First, let me say that I believe that the SAAM (Sportsman All-Weather All-Terrain Marksmanship) Training is the finest of it's type in the world. I won't pretend I know them all. I do know however; that even while searching for a class I didn't find anything like SAAM anywhere on the internet, and especially not specific to their Safari training, which I took. And the instructors were incredible, with an unbelievable military background. I don't believe that their specific background is mine to share and only mention it in general to make the point that the instructors are well qualified to instruct not only shooting, but how to handle dangerous situations such as those that could be encountered on an African DG hunt. I need to start the review when I first communicated with Tim Fallon about eight months before the course. We e-mailed back and forth and he was always extremely nice and answered all of the questions I had. As soon as I started asking some really specific rifle/scope questions he said no more e-mail, that we needed to talk on the phone. He wanted to make sure that we weren't mis communicating and that I got what I needed. We spent almost 45 minutes on the phone that day as I recall. He was also very clear that what he told me was his opinion and what he would do and that there were other opinions and options. If anyone is wondering, I followed his recommendation and couldn't be happier! I also talked to Tim several more times over the months, and met Tim and Doug (lead instructor) at DSC in January. Now, time for the class!!!! Day One Classroom instruction began at 8 AM, sharp. We went until almost 1 PM and covered a variety of topics, starting with safety, which was stressed through out the course. If you don't know the four rules of gun safety, you will. Next was general rifle knowledge and parts, followed by an in depth discussion of scopes and reticles. I learned a LOT about scopes and my opinion of what I want from a scope changed drastically. Then a great lesson on windage and elevation, including all of the environmental factors. At this point my brain was full!!!! After lunch it was time to clean rifles!!! They showed us "a way" to clean rifles. I like their way and will use it in the future. It wasn't too different from what I was already doing, but I still like it. They also checked the torque on all of the receivers, bases, etc... I know many of you do that, but I never have. After seeing how many were loose I will from now on.... Then to the range, finally!!!! They equipped all of the rifles with bi-pods, slings, and cheek pads (almost everyone needed a cheek pad on their rifle to get the proper cheek weld and still see through the scope - this was new to me, but the results couldn't be argued with!!!) if you didn't already have them, which were needed for their prone shooting style (and we were only shooting medium bore at this point. I'd never shot with a shooting glove, sling, and bi-pod before and it was different and uncomfortable at first. By the end though, I was more stable from prone than I am on a bench, without a doubt. The goal here was just to get the rifles zeroed at 100 yards and have the instructors begin to correct any technical shooting issues that we had - raising the heading off the gun too quickly and not following through on the trigger pull were common to many, myself included. Once we were all sighted in we were done for the day. It was a full day, believe me! Day Two Time to pull out the big bores!!! We went back down range and began to sight in all of the rifles, from .375 and up. This was done from the bench, or in the case of a .470 Nitro Express, sticks (until the final couple of shots). Then we worked at longer ranges and how to hold over, depending on your scope, for ranges out to 250 yards. It was pretty cool to see guys ringing nine inch plates with a .416 Rigby at 250 yards. The point was letting us see that we could do it, if need be, with proper range knowledge and holdover. This got us to lunch. The afternoon was snap drills at Cape Buffalo targets. For this we used Rugers in .223 that were provided. FTW had these bolt actions made specifically for the course. We started with dry fire drills. I should have mentioned this earlier. All rifle activities started with dry fire drills to get the shooters comfortable, then ammunition. At any rate, the snap drills were great. Not only was there snap shooting, but also great instruction on things like proper footwork to make sure that when you turn you're in proper position to shoot that charging buffalo, and to ensure that you don't fall down while doing so!!!! This is the time to mention the instructor's attention to safety again. Special attention was paid to it during this drill and the importance of carrying your rifle properly at high port was stressed, as was finger off of the trigger and thumb on the safety. The safety came off as the rifle went up. I found this to be one of the best parts of the class. The only issue I had was that I'm left handed and all of the rifles were right handed. Due to this, I lost some of repetition that righties got. They are talking to Ruger about making them this gun in lefty. That was it for day two. It was a lot of work and a lot of fun! Day Three In the morning it was back to the medium bores, but this time we started at 100 yards and worked out to 600 yards to get us a range card. A ballistic calculator will get you close, shooting it for real let's you know for sure! The .30/06 I was using was given to me for Christmas in 1982 as my first high powered rifle. I never thought I'd be hitting nine inch targets at 600 yards with it, but I did!!!! Oh, and it was really windy too. The instructors called wind for us and that was amazing in and of itself. Wow.... The afternoon was back to the big bores, starting with snap shooting and then the really fun stuff!!! Moving targets at 30 yards to simulate an animal running off, then shooting at elephant and buffalo life size targets, followed by charging targets to simulate, well, a charge. Finally, a mini buffalo hunt with the "PH" setting up sticks and telling you what to shoot. Awesome..... Day Four Here is where I'm going to get fairly vague as some of y'all might go to SAAM and I don't want to spoil the fun. I'll just say this. The morning was a simulated PG hunt that focused on different animals, ranges, and the use of sticks and always working to improve your shooting position. The afternoon was the DG hunt, with all of the normal suspects, including the aquatics. Remember my early mention of the instructor's military background? Let's just say that the hunt was anything but static! After this we had a little time left and worked on anything that needed to be worked on. In my case it was ensuring the range card for my rifle was correct, so back out to a 500 yard range, get into the prone position,and shoot. Yup, the card was correct and the steel target was swinging and ringing. What a beautiful sight and sound..... Summary: The food was amazing. I left feeling like I was family. I would recommend FTW Outfitter's SAAM Safari course for any hunter, regardless of DG, or not. For a DG hunter I believe it is vital. PH's take this course too and it certainly isn't just for the beginner. As they say, just keep an open mind! I plan on going back and taking the precision course, once I recover from my first two Safaris. Unfortunately that probably means at least 2016 for me, but I will be back to the FTW Ranch, that I know! www.ftwoutftters.com And, I got to shoot my first double, a Krieghoff .470 Nitro Express. One of the other students was gracious enough to let me shoot his. Watch the youtube video and see if you can tell if the recoil scared me off from the doubles, or not.