retention” they advocated on the same mag procedure of stripping the magazine from the firearm but only adding the retention of the magzine in some place other than on the belt prior to inserting a full magazine. I like this approach much more than trying to come up with a full mag prior to the ejection/strip of the partially spent magazine as it’s just simplier to manipulate and shares the same basic movements as the “emergency” reload and prevents botching the reload as they have seen students re-insert the partially spent magazine or just flat out try to insert magazines prior to ejecting the partially spent magazine. Now while the tactical reload process of bringing a full mag up prior to removing the partially spent magazine can be learned and properly executed with practice, the basic reload with retention is easier to teach, for most new students, easier to do well. The amount of “down time” for the gun really isn’t any less than the traditional tactical reload.

Next up was shooting on the move. We had a small lecture on keeping your feet where they need to be without tripping over objects or getting your legs tangled up. Then on to the range. We did your basic paths of movement, starting forward, then moving left, and then back. Then the other way starting forward, then right and back. Movement to the obliques must be in Pistol IV or V.

From there we went into a brief discussion regarding “Getting off the X”, for those that may not be familiar with the term, “X” marks the spot where you’re standing when everything goes wrong and you realize you need to draw your gun against a threat. Moving off that spot is imperative. Greg Ellifritz did a quick down and dirty study with some “salty” TDI students and Airsoft guns, the study was actually published in a magazine but here’s the abbreviated results. Movement equals a 10% loss in accuracy but reduces your potential to take hits by about 50%. Results were pretty close regardless of moving laterally or forward, however movement direct to the rear was no good and in cases where people turned their back to the “threat” while moving were hit 100% of the time.

From there we had a brief regarding the shoot houses and what to expect from them during Pistol III.

TDI’s Pistol III class started on a drizzly day which for this kind of training I actually prefer as it forces students to work from concealment or get wet. Our first drill was a “time in” exercise where we were shooting steel (With the exception of the shoot houses, all shooting during Pistol III was on steel) on the clock from a high compressed ready on a single target a and then on three targets. I don’t recall my times on time in. next time around I may log the times but I really didn’t deem it important at the time. From “time in” we went to working strong hand to weak hand transitions using a “swipe & press” technique which was kind of cool and it grows on you and ensures that you have maximum surface contact between your off-hand and the grip area of your firearm. After working the transition exercise we went into strong & weak hand only (SHO and WHO) shooting.

After doing the transitions and SHO/WHO shooting we broke back down into squads and my squad was under the instruction of Clay Smith. We were taught “proper” maneuvering around corners via the TDI methods of slicing the pie, and dropping out from cover. All I can say is that this portion of the class was well worth the class cost and travel & lodging. They ask us not to go into too much detail regarding their methods, as it is somewhat proprietary. A little anecdote regarding their methods is that a couple of their instructors attended a DOD anti-terrorist training session and wiped out the competition including the instructors using the TDI procedures. Do I believe it? Yes I do. What was/is being taught at TDI went far beyond anything I learned at Combat Town at Camp Pendleton, although I do freely admit that it was a long time ago and things may be more up to speed by now given the last ten years of combat…regardless the techniques taught at TDI are highly effective. You can see a little of the technique in the video previously linked featuring Greg.

There was also a brief exercise on maneuvering through doors to get maximum visibility of the areas on the other side(s) of door openings etc.

From there we went to shooting from barricades to simulate shooting around corners etc. which also incorporated some more TDI specific procedures.

It’s important to understand that when broken into squads we would rotate through different exercises and different instructors. It was a very unique experience to get so many different teaching styles / back grounds under one roof and it keeps you on your toes and keeps you from standing around waiting for something to do.

Next on the list of activities was the “Furtive movement” class by Bill Posey. This was done with “roped guns” and was basically a brief one on one…ok maybe two on one… Force on Force class. We went over what it looks like when someone is drawing a gun from all angles, surprisingly enough, sometimes drawing a gun looks like going for your wallet or keys. We took turns being accosted by Bill until we were forced to shoot. None of the scenarios were outlandish. Some did well, some did not but I think we all learned a lot.

From here we broke down into groups again and went to the shoot houses for some room clearing exercises. TDI has three Life Fire Houses (LFH-1-3), initially you go in groups of two. The first shooter goes through with the instructor and then goes through as a spectator with the other student. This gives one the ability to see things from different perspectives. The second shooter waits for the next group and then follows a student. What was my Live Fire House experience like? It was pretty damn cool. Despite the house having some wicked tricks that may have resulted in my untimely demise I put accurate shots on target including one shot just above the eye socket of a dirt bag that was holding my paper wife as a target.

