For four days in December, a first-ever, one of a kind event was held by former Israeli IDF personnel in South Central Florida that defensive firearms owners, armed professionals, and gun media might want to take note of. New products of their making were subjected to intensive training and examination by a varied group of experienced gun media while teaching Israeli style shooting techniques in a certification course. Former Army Special Forces veteran and longtime firearms trainer John Peterson delivers a full report on his experience with former Israeli IDF personnel now making innovative combat shooting products.
When most manufacturers of firearms, ammunition, accessories, or gear have a standalone media event or take part in a firearms media day to show their wares, it usually consists of picking up firearms off of a table and firing some ammunition at stationary paper targets. Then, off they go to dinner or other festivities. There are usually free hats, patches, and other freebies, maybe some product samples to be had. Sometimes there is a factory tour. Business cards are exchanged and a pile of product literature distributed. Some are serious, some are junkets. There is most often no training or tactical shooting involved and it would be really hard to properly or thoroughly evaluate and assess a product or its manufacturer, particularly if the future end user of those products has a life-and-death application for such products.
But, what if one of those manufacturers had its CEO and key management being combat veterans from a war zone in the Middle East, with extensive training backgrounds, AND were the inventors of all of the products to be used at that media event, AND were willing to offer a full blown tactical shooting school to provide a proving ground for those products, AND all of what went into the design of those products and the course came from their real world experience?
Furthermore, as a former employee of / trainer for two different major firearms manufacturers during a six year period, I found it to be a rarity if any of the senior management or R&D folks had any type of tactical or combat experience. Almost none were the actual inventors of the product. None were currently instructors that I knew of. I have seen sales reps and folks in gun stores who really did not know the tactical application of what they were selling, or could not speak from experience.
So, when I received an invitation to attend a very unique and action packed event in Florida by such a company, I made it a priority to get down there ASAP and see what it was all about. I already knew of the company’s CEO and who would be the primary instructor, who is world renowned and a rarity in his own right. Also knowing that he is an inventor who put to use his experience, I was very excited to have a chance to put his products through their paces.
Here is my initial report on the first ever “Train The trainer – The IDF Way” course and media event conducted by Command Arms Accessories (CAA) / Hartman Optics https://usa.caagearup.com/ (or http://commandarms.com ) during December 11 -14, 2016. I wrote this in a format that covers the who, what, when, where, why, and how for simplicity so that followers of Guns and Tech can get the facts.
Please note that this report is written from the perspective of someone who has an extensive background as a firearms trainer and both a veteran of the U.S. Army’s Infantry and then combat veteran of the Special Forces. So, that is the “lens,” if you will, that I was looking through during this training & product media experience. I have no target shooting experience, very little competition shooting experience, and do not know what recreational shooting is and do not care for any of the above. Combat shooting techniques with and the tactical application of firearms are all that I really have in interest in. Further, I am reluctant to write about or endorse any product would be used for either self-defense by citizens or by armed professionals unless it was the “right stuff.” So, I had high expectations of the products, the training, and the trainers. You are about to see why.
WHY they ran this event
CAA / Hartman Optics ran this as a media event to gather hand-picked gun media and content creators to promote their products, but in a more intensive training experience and proving ground where we could really put several of the product lines through their paces. This also served as a pilot course for possible training the may be conducted in the future under the direction of the legendary master instructor and Israeli military veteran, Lt.Col. Mikey Hartman.
WHAT we attended and did
CAA/Hartman conducted not just any gun media event, but an intensive training course combined with a firearms product media event that served as a proving ground for their products, at a HUGE tactical training facility in South Florida being run by a magnificent group of former Israeli Defense Forces personnel as our instructors! These were not the typical sales person who shows you the product laying on a table, points out the features, and answers questions.
Who better than the combat proven Israelis to devise and conduct highly realistic, combat proven training and invent products for fighting terrorists and criminals that are absolutely the right stuff for when it is for keeps? We attended not just a shooting course, but a full blown instructor certification course run as “train-the-trainer” where we were taught not just what to teach, but how to teach it.
