The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Victory First – Fundamentals of Every Day Carry

“If you can carry a gun to defend yourself and your family and you don't, I'd argue you're lazy. Your car's not a holster and your safe isn't a holster either. Determine in your mind, hey if I'm going, I'm taking my gun. Make the conscious decision. If someone has taken the steps to buy a gun, attend classes and train, why do it if you're only going to carry the gun every now and again? It's a mindset thing. You're either on or you're not…otherwise you're more of a liability than an asset.” Matt Jacques

Victory First - first relay receiving instruction-3

Running drills at Victory First course in West Virginia - 3

Here's what I don't care for when it comes to Victory First – they don't teach classes frequently enough. Other than that, I like about everything I've seen so far.

I spent 3 days recently with Victory First (and RECOIL contributor) Matt Jacques to learn more about his background, their ethos and their curriculum. I was fortunate enough to attend the inaugural Victory First class about this time last year – and that's the sum total of their classes so far. Matt still worked for DSS when Victory First stood up; his full time job, a surgery-recovery period and a busy consulting filled up the next several months. This recent course in West Virginia was the first opportunity to get back out on the range.

My first day was spent with Matt at his home waaaay off the beaten path while he worked with his horses and his other horses dogs. Here's what that looked like.

Victory First - the road in to meet Matt

Matt Jacques of Victory First - morning chores

Matt Jacques and his early warning systemThe next two days I watched and learned as Jacques and Dale discussed the fundamentals of every day carry and the various ramifications of carrying a concealed firearm – not the legal strictures, though we touched on those. Rather the physical reality of it. Everything is different when you're shooting from concealment. Though shooting and marksmanship fundamentals remain the same, everything else changes.

Some of the course curriculum seemed obvious; much was not. On several occasions I was reminded that I really don't know how much I don't know. We were shown and then practiced assorted methods of moving from threat alarm to actual engagement, including removal of the cover garment and weapon presentation, and discussed seemingly inconsequential minutiae that would be anything but inconsequential in a gunfight – such as whether the cant of a holster was appropriate not just for your draw but for your preferred style of dress, and whether or not you want to rip the buttons from a button-down shirt or reach across with the support hand to pull the garment up and out of the way. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and like everything to do with firearms requires training and repetition.

The contextual part of the class I thought was particularly good – for instance, when you're turning to engage a possible target, he made sure we were turning our head as we were turning on the target and clearing the cover garment so we could identify whether the source of our alarm was in fact deserving of ballistic attention (or even required the draw of a weapon). I've been to many classes where on the command of THREAT! we turned and engaged without engaging the cognitive process. It was nice to have Matt and Mike put the recognition process in, particularly for the shooters who did not have a professional/tactical background (and there were several of those). Other things he discussed were things many of the less experienced students obviously hadn't considered – such as the need to expect blood, viscera and secondary fragmentation in the form of teeth and bone – if they were forced to engage someone at head butt distance. Another example, the need to scan and assess – that might seem self-evident, but many shooters fail to do so, and from the EDC context of this class, it's also necessary from the perspective of looking for witnesses, LEOs arriving, another CCW holder who didn't see the entire thing, etc., not just additional bad guys.  Part of the drills were post-shooting recovery actions intended to mitigate any danger of a righteous shoot getting you shot by someone else, and the frank consideration of whether you should insert yourself into a situation at all.

Running drills at Victory First course in West Virginia - 6

Victory First - first relay receiving instruction-2

Victory First - chiding a shooter for alleged cheating

Though the bulk of the drills we shot were focused on drawing the weapon from concealment, much of it would still be a a great learning experience for any shooter – open carry or concealed. Situational awareness and the ability to correct a malfunction is important whether you're dragging iron from a duty holster or from an IWB appendix rig. Some things were topics I have come to take for granted, like threat assessment – target selection when facing multiple opponents, but none of it was so obvious than an experienced shooter wouldn't benefit from the reminder.

I'll go over each day of training in future installments of this series – that's it for now. Go forth and conquer.

Running drills at Victory First course in West Virginia - 5

Victory First - shooters receiving instruction

Matt shooting for time

Victory First - first relay receiving instruction

Running drills at Victory First course in West Virginia - 2

Running drills at Victory First course in West Virginia - 5

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