Course Review: GLOCK Operator Course May 9th-10th, 2017 – Smyrna, Georgia

0016
(Photo Courtesy of Paul Pawela)

On May 9th and 10th I attended the first ever open enrollment GLOCK Operator Course held at GLOCK Training – Glock Sport Shooting Foundation Headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia.

Eligibility requirements for all open enrollment GLOCK Operator courses are as follows: Active or Reserve Law Enforcement, Active or Reserve Military, Licensed Armed Security Officers, current GSSF Members and current NRA Certified Firearms Instructors. These eligibility requirements can be found here, with additional course information, to include the course outline and expected round count can be found in this PDF.

As I mentioned above, this was GLOCK’s initial open enrollment offering, the first course was a closed course for Law Enforcement Officers only. The students were from many different walks of life. There were four members of the media invited to attend the course by GLOCK’s Media Department including some really big names in gun writing and one other writer who showed up and paid the full course tuition of $300.00. There were five regular Joe’s, all of whom paid the same $300.00 tuition as well. The regular Joe’s were as follows: Two (2) sworn Law Enforcement Officer’s, one (1) United States Army Reserve Captain and GSSF member from North Georgia, a Country Club Manager and GSSF member from North Carolina and of course, yours truly. Additionally there were also three (3) full-time GLOCK employees in attendance as well.

The GLOCK Pistols in attendance consisted mostly of 9mm models, 17’s, 19’s & 34’s, and one GLOCK 40, 10mm long-slide. Personally, I have never seen a student bring a 10mm to a course like this; however, the brave young man who did should be commended, he did very well considering he had a gun with tremendous impulse during the recoil cycle.

0061
(GLOCK 40, 10mm – Photo Courtesy of Andre’ M. Dall’au)

Our Instructor for the two-day course was Joseph “Willie” Parent, III; Director of Training and GSSF for GLOCK, Inc., Willie is a seventeen (17) year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, and he let you know it with his rigid military bearing, serious demeanor and of course the vernacular he used on the range.

Willie used the term “event driven” many times in a short period of time to describe the course along with explaining that this course was a collaboration of several GLOCK Staff Instructors. He went on to say that they developed this course to help people who own GLOCK platform pistols operate them more efficiently and of course, effectively.

It is worthy to note that it was mentioned more than once that “GLOCK Training doesn’t sell excitement.” From taking this course I can assure you that is a true statement. Nothing about the presentation of this curriculum was exciting. (More on this later)

The round count for this course was advertised at 1,000 and GLOCK company policy is that each student bring only factory ammunition, no hand-loads are allowed in any GLOCK Training course. As someone who has attended a lot of high-volume round count courses, I have learned to give a twenty to twenty-five percent (20%-25%) buffer +/- on the advertised round count, and that estimate has been pretty darned accurate for years. I find that more often than not I have shot less than advertised number. My exact round count for this course was 375 rounds. TD1 round count was 135, TD2 was 240 including the 22 round GLOCK Operator Course Pistol Standards Test.

Now, I have never been in a course where the round count is 62.5% less than advertised; however, I have seen these things happen to others, and the reason is typically a lack of course content, unfortunately that was not the case here. There was plenty of course content that we didn’t even get to experience, e.g., low-light/no-light techniques and alternate shooting positions. Sadly, our course was shorted, that is the bottom line and you will understand how as you read further.

(Important Note: As a mentor I don’t see it my place to publicly shame someone on social media or on my blog that is read by literally tens of thousands of people, but our job is to never forget the first rule in teaching something; deliver all of the advertised curriculum to your paid students, no matter if your course is “event driven” or not, and do so in a way that minimizes you and your accomplishments and maximizes the curriculum and of course participant involvement. This will allow you to hit the adult learning theorem of hear, see and do in each block of instruction. The student who paid the full tuition will be grateful if you just remember that one simple thing.)

TD1 started in the classroom with a safety briefing that was a combination of Colonel Jeff Cooper’s four universal rules of gun safety and the NRA’s three rules of gun safety. (I really wish Instructors would pick one or the other and not both, and never make them your own by changing the words, it doesn’t add anything to them, in fact it takes away from them) At this time we also received an overview of the GLOCK pistols and their functionality.

