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Thread: AAR Aim Fast, Hit Fast - 2012-04-14/15 - College Station, TX

  1. #1

    AAR Aim Fast, Hit Fast - 2012-04-14/15 - College Station, TX

    Aim Fast, Hit Fast is intended to pick up where most marksmanship training ends. All shooting involves a balance between accuracy and speed. Off the practice range, a shooter does not get to choose how much time he will get to break a shot … shooting becomes reactive and speed is determined by the situation rather than comfort or habit. The goal of this class is twofold. First, to understand the critical balance between accuracy and speed for each individual shooter. Second, to improve each shooter’s ability to deliver accurate, rapid fire in shorter timeframes to maximize his effectiveness shooting a pistol under stress. Skills to be covered include marksmanship, presentation from the holster, reloads, multiple targets, and shooting on the move.

    This is my third formal pistol training course, having of previously taking a Vickers Tactical Basic Handgun in fall of 2010 and a Vickers Tactical Handgun I in spring of 2011. I used an H&K P30LS with the Grayguns Reduced Reset Carry Perfection Package, with an X300 mounted, and appendix carried it using a RCS Phantom. I also had two mag carriers, Cane & Derby Pardus SSLs.

    Todd Green was the primary (and only) instructor. Class started at 0800; weather was cloudy with touches of raindrops through the day. The wind was rather strong, and played Hell with the electronic ear pro and bent up some of the cardboard backers. However, this kept the temperature down quite nicely. Most guns were Glocks, with a couple of M&Ps, three H&Ks (2 other P30s in LEM), and two 1911s. All shooters were right handed. Nobody used a retention holster; we had appendix carry, strong side IWB, and strong side OWB. Here is the target we used:

    After setting up the targets, the we then went into the nearby building for the safety and liability briefing. Most of the rules were quite standard, such as the four basic safety rules. One of the things that Todd had us do that I had not seen before during class was the idea of a hard break: before holstering, one must stop and verify one's finger placement, making sure it was off the trigger. In other words, never directly go to the holster after shooting. Apparently, this was a rule instituted by Gunsite after having at one self-inflicted gunshot wound every class for a couple of months after opening. Two people were designated to be in charge of stabilizing any kind of injuries that might occur, one of them being a retired Corpman, the other having of received basic combat first aid while in the military. Two more people were designated as being 911 callers. He specifically also stated that this class was geared much more toward technical shooting performance, rather than tactics or mindset type things, and that students hoping to learn a comprehensive self-defense skillset would probably be disappointed by the class.

    We then started the day off with the FAST, a drill that Todd had created himself to give a quick gauge on the skill of the shooter. The drill begins from the holster, with the pistol loaded with exactly two rounds. At seven yards, the shooter draws from concealment, fires two shots at a 3 x 5 inch box (the credit card), reloads, and then fires four rounds at an 8 inch circle. For each miss outside of the credit card, add two seconds. For each miss outside of the circle, add one second. >10 seconds ranks as a novice, 10-7 is intermediate, 7-5 is advanced, and <5 seconds is expert (which had been done by only 9 people thus far, with Dave Sevigny holding the record at 3.56 seconds). Most students scored >10 seconds, with the best score being approximately 6.9 seconds.

    I scored a 10.53, which, to be honest, I was rather happy with. I had shot the drill a couple times before, but never from the draw due to range constraints. Unfortunately, under the stress, I committed the cardinal sin of leaving the finger on the trigger during reloading; I was extra careful about this through the rest of the class. I also was said to have a lot of extraneous movement during the reload, which was a criticism Mr. Vickers had also told me before.

    After the FAST, we then went back into the building for the main lecture of the day. Todd told us that he believed that there were four main fundamentals we should focus on.

    The first fundamental was stance. He stated that Weaver vs. Isosceles was excessive and overrated, but that it has been shown time and again that under stress, even people who have been mandated to shoot Weaver (e.g., one New Jersey LE agency had actual painted foot prints on the range that the shooters had to be stepping on to pass quals) would instinctively not shoot Weaver, since it simply did not match the body stress response of punching out. He also stated that we shouldn't worry about our feet placement too much, since in the real world, we would not have much choice in how our feet were oriented, as we may be on the move, behind cover, etc. The knees, on the other hand, should always be somewhat bent, which helps with SOTM. As an extension of that, Todd advocates we actively crouch a bit, getting our eyes to nipple level. He said that one of the best ways to figure out what a good stance is was to look at videos of high ranking female IPSC shooters, who have to have good stance in order to make up for their general lack of upper body strength and body mass compared to male shooters. The shoulders should be square to the target, and generally, they should be somewhat rolled, or "turtled up", as this is a natural body response to stress, and helps with recoil control, too. He noted that we should not crouch once we have the gun extended, but rather, already be in a crouching stance by the time the gun is in the ready position. He also stated that "chicken winging" the extension is undesirable, and that we should strive to keep everything shoulder width, as that minimizes size and allows us to perhaps move more smoothly, as we are unconsciously very aware of how wide our shoulders are.

