5.56 Timeline

Combat Focus Shooting Class – A novice women’s view

Cassie Larsen submitted this article.

I had the privilege of being invited by Rob Pincus to attend a Combat Focus Shooting (CFS) class with my husband. I went to the CFS class with a lot of excitement and a lot of nervousness. I knew I was in for a long day of many new firsts. Here’s a list of some of the firsts, this day would bring; My first professional shooting class. First time wearing a gun belt, wearing a mag pouch and holster. First time moving while shooting. First time drawing from a holster to fire and first time shooting more than 200 rounds in one day. With all those firsts you would think this was a horrible day for me. But it wasn’t, it was a blast. I can’t wait to take another class. I learned so much and I feel much more confident in my ability to defend myself or my children if needed.

Favorite Training Phrases directed to me, by Rob Pincus:

“Cassie is there a reason you can hit box A but not box B?”

“Cassie we have established you can shoot low and to the left, now stop!”

“Cassie if I don’t see those hands up in a startle position, I’m going to throw a rock at you!”

“What box were you told to hit? …..Left….. Ok then why did you shoot the right one?…..Um I have no idea…..Yeah me neither, now stop!”

“Cassie, I don’t know what happened during lunch, but you’re shooting better than your husband”.

"Did you get me yelling at Cassie on video"
“Did you get me yelling at Cassie on video”


The day started out with some classroom training about the philosophy of Combat Focus Shooting. The reasons why continued training, beyond getting your conceal weapons permit, is important. We also got to see a little preview of Rob’s personality and passion for what he teaches. We were only in the classroom for about 45 minutes. Part of which we also discussed range rules and filed out waivers. Also, we got to wait for a team mate who was so excited to come to the class, he jumped a curb and crashed his car.

During the classroom portion, I learned out of the 10 students in the class, I was the only one who had never been to formal gun course, either military, law enforcement or other professional class. With this knowledge I was even more nervous. “Great, now I was going to hold the whole class back.” Rob did help me feel a little better by telling the class that the only person we were competing against was ourselves. We needed to improve our best during the class. I was also the only female in the class.


In the class of 10 students, we had two instructors, Rob Pincus and Barret Kendrick. We also had a CFS Instructor that had just finished his instructor class and was observing. I was surprised in a group setting like this that we actually had a lot of one on one instruction. I was teased a lot by Rob, but it was all to help me improve. I could really feel the passion Rob has for what he is teaching. He really impressed me with how much he seemed to care about all the students improving their techniques in the class. To me it felt like he carried about us.

Rob was very articulate with his explanations, examples and instructions. Every instruction given had a reason behind it, as to why it worked and why it was more efficient than another technique. I liked being told why I was doing something, not just being told to do something. It helped me to understand the reasoning for the specific training we were doing. No matter what questions you asked in the class, both Rob or Barret were very helpful and would give multiple different suggestions or tips to help you. Both Rob and Barret would stay with me during the breaks to help identify my problems or help with additional instructions. I saw them do that with several other students as well. For me they were outstanding and I would highly recommend this class and these instructors to any shooter.

Rob Pincus front, Barret Kendrick back
Rob Pincus front, Barret Kendrick back


We began with shooting center mass, drawing from the holster. We were given no instructions except to shoot center mass. For me this was stressful. It was the first time I have drawn from a holster and gone through the steps of the draw on my own. Let alone not having my husband by my side, telling me step by step, what to do. I am very proud to say that I hit center mass. I also didn’t have a negligent discharge or drop my gun. After my first 20 or so rounds, I was feeling pretty confident. I was doing well, getting faster at drawing from the holster and firing fairly accurate on the target. Then Rob came over and said, ” Cassie we have established you can shoot low and to the left, now stop!” Okay, now defeat time, but not really. That is the purpose of the class though, to improve on your shooting techniques. I had many more times during the class that I was called out for the purpose of improvement.

I actually preferred that my husband and I weren’t shooting next to each other. In the beginning of the class we were next to each other and I noticed I was watching him and looking to him for confirmation that I was doing what I supposed to. After he moved away from me, I didn’t have him as a crutch and I was able to improve in my confidence. I suggest to other women taking training classes with their significant others, to think about separating from them during the class.

Cassie w/ one of her CFS targets
Cassie w/ one of her CFS targets

Startle Response:

The Startle Response is responding to threat stimulus, then drawing and firing. The Startle Response improves with practice or repetitions, that’s why you train with it. The easiest way to explain a Startle Response without you seeing someone do it, is to have someone scare you. What you usually do is focus your attention towards the stimulus, lower your center of gravity and put your hands up to defend yourself. I initially had problems with the Startle Response during the class, it was a foreign concept for me. Even though I understand the reason behind the training for it, it was still odd for me to act startled and then draw and fire. After talking to my husband, he also had difficulty with the Startle Response, due to years of previous law enforcement training and instructing.

