Addressing Clark Sparrow’s Recent AAR and Defamation Of Character

All Student AARs and Factual Accounts Of Events Can Be Found Here

I want to make a formal rebuttal to Clark Sparrows AAR of my vehicle class. Somehow this broke the Internet yesterday lol. So, I want to shed some light on this situation with facts. Every student from this class will be allowed to comment on this post today, unlike on Clark’s webpage or the Facebook posts. All students AARs will be shared here for your background information to see the entire picture (You can find all AARs here). If you read or talk to the other students of this class you will see the whole story.

Additionally, as of May 17 at 6:00 p.m. EST I have called and emailed each student who participated in the class. Mind you these are mostly Law Enforcement Officers some of whom are special operators, who explained to me Clark reached out to them to corroborate his defamation and assassination of my character.

Bottom line up front: there was a safety brief and I patched a small cut.

However, I do sometimes get the occasional bad review and this is OK as we should never all agree, all the time. Recently a student in my class, Clark Sparrow, who owns Sparrow Defense, posted a public review about my Vehicle Tactics Course. Clark was the Range Host for this course in Athens, GA and received the course for free as part of his range hosting duties. The full price for normal attendees at this course is $750.

This course happened at the beginning of March, and Clark published his AAR on May 16, 2017, after we sent him his course Peace Officer Certificate which he asked for from our staff multiple times. 

For the most part I get great reviews from my courses and truly appreciate everyone’s feedback on how to make the courses better. It has always been my philosophy to provide as much information and knowledge as possible in the time that we have together. 

Unfortunately, it is common in our industry to tear people down in order to build themselves up. Regarding this recent AAR from Sparrow Defense, I would like to address the specific points that were brought up in the article. 

1.RANGE SAFETY

Everyone is a range safety officer and if you see an unsafe act then immediately call ceasefire. This was never done DURING this course. Clark claims I never provided a safety briefing. This is NOT TRUE. There was a safety brief, it was very in depth to include every angle we could shoot through the vehicles, so that all rounds must impact the berm. Which at that time, I told Clark was very low, which he replied “don’t worry the bullets won’t go far”.

At the beginning of the class I stated where to shoot with regard to the vehicles and the berm, ensuring all rounds no matter what angles impacted into the berm. I explained why the vehicles were in the positions they were and again emphasized in detail the necessity of care. I continued to emphasis muzzle control to the students throughout the course.

Obviously, Clark did not listen to my safety briefing and to what I was telling him during the course. At the end of every day, I ask the students what they liked about class and what they didn’t like. Giving them an opportunity for feedback. I have done this every day that I’ve ever had on the range, or instructed in a class. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE mentioned safety as an issue. Clark waited until the last day of the 2-day course, as I was getting ready to drive away to return home, when he brought up the issue of being muzzled. Again, Everyone is a range safety officer and if you see an unsafe act then immediately call ceasefire. 

Range safety is the most important piece of any of my courses. It is impossible for me to prevent flagging or sweeping especially when you are spectating from the wrong location. I will calmly tell you what to do and to correct you on the spot in the most humble manner. My point to this is, we are in the middle of training. Yelling at you will place your mind somewhere else and not on the training. I have learned the best way to approach students, being calm and speaking softly. Range bullying and belittling is not the way to do it.

I address all flags and sweeps that I see as they happen with that individual. Most people’s exposure to getting flagged or swept comes from them observing other students’ drills. One of the things I addressed personally with this class in particular, was to not be in an unsafe area while spectating. Clark was a spectator, he claimed he was flagged; he was told several times to move to the safe area along with the others. He was never muzzled during his training time as his videos on Facebook will show. Again, let me place emphasis that several times throughout the course I had to redirect them to a safe area because the spectators were being unsafe. I also told Clark it would be “artificial” to change the drill because of spectator’s locations, hence why I designated and moved them all to a safe area. I addressed this specifically with Clark at the conclusion of the 2nd Day when he brought up the issue. Again, this was never addressed DURING the course.

As the range host and police officer, Clark is well aware of safety and range protocols. As the range host, Clark never told me  DURING the course that there was a safety issue.

Moreover, after today’s transgressions on social media, it’s clear that his attendance was set up for the character assassination and defamation of my experience to promote another business. Again, Clark never addressed his concerns during the class, or when it actually happened, and his concerns were published on May 16, 8 weeks later.

I travel to 12+ states a year and I am a guest on every range I visit. The life limb or eyesight portion of the medical plan is on the range host. If it is not, the planning for a medical support and range safety responsibilities need to be discussed before my visit to the range. Just to clarify, I am a EMT and Paramedic; I carry an advance trauma kit to address any injuries participants may get during the course. Anyone at any time can stop the class for a good safety brief or medical concerns. However, at this particular class no one, including the range host, spoke up after I gave the initial brief.

Bottom line, safety is the most important thing in any of my classes and I am there to make sure you get the knowledge you need. If for any reason you do not feel safe, please take it upon yourself as an adult to ask for clarification, this is rule number one on any range. 

2.SHRAPNEL, NOT RICOCHET

Unfortunately, a student was struck with a piece of shrapnel. This happens when you shoot at metal and it technically called “spalling”. NO ONE IN THE COURSE WAS SHOT NOR WAS THERE A RICOCHET. The student suffered a small cut on his abdomen and there was some blood. It was hot, we were dehydrated, we were moving, and basically you bleed more because of the conditions. Incidents like this are unfortunate but occasionally happen. I instructed the student to shoot in the box I drew on the vehicle on the engine block NOT the strut. Exactly as I did for every round fired at the vehicle. The student shot and missed the box with this particular shot. At no time did anyone tell a student to shoot a strut. Accidents happen, I stopped training to personally patch this wound. After the bleeding stopped (a few minutes) I placed a 1” by 2” piece of tape over the wound. The student was fine the remainder of the day. 

