Surprising results

It has been a tough year for many reasons, all of which curtailed my training, and in addition I got sick, really sick, as in bedridden for 3 weeks. This is one of the few times in my adult life I found myself unable to practice anything physical. I was also in quarantined to protect the rest of our household.

Lots of time on my hands, unfortunately. Occasionally, I would feel well enough to sit up in bed, and work with the SIRT pistol. Grip, trigger control, and reloads from my lap were the extent of my available drills, coupled with visualization drills. Definitely better than laying there watching bad TV.

These drills are a great part of unconscious competency in administrative handling of the pistol during shooting, coupled with visualization of personal protection scenarios, or courses in a match. I was scheduled to attend Gabe White’s class, Pistol Shooting Solutions in April, which was later cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. I had been training hard to earn the coveted turbo pin. My draw needed to be at it best, not something I could practice in bed. So I visualized the draw being efficient, repeatable, and explosive.

As I recovered, I was very curious what the lay-off would cost me. Starting with a week of slowly getting strong enough to practice, I set up my MantisX10 using the draw analysis. One of the hardest skills to measure accurately in dry practice is making the par time on the draw to first shot, something this device does remarkably well. Reaction to the go signal, grip, pull, horizontal, time on target, and the press of the trigger are all measured, and broken down on the chart. Luck for me, Mantis also keeps previous results for comparison. I had a low expectation of my performance with the minimal amount practice, also the loss of physical conditioning. So I visualized each repetition, performing each one as best as I could. Gratefully I practiced, enjoying the return to my discipline.

Here are my results before I fell ill:

As the green graph shows, my reaction to the beep is slow, .4 to .5, which keeps my draws above the 1 second mark. Now the graph after the layoff:

I had improved my reaction speed by roughly .2, which allowed the sub second draws. Visualization, and the lack of expectations, in other words tension, allowed a dramatic increase in my reaction time. The results were rather unexpected. I had actually improved during my break. I have noticed with my clients that the perceived drop off in skill is more mental than physical. Usually a 20-25% decrease overall after a long layoff, which only last 2-3 weeks. Once a base threshold is set for a movement it is easy to return to that baseline, despite a stop in training. Often new personal records are set after a lay off. Dry practice is useful for keeping us ready to perform, but is no substitute for actual live fire. Do to health and money issues, primarily my lungs not working 100% and ammo restrictions (not making money with both business shutdown), I was unable to do much live fire practice.

We were hosting John Johnston at our range, which would be my first chance to measure my shooting. While dry practice keeps the administrative skills polished, recoil management cannot be replicated. Basically four months with no matches, classes, or practice. I had also been vetting a new gun, the HK VP 9 long slide, and this would be my first pressure test using this pistol. My accuracy in slow to medium speed was still quite good, but my ability to push the speed envelope had suffered dramatically. I am still not entirely recovered from being sick, which I know also played a role with my performance . My scores and times were down, that is slower, by 25%. John had us shoot a split bill drill, 4 to the body, and 2 to the head with no warm up. My usual time is 2.7-2.9 for this drill, but I shot a little over the 4 second mark in class with good accuracy. That is a big difference, but considering the circumstances, about what I expected. I will be able to practice on regular schedule in the coming weeks, and it is my belief that I will return to my normal times. The good news is I had still had 75% of my current skill. Despite the feeling of losing everything when we are sick, injured, or taking a break, it is good to know that we retain 3/4 of our skill. Some areas can even improve. Now, shooting a new gun definitely factors in to this result, and this is by no means a scientific study, conversely our perceived loss is never as great as we think.

This year has been tough for so many of us, but we will emerge with enough to continue on, moreover to improve. Whatever skills, strengths, and mental fortitude we have earned does not easily disappear, but does require a bit of patience, and faith that we can still continue to get better. Keep up the good work, my friends! I, for one, am glad to be back on the range training, and growing. See you next month.

NANUK Professional Protective Cases

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As a firearm instructor that spends a great deal of time traveling I need a rock solid case for my firearms, whether I am teaching or training. I usually bring several pistols for clients, and my personal gun with a backup or two, which usually means carrying at least two cases. A real hassle when traveling.