The National Sales Manager and Assistant National Sales Manager brought the GLOCK summer releases down from “The Mothership” for us to see. These included the GLOCK 17L Gen 3 and GLOCK 24 Gen 3, both with their 6.02″ barrels, the GLOCK FDE frames and of course the GLOCK 17C & 19C Gen 4 guns. You may not be able to see them in the photos below; however, GLOCK is now offering guns with forward cocking serrations near the muzzle on their guns, that is something new this summer.

Once the classroom presentation was complete, we headed to the indoor range just a few steps away and through a set of double doors. Once inside we made sure our guns were clear and started with dry-fire presentations from the holster (Open Carry) at fifteen (15) yards while in an “interview position.” This position is similar to the position that a Law Enforcement Officer might use when speaking to someone just outside of arms length. Our Instructor taught what I call the “press out” presentation or the upside-down “L” and not the index presentation.

Once we were done with dry-fire presentations, we were then taught how to properly load a GLOCK pistol. This exercise was done by Instructor demonstration only, there was no student involvement in this exercise which surprised me because that goes against the adult learning theorem of hear, see and do. Besides, we were all instructed by the course outline to bring ten (10) dummy rounds each, this would have been a great opportunity to use them.

We then started on the course of fire standing on the fifteen (15) yard line shooting ten rounds slow-fire. The Instructors command of “Shooter Ready, Target” was our queue to present our pistol and fire. The target used was an NRA B-8 target. (See Below) We repeated this exercise three times alternating relays and pasting all misses that hit outside of the nine ring.

I had recently installed a new set of Ameriglo I-Dot sights (GL-301) on my GLOCK 19C Gen 3, and I needed to get used to the proper sight picture at fifteen (15) yards. In my first go around I had only three of ten hits inside the nine ring; however, after I made a slight adjustment in sight picture my group was spot on. (Pardon the pun) After we completed this drill, we took a lunch break for an hour.

AAA NRA B-8 Target
(The NRA B-8 Target)

If you attend this course at GLOCK Training/GSSF Headquarters in Smyrna, there are several small local restaurants close by; however, I suggest that you bring a cooler if you are driving and eat your lunch there in the classroom, that way you are not rushed going somewhere to eat and then making it back on time afterwards.

We reconvened in the range after lunch we started shooting pairs at fifteen (15) yards, again starting in the interview position and upon command. I found this very weird as there was really no reason to be “banging pairs” from fifteen yards away, this does nothing for marksmanship fundamentals or allows an diagnostics to take place; however, after shooting three iterations of pairs we then started working on slide-lock, empty-gun or emergency reloads depending on the terminology that you use.

Willie showed us four of the six ways Instructors teach their students to send the slide into battery after a reload and emphasized that the power-stroke was the way we should be doing it with the GLOCK platform pistol. (The power-stroke has the shooter cupping the support hand over the rear of slide and pulling it back using the thumb and fingers on the cocking serrations on the rear of the slide so the recoil spring assembly or RSA for short is fully compressed before you release it. Provided you have a good RSA, this action creates maximum inertia in launching the slide forward into battery)

Next we performed the one shot, slide-lock reload, and one shot drill working on perfect technique. This is a very good drill and one I use on a regular basis to improve my reload speeds.

Next we started shooting silhouette targets while preforming what Willie called, “immediate and remedial action” drills. These terms are nothing more than military jargon for clearing common stoppages and malfunctions, e.g., failure to fire, failure to eject, failure to extract etc…

Next we worked on failure to stop, or the Mozambique drill from the seven (7) yard line and we ran though this three times per relay. The Mozambique drill is two shots to the chest and one to the head performed from the holster or a ready position, we performed it from the holster. Once we finished this drill, TD1 was in the books.

It is also worthy to note that all drills were performed from either a low-ready or from open carry on TD1, there was no option to work from concealment, even for an experienced student.

TD2 started with a good breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express Atlanta Galleria area and upon checkout I was given a one-day credit on my bill because our room was not serviced for us while we were training the day prior. That was nice of the hotel management to offer and do that for me, after all I am an IHG member.

