As a life-long student of firearms, tactics and gear, I attend every firearms class that I can manage to fit into my busy schedule. The classes I enjoy most, though, are the ones that push my abilities and really stretch my skillset. These are ones that push me into new ways of thinking, testing and operating the equipment I have chosen.
I always come away with a vast amount of new knowledge, and information to process and assimilate into my training on my range days. As part of my desire to get some more training, I was also itching to hit the range to test out my new XD-M Elite Tactical OSP 9mm pistol by Springfield Armory.
A New Opportunity
My most recent class was a pistol class from Rob Orgel at ER Tactical. Rob is a former 0311 Marine and later a combat instructor. One thing I value about Rob is that everything he teaches is from testing theories or direct experience. He doesn’t adopt a method if he has not proven it yet. He trains six days a week and lives by the methods and techniques that he teaches. When Rob speaks, people listen — and for good reason.
The class began with us warming up the basics of range safety, a proper draw and the loading process. I always value that Rob begins with these seemingly basic skills because we can never practice them enough. It also sets you up to realize any bad habits you may have formed outside of the class.
Once warmed up we went into the four-point draw, which is made up of the following steps:
- Support hand clears garment to the chest, creating a safe draw opportunity.
- The dominant hand grips the pistol and clears the holster, orienting towards the target.
- The pistol is brought up to meet the support hand.
- With both hands gripping the pistol, drive it out towards the target.
Once comfortable with the draw, we began firing from positions two and three. Firing from position two is the earliest you could begin engaging a target safely when the pistol leaves the holster and is oriented towards your target while still low near your holster. Firing from position three is when both hands have met at the high-center chest and are ready to push out to full extension. You could begin firing as you push out to quickly get rounds on target if the threat is close.
It’s amazing how accurate you can be from position three once you have oriented the pistol and are at proper chest height to meet your support hand. It’s great to build that skill and confidence to know the earliest moment you can accurately fire from once trained properly.
We then moved into accurately placing our hammer pairs, failure drills and NSR drills. As a recap, a hammer pair is two shots quickly fired with accuracy. A failure drill is when the hammer pair has failed to stop the target and an accurate shot to the cranium is needed. An NSR drill stands for “Non-Standard Response”, and this is a rapid-fire of five to eight shots placed at a high-center chest.
Rob stresses that we break the mindset of “center mass” and always aim “high-center.” This provides us with the greatest chance of success, even if you pull your shots a little low left or right they will be effective and on target. I was happy to see my grouping was improving from previous classes because of the dry fire I had been doing at home.
Just as I felt I was really excelling, we went to single-hand shooting, from right and left hands. I am cross eye dominate, so I always have a tougher time than usual picking up the sights quickly shooting one handed. Luckily the Vortex Venom red dot I was using made this much less painful than normal for me. I put a mental note into spending more time shooting one handed to bring that skill up to par.
The Right Moves
Being a good instructor, Rob is always out to challenge us and keep us on our toes, literally. The next exercise was introducing movement into our drills. Forward, rearwards left and right. Oddly enough, I found this to be almost easier than standing still for some of my shots.
It’s funny how when your brain is engaged and distracted, the little errors you always make seem to disappear as your brain gets out of the way and your muscle memory can do its job. Practicing moving while shooting in a safe environment is paramount for understanding how your body will react, as well as knowing problems that can occur while doing so.
Feeding the Fire
After movement drills, we worked on one-handed reloads by holstering the weapon, grabbing a mag, inserting, tugging, drawing and chambering a round. We also worked on clearing malfunctions one handed. Tap the mag on your thigh, rack the slide on your holster. You are now back in the fight. These are great drills as it’s something we rarely work on and it’s great to build up more of that muscle memory and technique.
Coming to a close, we worked on firing from supine, (laying on your back) and then working our way back to our feet. This was actually a very easy position to shoot from as your body can easily support your arms and you are inputting very little motion to the firearm. Then, as a final exercise we put to use all the movement drills to run a course and see how well we could perform under stress and a longer stage.
I came away from the class very happy with some things, and with more than a few techniques and positions that I wanted to practice at home with dry fire. Taking classes always fills me with excitement and passion for firearms. There is just something beautiful about becoming more proficient with them and letting them do what they do best. I like to think every class and every day I train I am becoming more and more worthy of wielding that firearm.
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