AAR - Robert (Bob) Vogel - 2 Day World Class Pistol Skills - 07 Sept 2013 - Salina, KS
Click here for more information on Robert Vogel
1st line – I wore a maxpedition LIGER belt and a JM Custom Kydex holster and pistol mag pouch.
2nd line – None.
All the equipment functioned as designed. There were a few operator induced issues that I’ll address later.
CLASS POI –As a general rule I don’t usually run through the entire POI drill by drill but here's the general layout. (If you want to know what someone teaches that bad, go take the class. )
The class began with about an hour of discussion on safety, shooting and gear.
Mr. Vogel discussed some of his training and equipment. A few points to mention from this;
First is trigger control. Mr. Vogel taught that trigger control is the most important aspect of accurate shooting. He works this with dry fire. Specifically he practices working the trigger several times even though it only breaks on the first press. This allows practicing multiple shots without relaxing his grip on the gun.
Next is the grip. To control the gun during a rapid string of fire Mr. Vogel teaches to grab the gun as high on the frame as you can. He pinches the gun with his strong hand and uses inward rotation with both arms to apply pressure to the frame of the gun. Mr. Vogel is a big believer in grip training and uses the Captains of Crush grip trainers (available from Iron Mind) for this purpose.
I started using these same grip trainers after a discussion with Flashpoint a few months ago and it’s had a noticeable effect on my grip strength. Particularly when shooting rapid strings of fire.
After the Safety brief we moved out to the range.
The range was a clearing on the edge of a creek. Spear Point Ranch had target stands for paper, some steel IPSC targets (as well as some big “E” type gongs we didn’t use and a Texas Star we did). There were also lots of trees to provide shade. That was awesome because the weather claimed it was in the 90s both days. With some shade and a nice breeze it was pretty comfortable shooting weather.
Mr. Vogel was self-effacing and extremely personable. He was never arrogant and he was perfectly willing to get up in front of the class and demonstrate everything he taught. If he messed something it was used as a learning opportunity and then he re-shot it.
The shooting drills were pretty standard fair. Mr. Vogel is a big advocate of shooting 6 round drills. His perspective is that you to be able to consistently establish a good grip to control a gun through six rounds (vs. being able to scam on a good grip when only firing one or two shots).
The first day we shot from 15yds and in. The second day we shot from 25yds and in and addressed multiple targets and movement. We wrapped the class up shooting a simulated stage after which we shot a drill head to head. The fastest guy in the class (an area LEO) then went head to head with Mr. Vogel and got burned down(… but he did it with style).
Personal Lessons Learned –
If you start changing your grip, you might need to rethink parts – I mentioned earlier that I started using the COC grippers a few months back. Something I noticed recently is that I’m gripping the pistol higher and harder with my support hand. One side effect of this is that I’ve started to lock the slide to the rear by putting pressure on my Vickers Slide stop. I fucked myself on a couple of drills (I ended up doing a mag change when there were still rounds in the magazine).
I like the Vickers slide stop (I had them on most of my guns for the last couple of years). But if I’m gripping the gun higher and harder it no longer works for me. Fortunately RumPunch had an OEM part in his bag and he swapped me for mine. No issues after that.
Understand your pace. Know when you can ramp it up and when you need to dial it back – Shooting a Bill Drill from 7yds you can really burn it down. Doing the same thing from 15yds might require a little more time between shots. Understanding what you’re capable of is key.
I may be rethinking my sights – I can hold on one target and track my front sight while I fire multiple rounds without much difficulty. Shooting multiple targets (picking the sight back up after my eyes move laterally) isn’t as easy and I don’t feel like I’m as fast as I could be.
I got away from night sights a few years back because I don’t see a ton of use for them. (If it’s so dark that I can’t see my sights, I can’t see to ID my target either.) As a result, I have a few guns with a tritium front sight but most of my guns are black front and rear. I’m going to play around with both set ups and see what, if any, quantifiable difference that makes in my times.
There are no shortcuts to being blazing fast and oily smooth – Anyone who thinks there is just needs to look at Mr. Vogel’s right hand. That dude has serious callouses built up where most of us complain about getting rubbed a little raw from a weekend of shooting. That’s indicative of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of repetitions. Most of them dry practice. This is a man dedicated to his craft, and there are no short cuts to get there.
Don’t let yourself Stagnate – Constantly update what you consider fast/accurate. Don’t just shoot drills out of a book and accept their standards for speed and accuracy. Push yourself right up to the point of failure and then back off just a touch. Be able to ride that line.
Like a lot of classes I’ve attended, one of the greatest parts was the other students. Sitting around during lunch and discussing trainers, gear, drills and telling lies was a good time.
Overall this was a good class. Mr. Vogel’s perspective on training is definitely applicable to anyone serious about pistol work. His insights into thinking and planning during competition were also really interesting.. Even for someone like me, who rarely shoots matches.
