Course: Get S.O.M. (Shooting On the Move)
Instructor: Todd Green
Whether your primary interest in training with a handgun is to improve in one of the plethora of competitions available to the modern shooter or preparation for capably defending yourself against a violent aggressor, you will probably be called upon to place accurate fire on a target while you are moving. Practically every form of "action" shooting has at least some stages that require shooting on the move. In practically every video of a gunfight you'll notice that people start to move…often rather quickly…once the bullets start flying.
Most practice and training, however, is done in a static position on a static target. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the big obstacles to regular training in shooting on the move is the limitations of most ranges. Most either have rules against doing something like shooting on the move or they are set up so that doing so is impractical or unsafe. My range, for instance, is a fairly small indoor affair with a shooter's position that is barely 3 feet square with a divider on each side separating the lanes…not ideal for practicing shooting on the move.
Because it is such an underdeveloped skillet for most shooters, it's generally a good idea to take any opportunity available to you to get some pointers on technique and the opportunity to practice a vital skill.
Whether you're a new shooter looking to learn the principles of shooting on the move or you're a more experienced/better trained shooter who would just like the opportunity to practice and improve your shooting on the move skills, Todd Green's Get S.O.M. (Shooting On the Move) class is just the ticket.
The class began, just as with every other class I've done with Todd, with a safety brief covering the four basic rules of firearms safety, specific instructions on handling firearms for maximum safety during the day (only handle firearms while facing the berm with no one between you and the berm, etc.), and a block of instruction on safety concerns unique to shooting on the move such as what to do if you fall. A well-stocked medical kit was placed in a visible, easily accessible location and a plan of action with specific responsibilities assigned to individuals was put into place in case of an accident. Training with firearms is an inherently dangerous activity and it's always a good idea to have a plan for what to do in case of an injury on the range. You really don't want to be figuring something like that out when somebody is on the ground leaking, folks.
We began shooting with the only static drill of the day: a 5 shot group so Todd could diagnose where we were in terms of our raw ability to hit a target on demand. From then on we were on the move in one way or another.
If you've had the opportunity to do instruction under a number of different instructors you've likely been exposed to any number of specialized techniques for shooting on the move. The techniques themselves may be very effective, but most suffer from a common core weakness: Few people who don't shoot for a living spend a lot of time developing those techniques to the level of subconscious competence. (Meaning you instantly do it without thinking about it) Todd takes a different approach, namely relying on your body's ability to direct your movement (which it has been doing all your life) and spending your active brain power working on the shooting problem. In other words, letting your feet move however they need to move and concentrating on keeping everything above the waist in an aggressive shooting stance and doing the sights and trigger bit to make the hits. Getting as low as possible and getting your weight forward on the balls of your feet rather than the heels makes a huge difference in your ability to place accurate fire while moving.
Todd also placed an emphasis on realistic pacing for movement. It's usually true that the pace of movement you see when folks are on the range is considerably different than what you'll see if the static target is replaced with an angry dude with a baseball bat out for blood. If there really was a guy trying to bash your skull in, nobody would be moving at a pace that requires time lapse photography to recognize. Todd taught a useful rule of thumb: If you can confidently fire a whole bunch of shots you're probably moving too slow. If you can't hit anything, you're probably moving too fast.
The drills used throughout the day taught forward, backward, lateral, and diagonal movement and were designed to give the individual shooter the opportunity to figure out what he needed to do to make the hits.
One of the more challenging drills for most was the "LETT" drill. The drill involves a line of targets set up at ~ 10 yards (in this class we used Todd's 40% IPSC steel targets, never closer than 10 yards) with the intention that the shooter moves laterally engaging each target for the specified number of shots and then moving on to the next one. After the first man hits the first target, the second man in line runs up to the line of fire, draws, and engages the target and moves on. As soon as he hits the first target, the third man runs up to the line, draws, and engages the first target. Once a shooter is done he runs back to the other side of the range to get back in line and do it all over again. You do this until you run out of ammo or run out of cardiovascular conditioning. The benefit of the drill is that it tends to make everyone pick up the pacing of their movement and in the process they learn to shoot accurately while moving faster than they might if they were doing the drill without the pressure of the other shooters pushing them. Folks who started out stopping to make a shot generally got to the point where they maybe slowed the pace of their movement a bit but never stopped moving. That in and of itself is significant improvement, as it shows a student coordinating speed, sights, and trigger to make hits that they probably wouldn't have been making at the start of the day.
Todd used barrels and cones as obstacles and complicated courses of fire to force the students to think, move, and shoot. The emphasis was always on realistic movement and accurate shooting. Todd has something of a reputation for teaching speed, but it's speed generally taught on tight targets. The biggest target we shot at during Get S.O.M. was an 8" circle…the A zone of an IDPA target. A good example of this emphasis was the final drill of the day, a moving version of the FAST drill. Shooters started at 3 yards and on the buzzer were required to begin moving, draw, and fire two shots to the 3x5 card "head" target, reload, and fire 4 shots at the 8" circle all while continuing to move at a realistic pace. Hitting a 3x5 card from the draw while moving the whole time is a pretty tight accuracy standard. If you move like someone really is out to kill you by the time you actually break the 2 shots on the card you can be 7-10 yards away. In a particularly odd twist I managed to do better on the moving version of the FAST than I have ever done on the static version.
While there was lots of moving in this course and you were encouraged to move with speed, merely cranking a bunch of rounds downrange without control wasn't ever presented as acceptable. The course was about control, learning to read the circumstances of the shot you need to take and delivering. Throughout the course each student was given liberal amounts of attention from the instructor. I've said it before, but Todd is one of the best I've ever seen at diagnosing what an individual is doing wrong and offering useful input to the shooter that helps them "get" what's going wrong and how to correct it. He's superb at being a coach and that's generally why those who train with him come away saying great things about his instruction and frequently become repeat customers. It's the primary reason why I've done multiple classes with Todd over the last few years.