Shootrite Firearms Academy – My first visit!

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This past weekend was marked by an awesome experience for me, my father and my brother. On Wednesday my brother traveled from VA to SC and on Thursday, the three of us loaded up in my sister-in-law’s van (Thanks, Laura!) and headed the 5.5 hours to Langston, Alabama. To say we had arrived in God’s country would be an understatement. It was absolutely beautiful. Langston is basically a lake community with a population of only 208 people. I can safely say out of that 208, everyone we met was, very friendly and seemed genuinely happy to see you. We arrived at Fisherman’s Landing, the place we were staying, and Donna, the proprietor, greeted us warmly and had everything ready to go. The cabin was great and was only about half a mile from the turn off to Shootrite. We found it in very good shape and very comfortable.

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A rustic appearance and feel coupled with all the amenities and creature comforts we have all come to enjoy such as central air, flat screen TV and Dish satellite service. If none of that appeals to you, your welcome to rock or swing the evening away in the cool breeze of the front porch.

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Langston itself didn’t look like much of a town at first glance but some of these old, run down looking buildings held treasures beyond expectation! The Langston Quick stop was home to a very nice couple who made an amazing pizza. I know the picture tells a different story but truthfully it was worth it! The lady that works there makes a mean pizza and if you’re ever there give it a try or you’ll be sorry.

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The Five points gas station and cafe had great home cooked breakfast and lunch with equal service as did the South Sauty Diner. The food there was really good, it was all down home, southern food and there was plenty of it! Homemade cakes for dessert topped it off. I know the three of us gained 5 pounds apiece at least! While we opted to stay at the cabins, some other class members stayed at the lodge at the Guntersville State Park. We ate there Friday night and the lodge was not only huge but offered views from their balcony that were best described as breathtaking.

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So, needless to say our stay in Langston was a pleasurable experience even before we set foot on the ground at Shootrite.

Now to the really good part. Arriving Friday morning at Shootrite Firearms Academy we were greeted by Tiger McKee, Shootrite’s founder and director, as well as Scott, one of Tiger’s instructors. As the morning progressed other class members arrived and we met them as well. I have to say it was very nice to informally meet the director and an instructor in the parking area as we arrived. They were both friendly, respectful and laid back which continued through the two day course and made everyone feel at ease. Tiger has an intense love for and focus on, what he does, and he is without a doubt a master of his craft. His easy going, friendly, southern drawl reflects his jovial personality but make no mistake it also craftily masks a fiercely intense fighting spirit just below the surface that can be easily summoned should the need arise.

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His assistant instructor, Scott (not pictured) was without question a valuable asset to the class. If you take a class at Shootrite count yourself blessed if he’s there helping out. He was top notch, down to earth, very friendly and very knowledgeable. The two of them worked very well together watching and helping us as we trained.

The course we were there to take was the Defensive Handgun Course. I will not say much about the course content as that is well described on the website, but we learned proper drawing technique, marksmanship fundamentals, shooting with movement, communication and combat mindset. There was a lot built into the class and if you want to know more let me say you need to take the class, it’s well worth it.

The instruction began in the classroom, and included a solid review of the safety fundamentals as well as an introduction to what we would be doing and Tiger’s general position on the subject of defensive training with a firearm. Tiger and Shootrite teach the four primary rules of gun safety which I was glad to see. Many places insist on adding to the four fundamental rules and I have never understood why. These rules encompass all that you need and adhering to them is more than sufficient.

After about an hour or so we adjourned to the range and continued the coursework there. Everything that they taught was very thorough, well thought out and very polished. There was no confusion or disruption in the material or the methodology. I found this to be very reassuring. It truly builds the student’s confidence in and respect for the instructors when the class is smooth and structured. It was obvious they had taught this class many times yet they still conveyed the material with conviction and enthusiasm. Breaks were called throughout the day to do everything from reload magazines, and hydrate to discussing topics and asking questions. The number of breaks was spot on, not too many and not too few and the instructors, while allowing a little flexibility in the discussion kept us on topic and on time. The training was laid back enough to be fun but remained focused and structured enough that time wasn’t wasted. If you decide to attend a Shootrite class, which I obviously recommend, you’ll see that efficiency is a way of life there. Not just in the flow of the class but in concept throughout.

