A student posted this up on another forum so I figured I would share it here...
This past weekend, April 23 2011 I had the opportunity to attend PFT's Defensive Handgun I and Low-Light Seminar. Was planning on being there for DH II as well but life sometimes throw's you some curveballs. I have taken several classes from Pat in the past and wanted to share my thoughts on DH I.
Having taken Defensive Handgun in the past I can say that you will never get the same class twice as there are always small tweaks and changes. This class consisted of 22 shooters, 18 male and 4 female. I was there along with my girlfriend, who was back for her second round of training with Pat and company. Instructors for this class were Pat Goodale, Rob Tackett, and Wayne F. Bart Baker would be along later during the day as well.
Defensive Handgun I is structured with 3 training blocks. A 3 hour classroom lecture portion, a 3 hour marksmanship and gunhandling portion, and a 3 hour dynamic portion, give or take a few minutes.
Class began at 0900 with Pat going over the safety brief and the lecture portion of the class. Sitting in folding metal chair for three hours could be a butt and mind numbing experience, however Pat makes sure this is not the case. Pat balances his lecture portion with experiences that drive the points home.
Pat introduces PFT's fundamental tenant, the Combat Triad. Marksmanship, Gunhandling, and Mindset. The training emphasizes their belief that defensive shooting is 15% Marksmanship, 15% Gunhandling, and 70% Mindset and Tactics. Everything you would expect to be covered in a class room setting is discussed, parts of the pistol, stance, grip, trigger control, ready positions etc...proper sight picture is discussed as well as the various types of sighting systems and how they differ from one another.
Gear is discussed but Pat makes sure to make everyone understand that they are not married to any particular gear. Everything has pluses and minuses and that there are no free lunches. Ammo is discussed and the use of modern bonded controlled expansion hollow-points is recommend in any of the 5 "major" calibers: .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .45ACP, and 9mm.
One of the biggest things PFT stresses is that they show you several ways of doing things. While they are showing you some various techniques they may recommend one that they feel is superior, however they are quick to point out that what works best for them may not work best for you and as long as it is not unsafe or tactically unsound you can choose to use what works for you.
Use of force considerations and making sound tactical decisions are discussed. Several thought provoking scenarios are presented which make you think about not only when can or should I use force to what tactics should I use to better my situation or to get out of the situation all together.
Situational awareness and the color codes are major part of the lecture and the importance of MINDSET is highly stressed!
Following the lecture we break for lunch we get ready for the second portion of the class which is the marksmanship block.
Around 1250 hours Pat brings the class together and breaks us down into 2 relays for this portion of the class. This allows one relay to be jamming mags while the other is on the line.
We start out as a group and Pat has everyone go through drawling the firearm and getting proper grip, then we move into reloads and keeping the firearm in our workspace or manipulation area. We also work out of the various ready positions. We do these drills several times dry and cold. When Pat is satisfied we load them up and the range goes hot which it will be for the rest of the training day.
Moving to the cardboard IPSC targets we work on basic marksmanship skills. First from the ready position, then progressing to drawing and shooting from the holster. We begin doing single shots then progress to controlled pairs and shooting failure drills. As this if a Fighting class, stress in placed on getting combat accurate groups which means you should be able to place an open hand over your group.
During the failure portion when shots to the high center chest are not working we move to shooting the central pelvic region if available or if not available to the head. Head shots are always presented as a precision shot as the target is small and tends to move around a lot.
The pace is always going forward, never back. Layer is added to layer and we move close in to work on shooting from the retention position. During this time Pat, Rob and Wayne are moving through the line checking on shooters progress and making needed adjustments.
If you were starting to feel comfortable, well now there is another layer added. Shooting with the strong side hand only, from the ready and from the holster we work the strong hand. As we got used to that it was time to move to the weak hand. From the ready we carefully switched the pistol to our weak hand and shot drills.
Emergency reloads are practiced during a fun drill of shooting pairs. One of the instructors will come up behind you and make sure you are ready. Then you get a tap, shooting a pair as quickly as you can while maintaining combat accuracy. Another tap, another tap, another tap until you go to slide rock and then you execute an emergency reload.
This is a good time to talk about reloads. Pat and company teach 3 basic reloads. One is the administrative reload. This is done when the pistol is in the holster, the magazine release is depressed and the magazine in the pistol is replaced with a full one. The other 2 types of reloads are the Emergency reload and the tactical reload. The Emergency reload is done when the pistol goes to slide lock, this is called an emergency reload as you pistol is now dry and you need to fix it and quickly. The tactical reload is one of those major points of contention in the training industry. PFT discusses several ways of doing the tactical reload, one of which is removing the magazine from the pistol and placing it in a pocket and then loading the full magazine. This is done when there is a lull in the fighting and you are in position of cover.
At this point in the training we move to the dynamic portion of the day and also move to the steel Pat and company love to shoot on steel and its always fun to hear the clang of a steel target.
One drill gets us on the steel plate rack. We formed in front of the plate rack in a column of twos. We would draw and fire at our 3 plates and rotate back into the line for another run. This got the blood flowing and got the competitive juices going.
