Student Reviews

 VSM Pistol review

    Today was the VSM Basic Pistol class taught by JoeR. The class was held at the Guthsville Rod and Gun Club in Orefield, PA. Class started promptly at 0900. It was sunny with clear skies and in the morning it was a balmy 35 degrees. There were 8 students, JoeR and his trusty sidekick Pete (that makes 10). Out of the 8 students, there were 3 police officers, a nurse, a 911 dispatcher, a computer tech and the other two guys I failed to ask what they did. 

    There were two Glock 34s, a Glock 23, Glock 17, Glock 19, a Beretta 92F, Smith and Wesson M&P 9c, and a Para Carry 9 LDA. 

    The class started with a safety brief about how to contact emergency services and where we were located at the range. Next, we went into the 4 basic safety rules. JoeR then went in depth with the basic grip, stance, sight alignment and trigger control. JoeR really covered this thoroughly. He left nothing out at all and made sure that everyone was on the same page before we put hands on our firearms. This opening lecture was about an hour and twenty minutes long and I will have to say that JoeR kept it from getting dry.

    Next, we went down range and quickly realized that we should have been standing on that side of the range during the lecture because it was much warmer in the sun. We started off with a dry fire exercise and then a trigger reset exercise. We then attempted to go hot and do a trigger control exercise......

    Here is where I want to stop and talk about gear. The first issue we had right off the bat was the guy running the Para 9 quickly realized that his front sight was bent and was shooting about 3 inches right at 3 yards. Luckily, he had a back up and transitioned over to a Smith and Wesson Sigma 9MM. The guy with the 92F also had issues early on and was given a loaner Glock 17. I can't report on what the issue was because I was at the other end of the range. There were also a couple of minor holster and sight issues that were quickly fixed. 

    The gear issues, thankfully, were found and fixed early on. The issues did make it a sluggish start but all in all, once they were addressed, we really got moving. 

    As with all of VSM classes, these drills were all based on accuracy and proper shooting fundamentals with trigger press being numero uno. We did several drills from 3,5,7 and 10 yards involving 1,2 and 3 rounds from the ready and then from the holster. I kept getting beat up by JoeR for coming off the target too quickly after the string of fire. I think he started throwing stuff at me and he was calling me a Travis Costa mutant or something like that. This brought us to about 12:10 and we took a quick break for lunch.

    After lunch, we worked on emergency and tactical reloads. JoeR again, was very in depth and clear in how to perform these reloads. Next, we did the walk back drill on an 8 inch steel plate. I will say that with a little ingraining of the basics, I was amazed how far away you can smack an 8 inch plate. We then did the 10X10X10 test. That is 10 rounds in 10 seconds from 10 yards. Again, it's amazing to see what can be accomplished when you stick to the fundamentals. I scored an 89 but I had more than 2 seconds to go on the clock when I finished.

    Malfunction drills were next. We went over tap, rack, assess. We talked about stove pipes and then double feeds. The VSM way of clearing a double feed was different for me but I could see that it was very fast. We quickly went into shooting and moving. First front and back then, left and right. Moving left and right was different than what I do but, again, it's just another tool in the tool box. Last, we did turning. Pivot left, pivot right and pivot rear. This was something that I have done in a lot of classes and again, JoeR just has a way of breaking it down and making sure the students do it right. 

    JoeR then asked what if we wanted to go over anything again and there were no takers. Someone suggested we do the walk back again and we ran that a second time. Who wouldn't want to shoot more steel? JoeR then brought us all in and explained to us that we should never leave the range on a bad note. He hammered the saying "Shooting is 90% mental". He had us line up at the 5 yard line and shoot the best 5 shot group that we could. 

    This class was great! I rarely read AARs that do not have pictures. I have to say that I brought a video camera, still camera and a tripod. We simply did not have time to even stop to take pictures. We did not rush through anything but we never had any down time to do anything. This is not a bad thing! JoeR kept us moving, learning and most of all had our attention the entire 8 hours. This was a great bunch of guys! We all got along, laughed, and learned well together. I would love to train with each and every one of them, anytime! 

    Training in this area sucks! I am glad something like this came my direction for once.

