Brief Recap of May 2015, Marksmanship Matters 5 day Rifle class

by Thomas E.

Being a HITS (Handgun Instructor Training School) graduate and Rifle Graduate, I coached/assisted all 5 days. I always learn more coaching than as a student. I HIGHLY recommend if you are qualified to offer to assist in a class.

My 16 year old son took this course. I have been dry-practicing with him over the past several months. I taught him the sling work, PortArms, transitioning to handgun & loading, unloading, tactical reload, speed reload.

Sling work

  • Primary side muzzle up. How to get into it, and how to present to the guard/target.
    • Primary side muzzle up – climbing carry
  • support-side muzzle down. How to get into it, and how to present to the guard/target.
    • support -side muzzle down–climbing carry.
  • transitioning – under what conditions is it safe…and only under one condition is it safe. dead trigger/type3 malfunction.

I did NOT train my son on malfunctions, as I wasn’t 100% sure of the proper methods due to my failing memory.


Todd is a natural at learning professional gun handling methods.  He executed everything excellently.  During the failure drills and transition drills, about half-the class had difficulty, but he was a cool customer. Unless you own the proper methods, it is easy to get off the rails with stress levels, complexity & hundreds of things to do correctly. Because Todd owned most of the methods already, he was able to add a few new steps and not get bogged down because he “owned” the material/methods.

Todd has been working hard in school, so he could take a week off for the rifle class. I made a deal with him if he was caught up on his school work and successfully completed the rifle class, he would EARN an ar15 (the one he built!).

Day 5 during the man on man competition, Todd earned Top shot!  Meaning, he was the best shooter in the class! Yeah, proud papa! He really went head to head with some of the best shooters I’ve ever seen. Most people got stressed and didn’t follow the fundamentals, not Todd; he kept a cool head and applied what has been taught and came off conquer!

Larry’s students are the best shooters I’ve ever seen, and to out perform them is an incredible achievement for my son.

Larry Mudgett & I signed Todd’s Ar15 (the one he earned). It says, Todd, always be a straight shooter. Love Dad.

Todd, Top Shot. Larry Mudgett.

In my closing remarks as an assistant instructor, I said, “I ponder about what I want to teach my children/posterity.”

1st, Trust in Christ and be a follower of Him

2nd, be a Rifleman (see my Freedom Rifle Article). This is the most important skill you can teach your children!

It was an honor training with the good men/women in this class. My dear wife came to Rifle 1 & Rifle2. The only Lady in Rifle2. She is still sore 3 days later.  It was cold & rainy, but she did not surrender and kept going with her training.

Photos of May Rifle class…and some of my favorite Marksmanship Matters photos over the years. Including my 8 shots while moving that are all touching between 10-15 yards.

I love being the “go to guy” for armorer things. Every time a student needed help with their gun or gear, Larry would have them work with me. Many sight adjustments, many sling adjustments and several rifle-fixes.  I heard Larry say, talk to my armorer… Thomas… Which made me feel great!

Training this week with my son, wife and my life-long friends was the highlight of my year!  (yeah, even above Disneyland last Feb 😉


support-side Muzzle Down – climbing carry

Failure Drill(s), “compensated head shots”


Proud Papa


Day 2 (note, all these vertical grips will be removed shortly)

Thomas shooting 5 shots at 25 yards (3″ target) with Iron Sights. Its going to be about 2″ low at 25y, but about right on at 100y





My summary of Marksmanship Matter’s Defensive Rifle 1-5

June 2012 by Thomas E.


Here is my recap/summary of Defensive Rifle 1-5 from Larry and Stacey of Marksmanship Matters


See also my Defensive Pistol 1-5 recap:


Please visit and read; “Why I need a rifle”


Summary: I have taken several rifle classes from Frontsight. Including four day rifle, rifle skill builder (2 or 3 times), 3 precision rifle classes and Frontsight’s tactical rifle (SWAT rifle). Frontsight has a solid rifle offering, but it is no where near as good as Marksmanship Matter’s rifle class. I use my experience with frontsight to compare and contrast the skills and knowledge taught by Larry and Stacey. For further details, read further. I have also taken rifle classes from other schools, including “Patrol Rifle” and AK classes.


Rifle 5 video (3 minutes).



