Shoot-off winner Brandon Kelley.

THE term maximum life expectancy denotes an estimate of the maximum amount of time that a member of a given species could survive between birth and death, provided circumstances that are optimal to their longevity. This paradigm is much more meaningful when it involves taking an active role in enhancing one’s own chances of survival through advanced firearms training.

Grant Lavelle of MAXLIFEX supervises line during transition drills.
Position work at distance.

Enter Maximum Life Expectancy, LLC in Joplin, Missouri, where I recently had the privilege to attend a basic rifle class taught by Owner and Lead Instructor Grant Lavelle. Grant was a marksmanship instructor for the United States Marine Corps and is a combat veteran. He also served as a sniper and sniper team leader for the Joplin, Missouri Police Department.

Now a reserve officer, Grant worked for years in corporate security at a major corporation while nurturing the growth and clientele of MAXLIFEX to what has become a full-time training entity. The class I took was held at the Ammu-Nation Shooting Range in Webb City, Missouri.

MAXLIFEX provides a full spectrum of sound, quality firearms training for private citizens, police and military shooters alike. Instructors are well versed in all defensive firearms techniques and offer CCW training and certification as well.

As I was to learn, Grant Lavelle is an engaging, hands-on instructor who has high regard for his students and who goes to great lengths to maximize each student’s shooting experience.


In addition to both basic and advanced handgun and scoped rifle courses, MAXLIFEX offers a Carbine Rifle familiarization course as well as the Carbine Rifle I course that I attended. Although only a one-day class, it was a full (and by “full,” I mean over eight hours) day.


The day began with a review of the information taught in the prerequisite fam course. Safety, sling use, weapons handling, defensive and legal concerns, and the exterior ballistics of the 5.56/.223 cartridge were revisited to assure that all students were on the same page prior to hitting the range.

Student backgrounds in this particular class ranged from law enforcement and former military to gun shop owners and very knowledgeable private citizen shooters. All students utilized some variant of the AR-15 platform chambered in 5.56/.223.

Figure-eight drills on the move.

In the days prior to class, Grant suggested that all shooters confirm their zeros out to 100 yards and that they check the mounting of their optics before arriving for class to avoid downtime and maximize range time performing the skill sets they were to learn. Close range holds were revisited, demonstrated and confirmed for distances of 15 yards and in.

Discussing ballistics and holdovers.

Despite the broad experience of the students, rifle malfunctions were expected to be positively cleared when applicable, in conjunction with transition to secondary firearms with no assistance from the instructor, as would occur in a real-world encounter.


To that end, quick-reaction drills were conducted repeatedly on targets with various shapes, colors and numbers, to force students to positively identify their targets before engaging them.

Proper movement and muzzle discipline while carrying the rifle were explained and demonstrated. Shooting on the move was new for some students, but even the novices grasped the concept and did well. This was due largely to the instructional abilities of Grant Lavelle and the quality of students in this particular class. A series of figure-eight drills around barrels

You know the class is going to be great when a one-armed warrior shows up with a spear.

with varying targets engaged on demand drove the point home.

Hackathorn drills (three targets engaged multiple times in rapid succession) under a shot timer demanded coordinated speed as the students became more confident and competent with their rifles. Again, all did well.

Next, we moved to the 100-yard line for a multi-position exercise on steel. All students were required to engage an 8×8-inch steel plate from offhand, kneeling, prone and through all ports on a nine-hole VTAC barricade. Each student had to successfully engage the plate before moving on to the next station.

An interesting side note is that U.S. Army veteran and MMA fighter Josh Rector attended the class. Josh lost an arm in Iraq, but you’d never have known it if you’d seen his performance. It did not slow him down whatsoever, and his speed in some instances was as fast as or faster than the other students.

The tutelage of Grant Lavelle, who suggested alternate firing positions and manipulations, insured seamless learning for all.

The day ended with a shoot-off based on accuracy and speed. It was won by Brandon Kelley of 4 States Shooters Supply in Joplin.

If you are in southern Missouri seeking quality firearms training or wishing to obtain your CCW credentials, I highly recommend seeking out Grant Lavelle and Maximum Life Expectancy.

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