Featured [Gone Shootin’] Meadhall Range: Not Your Average Training Facility Patrick Roberts June 9, 2023 Join the Conversation Suppose someone told you a backyard range in rural Oklahoma is a top destination for those serious about getting good with a gun. You might think it was a joke. But in fact, Bill and Sharla Armstrong have worked long and hard to make that statement a reality. What was once a tiny dirt berm has been transformed into a fully stocked training facility with anything an instructor might need on-site. The property doesn’t look like much more than a nice country home, like the hundreds you passed on the way to MeadHall; if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll blow right past the gate. As soon as you pull in, you might think, “great, another podunk range.” That’d be a mistake. There’s a reason many of the top instructors in the country book classes at the tactical oasis. Flash and expensive things aren’t what makes MeadHall stand out. Little things — like climate-controlled bathrooms and the endless trays of Sharla’s homemade cookie bars — make it a special place. The 10 remote-controlled turning targets and lateral moving target are awesome, and the touches that make target repair take less time away from learning are even more awesome. Presscheck Consulting’s No Fail Pistol and No Fail Rifle at MeadHall presented a great opportunity to check both out. MeadHall and Chuck Pressburg have reputations for attention to detail, which should bring out the best in both. Spoiler: It wasn’t at all disappointing. FACILITIES Inside the newly built schoolhouse, Bill and Sharla pointed students to the fully equipped kitchen, where fresh coffee, homemade cookie bars, and other beverages were waiting for the class. Since the nearest place to get lunch was more than 10 minutes away, the kitchen was invaluable and gave students a climate-controlled place to relax and recharge. Behind the classroom is a small room with a Smokeless Range simulator used for the first steps a new shooter takes in a class. More advanced courses like Presscheck’s can use it to push students well past their comfort zone without the danger of someone getting hurt. MeadHall’s fully equipped schoolhouse kitchen with unlimited cookie bars. The classroom at MeadHall is full-featured, with all the audio/visual tools you’d find in a modern classroom. For combatives classes, the classroom can be quickly reconfigured with mats to keep students out of the heat. Head out to the single 300-yard range, and you’ll find a nice shade structure at the 50-yard line wired with power and lights. Since MeadHall isn’t open to the public, it only needs one range. That allowed the Armstrongs to invest in supporting structures like the climate-controlled multi-stall men’s and women’s bathrooms. The most impressive aspect of MeadHall is its target shed, as strange as it might sound. Few things irritate professional instructors more than a poorly equipped range that forces the curriculum to be changed to accommodate shortcomings of the host. Bill keeps many targets on hand but stays in contact with instructors to update the target shed as needed. Another aspect that sets MeadHall apart is the prepared target boxes with everything the student might need. Should the instructor need a non-standard target to demonstrate something, the target shed can fill that need. Paper targets are great for accounting for every trigger pull, but they can be time-consuming. When steel makes more sense, there’s a wide selection of steel targets like regular A/C zone torsos, plate racks, and a few Texas Star-style arrays. To take it to another level, Bill installed 10 remote-controlled turning target bases that are controllable with an app, along with a laterally moving target to provide an additional element of realism rarely seen on flat ranges. MeadHall even has strobe and floodlighting at pistol distances to add to the mix. Understanding the relationship between rifle cant and bullet impact isn’t something you want to figure out for the first time when it counts. The range has well-maintained grass to keep the mud in check and shooting platforms at 200 and 300 yards, to provide a clear shot in prone at a distance. Also found at the 200-yard line is a tower that can be used for elevated shooting, rapelling, or even simulating a city building. PRESSCHECK CONSULTING With 26 years in the U.S. Army and 24 of those years spent in Special Operations and Special Mission Units, Pressburg’s background gives him a unique take on employing a firearm. While not covered in either of the classes, Pressburg is also a subject matter expert on night vision, with a class called Nightfighter on the topic. Both the classes we took, No Fail Pistol and No Fail Rifle, help students recognize their ability to make deliberate high-risk/high-reward shots and understand the risks associated with missing that life-changing shot. Students watch Pressburg demonstrate CQB offset at various distances. Refreshingly, war stories and tangents are kept to a minimum, with the focus squarely on the packed lesson plan. Pressburg leans on real-world examples, but only to teach a specific lesson or illustrate a particular concept more clearly for students. It really brings home the importance of shot placement to learn about a real-world example of someone fighting through more than half a dozen shots and surviving the fight (shout out to Jared Reston). Round accountability is heavily stressed in both classes; you can’t gather data if you can’t find the bullet hole. Targets were repaired or replaced after nearly every string of fire so that the training value of a 33-cent bullet isn’t lost by not using an 8-cent repair center. To make target repair as quick as possible, each student gets their own rehab kit — 50 B8 repair centers, three kinds of tape, a can of 3M spray glue, and a Sharpie. NO FAIL PISTOL Many instructors on the ’Gram highlight tactical ninja flips and going fast, but experience tells Pressburg that stuff doesn’t end fights — deliberately placed bullets do. No Fail Pistol’s material is centered around pre-diagnosing your shot, so you can call where it will land before you pull the trigger. There’s a lot of strong-and and weak-hand shooting, but don’t be afraid. Pressburg doesn’t teach basic gun handling; these aren’t 101-level courses. There’s a heavy emphasis