TD2 of the GLOCK Operator Course started in the classroom with a review of the safety rules from TD1 and then we headed into the range and started with a drill that is designed to help the student with trigger control. Candidly, this drill should have been the first drill after dry-fire presentations on TD1; however, it wasn’t me that wrote the course of fire and I was there to learn, it just seemed awful strange doing a drill that is used to teach the shooter about trigger control when we had already shot 135 rounds on TD1.

We then proceeded to shoot this drill from three, five and seven yards on an NRA B-8 target. During the first iteration we were instructed to pin the trigger to the rear and then let it reset after our sights were back on target. Firearms training industry titan John Farnam calls this, “catching the link.” In the second iteration we would go through resetting the trigger under the impulse of recoil, and in the third iteration we were to speed reset the trigger while firing pairs. I found this drill to be of little value as I do not nor would I ever teach pining the trigger to the rear and catching the link as you ride the reset forward.

Catching the link can have disastrous results if not done properly and with a loss of fine motor skills that will occur under stress this might just cause you to freeze when resetting the trigger, I have seen it too many times with Law Enforcement Officers being taught the fundamentals of trigger control improperly and because they pin the trigger to the rear they lose time on their qualifications, not to mention what might happen if they are in a gunfight with a hardened criminal who does not see handcuffs in his or her future.

We then performed this same drill at ten (10), twelve and a half (12.5) and fifteen (15) yards, only this time we were shooting a silhouette target center chest. Again, there is no value in doing this at distance, there are much better drills to help the student understand proper trigger control and cadence. With the experienced shooters we had in this course this drill could have been easily done in one or two iterations from three or five yards, yet we wasted time doing this out to fifteen (15) yards. Again, this drill is a TD1 drill in any course I have ever been to, but not the GLOCK Operator Course.

0059
The flames you see are the burning gases exiting the ports in the barrel of my GLOCK 19C Gen 3 as I shoot a drill at the first ever open enrollment GLOCK Operator Course in Smyrna, Georgia on May 9th & 10th, 2017. (Photo Courtesy of Paul Pawela)

After a short break we came back to find the NRA B-8 targets back up again and the next drill was the ball and dummy drill. Again, this is a drill that should have been done on TD1, not TD2.

In this drill we gave a fellow student a couple magazines and shot this drill at the twenty-five (25) yard line. This is way too far away from the target for this drill. Each iteration was from the holster, presenting the pistol and firing one shot. If we were on a dummy round and we caused the sights to deviate, we were supposed to tell our coach (Fellow Student) what we did wrong. The Instructor told us that saying “I anticipated” was not acceptable, he’s right about that, not everything is an anticipation or flinch. As shooters, we were to describe exactly what we did to cause the sights deviate off of our intended point of aim.

We then went on to shooting multiple targets with pairs to the high center chest area of a silhouette target from the holster. This drill was done from the seven (7) yard line and we were to change the target that we started with during each iteration. In this drill you must make sure to not “out-drive your headlights” as my mentor Tom Givens says. In case you are wondering, your headlights are your eyes, and to get good hits on the target or threat you are transitioning to you must move your head first and then bring the gun to your eyes and engage the second target or threat. See the example in the photos below.

Engaging multiple targets from the holster. (Photos Courtesy of Paul Pawela)

The next drill we worked on was a box drill. This is where you shoot two rounds to the torso and one round to the head on multiple targets. This drill is basically a failure to stop or Mozambique drill using two targets and taking the two head shots after you engage the second target or threat with a pair to the chest and then transition back to the first target and taking a head shot on that target as well.

After a break we started shooting on the move. First with moving forward from the fifteen (15) yard line all the way to the one (1) yard line while engaging a silhouette target high center chest. When the Instructor demonstrated this drill he was visibly upset with himself when he missed a single shot and even said so in front of the class. As a student I found this to be unprofessional and as an Instructor I was embarrassed for him. Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident, Willie had made this mistake on multiple occasions; however, this time it was pronounced and instead of him using his misses as a teachable moment to explain to the students why he missed the shot, he was down on himself and said out loud that he was worried about the writers making light of this miss in their articles and blogs.