3.DOWN TIME, i.e. “WAR STORIES”

In any course of mine you will have downtime. This is because I focus on working with each individual, while also providing group drills and instruction. Each person will get individual attention. This is where I will address all safety issues that you presented. Like I said before I will never publicly shame someone on the range.I discuss these points with the individual 1-on-1 to correct it so it doesn’t happen again. But the range host has the right to kick any unsafe individuals off the range immediately. 

In my classes, students will leave with valuable information that is presented during their 1:1 time. In my opinion it is up to other students to listen and watch during other students 1:1 time because not every student will have the same opportunities due to the nature of the course. This does mean staying at a safe distance to avoid “being muzzled.”

Here is how each run or drill works for every student. You do the drill and I video you. When the drill is complete I review the video with each student and address any issue you might have. Then we walk down range and check each shot you placed on every target. This takes time and produces excellent results because the video tells the story.
I think it’s necessary to take breaks and decompress. Learning takes time. Using my video diagnostics and training methodology, it takes time hence why my classes are so small. Every aspect of my class is slow and controlled. That is just the bottom line. Clark claimed he only “shot 60 rounds and 3 hours of downtime” but also claimed my class was unsafe. So how can my classes be that unsafe when it is this slow and controlled?

If you’re at my class to unload your firearm and feel good about yourself for spending your ammo, firing nearly 100 rounds after class to get your fill, you should find a different instructor.

4.TEACHING STYLE
This course is based off principles from hard lessons learned from N. Ireland, Mogadishu, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Included are my personal moments of why I do and think the way I do. As I discuss it is important to know how they came to be. This is the knowledge I try to impart. This is what Clark calls “war stories”. These lessons learned are worst-case scenarios. The drills in my class are setup to replicate lessons learned to set students up for success. Nothing I teach is “Sexy,” it’s the basics. Often vehicle based expert/instructors have little personal experience in a vehicle ambush or vehicle based gunfight. I unfortunately have a lot of experience in vehicle ambush and vehicle based gunfights.   

Here are a few statements that I read at least 10 times per day during the class. This is verbatim. This is the secret sauce and what I want students to walk any with..

DAY 1

Get off the X, Keep driving.

  • The vehicle is the X then get away to a safer place.
  • If you have to get out to fight. Keep as much of the vehicle and engine in between you and the shooter. 
  • Stay minimum arms length (the length of the arms with pistol or the arms plus rifle). This way you keep your weapon up and ready to fight. It’s quicker to always keep it up and ready to fight. This is also a minimum for glass, spall or if round skips off car. 
  • Stay low as much as possible. 
  • Try to not lie on the ground. This takes away your mobility and can lead to getting pinned down. 
  • Mobility increases your chances of survival. Mobility alone or with multiple guys is the best way to Win the fight. 

Day 2

  • If the shooting or bad guys doesn’t stop the vehicle keep driving. Don’t let the bad guys dictate the time and place. Changing these things might increase your survival. 
  • Driver only drives. No fighting just drive. If car won’t drive then bail out. 
  • Stay mobile, this allows you to gain initiative, change angles, increase survival, and makes it hard for bad guys to pin you down. You will ever get pinned down with good mobility.  
  • Moving in and around cover don’t crowd it.
  • Seat belts, grab where you can see it (near shoulder and neck) and trace it to the release. If in accident release may not be in the same place. You also can’t see release it around guns and gear that are in your hand or in the way. 
  • Cutter or hook knife eye level and where you could get it with both hands. 
  • Head out of vehicle first, to get out quick. 
  • Engine and as much vehicle as possible between you and enemy 
  • Shoot straight through windows. Bullet normally won’t deviate that much. Second round won’t deviate at all. 
  • Also windows may spider web and this may block visibility. Be prepared to shoot around them for better visibility
  • If it is smart shoot through windows, car, doors to end the fight. 
  • Do not bail out with your pistol in your hand. You need your hands to undo seat belt and open door you cant do this with stuff in your hands. Get out of vehicle first then get weapon ready. Holster it’s the safest thing to do with the pistol. You could place pistol on dash to grab it when ready but… Do not let muzzle cover your own body.  Draw or grab the weapon once head is out of car. Rifle head out of vehicle, then sling around neck. 
  • Reload move to engine and as much of the vehicle between bad guys. Get as low as possible best cover. 
  • Extracting persons reach around and grab chin. Forearm around head and get head out of vehicle, the body will follow. 

As for Clark and what I corrected him with, he loves to crowd cover. This means he has to get the weapon up and aim to shoot. This is slow, and if he stayed arms length he would have the weapon up and be ready to shoot at all times. Hence me telling him he is slow, why he thinks my only emphasis is on speed. However this was my personal correction of his tendencies. Again after each run I check the video, check every shots on the target then we discuss what we see overall.

His review is accurate when it says that the training is applicable overseas. But let’s be honest, if you can survive a war zone, being stateside is a cakewalk. This does not mean that the course is not applicable for law enforcement or citizens. This means that you are learning real world tactics from the absolute worst-case scenario. I am about cutting out the “fluff and fun” that you normally see in the industry. Again this course is meant to impart knowledge. I’d like to emphasize my previous statement that coming to any of my courses will be different than your normal course. I take a tremendous amount of pride in providing real information and feel it would be a disservice if I let you come to my course dump your mags and leave without learning. 


In closing, I appreciate all the AARs I get, good or bad. What I hope, that when it comes to serious concerns involving safety on the range, is that all participants take a proactive stance to address it on the spot, not after the fact. More importantly, that when publishing these types of feedback that they are fact based as we can see how quickly one perspective can draw negative attention and adversely impact the credibility and reputability of a person.  

As always I appreciate anyone who has supported me, purchased a course from me or purchased any of the gear that I sell. 

Additional AARs, video evidence and images regarding this course are available below. 

 


Thank you for your support. 

Sincerely,

John McPhee

P.S. To the “Internet commandos” Stop Sucking Dick 4 Beer Money.

