After-Action Report: The Thunderstick Summit | An Official Journal Of The NRA – Shooting Illustrated

Shotguns are so prevalent in our society that even “non-gun” people might own one. Also, possibly because of their sporting heritage, shotguns have fewer state-level restrictions on ownership. Shotguns offer unparalleled and devastating stopping power at appropriate distances, and this power and general availability make shotguns great self-defense tools for the majority of people in the United States.

However , shotgun knowledge continues to be plagued by myths, misinformation or outdated knowledge. Furthermore, though competent shotgun instruction can be found in isolated pockets throughout our country, defensive-shotgun training is still not as commonplace as reliable instruction for using a carbine or pistol. This was the reason for bringing together a handful of experienced defensive-shotgun instructors plus organizing the first Thunderstick Peak, which was held in north Texas upon September 9-11, 2022.

“A Firearm In Common Use“

Thunderstick Instructors The Thunderstick Summit was a three day weekend comprehensive shotgun symposium hosted and staffed by some of the foremost defensive-shotgun subject matter experts in the usa: Darryl Bolke from Hardwired Tactical Shooting hosted Tom Givens from Rangemaster ,   Erick Gelhaus from Cougar Mountain Solutions , Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts and Rob and Matt Haught associated with Symtac Consulting . Together, these men have decades of experience using shotguns personally and professionally as either law enforcement officers or instructors, or in many cases, both. Students from different walks associated with life participated in this sold-out event, in addition to industry representatives from shotgun-focused companies like Vang Comp Systems, Aridus Industries plus Wilderness Tactical.

Day One Recap

Mary Givens kicked off Day One of the event with a comprehensive lecture about tactical shotguns . The particular lecture covered the historical context and use of shotguns, and he was able to convey how these firearms are still viable and relevant today with regard to defensive uses. Besides covering shotgun basics, the presentation also protected the different types of shotgun ammunition and included video footage of shotgun ammo being fired and penetrating common barriers like interior structure walls or vehicles. This footage was useful because a lot of misinformation concerning shotguns comes from a lack of understanding shotgun ballistics.

Givens also explained the reasons why modern tactical buckshot loads evolved from their Old West roots and how defensive lots such as the Federal Flite-Control 00 buckshot tons or Hornady Versa-Tite loads are game changers. These modern buckshot shells not only increase the shotgun’s effectiveness over a given target, but also curtail excessive pellet spread which can pose many serious plus undue risks. In addition , the lecture reiterated how shotguns stand out as defensive options because they are typically legal in locales where it might be more difficult to legally possess semi-automatic rifles or even pistols.  

The later part of Day One was an instruction block headed by Erick Gelhaus. Demonstrating each concept with his slick and broken-in Remington 870 Police shotgun, Gelhaus taught his students how to pattern their individual shotguns with buckshot and slugs at various distances. He furthermore took the time to stop in between patterning at each distance to explain what the column associated with pellets has been doing as it spread over time. Gelhaus covered the different ways to hold a shotgun within low ready and the advantages and disadvantages of each position.

Thunderstick Summit Day Two

The first half of Day Two started with a classroom lecture by Darryl Bolke which added to the things which Givens covered the previous day. During his spiel, Bolke stressed that it was critical to escalate force only when no other options are available and what the repercussions of doing so might be. Anyone interested in defensive-shotgun proficiency must master quick and efficient reloading, therefore Bolke pressured to always “feed the particular pig, ” and top off a defensive shotgun as the opportunity allows. Bolke also talked about the shotgun’s effectiveness by telling students, “The shotgun is my favorite thing to bring to a pistol fight. ” This is because the particular shotgun’s peak effectiveness coincides with what shooters might consider “pistol ranges, ” from the muzzle to approximately 25 yards.

Daryl Bolke Bolke started the shooting portion of Day time Two with some shoot or no-shoot scenarios with your shotgun, depending on the type of threat, in order to help them think critically before applying lethal force to each situation. He also made students do a “box drill, where college students had to move in the appropriate direction while furthermore managing their own muzzle discipline and shot shell supply.

Steve Fisher took over in the afternoon, and his block also involved movement drills. Fisher wanted to show students exactly how critical it is to be able to properly and safely navigate a world full of persons and objects with a loaded shotgun, since the same features that makes the shotgun an excellent defensive firearm is the same thing that makes it extremely dangerous if carelessly handled. Fisher’s drills provided for a great experience for the learners, as many ranges do not allow this type of dynamic motion with loaded shotguns within a 360-degree environment. Tom Givens then finished off Time Two simply by running an informal shotgun drill down and awarding a challenge coin to the student with the best time.

Day Three Recap 

Day time Three of the Thunderstick Summit belonged to father-son duo, Rob and He Haught, along with their assistant-instructor, Mr. Bob Mefford. Rob Haught is best known for teaching his recoil reduction technique known as push-pull. Because shotguns are designed to fire powerful buckshot or even slug payloads, failure to properly mount these guns to the shoulder or hold all of them correctly will result in the shooter getting bruised, battered or otherwise pushed around. In essence, push-pull mitigates recoil by applying pressure with the body and tension with the arms in order to better absorb felt recoil. Take advantage of began Time Three having a presentation elaborating on this technique and also introduced the art of short-stocking. Short-stocking the shotgun involves applying the particular push-pull method and then bringing a shotgun on top of the shoulder making use of three points of contact to unconventionally shorten a long gun on the fly. Rob Haught first attributes this field expedient trick to GIs during World War 2 in Italy who used this technique with their M-1 Garand rifles to get around tight spaces.

Rob, Matt, plus Bob spent the rest of the morning on the firing line coaching students through the practical applications of push-pull and short-stocking. The Haughts implemented a crawl-walk-run approach. After the initial introduction of a drill, they added more complexity. Watching Rob Haught shoot the Remington 870 pump action shotgun using his own techniques is something of a treat, as he makes it seem like he is shooting a semi-automatic shotgun instead. The lack of proper recoil and mitigation techniques are another series of problems that plague the shotgun and hold back defensive-minded photographers from making the most of out these types of firearms. The particular Haught’s push-pull lessons are a great antidote to this. Their techniques are effective for any shooter; someone does not have to be built like a linebacker to take advantage of push-pull. A 120-pound ballerina could also shoot the same shotgun because effectively as this theoretical linebackers when using the Haught’s lessons.  

After lunch on Day Three, the particular class completed with a quick shotgun exercise assessment administered by Gelhaus. Afterward, students congregated within the classroom for any final lecture and interactive Q& A session with the panel of trainers. Topics like favorite accessories and what their particular opinions on ideal placement were discussed. There was also a brief show-and-tell segment exactly where instructors shared some antique “tactical” shotguns and pointed out the differences and similarities in order to fighting shotguns of today.

The Best Defensive  Shotgun Training Available

The Thunderstick Summit is a great immersive opportunity for those interested in better learning how to employ the shotgun for self-defense or are thinking about taking those first steps. The event itself is skill-agnostic plus there are no pre-requisites other than showing up with an open mind but more importantly, having a safe-gun handling mindset. A valuable thing about this event is the fact that it conveniently bundles qualified teachers who teach their specific area of shotgun expertise—all under the same roof.

After speaking with Bolke, he explained to me that plans are in motion for setting up the next occasion during the second half of 2023 in Las Vegas, NV, at a larger venue that will be able to hold a lot more students. Event organizers are also looking to improve or tweak the curriculum as needed in order to remain relevant to today’s gun owners. Please stay tuned for more information through Mr. Bolke and his training company, Hardwired Tactical Capturing for the next iteration from the Thunderstick Peak.

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