Initially posted by CoryCop25 on 11/12/2011 on

 Carbine I review

Who: Sights & Trigger Firearms Training and Consulting LLC
What: Carbine I
When: 11 May, 2013 0900-1800
Where: Bethlehem, PA USA
Price: $150
Class size: 8
Estimated rounds expended: 350 Carbine, 6 pistol
Weather: 70 degrees overcast/ intermittent rain/ thunder shower

Class demographics: 5 civilians, 3 active LEO- 100% Male, 35-50+years, 1 lefty
Instructor: Joe Riedy
Asst Instructor: Pete (active LEO)

My best recollection of the day's events.

We began with Joe's safety brief- the four rules and how they affect/protect our fellow shooters, innocents, and ourselves. In short, you can screw up a single one of the first three rules and no gets hurt. This was followed by indicating where the med kit was located and establishing that two of the LEO students would handle coms and initial first aid if needed.

We began the class proper with a discussion of Zero, trajectory, and line of sight/ line of bore and the effect of sight height above the bore. Joe explained why uses 50y zero.

Joe demo'd prone and various kneeling positions and discussed considerations as when to use each.

We were assigned targets (IDPA silhouettes with B-8 repair centers) and proceeded to confirm zero at the 50y line. My target had no holes! My rifle had been zero'd @ 100y, I had shot it several weeks earlier- obviously I was shooting the wrong target. Joe kindly taped an X instead of a ^ (dunce cap) on the head portion of my silhouette to allay any further confusion on my part. Two or three cycles and everyone was zero'd.

Next up was another safety brief as related to training and moving with a loaded carbine and how (especially for our LEOs) the idea that you will never muzzle a friendly or yourself, is a fantasy. This was further explained by several real world stories of sympathetic reflex responses leading to unintentional perforations. “Know the condition of your weapon and keep your finger off the effin' trigger until you are ready to shoot” was the take home/tattoo inside your eyelids message. This was followed by a brief discussion and live fire example of staying in your lane/knowing what's between you and your target. Joe's safety briefs are affirming and encouraging, rather than a string admonishments.

We moved up to the 25y line for instruction on stance and grip to best control the carbine during recoil and how if you are going take a bullet... front to back is better than a raking shot through both lungs/heart. Joe would sprinkle us with these tactical/mindset nuggets throughout the day. My form sucked, Pete took on the job of getting me squared away, reminding me to tuck my elbow and get my thumb on top of the forend between strings of fire- many thanks to him.

Joe explained the decision making process/factors that go into the decision to reload an empty carbine or draw a pistol and how to work with a partner. After a brief explanation of the movements We did 2 strings of carbine to pistol transitions. I'll interject here that Joe is acutely aware of the ammo situation. Throughout the course he pointed out skills and movements that are easily and effectively practiced at home with snap caps. With this in mind, 2 reps were enough and we moved on.

IIRC, we then move back to 25y and performed the Test 10 rounds/ 10 seconds on the B8 although it wasn't mentioned at the time, 90 is passing... no one passed*.

Lunch was bring your own, eat at the range.

After lunch, we worked on reloads. Joe's explanation focused on a minimum of steps, i.e. “If you shot a bunch, there's no need to look for an empty chamber, Reload! Strong side to support side transitions were a challenge for me, Joe helped me out a ton.

Then the skies opened up thunder and hard rain sent us under cover for a hour, Joe regaled us with tales from his LE career, several of the officers present were witness to many of the incidents, most of which, left Joe bruised, bleeding, or burning (my favorite).

Next was shooting while moving forward, back, left, right. This was run as a single drill demonstrating the obvious need for smooth footwork to get good hits and the importance of recognizing good guys moving in and out of your peripheral vision.

In no particular order, we worked on clearing malfunctions/jams in particular the double feed. Joe teaches a slightly different method that is simpler and faster than I had seen before.

We concluded with several timed drills using a combo of steel and silhouettes that forced us to use the skills taught throughout the day. These included an innovative array that came to Joe in vision (he's that switched on) the night before.

Personal notes:  

I bought my carbine in June 2012 and had put 300-400 rounds through it. My basis of firearm experience is as a lifelong hunter, once upon a time competitive shot gunner, and former member of the the blue steel and fine walnut side of the gun business. Prior to 2012 I had never given much thought to owning an AR type rifle, something changed early in 2012 and I took the plunge. Thanks to and my prior firearms experience, I knew enough, to know I didn't know much about running the AR efficiently and effectively- I needed training.  