You may already imagine how this goes so much further than just picking up the product off of a shooting bench and shooting a few magazines from a standing position. No one gets dirty or sweaty during those events. No one really gets to put a product through its paces, not to mention using it in a manner that it might be used for real. We had the opportunity to do a large amount of shooting with four of the CAA / Hartman product lines, to include two models of the “RONI” series pistol conversion kit that adapts certain handgun models to a carbine and allows for the mounting of any number of accessories to include lights, slings, fixed two point sights or combat optics. We spent the entire course doing shooting drills going back and forth from 5.56mm M4 type rifles and Glock pistols converted using the Micro RONI®
Here is an excellent promotional video on the Micro RONI® that shows the applications for it:
During this course, we learned all of the basic marksmanship techniques taught by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to their infantry troops. There were fourteen hour days and this included two night shoots. We learned every aspect of gun handling, shooting positions, movement, and where it all fit into the operational needs of the Israeli infantry.
The course of instruction included, but was not limited to:
- Laws of Shooting
- Basic Ballistics
- Train The Trainer IDF Style
- Use of the ZEUS device for the prone position (ZEUS = zeroing in under 80 seconds)
- Prone position IDF style
- Night shooting in prone
- Standing position and shooting from a ready position IDF style
- Kneeling position IDF style
- Sitting position IDF style (used for ambushes)
- Three types of stoppages
- Multiple target engagements
- Threat identification (shoot / no-shoot) drills using Triumph Systems reactive target systems
- Physical Exertion Training (nearly everything that we did involved stress)
- Night shooting in kneeling and standing positions with tactical light and Hartman MH-1 sight
- Shooting on the move using both Micro RONI® equipped pistols and M4 rifles with Hartman MH-1 sight
- CQB Training IDF style
- Final Maneuver Exercise and shooting qualification
Once we were zeroed on both systems, the instructors has using a combination of Israeli type qualification targets, steel humanoid shape targets, and realistic humanoid and reactive targets from Triumph Systems. The combination of distances, stress, scoring areas, short time limits, and having to learn the new techniques proved to be challenging, but it all was a breath of fresh air, as it was so realistic.
These are techniques derived via a process of near real time feedback from the IDF’s many wars and operations that were debriefed to their training center, who would then develop or modify the techniques to exactly meet their needs in combat. This results in a highly refined, relevant, effective series of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) applicable to their specific type of operational needs and to defeat their very specific adversary and its methods of attack.
By the third day of training, these instructors got us up to the point where we conducted several hours of dynamic shooting drills to include shooting on the move and a qualification course of fire that involved everything taught to us. We then were given detailed instruction on basic room clearing and basic CQB by a very experienced former Israeli commando of the elite “Duvdevan” of the IDF that was described to us as a special operations unit that is a “counter terror unit that specializes in urban warfare, hostage rescue, targeted assassinations and kidnapping of wanted militants throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip and border nations.” He and a former combat experienced U.S. Army Special Forces soldier (aka “Green Beret”) took us through a live fire room clearing scenario in one of Altair’s 360 degree shoot houses, using M4 rifles topped with the amazing Hartman Optics MH-1 combat optical sight, backed by their CAA CBS Collapsible AR buttstock, and CAA MAG AR polymer 30 round magazines.
Not only was this inherently dangerous CQB / room clearing safely done, but we learned a LOT from these highly experienced instructors. I also learned that they are both involved in teaching counterterrorism training to homeland security and law enforcement clients, self-defense training to citizens, as well as working as “cadre” for the very popular special forces run “Go Ruck” company that provides challenging personal development, adventure, and firearms training as well as sells a line of highly durable backpacks. It was a real treat to have a team of instructors that had such variety of experience as well as real world combat experience fighting terrorists. This also allowed them to accomplish a lot more volume of shooting and types of techniques, all safely and with maximum time to test the products. Any company that is serious enough to bring together such a cadre is obviously very serious about promoting their products and the training that goes with it.