CLICK HERE FOR Additional AARs from the course

 

 

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give you best anyway.

Mother Theresa

70 Comments on “Addressing Clark Sparrow’s Recent AAR and Defamation Of Character”

  1. I’ve been in courses before where the range host (students too) were there to show how good they were rather than being there to learn. Too many people looking for a “pat on the back”. When being corrected the ego monster tends to rear its ugly head and you get people like this guy to show their true colors.

    I took your class this past weekend in PA. You were professional, thoughtful, a tad humorous 😉 and truly interested in the students improving their technique. Safety was never an issue either. This was the first class I’ve attended (10 of them) where correcting my deficiencies was THE focal point. Not showing me a few cool new drills, not trying to wow me with the instructors own shooting abilities and not equating round count with class value. I learned that speed wasn’t the goal – just an end product of being efficient. The video truly doesn’t lie. I appreciated every minute of it and will be back to train with you again. With friends. You keep doing you.

  2. John,

    In my recent class with you, I saw you correct an unsafe practice. You did it immediately, clearly and respectfully — with a quiet but confident voice. The person respected you afterward. In fact, he’s still telling people about what an awesome class it was and outstanding instructor you are. He’s been shooting and hunting for over 60 years, and served in the US Army after being drafted just prior to Vietnam.

    It sickens me that someone would do what clark has done. I’ve taken two classes from you so far, and one video only review. I’ve trusted you to teach my wife to shoot, and I sleep easier knowing she’s learned the right way. I plan on taking more classes and buying more items. I don’t throw my money away, and wouldn’t take your classes if I didn’t believe that they are the best. Because of clark, I’ll buy more items from you and take even more classes from you, John.

    Thanks for all you’ve done and continue to do.

    Very respectfully,
    George

  3. Mr. McPhee,

    I have followed your posts, videos and info on the internet for a while now. I have not as of yet had the opportunity to take a class from you but am looking forward to that day. That being said, I find your content refreshing, informative and ‘the real deal’ as I have come to know it in my nearly 30 years of carrying a gun professionally. That 30 year window has been spent as a member of our Military, as a Police Officer and as a contractor. I like to believe I know at this point in my life who is genuine and who is not. Who knows what they are talking about and who does not. Your the former and not the latter (x2) in my humble opinion. Keep up the good work and drive on.

  4. Dear John,

    The AAR is a valuable tool, and should be used, and read, responsibly. However, as this case proves, there are some people whose reason for living is to belittle others who have 1) more experience and/or 2) more ability. Oftentimes it’s a transparent attempt to falsely enhance their own image at the (attempted) expense of another, and other times it is poorly disguised insecurity.

    I don’t know Sparrow, but I was a career police officer who, in the latter part of my career was a CO of a regional training academy, where I hosted many reputable trainers with backgrounds similar to yours. I have trained with you three times now, with another opportunity fast approaching.

    In your case, I have never witnessed nor experienced a lack of safety nor a self-aggrandinzing “war story,” and I have always felt real world applicability for American law enforcement and responsible civilians in the lessons you teach.

    Yes, your methodology is different from many other trainers, and yes, it is methodical. Such an approach has always left me feeling that I have improved in so many ways at the level where it matters the most; improvement in the efficiency of the basics. This is the path to “advanced.”

    Thank you for what you do. It is appreciated. Forgive Sparrow and hope what ever motivates this baseless gets resolved in his own head, and drive on.

    Peace.

  5. Abner Miranda made a youtube vid stating dust covers on an AR were useless because the bolt to receiver fit was too tight to allow grime to enter. I was like who the fuck started that idea? So ill take his nonsense with a grain of salt. Keep up the great work John.

  6. I’ve shot with many instructors and can say John is one of the most thoughtful, engaging and effective instructors working today. He’s not afraid to challenge convention, and does so methodically. I’ve always come away from his classes shooting better than when I arrived.

    When it comes to safety, I’ve shot with John maybe five or more times, and can say a late night Waffle House dinner is far more dangerous than anything I’ve seen on his ranges.

  7. I am a bit confused after learning of Clark Sparrow’s AAR of a March 2017 class taught by John “Shrek” McPhee. I would like to respond based on my experiences with John. I want to first qualify myself. I am a past law enforcement officer, who has attended firearms training courses, including FBI firearms instructors course. I have trained with other federal, and local law enforcement agencies. I have trained with multiple Tier 1 trainers, along with retired military and federal instructors. In a nut shell I have had a lot of training, and been on a lot of gun ranges.
    I have hosted multiple courses taught by John McPhee, and have always paid to attend. John has not asked, or have we even communicated about this event. NOW, let me tell you what I know. The courses John McPhee teaches are geared for what’s important to him. Learning of the student. His classes are small, by choice. John’s fee’s are low, by his choosing. John wants his students to be better at the end of the day and he takes pride in making students better. He cares about his people.
    If you want to blaze through 1000,1500, 2000 rounds this is not the class for you. If you want one on one time, and being a better informed, more accurate shooter, SOB Classes ARE for you.
    HERE, is what concerned me the most about Sparrow’s AAR. I have hosted SOB classes in daylight, night training, and classes in the rain. SAFETY HAS ALWAYS, ALWAYS BEEN PARMOUNT!! John always runs a 100% safe range. NO QUESTION.
    I will go on to say safety is EVERYONE’S job on a shooting range. Period.
    What you have read to this point is fact. Now, I would like to impose some opinion. I don’t know if Sparrow didn’t make selection, John got his parking place at the range, or Sparrow is jealous of Shrek’s culinary abilities. What I do know is attacking someone’s character on the internet in an attempt to hurt someone is very uncool.

