Blue Line


November 3, 2014  By Dave Brown

Make Ready with Travis Haley: Adaptive Carbine

Panteao Productions, Blu-ray $44.99, DVD $39.99 MSRP U.S.

by Dave Brown
Panteao is Portuguese for Pantheon, which means “a temple or place for the gods.” It can also mean “a group of persons most highly regarded for contributions to a field or endeavor,” according to Panteao Productions, producers of a popular line of training videos available on DVD, Blu-Ray or online subscription. Travis Haley certainly fits into that exalted company.

Haley served 15 years with the U.S. Marines Force Recon and did multiple combat tours in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. After leaving the military, he founded SDI Tactical Inc. to teach weapons and tactics to military and law enforcement personnel and then partnered with Magpul Industries to establish a training division known as Magpul Dynamics.


Haley and partner Chris Costa taught advanced courses on handguns, shotguns and rifles and released a series of Magpul Dynamics videos, including “The Art of the Dynamic Shotgun” (previously reviewed in ) and “The Art of the Dynamic Carbine.”
Haley recently founded his own company, Haley Strategic Partners. In this video, shot under the Panteao banner (, he discusses what he terms the “adaptive” M4-style carbine. Failing to adapt dramatically decreases your chances of surviving combat, he contends. This includes not adapting to disruptive environments or technologies.

Haley may be one of the best carbine instructors on the planet. He knows and appreciates old-school techniques that still work today but embraces modern technology and, even more importantly, attacks weapons training as a science. He makes his points very clearly and – unlike the Magpul Dynamics video series, which shows an actual class in progress – talks directly to the viewer. Winning and losing is not a game to him; it determines whether one will live or die.
The recent Commons shooting and possible terrorist threats against Canadian police officers underscore the need for good training based on science, designed to imprint basic technical skills into one’s subconscious.
Early in the video, Haley focuses on the need to understand the relationship between the human mind and good weapons handling skills. This begins from the moment you pick up a firearm. A proper administration reload is not just a way to charge the carbine before your shift. Done properly, it imprints basic skills as automatic responses in an emergency.

Cutting corners on basic daily drills is not just a safety concern but also bypasses an opportunity to reinforce good skills and set yourself up for success when it really counts. Not doing a proper admin reload means the shooter misses “a perfect opportunity to climb the ladder of excellence.”
Costa and Haley always work well together in the Magpul Dynamics series but their videos are sometimes almost as much about the cool guy gear as the instruction. In the Panteao video, we get only Haley – no students or partner and a minimum of cool guy gear. (He does have a blood type patch Velcroed to his shirt – but I suppose even Haley has to acknowledge that airsoft gamers and wannabe “contractors” make up a large portion of the company’s market. EMS technicians or trauma surgeons don’t rely on a $2 patch stuck to your clothing to determine blood type.)
Once Haley covers the valuable administration reloads and explains his life safety rules, he gets right in to carbine setup and a very valuable chapter on zeroing your carbine. I wish every officer could watch what he says about tactical and speed reloads; they have as much application to semi-automatic handguns as carbines.
Another example of his attention to detail is the chapter on carbine ballistics. He illustrates very clearly the differences between 25, 50, 100, 200 and 300-yard zeros. Without saying where you should zero your own weapon, he clearly illustrates the effect of the different zeros on targets at various distances and talks about the strengths and weaknesses of each zero setting.
This is an excellent example of how important it is to keep an open mind and to be prepared to incorporate change (“adaptation”) to your own setups and skills. I almost guarantee that it will convince every C8/M4 shooter to rethink their zero range preference.
The video’s one-on-one style is very effective at incorporating basic fundamentals with enough advanced techniques to hold everyone’s interest, no matter their skill level. Two cameras run almost continuously as Haley rapidly discusses and demonstrates, barely pausing to take a breath. You don’t get the multiple takes, cutaway shots, multiple angles and consistent color balance of the Magpul series, but the quality of instruction and more than two-hours of solid information easily justifies the video’s cost.
My favorite part is how Haley constantly emphasizes the importance of mental skills in conjunction with physical manipulations. As he points out, “Shooting starts in the mind.” I could not agree more. This video may not have the production values or cool guy gear of his previous efforts, but the message is much more concentrated and valuable.
After all, the main goal of his message is not entertaining the audience. When that patrol carbine comes out, it is highly likely that only one side of the fight is going to go home to their families that night. As instructors, we need to do everything in our power to ensure that it’s the good guys who walks away.
You will not learn everything you need to know to make it home alive at the end of your shift from a video, but it is a great way to learn some new techniques and see how well your training compares to one of the best in the business.

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