Rifle 4 (11 minutes)







DPMS M4 AR15, IRON SIGHTS. I decided not to bring my sig 556 swat with the pricy optics, and learn MORE with iron sights.

XD 9mm 5″

Demooner sniper’s shooting mat


(LA Rifle Qualification Target)



Day 1 we met in the class room and discussed the “mission of the rifle” reviewed safety rules, sight picture, ballistics and the pros/cons of sight-in distance. Only students that have successfully completed pistol1-5 may take rifle 1-5.  I love this because the students showing up for the rifle class are squared  away with safety, marksmanship and how to run a pistol. Also, this prerequisite allows us to “transition to the pistol”. Larry and Stacey showed us all types of rifles, demonstrated proper use of each.  This included lever action, scout-rifle bolt action, m1a semi auto, and of course the ar15.  Larry’s sling work is magical. I had learned muzzle-down-support-side at frontsight, but how to present to the target was never explained in the detail and efficiency of Marksmanship Matters methodology.  You’ll have to take his class to understand this principle properly (I can’t do justice in text, video etc). Also, what I was taught at frontsight about muzzle up presenting to the target was extended and clarified by Larry and Stacey. These make a huge difference in my ability to execute and present more efficiently. Each student, understood completely all classroom related aspects of the rifle by the end of the day. Rifle1 prepares the student for the up-coming 4 days. I have not met too many people that understand ballistics as well as I do, but Larry helped extend my understanding further. I was impressed that he would take over 60 minutes to help students understand the ballistics of the .223/5.56. This drove home the pros/cons of sighting the ar15 in at 100 vs 200 meters. For me, my experience is sighting in at 100 and then using adjustments from there. Doing the moa in my head is much easier and more repetitions, so I always leaned towards sightin at 100. But, I learned that for a 55 gr 223. The POI from 0-300 is within 3-4 inches. If you sight in elsewhere, you have to know POI at 50, 100, 150, 200, 250 and 300. Marksmanship Matters (MM) provides a binder with perfect sight-picture, ballistics charts and discussion on barrel twists.  After Larry’s demo of running a lever-action cowboy rifle, everyone in the class wanted a lever-action rifle! Glad to see I’m not the only addict of lever guns (thanks to Larry!).


To say gaps were filled in for me during Day1 would be an understatement.





Day2 we showed up at an air conditioned aircraft building and performed all of our manipulations of the rifle/pistol in a nice cool classroom. Each student brought their complete load-out, except no LIVE AMMO.  We had our azoom dummy rounds and learned the proper loading, unloading, port-arms (NEW to me), sling work (muzzle-down support side, muzzle up (with climber variations), positions (pros/cons), malfunctions. very important ar15 related manipulations (hard to explain in text ((take the class!).  We learned the over-the-head transition to pistol (think of combing your hair with the rifle and throwing it over your back and the sling catches it).


I was thrilled with the new information I learned, especially the advantages of 20 round magazines for reloading, shooting positions, sling work etc). Also, the extensions to my sling understanding was profound.




On the range and ready to apply what we had learned in day1 and day2.  Similar to pistol3, we shot 3″ plates from 25 yards to see where students were. Each target was analyzed by the whole group so each could learn from the successes and mistakes. To me, this is key to helping others diagnose their issues. Shooting well is not as difficult as resolving other’s issues. Iron sights, I had the best group and Larry was impressed (that always feels good). But, here on this range is 12 amazing students, better trained then any other group I’ve ever seen.

It didn’t take long for others to start having awesome groups.  Next students ran the sights and instructors (Larry & Stacey) ran the triggers. Targets were again analyzed one at a time.



Here Instructors are monitoring students breathing and working the trigger while the students work the sights:


We got most of the students 1.5″ low of aiming at 25 meters, then went to 50m. Some were in need of more adjustments. This is very challenging and difficult to help 12 students dial-in. I recall the 35 students at frontsight taking ALL DAY to sight in. But, once you are dialed-in, its like after a long hike to the top of a mountain and you are rewarded with an amazing view.