Something to consider before going any further: As many of you may know, Israel’s military operates within its own borders as well as periodically in the surrounding countries and territories, nearly always being in a state of siege. We have not had a war on our soil in over 151 years. Our troops prepare for wars outside of our borders. The difference is, that the Israelis have a war every few years and are constantly having to deal with terrorists and other islamic jihadists who seek to annihilate them. Their troops are most often not deploying to some far away land, but to conflict within a few miles of their base. Considering how small in land area and population the State of Israel is, they have to be able to do more with less and are basically surrounded by populations who wish to take away their land and end them.
So, their survival counts on having the right combination of TTPs and equipment with no room for error or second chances. Then, imagine having the opportunity to receive training on some of those techniques and on equipment developed directly from their experience in fighting terrorists. That is at the core of what this course and media event were all about. If you buy a product from CAA, you are getting the benefit of all of their experience in decades of counterterrorism and special operations against a determined adversary.
But, the core of every course is not just the content and the relevance of what is taught, but the quality, caliber, and delivery of that. What is especially noteworthy, that for more than a decade and a half, the person in charge of that mentioned process in Israel for taking realworld experiences and turning it into techniques and training programs, and then having training jurisdiction for all marksmanship in the IDF for two decades, and to over 500,000 personnel, was our course instructor, retired IDF Lieutenant Colonel Mikey Hartman, now CEO of CAA Global.
It cannot be understated how rare and incredible this opportunity to train under him was. Consider that most government or full-time commercial firearms instructors may train, at the most, a few thousand personnel in the span of their tours of duty as an instructor. Mikey Hartman has taught and overseen anywhere from 50 to 200 times more troops and other trainees than over 99% of all instructors on the planet. Now he is an inventor of products that came right out of his experience and runs a company that sells firearms products made for fighting. He is also not only experienced as an instructor, but extremely passionate, gifted, articulate, and a true expert of his craft. He masterly explained, demonstrated, and then led us through practical application of every single technique.
It was not just training, but a performance. He was surrounded by a cadre of mostly former IDF troops, most of whom also have additional experience in high risk dignitary protection, law enforcement, private instruction to government, and much more. I must also mention that he both just got off of the plane from Israel within a day or so of the course, so he was very jet lagged PLUS had a recent medical procedure. Somehow, he still ran a very high energy course in hot weather in the sun and never skipped a beat. He is one tough, dedicated man. He has an infectious enthusiasm and was even quoted on facebook the day after the course as saying “Incredibly intensive training but God I love teaching.”
THE PRODUCTS FROM CAA THAT WE PUT THROUGH THEIR PACES
Everything that we did in this course utilized the products invented and sold by CAA and Hartman Optics. They supplied all firearms, accessories, and ammunition needed for the course. This allowed us to put their products, detailed below, through their paces and then some. It was a fantastic way to prove the utility of these products for firearms fighting. If there was a point of failure or flaw in any of the designs, between fourteen experienced firearms media personnel, we would have found it.
We did a lot of shooting in formal drills using the Micro RONI® pistol conversion kit, both with optional flip-up “iron” sights and the Hartman MH1 Red Dot Reflex Sight. What a great set of products! The Micro RONI® is a an ingenious conversion kit that makes your pistol into a carbine for self-defense or armed professional applications. This product extends the effective range of the handgun as well as allowing attachment of optics, lights, and other accessories. You can hit well beyond the typical maximum handgun engagement distances as well as dramatically increase your chances of getting hits in close quarters, self-defense situations with it. It is short, light, compact and ergonomic making it perfectly suitable for home defense or a car gun. It is also currently in use by some who do dignitary protection. Your pistol snaps into the device in a few seconds and is ready to shoot.
It makes the pistol easier to aim (but way of either a far longer sight radius and better sights OR use of a combat optic) as well as more stable and easier to control. The optional, very compact, super bright 500 lumen tactical flashlight mounts below the barrel and has ambidextrous switching. A number of very well designed accessories are available and a multitude of purchase options.