Candidly at this point I had heard about enough and had to chime in, “Let’s focus on the positive here, you shot sixteen or seventeen rounds and missed one, I’d say that is a good hit to miss ratio.” After I said that, several students approached me on lunch break and thanked me for having the courage to say that, because this was beginning to be a common theme and unfortunately that is basically what we were subjected to for two days.

Once each student had run through moving forward on a threat three times we took a lunch break for an hour.

After lunch we worked on moving to the rear from three to seven yards again shooting a silhouette target high center chest. I didn’t mention it before, but the key to any movement drill, no matter the direction you are moving is to press the trigger when you have an acceptable sight picture or sight movie as Gabe White refers to it.

After a short break we were then introduced to shooting on the move left and right at the seven yard line. This technique was new to many of the shooters and some struggled with the footwork associated. Similar to moving rearward we ran through this dry-fire once and live-fire once.

Next we worked on strong hand and support hand only shooting from the ten yard line and then we went dry for nearly two hours working on one handed manipulation drills using our strong hand and weak hand only. Two students showed their techniques to draw the gun from their holsters using the support hand only. These are techniques that I had seen before; however, I tried several different ones until I settled in on the one I have been using for years.

We then worked on more one handed manipulations including clearing malfunctions and reloading the pistol with strong hand and support hand only. The safety protocol was very high with these drills, and thus we only preformed the drills dry-fire with dummy rounds.

After a short break we were introduced to the GLOCK Operator Course Pistol Standards. This is an evaluation, not a qualification of your skills under the pressure of a shot timer. Due to all the wasted time in the course each student only got one try at the pistol standards test, even though the scoring sheet had room for three separate tests as they refer to them at GLOCK Training. Considering all of the penalties I had my score was a very disappointing Level 1; however, when I returned home, I was able to run the same exact course of fire three times in a row cold, scoring a very respectable Level 3, each time.

Please do not ask me to share the GLOCK Operator Course Pistol Standards with you, it’s not going to happen. One has to protect the integrity of the course so new students don’t try to practice the evaluation standards in preparation of the course.

This will not be a surprise to the instructor as I left many of these comments on my written course review before leaving the building; however, as both a student and fellow instructor I am not sure Willie is the right instructor to deliver this curriculum and I cannot recommend this course to anyone at this time.

As a mentor, I would jump at the opportunity to work with Willie in polishing his presentations and this course of fire so it makes sense, and flows better so the students can see all of it.

Sadly, I could have saved nearly $750.00 in tuition, hotel charges, gas, food the 625 rounds I never fired, not to mention sixteen hours worth of windshield time, had I known this was going to be the result.

As a good friend told me, “Gordon, someone had to be the guinea pig.” If GLOCK Training offered me a seat in the course again I would take it, and maybe I might get a chance to see the entire course of fire and run all the drills; however, after publishing this course review, and even offering to mentor Willie, I don’t see that ever happening, then again surprises do happen.

Oh, nearly a month has passed since the course and I did receive this nice GLOCK Operator PVC Patch in the mail, I will put it with all the other patches I collect and remember what might have been.

IMG_7266

Just remember, as a student you must be willing to pick up the brass on the range, and my good friend Paul caught me doing what I do best with a walnut picker.

0032
(Photo Courtesy of Paul Pawela)

#GLOCK #GLOCKTraining #GSSF #GlockOperatorCourse

Until next time …

Live life abundantly!

Stay Safe & Train Hard!

So, what is in your E.D.C.?

IMG_6432

  • Glock 19C Gen 3 w/Ameriglo I-Dot Pro Sights and a Blade-Tech Klipt AIWB holster
  • Spare Glock 19 Magazine w/OEM +2 baseplate Safariland 123 Horizontal Mag Pouch
  • Benchmade Mini Reflex Auto
  • Cold Steel Spartan
  • SOFT-T Wide Tourniquet in an Eleven 10 case
  • Monadnock D-Jammer/Kubotan Keychain
  • Griffin Pepper Strike w/Fury OC spray
  • Surefire E2D LED Defender Ultra
  • Wallet
  • iPhone 7+

All easily concealable in pockets and on my belt.