Breath control, sight-picture, trigger control, sight-in, compensated shooting while closer than 25m (due to the height of the sight and the barrel). at 3 yards, it was like 4 inches low! This was a BIG wake-up call for most students. They did NOT realize fully how much of a difference POA and POI can be with a rifle at close distances.  Next we practiced at 100 yards without our support aids. I was surprised how well I could do on a 12″ plate with iron sights. Not uncommon to get 4″ groups at 100 with irons. One time Larry commented to me, excellent shooting, especially with Iron sights. That made me feel good!  Then we practiced squatting position (military squat). I did kneeling because of my previous injury on my knee (day2, I tried squatting and my knee hurt for several days).   It was a VERY hot day. I drank 3 liters before 11:30am, and 1.5 gallons in the afternoon.  I love being around Larry and Stacey and their students. High-quality people.



We worked on the “LA Rifle Qualification” test, but without the time pressure.   Each position and each distance has a limit of 6 seconds. Which is appropriate for a not too hurried shot or too long, based on the position and distance; a good tempo.   Think of a combat shot at 100 yards, behind cover. Finding the target, sighting in, breath control and a good combat trigger press; I figure that’d be about 6 seconds.

As an example of, student’s marksmanship comes first (well, after safety of course), part way through the qualification skills assessment, at least half the students started mashing the trigger and having poor trigger control. Likely because of the “stress” of wanting to do well on the test. We STOPPED taking the test and did skip loading to “de-program” our bad trigger-control. To me, this shows the integrity of the instructors. Most would want to stay on schedule, but the Mudgett’s couldn’t bear to allow the bad trigger presses to continue and solidify bad trigger-control! SKIP LOADING WAS THE MAGIC, in short order everyone was back on track! I’ve talked to dozens of instructors from many different firearms training schools, and NONE have even heard of SKIP LOADING, let alone be able to instruct students in its proper usage. Again, this is just one example of how caring Marksmanship Matters is of their students.






SOMEONE…HAD TO SHOW UP with a F’n Rifle and a F’n Pistol (AKA FN 5.7) 😉



speed kneeling

military squat

braced/supported kneeling

qualification drill – run 200 meters and do 4 body shots at 50 yards.

15 yards head shot, off hand


We also did fun drills like “simu-shooting (everyone shooting at the same time).  Domino shooting (shooters, left to right, at the distance of 100 yards, we don’t advance if someone misses).   To me, the qualification test was a good measure of a rifleman’s skill inside a combat situation. Though it was difficult and tiring, it was really a lot of fun.  It was NICE not to have to get into position on the clock; at frontsight you have 5 seconds to get into prone and take a shot at 100 yards. 7 seconds at 200 yards. This measured YOUTH and willingness to get into prone in 1 second; which is painful. I have seen much better rifleman than me, FAIL at frontsight’s “game” because they are too old to abuse their bodies by getting into prone in one second. Rocking back as you land on the ground with your knees, so your kneecap doesn’t hit first is KEY! With Marksmanship Matters, you start out in prone and have 6 seconds to PRESSSSSSS the shot. One key difference is the target. With frontsight if you hit the thorasic cavity, which is BIG you are good to go. With Marksmanship Matters, there is a 3-4″ ring and if you are out of that, you are down points.

I believe the LA qualifications is a better evaluation of a rifleman’s skill, because it covers all the common shooting positions, have a good mix of close-up headshots and distances body shots. Scores off-hand, sitting, speed kneeling, military squatting, braced kneeling.


After day 4, it was NICE to have a break and not have to come out for another day. 4 days straight of getting into prone in less than a second at frontsight, in 105 degrees for 4 days straight…can be challenging on the body.


DAY5; Hard work rewarded.

Day 5 was awesome! We worked, but it was very fulfilling to apply all the things we learned to different scenarios and drills that helped us learn. For example, our first drill was hostage taker at 7 yards, with an ar15. I almost said, don’t forget to compensate for the close distance (2.5 inches), but didn’t because if they messed the “compensated headshots” up, they would remember it longer (growth opportunity).  We got to do this COLD, many of us not firing our ar15s for several weeks. Many of us had been dry practicing, but I didn’t dry practice “compensated headshots”, but I did remember to compensate and had a very nice group, even out to the 40 yards.