I had the good fortune of taking the S&T LAV Basic Pistol class last fall, so I had a solid idea about how Joe runs a class. When he finally offered a carbine class that fit into my schedule, I jumped at it. Joe smiles a lot between the moments he offers up information that may save your life, I like that. Joe has been busted up quite a bit from his career in law enforcement and his mis-adventures in DIY home repair. He groans a bit getting into- up from prone, kneeling, etc. but, he does it anyway, at speed, on a muddy range, in short, he did everything we did, he and I are of the same vintage, I appreciate this.  

The class- It was obvious everyone had more AR experience than me, I like to think my little screw-ups were very personal and never effected the class as a whole. Everyone was friendly and safe. When Joe addressed the class on tactics or mindset it was never LE specific. I appreciated the several times he brought the LEOs into the discussion since by definition, their experience with loaded guns in occupied dwellings and civilian streets tower over the private citizen (me). Great guys and real pros, their municipality is lucky to have them.  

Sights & Trigger is a tremendous value for your training dollar.  

GEAR: BCM Mid 16 Mod 0, Aimpoint PRO, Caracal F 9mm, RKBA Kydex holster &mag pouch, DSG Kydex AR mag pouch, Tactical Tailor single 30rd mag and dump pouches, all worn on my edc 5.11 instructor belt.  

Everything ran great with one large and one small exception, the mount on my PRO kept loosening in spite of my best efforts (Call into Aimpoint today), the only change I'd make is to get a TT 20rd pouch as without a Magpul it takes an extra second (bang, bang, bang, bang) to fetch the mag. I toyed with the idea of buying a chest rig or a battle belt for the class, for the moment, I'm still sorting out what my actual gear needs and budget are. Joe runs a “hot” range, (always) a loaded mag in the carbine and two on my belt were always sufficient. The smartest gear decision I made recently was the TT dump pouch it was all I needed and budget friendly.  

* The S&T pistol class I attended had a walk back contest for a prize at the end of the class, I inquired to Joe about this and was informed "The contest was The Test before lunch, you all sucked!". He was right 📷  

Initially posted by Urban Redneck on on 05/13/2013

Carbine I review

Class: Sights and Triggers Training - Carbine I
Inst: Joe Reidy
Location: Steel City Range, Bethlehem PA
Date: Saturday Sept 14, 2013 09:00-17:15
Weather: Cool and mostly cloudy

Class size: 12 Students
Round count: ~250 .223/5.56 and ~30 pistol

As a lead firearms instructor for both my agency and a regional SWAT team, I expect a lot from any course I take. In reality as the head instructor, I don't get to shoot all that often - other then the occasional drill demo - as I spend most of my time holding a whistle and a clipboard or a timer instead of a gun while on the line. Therefore I am very picky about who gets my training time and money as that's my chance to learn, sharpen my abilities, and shoot while under the eye of someone else who will be critical of my mistakes. I also look not only for training for myself but, like any instructor, I am always on the hunt for new and intesting drills and skills I can steal to take back to my people. This helps to keep them interested and engaged in training which makes my life easier on the line. While I enjoy traveling and taking multi-day classes, sometimes the travel and expense is just too much. So I started looking for some local alternatives over the last few years in an effort to supplement the longer classes with some local trigger time. I was specifically looking for a local course to work on my carbine skills a bit. I already attended an EAG COC2 earlier in the year and I was looking for a one day course with a reasonable round count that would let me work on some of the skills I learned there. I had contacted a few other local trainers (NY, NJ, Eastern PA) over the last couple of years, but I didn't like what I was hearing from them so I wrote them off and continued to search for someone else.
I had not heard of Joe Reidy or "Sights and Trigger Training" prior to a member on another forum I sometimes frequent bringing him up. He gave him high marks so I did some research. Joe was local, the round count looked doable (fit my training allotment for rounds for the year) and the price was right. So I started digging a bit and I found nothing but good reviews. He is a fellow Cop and with his training resume I felt safe to assume the training would be oriented to "fighting" and not simply "shooting" - which is the first thing I look for in a class. So I wrangled up 2 friends that like to train (one of my fellow Firearms instructor on my SWAT team and one of our Medics - secret of the universe #2264: Whenever possible, attend training with your own Medic <img src=" width="15"/>in my eyes. Where a lot of local instructors are just regurgitating what they heard from those that have been there and done that, Joe's opinions are formed from personal experience, and what has worked and not worked in the real world, not just a flat range.

