I have taken three courses at Mid West Tactical, located near Warrensburg, Missouri, all under the tutelage of Shane O’Connor, the man who runs the show.
In March 2016 I took “Basic Defensive Pistol” followed by “Civilian Tactical Rifle”, and at the end of July 2016 I completed a repeat of “Civilian Tactical Rifle” using a different rifle. Class size averages 10 students, though in July we were down to 3 due to the intense 110° heat scaring off the rest of our classmates.
Both the rifle and pistol courses start similarly; everyone rallies in the classroom for introductions and a safety brief. The lesson starts out at the most basic level: this is a firearm, here’s how it works, then builds from there. This may be painful for some, but for others it is entirely necessary.
During the courses in March one of my classmates had never fired a weapon in his 50 odd years of life. This man decided to take the defense of his family into his own hands, buying a Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle and Taurus PT92 pistol earlier that week, and immediately signed up for training.
Undoubtedly he slowed down the rest of us, but it was awesome to see someone with such a positive attitude who genuinely was there to learn and enjoyed himself in the process! I actually ran into him a year later at a gun show; he had dropped about 75 pounds, had brought a few of his friends into the firearms community with him. I'd take ten of him over any of the wannabe operators who spent their time between drills complaining about the slow poke of our group.
Baby Steps to Sprints
The two classes are structured nearly the same way using a crawl-walk-run methodology. Begin with checking your zero, then move in close for some up-drills starting at low ready, from contact to 10 yards. Throw in some reloading and malfunction drills, then it’s time to practice movements.
We worked moving forward, rearward, then side to side while engaging multiple targets that popped up randomly across the entire firing line. Next, barricades get brought out to practice shooting from unusual angles and positions, then everyone moves back to ring some steel out to 100 yards and further with both rifles and pistols.
Once everyone has warmed up, the shot timer gets pulled out for some friendly competition. Your speed and accuracy will be put to the test, with bragging rights and prizes on the line.
World Class Training with Midwestern Hospitality
One of my favorite elements of Shane’s teaching method is that there are no requirements for how many rounds to engage the target with.
If you want to dump your entire magazine into the threat, do so. If you want to conserve your ammo, that works too, it’s entirely up to you. Of course, there are a few instances where round placement and count are dictated by the instructor in order to reinforce a concept, but the majority is left up to the individual student.
Unlike most other outdoor facilities, Mid West Tactical has targets that are hooked up to a pneumatic system; they turn towards and away from the shooter at the press of a button controlled by the instructor, who has students fire until the threat disappears.
Attitude is everything
Another aspect I found unique to Shane specifically were his war-stories. Many instructors will go on ad nauseam about how badass they are; their amazing speed and precision and how they saved the day like some sort of superhuman operator the likes of which haven't been seen since the last Expendables flick.
Shane shares plenty of stories, many of which are of successes, but also a fair amount about his past failures and the lessons he has taken from them. This adds a sense of humility and legitimacy to him. The acknowledgment that even though he uses these skills for a living (former Blackwater and current Law Enforcement), he knows that he isn’t perfect and still has room to improve and learn from others. That created a relaxed atmosphere for the students, as nobody was afraid to ask questions or felt foolish when they didn’t meet their own expectations.
Definitely a big win.
Overall, I would recommend Mid West Tactical over any other training I have received so far, in the local area. The facility rocks, the staff is stellar, and the price blows everyone out of the water. If I had more time on my hands, a good portion of my paycheck would be going toward training with Shane and his affiliates.
If you are interested in training at Mid West Tactical you can visit their website.