We started with a prayer, which is awesome! We talked about even as experts, we must continually improve our safety posture. Many so called experts start flirting with the edge of safety and even some say, an acceptable number of injuries is ok! (NOT!!!) that is NOT what we are about, we ALWAYS take safety very seriously. In my mind, ANYONE that ignores safety loses significant credibility. The Mudgett’s exemplify continuous vigilance with safety; which adds to their credibility.  Here we are, on our 10th day of training with them, and they are STILL mentoring us on safety. AWESOME! AMEN, I couldn’t agree more!


Hostage taker drill at 7, 15, 25 and 40. At 25 yards we were asked what shooting position we would take. Due to my bad knee and inexperience with kneeling positions; and knowing I can shoot better off-hand, than kneeling (I know… its weird).  Most took a knee at 25 and 40. Even at 40 yards, we are still compensating for a head shot; even if it is only 1/2 an inch. For me, 2.5 inches at 7 yards, 1.5 at 15. it seemed; with a rifle, it is better to error on the HIGH side, then the low side….for points anyway. A rifle round in the jaw/neck MAY do the job, but we want 100% “lights out” MEDICINE.


We next did close contact drills. Going from low ready to “close contact”, which is the rifle butt is in your armpit, HIGH in the armpit. You would be surprised how effective this is without sights and close ranges. Good solid hits.


Shooting on the move, forward and back. We didn’t do left to right and right to left. Some tips to remember is lower stance for shock absorbing. Roll your foot heel toe, toe to heel.  None of this silly, shoot when your left foot is on the ground, shoot whenever, just follow the fundamentals and you will have good hits, even though you don’t have perfect sight picture due to the bouncing.  Doing this drill COULD be dangerous, be with coaches and an instructor for each coach/student team, we felt safe.  It only takes 1 second to go from safe, to unsafe. Ensuring everyone moves at the same pace, and if they have a malfunction or any distraction we MUST keep moving with the group. If not, the guy stopped becomes an easy target AND  depending on direction he may be putting his teammates at risk, or vice versa!




We did a couple of fun zombie drills. One with a vehicle, figuring out the best way to fire a rifle from the back of a vehicle at multiple adversaries.




The other zombie drill was a competition. We had 10 zombie photo targets, all must be head shots. Timed and misses subtracted. miss the brainshot, +5 seconds.  miss the zombie completely, +10 seconds. Hit the hostage, add 20 seconds!  My first run, I was going a bit slower than I thought I needed to. I had 24.24 ZERO misses! Then I watched everyone do low 20s and then have added 40+ seconds to their score because of misses. There were a few that got in the high 20s with ZERO misses. So, my 2nd run I was pushing my edge a bit. I did it in 16 seconds; and it felt really good. Good presses, good sight pictures, but I was sad to see I had several close calls and several +5s (BECAUSE the bullet was lower than the nose, better to hit high, than low). So, with all my penalties I was in the 40 seconds range. BUT, my first run held and no one beat it, so I won the competition, which surprised me, there were many capable students.




Another competition, was shooting small balloons on paper targets. With rifles, shooting at steel this close is dangerous and damaging to the steel. So, an inexpensive “reactionary target”, is a balloon! I can’t wait to go out and have my kids have fun blasting balloons! I think this is a great way for new shooters to have fun. Previously, we use the 2″ steel spinners with the 22 rifles to get folks hooked on shooting/guns, including my kids, but I think the balloons will be fun too! I was doing the vehicle zombie drill, so I didn’t get to do the balloons, but I know the concept now.


Larry and Stacey did an excellent job managing everyone’s break needs. Hydration, get out of the sun, bio-breaks etc. It was a hot day and they were very caring of their students and had a great balance of “growth opportunities” and encouragement.  It was nice not to be ignored. Any time I didn’t do something right, they respectfully reminded me to do it correctly. I have a lot of bad habits and thousands of repetitions and its often challenging to switch.

5 of 5 for fun.

5 of 5 for learning.

5 of 5 for fellow students (you want to meet the best people on the planet, take a course from Larry and Stacey and be astonished at the quality of the students, likely they’ll be life-long friends in a very short time-period).

10 of 5 for quality of instructors.



I’m continually astonished at the care, level of instruction, generosity and QUALITY Larry and Stacey provide at every event I’m privileged to be at with them.

You may find cheaper, quicker, “funner” classes/courses out there, but you will NOT find a higher-quality, fight-stopping skills than when you train with Larry and Stacey!





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