Lots of students shot the hostage. The student that ran the house after I did "center punched" his wife (in this case the hostage target). In another house, five out of eight students shot the hostage, two students did not take shots citing that they didn’t know if they could make it or not and there’s nothing wrong with that. I bet the guys that shot their hostages wish they had done the same. Interestingly enough it was two ladies that did not take shots, I wonder if lack of a male ego/trying to impress the instructor had anything to do with it? I would say the odds of that are pretty good.

Did I execute my movements through the house perfectly? No, but that’s what I was there to learn.

After my trip through the house I was back to the lower range where we were then fell in where there was room on two firing lines. We started doing an exercise under Dave Bowie again and this one was kind of slick, especially after coming back from the LFHs. This was a close range, accuracy driven exercise. From about 5 yards your goal was to pick a spot on a target and put a series of shots through the same hole. Starting freestyle (two handed), shoot one shot. Take note of that shot’s relation to the sights and try to place all subsequent shots in the same hole. The next shot is SHO, then WHO, if you happen to be named Dave Bowie, then you shoot the gun up-side down, if you’re not named Dave Bowie you go back to free-style and go through the process for one magazine. I did pretty well, but not Dave Bowie well. Just coming back from the LFH I was a little amped up still as it is kind of intense and this drill helps to do two things. Force you to focus on accuracy while your heart rate is up, and two bring you back down by focusing on breathing and the other fundamentals of shooting. Despite the close distance, it’d harder than it sounds.

While I was doing this drill, another group of shooters was on the steel line doing a walk back and some other drills. I was able to take a pretty good break after shooting two of the accuracy drills waiting the squad shooting the steel to be done. With some jerky and water down the hatch I was ready to get back to shooting. We were running short on time so the rest of us did not get to do a walk back (John Benner won that by the way) but we did do our “time out” drill and while I don’t recall my time on shooting three targets, my time on a single target from a high compressed ready was around .42. Started off around .6 and started shaving time by getting friendly with the press out and going a little broad with sighting by using the profile of the slide as my sights. If the slide was coving the plate I knew I’d get my hits. It was my first time really using that technique and it worked out pretty well.

There was a little shoot on your own time where you could work different drills and then back into the classroom for dismissal.

But wait! There’s more….

So, what did I learn from my two days at TDI?

I learned that even though you may not need to take a class because you have all ready attended similar courses, you can always benefit from more training, a good refresher is never a bad thing and I don’t think I would have done as well at Pistol III without the warm-up provided by Pistol II.

I’ve often heard some people speak out against USPSA/IPSC while promoting IDPA because “USPSA will get you killed” etc. As an IDPA shooter and dabbler in USPSA I can say that IDPA is just as likely to get you killed as anything else when it comes to real use of cover. What I see at IDPA matches that passes for proper use of cover is a joke. IDPA and USPSA are what they are, they are games and yes they can build overall shooting skill, when it comes to tactics they are poor providers do don’t get hung up on the “tactical” aspect of IDPA.

I got much more familiar with using “slide profile” sighting on the steel, however that was not a topic covered during Pistol II or III but I brought it with me and was able to apply it. I learned how to properly use cover and some new techniques on shooting from cover, as well as clearing certain while solo (something I hope I never have to do) I learned a lot of valuable lessons while in that shoot house, I’d like to go into details, but I’d be giving away some secrets to future students and would probably “cheapen” their experiences. I also learned that my time spent competition shooting has left some “training scars” as some things that make perfect sense in competition are not good for real world tactics. Now don’t get me wrong I still plan on shooting in competition as the trigger time, shooting under stress, and varying levels of stage complexity are good and good for you, I’m just going to make more of an effort to not get hung up in the competition aspect of it and try and slow down and do things right. That includes not running down hallways but still move briskly, and keep the elbows in so they aren’t telegraphing my approach through doorways.

Some things I’d have liked would have been more use of concealment garments, but remember that this was not a Concealed Carry specific course, it was / is a PISTOL course. TDI does have an Advanced Concealed Carry Course and this was not it. We had the option to use concealment garments, some chose to stick with them even when it wasn’t raining and some shed their jackets as soon as possible. So if you wanted to work more from concealment, you were able to.

