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Sentinel Defense – Vehicle Defense AAR

November 11th – 12th, 2019 | Erick

Vehicle Defense, by Sentinel Defense (LE ONLY)

WHERE: Chino Hills, CA – Prado Olympic Shooting Center

Marc is a retired LAPD Detective-3 (think Lt anywhere else) who served as both a detective and then as a detective supervisor in a specialized investigative section dedicated to surveilling armed, violent, active criminals. They conducted a significant amount of vehicle-based surveillance and suspect takedowns in high-crime and damn near non-permissive environments.

Clint has been a co-worker &/or fellow instructor in two organizations. He has patrol, street gang, both homicides & OIS investigations, and tactical L/E experience in three agencies, as well as time, spent teaching.

WHY: Because you can never get enough work in, out of, and around vehicles – especially as “the police.” And, a full disclaimer – I was asked to attend this class by one of the instructors to audit it and provide feedback. I didn’t pay tuition, but I covered my own travel, lodging, and ammunition.

GEAR LIST: Pistol – M&P 2.0 4.25” w/thumb safety, P1 Acro & SF X300U WML; teaching/training duty belt made up of Eagle Ind/Safariland/DBT/Eleven10/Highspeed Gear/etc. components; Carbine – 16” Colt AR w/M/I lightweight rail, Cloud Defense OWL, and SierraTac sling.

Ammunition was Fed American Eagle 55gr .223 and a hodge-podge of 9mm ball, JHP, etc., from the left-over ammo can.


When I arrived at the Prado range, SenDef was putting up signs indicating where the class was going to be located. As students parked and drug their gear into the covered, up-range area, Clint and Marc both introduced themselves around

As they told the students, this class was focused on providing the skills necessary to defend themselves or a partner during a traffic stop for vehicle code violations or investigative reasons as well as high-risk stops or when parked, sitting in the vehicle. It was neither a vehicle assault nor a counter-ambush specific class. Nor was it about conducting VCT – vehicle containment tactics – though Fleishmann teaches that in a different venue.

The LEOKA research, as well as their experiences with multiple agencies, shows these attacks against officers are going to be high intensity, they aren’t going to last long. The BadGuys are looking for targets of opportunity and, when they find them, Hit & Run will be the most likely method.

They used a full-size monitor to display slides and video in the covered & enclosed classroom-like area behind the firing line. I did not notice any difficulty in seeing what was on the monitor. It worked well and is something to emulate rather than trying to project onto a range wall.

They presented the agenda for the next two days. This was followed by their safety brief. And their medical brief. I’ve done a couple of classes at Prado before, so their plan made complete sense. Along with identifying any medical professionals – an LASD reserve deputy/neurosurgeon who regularly flies on Air-5 with SEB/ESD deputy-paramedics – they assigned students to other tasks with redundancy.

Clint and Marc noted their goal was to provide material, information, and experience that would keep their students in their cerebral cortex and their rational mind, rather than getting stuck in the limbic system, aka – emotion.

On the line, we first shot the Sig Sauer Academy’s handgun and carbine standards at 5 yards on Sig’s target. Handgun:

1 shot – 1.5 seconds
1 headshot – 1.75s
2 reload 2 – 5.25s
2 primary 2 support – 6.0s

Carbine / Rifle:
1 shot – 1 second
1 head shot – 1.25s
2 reload 2 – 6.0s
2 primary 2 support – 6.0s
2 rifle transition 2 handgun – 6.0s

My first morning’s runs were not spectacular. In part, because I was fighting the bale on the modified Safariland 6280 holster I was using. It works fine with RMR-equipped pistols and, when sitting at my workbench, the bale cleared the rear of the P1. However, that bale did not clear the optic once a grip was established and there downward/forward pressure on it. Lesson learned.

Next up were ballistic issues as they relate to vehicles. Prado does not allow cars to be shot on the range. For various reasons, not the least of which was a lawsuit from a citizen shooter over something completely unrelated to this class. SenDef overcame this by building a bracket to hold a car’s front windshield – and had two with them. The bracket will also hold a car’s hood. Based on what duty ammunition they brought, some students had the opportunity to shoot through the windshield either inbound or outbound.IMG_2028

Nearly all pistol rounds the deviation was consistent in direction – up when going out, down when coming in.

The one exception was Hornady Critical Duty 9mm 135gr +P which had a noticeably low point of impact– when shot by someone who gave no indication of smashing shots low. The instructors are addressing that above.

Clint and Marc took us through a review and discussion of more events.

We finished the day with their mod of Vickers’s 10/10/10 drill – ten shots (& hits) at 10 yards in 10 seconds – run from the holster rather than a ready position. I shot a 98 that go’ round and earned their patch.


We started with more event video discussions and reviews.

The Sig Academy TCS standards were run again. Nearly everyone’s performance improved. I launched one pistol round high and my carbine 2-reload-2 was over time, here’s the carbine run:

Again, the range limited what we could do or how. SenDef worked within those confines. We worked dry and then shot live from a sedan and an SUV on both the passenger and driver sides with handguns. This included strong side and weak / support / other strong side work as well.

From there, carbines were addressed. This was a passenger-side only problem. Their take on vehicle work and I’m in agreement, is that trying to deploy/employ a long gun directly from the driver’s seat is quite difficult. That’s based on both task complexity and space limitations.

Unknown risk, investigative, and traffic enforcement stop approaches to the offender vehicle were discussed. Their material, methods were in line with the research I’ve done, written up, and have had published.

High-risk stop TTPs were discussed by them and then walked through. One trend that I am seeing across multiple L/E focused vehicle classes of late involves bringing suspects to the outside of one vehicle, and processing them there – rather than bringing them in between two patrol vehicles and potentially creating cross-fire as well as loss of focus issues should the encounter go violent at that point.

A near & far threat ambush scenario, involving threats on foot, was run next. Threat targets were downrange on the passenger side. You started in the driver’s seat and used your handgun as well as a shoulder weapon.

After moving vehicles downrange, they covered defending against pedestrian attackers approaching from the rear of the vehicle. We worked the problem live from the driver’s seat.

We finished of the day with another Vickers’s 10/10/10 run. I shot a 97 this time around. Once you are spun up on using an RDS (PMO, etc.), it is a significant advantage.

After handing out patches or coins for performance on the Vickers’ drill and certificates, Clint and Marc both debriefed the students looking for sustains and improves. Mine, while acknowledging the range-imposed limitations, involved being able to shoot into and out of/through vehicles – if at all possible.

I had a pleasant conversation with a classmate on TD#1 about some information unrelated to the class. The morning of TD#2, the same classmate roll’s into the parking lot and I notice a sticker from one internet forum on it. I asked the driver if he was on that board, he was. Nice! Another good guy to train with.

Conclusion: A fair amount of this course’s material is useful for decent, normal humans; however, the POI’s focus is for working cops. The training community has lost at least one well-presented vehicle defense class because too many want a combat convoy classes geared towards teams and lots of resources. SenDef’s lesson plan is appropriate to the course’s stated goals; there is reasonable use of video and PowerPoint – good and bad outcomes were shown to help with foundational issues.

Admittedly, I have a bias towards Clint and Marc as well as the presentation of their material. I am quite comfortable recommending them as instructors and this class for working cops.

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