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After the close of the first day let me say I was worn out! My hand hurt from the checkering and recoil from my 1911 but my brain was going a mile a minute trying to absorb and assimilate as much of the information as possible. Take notes and listen hard, it’s a lot of info in a short period of time and it’s all good. You shoot maybe 150 -200 rds. on day one.

Day two began on the range and ended in the classroom. We shot and shot and shot while Tiger and Scott drilled us on the fundamentals and schooled us on the proper techniques as well as helping to develop our fighting mindset. On day two you shoot around 300 – 350 rds.

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The day closed with some discussion of legal ramifications of a self defense shooting, general review and questions and the awarding of certificates. There is no doubt this was one of the best instructional experiences I have ever had. Tiger and Scott did an excellent job. As I stated before, the class was well structured, ran smooth and there was no confusion. I will definitely return to Shootrite for more instruction when time and finances allow. I really like the philosophy and mindset taught at Shootrite. I found it consistent with my past martial arts training and I felt right at home with Tiger’s philosophy as it was easy to adapt and absorb.

Now, as to some hard suggestions let me say the website, http://www.shootrite.org, has recommendations on what to bring to class and even goes so far as to break down individual needs for each class. These lists are very good and comprehensive but I will take it a step further and add some thoughts of my own as a student who has recently been in class.

First of all, be prepared to shoot……..a lot. This means determine before you go where your gun may hurt your hand if held for long periods of time or with too tight a grip. If you can fix any of those issues before you get there (smoothing sharp serrations, relieving places that may rub too hard, etc.) then do it. If you are shooting a double stack pistol for the class, such as a Glock, take at least 5 magazines, and 4 mag pouches. If you are shooting a 1911 take 6 mag pouches and 8 mags and make sure they work! I recommend Wilson Combat mags but if you have any others and know they work in your gun, good for you, if not, buy Wilson Combat. Also take a good solid, thick belt that will easily support a holster. If you have a non-retention outside the waistband holster that your gun will easily go in and out of then good, if not, get one, you’ll be happy you did. Wear some kind of cargo pants or shorts, you’ll need the pockets. Take lots of water, Tiger is big on hydration. Take a hat, preferably one that has a brim that goes all the way around it. This type of hat is indispensable for very nicely deflecting flying brass away from your neckline, just ask my Dad! And for Heaven’s sake take band aids and first aid tape! Why? You ask. For all those places you thought you fixed on your pistol but didn’t realize would rub your hand sore after hundreds of repetitions of manipulation. Yes, it will happen. No, you’re not prepared for it. Just take the stuff, you’ll be glad you did. Sunscreen is a good idea, so is some form of rain gear because they shoot rain or shine. Some basic tools to make minor adjustments to holsters or to disassemble magazines if needed during a break are a good idea. Also, and this is probably obvious to most folks headed to this class, but take a caliber specific cleaning kit. For most shooters, a lot of this stuff is already rolling around in your range bag.

In closing, I would like to thank both Tiger and Scott for all they did. Their time, energy, effort and friendly, professional attitudes were greatly appreciated. Without a doubt, Shootrite is an excellent firearms training school. Their martial philosophy is well thought out and very solid. If you go there and don’t learn anything or claim not to have learned anything then you just weren’t paying attention. When I trained martial arts there was a saying, “If you don’t come to train, don’t come at all” and while I’m the one saying that, not Tiger, you better have a good mindset when you go to Shootrite because there is a lot to learn from an experienced director and staff and believe me, it’s the good stuff, the real good stuff and Shootrite might just be the best place to get it.

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