Practice your ABC’s …

Stay Safe & Train Hard!

Beware of “The Gun Counter Instructor”

Yesterday evening I was in my local gun shop (LGS) just looking around, and a few feet away from where I was standing a young man in his 30’s was asking a salesperson for some advice on what ammunition he should use in his home defense shotgun. As you might imagine, I was trying hard to hide the fact that he had my full-undivided attention.

Enter “The Gun Counter Instructor” with is classic answer. “All you need is some #7.5 bird shot.” Then he gestured past where I was standing and said, “It’s right over there past the guy in the tan shirt.”

As the young man walked my way, I stopped him and said, “I couldn’t help but overhear that you are looking for some ammunition for a home defense shotgun.” He answered in the affirmative and I told him, “Bird shot is for killing birds, not home defense against a home invasion robbery.” I then asked him what kind of shotgun he has and he politely said, “Remington 870 Marine Magnum.” (One of my favorite shotguns)

I then handed him a box of Federal FliteControl® Wad 2 3/4″ 9 pellet 00 buckshot (Not the exact load I prefer, but it will work) and told him this was what he is looking for to load in his home defense shotgun and to try it out at 10 and 15 yards to see what the pattern looks like at those two distances. If it is smaller than 12″ to 14″ then he should be good to go as he probably won’t have to make a shot of more than 15 yards inside his home. He then confirmed that the largest room in his house is only 35 feet wide, so not quite 12 yards. We continued our conversation on the way to the checkout line and I handed him a business card inviting him to my next Defensive Shotgun Course and noticed he was buying five (5) boxes of 00BK. I left him by recommending he try to find the 8 pellet 00BK through one of the major online ammunition retailers and handed him an extra box that I had in my car.

IMG_6128

The moral to the story is, as an Instructor or a responsibly armed citizen don’t overtly make the “Gun Counter Instructor” look bad, and try to be consultative in nature when giving advice in a gun shop. If you are an Instructor, make sure to have some business cards with you as well.

It is my sincere wish that this using bird shot for home defense theory would go away, but it won’t until we educate all of the “Gun Counter Instructors” to stop giving out poor advice to unsuspecting customers, I’d settle for my local gun shop employees as a start.

Until next time, stay safe & train hard!

Join my 5,600+ fans on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/triggercontrol

NRA Basic Pistol Course Update

1l68vbOn March 9th, 2017 the NRA Education & Training department announced to its Training Counselors that it would be adding a new Instructor Led Training (ILT) course to their course catalog under the Basics of Pistol Shooting Course. This new curriculum will be available for all NRA Certified Pistol Instructors to offer to their students beginning on April 4th.

The NRA Education & Training department staff, including senior level directors and board members had been meeting with a team of Training Counselors over the past several months working on this new curriculum along with the policies and procedures to administer this new course.

The NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting, Instructor Led Training (ILT) course will be launched on April 4th. It marks a return to the traditional instructor/student relationship for this course and will give the Instructor the ability to offer a condensed version of the course, training on only one action type instead of both. (Semi-Automatic or Revolver). As with all NRA basic courses, both the “Blended” and the “ILT” version will include a course completion checklist. This checklist is an invaluable tool that will allow the instructor to document what they have taught their students, as well as a record of the student’s acknowledgement that they feel comfortable in understanding and performing each objective. The instructor will provide each student with a student package from the NRA Program Materials Center materials.nrahq.org that will consist of, the NRA Guide: Basics of Pistol Shooting Handbook and a course exam. The student packages will also be available starting on April 4th.

Once the course is complete, the instructor will submit an electronic course report through their instructor portal account and include the student’s written exam score, the shooting skill they achieved the action type they were trained on, and acknowledge that each student met all of the learning objectives as set forth by the National Rifle Association. After submitting the course report, the instructor will be able to print a course completion certificate for each student directly from their portal account and all of the information entered in the course report will automatically print on the certificate of completion.

The recommended targets to be used in the Basics of Pistol Shooting course have been improved as well. Instead of being four inch circles in solid red, white and blue, the targets will have a colored ring (Red, White and Blue) around four inch white circles allowing the student to focus on the front sight during the qualification instead of the target color.