Rob Haught 2-Day Tactical Shotgun via Grey Group Training
Echo Valley Training Center
27-28 October 2012
I had the great pleasure of attending Rob Haught’s two-day shotgun class at the Echo Valley Training Center over the Oct 27-28 weekend. Our class had 8 students of mixed make-up with LEOs, military, and regular guys but everybody was running Remington 870 of some type. There was a mix of stocks, magazine tube extensions, slings, sidesaddles, and barrel lengths but only one student had gun problems (with both of the 870s that he brought). Rob did have some loaner 870 shotguns available for that and for teaching sling techniques for those without slings on their guns.
I ran a Vang Comp’d 870 with Surefire forend, +2 Vang Comp mag tube extension, 4-rd TacStar sidesaddle, VCAS padded sling and had no malfunctions except for a user-caused one (note: do not load shells backwards into the tube and expect them to feed) but some students were seeing the occasional QC issue extracting with more inexpensive Winchester Universal ammo. It’s a known issue and students with the problem were able to clear the malfunction each time by mortaring the gun and drive on.
The weather was cooler and at the early part of the Frankenstorm/ Hurricane Sandy system but all we had was some light precipitation and no rain that would impact the shooting at all. Because of the incoming weather we pushed later on Saturday and called it quits a little earlier on Sunday so that those with long drives home could have it a little easier. For most of the class we shot in two relays with guns empty except when on the line, just so that Rob could be specific about how much to load for each skill drill.
He started by discussing shotgun fit and introducing his “push-pull” method, which is simple yet amazing and has made my shotgun vault into the realm of “most fun gun to shoot” because it is easy to shoot and makes a loud boom (I’m easy to please). The technique is very easy to learn and is the basis for a lot of the future skills and lessons over the rest of the class. If you did it right it was amazing and if you did it wrong Rob pointed out that “it’s a self-correcting problem”. After the entire weekend shooting I had no issues with any shoulder soreness.
We had a short aside about equipment and modifications where Rob was not dogmatic but very clear in his reasoning for what he had seen work and what didn’t. He also was honest about what he hadn’t tried enough to comment on yet (red dot sights on shotguns, for example). His points were bourne out by the end of the class as those shooters without the recommended short stocks or sidesaddles wanted them.
From there it was back to the line to go over ready
positions (high and CQ as well as loading techniques (and unloading
techniques, which were very helpful).
Rob then introduced his CQB shooting position where the buttstock is not
resting in the shoulder pocket but on top of the arm to shorten the overall
length. It’s helpful not only to shorten the system but also to begin shooting
from unconventional positions and we started including that into drills for
turning (90 and 180 degrees) and movement skills in both forward/backward
directions as well as laterally.
We finished off the class dealing with multiple targets, sling types and usage, transitions to sidearms, buckshot-to-slug transitions, and a lecture and demo about slugs and sighting systems. Shooting slugs at 50 yards it was obvious that the guy in the class with the 21” rifle-sighted barrel had a leg up on the rest of us but it was possible to get hits with other setups as well. Rob also did a demo with the new Federal Flite Control buckshot which makes my Vang Comp barrel nearly obsolete by making every barrel keep those tight groups.The final activity was a single-elimination shootoff on multiple targets involving an emergency reload where I didn’t win but at least made it past the first round.
Our overall round count wasn’t as high as I might have expected and was lower than what was recommended in the class handout but I have to say that I learned something from every round. I also wished for some more time on Sunday afternoon to practice and shoot a little more on the steel targets (which I don’t have yet at home) but with the approaching storm and everybody’s drive home I understand why we cut it a little short.
I can’t say enough good things about Rob and his assistant instructors Tom and Gary. They were all very knowledgeable and patient and had lots of illustrations for the points they were making. They also had a great teaching technique of never talking down to you but still making their point clearly and reasonably. More than just talking they taught a skill, illustrated it for you, then had you run a specific drill to learn and reinforce that skill. Once familiarity with that specific skill was set they would incorporate it into a drill with previous skill sets so you could see where it fit into the bigger picture.
By the end of the class we were engaging in square drills which incorporated all of the above - multiple targets, shooting on the move, moving in four directions, shooting from different positions (shouldered and CQ, doing emergency reloads, and transitioning to sidearms.I filled 17 pages of notes, drawings, and diagrams in my own personal AAR notebook and was impressed enough that I told my brothers I would pay for them to attend Rob’s class in Texas a month later (sadly, pesky things like 10-yr wedding anniversaries interfered). When Rob and crew come back to Echo Valley next year I hope to bring a few more friends and attend again to build on this last experience.
Location: Carthage, NC at Trigger Time
In the afternoon, we shifted gears and went to pistol. We did pistol
marksmanship involving freestyle, strong hand only, and support hand
only shooting. Without spilling the beans, we did several iterations
and shot at many different distances utilizing a timer as well. Next we
did some El Prez stuff. One of the sticking points was that if you
screwed up and threw a shot into the C-zone of an IPSC target, you
didn't get a time. It was a No-go. This is very good in that it forces
accountability for every round fired.
