This is the time of year where it’s awesome to be outside in Central Texas.
Come August, not so much. 😉
So we’ll enjoy the days on the range while we can. And this past Saturday was an ideal day. Temperatures were cool in the morning and mild in the afternoon, a slight breeze all day, sunny. Just a great day.
And so, we had another round of Basic Pistol 1, and also held AT-4 – Pistol Skills Development. AT-4 doesn’t happen all that often, but it’s a unique and interesting class where you get to do a lot of things you don’t do in any other class or can do at many other ranges. Truly a class worth taking.
So what’s my take-home from the day?
Basic Pistol 1
You know what stood out to me the most about that class?
Every student wasn’t just on time, but was early! We were even able to start class a few minutes early, which meant 1. we had more time for class material, 2. we got to wrap up on time.
Yes, unfortunately this is an exception, not the rule. Typically there’s always 1-2 “car loads” that are late, or show up right at start time and don’t calculate the time needed to park, walk in, gear up (depending upon the class), go into the building, hit the bathroom, wait for the person in line for the bathroom ahead of you, finally use the bathroom, orient yourself, take care of paperwork, etc.. Yes, lots of things need to happen before you can just sit and take in the class.
If class starts at 9:00? Aim to be there 15-30 minutes prior to the start time. You’ll be better off and have a better class experience.
I really appreciated this start to my day. Not only because in my own life I strive to be early to all my appointments, but because I know arrival time affects not just you but everyone else involved. So your arrival time to class affects not just your class experience, but the experience of the other students and the teachers as well. Granted, shit happens, Apple Maps gives you incorrect driving directions, and all that. I grant that happens. But I just have to express how tickled I was to have everyone there early and we started so smoothly.
Apart from that, the class itself was fine. Since Karl was at the helm, I took some additional notes and am working to refine my class presentation. I’ll be lead instructor on this class starting next month, so I want to have my act together. 🙂
I didn’t get to participate much in the class. Karl’s working on an article and needs to gather data for it, so I got to be his data collector. I don’t want to expose too much of Karl’s article prior to publication, but I can say what I did was take each student individually to the small range and had them shoot a very simple course of fire using their gun and another gun. I recorded their times and hits. I wasn’t there to really teach them or test them, just have them perform the course of fire and record their performance.
That said, since I did get to see them perform, if I did notice something about their shooting that was a problem, I did mention it to them.
With only a couple exceptions, I saw much of the same problem: trigger yanking. One string of the COF was: from the ready, both hands on gun, 1 shot, body, 1.5 seconds. Very do-able, but certainly some pressure. So in a rush to get it all done, the gun got thrown out there, mash the shit out of the trigger, and get an unacceptable hit.
It goes along with what I saw at the start of class, when we had everyone on the line working dry. We had them just drawing, presenting, and “clicking off” a shot.
It was slow.
But over the past some whiles I’ve been struggling to come up with a good way to present and convey what I think is an important differentiator to make. It’s about going faster without necessarily going faster. Here’s some of my preliminary ramblings on the topic (click and read, it’s too much to rehash).
Let’s put it this way. For the sake of easy math, let’s say it takes you 0.5 seconds to press out and 0.5 seconds to press the trigger. If you perform these simultaneously, you will have taken 1 second to press out and shoot. If instead you do these simultaneously, which you can, it will have taken you 0.5 seconds to press out and shoot. So, you’ve performed essentially the same thing, achieved the same goal, and it took you half as much time. Notice however that you never moved faster (or slower) — the press out and trigger press moved at the same speed they always did. But by performing the tasks simultaneously, you moved more efficiently and the overall time taken was less.
So of course, imagine now if you then moved faster, how much better it could be. I mean, if you took the press out down to 0.25 and the trigger to 0.25, simultaneous becomes 0.25… so you know, it’s really a combination of truly moving faster and also moving simultaneously that brings about decreases in time expenditure.
Of what I saw in the AT-4 students, I think y’all need both.
I think you need to truly move faster when it comes to getting the gun out of the holster. When the buzzer sounds, when you hear the “B” in “BEEP”, you need to start moving. Anticipate the start of the buzzer, don’t wait for the buzzer to finish then move. As well, when you start moving, move really damn fast. Move your hands fast, clear your cover garment, get your hand on your gun, get the gun out of the holster. Move FAST. You have no time no waste, no time to lollygag. If your life is on the line, this matters. If it’s competition, it can mean the difference between winning and losing.
Watch this video of Ben Stoeger (shooting the FAST drill, which was shot during the AT-4 class… so compare your time to his time)
Watch carefully. His hand is on his gun and drawing it before the buzzer finishes. That’s fast. I’m not that fast, and I’m not saying you have to be that fast either, but it demonstrates the concept of getting on the gun, getting it out, and how doing THAT allows you to achieve better shot times.
So for things like drawing? Y’all just need to flat out move faster.
Then during the class dry practice, I would watch the press-out, and it would be a consecutive action: press out then press trigger. Here’s a place where you can gain “speed” by just moving simultaneously. I wrote enough on that above.
Here’s the thing. Everyone tries to beat the buzzer. From the moment the buzzer sounds, time is ticking and you know it. Because you didn’t start out fast, you now are feeling extra pressure because you know there’s not much time left, and so you rush everything and it all falls apart. Don’t rush. Instead, don’t waste time; use your time wisely and efficiently. If you move on the “B” in “BEEP”, if you work to get out of the holster faster, you will find that you have a lot more time to press the gun out and press the trigger. If you press the gun out and press the trigger in at the same time, you’ll get more done in less time. And y’know what’s weird? You’ll notice that you got done WAY before the second beep, you put up a great time, and you’ll find that you didn’t feel rushed at all. It’s a really weird feeling, but a really cool feeling too. It won’t feel like much effort, because now you didn’t rush: you were swift and efficient.
Strive for that.