Course Review: Larry Vickers Carbine/Pistol I

Photo Credit: Neshooters

A couple weekends ago I attended Larry Vickers’ Three Day Carbine/Pistol I class hosted by NEShooters in Pelham, NH. I have been looking for a class covering the Carbine locally, so when I saw this class become available I jumped on the registration.

To give you a little background about me, I have zero carbine training to date. I have plenty of rifle marksmanship experience, but nothing with running a long-gun in a combative manner. I also have fairly little pistol training. I took a few handgun modules at a summit a few years ago and have a little bit of handgun training from an ECQC perspective, but otherwise I’m self taught with the pistol.

Course Overview

Larry Vickers is definitely a proponent of marksmanship over speed. Look at his slogan if you need proof: speed is fine – accuracy is final. That pretty much sums up the theme of the class. This class wasn’t a bunch of slow shooting by any means, but the emphasis was definitely on not going faster than you could make mostly good hits.

This three day class followed a fairly simple format: day one was all about shooting the pistol, day two was mostly about the carbine, and day three was a 50/50 split. The trend throughout all three days was to cover a subject, shoot a variety of drills designed to practice and test that skill, followed by a competitive team drill or two.

The class consisted of 18 shooters who were broken into 3 teams of 6. For all of the team and individual shooting drills, Larry likes to use a scoring system that isn’t all that different from what is used in IDPA. Shots in the black are -0, on the paper but out of the black -1, on the target backer -3 and shots not taken or off the backer are -5.

One benefit of a system like this is it institutes a good method of measuring your performance. For the vast majority of skills, Larry has some sort of drill that can be used to measure your performance.

Day 1

The first day started with what Larry considers the most important fundamental: trigger control. A variety of partner drills were used to perfect trigger control. Throughout the day we also covered sight picture, shooting from the low ready position, draw-stroke, emergency reloads and “follow through, scan, and assess.”

Day 2

The second day started with the carbine, and included some pistol work later in the day. We started with zeroing before covering a variety of topics: prone, sitting, kneeling, standing, shooting from low ready, reloads, transitioning to the weak side and transition to sidearm.

Day 3

Day three was about 50/50 between the pistol and the carbine. The morning was a review of the previous material followed by malfunction drills on both pistol and carbine, and shooting on the move.

My Thoughts

I took a lot away from this course, specifically in the carbine realm. Not having had any previous instruction in this area, I had a lot to gain by taking this class. I now have a good starting point upon which I can base my own continuing training regime.

Larry definitely has mastered the shooting skills that he is trying to teach, and he also has strong opinions about various methods and equipment. If your method or equipment falls outside of what he prefers, you’re going to catch some flak for it. I shot the course with stock sights on my Glock 17 and Larry didn’t miss out on the chance to give me crap for it.

Don’t show up to a class like this if you are worried about getting your feelings hurt. If he tells you your equipment sucks, you can take his advice or turn the other cheek. Either way, any instructional situation like this is a chance for you to take in new material and opinions and filter them with your knowledge and experience.

Ultimately when you take any class, you’re likely to differ in opinion on something with the instructor. The key is to build a strong understanding of the subject matter and compile a variety of experiences and opinions so you can make an informed decision.

The one thing that disappointed me about this class was what I perceived as a sensation of limited instruction. Part of this hinged on the limited one-on-one time. Being in a class with 18 students for one instructor basically means you might get a few corrections over the course of the weekend. Unless you had a question to ask, you got limited assistance. This could simply be an effort to not over-coach people, but based on the free distribution of equipment criticisms, I have a feeling that isn’t the case.

The material covered seemed rather thin, especially on Friday. At times I couldn’t tell what skill level this class was really targeting. We covered basic topics but without the level of depth that I expected. For example on Friday we went over trigger control and sight picture with little discussion on stance or grip. Larry might not consider these aspects important in his view of pistol shooting, but to really cover the subject matter completely I think they should have been discussed. But perhaps my expectations were unrealistic since I don’t have a lot to compare this to.

This was also an expensive course compared to the several others I have taken. $700 for a three day class (plus range fee) seems a bit high in my book. If the class was in the $500-$600 range, it would have been more competitively priced, and a little easier to swallow. If you are looking for a basic carbine course, there are certainly cheaper options available that would probably get the job done for you.

In the end, this was an enjoyable class taught by an experienced instructor. If you can afford a class like this, and are willing to pay the premium for Larry’s expertise, you’ll definitely learn something new.

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  1. WOH!!!!Great course I am looking forward to it!


  1. […] I took a pistol/carbine class taught by Larry Vickers. As this was my first foray into this kind of training, I had a lot of equipment to acquire. Before […]

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