Also worthy of note is that the Instructor will have the option to conduct the entire bench-rest course of fire with a SIRT pistol or a similar laser training device in the classroom ONLY if the range facility they are using does not allow bench-rest shooting.

The NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting course lesson plans for both the “Blended” and the “ILT” course will be updated with clarifications on exact minimum round counts, refinements of definitions, and of course policies and procedures. The new lesson plans will be available in the instructor portal on April 4th.

Speaking of the instructor portal, the NRA Education & Training department has been working on streamlining the site to make it easier for Instructors and Training Counselors to administer training and obtain updates from NRA headquarters. The new www.nrainstructors.org will also be launched on April 4th as well.

The NRA is also planning a media campaign associated with this release. So far, 30,000 people have completed Phase I online since it was launched in 2016 and with the increased media awareness, registrations for both courses will be sure to increase. The media campaign will include promotions in NRA media publications, newsletters, electronic and print magazines and also on television as well.

With this addition to the NRA’s course catalog, the Certified Pistol Instructor will be able to offer these four different courses to their students:

NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting “Blended” (Phase II)

NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Instructor Led Training (ILT)

NRA Pistol Marksmanship Simulator Training

NRA Gun Safety Seminar

It is important to note that the Basics of Pistol Shooting Phase I & II, better known as “Blended Learning” will remain as an option for those students who prefer the self-study eLearning modules as their introduction to firearms safety along with basic gun handling and shooting skills. Those who choose the self-study course must complete the entire course and score a 90% on their exam before they are able to meet with an NRA Certified Instructor and complete the hand-on practical exercises in Phase II.

Also starting on April 4th, NRA Certified Pistol Instructors and Training Counselors will be able to purchase a “Course Control Code” that they will be able to issue to their Students and Instructor candidates for Phase I at a significant discount from the current price on https://basicpistol.nra.org/ This will allow for a one-stop shopping experience for Students and Instructor candidates. Additionally all Instructor candidates will still be required to pass the Basics of Pistol Shooting Phase I as a prerequisite for attending the NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting course with an NRA Training Counselor.

Instructors and Training Counselors should make sure that their email address is up to date in their instructor portal account at www.nrainstructors.org as the NRA will be sending out a Trainer’s Update on March 22nd, that will detail all the changes with both course(s). They will also be placing alerts in the instructor portal for all 125,000+ Certified Instructors and Training Counselors.

Please help spread the correct information on these new additions to your fellow instructors, and let’s all work together in offering the highest quality firearms training to both our Students and Instructor candidates.

Finally, if you are an Instructor or Student and have questions about the new program please feel free to contact me by asking questions here in the comments section or by joining my 5,600+ Facebook fans at: www.facebook.com/triggercontrol

Stay safe!

Do you have specific goals when at the range? Think S.M.A.R.T.

Yesterday evening Tom Givens posted this to the graduates of his Rangemaster Instructor courses and I thought it was way too good not to share. For those of you who follow the Trigger Control Dot Org Facebook page, you know that we share a lot of content to help make you a better defensive shooter along with many other things focused on the responsible armed citizen.

When I am at the range, I am there with a plan in mind to work on a specific skill set that is important to me. Sure sometimes I am there to “shake out” a gun that I might be using for training or a new concealed carry gun that I bought, but let’s face it, these days with the cost and availability of ammunition, range memberships, gas to get there etc… we all need a plan with some goals to work toward in improving our defensive shooting skill sets.

I give the “floor” to Mr. Givens.

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

A critical step in increasing your defensive shooting skill is to be able to set up S.M.A.R.T. training goals. Think of it as driving your vehicle from your home to some other destination. You could drive around aimlessly and hope you eventually arrive at the address you seek. A better solution would be to get directions, plot them on a map, and follow those directions directly to your destination. That is our goal in S.M.A.R.T. training.