    The second fundamental was the grip. For Todd, the grip is relatively easy to explain: one should have four main points of contact to consider. The first is the web between the thumb and index finger of the strong hand, which should be as high up on the back strap as possible. The second is the middle finger of the strong hand, which should be as high up to the trigger guard as possible. The third is the index finger of the weak hand, which should be be as far back on the trigger guard as possible. The last area is the palm of the weak hand, which should also be as far back as possible. Thus, there should be flesh uninterrupted around the grip of the gun. Todd notes that one easy way to check to see if your weak hand is in the right position is that if you splay out your pinky, it should be pointed toward the ground. The weak hand is essentially there for just recoil control; he likes to think of it as a c-clamp. He states that the thumbs don't really play much of a role in gripping the pistol. As for grip strength, he feels that we should simply grip as hard as we can without it interfering with our accuracy. Thus, the actual amount of force needed will differ person to person, particularly depending on each person's grip strength. Todd also told us that if we find our grips coming apart after multiple shots, we could try to press our hands together using our pecs to crush the gun better. As for elbows, Todd prefers to shoot with a slight bent in the elbows, if only because locking one's elbows constantly can be unhealthy, particularly if one shoots often.

    The third fundamental was sight picture. However, the trick here is to learn what is an acceptable sight picture. Todd did not like what some instructors teach, which is to have different degrees of acceptable sight pictures for set distances; after all, we are all generally poor judges of distance, and with a fight that is dynamic, all parties are probably moving, and having a set course of action of sorts for what to do at specific distances falls apart. Essentially, we needed to learn to "see what we needed to see".

    The last fundamental was the trigger pull. Todd didn't say too terribly much on the topic, since he felt that it was a relatively simple thing, even if it was difficult to actually master. The location of the trigger finger on the trigger would be variable, depending on the trigger system itself, along with the shooter.

    We then headed back out to start the first drill of the day. Todd stated that, in all drills, we should strive to hit low probability targets (3 x 5 box and 2 inch circles) 100% of the time, but that we should be hitting the high probability target (8 inch circle) only 90% of the time. If we were hitting the high probability target 100% of the time, it signified that we were not pushing ourselves hard enough. We were then split into two groups, Team 1 and Team Alpha, with Team 1 taking the firing line first. Almost all drills were shot in terms of magazines, i.e., a drill would take two high capacity magazines; low capacity magazines, namely the two 1911s, would always do one more mag.

    Todd also noted that we should be able to prioritize our skills; constantly shaving 1/100th of a second off one's splits is fine and all, but if one could instead spend that time shaving a quarter or half second off one's draw, that would generate a far more useful real world advantage, given that the average untrained shooter can produce 0.25 splits (unaimed, of course).

    The first drill was used to illustrate just how poor our sight picture could be and still get hits on the target, provided that we had the front sight on the target. We were instructed to put the front sight center of the 8 inch circle, but to have the front sight as close to the left of the rear sight as possible. This was also repeated for the right, top, and bottom. Almost all students were able to get good hits on the 8 inch circle using this subpar sight picture even at seven yards. Todd stated that he was able to get his Glock 17 to stay within the 8 inch circle all the way out to 17 yards.

    I was actually able to keep all my shots within the 6 inch circle that was inside the 8 inch, using my Heinie Straight 8s. However, it was noticeable that the up and down shots were further from the target than the side to side ones; a natural effect effect of the Heinies being a bit tall.

    The next drill illustrated the idea of sight tracking. Ideally, one should track the front sight at all times; however, this is extremely difficult due to the speed of the reciprocating slide during shooting. However, one can get most of the benefits of complete sight tracking by merely being able to track when the sights lift (also known as follow through) and when they settle back down. If one is able to truly follow through, then one should know almost exactly where the round went, if if one flinched or anticipated or otherwise moved the front sight off target. Also of importance here is the ability to reset the gun during recoil, as this saves the shooter quite a bit of time, rather than resetting after the gun has landed. Of course, this implies that a short reset is rather overrated. For the most part, one should have enough time to properly reset even a medium length trigger without much issue, particularly if one is going for accuracy.

    The sight tracking drill was actually done backwards from reality; instead of following through and then tracking the sights back down, Todd had us track the sights down by first aiming at the credit card, and then slowly bringing the gun to the 8 inch circle, with the slack out, and then pulling the trigger the moment we were within that circle. Thus, we should have a grouping at the top of the circle, with some outside it, naturally. We should be able to notice the lift of the sight while doing this. Thus, the gun should ways be in motion, since right after the recoil, we should be slowly bringing it back down to the top of the circle. This was perform with a "burst", which is to say, two to five rounds, randomly, before pulling back and then starting over again, a drill technique we used throughout the class. The round count was three high capacity magazines.

    I had previously painted my front sight a bright red-orange using nail polish; while I found it detracted somewhat from my pure marksmanship, it made seeing the sights come back down far easier than I remembered with the black sights. I had my first FTE with this gun during this drill, which I quickly cleared with tap-rack-bang.