Startle Response
Startle Response

We went through many different drills, shooting at the A box and B box , different numbers and colors, all while using the Startle Response and movement. We were now at the portion of the class, where we were running hard from different positions and firing at different spots on the target. We were supposed to do all the techniques taught to us throughout the day. That included the Startle Response, and moving while drawing and reloading. I patiently watched the first group go through the drill and felt confident that I too, could do the drill well. I was able to stay up to speed with the guys, running from spot to spot, drawing and firing. I however was not doing my Startle Response well enough for Rob, “Cassie if I don’t see those hands up in a Startle Position, I’m going to throw a rock at you!” Rob then picks up a handful of rocks. I think I had five or six rocks thrown at me before I threw my hands up in the air like the cops were yelling at me, “Show me your hands!” I did get a good chuckle from the group behind me.

Out of all the tips and help Rob gave me during the class, I think this one was my favorite. He really was pushing my personal limits, he wanted me to improve. The truth is, if I don’t practice the Startle Response, I won’t be prepared to defend myself. I’ll have to think a lot more about what I’m doing, where my hands are and what I need to do next. I might lose those important few seconds, that could save my life or more importantly my children’s.

Rob watching me
Rob watching me

Other Learning Moments:

I learned so many more things in this class. I enjoyed shooting with one hand and found it really interesting that I could hit a target without keeping my hands still. I liked that I didn’t have to line up my sights every time I shot, I could still hit the box without them, at a close distances. I learned, even in a stressful situation, I could hit the target. I realized I needed to simplify things more, I have a habit of over complicating things. Many times during the class I was thinking too much or added additional steps that weren’t needed. I was not moving as efficiently as I could be. All of the new things I learned really helped my confidence level with handling a handgun.

Funny Moment:

During the day I shot about 450 rounds. While I was loading a magazine with new ammo, my thumb locked. For over 15 minutes I was teased by Rob and Barret, trying ” field acupuncture” (poking my thumb with various non-helpful things). My lesson and advice to you is to stay hydrated on a hot day. What finally unlocked my thumb was a very cold Gatorade placed on that hand. From that moment on, I didn’t load my own mags, I had my husband do it.

Combat Focus Shooting
Combat Focus Shooting


I truly loved this class. I enjoyed meeting Rob, he was very nice, sincere and took the time to really help you one on one. I would not hesitate to take another class taught by him.

The biggest thing that came out of the class was related to my firearms confidence level. I now feel more confident in using my firearm in a stressful situation. I feel more comfortable manipulating the firearms in my home, especially when my husband is away from home.

Thank you Rob and Barret for all the information given, time spent helping me to improve my skills and my best effort.

Rob Pincus w/ Cassie & Duncan Larsen
Rob Pincus w/ Cassie & Duncan Larsen

If you want to learn more about the Combat Focus Shooting class or take one of your own visit Rob Pincus ICE training website. http://www.icetraining.us/index.html


Q&A on the AR15/M855 at 1,000 yard post.

A  few weeks ago, I posted an article where I fired at 1,000 yards using  as close to an as issued M16A2 as I can get. I used MK262 ammo and M855 to make hits while shooting iron sights only and from prone with just as sling as support.   The  Article has been popular and has had a lot of views, but with it came a lot of questions and the inevitable  uneasy feeling from people who have given advice to others for years about how near useless the 5.56 is.   Almost to the point of being offended.


A lot of people who emailed me, or commented on the subject wanting to know how it was done and my procedures etc.  After talking to a friend about it, I re read the article and realized that I should have been more clear in some parts. While the majority of people know what the point I was trying to make, some others seem to think I was trying to say something between the lines. So I am going to answer the question that have popped up from a few people since the article.

First is the assumption that I was making any claims about the terminal performance of the 5.56/M855 round or even the MK 262 at this distance.  I was not.   I simply shot  the drill as a way to demonstrate that the AR15 is capable of  accuracy and accomplishments a lot of people do not bother to imagine or try out.    I never said the 556 would knock a man down at 1K or penetrate X amount of inches.   But, a hit is a hit.   I doubt few would volunteer to be shot at 1K with a 556 to prove how wrong I am.   In the 6os a man was knocked off a bicycle from a stray 22LR shot that escaped over a range berm in Ohio.  It was over a mile from where the shooter was setting.   That does not prove a thing.  But a hit is still indeed a hit.  Even if it feels like a hornet sting, if some one is nailing you at 1,000 yards, that would demoralize me and seriously make me rethink wanting to get closer.  The SS109 was meant to fired at longer ranges in LMG use. So to claim it would not put some kind of hurt on a person is absurd.  How effective that hurt is, is another matter and not the convern of the article.

