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Thread: AAR: Ben Stoeger USPSA Class - Nampa, Idaho 3/23-24/2013

  1. #1
    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    AAR: Ben Stoeger USPSA Class - Nampa, Idaho 3/23-24/2013

    This was a very interesting class for me. I was hoping to get a few specific things out of it. My biggest goals were to learn to compete at USPSA more effectively and gain more perspective on USPSA, both in understanding whatís required to compete at a high level, and also to better understand where the technical skills and doctrine in USPSA comport (or donít) with the defensive skills and doctrine I have spent so much time learning and practicing. I wanted to better understand a person who I have only interacted with online. I wanted to get more perspective on the technical skills of a National Champion-level pistol shooter. I wanted to better understand his beliefs about how to effectively train in general, and especially in dry fire.

    All goals were met.

    The class started out with a warmup of two USPSA stages that we shot without input from Ben. These stages were more complex and mentally taxing than any of the USPSA stages I had seen so far. Ben characterized the complexity level of the stages as typical of a major match. All the students did walk-throughs and then shot the stages. We all messed them up to one degree or another.

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    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    We then started working on various drills. There were few drills shot with everyone on the line all at once. Most drills were shot one or two students at a time, which allowed Ben to give a lot of personalized feedback and coaching to every student. I believe it was arranged this way because there was relatively little time spent on basic skills in simple drills Ė donít get me wrong, we did go through basic marksmanship, draws, and a few things that could be trained with everyone on the line. But most of the drills in this class were more complex, involving movement and multiple targets, and had to be done one student at a time for safetyís sake.

    Throughout the weekend, we received instruction and ran drills covering basic marksmanship, shot calling and sight tracking, different ways of aiming/seeing what we needed to see, target transitions, partial targets, draws, single handed shooting and transfers, shooting into a position, shooting on the move, shooting out of a position, effective dry fire training, and especially USPSA stage analysis, planning, and execution. Dealing with complex USPSA stages was what we spent the most time on.

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    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    Up until this class, my stage analysis, planning, and execution were terrible. I dimly knew I wasnít very good at playing the game that is USPSA, but I didnít grasp just how badly I was doing it. I tried to use my training and skills as much as possible in USPSA, so the plans I came up with gave me lots of relatively difficult tasks to perform Ė longer shots, shooting on the move, concocting stage plans that involved moving to just the right position in an attempt to minimize overall movement, and planning to use every shot in my gun with no margin for error. Where I thought I was doing it better and more efficiently, all I was really doing was making it more likely that I would screw up the plan. And since I built no margin for error into the plan, when it went wrong, it often went wrong big time.

    Here is a video of me shooting a USPSA stage last August, and you can see the bad stage planning and execution I am referring to:


  4. #4
    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    The biggest lesson Ben imparted to me in class was that complex stage plans are the enemy of aggressive execution without error. He gave me the perspective I needed to break down stages and plan to attack them in a more advantageous (read: simpler) way that led to fewer errors and ultimately less time spent and thus higher scores.

    Here is a video of me shooting a stage at the end of class with Ben. This run certainly isnít perfect, but it is a big improvement for me:


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    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    Here is Ben running that same stage. He beats my time by a little under four seconds IIRC:


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    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    I am hoping to get out to the Oregon State Championships this year and put these USPSA skills to work at a bigger match. Here's how I really know the instruction had a big effect on me: right before I went to class, I looked at the published stages for the Oregon State Championships, located here: http://www.oregonshooting.com/cps/championship2013.html My head was spinning from looking at the stages. I had no idea how to best shoot them, and I knew that I would have a hard time with the complexity. After the class, I looked at the stages and it suddenly was very clear how to shoot them, and that gives me a lot more confidence about that match and USPSA in general. I can't wait to get to a match and put these stage planning and execution lessons to work.

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    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    Ben asserted a very interesting dichotomy between practice and match/ífor realí mode. He is big on pushing skills hard during practice, including to the point of failure and firing bad shots Ė not exclusively so, but certainly some of the time. When a student had reached a higher level of efficiency in executing a gunhandling or movement skill, he would then push them to make the hits too, but not slow down in doing so.

    However, Ben also asserted that during a match one should not be pushing at all, and simply should shoot to get the hits without error. He said that what mattered was what you could accomplish consistently.

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    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    My friends and I had some interesting discussions on the long drive home about what we had learned in class and how it did or didnít apply to defensive shooting. I know I came away from the class thinking that although the USPSA-oriented material would not apply wholesale to defensive shooting, it did still have a lot of common ground with defensive shooting.

    Ben proved to be an effective instructor. Clearly, he likes to mess with people, hence some of his internet notoriety. But he was also a good dude who did a lot to help everyone in class, using everything from compliments and positive comments, to expressions of expectation to induce pressure. Ben was a great pistol shooter, and clearly a human too. It was evident heís done an awful lot of work to be able to perform so well.

    This class was a lot of fun for me. All my goals were met. I got to go on a fun trip with a couple of good buddies. There was lots of good-natured trash talking. I got to be a student in class and learned a lot about something I was not very well-educated about Ė USPSA.

  9. #9
    Site Supporter JHC's Avatar
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    I've just recently shot my first local club USPSA and I too was seriously humbled by the impact of poor stage planning. I'm really interested in that point about the error of mapping out a plan that requires everything to go your way to pull it off vs a less ambitous plan one could attack more aggressively. I must give that a lot of thought.

    Thanks for the AAR. Unfortunately my stage-fu is so poor that whan I watch your "bad" stage video, I can't tell what was wrong with it.
    "No one ever sees you coming; do they Bob?"

  10. #10
    Leopard Printer Mr_White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JHC View Post
    I've just recently shot my first local club USPSA and I too was seriously humbled by the impact of poor stage planning. I'm really interested in that point about the error of mapping out a plan that requires everything to go your way to pull it off vs a less ambitous plan one could attack more aggressively. I must give that a lot of thought.

    Thanks for the AAR. Unfortunately my stage-fu is so poor that whan I watch your "bad" stage video, I can't tell what was wrong with it.
    Yeah, I didn't know what was wrong with it either.

    The bad stage video is bad because of a lot of extra shots, some caused by overly ambitious attempts at shooting on the move, which in turn caused a standing reload because I had planned down to the last round or close to it, slow overall movement between positions, and not having the gun up in front of my face and seeing the sights before I entered into each position, so it wasted a lot of time to get the gun up after I was in position.

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