    The next thing Todd had for us was his infamous press-out. Todd noted that many shooters, including some very good competition shooters, would simply punch-out, find an acceptable sight picture, and then pull the trigger (i.e., the index draw). The press-out attempts to combine all three into one motion, and thus allows guns with a long uptake, such as DA revolvers or the first shot of a DA/SA pistol, to have a first shot just as fast as those with short uptakes, such as 1911s or Glocks. Essentially, what one does is first bring the firearm to a ready position that has the front sight already aligned with the eyes and target. Then, one should press out the gun while trying to get the gun level as soon as possible. Once it is level, and one has an acceptable sight picture, one can start putting the finger on the trigger and applying pressure while continuing to press out. Ideally, the trigger should break when one reaches full extension. An image one can use is the idea that there is a pane of glass at one's eyebrows that is parallel to the ground and stretches to the target. At the ready position, one wants the front sight against the pane of glass. Then, when pressing out, one should attempt to get the rear sight against the glass as soon as possible. At this time, the finger can be on the trigger. After it is, one should scrape both the front and rear sight against the glass until full extension, all the while applying pressure to the trigger. An important distinction to be made is that the further the extension, the more the pressure, not the great the distance traveled on the trigger. Todd acknowledges that the press-out can be slower than the index draw against high probability targets, but argues that it really shines against low probability targets, gives DAs a fighting chance against SAs/striker fired, and that it has a higher skill plateau.

    For the first press-out drill, we shot one mag at the three yard line at the credit card. We simply practiced the press-out at our own pace. Todd stated that it was very important that if we did not pull the trigger within one second of full extension, we should just start over, since the trigger pull is an integral part of the press out. After that, we then moved back to seven yards, and instead of simply putting one shot after pressing out, we were instructed to shoot a burst. This second drill was run for three mags.

    I had been aware of the press-out before, but wasn't quite able to grasp how it was done. During the these two drill, I had the issue of consistently not being able to pull the trigger at full extension or else pulling it too soon, due to the very short trigger on my P30LS's SA, which had been further lightened by Grayguns. Todd did state that pulling too soon was acceptable, and to be expected during the learning phase, and since the sight picture was complete at all times, I wasn't really violating any safety rules. I also had the issue of focusing completely on the front sight and not being able to figure out which target was mine and thus aiming at the wrong one at full extension during the second press-out drill. Todd was able to correct me in that I did not have to keep my eyes focused only on the front sight during the initial ready position.

    Since it was close to lunch at this point, we then went back into the building for a quick lecture on drawing. Todd stated that the draw is often complicated unnecessarily. There should be fairly few steps. The first one is to get a good grip on the gun before drawing out the holster; ideally, during training, one should pause to really make sure that the strong hand has a complete proper grip on the gun before drawing. While competition shooters will sometimes just "clamp" the gun out and get a proper grip while extending, this gives unsatisfactory retention in a defensive situation. Second, after bringing the pistol to the ready position, put the weak hand on, and then pause to insure a correct weak hand grip. After that, press out as normal.

    In terms of concealment, there are two basic types: open front and closed front. For open front garments, Todd suggest that one does not keep the hand where the gun will go to; while this saves some time in bringing the weak hand to the gun while in the ready position (in theory), it is quite easy to muzzle one's hand while doing this. As Todd says, he wants his hand to chase the gun, not the gun chase the hand. Thus, he keeps his hand on his chest until the gun is in the ready position. Another thing he doesn't like is when people do the "Wonder Woman" draw, which is throwing the garment back with a lot of force. When people do that, the clothing can come back with essentially equal speed; the HSLD thing of putting weights in the garments can be even worse, sometimes, as he has seen the garments come back and wind up wrapping around the shooter's wrist while they attempt to draw during competitions. Instead, he suggests that with an open front garment to just knife hand your way to the holster. For a closed front garment, one should note that practicing a two handed draw is more realistic for the average CCWer, and since we generally practice two handed, it makes little sense to ignore it completely. However, this does mean that one has to practice both one-handed draws and two-handed draws, while one could theoretically make due with just knowing one-handed draws. As for the draw itself, one should always make sure to pull up the garment as far as possible rather than just barely clearing the weapon. This particularly makes sense for appendix carry, since this will put your hand roughly at the level where the gun will be at the ready position.

    We then broke for lunch, which did not take as long as anticipated, but was still bound by outside factors (the range owner getting some of us food), and we resolved to all bring our own lunches tomorrow; not exactly a terrible thing, considering that the building had a fridge and microwave.

    After lunch, we then practiced the draw. Essentially, we just grabbed the gun, making sure we had a proper grip, drew the gun to the ready position, placed the weak hand on the gun, making sure we had the proper grip, and then pressing out. This was done with one mag, aiming at the card, at the three yard line, and then firing one shot. We then moved back to the seven yard line, and fired three mags worth of ammo in bursts from the draw, aiming at the eight inch target. We then moved back to the three yard line, and fired two shots (at our own pace) after the draw at the two inch circles. After that, back to the seven yard line, firing three mags worth of bursts at the credit card.