  8. Screw that guy, arrogant it sounds like, your the man sob, Ken, Ex Paratrooper have a nice week brother,blow that shit off your shoulder like a fly,goodnight

  9. I saw John muzzled by a fellow student absent-mindedly handling a loaded pistol about 3 feet away from him. The man was putzing around with it while pointed at John’s torso. John used a firm, serious, but non-threatening demeanor and simply said “don’t do that”. The student re-holstered and apologized. He knew he had done wrong, and felt a little embaressed because he knew better. That was the end of it. No drama. I just wanted to share what I have witnessed so far as how range safety is addressed by John.

    Many good things can be said about John. I think his good character and personal integrity are his strongest assets, and as far as I can tell, they account for how he has applied his special God-given talents to the max.

    I am very thankful that John shares some of what he knows. I have experienced his class, bought his gear, applied his recommendations and have been well-satisfied with all of it. I am signed up for his September class in Kentucky again. I am not persuaded to change my opinion or plans based on one dissatisfied dude whose report is at odds with what I have experienced for myself.

  10. John,

    I have had the privilege of your teaching and training and I look forward to more. In the video diagnostics classes, you get to the heart of unsafe actions and habits and literally show the students the exact finite steps they need to take to improve and the steps they need to stop taking as well. You emphasize safety and precision and lead each student regardless of their experience on the path that they need to take to execute their actions better and better. Your method of instruction teaches them how to build myelin and that by it’s very nature is a slow painful process. Me and my family will be taking more courses from you and your team. Mr. Sparrow should know that spalling happens, and he clearly seems to want to fire a lot more rounds without learning the fundamentals that would lead to success.

    BTW, I appreciate your quote from Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu. She is truly a saint.

    W Jeff Berry II, MD

  11. I have not trained with you personally, but have heard good things about you. I read the AAR posted that spawned your rebuttal, and after reading both your rebuttal, and said AAR, I would consider a class with you instructing. I find it especially interesting that you use video critique. I use video critique for my own shooting as well as my weightlifting (ESPECIALLY! Olympic/complex lifts), and have found that NOTHING compares to it for dissecting “what did I do right? what did I do wrong?”

    Yes, it will take time. No, it is not sexy. Yes, you will be a better and more efficient practitioner of whatever art it is, with it.

    I wanted to further say that I appreciate your calm demeanor during this rebuttal. I have attended several courses involving shooting from inside of a vehicle into targets outside of the vehicle both through side and front window glass, etc. and yes, spalling happens. Yes it creates superficial injuries. As a medical professional, I find your immediate action with the spalling injury to be perfectly acceptable given the situation and environment.

    The over-all effect of this drama is that I am more aware of you, and will be keeping an eye open for a course you may offer which would meet my needs.

  12. John, I have been following you on Trigger Time TV and you tube. Did a Gunfighter U video and doing a class in September. Your demeanor of teaching is outstanding. You acknowledge all the BS for the crap it really is. I am so looking forward to class day. Sparrow needs to take responsibility for his own short comings. Keep up the good work.

  13. Okay I was at the class in question!

    My thoughts are, at this point me posting an AAR will devolve into he said he said with Johns supporters on one side and Clarks on the other. What I will do is address some of the major criticisms posted by Clark Sparrow. Bear in mind much of this is just my opinion on what I witnessed during the two-day course.
    First of all John told us the first morning that this class was heavy in science and ballistic data with a little tactical response do’s and don’ts. John gave a safety brief as to range limits etc. It is my opinion that the host range has the medical plan and is responsible for such. Clark gave no such brief. How would a visiting instructor know the quickest way to the hospital or lat and long for Life Flight?
    When Clark says in his AAR that people were yelling muzzle that is a lie. I wear Peltor amplified hearing protection and I would have heard that. I have talked to several others who were in that class and they didn’t hear that either. Isn’t it common knowledge that everyone is a range safety officer? Why didn’t he call a cease-fire? Further more if he felt so unsafe he could have put on a vest, which he did not.
    After the “ricochet round” I went with the injured shooter to assist or provide medical attention. He cleaned his own wound and John did come over with a huge trauma kit and finished up cleaning and put a Band-Aid on it. That’s right all it took was a Hello Kitty Band-Aid.
    In the class some guys were swept and some guys fell down, it happens in a close quarters environment. When John briefed us he told that in the unit guys spend about 30 minutes just getting into and out of the car with no gear on. We didn’t have that much time and everyone accepted that. Furthermore the fitness levels and body compositions are a tad different from unit guys down to local law enforcement. Everyone was told to move as fast as they safely could not to try and go to fast or you could fall out of the car and bingo it happened. That was a great teaching point because that officer didn’t make that mistake again and everyone slowed down a step.
    There is a video out there showing what appears to be an officer shooting over the top of the officer that fell down. As with any video the angles are not truly represented. There are four targets down range the shooter at the rear of the vehicle was shooting the two targets to the left and the driver was to engage the two targets on the right of the screen.
    Nothing was so unsafe as for me to speak up and I would have. I am a FLETC certified firearms instructor, and in that course safety is preached above all else. I also own and operate my own training company and have no business affiliation with anyone involved on either side of this debate.
    This was a learning class; if we knew everything and how to perfectly perform we would not need to take classes.
    As for this class not being applicable for state side operations nothing is further from the truth. Yes many of the .556 rounds either deflected or failed to penetrate the cars. I was shooting a 7.62×39 with the cheapest training ammo I can buy and it penetrated every part of the vehicles, even the A pillar some claim is sufficient cover. If you are in Law Enforcement in a rural area you are likely to get shot at with high power hunting rifles. In the inner cities it is likely to be some version of an AK, which is 7.62×39!
    With the BS sessions, three of us in the class served with several members of the unit and used this time to find some useful “dirt” to ridicule them with later or reflect on how good they operated. How many times will you get the chance to ask a world famous operator serious one on one questions. I learn much from these such as who makes the best 7.62x 39 rifles, Citizens Arms by the way. After the class several of the other students were contacting CA for a rifle based upon the performance of the 7.62×39 round against vehicles. If it saves just one life isn’t the BS session worth it?
    Clark Sparrow seemed to me to be a competent instructor and I was in the process of recommending him to an acquaintance for private instruction. Remember Clark works very closely with Talon Defense who teaches their own version of a vehicle class, which with the timing of all this I bet a class date is quickly approaching. The person who originally posted his AAR also moderates their YouTube channel, and some of the people pushing his account are affiliated with TD. Talon Defense may offer some good training I have heard varied accounts but mainly positive, I just don’t agree with whole sell character assaults for personal gain. This is the reason I spoke up.
    If you feel I failed to cover any of the topics in question or I’m biased please feel free to contact me and I can further clarify.