So, how well does the Micro RONI® work? I was curious to see if there was a far higher chance of getting proper shot placement and with much faster delivery of multiple shots. This was proven when we were allowed to do some drills with just the pistols, then converting them with the Micro RONI®. Then…..the average member of the class was able to achieve rapid, multiple potentially lethal hits on anatomical targets while on the move in excess of 15 yards. This was increased by addition of the MH-1 sight. Whether or not the average person would need to shoot from that far away, it is good to know that one can better guarantee their hits when it is for keeps with the Micro RONI® Then, we had the opportunity to use the Micro RONI® stabilizer, which can be fired from an arm brace or with a wraparound single point sling. This is an extremely compact rig that can fit into a laptop case or small backpack, and is a perfect choice for home or vehicle defense.
Here is one of the many tactical shooting drills that we conducted under Mikey Hartman and his cadre of combat proven instructors from CAA in this video.
(video courteousy of Curtis Hallstrom of VSO Gun Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/VigilantSpectre )
Here is more about the Micro Roni pistol conversion kit shown in the video above:
And here is more about its features:
I cannot say enough about the Hartman MH1 Red Dot Reflex Sight. ( https://usa.caagearup.com/hartman-mh1-red-dot-reflex-sight ) I have been issued, as well as had on my weapons while deployed, various combat sights from EO Tech, Trijicon, Aimpoint, and Leupold. I also had a chance to evaluate and provide instruction during most of a decade with various models of all of these manufacturers and a few others. Each has their merits, but I frankly feel that the Hartman MH1 Red Dot Reflex Sight is the one that solves all of the problems of the others while meeting the needs for close quarters and intermediate range engagement for shoulder firearms for military, law enforcement, security, and self-defense. There are features abound and it is extremely human engineered and well thought out.
Also consider that the MH-1 It was built from the ground up as a combat shooting sight, whereas most of those other companies began as competition shooting and target shooting sights which were later adapted for law enforcement or military use. It required those companies more than a decade of feedback from the war to get those products more in tune with end user needs. And, none of those others had an inventor who had a combination of combat experience in urban environments, as a sniper, and then instructing over 500,000 troops. Mikey Hartman put this together entirely from the experience of IDF forces in combat. Everything that the inventor knew and the institutional knowledge of the IDF went into this sight. That says a lot.
Finally, consider that I was issued for years and was a diehard fan of two of the competing products. Many thousands of rounds fired either attending training or providing training, especially with the M4A1 carbine. I was able to articulate in courses and conferences why I thought that those other products were preferred, but always had to mention the disadvantages and shortcomings of them. I have not found anything at all wrong with the MH-1 sight, and I looked very hard. This sight answers most all of the problems and shortcomings of the other products. The first time that I shot it, I was shooting less than a 2 inch group on steel from an M4 from an unsupported position, and was amazed at how easy it was to shoot on the move with it.
We also used some of the other excellent mentioned firearms accessories by CAA, for which they have quite an array of well thought out, purpose-built for fighting, quality products for fighting rifles and other shoulder weapons.
I will be writing about at least five of the CAA products in other articles and reviews forthcoming.
WHO was invited and who were the instructors
Most of the invited media are also members of the Daytona Beach based Big 3 Media Group, with some of those being freelancers or field editors for Outdoor Sportsman Group.
They represented a cross-section of gun magazines, magazine editors, website owners, gun /gear / ammo / optics, reviewers, outdoor TV channels, radio shows & podcasts, major firearms sales websites, video channel content creators, photojournalists, firearms arsenals & trainers to the entertainment industry, video contributors to the major media such as YouTube and www.full30.com and more. Among these was David Fortier, a full-time writer and editor for the Outdoor Sportsman Group, often seen in Firearms News and their other publications, and Michael Bane, award winning journalist and TV show host, now Executive Producer at the Outdoor Channel, host of the show “Shooting Gallery,” author, and respected firearms authority. The principals of Arms List, Gun & Gear Reviews, The Firearm Blog, VSO Gun Channel, Guns and Tech, Talking Lead, and others known for their ability to deliver discriminating, detailed content via video or written articles on tactical firearms products.
