Training is one of those things that can be intimidating for a new shooter. It can even be intimidating to a shooter that’s not new. I’m here to tell you that there is nothing to fear. That barrier for entry is all in your head. More importantly, getting trained is life saving. It is one of those things that improves your life and if you intend on taking your own safety in your hands, then you owe it to yourself and every one around you to get trained.

With that in mind I decided that it was time to get training in something that would help me defend myself and my family. Up until this point most of my shooting had been long distance shooting. This is perhaps what made getting training intimidating. I was not accustom to fast paced up close shooting. After researching and a recommendation from a friend, I decided that I would take advantage of a class that Ian from Runenation was putting on near by in Idaho.

I signed up for Ian’s Fundimental Carbine Application 1 class. Immediately questions came to mind. Finding the answers to those questions was made easy though. After signing up I was provided with instructions and a list of course requirements. This made preparation for the class infinitely more easy.

Showing up…

I made it a point to get to the class early. I figured this would give me time to get ready. It did, but time flew as I was pretty damn excited. The class opened with a briefing where we went over safety and other important information. This set the stage for the day.

We started the shooting with a Runenation Cold Start drill. This drill is intended to be done first thing before you are warmed up. Think of it as a good base line for how you will shoot cold. The drill consists of a 4 low probability targets at the four corners of the paper and one high probability target in the middle. It requires 3 magazines. Two of which loaded with 8 rounds and one loaded full. With a rifle the drill is conducted at 5 yards.

At 5 yards you shoot any of the 4 low probability targets. After hitting it you then put 3 rounds into the high probability target. You then proceed to shoot another one of the low probability target that you haven’t already shot, followed by 3 more rounds into the high probability target. You rinse and repeat until all the low probability targets are hit and you’ve got all your rounds into the high probability target. In total the drill takes 16 rounds. The par time for the drill with a rifle is 18 seconds.

So how did I do? Well, I remembered my offset and took my time on the low probability targets. I hit them all with no misses (line burners counted), but that was not the case on the high probability target. Being horribly excited, I neglected my offset and dropped rounds low. I suppose I didn’t do horrible, but there is room for improvement. This is a surprisingly hard drill to get under the par time and requires some skill, but I will eventually crush it.

Warming up.

After the cold start we moved into the meat and potatoes of the course. This is where manipulating the carbine and a bit more practice with offsets begun. If you have never had to shoot up close and take your height over bore offset into consideration, then this might be a bit challenging. It is essential to maintaining a high standard of accuracy, which Ian will hold you to.

One of the most valuable things offered in this class is not just practice and instruction on manipulating your rifle, but Ian gives you options. He shows you multiple ways to do the same thing. Why? Because there often isn’t just one right way to do something. Some times certain methods work better in certain situations as well.

This becomes blatantly apparent in certain drills. For instance, the reload drill. It sounds harmless and easy enough, but its not. This is a brutal drill that will test your arm strength and endurance. We learned very quickly that certain methods of reloading were very fatiguing. Often the most efficient method isn’t the best method. The best method is the method easiest for you to use to accomplish your required goals.

If you didn’t have options, then you’d be hurting…


Speaking of hurting, I got this distinct feeling half way through the day that Ian liked to watch people run. Stationary drills will only take you so far. At some point you must introduce motion into your drills. It not only makes shooting harder, but everything else also becomes more hard.

Ian is a master of maximizing your training. Before you realize it, you’re moving, shooting reloading, clearing malfunctions, working around cover, and doing a myriad of other things. Often times you’re doing it without even realizing it. All the while you’re holding the same accuracy standards that you started the class with.

This is possible because Ian teaches you the importance of and how to throttle up and down effectively. Eventually you do get faster and perhaps have to throttle down less, but there is no shame in throttling down. Often you will notice that if you miss and have to take a second shot, then its slower than if you were to initially just throttle down to a speed where you could have accomplished it. A lot of my missed shots could be attributed to struggling with this.

Thinking before shooting.

Thinking is perhaps the most important ability that you have. Ian will put your ability to think to the test. Problem solving is often not easy, but you’ll get plenty of practice at it. It is applied to virtually everything. It could be used any where from deciding on how fast to go and where you need to put the brakes on to whether or not you burn a target down with extreme prejudice.

One of the final drills was my absolute favorite and one of the most fun things I have ever done with a gun. It required much more thought than most of the other drills and at this point in the day I was spent. It required you to safely approach targets, treating them as if they were real people, and then determining whether or not they were a threat. Doing it in a timely fashion and addressing them appropriately took some thought though.

