Sheepdog Response


“Uncomfortable should be the Norm.”

– Tim Kennedy

Just spent a couple days training with Sheepdog Response, specifically their combatives and pistol training courses. Each day was spent half on the mat during the morning session, and half on the range for the afternoon.

The Mat:

It’s just nice to have things confirmed and underscored in training, especially through the collective experience of a group such as Sheepdog.

It is humbling to have it demonstrated on you during the “live” training portions of the class.

Sheepdog’s Dennis Jones expertly taught several hours of solid grappling basics, and then the class went full-out in unarmed positional grappling for an hour the first day. The second was several hours more and then weapons were introduced, and live work all with the focus on Position – Weapon – Damage: first you control position and the weapon (if there is/might be one in play) with equal emphasis, and when these are controlled, do damage to end the confrontation appropriately – be it a lethal option, to restrain, or control to disengage.

Striking drills emphasizing open hand – with the problems of punching people causing hand injuries highlighted through professional examples – and push kicks capped the basics, primarily as a means of driving an adversary back to make space and, again, control position.

Some video from the second day on Sheepdog’s Facebook page:


The Range:



Instructor Travis Lloyd ran us through our paces on pretty much all aspects of hand gunning from 3 -15 meters. After marksmanship drills, he discussed his philosophy on Combat Marksmanship, which is comprised of Movement, Marksmanship, and Mindset.

We shot a LOT of rounds focussed on these very aspects.

Each new course of fire focussed on combining these elements in different configurations, including:

Target transitions – here he has several great drills that I thought of as “building blocks” for better transitions, drills I hadn’t seen before that address some of the problematic issues with transitions. I am looking forward to practicing these more to see where it takes me.

Positional shooting – incorporating shooting when moving through positions (basically all the way down to laying on your back, all the way up to standing, with variations of seated, kneeling, and squatting along the way), good stuff which is not usually covered in range training. During this block several students were lucky enough to have tourniquets dropped in front of them or handed to them by Dennis or Doc Simpson and told where to apply it.

Movement during shooting –  linear, lateral, and weaving… moving to a position to set and shoot, and shooting through the movement.

Team tactics – a cover and move drill integrating communication while moving and shooting, and the body bunker technique, exchanging positions with a shooter in front to handle reloading, then exchanging back. Muzzle discipline is obviously critical here, but “real world rules” apply.

This course required more than a basic level of skill handling a firearm, not to mention situational and safety awareness. It’s one thing to know how to “run a gun” when on a flat range and scrupulously obeying impractical range rules; Its another to do so safely in and around others when “downrange” is 360 degrees. Coming from that place, Travis integrated awareness and safety with a much more practical emphasis on handling a weapon, live fire, at very close spacing and even in contact with another that is also running a gun.

Unlike other courses, this one had a Performance on Demand component at the beginning of each range session. You and a target and a timer, with the rest of the class and the instructors watching. Also unlike many courses – at least on the in-service LE side – Travis and/or Tim shot the drills on a timer to provide demonstration, and competed against each other in several drills.

Performance on Demand was not just for the students…


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