Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Shooter Skill Level May Vary

This past weekend I had the awesome opportunity to take the Combat Focus Shooting course with Matt the owner of Down Range Firearms Training. There were multiple reasons that I decided to take this class, one of the biggest reasons being that I know pistol is the weakest part of my shooting. I carry my Glock 19 everywhere that I can, and even though I took the CCW course for my license it did not train me to actually use my handgun.

So I headed into the class with ZERO training experience for a handgun, there were a lot of bad habits that I learned shooting out at my range, which I knew I was going to have to break and I also knew that I had to head into this class with an open mind. I know that I had the expectation of myself, to be able to run one ragged hole in the center of the target or I was a bad shooter. I knew that I wouldn't be that precise of a shooter after a 2 day class but I had hoped to make improvements.

Now let me break something down real quick. There is a difference between shooting competitively (shooting targets for scores) and shooting defensively (shooting to stay alive). Combat Focus Shooting is not about shooting for scores, rather it is to help teach you to become more lethal to the bad guy. The focus is on keeping your shots combat effective, not drilling one round after the other into the "same" hole.  In a self defense situation would you want to drill one bullet after the other into the same hole? The answer is no, you want to create as much blood loss as you can; that won't happen if you keep putting a bullet in the same hole. Also think realistically, are you going to be able to stop and make precise laser straight shots in a defense situation?

"A gun fight is a race to the last shot so use every inch of the combat accurate area to be safer faster"- Matt "Sorcerer" DeVito

The first 30 minutes of class made me realize just how sloppy of a shooter I was, from a static standing position my shots were all over the place; they were still inside the human sized target but there was really no pattern to what was going on with my shots. What was even worse to me was the fact that I was literally the worst shot in the class, but that was also the coolest part about the class. Each shooter's skill will vary, but what is great about that is it gives weaker shooters the opportunity to talk with stronger shooters. 

When we started integrating movement on the "up" command and punching out from high compressed ready my shooting became gradually worse. I was literally watching the wheels of my fundamentals fall off, but this was exactly what I needed from the class. Then when we began to draw from the holster on the up command things became more complex, but at the same time the drills we had done before began to make more sense.

 I went in knowing I wasn't a great shooter, but I hadn't realized just how bad I actually was, and the more fundamentals that Matt tossed our way the more I had to think about. Every drill brought in a new element to think about, and honestly there were times that I would get frustrated because I felt like I couldn't hit the target I was aiming for and that was unacceptable to me. Even though I was getting frustrated at times, and I'm sure Matt could see it, it pushed me to try and get myself in gear.

Day one ended and I realized just how much work I needed to do when I sat and watched the video I had captured with my gopro. The targets told me that I wasn't locking out and shooting when I was settled in my shooting position, but the videos really drove the point home.

Moving while reloading and settling back into my shooting position, moving between up commands, or waiting for a number or color to be called and moving to shoot it; all of these things helped me to focus on where my weak spots were at.

When I went back to class on the second day I was determined to try harder, and really nail down the fundamentals before I tried to shoot faster. I kept making the conscious effort to drive all the way out and lock into my shooting position before pulling the trigger.

While taking a CFS class you begin to realize just how much is going on at any given time, and this is in a controlled environment. As Matt told us on day one and again on day two, "There is nothing pretty about the way I teach you, it's not going to be pretty in a real situation either." I was impressed at how much information I was processing, yet my hits on the targets were getting better with every drill.

In the picture above the ragged hole was from the very last drill of the class, I didn't start seeing groupings like that until I really put my mind into the fundamentals and striving to shoot better.

By the end of the 2 day class I had become more confident in drawing from concealed, changing mags while moving and keeping my eyes on the target, and my overall shooting ability. As Matt told the class, I do not own these skills yet but I have laid down a foundation that I can build on and improve. I may not be the tack driving shooter like others, but I do know that I can now work to improve my skills and my ability to protect myself if the need were to ever arise.

I would highly suggest taking this class, even though it is taught on a "square" range it does help your mind to think outside that box. While it may not be as stressful as a real situation it does apply some stress, and at times can make you feel a bit flustered but at the same time this helps you to push through that and make your shots.

Do I think that I will ever be an awesome shooter who can drill a target and hit the same spot over and over? No, but I don't want to be. I would rather know that I have the ability to protect myself and my loved ones if the situation were to arise. Can I improve my shooting skills? Heck yes, there is a ton of room for improvement and I am planning on taking more courses in the future to expand on what I have learned so far.

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