I’ve been teaching people professionally for over 35 years, for 18 years I owned a range where people often came to practice, and I teach almost every weekend somewhere in the US. On my range, I frequently saw people come and practice with no plan, no goal, and little or no organization. When they left they were not one bit better than when they arrived, and they could have accomplished every bit as much with dry practice at home. In our classes, no matter what part of the country we are in I see the same errors by shooters who have had a fair bit of prior training. The problem is, after the training their practice is unorganized, haphazard, and without real goals. Since they practiced so inefficiently they come to class shooting no better than when they came to the last class. We basically start over with these folks every time we get them in class. For your practice regimen to be of any real value you have to set goals and attain them. You can’t just say your goal is to be a better shot or to be “really good”. That is so vague as to be meaningless. We need a standard to achieve and road map to get there.

For a goal to be effective and useful to you, it should be S.M.A.R.T…. S (specific), M (measurable), A (attainable), R (realistic), and T (timely). Broadly general goals, generally speaking, will not be achieved. So, let’s look at each of these criteria and see how they apply to the defensive shooter.

Specific– each range trip or dry practice session should be planned around working on and improving one or two specific skills. The skill should be identified in advance so that you can have the correct supplies, targets, and any other equipment you need to work on those specific skill sets. Trying to work on everything at once leads to improving nothing significantly. It is far better to concentrate your attention on one or two skills in each session. In advance of your range trip or dry practice session identify the skill set you want to work on and then identify the drills that would help polish those particular skills. For instance, if you want to work on accuracy, a bulls-eye course of fire may be in order, or perhaps one of the small dot drills.

Measurable– a time and accuracy standard gives you a metric for seeing if you are actually getting better or not. Never just blow rounds down range. Every drill fired and practice string should be critiqued and or scored and targets taped or replaced so that you can see exactly where hits are going. Never rely on your subjective idea of how fast you’re working, you will just about always be wrong. You can have a training partner with a stopwatch, or if you practice alone you can use an electronic timer to verify your progress. Many smartphones now have timer apps available, so there’s really no excuse for not using a timing device in your range trips. To accurately measure your progress you can use standardized drills, exercises, and courses of fire. By scoring your targets and noting your time it’s pretty easy to track progress or the lack of it. There are a lot of standardized drills that emphasize discrete skills with well-known time/ accuracy requirements. The FAST drill devised by Todd Green is just one example. You either get your hits into the 3 x 5 card and the 8-inch circle or you don’t, and you either make the time specified or you don’t. It’s a great idea to use a small notebook as a log and note the date and time of practice, the individual drills worked on, and your scores/times. Tracking your progress in this manner gives you an accurate idea of how you are progressing.

Attainable– be realistic when setting your goals to avoid frustration and burnout. If you’re just starting out as a defensive shooter, a 1.2-second draw from concealment to a hit at 7 yards is probably beyond your reach. Find your current baseline shooting scored drills, record your score or time and set a reasonable goal for improvement. For instance, if a slide lock reloads currently takes you four seconds, make your goal cutting your time to three seconds. Once you achieve that goal, make your next goal cutting the time to 2 1/2 seconds. Each time you have a major improvement, it is going to be harder to make it to the next level, so work in increments that you can manage. Trying to go from that four second reload to a two second reload in one jump is a lot to ask. If you shot the current FBI pistol qualification course at 75% today, make your next goal shooting 85%, rather than 100%. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Realistic– when setting goals, take into account your physical attributes, your training resources (time, ammunition, and money), your equipment limitations, and the context for which you are training. For instance, it is counterproductive to set goals built around what Grand Master USPSA shooters do with match gear worn openly if you are wearing a compact pistol concealed under clothing in an IWB holster. If you are older or have physical limitations take those into account realistically in your training plan.

Timely– set a real-time goal for your desired improvement. This helps you stay on track and put in the work. If you want to improve one specific skill such as the slide lock reload mentioned above, you might set a goal of shaving the time from four seconds to three seconds in three months of combined range work and dry practice. If your goal is to reach a certain score on a broad course of fire that covers a lot of different skills, you might set a time limit of say, six months. As mentioned before, use a logbook to record your efforts and your achievements as you work toward your goal.

Using the S.M.A.R.T. approach you can make the most of your training resources and I assure you, you will progress faster and get a lot more out of your limited training time.

Tom

 

Stay Safe and Train not just Hard, train S.M.A.R.T.!!!