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Thread: AAR: Aim Fast Hit Fast, Culpeper VA 15-16 May 2010

  1. #1
    Site Supporter JSGlock34's Avatar
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    Feb 2011

    AAR: Aim Fast Hit Fast, Culpeper VA 15-16 May 2010

    This past weekend I attended Todd Louis Green’s Aim Fast Hit Fast class in Culpeper, Virginia.

    I had the experience of receiving some instruction from Todd before this class through the Practice Sessions at the NRA Headquarters Range in Fairfax. I left each of those sessions with a better grasp of some aspect of shooting. At the very first Practice Session, Todd recommended some subtle changes to my grip that have since paid dividends in my ability to shoot faster. I knew I’d benefit from a more extensive class from Todd and jumped at the chance to attend a local Aim Fast Hit Fast.

    Getting some feedback from Todd.

    The class was small - less than a dozen shooters each day - which provided opportunity for Todd to spend quality time with each student. Todd started with a range safety briefing, followed by his expectations for the class. The class was about finding the right balance between speed and accuracy. Throughout the class we would alternate between shooting 3x5 index cards and the ‘-0’ zone of the standard IDPA target (an 8” circle). When shooting the index cards, Todd’s standard was 100% - he wanted us to slow down and make those hits. When we were shooting the 8” circles, we were expected to speed up and push ourselves. Todd established an 85% accuracy standard here. In order to find our limitations, Todd wanted and expected us to sometimes miss. Much of this was self calibration - shoot too slow and have a tight group in the center of the circle, then expect a visit from Todd telling you to go faster. Be all over the place and expect Todd to tell you to slow way down and get your hits. Have most of your shots in the circle with a few outliers - well, you’ve likely found your sweet spot.

    I used a Glock 34 with Warren Tactical Sights for both days of the class, along with a strongside OWB Phantom holster and magazine pouch from Raven Concealment.

    We started the class with a brief warm up, and then it was off to the first of four Fundamentals, Accuracy and Speed Tests (FAST). The FAST would be our benchmark of progress through the four days, and would determine the rating on our graduation certificates. Needless to say, the FAST is challenging, especially when you’re doing it with an audience.

    I’ll digress for a moment and note that Todd demonstrates every drill. Though he wasn’t happy with some of his FAST times, we were blown away each time.

    Todd demonstrates shooting on the move.

    After FAST, Todd gave his only extended lecture of the course - about 45 minutes on the fundamentals of practical shooting. I’d heard this lecture before at the NRA Practice Sessions - and I welcomed the chance to hear it again. Even though Todd was covering the fundamentals, you’d be mistaken to think that this was a basic level discussion. Todd’s lecture is full of subtle details for basic and advanced shooters alike. I’ve never heard anyone else cover grip and ‘press out’ like Todd does.

    Todd addresses Stance, Grip, Visual Reference (Sight Alignment) and Trigger Squeeze. He also tied in the Aim Fast Hit Fast themes throughout the lecture. For example, during his discussion of sight alignment, Todd emphasized “seeing what you need to see.” If you need a crisp sight picture and perfectly aligned front sight to make that hit on the index card, then do it. If you just need to put the front sight on the target to get it done, then do it. After the lecture we would fire a sight alignment exercise which would teach us just how sloppy a sight picture we could get and still get good enough results for the task at hand.

    Todd also observed that each student needs to walk a certain line between learning and competing. In other words, to incorporate the techniques Todd teaches, you may have to slow down and overcome existing bad habits and training scars in order to learn the new technique. That’s tough to do with your buddies on the firing line and the friendly competition that ensures. It’s also hard when some of the tests - like FAST - are timed, and you are trying to perform your best.

    As the class went on, I tried to incorporate some of Todd’s recommendations immediately and some I took notes on and realized that I’d leave with some homework. I also recognized that at maximum, I was really only going to be able to retain and work on two or three new things at once. This limitation manifested late in the day on TD1 as I tried to alter my reloads - suddenly my press out and stance went to hell. Apparently, I hit my RAM limitation.

    Dr. Texan practices the press out.

    On the afternoon of TD1 we worked on our press out, starting with slow accurate shots and moving on to 2-5 round strings. Todd adjusted my stance (I needed to bend over further) and provided some tips on my press out, encouraging me to pick up my sights earlier in my extension.

    Finally we worked on our reloads. Todd teaches locking the elbow to the torso to establish a consistent reloading position, but advocated keeping the pistol high in your line of sight - both to look at your pistol during the reload and to facilitate a faster return on target. Interestingly, I found I was reloading low but had my arm in the right position. Todd pointed out that it was my posture - I was returning to form during the reloads and standing straighter. Taking a more aggressive stance kept the pistol in the right place. Todd identified my reload as a place where I could make some improvements and would offer advice throughout the class.

    TD1 ended with another FAST drill. Unfortunately, at this point I was smoked. After eight hours in the sun trying to incorporate new techniques, my caveman brain took over once the buzzer went off. I threw a head shot, rode the slide release on my G34 causing a year long reload, failed to get a good grip and threw an additional body shot. It was a sour note to close a solid training day, and I endeavored to do better on TD2.

    Working on speed and accuracy - don't miss those index cards!

    Our second day started with Dot Torture, one of the day’s several graded exercises. Todd emphasized that Dot Torture was a diagnostic tool - if you’re going to the range and just shooting Dot Torture, well, you’re doing it wrong. I was doing well until the strong hand only stage, where I missed twice. I resolved to slow down and get my hits.

    Then it was onto FAST #3, which was improved from my horrible performance at the close of TD1 but still not as good as my first score. I was still trying to go too fast.

