Throughout my life, there’ve been a few things I’ve always wanted to cross off my bucket list. After being cooped up for over a year, I decided early in 2022 that I would travel around the country for various training courses. A friend recently told me about a small training company in the northern part of North Carolina that I had to check out. I hopped in my truck and made my way down to Moyock, NC for quite the weekend. Let’s take a closer look at my experience with Aggressive Defensive Solutions firearms courses.
Background On The Instructor
Aggressive Defensive Solutions is run by its lead trainer Ric Sutton. Ric has an impressive 18 years of military experience in the United States Marine Corps serving during Desert Storm and then being a competitive shooter as well as a senior trainer at Blackwater from 1998 to 2007. Ric spent years working for Blackwater as well as being a law enforcement officer. As a result, Ric has acquired a wide range of expertise when it comes to firearms training and tactics. I had a friend reach out and tell me about his training style. Based on what they said on our phone call, I had to check out this living legend for myself. I ended up signing up for a pistol and carbine class working on one-handed manipulations and dynamic shooting.
Facility and Competition
Aggressive Defensive Solutions does most of its trainings at the world-famous Academi training facility formally known as the flagship Blackwater training facility. Arriving at the facility is nothing short of impressive, with armed security at the front gate at all times who check you into the facility. We ended up staying at the facility lodge all weekend to make life easier for a weekend full of shooting.
Every second Saturday of the month, Ric hosts shooting competitions for local people to compete in. Since we were already there, we all decided to hop in and compete before shooting his course the next day. It may not have been a part of the training but if you plan on traveling for his courses, it’s always a good idea to sign up for the competitions the day before so you can have a full weekend of shooting.
Morning Dynamic Pistol Class
On Sunday, we arrived at 8:30 to get started and after a few minutes of safety briefings, we were on the range working on movement drills. Ric is a trainer that focuses on more than just shooting fundamentals. He looks at the big picture and helps shooters work on footwork and build an overall picture of how to move efficiently while firing their firearms. After doing a number of shooting movement drills, we ended up focusing on one-handed shooting manipulations.
During this section, Ric’s prior experiences and knowledge really shined where he would watch shooters and coach up each shooter based on his observations. Throughout the morning course, we worked on both paper and steel targets which I can really appreciate. Having both the accuracy feedback from the paper and immediate response of the steel really is a great way to train. By the end of the morning, we fired roughly 300-400 rounds mainly focusing on movement shooting as well as one-handed manipulations.
Ric went on to show us how to reload without a holster and what it takes to do advanced one-handed reloading. Throughout the course, a few people had ammo-related malfunctions which he dove into showing us how to clear them one-handed. By the end of the morning, Ric managed to teach 8 students with a wide variety of skill levels all of his material where they could effectively engage targets one-handed and on the move.
Afternoon Carbine Course
In the afternoon, I was joined by a local female shooter who signed up for the class which meant it was just the two of us. Since it was such a small class size being just the two of us, Ric gave us personalized attention which was a huge plus for someone who may have been a new shooter. We started with shooting from various static positions to get warmed up. Ric was big on practicing the various low ready, high ready, and high point rifle positions, so we went through those all while working on target transitioning and kneeling/standing shooting.
One of my favorite parts of training with Ric was his deeper look at why he was teaching us certain drills. He always had a deeper explanation that tied into the overall bigger picture which I really appreciated. I’ve been to a number of training courses where trainers will just have you run drills and then move on, where Ric was adamant about explaining why it was important. After a bit of shooting from different stances, we worked on one-handed shooting with a carbine which I’ve never really practiced but it was worth giving a shot.
Going the Extra Mile
Since the afternoon class was only a couple of us, Ric decided to put us through multiple reps of each drill before moving back to the 100-yard line. After a few shots to zero our rifles, everything was squared away and we started shooting from cover as well as an elevated platform. Ric was happy to answer any questions and I really did feel like I was talking to someone we will look back on as a contributor to American history.
Working as the main trainer for Blackwater all those years as well as his other accomplishments makes him an incredible source of information on tactics and training. We finished out the day tired and sunburnt as we said our goodbyes and headed out to dinner. Before leaving, Ric gave us his email and cell phone in case we ever had any questions and even told us about some of his upcoming classes if we wanted to join.
It’s not uncommon for me to travel around the country looking for new training courses to attend. I can really appreciate seeing various instructors and working through their training curriculums. Ric Sutton was one of the first few trainers who started at Blackwater back in the day and has been growing his skill portfolio training for the last 40 years. He may have a few old-school preferences but I think it’s an incredible look at some really valuable knowledge from a true legend.
I spent $350 for the entire day of training and I think that’s well worth the entry price. Ric has a natural teaching method that shows the big picture and out of all the training courses I’ve taken this year, the Aggressive Defense Solutions courses were by far my favorite so far. Let me know if you’ve ever trained with Ric Sutton or if training at the Academi range is something you’ve wanted to do down in the comments below. If you have questions about training courses or firearms in general, feel free to shoot me a message on Instagram @fridgeoperator. Stay safe out there!