on data gathering so each individual student can hone in on their deficiencies. As the class progresses, your ability to self-diagnose the shot is enhanced by individualized coaching to propel a good shooter to become a great shooter. To set a baseline, the class starts with a 25-yard slow-fire B8 bull’s-eye drill to confirm your zero. As the morning progresses, the course of fire gets faster and closer to the targets. Enjoy it while you can, because after lunch you’ll be right back at the 25-yard line shooting the same course of fire you did that morning — except with your strong hand only. Students try a variety of sling supported standing positions at 100 yards to find what works best for their body type. If you thought the second half of day one was hard, next you’ll shoot the same course of fire starting at 25 yards, this time with your weak hand. If you can keep your ego in check, the timed drills begin after lunch with some great transition and movement drills. The final drill is a stiff test of your ability to make good decisions with the gun. NO FAIL RIFLE Presscheck’s No Fail Rifle course is built around the same principles as No Fail Pistol — effectively using a well-placed shot to end the fight. Don’t mistake No Fail Rifle for a sniper course; this is a fighting rifle class. Pressburg starts by diving into zeros and why you might pick one distance over the other, then he touches briefly on the wind as it applies to fighting carbines. Data gathering is a huge part of No Fail Rifle simply because Pressburg often noticed that shooters didn’t know they needed to do the work. Too often, shooters relied on often-wrong internet graphics for their dope. After the class verified zeros at 50 and 100 yards, the next mission was to gather data at 200 and 300 yards. If you didn’t know what your suppressor zero shift was or how your magnifier affects zero, you got a chance to work that out in the Presscheck Experimental Battle Laboratory. The next topic was positional shooting and how prone was rarely used in Pressburg’s combat experience. The class worked through several positions, how to efficiently get into and out of them, and how to incorporate the sling to squeeze the most stability out of their rifle. Using a sling and body position isn’t as easy as it sounds, and lots of individual coaching rounded out the day. According to Pressburg, the pressure and stress during “The Scrambler” is the closest he has experienced to an actual firefight. Day two starts with a zero confirmation at 100 yards, much like No Fail Pistol starts day two with a 25-yard string of fire. The thought process is that if you start the day with a solid confirmed zero, you can’t blame anything other than yourself. Many lessons the class learned from the previous day were relied on as the drills rapidly increased in complexity. From CQB offset, moving targets, transitions, and use of barricades, it was time for the final drill. After what he calls a “free swim” on the barricades, Pressburg laid out the rules for “The Scrambler.” The course of fire is challenging and requires both dominant and non-dominant shoulder shooting from various positions. According to Pressburg, the drill is about getting “good enough” hits as fast as possible, because that’s how you win a fight. As you catch the shooter in front of you, they’re tapped out until only one shooter remains. It’s best described as the Highlander Scramble, because there can be only one. Why this drill? Pressburg explains that he was shown it during some training and found that it left him feeling the closest he had felt to combat in a training environment. “THE TALK” One really valuable aspect of Pressburg’s classes is the talk he gives at the culmination of the course. Unabashedly emotional and raw, Pressburg dives into a topic often lost in the broader PTS label and not given the attention it deserves. First responders and those in the military often dismiss the warning signs of moral injury as “boys being boys” or attribute it to weak character rather than consider that the person is likely dealing with serious emotional distress. The smokeless range in the schoolhouse allows new shooters to safely become familiar with basic gun handling or experienced shooters to push skills to new levels. Pressburg shares his own self-destructive experiences and the healing path he found at Warrior’s Heart PTSD and addiction treatment center; he shares warning signs, why some help may be more harmful, and why Warrior’s Heart is a special place to get them the help they need. Pay special attention if you have someone in your life who’s a first responder or military member. Even though the classes were about stopping evil with firearms, Pressburg’s willingness to publicly share his burden might help you stop that evil from claiming another victim. LESSONS LEARNED Having the right gear and showing up with zeroed guns will allow you to get the most out of the facility and courses. Bring a backup gun for your primaries — two is one, and none holds true. It would suck to miss out on some great instruction because your rifle went down. Quality ammunition like Federal’s American Eagle used in the course makes malfunctions less likely, but you should always plan for the unexpected. Pressburg shows a student how to use the magazine and sling to stabilize the rifle quickly. Bring a notebook, take notes, and ask questions. Pressburg isn’t afraid of sharing knowledge; it’s wise to take advantage of the opportunity. As a longtime gear nerd, he has plenty of opinions and can point you in the right direction. MORE INFORMATION Regardless of whom you train with, MeadHall Range has everything that even the most demanding student might want. With guys like Tim Herron, Steve Fisher, Jared Reston, Kerry Davis, Massad Ayoob, Larry Vickers, and more regularly teaching at the facility, there’s bound to be a class that catches your eye on the schedule. MeadHall owners Bill and Sharla Armstrong make you feel like family as soon as you arrive at the range. As for Presscheck’s courses, teachers with resumes as impressive as his don’t come along often and may become rare now that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are becoming distant memories. It’s easy to see how he earned the nickname “Google” — he’s a fountain of knowledge. 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