WHERE it took place
The course was hosted at the immense, world class tactical training facility of Altair Training Solutions, Inc., located in south central Florida at the northern tip of the Everglades. Owned by a man and wife team that are both American combat veterans of the global war on terrorism, this 1150 acre facility is a former state prison complex that has dozens of buildings, secure facilities, shoot-houses, flat ranges, 360 degree shooting ranges, training areas, a staffed cafeteria with chef, and three types of lodging facilities. It is over 3 miles wide and in a secluded area far from any town.
All of this makes it a preferred destination for a variety of military units to conduct training scenarios and range training. They can fire just about every man-portable weapons system in the military, parachute into or land aircraft at the facility, use explosives, and fire sniper weapons systems on a range that is two miles long. Additionally, various law enforcement and private security elements train at Altair and it is becoming popular both as a rentable location for firearms media events, private training, and as a testing facility by manufacturers. The ranges have everything needed and the facility can supply rental firearms, ammunition, and other logistical support. And it is located only 90 minutes from the major international airport at Fort Lauderdale, less than one hour from Fort Myers, and less than 30 minutes from Naples. Some of the larger facilities that afford the capabilities for both firearms training and tactical scenarios are in very remote locations that are hard to reach. But, Altair seems to have the right combination of easy accessibility to airports and major highways while being remote enough to conduct training without concerns for prying eyes or concerns about noise bothering the neighbors. Finally, having lodging on site and a cafeteria really make this a highly desirable destination for training.
HOW the event was conducted
This was more than the average shooting school or manufacturer’s media event. CAA combined these with an elite cadre and a caliber and level of instruction that makes this a national / international level program. I felt like we were back in “Gunfighter University” as we had real ones providing instruction to us and on products purpose built for just that. Mikey Hartman explained not just the techniques, but the “how” and the “why” for each one, to include where they came from in the IDF’s experiences. Then, after regular dry fire, drills under stress were utilized to drive home these skills. At more than point, being the master at not just technical instruction but on motivation and the warrior spirit, Mikey Hartman would stop and deliver a number of brilliant anecdotes, tips, tricks of the trade, and quotes to help us along. It was a lifetime of combat marksmanship experience being packed into every minute of the course. And example was when he stated that we were not there to do shooting, but to do hitting and that it is 80% psychological and 10% physical. He and his instructor team pushed us very hard to hit better. What made that even more possible, is that during those drills it became very obvious to me that their products have serious merit and application, as they are very, very human engineered and designed specifically for fighting with a firearm.
In terms of training management, every single aspect of this course and how a training program should be done, was incorporated, right down to how well they took care of us with food, housing, transportation, sample items from the vendors that we used on the range, phenomenal chow at the Altair cafeteria and lodging on site, great range facilities and 360 degree shoothouse, and more. Every base was covered and this was one very organized event and then some. It went exactly as they planned, and it was surprising to know that this was the first one, as it was one well-oiled machine.
Mikey Hartman and his staff of seven instructors and support personnel went above and beyond. Speaking for all of the writers and media personnel in attendance, we were blown away by both the professional, highly organized conduct of the course as well as how CAA went above and beyond.
Of course, the conduct of the course, by necessity, had to be a “para-military” environment as there is simply no way to get that much training done and done safely. They have to be tough in order to compel us to success, but the entire time, the instructors and staff were extremely helpful and VERY adept coaches. The schedule was packed with skills and drills, with a high volume of shooting and activity.
This was not one of those shooting range experiences where participants were looking at their watches or asking “what time to we get done?” There was no down time and we were constantly in motion.
We did not just get a “shooting course” with CAA and Mikey Hartman, we got an experience, and a one of a kind one at that.
Firstly, both manufacturers and shooting schools are a “dime a dozen” in this country, and there are booming cottage industries set up around both. This also means that there is a wide variety to choose from and a great disparity between what will work at the moment of truth and what might not. Serious customers should be choosy in who they do business with, as not everyone is the “right stuff.”