  14. Up front, I’ve taken two classes with John McPhee and NEVER experienced any of the criticisms leveled at him in the Sparrow AAR.
    I read that AAR in total disbelief and my first thought was “okay, we have another instructor/business competitor, slamming the instructor to elevate himself (Sparrow) in the eyes of the internet”. Not cool at all.
    If John McPhee’s actions were so negligent and egregious, why didn’t Sparrow address his concerns immediately with John and get them resolved or, end the class right then and there? I would have.
    To wait wait that amount of time to post that AAR and not discuss it with John was flat out wrong. Sparrows initial response to this internet dust up was classic backpeddeling at it’s finest.
    As for that keyboard commando Abner Miranda, well, I think you can figure out what I think of him.
    Rock on John, keep doing what you do because it is Tier One and top notch instruction. I’ll see you soon for another class. Mike

  15. John:
    Everything you have written is true. I watched it in action this year. In the class I took from you, this year, we had a young lady who had never handled a firearm. You were patient, you laughed with her, made her feel at ease, taught her how to shoot. Correctly. Not once did you belittle any of us. You have the heart of a teacher and passionate about what you do. You even let us tell you what was off on your grouping. Thanks for being a great teacher and I have many friends who can’t wait to go next year with me. Folks, take his class, you will realize what an idiot this Sparrow guy is. Thanks Shrek

  16. Clark Sparrow? I’ve heard of Captain Jack Sparrow. Thank you for all the inspiration you give to us to become better in everything we do. You’re teaching more than just marksmanship.

  17. I attended John’s pistol and rifle course at a range in IL in 2016. Most beneficial two days of firearm training I have attended in a seventeen year LE career. Safety briefing was conducted right away and the class ran in a safe manner. John definitely treats everyone as adults and does not berate students in front of the crowd for mistakes. Best part about the class is the ability to go back to the videos and continue to learn and absorb info. John, thanks for doing what you do, keep up the good work!
    FYI not only was it the most beneficial class but it was also the class with the lowest round count. The reps are on you to practice after the class builds the framework. Much of what you need to drill can also be done through dry practice.
    -JB

  18. John,
    As a recent host at our range I observed 3 days of your classes. Each class was made up of different students (with the exception of 2 shooters who were there for two days). With 44 years experience as an Infantry Officer, a police officer, SWAT agent, FBI agent and Chief of Police I can say without a doubt your training was professional and conducted very safely.
    One student repeatedly flagged YOU. You corrected him quietly and professionally. You spent a more than adequate amount of time with each shooter. If I had to describe your training to someone, I would say it was “ground breaking in its approach.” I was privileged to be a shooter in Jeff Coopers first Gunsite class. That class and the one I observed have had the most impact on me.
    At no time were you “unsafe.” Shooting in, and around cars is a little more hazardous than square range paper target training. There is always danger of spalling, sharp edges of metal, etc. Small injuries occur in every training activity from time to time.
    I hope you will return to our range.

  19. I have attended 2 of John’s classes earlier in May 2017 in WV. At the onset of each class there was a range/firearms safety brief. Also, John had made it clear to the entire class that if for any reason you needed to unload your weapon, make sure you are either in front or lined up even with the targets, facing down range (towards the berm) and that nobody else is in front of you, and proceed to clear your weapon, that way you will not muzzle anybody. And, if you are not unloading your weapon on the line then you need to leave your loaded weapon in the holster until we, as a class, are lined up and ready to begin/continue our drills.

    One student on the first day of class began to remove his gun from the holster while not lined up with the targets, John immediately caught it before the student could successfully remove his firearm and reminded him of his rules for range safety. He did not berate nor yell at the student and guess what? The student did not have another instance.

    As a police officer for 14 years I have learned more in those 2 classes than I have in all my years in LE. For those who have taken a class know what I mean, every detail of the stance, grip and presentation is broken down. You don’t think there can be that much detail in those 3 little aspects….well take a class and see how in depth he gets.

    You will not shoot a bunch of rounds, you will shoot QUALITY rounds. He even relates to how at one time while in the military he thought shooting more rounds would make him a better shooter and he learned that was just not the case, its QUALITY rounds. He told this “war story” to relate to those of us in attendance that Perfect Practice Makes Perfect, not amount of rounds down range.

    I have signed up for another class in August, and it’s my opinion that he is one of the finest firearms coaches/instructors around.

    Take a class, you will not be sorry,

    Dave

  20. I will start out by saying that I have not trianed with John , I am not LE and I haven’t trianed with any of the high level trainers.

    I did read the AAR and my thoughts on the AAR can be summed up like this:

    Me Sparrows review left me with the impression that he wanted his money back …. even though I’m sure his slot was free. He reminds me of someone that goes to a all you can eat buffet and eats 15-20 plates of food and then complains about the food and wants his meal comped.

    I also think that Clark posted his review in order to get his fifteen minutes of fame….. Im sure John is a tough guy and can handle some criticism…. he is the Sheriff Of Baghdad .

    I, along with untold other, would’ve been glad to be in Mr Sparrows position and got the training he did.

  21. I have trained with both John and Clark. The one time I trained with you John it was the pistol video diagnostics class which Clark hosted. I have taken several of Clark’s classes and I remember a private conversation we had after your class and how complimentary he was on your approach, particularly how positive you are with students vs criticism. He particularly mentioned another nationally recognized trainer and how much more he enjoyed your teaching approach. I say this because I want people to know that in my experience Clark is not arrogant nor was he looking to tear anyone down.

