"Having spent seven years in the Marine Corps, three of those years as a U.S. and Foreign Firearms Instructor, and a small period of time on a DoD Firearms Instructing contract I have had the opportunity to instruct over 1,000 students with over 1,000 hours of formal instructing time. I have also been a student of dozens of instructors from military, law enforcement, SWAT/SRT, and private organizations to include MagPul Dynamics, EAG Tactical, Gunsite, STRIKE Tactical, NEMRT, Alias, Grey Group, and the list goes on. I am now a police officer in a neighboring jurisdiction to Chicago and an LE Firearms Instructor. I have worked with, been trained by, or been asked to critique nearly 100 instructors in my time behind the gun. I don't by any means claim to be an expert on instructing but I believe that when Joe Schmo says, “go to so-and-so, he's an amazing instructor” you have to realize that typically Joe has had all of about 3 instructors to base that on with YouTube being one of the instructors.
A few years ago I took two courses in which I had Kevin Mante as a lead instructor. When I received my instruction from Kevin, I was fresh off of my DoD Firearms Instructing contract where I had just spent more time instructing and instructed more students than 99.9% of instructors will ever do in their lives. I had been taught to critique every aspect of teaching to help improve fellow instructors so it was natural for me to dissect the instruction I was receiving from Kevin and his AI's (assistant instructors).
All of the previous being said, the following is my professional opinion of Kevin Mante of Applied Combative Solutions:
Kevin has a VAST knowledge of the subject matter he teaches and is constantly seeking more training to improve himself, his curriculum, and his instructing. Periodically I inquire about courses he's taking and he's always booked to take “advanced” level courses through the firearms instructing industries' best instructors. This is an important quality in an instructor because it ensures that you're going to not only have someone teaching you that knows what he's doing but you're going to have someone that is constantly able to bring new tactics and techniques that they believe are best suited for their students applications. Many CCW “instructors” have their NRA teaching certificate or state firearms instructor certificate and they stop training unless the training is provided by their employer (low cost training... CHEAP training).
Kevin has an ability to identify and correct problems that shooters are having very quickly. This may be the best quality an instructor can have. It's a quality that takes years to develop through thousands of hours of formal instructing time and thousands of students having a myriad of problems. Kevin has had enough students and hours in front of the classroom to get that all done – and it's impressive.
The curriculum he teaches is presented in a clear to understand and logical manner. Another quality that is achieved only through teaching day in and day out for years. Kevin can also articulate why all of the tactics and techniques he teaches work and in what situations they should be applied.
Kevin understands the capabilities, limitations, and applications for numerous weapon systems, tactics, and techniques. From pocket guns to rifles, from shotguns to machine guns, single man structure searching and team searching, use of barricades, lights, vehicles, and in-depth ballistics, you name it he'll have solid information on it. CCW “instructors” don't typically have the training or experience to apply that much information into their instruction. Kevin needs it though because he's also instructing guys that are going to have to apply all of it in real-world situations.
The techniques and tactics I was instructed by Kevin are ones that I knew would work based on my time as an Infantry Rifleman in Iraq and they're also nearly identical to what many of the industries top instructors are teaching. For even the most experienced of us, he can gain your confidence quickly just with that.
Experience applying the tactics and techniques that are being instructed is HUGE. Cops can say because they carried a gun for X number of years, they've applied those tactics and techniques – that sort of covers it. Civilian instructors will have a much harder time saying the same thing. Kevin has the experience of carrying the gun and executing those tactics and techniques but with one important difference: he's used the tactics and techniques to stop a lethal threat, under stress, and while sustaining injury. I may be out of line for sharing that because he doesn't tell many people but I think it's important because it vets many of the information he'll be instructing.
Mante has more attributes that I would mention but I feel that this may lose its luster if it gets too long. Before I end this, I want to share one more thing. The reason I approached Kevin and asked him if he'd let me do an instructor critique of him is because of my PERSONAL opinion of Kevin Mante's instructing: I spent approximately 72 hours receiving top-notch instruction from Kevin. Less than four months after training with Kevin I was involved in a lethal force encounter with a man shooting at officers that stole a police car and used it to attempt to murder me. I was forced to use lethal force including many techniques that I had just perfected under Kevin and I survived that encounter. The next day I was on the phone with Kevin giving him an After Action Report because his instruction was instrumental in my ability to stop the threat and survive to go home to my family. Only the best instructors put their heart into making better gunmen because they know someday, somewhere, the little time they spent with a student may make the difference between a funeral and a beer."
Police Officer (IL)
“I recently attended a Rifle Training Course and wanted to provide you with some feedback on the experience.
I have been in law enforcement for over 20 years, but this was my first experience training with Kevin. For me, it was a tremendous class and I learned a great deal. I was particularly impressed with the quality of the instruction from Kevin and his staff. It became clear to me very early that Kevin is very passionate about keeping Cops safe and making sure the “good guys” win. Going to the class, I felt that I was proficient and confident with the Carbine. I own numerous rifles and do a lot of training on my own. However, very early in the class I got served up a dose of “humble pie”. Unwilling to see me left behind, the instructors quickly identified a number of my problems and went to work with me to correct them. I immediately saw improvement in my shooting and by the end of the class, I was shooting very well. I attribute my improvement to the quality of the instruction. The training stretched me and pulled me out of my comfort zone, it was great!
Kevin and his staff are some of the best instructors I’ve seen in my career and this was some of the best training I’ve had. I wanted to thank you for providing exceptionally high quality training and I have already made the decision to attend additional training with you later in the year.”
Police Officer (IL)
“I feel compelled to write this because I was so impressed with the quality of the instruction.
I am currently a Chief of Police, Master Firearms Instructor and do a lot of training at PTI and elsewhere. With that being said, Kevin and his staff are the best I have ever experienced. Kevin “knows his stuff” but the level of instruction in the class raised the bar.
I feel that you measured the success of the instruction you were delivering by how well your students learned. It was evident that you truly cared more about your students learning than just getting through the material and moving on. I feel that it was your goal to try and make your students better than you. Your caring for the students’ ability to learn sets you apart.
I plan to try and send my people to any class you teach. I truly appreciate your efforts.”
Chief of Police (IL)
“It’s hard to find a good instructor for rifle training. Kevin Mante is the best I’ve seen and he’s now working in this region.”
Police Officer (IL)
“I wanted to take a few moments to thank you for the Patrol Rifle course.
First let me say that I really appreciate the approach to all things rifle. I spent over twenty years being frustrated by the way the Army teaches and trains marksmanship and basically everything related to small arms. I could go on over this subject for hours but suffice it to say that I love the "demystifying" approach and have used it myself in several subjects. I know that everyone else benefited form it also.
Bottom line, I felt better leaving your two day class than i did in any of my experiences in weapon training in the military.
Great job, great training and presented in the best possible manner. Well done sir!"
Police Officer (IL)