    At this point in time, I was kinda getting the hang of the press-out. I was still going extra slow, just to get the feel for it, but I felt relatively confident of my ability to break the shot in a timely manner after reaching full extension. With the draw, though, I was having a problem of gripping too hard with my strong hand and causing my hand to shake, thus degrading my sight picture during the extension (another reason I went slow).

    Todd then started covering the reloads. He preferred to split reloads strictly into two catagories: voluntary (e.g., tactical, admin, etc.) and involuntary (e.g., slidelock). Of the two, we would only go over involuntary, since the voluntary reloads were all done when speed wasn't an overriding concern (not to say that they're unimportant, but just not really being part of the core philosophy of the class). Overall, we shouldn't worry about where we eject the mag, whether it's close in or further out, so long as it's facing in a downward direction so gravity can help. Once the empty magazine is out, the strong arm should be touching the test, with the magwell of the gun pointing toward the mag pouch where you are reloading from. Todd had marked the inside of his magwell to help him gauge how far to tilt the gun toward himself, to keep himself from tilting it too far in or out. The mag should be facing bullets forward when in the pouch; one should always index the mag when pulling it out so that proper control is retained when inserting the mage. Just grabbing the baseplate leads to fumbled reloads. Make sure to keep the arm with the mag also close in, so as to keep the whole operation stable; this can be particularly useful if reloading while moving. Also of vital importance is being able to properly index the magazine; Todd would rather we take the time to properly clear the garment rather than get the garment tangled on the mag. After the magazine is inserted, the slide release is used to bring the gun back into battery. While Todd doesn't mind people using the slingshot/power stroke method, he states that he sees more malfunctions induced from that action than anything else in his classes, and that it is generally 0.75 to 1 second slower. As an aside, he also told us the origin of the "fine motor skills" myth: Glock. Apparently, in older generations of Glocks, the slide release would be worn out inordinately fast due to poor metallurgy, but instead of fixing the problem, Glock simply made the claim that one shouldn't use the slide release, and used the fine motor skills argument to back them up from a tactical standpoint. As for autoforwarding, one should not count on it occurring, nor try to make it happen, since it can lead to an empty chamber.

    For our first reloading drill, we had a single round in the chamber, and an empty magazine. At the seven yard line, we drew, shot at the eight inch target, reloaded, and then shot twice more at the eight inch target. We then randomly loaded up five mags with 24 rounds total (many of us had partners load them for us), and then fired three rounds at the eight inch target at each whistle blow from Todd at seven yards; the idea of this drill was that we then didn't fully know when to reload, which changes the dynamic. This drill was repeated several times.

    I still had a lot of extraneous movement at first, during the reloads. I was able to cut down the amount of motion by going more deliberately, but found myself with my arm still a bit far out. I then started making a conscious effort to bring my arm in, which led to me actually overtucking it. In the end, I feel like I was able to find a happy medium. Even better, I felt my press-outs had improved even more.

    After that, we shot the FAST again. This time, we had two outstanding scores, one at approximately 5.9 seconds, the other at approximately 6.0. Both had fumbled magazines that could have made the runs even better, with the 6.0 second shooter clearing out the first two shots into the credit card in 1.9 seconds.

    I actually shot poorer the second time, finishing in 9.20 seconds, but dropping the first head shot. However, I felt that given I was using brand new techniques (particularly the press-out) and I fumbled the reload (didn't clear the garment completely and got it tangled), I did acceptable. My guess is that if I had slowed down even more on the reload, and had gripped the gun less hard with my strong hand, I could easily get an intermediate ranking; I have no expectations to get any higher than a 8 second run in the near future since I'm far more preoccupied with making good press-outs rather than using old tactics to get the most speed.

    We then ended the day shooting the Hackathorn headshots standards, in which most students did pretty well. After that, we broke for dinner, with most of us going to a local diner.

    Tomorrow's training will be posted in a seperate post.

  2. #2
    Member Al T.'s Avatar
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    May 2011
    Columbia SC
    Thanks for posting! Nice read!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Jhb South Africa
    Dude outstanding AAR
    Welcome to Africa, bring a hardhat.

  4. #4
    Member EMC's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by Default.mp3 View Post
    As for elbows, Todd prefers to shoot with a slight bent in the elbows, if only because locking one's elbows constantly can be unhealthy, particularly if one shoots often.
    Thank you very much for the fine AAR. This particular part struck me as I've been getting some "gun elbow" in my left arm by extending too much while clamping hard with the support hand. The tendons don't like that.

  5. #5
    Class started at 0900. Weather was mostly cloudy, with a scattering of rain; the day started off cool, warmed up a bit, then cooled back down. Wind was strong, and again electronic ear pro suffered. Many students had minor wounds, mostly in the web of the strong hand; one student had stippled their Glock too aggressively, while another had issues with the side of the GFA on his Glock rubbing into his had.