    I was not in the vehicle defense class and I do not know if any of the previous comments are from people who were, but it does not sound like it. I have no perspective nor right to an opinion on that class. What I do know is that both of you have always treated me with respect. There is nothing perfect about any of us as an instructor, a student or a human being. To redirect the old joke about the boy in a room full of horse manure, there has to be a learning experience for ALL of us in here somewhere.

  22. Dear Sir, (heavy on the ‘Sir’!)

    I have been “following” you since I read a review of you in a national gun magazine.
    I have been wanting to take a course from you AND bring my 14 year old grandson (be 15 in Aug.). [What is your class age limit? He shoots handguns, ARs, rifles, and shotguns. He shot a deer with a .270. He has shot a 93 in a trap tour, several 25’s and one 50.]
    You have been too far away distance/travel time to come, plus since I am retired the funds have been tight.
    You are not cheap ( but from what one guy said maybe you are!), but reasonable.
    And since it is said you have “small” classes (what is you max size?), and I say “You generally get what you pay for” – I/we WILL bite the bullet AND we will dip up the money to get to one of your classes!!!
    I was happy to see on your web that you will be in our area later this year.
    Plus what I have read in the responses to your post have convinced me even more to come.

    I had not seen the “info” you posted from Mother Teresa. Thank you for sharing that. To me, it speaks volumes about “who you are” as a person and not just a macho gun guy. You are the type of person I want my grandson to learn from and not just about guns!!!

    Sincerely,
    Jon

  23. Reading Johnny Law’s review. You could see a valid point may be raised …….until the reality of what really went on is brought into light. Which is the real issue. Anyone who comes to a class from an Instructor with as much experience and practical knowledge as you have but with a closed mind, will leave as they entered. Feeling they know better. You don’t know what you don’t know until you take a round in the grape or worse get a mate killed. You, Sparrow, have the ability to review and correct or just try new things on the range. You do not ,once you are on the pointy end of round. He missed out. Hopefully he has the character to read these reviews and see now what he missed then. He still has a chance to learn and it just may matter at a time in the future.

  24. I have taken the video diagnostics course with John. I did not expierence any unsafe conditions during the course.

    As for “war stories”, I left wishing I could stay for the second day of rifle diagnostics and hear a few more stories.

  25. Shrek, you have the full support of myself and many, many others. Im sure anyone that knows you or your reputation can’t even remotely take that guy seriously. One of the downsides of social media is that it gives every asshole a voice. The sad reality is that there is a certain percentage of the population that just sucks. I used to run into it all the time when I sold stuff on online. You can literally bend over backwards for people and there will still always be that one asshole that just can’t be pleased or thinks they were wronged in some way. There is literally no way to prevent it. Fortunately, you have a strong, well-earned reputation for excellence in training and the products you sell. So most people will pay this guy no attention. It still sucks though, and it’s unfortunate that you even have to address it. You give so much of yourself to your followers through your weekly q&a and in other ways. You are so kind, patient and curtious while answering even the stupidest of questions. I can personally attest that you are completely willing to go out of your way to help people and give advice when there is nobody else watching and there is nothing to possibly gain for yourself. You do it just because that’s the type of guy you are. Character like that is to be admired and respected. It has certainly meant a lot to me and it is greatly appreciated. Just know that we support you and we got your back. I think we all agree that guy can go eat a fat one.

  26. John,
    As a former instructor (driving, firearms) I too experienced the criticism of a competitor in a small market. I don’t understand the adversarial internet culture and the small minded unprofessional nature of those who feel they must criticize publicly rather than address issues face to face. I’d like to believe that we are all brothers (and sisters) on a path of personal and professional growth. The internet is a powerful tool and as much as I enjoy what there is to be learned it is also a format for any fool to express themselves. I’m glad you continue to share your life lessons as I consider it a privilege to learn from anyone that is willing to share what life has taught them.

  27. For someone who didn’t like your class he sure does put it on his resume. As a current Detective (and I hold current certification as a General Instructor) with a state agency in NC, I think his resume is highly fluffed. Several of the classes he mentions are not separate classes, but topics within the same curriculum. Maybe Georgia is different but I doubt it. For example Shotgun Instructor is not a separate certification to teach. Any regular firearms Instructor teaches and certifies officers on shotgun. Incident Command is taught to every police officer, firefighter, and ems person after 9/11. It’s a book class, not a practical exercise class. His resume reads like a Cav Scout claiming to be Infantry. F*ck that POG. Also for someone who had multiple vehicle tactics classes his exit then engagement is horrendous.

  28. John is a great instructor ! Very safe and helpful with new shooters.Hope to train again with you soon !

  29. I didn’t attend the vehicle class but I have attended two others with John, and as soon as he comes back to TX I will be there again. I’ve never seen anything unsafe in the classes I attended. The instruction and instructor were second to none. I’m calling BS on the AAR from Clark and I wasn’t even there.

    War stories – lessons learned that develop best practices. If you cannot learn or are not willing to learn from the experience of another how would you ever get better? I learned more in two classes with John than I have in 17 years as a Fed LEO regarding stance, grip, and index. That is the truth and I’m better for going and will go again.

    I also learned not to punch the dude next to you in his body armor when he isn’t the intended target. “Not right now Bob I’m busy!”

  30. I’m one of the few civilians that attended the vehicles class. Due to the controversy, I’ll simply relate how I experienced the class.

    I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of the class.

    As the vehicles where set up there was discussion regarding safe lanes of fire, a proper back stop, etc. As in the other 3 classes that I’ve taken from John, “Big boy” range rules applied. One can have loaded weapons behind the firing line as long as they are holstered, or slung with safeties on, don’t point the weapon at anything other than the target, rifles may be left unloaded with actions open, safety on, on the ground when needed. People can load and make ready, or unload and make safe, with weapons pointed in a properly safe directions. No emergency medical contingencies where discussed, but I have to say that I’ve taken multiple other classes with big names in the industry, and emergency medical contingencies where never discussed with the students in any of the classes I attended. If it’s a professional outfit, I think one assumes that the organizers of the class have a plan if a serious injury occurs, which they’d be foolish not to have. In addition though, we also have to remember that John is trained as a medical first responder.

