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Thread: Shooter’s Symposium 2019. April 4-7. Eagle Lake, Texas. Part 2

  1. #1

    Shooter’s Symposium 2019. April 4-7. Eagle Lake, Texas. Part 2

    DAY 2: Red dot with Scott Jedlinski

    Scott had two four-hour blocks (8AM-12, 2-6PM) that can be taken individually, consecutively or on separate days. Block 1 was red dot fundamentals and Block 2 was red dot advanced. Block 1 was transformational for me. My learning points:
    1. Grip change. Previous grip was thumbs forward pressing down on the accelerator ledges of my G19X.
    a. Thumbs: Scott suggested a thumbs upward where the support thumb was resting or even pressing in on the slide. The dominant thumb also angled upward and should be relaxed. To paraphrase renowned shooter Jerry Miculek, you should be able to shoot well even if you did not have thumbs.
    b. Little finger: The most important finger was the little finger of the support hand. This little guy had the task of clamping down on the bottom of the grip to counteract the upward movement of the slide in recoil.
    c. Support palm: The thenar eminence of the thumb rode high on top of the polymer ledge. Scott admitted that this position often overrode the slide lock release and your slide will not lock back when empty. For him, however, this disadvantage was minor compared to the greater leverage gained. He reasoned that if you cannot stop your threat with 15+ rounds of accurate fire, then you have bigger problems than the slide not locking back.

    Although awkward at first, I adopted this new grip and noticed the following;
    • My red dot moved less. The red dot jumped less and was more centered up and down in the RMR window.
    • My wrist felt less tension and I could acquire my red dot more consistently.
    • I was able to shoot faster.

    I am not sure that all these improvements could be entirely attributed to the changed grip, but I performed better than with my old grip. For example, I was able to perform his 3&2 drill in 2.06 seconds. The drill is to draw from concealment at 3 yds, place three shots to the A-zone torso and two shots in a 3 x 5 card on the head. I did this in 2.06 seconds and saw my dot each shot. I could not do this before his class. For reference, the par for his black belt patch is 2.0 seconds!

    2. Liquid Chalk. Scott introduced us to a product called Petzl liquid chalk, and it was amazing. A little squirt in your palm and once rubbed in, it increased your grip traction tremendously. Rock climbers use this product. Scott rubs this in before he leaves the house every day. I have purchased this since the class and it clearly gives you more traction when gripping your pistol.

    3. Move sooner not quicker. To be faster in your draw and shooting, it often helps to move sooner rather than move faster. For example, when the BEEP sounds, start your draw at the B (start of the beep) rather than at the EEP or P (end of the beep).

    4. Microdrills & video training. To improve your technique, break down the larger process into smaller or micro steps. Work on each step individually until you are smooth and fast with it, then work on the next step until the entire process is done. For example, if your goal is to draw from concealment and get an accurate shot in under 1.5 seconds, then the micro steps would include.

    a. Clear garment
    b. Clear garment and hand on grip
    c. Clear pistol from holster to sternum
    d. Join pistol with with support hand at sternum level
    e. Extend linearly from sternum to eye level
    f. Acquire dot + target and shoot.

    Practice each step individually and achieve competency before moving on to the next step. When you are ready, video yourself performing the entire sequence dry fire. Verbalize at the end of each dry fire shot to address three issues: Grip, Dot, Par time. Verbalize whether you had a good grip or not, verbalize whether you saw the dot or not, and verbalize whether you made your dry fire shot within the par time or not. Verbalize this with every rep. Review the video and anything other than “good grip, good dot, made par time” should be analyzed for inefficiencies. Review the video in slow motion. Inefficiencies may include: moving the shoulder too much when acquiring the master grip, winging the arm excessively, excessively leaning to one side, unnecessary head movements, waiting too long to press the trigger after dot is seen, etc

    5. Presenting the gun. Scott advocated clearing your cover garment and drawing the pistol to near eye level as fast as you can regardless of distance. Slow down only as needed to fine tune your sight picture depending on the distance. For example, if you are at 5 yds and less, then a perfect sight picture is not necessary, and you may continue fast. At 25 yds, however, you will need to slow down for the more accurate sight picture with the RDS or irons. But don’t slow down until the gun is at eye level. This makes sense of course but even after I heard it, I found myself slowing too early (during the draw process) rather than when the RDS was at eye level. I did not make Scott’s 25-yard standard, which is to draw from concealment and place an A-zone torso shot in 1.5 seconds or less. Bottom line: draw and present fast, slow only as needed for sight accuracy depending on distance.