I would have liked another trip through a different shoot house, but I understand why we only get one trip. One reason for that is time, it would take a lot of time to run students through two houses and the other is that while some students would do better with another trip, some may not and the possibility of a secondary negative experience exists. Did I ask to go through another house? No and had I asked they probably would have let me. So keep that in mind should you attend.

What are the things I liked the most?
First and foremost I liked the instructors and the instructor / student ratio. They were all top notch at what they do and I’d be comfortable taking may classes from TDI (and I do) as well as recommending them to friends, family and even my own students. There wasn’t much ego, if any and I did the only slant (if you could even call it that) regarding type of firearm(s) was related to the XD line and that “they” typically don’t recommend it as it requires the grip safety to be pressed in for the slide to cycle which could be problematic while doing malfunction clearing drills. Other than that I heard no discouraging remarks about make, model, or caliber. It was refreshing to not have to deal with that. All students were treated with professionalism and courtesy.

The facility is nice. The classroom is nothing fancy, but it is functional, clean and close to the lower range and provided all that was necessary, a fridge for lunch as time is tight enough so that you probably shouldn’t go out to town & eat do and are better off brown bagging it. I opted from bringing a sandwich from Subway and lots of water; two restrooms, electricity, tables and chairs, coffee in the AM and a small pro-shop. You don’t need much else. The ranges and Live Fire Houses were all in good repair as was the overhead on the lower range.

Map of TDI's Grounds, Photo(s) Courtesy of TDI's Website

Covered Portion of Lower Range, Photo Courtesy of TDI

Steel Target Range (part of lower range) Photo Courtesy of TDI

I really liked shooting the steel as you do get that instant feedback when shooting and there’s no pressure from trying to shoot a tight group or anything and it saves time by not requiring pasting or hanging fresh paper.

As for the curriculum, not much I could add, it's pretty solid.

In summary, TDI offers a well rounded class for those that are just getting into pistol shooting and those that know their way around a gun etc. You don’t need to be an expert shooter to attend I-III and even if you are an expert, you should still attend Pistol II. I / we plan on going back for Pistols IV-VI and their “FIST” course as well as Team Tactics. The Mrs. Wants to take Enhanced CQB and Impact Weapons so we’ll probably be vacationing in Ohio for the next couple of years.

As for the gear I used for the class, I brought my newly acquired HK45 riding in a Cane and Derby (CDI) Pardus OWB holster. The holster rides nice and close and performed well, I’m pretty happy with it but will be replacing it with a different CDI Pardus in chocolate brown with 5 degrees of cant. I’m normally a leather guy when it comes to holsters but I do try to experiment with new things and while I went a hybrid route with my previous venture into the polymer world, I figured I’d give a genuine Kydex rig a try and I’m glad I did. For magazine carriers I was using a Galco double mag carrier and two Blackhawk! CQC single carriers, I like the singles as they are a little more versatile and the CQC carriers while a little bulky are actually pretty nice and you can get them off the shelf at various stores. For ammunition I was using something new, I generally prefer Remington ammunition and recently they’ve been offering it in a 230gr nickel cased FMJ at they’ve got various coupon codes out there, price was OK and the ammo was super. All in all I was happy with my gear & firearm. One issue I had was with my eye protection, the portion of the frame where the nose pads are is very thick on my Wileys, and in certain positions while shooting from cover I’d actually have a huge blind spot from the nose piece of my glasses, so I’ll probably be shopping around for a new set of eyes.

In closing, if you’ve ever thought about attending a class at TDI, you should definitely go. As stated we plan on going back, hopefully we’ll see some of you there.

I hate quoting movies, but for some reason quotes from FightClub keep popping into my head, quotes like "You weren't alive anywhere like you were there. But Fight club exists only in the hours between when fight club starts and when fight club ends." TDI exists past my participation there, and knowing that it’s there is taunting me, my want to go back is like a kid waiting for that 1st day of summer,vacation, or that long weekend after working months straight, it’s like months full of nights before Christmas…

So yeah, I’m a TDI fanboy now, enough so that every now and then I start looking at jobs in Ohio just to be able to cut travel costs to attend classes. I look at their course line up and keep thinking that if I lived closer I’d take every class they have. But we’re getting pretty deep roots here in Iowa so my dreams of weekending at TDI will have to wait.

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