How did I see the target and what aiming point did I use to be able to hit such a target ?  That is the next common question.   It is simple.  I adjusted the front sight to account for more  elevation. I did not go out with a military 25Meter zero.   Elevation was adjusted using the front sight for the most part and I refined it with the rear since I had plenty left over to play with.   I zeroed the sights at 1,000 yard to the point I used a so called “6 oclock hold”  But actually I adjusted the sight to the point where I held the front site about 5 foot below the target.  That is why I had the steel gong painted neon orange.  I got on the steel. then moved to the paper.   It was not some impossible thing to do or a miracle.  Nor was it “flinging lead down range” ’till I got lucky

You can not get lucky if you don’t do everything right before hand.

Having the hold so far below the point of impact gave me plenty of room to see the target and light. I also could see any impacts into the dust to make windage changes or any other change I needed.  Also a spotter with a 60x spotting scope to help.

How did you do it without 80 grain  bullets with a OAL that required you to single feed?   That was where the gross amount of sight manipulation comes into play and a shooting lane between two hills blocking all but a head wind.   The 80s are great, and if you are trying to hit a X ring at perry, you will need them or the 77 grain HPBT. But with enough adjustment in your sights, you can get just about anything on target. If it is a decent weight.  Careful reading will show I shot the heavier match 77 grain load to get on target initially and had  doubts about the M855. I never said that the M855 was a wonder bullet.

What enemy did you expect to prove the M855 would kill at 1,000 yards?   A cardboard target is all I set out to prove the round would hit. Though few would really let some one shoot them at 1K with the 556 no matter how much the claim other wise.  Also when I said “lethal” hits,  I wrongly assumed people knew that most hits in the “black” of the target are considered solid hits, not anatomically correct. So yeah, my use of lethal was a slang term used in the context of the too large scoring area of military targets. And people have bled to death from groin and lung hits.  So I guess I would consider them lethal depending on the abilities and medical expertise of the enemies you are engaging.  But draw your own conclusions.  My point was to show that the AR15 in stock form will hit at 1,000 yards with good and issue ammo if you know what you are doing. Nothing more.  Furthermore, it was not just luck getting the M855 on target. It is certainly not match accurate ammo. But it is within reason to expect a decent lot of M855 to be able to hit a man.

If the article gave you more confidence in your weapon that was my goal. It does not matter if the average Marine or soldier can or can not do it. It matters what you can do with it when it is in your hands.   It does not matter if you can not imagine needing to take a shot like that. Having the skill builds your confidence and it is there on the off chance you ever need it.  Why does anyone even bother shooting at anything?

According to The Complete Book of US Sniping by Peter Senich,  confirmed kills were made in Vietnam with the M16A1 and 55 grain M193 at 800 meters.  That does not make the combo a sniper rifle or the last word on the subject, but it does show what the right combination of marksman, weapon and skill, can achieve.  Crazy long shots have been made with weapons people never dreamed  of since before  Billy Dixon  knocked and Indian Chief off his horse at the battle of Adobe Walls.   The test was done to show that no matter what you are using, you should always be confident in your skill being able to make hits that are beyond what so called experts say. And, to the limit of what the system is capable of and beyond if possible.Improved marksmanship is something to always strive for, no matter what the weapon and ammo is.  It hurts nothing to have the ability to shoot this far. Oddly enough some people are just out right offended that I did this.  As if hitting your target at such a long range is offensive to them.  It is never a waste of time to be able to hit as far as you can on a realistic sized target.


Any further  questions can be sent to the looserounds  Q&A email address or posted on the facebook page and I will try to answer them.

Skeet shooting With The 1911



PROBABLY SHOULD NOT TRY THIS AT HOME unless you have an entire mountain as a back stop like I did.


While this is a completely useless skill, other then winning bets ( which posting this picture now did) and making cool looking pictures, it is  proof of how familiar and you can become with a specific weapon after 28 years of almost daily practice.  I don’t recommend practicing this unless you just have a lot of time and ammo on your hands.  After en0ugh practice and skill is gained with any weapon, one day you may find that you can do this fairly easy having never tried it before.   Living with  your gun and being intimate with it, will give this skill level.   Constant correct practice is always the way to gain true skill with a fire arm.






Plates and PLate Carriers

When it comes to plate carriers and plates, I like to use the smallest I can get away with.  Of course this doesn’t give the largest amount of protection, but it does cover the organs that matter the most.  I like to be able to keep as much mobility as possible.  Like everything, it is a trade off.

Here are pictures of my friends PC on the left and mine of the right.



He uses the Diamond Back Fast attack PC for work doing entries and other duties  as an officer in his states SP SWAT team.    Mine is the Shell back  TAG Banshee.    My friend uses Level 4 plates that are “stand alone, while I use the ESAPI plates with soft armor backers to keep weight down. The Level 4 plates are too heavy for my tastes.   Mine are size small to allow as much movement as possible as well as trying to keep the weight down. his is the medium sized  stand alone plates.  Both PC has as little on them as possible with most relegated to belts.

This picture gives a good view of how the plates fight in the respective plate carriers.


Remember, you can not just throw on plates. It is important to make sure the PC fits correctly and the plates cover the area they need to and not set too low on the body.