    Block 2 (Advanced Red Dot) was a four-hour class after lunch. It was like block one with more advanced drills towards the end. Although the material was 80% redundant, I needed the repetition to reinforce what I learned in the morning. Sometimes, you hear different pearls that were not absorbed the first time. Patches- Scott has a nice patch for students after his class. If you take both blocks on the same day, then you receive one patch. If you take these blocks on different days, then you receive one for each day. I would not have taken these on different days just for the patches but something to know for the patch collectors.

    DAY 3: Grappling in the weapons-based environment. Craig Douglas

    I saved this class for last because I knew from previous experience how physically vigorous Craig’s classes are. I took his one day Edged Weapons Overview (EWO) more than a year ago that focused on edged weapons. This class involved grappling when both knives and pistols are involved. Craig bases his concepts on Greco-Roman wrestling and teaches you skills when you are already entangled. The triad of his foundation are POSITION, POSTURE, and PRESSURE. Placing yourself in the proper position so that you can maximize your mobility (to escape or to flank your opponent), your strength, and your accessibility to your weapons or his weapons. Be in the proper posture to optimize your leverage and disrupt his balance and strength. Finally, exert pressure in the right places to cause pain, immobilize, restrict.

    The class is conducted outside. However, our class was held under a big tent on Sunday because of heavy rains. This was a blessing as we were the only dry group that day. Everyone else was drenched.

    For most of the day, Craig progressively took us through drills that built on the position, posture, and pressure concepts. Starting from entanglement, we learned the Hook Under, the Hook Over, the Biceps tie, the Wrist tie, the Arm drag, the Seatbelt, and ways to flank your opponent to the side or to his back. All of these skills are common to Craig’s EWO class as well, so it was a good refresher. The key lessons for me were:

    1. Solve the problem quickly. The more time you are entangled with your opponent, the more likely you will be stabbed or shot. Your threat will always have the element of surprise since he is initiating the attack. Don’t waste time with fancy moves.
    2. Control the hands. Quickly control/immobilize his hands and get to his side or back (ideal) so that you can access your weapons.
    3. Timing. Choose your timing wisely to access your weapons. Drawing at the wrong time (too early, or before you have controlled your opponent’s hands) will create more danger to you. To draw safely, you had to be in the right position (far enough in front, or preferably in back or to the side of your opponent). Position before submission. Try a move when you are in the wrong position and you may fail, with tragic consequences.
    4. Square up to your threat. Face squarely your opponent so that you can use your hips (leverage) and posture to your best advantage. Avoid blading your threat because you will be off balance.
    5. Proximity. If you are NOT able to access your weapons safely, then get intimately close (closer than arm’s length). The best way to control your opponent and prevent him from accessing his weapons, is to be close. Many people are not comfortable with this, but it is necessary to control your opponent.
    6. Distance. If you are not close, then get far. You should access your weapons only if you are far enough (at least two arm’s length) from your threat to minimize weapon grabs. If you are able to, then flank your opponent to his back.
    7. Pectoral Index. This is the position Craig advocates for your pistol when drawn in close quarters. The pistol is drawn up and held close and to the side of your chest, back near your axilla, with the thumb flagged up as the index point. The advantages to this position are:
    a. Keeps your weapon further back and away from your opponent, optimizing your retention
    b. Keeps a consistent index position that you can fire from. At close quarters, you will absolutely hit your target
    c. The consistent position also reduces the risk of flaggin yourself

    8. Intermediate distance. This is probably the most dangerous distance. You are just at arm’s length. Unless you have controlled your opponent’s hands, then this is not a time to access your weapons. The exception is if you have flanked and are behind him.
    9. Get low. Dropping your hips/weight is a great way to be disrupt your opponent’s posture and leverage your strength. It makes you heavier and optimizes your stability and balance. It also enables you to either drive in to be closer or escape the entanglement by ducking under.
    10. Be inside. When entangled, do whatever you can to be on the inside of your opponent’s arms. There are many advantages including: more control of your weapons, more control of his, etc
    11. Use your head. I noticed that whenever Craig was grappling, he would arch his head (while keeping his back straight) to grind his forehead into the opponent’s neck, into the brachial plexus. As he transitioned from one side to the other, he would rotate and grind his forehead to the other side, never losing contact with the opponent’s neck/jawline. As the recipient of this grind, it was very painful/uncomfortable and distracted you from any meaningful response. It essentially was a form of head control.

