Filling Up February

… And Giving Your Thumbs A Workout.

Yeah, I know. February is already filled with snow, ice and daydreams of springtime. But there are other ways to fill it, and when your significant other asks what you’re doing sittin’ on your butt in front of the TV, you can answer, “Just what you suggested! I’m learning new skills and studying!” Let me know how that works out for you, OK?

The lawn ain’t growing, the fish ain’t bitin’, there’s nothing “in season” and the range is under a mini-glacier. Obviously, it’s time to put another log on the fire, bust out a video and give your thumbs a workout on the old remote control. But what’s there to watch? Here are some suggestions:

Got a family-legacy Winchester ’97 trench gun, a WWII Mauser 98, or a crusty, but seemingly sound CZ-52 pistol you got in trade for a washing machine? Would you like to have a master gunsmith slowly and patiently guide you through a detailed mechanical tour right down to the last pin and spring?


The American Gunsmithing Institute has video courses covering tons o’ guns of all kinds, new and old. They have 108-hour courses for professional gunsmiths, but their Armorer’s Series is made for folks like you and me, who know how to operate and maintain those shooters, but don’t know exactly how the widget spanks the sprocket, and tearing them down to the frame is a fearsome thought. Most courses run 90 minutes to 2 hours and cost $39.95.

thunder ranch

If you’ve been reading Clint Smith’s columns, you know he’s all about function rather than fads; a guy who can appreciate the latest and finest of tactical firearms and accessories, but who can also duct-tape a flashlight under a double-barrel scattergun, pull a deer rifle from a closet, or pick up a worn-shiny Smith & Wesson revolver and get the defensive job done. And if you’ve wondered what it would be like to just hang out with Clint and shoot the breeze, he’s got a Thunder Ranch video for you.

I highly recommend Defensive Firearms: Defend Yourself With The Gun At Hand, a 2-DVD set priced at $49.95, which covers mental preparation for dealing with threats with handguns, rifles and shotguns—ones you might already own—and range demonstrations. Clint’s style is personal and factual; a 1-on-1 with a trainer who understands you must know your tools, but 90 percent of effective fighting is between your ears. Another winner in his array is Defensive Thinking: Logical Solutions for Home, Car & Carry, and check out his multi-DVD order discounts too.


The Whole Shootin’ Match

In Fernando Coelho’s native Portuguese, panteao means pantheon; “a temple” or “a group of persons most highly regarded for their contributions to a field or endeavor.” With his Panteao Productions, Fernando has gathered an impressive array of outstanding trainers like Paul Howe—a favorite of mine—Massad Ayoob, Dean Caputo, Louis Awerbuck, Tom Yost, Bill Rogers, Jessie Harrison and more, and captured their expertise on a professionally filmed and edited lineup of DVDs called Make Ready.

Skill levels addressed range from novice to world-class competitors, and subjects span sport shooting to life-or-death encounters. And Fernando has set up a unique marketing model: You can purchase individual DVDs online or by phone or you can register online, become a subscriber, and have access to “streaming video” of the content of every one of those courses and more as they are released.

The signup options are $150 for a full year of 24/7 unlimited access, or $17.95 per month, and you can suspend that program and take a break for a month or two anytime you like. Members also get 10 percent off all DVDs, and have access to short-subject “Pro Tips” videos on-line. If you’re not a happy camper, just call within three days of starting a monthly or 10 days of an annual subscription and get a 100-percent refund. This is a full-spectrum evolving operation, very well done.


You don’t have to be a high-speed, low-drag combat operator to enjoy the heck out of—and learn a ton from—The Art of The Tactical Carbine from Magpul Dynamics. Cameras follow all the action and live-fire instruction as trainers Chris Costa and Travis Haley take a group of students from fundamentals through a performance pressure-cooker, pushing them to their failure points and teaching them how to react, adapt and overcome. In three DVDs totaling more than 5 hours, virtually every aspect of tactical carbine operation is covered, with one disc devoted to fundamentals, another to advanced skills and finally, the third to drills you can use to develop, hone and maintain your proficiency.

In everything from solving weapon malfunctions to engaging multiple targets while on the move, you’ll see the trainers’ heavy emphasis on consistent, deliberate movements; the kind of actions which build neuromuscular memory to be drawn upon almost unconsciously when you’re under stress; from slow and smooth to fast but certain. You’ll want to watch this set again and again—and then of course, there’s the 4-disc Volume II set! And, The Dynamic Art of the Handgun, one for the shotgun and one for the precision rifle. Yeah, they get addictive….

Bang For The Buck

Training using well-constructed video has a value you just can’t get from books alone, especially when dealing with movement and manipulation skills. For that matter, even the non-tactical skills involved in, say, detail stripping a firearm are much better presented in video form than in print, because you can see how much pressure the gunsmith is applying to a part, or executing a twist-and-lift maneuver which is easy to demonstrate visually but almost impossible to adequately describe in words. The videos we’ve featured above are among the very best available. They’re “the next best thing to being there.”

The only thing you may be missing is the smell of hot brass and burnt gunpowder—and the cleanup afterward! Well, maybe you won’t miss that part…. Connor OUT

American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI)
351 Second St.
Napa, CA 94559
(800) 797-0867

Thunder Ranch
96747 Hwy. 140 E.
Lakeview, OR 97630
(541) 947-4104

Panteao Productions LLC
701 Gervais St., Ste. 150-193
Columbia, SC 29201
(800) 381-9752

Magpul Industries Corp
P.O. Box 17697
Boulder, CO 80308
(877) 462-4785

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