Next, we did the Scrambler shoot as well as many other stations. Mac
had several stations where it really provoked the thought process and
thinking. It would encourage the thought-process and constant thinking
rather than the same "up drills." This was very enlightening as well.
Last Thursday (Sept 14th) eight ladies stepped up to the firing line on the OR at Metacon and took a ladies pistol course. The class was the first of its kind to be offered in the northeast by Northern Red an organization whose instructors are retired members of the United States Military Special Operations Command.
We were about to take the most intense, exciting pistol drill course ever taken, by any of us … these gentlemen know their weapons business! Our instructor, JD Potynsky, is an Army Special Forces Weapons sergeant, and he teaches his courses with every bit of true sergeant-authority. JD was assisted by an experienced active duty Special Forces fellow named “Chris”.
Without explanation JD commenced the class at 8 AM by directing us to step up to the firing line, pistols unloaded, on safe and holstered, along with 3 or 4 loaded mags – two in our double mag pouch and two in our pockets. While he cruised the line, he had us load our pistols and fire 10 rounds into targets at 25 feet. After we made our guns safe and holstered them, he declared the range “cold”, we stepped up to our targets and JD proceeded to analyze our shooting skills (yikes!!). Little did we know that he needed this preliminary test to work from …
We settled back on the firing line and JD gave us an impressive list of his credentials along with a few colorful stories. At his request, each of us told ours – ours were not too impressive.
Then the class began in earnest, we were about to learn every possible detail of marksmanship shooting:
The basics – proper placement of your feet (stance); proper angle of your body in relation to your stance; proper extension of the arms. JD was coaching each one of us to ensure we had proper basic positions, then we loaded up and shot 10 rounds. After we made our guns safe and holstered them it was back to the targets and more analysis.
Next came grip. JD’s verbal and visual was phenomenal! If I had to bet on it, it was the first time most of us or perhaps all of us gripped our pistols properly. And JD trotted up and down the line moving fingers, thumbs and in some cases hands, until we all were gripping our pistols properly. Then we loaded up and shot 20-30 rounds. After we made our guns safe and holstered them it was more target analysis. The accuracy was improving!
Next came site alignment; how to evaluate the target; how to draw from your holster; how to align and load a magazine. Again JD walked the line insisting on perfection, and we shot more rounds of ammo after each demonstration.
With the completion of each exercise, we became more familiar with our pistols, shooting improved, and safe handling was becoming second nature to us.
So the morning flew by and so did a cool 100 rounds of ammo …
After lunch we were back on the line. Our targets were different now, and JD was going to make us into shooters that could draw and engage one or more targets.
First we were taught the “art” of drawing our pistol and engaging the target all in one movement, yes, we were timed! JD walked the line and coached each one of us until we perfected a smooth draw without fumbling or re-gripping our pistol – not an acceptable safety move.
Now we were ready to do some real shooting in the fast lane.
The remainder of the afternoon was devoted to drawing from the holster while swiping a magazine from the mag pouch while bringing your pistol into position on your chest and inserting the loaded magazine while sighting in on the target, setting the trigger and –BANG, all before the buzzer goes off. The best time was 2.9 seconds.
Try it, it’s thrilling! The sense of accomplishment is tremendous!
And at the end of the day there is more work to do, more to learn …
Being a female in a male-dominated industry comes with its own set of complications. I could entertain any woman and probably a great many men with the stories of what Ramia, Abbey, and I get to deal with on a regular basis. This would be a tangent though, so perhaps we should just write a book and get it over with.
There are a great many women that we talk to on a regular basis who, like us, enjoy getting to the range and shooting off the occasional round or 200. A few have little or no knowledge but know that it is something they would like to learn, while others are capable but lack the confidence to head out to a regular training class. Our trainers have always reinforced to us that they fully support any female getting out to their classes and a great many do and succeed without reservation.
I could get all serious and highlight the differences for women when it comes to self-defense, home defense, etc. but these are statistics that are just a part of life. We know that when it comes down to it, women are softer targets than men. This doesn’t mean that we need to turn into GI Jane or that bad ass Lara Croft, but it certainly does mean that we need to at least take advantage of opportunities to learn the skills that might end up saving us down the road.
I am happy to report that for those women who might want that reinforcement, we have partnered with the great guys at Northern Red for a ladies-only class. This isn’t just a beginner’s class. JD and the gang at NR have put together a class that will appeal to any female; whether you have never worked with a gun before or shoot semi-regularly but want to formalize your training. Many of us fit into this category, including those of us here in the office.
Let’s be honest, I’m a ninja in my own mind but that doesn’t mean I’m comfortable off at the range next to the likes of OUR trainers showing off my mad skills. However, I challenge you to get there. I know I will…and I won’t have to drag anybody else there, Ramia and Abbey will be there as well with bells on, or extra mags, because that’s how we do it.