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Believeraz 30 April 2009 08:35

AAR- Universal Shooting Academy Private Carbine Class
I decided to do some carbine training recently, and found my way to Frank Garcia’s Universal Shooting Academy, in Frostproof, FL. Frank is an internationally recognized competitive shooter, with an impressive competition record under his belt. Likewise, Frank and his staff provide instruction to a long list of current champions, as well as government clients. USA offers public, private group, and private individual classes. As I had specific things I wanted to accomplish and work on, I elected to go with a private day of instruction.

The training day started with paperwork and a review of my experience with a rifle as well as the rifle I brought that day, my perspective, training theory, and goals. My instructor, Roy Tyler, pegged my learning style immediately, and facilitated the day’s training in an approach that resonated well with me. One item of note was that Roy chose to also approach each evolution from an instructor development perspective as well. He thoroughly explained his teaching methodology, and how to use each test and drill to accomplish a specific training goal as a trainer, as well as common mistakes and corrections for each. To me, this added a tremendous value to the class. I should also note that this was not something initially requested by me, but something Roy chose to add to be of further benefit.

Roy is a Vietnam veteran, retired LEO, and former Police Academy Instructor, Smith and Wesson Academy Instructor, and Florida State LE training advisory council member. He is also an accomplished IPSC and 3 gun competitor.

I started off with zero/confirmation for iron sights and optic at 50m (my preferred zero). I also did some quick POA/POI variance testing with a suppressor on the rifle. Roy provided some interesting discussion on barrel harmonics, a suppressor’s harmonic effect and its influence on zero deviation.

We moved to an array of 2” dots. Rather than spend the usual time shooting small groups of slow fire at the dots, we hit the ground running hard. We had some discussion on what my acceptable accuracy standards were, and Roy encouraged me to push my speed and cadence to the limits of my acceptable standards, diagnose and correct my fundamentals, and make it tighter without losing speed or cadence. We then moved to multiple target engagements, limited targets (2/3 target behind cover, headshots only, etc), and switching gears (pure speed in getting rounds on target, to slowing down for a long shot or head shot). A lot of emphasis was placed on repeatable, consistent speed in going from my normal carry position to rounds on target, and smooth trigger work. Drills ranged from 10-50 meters. This took us up to lunch.

After lunch, we carried on, working heavily on switching gears between near and distant targets (25-200m), as well as rapid target transition. A good bit of work was done on kneeling, prone, and oh-shit-under-the-truck-prone positions. We then moved to moving targets, restricted moving targets (headshots on a runner, etc), and shooting moving targets in a crowd, and between points of cover. We worked on shooting on the move, with some good CQB applications, including transitions to handgun. The day wrapped up with what I will refer to as “The Humbler”, which was made of transition drills between 4” plates at 20m, and pepper poppers at roughly 15-20m. We wrapped up around 1700. Total round count for the day was 1000 of 5.56mm and about 100 9mm.

The facilities were accommodating. There were roughly eight IPSC scenario bays, another couple 25-50 meter bays, and two longer lanes at 100 and 200m respectively. I had the place to myself, and shot on roughly six or seven bays and lanes. There were a wide variety of target systems, including IPSC cardboard, Larue resetting sniper targets, steel bobbers, gongs, silhouettes, plates, and poppers, a variable speed mover range, and a controllable robotic chassis 3D human torso/head target. NONE of the steel targets were normal human sized, which added its own challenging spin to the training day. On a plus side, I am adequately prepared should Oompa Loompas invade.

Bathrooms were clean, the grass was cut, and there were fish in the pond. Bottled water and a cooler of ice were provided. One nice touch to the private lesson format was that I spent my time focused on my training. That is to say, I wasn’t schlepping steel, pasting targets, setting up the range, etc. Roy did a phenomenal job of facilitating the training so I could get maximum use of my time. I honestly felt a little lazy since I didn’t lift a finger on the usual schlepping tasks that come along with a day at the range.

The instructor’s approach was interesting. There was always randomness and variation injected, even to repetitions of the same drill. Something was constantly changing, and this served to keep it fresh as well as prevent death by boredom through repetition. There was also no ballistic masturbation. (That is my term for shooting drills that have a student dump high round counts into a target over and over again, seemingly for the purpose of having a high round count or piling brass to a certain minimum depth.) Every round was a quality round, even if it was a part of a 20 round rapid sequence. Although USA is largely a competition school, we weren’t slaves to the shot timer. We used it at times, when it was conducive.
At all times, my pace was on me, allowing me to push it harder or dial it back as necessary.

Roy encouraged me to use misses to my advantage. He described the quality of a miss as one of the most important aspects of a training session. The philosophy behind this related to pushing the envelope on speed and accuracy to the point that the wheels come off, then being able to self-diagnose and correct. This emphasized the ability to call a miss, self-correct during follow-through, and make the next round a solid hit, and to make it a repeatable event. The value of a miss was likened to high speed driver training. If you never come off the track a bit or spin out, chances are you’re not pushing yourself to the edge of your performance ability.

In short, in one solid, focused day, I saw my carbine skill set progress to another level. I attribute this both to the quality and focus of the training I received, as well as the dynamics of the individual class and the benefits it brought to the training experience. I don’t think I could have extracted the same experience from a 3 day class, when dealing with a 4:1 to 10:1 instructor to student ratio.

I tried to look for both sides in writing an AAR. Since the training was tailored to my needs and flexed based on my input, I have zero room to complain about the content. Any change I asked to make was immediately made, and any silly idea we had ("how would it work if...") was immediately tried and sorted out. Likewise, the flexibility of the instructor to my individual needs overcame any curriculum to student differences immediately. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t produce anything negative from the event of any substance. I had a great experience with Universal Shooting Academy, and would recommend them to others based on that experience. I would also encourage folks who are interested in taking an individual skill set up a notch, to consider investing in some one-on-one instruction.

For you gear homos, I used a Rock River Entry Tactical, with an Aimpoint, VFG, light, and Vickers sling, with Pmags. I didn’t clean it during the day, and only lubed it once prior to the start of class. I had zero malfunctions. Ammo was Sellier and Bellot M193 55 grain.

Nousdefions794 30 April 2009 09:03

Great AAR. Glad things worked out.

Believeraz 30 April 2009 12:17


Originally Posted by Nousdefions794 (Post 1142349)
Great AAR. Glad things worked out.

Glad you encouraged me to pursue it! Looking forward to another trip to Frostproof when I'm home next.

Silverbullet 1 May 2009 03:41

That's for the AAR.

Frank Garcia's outfit one of those places that doesn't get the same pub as the chest beaters, but they conduct better training that 99% of them.

Ranger1 1 May 2009 04:10

Good AAR Mr. P. Sounds like a damn fine course.

MixedLoad 1 May 2009 04:16

What was the pricepoint?

Believeraz 1 May 2009 10:33


Originally Posted by Nomad275 (Post 1142910)
What was the pricepoint?

$600 for a one day, private class. Two people can split it at $300/each.

Hoepoe 1 May 2009 11:04


Originally Posted by Believeraz (Post 1143011)
$600 for a one day, private class. Two people can split it at $300/each.

From your AAR, that seems perfectly reasonable.

Have a good weekend.


Dino0311 1 May 2009 11:59

The best instructor I ever had referred to Frank Garcia (along with Kyle Lamb and a couple others) as a great shooter and instructor, that's good enough for me.

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