    TD2 covered multiple target engagement - and Todd challenged us by requiring head shots on some targets and body shots on others. We had to change our speed again to suit the situation - step on the gas for the body shots and hit the brakes and slow down to make those head shots every time.

    Todd giving some advice on one handed shooting.

    We then did strong hand - weak hand accuracy exercises, culminating in a walk back drill. Inexplicably considering my Dot Torture performance, I turned in a solid performance on the one handed drills. In a way, I think the Dot Torture reminded me to really take my time and get a good sight picture one handed. We followed this accuracy work with rapid fire exercises, quickly finding our limits when shooting one handed.

    Strong hand only.

    After lunch we started shooting on the move. Todd talked briefly about his training methodology - we wouldn’t be getting ‘on line’ and attempting to move at the same pace as a class. Todd noted that this was unrealistic training (who moves directly forward and back in a gunfight?) and that different people move at different speeds. Instead, we’d cycle through the drills individually, and would always move at a diagonal angle.

    Arclight shooting, moving and counting.

    TD2 then moved to a series of terrific drills, starting with a diabolical shoot on the move drill designed by Scott Warren that required us to weave in and out on a “figure eight” path while engaging targets (and simultaneously doing some light arithmetic - don’t ask). We followed this with the Hackathorn Standards and the Federal Air Marshal’s ‘Triple Nickel’. It was great to not only shoot these drills, but get Todd’s professional feedback on how to improve our performance.

    Triple Nickel.

    We followed the drills with some friendly competition on some plate racks, with Todd matching up shooters (and occasionally competing himself). This was one of the most enjoyable (and humorous) parts of the day.

    Finally, we did some warmups to get ready for our final FAST. I managed my personal best score - a 6.90 - good enough for an Advanced rating.

    Throughout the course, Todd shared his insights on shooting and his experiences in the firearms industry. Todd was also quick to give credit to those who taught him, and recommended several other instructors during the course. To me, that’s the sign of a professional and a class act.

    AFHF is a solid two days of training. I left a better and more confident pistol shooter, and I’d identified some specific places for improvement. Plus, I had lots of fun and got to meet a great group of fellow shooters.

    If you can’t spare a whole weekend for a class, then I highly recommend one of Todd’s Practice Sessions at the NRA range.

  2. #2
    As always, JSGlock34 nailed it, but here's my 2c to add.

    I know most AARs tend to be glowing reviews, but I can only honestly say this was a great class. Having some teaching experience, I can usually find something lacking in a course. In this case the only thing I'd want to do differently is have more time for some of the later drills (like the HRT drill being demonstrated below) -- something not possible in a two-day class. There was no wasted time to reclaim. We used every minute to best effect.

    One of our classmates performing the HRT drill. Unlike me, she can count and shoot.

    Instruction: I have taken a couple of classes from Todd and I find Todd's instructive style refreshing. He is very clear and focused yet manages to stay entertaining. He has a more sophisticated approach than you typically get from Mil/LE instructors, both in his manner of speaking and in his content. In short, you don't get wound up in catch phrases or mindless regurgitation of what he was taught or has read on the interwebs-- each of his points of instruction are well thought out, carefully analyzed and presented accordingly.

    What results are great teaching moments ranging from saber-toothed tigers to a nuanced discussion on what accidental/negligent discharges really mean to a shooter's learning and experience. I appreciate that. Todd doesn't use unnecessarily complicated language in an attempt to sound more intelligent, a habit which leaves most instructors sounding less so. There wasn't a single "utilizing" in the whole class. I also appreciate that.

    Anyway, back to shooting (that's why we're reading this, right?)...

    Despite having a fair amount of experience, instruction and even some competition time over the past few years, I left AFHF with a new appreciation for a couple of very fundamental principles: Sight tracking and the press-out.

    Sight Tracking: I always understood proper front sight tracking was the "way it ought to be done", and always watched my front sight when I could. I now appreciate the real value of tracking the front sight goes far beyond just accuracy. (You'll have to take the class to find out what I mean.) I no longer consider it one of those ideals. I don't expect it to be easy, but perfecting my consistent tracking of the front sight really matters to me now that I appreciate what it can do for me.

    The one-handed shoot is not just great practice, it also emphasizes the varying importance of different fundamentals in different situations.

    The press-out is a case of something that I "understood" before I got to the class. What I didn't understand was how much more it could be than just a part of good presentation. At a broader level, what Aim Fast Hit Fast brought was an appreciation for what a "basic" skill could accomplish when done at a higher level. (Steering your car well enough to get to the grocery store is fine for most people most of the time, but there's nuance to it you might not appreciate until you train for a race or pursuit.) I found that when I managed to do the press out right (as opposed to "well enough"), it really paid dividends. That's another case where you see a difference between a good instructor and a great instructor -- a good instructor can present that knowledge to a class while a great instructor can judge a student's specific skill level and make small adjustments to build the student's performance.

    Conclusion: Attending AFHF was a great first step (even if I was pretty far down the road when I took it). Now I need to take these teaching points and try to train them into my shooting habits. The course is well designed to make sure you have enough time to really learn from each drill, not just "experience" them. However, if you don't leave with homework for yourself, you're missing the point. I'm already looking forward to joining Todd and hopefully some of my classmates at future practice sessions and maybe even another AFHF when I'm ready for the fire hose again.

    Thanks again to Todd and the rest of the students for making it a fun weekend all around!

    JSGlock34 being "motivated" by the Stick of Failure (Carrot of Success not pictured).

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