    I guess if I expected a high round extravaganza I may have been disappointed. However I understood that the emphasis of the class was not to blaze through ammo, but rather to learn highly reliable information from an individual that has the knowledge and experience to teach you valid, tested, information and techniques and not stuff that qualifies as sexy tactical bullshido. As I expected the first day was mainly a learning opportunity based on a laboratory style setting where we shot cars with our duty/cary ammo. As such, yes, we fired only a handful of rounds however, we really explored and dissected what bullets do to cars when shot in every conceivable way. This was accompanied by a running discussion and teaching by John that highlighted teachable moments and pearls learned by him through countless of combat operations. Many lessons where learned and points made. I found it enlightening.
    The minor injury from the shrapnel has already been covered. Maybe it was a POA/POI error but the round hit low into the strut area and there was a small piece of jacket or steel that bounced back and caused a very minor laceration that was patched up by a small bandage.

    I think that John’s contention that cars are improved concealment and not true cover where validated. While it is true that the Volvo with it’s heavier sheet metal did well in stopping most rounds from going through both doors, most rounds made it through one side without much trouble at all. The more one moved toward the back of the car the easier it became for the rounds to go all the way through. As a comparison, the little black Korean import car, I think it was a Kia, did a lot worse. Again most rounds went through one door, and I remember at least 50% of the rounds went through a second door. Bullets shot through its front windshield where winding up in the trunk! I think a few even made it all the way out of the car! The pillars generally did well but they are very narrow. The engine block stopped bullets reliably.
    The amount of glass debris and spall created was also amazing; hence John’s point to stay at least a meter away from the car was validated (also to avoid crowding cover – more on that later).

    The next day we practiced techniques and tactics. John explained that in the Unit they realized that things need to purposefully be kept simple and streamlined with an emphasis on effectiveness, as complexity under stress would be a recipe for failure.
    Great lessons where learned such as keep your seatbelt on as crashes during vehicle engagements are very common. Again based on his operational experience, John taught us how to stow the weapons in the car, how to engage targets from the car, and how to disengage the seatbelt consistently and effectively and exit the car in the most efficient, practical way, that lessens the chance of falling, getting snagged up or tripping, to an optimal position outside the car. There was a repeated emphasis on the importance of maintaining visual on the threat with one’s gun on target, with good situational awareness and maximized potential for mobility and maneuver. Crowding cover, going prone, and even fixating first and foremost on staying behind the best points of cover on the car (pillars), where identified as poor tactics, as doing these things would fix you in place, cost you situational awareness and mobility, allowing the opponent to outmaneuver you and punch your ticket. This was a huge lesson as many, probably less experienced, instructors place an emphasis on taking cover first and foremost which often means that you loose visual on the threat, and because in real life the threat isn’t an IPSC target that is waiting for you to pop out again and shoot at it, what usually happens is that the threat has long since moved by the time you pop out again, outflanked you and smoke checked you (John’s example was that very brave but unfortunate police officer in Dallas that got killed when he crowded cover, lost visual on the scumbag that outmaneuvered and flanked him to his rear, and killed him by shooting him in the back).

    There where a few incidents where a group of the students where flagged. This was identified and John told the spectators to move to a safer location. Watching people running drills while bailing out of cars is certainly inherently more risky, but I think that John had a good handle on running the drills safely overall, and again once it became clear that certain spectating spots got flagged, John had people moved.

    Overall I found this to be a great class. If you want to learn reliable information from someone that has fought around vehicles more than most, and that knows good tactics from bullshido (because the problem is lots of dudes are teaching stuff that seems cool, but they don’t know what they don’t know, and what they are teaching may actually fall under the category of bullshit that looks good but may get you hurt) where the class size is small and you get a lot of one on one time, with lots of teaching, and don’t mind not doing the typical high round high intensity class (again think of this more as a learning class with a lab day), then this is the vehicles class for you.

    Lastly as far as the war stories are concerned. To me, everyone seemed to really enjoy them at the time, I know I did. John more than once told us to come on and let’s go because at times the students seemed to settle in a little too much. Also we had no official lunch break, and most of the war stories occurred when people where taking an impromptu snack or water break. I for one had no issue with this at all.

    Anyway, for what it’s worth this is how I experienced the class.

    I also have to say that I’ve taken John’s Pistol and Rifle Video Diagnostic’s classes, and his Long range heavy carbine class. All where well organized, safe, and packed with awesome content and knowledge, simply excellent, and industry leading in their innovation when it comes to the video analysis and modern coaching technique, and I highly recommend them! John’s classes are serious, and designed to teach you, and make you a better shooter and not high round man fantasy shooting camps. I just never seem to find the time to write an AAR, but this time since there was controversy I felt compelled that I share my experience in the Vehicles Class as seen through my eyes.

  31. Clark Sparrows AAR of John McPhee class was a bit lacking or did not represent accurately what happened. His first assertion of the safety brief was false. There was consideration given for safety when we moved the cars into position. John made sure the cars were properly positioned with respect to safety considerations. When Mr. Sparrow stated while moving the cars “Don’t worry about it. They (the bullets) were not going to go very far. As for the med plan, I would not expect an out of towner to know about what EMS coverage there was for the range. This was a shortcoming that was his responsibility and not John’s. What Mr. Sparrow did not observe was when John asked if I had my “stuff”. I am a paramedic by trade and usually bring a lot of medical supplies just in case anything happens. I had my trauma bag on the table about 20 feet from the line. So if anything happened we were covered.