Our good friend at Active Self Protection, John Correia, recommended the Nanuk Professional Protective Cases highly. Nanuk was kind enough to give all the instructors at Active Self Protection’s National Conference a case for volunteering our time, thank you very much.

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This cases is the 935 model that holds six pistols with 10 extra magazines. The case looks like a travel bag with extendable handle and wheels making it easy control with one hand. The thing that struck me was how solid the case felt, and the attention to detail is outstanding. Padlockable, stay open lid, waterproof, and powerclaw locking system made this case usable and reliable. The interior is well setup with PEF foam holding the pistols safely in place.The exterior dimensions are (L x W x H): 22.0″ x 14.0″ x 9.0″ which is very compact to carry so many pistols. You get the feeling that whoever designed this case wanted you to use it, and understood how to achieve a quality product. Nanuk obviously believes in their product because they offer a lifetime warranty.

I highly recommend this product, and the generous company that supported Active Self Protection’s worthwhile event. One warning, my wife liked it so much she had have one also (hers is the orange one), so be prepared to buy one for each shooter in the house.

The Complete Combatant & Fusion MMA’s Schedule UPDATE!

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The Complete Combatant is OPEN!!

The Complete Combatant’s OUTDOOR classes in Dahlonega will go on as scheduled.
   As a matter of fact, we have been asked to schedule more ENTRY Level Pistol Essentials, Pistol Essentials and Rifle Essentials.
   All INDOOR classes with TCC will be cancelled until April 1st, pending further updates regarding the containment of the COVID-19.
   If you are already registered at TCC for an INDOOR or an OUTDOOR class, and you are uncomfortable attending due to our current situation, then we will gladly move you to a class scheduled at a later date.
   We will publish videos including dry practice, Image Based Decisional Drills with the use of a BLUEGUN, and other HOME practice solutions on TCC’s Youtube channel. Eat healthy, sleep well, and take care of yourselves.

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Fusion is CLOSED until April 1st, 2020

It is with a heavy heart that we announce Fusion MMA will be closed until April 1st, 2020, pending further updates regarding the containment of the COVID-19.
   All over the nation small business owners are struggling with this decision, to help contain the spread of the virus at great risk to ourselves, and our employees livelihood, but our clients health must come first.
   We will update the website under CURRENT EVENTS and social media as this progresses.
   Brian will publish home workout videos on Fusion’s Youtube channel to help you stay in shape. Eat healthy, sleep well, and take care of yourselves.

Claude Werner’s Revolver Operator Class

The trap of specialization is rampant in martial training, whether it is empty hands or tools. The belief that a narrow focus is the path to mastery will often lead to the problem of “functional fixedness”.

In David Epistien’s book “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World”  uses the 2008 financial collapse as an example of over specialization. He says “legions of specialized groups optimizing risk for their own tiny pieces of the big picture created a catastrophic whole.”

Many believe learning to be linear, in other words a modular progression, and some favor the circular, a continuing cycle of review and depth, both are important, nevertheless a holistic approach, or the master key has the benefit of a quick prioritization of important information allowing adaptation to a new skill. Therefore I am constantly seeking new learning experiences in shooting, and when Claude Werner offered me the chance to take his revolver class, I gratefully accepted the chance to broaden my skill set. I have had several revolvers in my classes, and I sometimes carry a J frame as my workout or gym gun. I need to be proficient, and accountable with any of my choices.

79188852_613293086111480_650205495394566144_nIf you haven’t had the chance to train with Claude Werner you should correct that as soon as possible. His depth of knowledge, mastery of craft, and teaching skills are a rare commodity in the training world. His instructions are precise, accurate, and his corrections are insightful. One of the true hallmarks of high level performance is effortlessness in execution, and the efficient application of the fundamental skills. Claude is able to shoot with the ease that most people are able to walk. This class was well organized between marksmanship, manipulations, efficiency, and precision.

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One of the more intimidating aspects of revolver shooting for some is the double action trigger. Heavier and longer than the striker fired guns that are so popular today, the uninitiated will try to stage the trigger, or shoot single action only. Claude clearly explains, and demonstrates the nature of keeping the trigger in constant motion while improving the sight picture for a precise shot. We shot a mix of targets ranging from large circles to small circles the size of the ocular area at different distances. We were able to squeeze out quite a bit of precision, and speed out of the revolvers. There were many takeaways, but you will have to take the class to get that information.