    The day started off with a drill called Dot Torture. Dot Torture consisted of a series of course of fires, all done at three yards and with two inch circles, all with unlimited time, consuming a total of 50 rounds. The first course had us simply slow-firing at the A circle, 5 rounds. The second was draw and fire once at the A circle, 5 times. The third was draw, fire at the 1 circle and then the 2 circle, 4 times. The fourth was SHO at the 3 circle, 5 rounds. The fifth was draw, fire two rounds at the 4, then two rounds at the 5, 4 times. The sixth was WHO at circle 6, 5 rounds. The seventh was to draw, fire at the B circle, reload, and fire again; the reloads did not have to occur at slide-lock, but must be implemented, and one cannot bend over to pick the mags. Todd said that one should score at least a 45 (counting hits on the circle) on the Dot Torture test before moving on to speed, as this shows that the shooter has proficient enough marksmanship to move onto introducing speed into the equation. Also, as a drill, it can be used to help improve marksmanship by simply moving the target further away, or perhaps introducing time constraints, which should be done after the shooter could consistently clear the drill.

    I scored a 49/50, and to be honest, was very disappointed I did not score a 50, considering that there were no time constraints involved. I managed to throw one of the shots on the second course of fire (draw and fire once), which I actually knew as I was pressing the trigger.

    The next drill actually came about during a discussion during mag stuffing before we were going to shoot the FAST. It was noted that shooters with SA triggers, particularly 1911s, often have a habit of doing what Todd called a "squeeze-crush" trigger pull. Essentially, the shooter squeezes on the trigger until the slack is out and is up against the "glass rod", and then suddenly attempts to crush trigger. While this trigger technique works fine at slow fire, accuracy oriented shooting, it is highly detrimental to shooting at speed, as it reintroduces anticipation, and in a way that ball-and-dummy drills can't fix (particularly since one would be unable to tell between pre-ignition flinch, which is undesirable, and post-ignition flinch, which helps compensate for recoil). Instead, Todd suggested a simple, though ammo intensive drill. The shooter simply aims, without using the sights, at a berm at relatively close range. Then, simply shoot bursts into the berm, while trying to count the casings as they eject. This helps fight the anticipation issue, as we become acclimated to the small explosion that happens right in front of our face each time. Todd noted that people who were taught point shooting before sighted firing often had far less anticipation issues (even if point shooting itself is a subpar technique). The counting of the brass also helped shooters improve their motion vision; according to Todd, tennis players often had their own eye exercises to help them track the ball better, and what he used to do (for shooting, not for tennis) was to try to track a ceiling fan while laying right under it. Start from being close to the hub and as your motion vision improves, slowly work your way up to the tip of the fan blade.

    I was able to count the casings without much issue, but they were blurs rather than distinct visual images, so I suppose my motion vision is okay, but not great. All in all, an expensive drill. However, considering that I do suffer from having a "squeeze-crunch" trigger pull, I might have to figure out a way to do it.

    We then shot the FAST. Two shooters tied for first at 5.76 seconds clean.

    I managed to turn out what went on to be my best time, an 8.21 second run with a 8 inch circle miss, for a total of 9.21. I believe I missed simply because I pushed myself too fast, and rushed the press-out from the reload.

    We then started on the issue of multiple targets. According to Todd, the mantra of training to "eyes, then gun" is somewhat incorrectly used. In competition shooting, where static, set amount of targets known before the course of fire are used, training to that idea can benefit a shooter greatly, but in self-defense, "eyes, then gun" happens naturally anyways, and since there is no pre-determined distance between multiple targets, training for it is a bit redundant. Instead, Todd feels that shooting at multiple targets of differing sizes and/or ranges is far more useful. It is important to learn to have differing ROFs on targets of different size, and the transition from a large target to a smaller target that's in a relatively different position is something very important to learn.

    The first drill to introduce us to this "changing gears" concept was shot at five yards, with three mags worth of ammo. We shot, from the draw, three rounds into the credit card, and three rounds into the 8 inch circle of the neighboring target; we alternated between starting on the card and switching to the circle and vice versa. This was then repeated at seven yards. After that, we moved back to three yards, and shot at the 5 circle (a 2 inch target) and the card. The smaller of the two targets was always considered low probability targets to be hit 100% of the time, while the larger target was considered high probability targets to be hit 90% of the time.

    I found it much easier to bring the gun back into the ready position after engaging a target and then pressing out again to engage the second target.

    During this time, it started raining a little bit, and several of us put on jackets. Todd noticed a student that had shock cord tabs very close to the holster, and had a ceasefire to explain how those tabs should be removed so that they won't get caught in the holster and cause an AD, which the student promptly did.

    We then moved a target to the five yard line. The drill here was to stand at the seven yard line, draw, fire three shots into the 8 inch circle that was at the five yard line, and then fire three shots into the credit card at the target that wasn't moved. This was repeated once for each shooter, with the order of which target to engage reversed.

    Then, before lunch, Todd showed us a way to disprove the popular statement of "action beats reaction". In this drill, two steel targets were set up at 10 yards away. Two shooters step up to the line. Shooter 1 asks if Shooter 2 was ready. Shooter 2 replies that they are ready at their own pacing. Shooter 1 then can draw whenever they want as soon as Shooter 2 acknowledges that they are ready. Shooter 2 can draw whenever they see Shooter 1 attempt to draw. Whoever rang the steel first wins the competition. Todd played Shooter 2, and soundly beat all of us, thus showing that action does not beat reaction if reaction happens quicker than action. While a reaction usually is 0.25 seconds slower than an action, one can certainly shave off a quarter second off of a draw, press-out, and fire sequence without too much difficulty, given the time and commitment. We then ran the drill with the students competing against each other, first the whole class, then whoever wanted to run it. Many stated it was a very fun and addicting drill.

