Well the first ATA Rifle I class is in the books, and personally, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. We had a good showing with six awesome Armed Citizens turning out to train. This was a pretty diverse group in terms of prior training, firearms experience, age, and profession; we had a 20 y/o lady who had never fired a gun in her life, an academy-trained 41 y/o firefighter/LEO wielding a sweet little SBR, a 15 y/o warrior who had already taken plenty of private handgun training, and others with experience and training falling between those extremes. We even had two repeat students (a husband/wife team) who were coming back for their second ATA class together.

Everybody stayed safe, had a great time, and learned a lot. This was the most fun class I’ve taught to date. The thing with me is that while I do most of my training and practice with the pistol, I’m a rifleman at heart. Riflecraft is what I love the most in the combative shooting world. Most people have a really good time with it.

I’ll let the student reviews speak for themselves when they start coming in, but for now I’ll go ahead and throw out a few of my own thoughts about the class.

  • You don’t have to attend ATA Pistol I before coming to ATA Rifle I, but I highly recommend it. Whether you’ve never shot a gun before in your life (like one of our students in this class), or whether you’ve had a good bit of firearms experience (like many of the other students), the class will be beneficial for you. With that said, if I’m dealing with a class full of ATA Pistol I graduates, then that allows the class to skip past some of the more in-depth instruction on the basics and spend more time putting rounds downrange. As a happy coincidence, it just so happens that the next ATA Pistol I and ATA Rifle I class will be coming up on 25 and 26 June, which is less than a month away. If you’re looking for sort of an “Armed Citizen Basic Training” package, then the ATA Pistol I/Rifle I weekends will serve that purpose for you extremely well.
  • The focus of ATA Rifle I is the close-range use of the rifle. Think home-defense or CQB situation. It is not a tactics class, so I’m not teaching CQB tactics. Instead, it is a close-range shooting class; it covers the sort of material you need to learn before moving onto a CQB tactics class. What do I mean by “close-range”? The answer to that question is a little complicated, but in Rifle I, the farthest we shoot our long guns is 50 yards. Most of the day is spent in the 20-25 yard range. If you want to put lead downrange a good 200+ yards, then you will need to turn out for ATA Rifle II.
  • Some of the gear that I list on the class description page is optional. You don’t HAVE to have a sling or a chest rig/battle belt. With that said, here are some tips for making life easier. You do really want to have a sling on your rifle. I’m a big fan of the VCAS sling and other similar quick-adjust two-point sling designs. Two of the students didn’t have slings, and it was definitely less convenient for them. As far as load-carrying gear goes, it’s not super important that you have it – you can just run the class with magazines stuffed in your pockets, if you want. But I do recommend having 5 to 6 magazines that you can at least bring up to the firing line and set down nearby. Think of chest rigs/go-bags/battle belts as support gear for your rifle; it just works better if you have it. The messenger-style rifle bag should work really well for most Armed Citizens who are primarily concerned with home defense and active-shooter response. Those who plan to run and gun will need chest rigs or battle belts.
  • Continuing on with the gear discussion: Electronic ear protect is awesome. I have been beating this dead horse for a while now, but it really is worth the $40 investment required to pick up a set of Howard Leight Impact Sport ear protection. Being able to hear range commands and otherwise communicate normally greatly enhances your class experience, and it makes you safer because you won’t be constantly taking your ears off and on to hear instruction during class.
  • Final point on gear: What I’m really trying to say is that while all this gear is great and will make your class experience better (as well as making you able to better fight with your rifle), don’t let a lack of gear hold you back from taking the class. Training is more important than gear, and by getting training, you will have a much better idea about the kind of gear you want to buy.

Those are just some of the big debrief points that come to mind when I think of how this first class went. For a description of what we actually cover in the class, check out the class description page. To check class dates and sign up for the class, go to the registration page. For student reviews of the class… well just standby until I post some of them.You can find lots of awesome pictures from this class and others on our Facebook Page. I’ll be posting some more YouTube videos and Blog Posts in the near future, but in the meantime, please consider coming out to train with ATA this summer.

It’s true that reading articles and watching videos are good things to do, but the reality is that gunfighting is a physical skill. The only way to develop a physical skills is to get out and actually do it while under the supervision of competent instructors. During the month of June, we have ATA Pistol I + KY CCDW and ATA Rifle I on the schedule. ATA Pistol I is an introduction to the defensive use of the pistol – in other words, how to use your pistol in a fight for your life. The added bonus of that class is that it gets you your Kentucky CCDW Permit; if you take ATA Pistol I, then you do not have to take the normal CCDW class. ATA Rifle I is a class that trains you to use your semiautomatic fighting rifle as a weapon for home defense and other close-range gunfights. Both are well worth your time, whether you’re brand new to guns and self-defense, or whether you’ve been shooting your whole life.


Click here for ATA Pistol I + KY CCDW Click here for ATA Pistol II Click here for ATA Rifle I  

Click here to view our training schedule and sign up!


Josh Bales is a Level 10 Paladin with an 18 in Charisma and over 100 Hit Points. He gained most of his XP by serving in the Marine Corps as an Infantry Officer, where he deployed to Afghanistan as a Rifle Platoon Commander. He has been training in combative shooting and tactics for the past 11 years, and teaching these topics for the past 8 years. He currently resides in Southeastern Kentucky where he spends time doing cardio, powerlifting, fighting fire, reading, and just generally training for the fight.