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