    When faced against Todd, he explicitly told me that that my attempt to slowly press-out to better learn the motion better was definitely going to leave me handicapped. I suggested that he simply punched out while I pressed out and see what happened then. He not only accepted my challenge, but stated that he would keep his eyes on me until he had reached full extension before trying to acquire a sight picture. He beat me to firing, and had the added bonus of actually hitting the target.

    We then broke for lunch.

    After lunch, we then went into the building to discuss SOTM. For Todd, there are three basic things to do when presented with a threat: run, shoot, or SOTM. The key thing here to note is that one shouldn't move too slowly while SOTM, since that would hinder accuracy greatly while providing minimal movement; on the other hand, shooting too inaccurately merely wastes ammo and slows down your movement rate. Thus, a happy medium must be found. Todd stated that while the "duck walk" worked quite well for SOTM, it doesn't work well under stress, as we will simply revert to our standard run/walk. Instead, he advocated that we moved while crouching, which is far more natural. The problem with simply walking the way we do when not shooting is a problem of stability. First off, any footfalls are amplified into movement of the upper body, thus degrading accuracy. There is also the issue of balance; when crouched, the center of gravity if forward of the feet. Thus, it is much harder to trip/fall over when going backwards if you run into something; on the flip side, it doesn't really make us any more likely fall over forwards, since we are far more used to walking forward than backwards, and walking is simply controlled falling forward anyways. Thus, for the goals of this class, SOTM will emphasize "speed of the feet, not speed of the shooting". Lateral movement in the context of SOTM was then discussed. Rather than forcing shoulders to turn and not turning the waist at all, simply try to walk (crouch) normally and shoot square to the target; if this involves transition from moving forward to moving backwards, so be it. As for the whole idea of "getting off the X" when drawing or reloading, Todd said this was extremely situational; as a general rule, he figured that a sidestep would help you if your opponent already has the gun aimed at you, but that if they are just drawing, it doesn't do much. Also, in a team environment, one should be aware of the fact that one's team members may not notice your shift in position, which can lead to unpleasant consequences. Todd himself had a habit of doing a small side step when reloading; this has gotten him shot in the back of the head with Sims while doing FOF training.

    The first SOTM drill was set up for the student to start at 10 yards. After the sutdent starts moving, they do not shoot until Todd taps them on the shoulder. They then shoot the bottle three times for each tap on the shoulder; multiple taps on the shoulder are possible. After that, the student then starts at point-blank; the student then tries to move back as quick as possible, not shooting until a tap on the shoulder, after which the student shoots the bottle three times. This was done one by one for each student for safety issues, and repeated once.

    As with the SOTM portion of the Vickers Handgun I, I had much better accuracy moving forward than backwards. Moving backwards, I also had a tendency to take many small, rapid steps, which I corrected on my second run. Overall, I found myself surprised at the accuracy of my shots, particularly moving forward, given the fairly rapid pace I was moving.

    In the next drill, lateral movement was used. The shooter starts at the seven yard line about 10 yards to the left of the target. The shooter than moves laterally about twenty yards while shooting at the bottle. Todd stated that moving and shooting at the proper pace, the shooter should expend about five rounds by the time they reach the end of the line. This is then done with the shooter starting to the right of the target. Depending on which group the shooter was assigned to, the order may be reversed. This allowed us to run two shooters at a time, as each one moved in an opposite direction.

    The lateral movement I found much more difficult, particularly the transition; I ended up with much poorer accuracy than the moving forward and backwards drill.

    The next lateral movement drill had three steel targets set up, called 1, 2, and 3, denoting the left, middle, and right target respectively. 4 was set up to be the sign to change directions of the lateral movement. Starting about 8 yards back from the target line and all the way to the right, the shooter starts moving laterally. Todd then calls out one of the numbers; each target is to be shot twice when called out. The call for a change in lateral movement was a number rather than a phrase was so that it made the drill more difficult, as it made it more complicated to respond to the command. In theory, this should hopefully drive the shooter to start trying to shoot more on autopilot, as they would be preoccupied with other issues, and thus be able to try to practice without putting too much thought into marksmanship itself, but still getting hits.

    I did fairly poorly on this drill, with low accuracy, as I was bouncing around a fair amount and not getting a proper sight picture at times before pulling the trigger. Surprisingly, I found the number system quite difficult to follow once on the firing line; I found myself actively trying to figure out what the Hell I was suppose to be doing several times, particularly when a change of lateral direction was called right before or after a target number.

