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Kalashnikovs in Tulsa – the Pravda Group

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We frequently post news and training opportunities from ‘well known' national firearms instructors like Vickers, Lamb (the bearded one), Lamb (the giant), Costa, Graham, Jacques, Proctor, Fisher, LeBouef, Pincus, etc. etc. This might lead one to believe you have to attend a “celebrity” course to receive good training, which is of course just not true. The problems with keeping our readership up to speed on regional good guys are twofold – one, it's virtually impossible to keep track of all the “local boys”; two, it's even harder to vet them. All we can do is keep our ears to the ground and hope to help make people aware of nearby good guys – that's how we were first turned on to training organizations like Spartan Training Resources (Atascadero, CA), the Michigan Defensive Firearms Institute (Michigan-Ohio region), Rockwell Tactical (PA) and others.

The Pravda Group is a company we're now going to look into (Pravda is Russian for “I must break you.”.1) The Pravda Group, which is running an AK Basics Class on 11 October, is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. They are, as you might deduce from the name, a Russian-oriented training organization (with a focus on AKs, obviously, and some of them have a background in Systema). This is in no small part due to their background – lead instructor Kiril Gromov (who describes himself as “nobody special”) is a former conventional Russian Army NCO. A combat engineer by specialty, he spent most of his tenure conducting infantry missions and running convoys. He also spent some time in a Training NCO billet.

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Asked why he teaches what he does, he responds frankly.

“The reason I agreed to teach this…is because, to be perfectly honest, I  see a complete absence of this type of training anywhere. Absolutely amazing. AK is becoming more and more prolific in US, but a tiny percentage of the AK owners actually know what their rifles can do, what they are capable of, and how to employ them to their potential. Shooting cardboard at 20 yards really fast is not employing them to their potential…There are some awesome instructors…there are true professional – Vickers, Defoor, McNamara, Holland, Pannone. I wish I could have a 100th of the skill and knowledge they possess. But…[some] tactical instructors sell something that is not applicable to 99 out of 100 students they teach.”

Gromov advises the basic course covers such things as a history of the design details, why it is so reliable, ‘supposed' poor accuracy, variants, nomenclature, caliber performance, zeroing protocols, customizing, loading and unloading, malfunction clearance, etc. He initially allows iron sights only – no optics are permitted.

I should mention at this point that although I have not yet attended a Pravda class (nor even met any of their cadre), we have some mutual acquaintances and I have talked to a couple of their former students. Both were extremely positive about the course and the quality of instruction. One of them told me simply,

“I went into it knowing nothing more than the caliber and how to load and unload a mag. By the end of the day I was thoroughly familiar with [the AK47] and I was ringing steel with it – using iron sights – at 300m without any trouble.”

I'll admit, I know little about the Kalashnikov or its manual of arms. What I've heard from Gromov's former students makes me think this might be the perfect opportunity to change that. If you're in driving distance and want to do the same, their next AK Basics class can be found on Facebook here. There is also an AK Select Fire Familiarization Course the week prior.

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“I'm constantly asked what is the actual zeroing procedure for AK rifles, and what targets can people use. The actual Russian “control” target is a black rectangle 35 cm tall and 25 cm wide, with a control point in a specific location, different for 7.62 and 5.45. Obviously, we can't get them in the US, so for our last AK Basics class I found the cheap paper placement mats to be the right size, within a 1/4 inch. Then you just measure the appropriate distance and use a white marker to mark a control point…A 25m zeroing target is not suitable for the actual 100m zero procedure.” K Gromov

Here's Gromov's summary of a recent course if you want to know more:

“The photos I sent are not ‘action packed'. The basics course is about understanding your rile, what it can do, how to zero and verify zero, etc. We spent a little time in the classroom, then went to the range and got a ballpark zero at 25m. [Note – this is not the zero procedure they used in Russia. There they had to run back and forth to targets at 100m, but Gromov was limited by high temperatures and time constraints, so he kept it very basic.] After we were done at 25m we went to 100m line and went through what is considered to be the actual zeroing procedure for AK. Actual control target should be a black rectangle 25cm wide and 35cm tall, with a control point marked on it at specific distances for 7.62 and 5.45.

After we were done with that I had people shoot at steel silhouettes at 300m. Everybody used iron sights only, I did not allow any optics. The point was for people to build confidence in their abilities to shoot that far with iron sights with a properly zeroed rifle. Those who had zeroed their rifles successfully started hitting steel after 2-4 shots. Of those who could not, the vast majority were due to poor design/very bad modifications they were using. To be honest with you, I have not seen that many screwed up AKs on one line – but that is a different topic. This took the larger part of the day. We did work on some basic close range/CQB drills and then shut it down [once students were hot and tired enough that it had become counter-productive].”

I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say about those modifications that were hindering rifle performance instead of enhancing it. There are so many urban myths out there it will be nice to hear from someone who used one professionally on a tw0-way range.

For more information about The Pravda Group, check them out on Facebook.

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1 Not the truth. That was just an obvious and probably not terribly funny Rocky II movie reference.

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