79801100_576334949784099_7680399387884781568_nAs always the fundamentals of shooting are the same, grip, sights, trigger, and follow through, except the grip is different, the revolver points differently , and the sights can range from excellent to barely usable. A proper grip is essential, especially with the J frame. Claude was vigilant in correcting both the height, and the manner of gripping the revolver. Never fear, Claude has a way to make your snubbie sights visible, and usable too. I was reminded what it is like to be new to a firearm, and how much we ask of our clients with an unfamiliar tool. This also helped reset my beginners mind set, which is the true advantage of training with a broad range, furthermore it gave me the ability to look at these skills with a fresh perspective.

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The revolver fills a particular niche in my personal protection strategy, either at the gym, deep concealment, or a pocket gun in a heavy winter jacket. Several side benefits from the class were better trigger control, and a deeper focus on the sights during a longer trigger press. These are the reasons why, but more importantly, I am a professional instructor who should have a wide range of knowledge, and skill for my clients. I will put aside my personal preferences to learn as much as possible about my craft, thus widening my ability to look at all information in a new light. It is a great class, and I highly recommend it.

We will be hosting Claude’s Operator Revolver class at our range in Dahlonega so keep an eye out for announcements! See you on the range!

 

 

Active Self Protection’s National Conference

Shelley and I had the great honor of presenting at the Active Self Protection‘s National Conference September 25-27, 2019 located at Living Water Ranch located in Manhattan, KS. This unique event, that is also known as “Bullets and Bibles”, donates all of the proceeds to the Flint Hills Foster Teen Camps.

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“In addition to the summer camp for teens, they also do Homes of Hope. When foster teens reach 18, they age out of the system. Many find themselves immediately homeless on their 18th birthday and without the life skills and support system to rise above that challenge. FHFTC proves room and board, along with support and training in basic life skills to ease the transition from foster child to adult. They stay on-site and learn about budgeting, hygiene, cooking, cleaning, job skills, etc. This is a tremendous resource for them and they get to go through this transition with caring adults and counselors to point the way.”

Now this is a cause we can all support! All of the instructors donated their time to this worthwhile program. I have found that being compassionate and generous is a boon for the giver. According to Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie of the Greater Good Magazine (Science Based Insight for a Meaningful Life at UC Berkeley),  “When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them.”

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Over 100 shooters supported this event with its worthwhile cause, but there was something unique about this group. All were kind, generous, and interested in personal protection, but that is not what set them apart. Chuck Haggard of Agile Training & Consulting, put it succinctly, “Everyone there was a new shooter”, meaning none of the traveling instructors had seen them before. If you attend enough training classes you get to know the “hard core training junkies”. Tom Givens of Rangemaster believes that there are roughly 5,000 or so people that train consistently, and we all get to know each other. This was 100 new shooters under the tutelage of top instructors, for some of them, it was their first training class ever.

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This is noteworthy, and exciting! John Correia, founder and owner of Active Self Protection, has an immense reach on social media, and more importantly, he is a man of faith, allowing him to draw a different community. Bringing this many new people to actively train is what we are all striving for in the firearms training community. Not only that, but the team at ASP, John Correia, Neil Weidner, Chief Marketing Officer/Instructor, Active Self Protection, and Stephannie Weidner, CEO/XO (Executive Officer) of Active Self Protection, built a sense of fellowship, and community that was both inclusive and welcoming. People interacted, and really got to know each other. I noticed a difference on the line immediately, while everyone was attentive, and open, the excitement to all the excellent information being presented was tangible. I think most instructors worked all 3 days, either teaching or assisting in classes, feeding off this infectious enthusiasm flowing through this conference.

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Raising money for kids in need, teaching personal protection, and creating a new group of shooters is a success. There are so many people that contributed to this event, giving their time freely, and helping young men and woman improve their lives, let me thank each of you for your generosity. Shelley and I will look forward to attending this conference each year, and spending our time with all of you wonderful folks at this event.

“Virtue is its own reward. There’s a pleasure in doing good, which sufficiently pays itself.” ― John Vanbrugh