If you had a way to do something that was different from his POI and you could explain why in a rational manner that made sense he didn't try to "fix" you. He asked that you try it his way for the class, and if you liked it then keep it, if not forget it. If what you were dong was counter to what works in the real world in his experience he explained that as well, ultimately leaving it up to you to decide.

As always, the students go a long way to making a class work. This one was no different. The class was a mix of Cops, CCW carriers, and a couple of Competition types. It was cool to watch how folks from different backgrounds approached each drill with their focus being slightly different. I surprisingly got a lot from watching the Comp shooters do their thing. They would game the drills a bit and their skills were wired tight. Their movements were very efficient and deliberate, no wasted movement, and while they looked like they were in slow motion, they posted excellent times. By the end everyone was teasing and encouraging each other, and offering advice and criticism.

Throughout the class Joe covered a variety of topics relating to the rifle and it's uses. He covered gear/equipment selection and setup, ballistics, TTPs, and related it all back to the use of a firearm in a defensive, or sometimes offensive posture in the real world. He never missed an opportunity for somebodies mess up to be a teaching point for the class and he did it in a way that didn't call the student out, but let everyone learn. He used the timer in a manner that let you now where you stood, but didn't belittle anyone. He gave you standards to meet, then explained how those time standards were initially developed and by whom. He touched on how they are used to measure progress relating to the levels of achievement and how we could use them to improve in practice. He was funny, but not a clown, and made everyone feel comfortable, in turn, making the class enjoyable. He was able to convey some fairly complex ideas without breaking a sweat and without making you feel like he just beat you over the head with a hammer.

We didn't kill the drills with rounds. Joe would explain a drill and the theory behind it, explain how it relates to the skill of fighting with a gun and why he prefers to do it that way, give a quick demo and then we would run it two or three times. This let us pick up a skill and learn a drill to work on it that we could bring back and practice on our own. To me, in this time of high ammo costs and low ammo availability this is value added.

- Practice isn't training.
- You can't miss fast enough to win.

To Improve:
- Shooting on the move. Always my weakest point.
- Reloads. They were OK but I recently moved my emergency reload pouch after a having it in the same place for a number of years. Procedural memory bit me here and slowed me down a bit. I need to work those movements dry with the new pouch.
- Offset. Gotta remember mechanical offset better.
- Pistol shots at 50 yards. I have been neglecting my pistol skills for a while in favor of taking carbine courses. I need to fix that.

To maintain:
- My transitions were good. I was pleased with my time and my hits.
- Clearing malfunctions. My way works. It just takes second or two longer. I need to maintain this as I experiment with the new sequence Joe taught.
- Mindset was good. I tweaked my knee early in the day and it stiffened up and got pretty painful. I was able to continue the class and do ok despite the distraction.

I highly recommend Sights and Trigger ( for a very cost effective and local (NJ/Southern NY/Eastern PA) training opportunity. I am also planning on attending another S&T class with Joe in the very near future. 
Initially posted by High Exposure on, 09/19/2013

 Pistol Fundamentals review

 I have been a firearms owner for a long time. I’ve spent time at many ranges on a regular basis both for fun and proficiency. Having said that, I have not had any kind of formal training in technique, sight acquisition or to employ a firearm in a situation. Enter S&T.

    After taking Joe’s Handgun Fundamentals class (3/26/17) I realized how woefully unprepared I had been. It’s one thing to purchase a gun and go to a range and plunk at NRA targets at 20 yards with leisure. It’s quite another to employ the use of a handgun in a situation that is less than ideal without the benefit of slow and calculated target shooting.

The training consisted of some basics as you would expect. Additional areas of focus were trigger control, stance, tap/rack and clear, movement while shooting and timed response and accuracy on steel plates to name a few of the days drills. A lot is covered and the pace of the class moves along rapidly.

I don’t believe in some sort of forced mandate but I do think it is in every firearms owner’s best interest to take some type of advanced training and Sights and Trigger is an excellent choice.  What you learn is invaluable and could save your life. Joe’s patience and confidence truly shows he loves what he does and is eager to ensure his students acquire the knowledge needed to safely and effectively use a firearm.

Tom V.   Kutztown PA

 S&T's scheduled classes will be announced on both the PA Firearms Owners Forums,  and M4 Carbine,   For more information or to schedule a class at your facility contact me at