    The final lateral movement drill involved three targets and two barrels, set up about four yards parallel to the targets. The shooter starts at the ready at a certain position (left, middle, or right), with eight rounds in the gun and a full reload, and is assigned a certain target, whether it was left, middle, or right. They they start moving in a figure eight After starting, they can shoot only when in the middle or on the direct sides of the figure eight, and can start only after reaching one of those points for the first time after leaving the assigned position. Only one shot is allowed at each position on each passing; one can pause to shoot, but cannot pause otherwise, even when reloading. If one misses their chance to shoot at a position, then they forfeit shooting that particular position on that pass. All shots within the 8 inch circle are clean, shots outside the circle but inside the bottle are 1 second penalties, and shots outside the bottle are 5 seconds. A total of 13 rounds are to be expended, with extra rounds needing to be fired as called for if the shooter commits a mistake, such as shooting twice in one position in one pass. The shooter is responsible for keeping track of the number of rounds shot; extra shots will be scored accordingly, and extra time spent will also be added to the score. On a safety note, the finger must be off the trigger when not shooting, even if a sight picture on the target is preserved; this is to prevent an ND if someone trips and falls. To Todd's great dismay, all shooters kept proper track of the number of rounds shot; according to him, generally a third of the class fails to do so.

    Like the last lateral movement drill, I did quite poorly, with a 30.48 time, with 8 seconds worth of penalty. I found myself running into the barrels quite often, and pulling the trigger even with a subpar sight picture. Odds are, if I had paused a slight bit during each shot, or withdrew to the ready position while not shooting and instead doing a full press-out at each shooting position, rather than trying to keep a sight picture on the target at all times, I would have done much better. As an aside, I had been taught to never cross one's legs while moving laterally, due to the potential of tripping up; however, it would appear that this fear is relatively unfounded, provided one moves while crouching, or at least with a fair amount of bend in the knees, as Todd suggests.

    We then went over one hand only shooting. Todd states that SHO & WHO are often overstated in importance for civilian CCWers; the odds of being shot in the hand during a gunfight are generally quite small. While many have claimed otherwise from their experience with Sims, Todd states that this is a product of the fact that people who actually use Sims are generally well-trained, who try to shoot COM while gripping the gun with both hands... thus putting the hands right in front of COM. On the other hand, the typical bad guy on the street probably isn't aiming, and probably isn't using a proper two-handed grip. This is not to say that the skillset is unimportant and should not be practiced, just that it shouldn't really occupy as much as your training time as some might suggest. Also, since this course wasn't really geared toward actually defensive tactics, we would reload two-handed whenever running one-handed drills. The issue of canting while one-hand shooting is strictly a user-preference sort of thing, thought Todd himself does cant the gun. He has also found that whenever someone plateaus in one hand shooting, switching from not canting to canting or vice versa often helps that person break the plateau. Also, Todd said that an SASR vet had told him the idea of gripping the collar of one's shirt with the hand not being used. This gives the benefit of sympathetic grip response, along with getting the arm out the way if it was actually hurt, since even an injured arm or hand might be able to grip the collar. He also stated that one thing he does to help shoot one-handed better was to have a slight bend in the elbows, using the muscles to lock the arm in place, for better recoil control. The caveat to that is that he doesn't know if he would be able to do that under stress, so he suggested we decide for ourselves if we wanted to practice that way.

    For the first drill, we shot at the card at 3 yards, one mag strong hand, one mag weak hand. We then moved back to the five yard line, shooting three mags worth of bursts using the strong hand at the 8 inch circle.

    I found myself a bit surprised at just how fast I could shoot at five yards at the eight inch circle.

    At this point in time, the weather seemed like it might storm, so it was decided to do the three mags worth of WHO after running the final FAST. We were given time to do whatever we wanted to practice for the FAST at seven yards, and then shot the FAST.

    I finished the drill in 8.5 seconds, but dropped the two headshots. Sadly, they were both right below the card, and would have been in if I had been shooting .45 ACP rather than 9mm. I figured I simply didn't have the sights aligned right on the vertical axis. Also, in the free range time before the FAST, Todd noticed a bad habit of mine: I consistently have very specific feet placement depending on what I'm doing. I will always shift my right leg back, sometimes quite a bit (and sometimes as an extra step to my draw, thus slowing me down), when shooting two hand only, while I always match the foot to the hand that's shooting if doing one-handed shooting. While he said this isn't really a huge issue each individual time, I should strive to shoot with different feet placement, so that in a real life situation, I wouldn't get screwed over by my very specific feet placement.

    After the FAST, we did the WHO bursts at five yards, and then moved on to the final drill of the day, the Triple Nickel, which Todd stated himself, he started doing more as a feel-good thing for people who were coming off of the FAST pissed at themselves. The shooter starts at five yards with the gun in concealment, and has five seconds to shoot two rounds into the bottle at five targets. Somewhere during that course of fire, the shooter must reload at least once. Quick and fun, even if not particularly indicative of the whole accuracy thing we had going the whole class. Todd generally has eight rounds in his gun when he starts, so he reloads at the last target. The idea behind that is that you can reload while transitioning to the next target, since transitions are usually slower than splits. Reloading is done at the last target since his grip is usually better from the draw than after a reload. He prefers a slide-lock reload over just dropping the mag because he knows he'll forget to reload if there's no slide-lock, and the fact is, his reload from slide-lock is just as fast as a non-slide-lock reload.