You absolutely could not just run up to a target, see if it was a threat, and burn it down. It required work to determine if it was a threat via numbers and letter on the target. On top of that you had Ian in the mix as well as the other targets. So safety is a thing that is emphasized heavily and all day. The potential for accidentally passing rounds through a threat into other non-threat in this drill is very real. Taking that into consideration, you still want to put yourself into a situation where you aren’t setting yourself to receive bullets from said threat.

The drill had multiple targets that aren’t dead until Ian says they’re dead. this makes life interesting. It ended in more barricade shooting, which you do a fair amount of as well.


Perhaps the best thing you get from this class is a set of tools. Not literal tools that you hold in your hands, but mental tools. It gives you the means to gauge your performance and to self diagnose any issues that you’re encountering. You simply can not get these tools without the knowledge that is imparted on you in the class. Youtube certainly is no replacement and will not teach you these things. You need to get out with a professional to learn this stuff.

Ian builds these tools all day. You will leave his class with a lot to think about and much reflection to do. I know that I did. Many lessons sank in after I had the chance to recover a bit… and I was sore for days. The important thing is that you take those tools that he gives you and you put them to use. That is how you get better.


One of the coolest things about Ian and Runenation is the atmosphere and culture that he promotes. We’ve all seen videos of training classes from other instructors and companies where the instructors are yelling at people or doing things in a manner that is intimidating. This is not Ian’s style. I think the best way to put it is that he is very humble and incredibly professional. It is obvious that he cares for his students and that he is there to make sure that you succeed. He is there to train you to fight and to be a survivor.

While Ian wont hold your hand, he also isn’t going to let you give up. Hes very open and forth coming with any sort of tips, information, or tricks that are going to help you. In fact, at the very end of the day I derped a drill hard. I was completely wiped out and frazzled. Like a guardian angel, Ian was there behind me whispering into my Comtacs telling me that my fight wasn’t over and that I needed to get my gun back into the fight. His approach to motivating you to keep fighting is far superior to having some one stand over you and yell.

This makes the atmosphere much more easy to operate in. You’re not afraid of screwing up. He is going to work you through your problems in a productive and constructive manner. On top of that, no one is judging you. The atmosphere of his class is very welcoming brings out the best in people. Speaking of people, the guys I got to shoot with were hands down some of the coolest people that I have had the honor of shooting with. I can safely say that this is the best shooting experience I have ever had.

Take his classes…

If that title doesn’t say it all, then I’ll be horribly redundant. I cannot recommend Ian and Runenation enough. If you have the opportunity to take one of his classes, then do not pass it up. Ian’s classes are incredibly affordable and an amazing value for the amount of learning you are going to do. I always had two major excuses for avoiding classes. Being intimidated and money. Those excuses have been made invalid.

Come with and open mind and be prepared to learn. Put in the work. This is the key to success. If you can do those things, along with operate a firearm safely, then you will thrive.

What I took away from this class…

There is only so much that you can teach yourself. Youtube will only take you so far. A lot of people will tell you to get out there and use what you know. Do you really know what you’re doing though? Maybe… I learned that you definitely need instruction and scrutiny to get better. Youtube cant do that for you. I highly recommend training and as I opened this post, you owe it to yourself and your family if you choose to take your safety into your own hand.

I learned many lessons. Perhaps the biggest lessons came from my failures. They cause me to take a step back and evaluate what I was doing wrong. I had to use those tools that Ian provided for me. I learned that I need to throttle appropriately and to not rush things. When lives depend on placement of bullets, then you had better make your shots. You’ll never see any of this if you don’t push your limits though. Ian will push those limits much harder than you can push them yourself and it makes for one of the best learning experiences one can have in regards to running a firearm.

I walked away from this experience with a new appreciation for fighting. Specifically fighting with a rifle. Hell, a new appreciation for life and a whole new out look. It sounds cheesy, but it was a life changing class. I met new people, made new friends, learned new skills, and improved upon everything. No pictures or video of the class were taken by me as I was busy trying to put in the work. I did get one picture with two of the most bad ass guys I have ever met. Ian from Runenation an Ivan from KitBadger.

Ivan, Me, and Ian. Hands down the most fun I’ve ever had with a gun.

In closing, this was probably one of the most influential experiences of my adult life. It was amazing. If you get the opportunity to take one of Ian’s classes, then do it without hesitation.