    As to some of the comments about low round count and not being able to burn though mags of ammo needlessly well that did happen. John is not someone who burns thought rounds just to burn though rounds. If you want to burn thought rounds well there are other people for that. The “ballistics lab” was well worth the time. Not many people get to shoot cars. Mr. Sparrow did have some disagreement with John about some of the content of what was taught.

    As to the comment about down time, there was some but not three hours worth of down time. There was time to eat and time to drink water to keep hydrated. As for the safety concerns, John addressed them with the students one on one. Two of the comments were teaching moments for the class about what can happen in real world situations. The world is not a perfect place and things from time to time are going to happen while training. We learn from those mistakes made during training. As to the everyone yelling at muzzle I don’t remember that happening.

    What is curious is that he is the timing of his post which is the same day of his own vehicle training class. To me, it looks like someone is trying to get some free press by attacking a well known person to promote his own class.

    Last but not least I am the student that missed his shot going low and got negative results. It was not Johns fault that I missed the shot. I have only my self to blame for that. As to this One of the students was instructed to put a round into the strut of the passenger side front tire from a distance of about 5 yards. Upon shooting, the round ricocheted and struck him in the stomach. There was immediate apparent bleeding and a cut in his shirt. The student said that he was hit, cleared his gun, and walked off the line. The instruction continued without pause until I suggested we take a break and check on the person who had just been injured. First, John told me not to go low and not to shoot the strut. The distance was about 10-12 yards not the five that he said. It was not a ricochet round as he claims it was. It was a small metal piece from the strut. That metal piece left a small superficial laceration. There was a little bleeding but no OMG bleeding. To most people any bleeding is holy ***** bleeding. John was the first to ask if I was ok and to look at the wound. I did walk off the line to access my medical supplies and stopped the bleed. Shrek did get his fancy boo boo kit and then placed a Star Wars band-aid on it. I decline the Hello Kitty band aid.

    Accidents happen while training. I not only do LEO training but Fire and EMS training as well and there have been accidents too there. I have been burned before while in a training burn not because someone was negligent but because it is high risk training that by the very nature of it brings a lot of danger into it. You cannot control everything that happens. John did a great job teaching and a good job of helping me after the incident.

    The Internet is full of people who are Key Board Commandos who either don’t train at all or if they do train, they certainly don’t do much in the way of high risk training. John is ever the professional who doesn’t yell at people because he has the maturity to talk to the person. People will always make mistakes no matter who you are. It is what you do after the mistake that is most important.

    Mike E.

  32. I meant to put this up here before. I attended this class that has been debated by Sparrow. This is a copy of my email in the email chain following Sparrow’s AAR. I wrote this email before reading all of the comments on Facebook, which upset more. I will add to the email at the bottom.

    Gentlemen,

    I don’t know Mr. Sparrow. I met him during the training but forgot his name immediately because….. that’s just what I do. Since receiving this email, I have viewed Sparrow’s company website as well as the website of his professional organization (which is worth a view). He appears to be highly educated, and a bit of a training addict. After viewing some of the courses he has taken, I can see how he might observe some differences in styles and conflicting ideologies. I personally would never train with some of the people he chose to, but that’s just me. After viewing this, I had to wonder if this entire class was a set up from the get go to out an accomplished instructor for financial gain??? But then I noticed he wasted no time adding the course to his already inflated resume. I suppose given his level of education vs. his level of experience that may be part of the reason he chose to be negative. My big issue with this guy is not that he identified something or things he felt was a safety concern or whatever he felt was worth mentioning. My issue is he lacked the intestinal fortitude to address it immediately, during the allotted time at the end of the training day, or heck even at dinner Saturday night. Writing a negative AAR, while certainly his right to do, is the same thing as being a keyboard commando on a blog. I will not insult or talk any junk about this guy in an email or online because that would make me no better than him. Also because of what I do for a living, I am aware of how easy it is to sue someone for making derogatory statements in today’s world. I hope Mr. Sparrow is just as aware. I am attempting to locate any videos with me in them that Sparrow has posted anywhere. I hope Mr. Sparrow is aware that using a person’s likeness without permission is a no-no. I also hope he is aware that there can be repercussions for posting pictures and videos of people working in undercover assignments with drug task forces. That said if someone can send a link to where these videos are posted I would appreciate it. I have some other opinions but am only willing to share them either face to face or over the phone, the way men should. It was my pleasure to train with almost every one of you 😉

    As I said, I wrote this BEFORE I saw his completely disrespectful comments on Facebook. I will not address the disrespectful comments regarding John as Sparrow and company have already assumed I am a nut hugger. What I will address is the assumption that I wrote a positive AAR on this class for swag. I wrote the AAR because I happened to have taken away positives from this class and had the time to do it. The SWAG I received was two patches that I gave to my kid big guy. I expected nothing, and didn’t do it for SWAG. But then again I’m not a professional AAR writer like Sparrow is. Nor am I a professional training whore who gets free slots to courses by hosting other instructors. Was there downtime, war stories, questions, low round count? Yes on all of the above. Generally the war stories were discussed either because a question was asked by a student, or during a break. As for the round count, I wasn’t under the impression this was a high round count class. No biggie right? No to me. Did I see some muzzle sweeping? Yes, but I see that at every range no matter who the instructor is. Wanna know safety violations, attend a CCW qualification. But I promise if I saw some flagrant disregard of safety, I would have known how to address it. Unlike Sparrow said in his completely disrespectful comments. He actually said he was caught so off guard that he didn’t know what to do??? Seriously??? Your a firearms instructor. Apparently a superior instructor to John, and you don’t know how to address a flagrant safety issue? Is that what you would have said if someone had been shot at a class??? Come on dude, I’m not buying that. I’m sure Sparrow is on the cutting edge of training since he works for an agency that’s maybe a tenth of the size of the other students who attended this class. I just think that writing long dissertations on the internet, when he had more than ample opportunity to discuss these issues face to face shows a lack of intestinal fortitude.

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