    I figured for targets this big, I'd use the punch-out rather than the press-out. It worked okay, I suppose, but I pushed myself way too fast on the first try, dropping shots. The second try was much better at ~7 seconds, and unlike the first try, where I knew to reload at the last target, I had a surprise reload.

    After running the Triple Nickel, we then policed the brass, and then went into the building to receive our certificates. Overall, the fastest FASTs were the two 5.61 seconds, with four people total earning "Advanced" ratings.

    I personally was one of the poorer shooters in the course. However, I felt that this class was immensely insightful into the art of just purely shooting. The press-outs will be something to practice for a long time coming, while my reloads have markedly improved from before the class. My understanding of sight picture at speed has also been greatly improved.

    Gear-wise, I had only two issues. The first was the blister that developed near the base of my thumb. This seemed to have been caused by the safety lever, and was nothing severe compared to what many other shooters had happen to their hands, just merely noticeable. The second was that the RCS Phantom really showed itself to be not particularly suited for appendix carry, or at least not one for a longer barreled gun with a WML mounted. What happened was that the bottom of the holster would drive into my thigh if I tried to sit down on the ground; I currently have a very distinct red bruise that's a straight line on my thigh. This wasn't really an issue just sitting down in a chair, so I'm not sure how big an issue it'll actually be for carry.

    Overall, 941 rounds were expended, 150 of which were Brown Bear 115 gr., 100 was Winchester NATO 124 gr. (Q4318), and the rest was Aguila 124 gr. The single FTE occurred with the Q4318.
    Last edited by Default.mp3; 04-16-2012 at 01:02 AM.

  6. #6
    Member orionz06's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
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    Quote Originally Posted by Default.mp3 View Post
    I used an H&K P30LS with the Grayguns Reduced Reset Carry Perfection Package, with an X300 mounted, and appendix carried it using a RCS Phantom.
    Do you have any pics of this set up?
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  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by orionz06 View Post
    Do you have any pics of this set up?
    No, but I guess I could snap some for you. Anything in particular you wanted to see? Just how I had it set up for carry on myself or did you want to see the internals and stuff too?
    Last edited by Default.mp3; 04-15-2012 at 11:57 PM.

  8. #8
    Member orionz06's Avatar
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    I was just curious how that worked. Doesn't strike me as comfortable at all. That is not to knock the equipment at all, I am questioning the comfort of it beyond its intended use.
    Think for yourself. Question authority.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by orionz06 View Post
    I was just curious how that worked. Doesn't strike me as comfortable at all. That is not to knock the equipment at all, I am questioning the comfort of it beyond its intended use.
    I certainly wouldn't describe it as comfortable, particularly since I'm a fairly skinny dude (~135 lbs, 32 waist for jeans). Then again, I've also appendix carried an HK45 with an X400 in an RCS Phantom, too, although only to training sessions and never for truly extended periods of time. To me, appendix carry with such a set up would be most comfortable; I've tried strong-side IWB and it either prints way too much, or else it grinds against my hip bone. On the other hand, one might question why I don't just get something a bit more carry friendly, like a P30 or G19, or at least without a WML to extend the bulk and OAL so much. The answer to that question is... I dunno. I just like full-sized guns better, and I figure that a light is a must, considering what other people say. I feel like I can carry it comfortably enough to get through a whole day on it. Of course, I don't have a CCL right now (grad school kills most of my time, and thus I spend about 95% of my time in school, an NPE, at home, where I don't need to CCW, or else in transit to one of those), so I don't know how it'd really be on a daily basis, but I figure I'll cross that bridge when I get there.

    Note the excessive cant of the gun. Todd said he didn't really like that, and that I should be super-duper extra safe when I holster the gun, which I do strive to do; almost anyone in the class can tell you I probably take 20 minutes to finish holstering. I cant it this much 'cause it otherwise prints what I feel is an excessive amount.

    As you can see, even with a solid color shirt, the gun doesn't seem too obvious.

    The pen is touching the bottom of the holster.

    You can kinda see how the butt of the gun isn't really tucked into my body. I'd love to figure out a better appendix holster that would do that, but I'm not aware of any that allows WMLs at this point, and to me, that's a must-have feature.

    Not too much printing, IMO.

    Better view of how the Phantom fails to keep the butt tucked in. If I didn't cant the gun so, it'd be even worse.

    This is actually a holster for a P30LS with an X400. Unfortunately, my X400 is currently not available to me, so the guy who has it instead sent me an X300 for now.

    Also, I don't know if you really want to see the zoomed in pics, but you can also see where I've got some red areas produced from the grip tape. Honestly, I find the grip tape to be the biggest thing that reminded me that I was carrying during the class, provided I wasn't trying to bend over and touch the ground.
    Last edited by Default.mp3; 04-16-2012 at 11:40 AM.

  10. #10
    Member orionz06's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Makes a little more sense now. Actually doesn't seem as bad as I thought it would be. Thanks for the clarification and pics.
    Think for yourself. Question authority.

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