Zombies of the World, Beware!

Today I made good on my promise to take more training; I went to Tactical Response’s Fighting Pistol class at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center. It’s a two day course that really has pushed me to learn a lot about putting down the walking dead.

–a short disclaimer–
I had signed up for this class well in advance of my recent employment change, and this in no way suggests that I am taking this class for anything other than personal enrichment and zombie re-deadification (Hey, I took Latin, it’s probably a real word.)
–disclaimer ends–

Fighting Pistol is a class put on by Tactical Response, a school that trains police, military, and civilian students in the proper use of all manner of firearms. This class is the introductory one, and it is distinct from most other schools in that there is an emphasis on on two things which I didn’t see at the last class I took nor have I seen really duplicated in any other description of classes. These two things really make Tactical Response stand out in the instruction world. First, there is a specific hierarchy of what tools need to be brought to a fight: Mindset, Tactics, Skill, Gear. In that order. Notice “Gear” is last — so what kind of weapon is almost immaterial without the other three tools that need to be honed. This is a major departure from most things I’ve read. Especially if you’ve ever looked at any firearm forums. Most degrade into “my handgun is better than your handgun” shouting matches which really, really is irrelevant. The other emphasized topic is that of “Getting off the X” or moving off the line of attack while doing almost everything. That is, if someone is charging at you, you will not stand directly in the way and fight, but most other firearm training is done in just that way — the target is a fixed distance away, directly squared to you and you to it. In nearly every drill, some movement vertically, horizontally, or both is required as moving away or changing your profile to the attacker will increase your chances of survival.

But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Day 1 started out unfortunately as the website had posted the incorrect location of the class although it sounded like it must have changed recently because plenty of people showed up to the right place. There were two others that went where I went, and I beat them to the right place by about 20 minutes, so I didn’t look that bad 🙂 The class is taught primarily by Kyle Lynch, assisted by James Yeager, and with photographs and other instruction (can’t wait to see ’em) by Aaron Little. All of whom have very impressive bios on their site. All three did a fantastic job in personal coaching in a class this size.

First thing to do was to learn how to load, unload, reload and holstering. This is mostly mechanics, but every piece of this is fundamental to all that go after it. Common problems with loading and unloading the gun will be magnified when they’re done at speed during the drills — which happens constantly. An understanding of how to clear the most common malfunctions was demonstrated and practiced. Then dummy trainer rounds which will not go bang were handed out to be randomly inserted into every magazine. This sets up the definite need to be able to clear said malfunctions during the drills– if the gun malfunctions, clear it and complete the drill. Also the drills are set up with certainty that you will have to reload mid drill — partially because if you miss the target you are not done with the drill until you make the miss up and because the strings of fire will exhaust your gun and force you to reload, all while keeping your head up, keeping eyes on target, moving off the line of attack, etc.

In short, amazing. Before lunch I’d say we were all good with the basics of moving, shooting, reloading, and mechanical problem solving… when the target is squared in front of you. The second half of the day was emphasizing less traditional setups: Shooting with one hand, shooting with the off hand, shooting a target that appears on one side or the other or behind, shooting from a knee (scanning 360 from a knee planted in gravel and shell casings bites, by the way), shooting after being knocked on your back, and (my favorite so far) fighting your way back up from lying on your back to sitting to kneeling to standing.

The things I have to work on are my grip–offhand doesn’t get in secure enough– and slowing down to smoothly get the front sight back on target after a reload or malfunction instead of hurrying the bullet along an missing.

My fingers are somewhat raw from all the gun manipulation and reloading, so I’m going to soak them in some ice water then hit them with some Bert’s Bees hand salve. I’ll write up Day 2 tomorrow or Sunday.

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