Secondly, there is simply no way to know how a given firearm, accessory, or other fighting implement is going to perform unless you subject it to both rigorous testing and under realistic conditions. What the CAA/Hartman course and media event did, was provide a extensive, intensive, in depth, and effective opportunity to test their products under all types of shooting positions and high stress, dynamic shooting drills as well as in a live fire shoot house scenario. We spent 2.5 very long days to accomplish this. They put everything possible into it and went the extra mile in conducting this course and event. Furthermore, this was their first time doing it and they hit a home run on all counts.
I cannot say enough about the great products, fantastic instruction, and amazing personnel from CAA /Hartman Optics. They are a hybrid of tactical inventors, innovators, master instructor / practitioners, and superb manufacturing & sales professionals. I have never seen a company like this in my over three decades of being a practitioner and over twenty five years since becoming an instructor.
In closing, the CAA has now set the standard for which all firearms media events should seek to follow. And, if you are looking for products designed for firearms fighting, I can assure you that these people at CAA are putting their real world experience into every product that they make.
MANUFACTURER: CAA / Hartman Optics
Twitter and Facebook @CAAGearUp
VENDORS & SPONSORS FOR THE CAA / HARTMAN OPTICS MEDIA EVENT AND IDF TRAIN-THE-TRAINER COURSE:
Sentry Solutions (dry lubricant treatment and grease) http://www.sentrysolutions.com/
Walker’s Game Ear (hearing and eye protection) www.walkersgameear.com
Shell Shock Technology and L-Tech (ammunition) www.shellshocktech.com
Scopecoat / Slideboot (pistol and optics covers) http://www.scopecoat.com/
Vertx (tactical clothing & gear) http://vertx.com/
Triumph Systems (realistic, threat ID target systems) https://www.triumph-systems.com/
Breakthrough Clean Technologies (cutting edge solvent & lubes) https://www.breakthroughclean.com/
FACILITY: ALTAIR http://www.altairtrainingsolutions.com/
TAGS / HASHTAGS:
@CAAGearUp #CAA #CAAGearup #MicroRoni #MicroRoniStab #hartmanoptics #mh1hartman #hartman #mh1 #TrainTheTrainerIDFWay #firearms #training @gearandgunreviews @thetacdaddy @vso_gun_channel @armslist @gunsandtech @garretmachine @talkinglead @firearmblog @jim_guns @breakthrough_clean #trainthetrainer @mikeyhartman @hartmanoptics @caagearup
MEDIA & MARKETING SUPPORT
The Tac Daddy @theTacDaddy https://www.tacdaddy.com/
Laura Burgess Marketing @LauraBurgessMarketing http://lauraburgess.com/
Big 3 East Media Group / Training Center @Big3EastMediaGroup @Big3Training http://b3e.org/
Outdoor Sportsman Group http://www.outdoorsg.com/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Peterson is a former Army Special Forces soldier with service before and after 9/11 overseas both as an SF troop and intelligence contractor. John has served as a full time firearms instructor at Smith & Wesson Academy and SigSauer Academy for 3 years each, then a tour in Afghanistan as a Special Forces soldier, then serving at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before becoming a contractor supporting the war effort. He has taught in over 60 types of firearms, tactics, driving, and intelligence courses as well as at 55 conferences to date.
He is a member of the Big 3 East Media Group http://b3e.org/ and a freelance writer for Outdoor Sportsman Group http://www.outdoorsg.com/ and other publications, with articles appearing in Firearms News, Soldier of Fortune, various law enforcement & security publications, and the Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security International — official publication for over 30 years for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals (IACSP), www.iacsp.com for which he has served on the advisory board of as General Advisor since 1997. He was the co-founder of the American Sniper Association and the National Patrol Rifle Competition & Conference.
He is a life member of the Special Operations Association, Army Sniper Association, IACSP, Special Forces Association, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He is a life member of five firearms civil rights organizations to include the Second Amendment Foundation and being an Endowment Level Life Member of the NRA.
Connect with John on twitter: @jtfpeterson