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Sensible Self Defense: Vang Comp Thunderstick Summit 2023

I just lately attended the October 2023 Vang Comp Thunderstick Summit. The Thunderstick Summit is a 3-day coaching occasion which options instruction from a few of the prime defensive shotgun trainers in the US.

The summit coach line-up included Darryl Bolke, Greg Ellifritz, Steve Fisher, Mark Fricke, Erick Gelhaus, Rob Haught, and Matt Haught. I personally attended courses from all the trainers besides Steve Fisher. Nothing in opposition to Steve’s courses, time and availability grew to become a consideration. For these of you acquainted with the Vary Grasp Tactical Convention, the summit was the same round-robin format with college students rotating between completely different ranges for courses.

The summit opened with courses geared towards novice shotgunners with a
buckshot patterning train. Since I understand how my shotgun patterns, it
was heat up. My group then went to a
completely different vary to substantiate how our shotguns carried out with slugs—extra
heat up.

From my perspective, the highlights of my summit expertise had been courses from Mark Fricke and the daddy and son Haught duo. I used to be not acquainted with Mark and located his assist facet/injured shooter and fewer deadly courses to be very informative. 

Rob and Matt Haught Demonstration

I obtained (fifth-hand+) instruction on the Haught push/pull approach a few years in the past once I labored with DEA in Lima, Peru and I used to be trying ahead to receiving instruction instantly from Rob Haught. I used to be not disenchanted. The Haught’s courses had been effectively structured and I discovered an important deal concerning the push/pull and retention push/pull strategies.

I’m fairly effectively versed within the residence protection use of the shotgun, so the opposite dwell fireplace courses I attended supplied the chance to tune my execution of the push/pull approach. Efficient deployment of the defensive shotgun requires a gun arrange for that goal and full mastery of a particular set of fundamental methods. Whereas there are few “superior” methods in relation to deploying the shotgun, tactical issues do come into play. That is the place the Ellifritz shut quarters retention overview class and the Haught retention push/pull courses had been helpful.

Among the courses harassed methods extra geared towards legislation enforcement deployment resembling setting the shotgun as much as allow a direct swap to a slug and subsequently had been maybe much less helpful to the personal citizen. Utilizing a slug inside your property might be not a good suggestion given to the slug’s penetration means.  The necessity to exit your property to have interaction a violent prison is definitely a chance (an armed assault in opposition to a member of the family within the driveway for instance); nonetheless, such a state of affairs is extra prone to be solved with a handgun given the urgency of the response and the time wanted to retrieve a shotgun.

I used to be considerably shocked on the variety of attendees who didn’t know the way their shotgun functioned. In the course of the slug train, the shooter subsequent to me was having hassle chambering a spherical in his very effectively tricked out Beretta 1301. I reached over and hit his shell launch. He then requested me what the button I pressed really did? I informed him that it launched a shell from the journal onto the lifter and he mentioned he didn’t know the Beretta did that.

Vang Comp plans to sponsor the Thunderstick Summit as an annual occasion. If you’re planning to go to subsequent yr listed below are a few suggestions for a satisfying summit:

    — Know the way your shotgun features. As I discussed above, many individuals struggled as a result of they didn’t know methods to load, unload, use the security, and usually how their shotgun functioned. You’ll get pleasure from your time on the summit extra if you’re not making an attempt to study your gun’s fundamental features on the fly.

    — If you’re utilizing your shotgun on the summit (Vang does present rental weapons), ensure that the ammunition you deliver really features in your gun. Some weapons (notably Mossberg semiautomatic shotguns), are notably finicky with some birdshot masses. I seen a number of shooters battling ammunition that didn’t operate reliably of their shotguns. On the optimistic facet, they did obtain quite a lot of apply clearing failures to eject, failures to load, and many others.

    — Guarantee you will have a sling on your shotgun. Whereas I don’t suggest a sling for a house protection shotgun, from a sensible perspective the shotgun will get heavy while you carry it round all day. In courses, there may be a while spent standing and holding the gun throughout demonstrations, relay rotation, and many others. A sling makes life a lot simpler on this regard.

Adam Roth changing a Fast-Detach Service

    — An ammunition sidesaddle or butt cuff on the gun helps with the courses containing loading workouts. In a house protection state of affairs you’re in all probability going to take care of the incident utilizing solely the ammunition on or within the gun so studying methods to load with ammo on the gun is essential. The image on the correct reveals Adam Roth proprietor of Aridus Industries (a Thunderstick Summit 23 sponsor) changing an empty Fast-Detach Service with a loaded one.*  

    — You also needs to have the power to hold further ammunition to the firing line in your particular person. I discovered the 5.11 Flex Shotgun Ammo Pouch to be very helpful in that regard. Others used elaborate chest rigs, bandoleers, belts, and different accouterments. Except you apply with the frilly rigs and have them staged and able to go, you’re unlikely to have the ability to use them in a house protection response.

Subsequent yr’s Vang Comp Thunderstick Summit is deliberate for October 11 – 13, 2024 on the Firearms Academy of Seattle, WA. If you’re into shotguns I would definitely suggest it. Vang has not introduced the enrollment dates as of this writing. See the Vang Comp System’s web site for extra info (

For those who like these articles you’ll be able to observe by clicking the hyperlink within the higher proper nook.  

* Some photos courtesy of Kickeez (

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