    Craig’s classes are known for his “Evolution” exercises at the end. Three students at a time would participate in the evolution. He chose three that were similar in size/stature/ability. One student would be the good guy, armed with simunition Glock and a rubber knife. The second student would be the bad guy armed with a rubber knife. The third student was also a bad guy with boxing gloves and was held back by Craig. The two students who were armed with weapons would start head to head in a grappling stance (good guy would have one arm under the bad guy’s right shoulder and one arm controlling bad guy’s left wrist). On the “Go” command, you (the good guy) have six seconds to “take care” of the bad guy and prevent him from accessing his knife or your weapons (knife or pistol). Craig would be counting loudly one thousand one, one thousand two, etc. At six seconds, Craig releases the second bad guy with boxing gloves and then it would be a two on one scenario, which is brutal. You then had one person trying to stab you and the other person hitting you.
    The scenario is over only when Craig yells “Break”. Whatever was happening, you needed to keep your wits, not panic, and fight through even if you had been stabbed twenty times. Protection gear consisted of a helmet with plastic shield (you also wore Eye Pro), a groin cup, and some folks wore gloves. You were patted down to ensure you did not have any real weapons. Once you finished your scenario, then you assumed one of the other roles (good guy would now be bad guy with gloves, bad guy with gloves now becomes good guy, etc). This evolution occurred three times so that everyone rotated through each role once. Running away was not an option as the other students form a ring and will push the participants back if they breached the perimeter.

    Lessons from Evolutions
    Exhaustion. Each evolution only lasted a minute or less. However, they were so demanding that you were completely spent physically and mentally. Then you had to rotate two more times. Volunteer to be the good guy first if you can because you will be exhausted after that.
    Finish quickly. You only had six seconds to finish your opponent before it was two on one. This was not a lot of time. No one was able to fight off two attackers without being stabbed repeatedly. Only two students were able to successfully deal with their opponent quickly and prevent the release of the second bad guy. Part of finishing quickly is to use simple techniques, not complex ones. The other part is violence of action. Be explosively violent. It is not a wrestling match. Having said that, we were all careful not to really hurt one another and Craig monitored the evolutions carefully.
    Gun fixation. Several students had pistol malfunctions after their initial shots (Simunition pistols malfunction easily). Rather than using their pistol as a club and or drawing their knives, the students fixated on trying to clear their malfunctions while they were being stabbed or punched. If you have enough distance from your threat then yes, clear your gun (or run). But if you are danger close (distances during evolution), then the broken gun is just a club. Use it as such and draw your knife to continue the fight.
    Face your threat. Try to square up to your opponent(s) rather than turning away from them. If you turn away, you will be off balance and your back is more vulnerable. This applies even if you are on the ground. Turn to the opponent that is the greatest threat.
    Lateral Movement. Move laterally or in a semicircular fashion. This allows you to flank your opponent and place one threat between the other. Avoid moving backwards linearly.
    Clothing. I wore a long sleeve compression garment as an under layer, and a T-shirt outside with jeans. Avoid any sleeves that are loose or not tight fitting because it can be used to trap your arm. I did that to my opponent in my evolution and prevented their access to the knife. It makes you think twice on what you should wear on the streets.

    I recommend this class highly. It was by far the best class of the three I selected in terms of learning points and physicality. I also recommend you schedule this class for the last day if possible. You don’t need to be strong to do well but you need to be nimble, fast, and have high cardiovascular endurance. You really cannot prep for this class except for working on your cardio, balance, and flexibility. I am 51 and did fine with my classmates, most of whom were at least 20 years younger.

    The symposium was an amazing event. The instructors and their offerings were first rate. The range facilities and the logistics were well organized. I met students who had traveled from New York, Massachusetts, and Florida to attend. Although expensive, you received superb instruction from some of the best teachers in the industry. Unfortunately, I did not make the Thursday orientation as I heard it was great fun. The food was okay, more quantity rather than quality (in terms of nutritious content). I am sure for others it was delicious. I do feel that the benefits/teaching were worth the cost and time investment and plan to attend next year.

  2. #2

    Correction & Addendum to Symposium Review

    I just saw a YouTube review by Kit Badger on the 2019 Symposium

    He said that there were about 150 students attending while I guestimated 300 or less. His numbers are probably more accurate. His video shows footage from the first half day (which I did not attend) which was orientation, competition, vendors, etc. as well as scenes from the course overall. It is a good video review of the symposium.

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