Moving over to the quarter sized IPSC targets we would begin our movement based drills. We practiced moving forward, moving backward, moving left and moving right. We ran these drills dry so everyone would get used to moving and how that changes everything. Now it gets fun. With the instructors latched on to a pair of shooters each we ran these drills. Pat was calling out commands: Forward, Back, Left, Forward, Right, Back. Everything was done on the move, as you ran out of ammo you reloaded while moving.
Now we got to move into individual drills. The relays were split with one group going with Wayne and another with Rob, while Pat moved between.
Robs station was back at the plate rack. Here we would dash about 30 yards. Stop and hit the center 2 plates, then move offline to the left and hit the 2 left plates then offline to the right to the firing point and hit the 2 on the right. Making sure to do a tactical reload and scanning and accessing the situation. Scanning was stressed all day awareness and breaking the tunnel vision that can occur.
Now it was over to Waynes station. Here we would start from about 35 yards and move up to around 7-8 yards away while hitting the target, then back continuing the string of fire and reloading while moving. Again stress the tactical reload and scanning!
Day isnt nearly done yet. Time for the cover and concealment drills! 2 drills here, Rob is running the step barricade and Wayne is running the vertical barricade. Pat goes over the drill while Rob runs it dry for us. Pat brings out the persuader; this is a training cane that Pat has from Singapore. Pat uses this to persuade you to get behind cover, if its exposed it gets wacked. Pat makes sure that you are ok with this, but trust me it can sting.
The first is around the vertical barricade. Here we would dash to the barricade making sure not to crowd it. 2 hits from the right standing, 2 hits from the left standing. Then dropping to the knee, again more hits to the right than 2 more hits to the left. Scanning, scanning, scanning
Next up is Robs station. Here we dash to the step barricade. 2 hits from 5 positions; squatting, kneeling, prone. Final hits are through the little cut-out in the barricade from the roll-over prone position. Again more scanning and tactical reloads. But why would we every need to shooting from positions like these?
Well, Pat and company have an answer for you. P in PFT stands for practical and the drills we just shot in front of a wooden barricade stand out in the next drill when we shoot from around a real live vehicle. Pat briefs us on the next drill. Here we will be sitting in a car. Upon exit using the A-post of the front door as cover we will engage and deliver hits on our target, moving to the front of the car while staying behind the cover of the engine block we engage another target, and then moving to the rear of the car and using the rear axle assembly as cover we engage the last target. If you had any questions about what you had been doing for the last 8 hours on paper and steel and how in the world it relates to the real world you had your answer. That was the final drill of Defensive Handgun I and what a fun way to wrap up and incorporate everything we learned today.
There were again a lot of lessons learned from this class.
Some gear discussion. The class was mostly Glock, M&Ps, and XDs. One young shooter had a 1911. Everything ran well, one small issue with one of the Glocks that had been reassembled incorrectly but Rob had it back in no time. Also one shooter had an XD Tactical whose manual safety was getting engaged during strings. Pat had his trusty old Glock 19 with Black front/rear sights. Rob was running an M&P9 with a 3-dot sight setup and a SureFire X300. Wayne was running an M&P9 with Warren FO front and a X300 as well.
I ran a Glock 19 RTF2 with AmeriGlo Hackathorn Sights with a SureFire X300, Ready Tactical Magazine Pouches, and a Raven Concealment Phantom LC holster. I also had installed one of the Tango Down/Vickers Slide Stop for T&E.
This was the first class for this Glock 19. Last year I had run a brand new Gen4 Glock 19 in DH I&II and it was a major POS! I spoke with Rob after last years classes and we talked about the problems they had been seeing with the Gen4s. Hence the Gen4 went back to the dealer and in its place the RTF2. This Glock worked like a charm, no problems what so ever. I like to use these classes to evaluate gear as I can stress stuff here much more like I can at home.
The Tango/Down Vickers Slide Stop is neat. However I never used it as a slide release. Ive been racking the slide manually for years and it is the way Pat teaches
The AmeriGlo Hackathorn Sights worked well. The orange front sight is large and it really seems to overwhelm my sight picture at times. Rob pointed out to me during his portion of the barricade step that I was a good shooter (Thanks Rob!) but that the big orange thing was holding me back. He had Pat bring his Glock 19 over and had me compare sight pictures with Pats flat black front and then with my sight picture.
One of the biggest takeaways is how important it is to be able to have training that fits into the context of the real world. It is very hard to replicate that on the square range that I usually have available to me.
Another huge takeaway remembering that we like to do the things we do well, which is why we need to train on the things we dont do so well. Need to spend more of my time working on the one-handed shooting. The low-light seminar would also drive this point to me I wont always have the luxury of two hands!
Training is expensive and training is priceless. In the reality of the world there is a large expense to attending classes, not only is there tuition but you have travel time, gas, fuel, food, lodging, and then ammo. It is my personal opinion that I could not get more for my money than I get training with PFT. Not only that but I feel that the training is such that I have brought my girl friend here because of the level of training here and how important it is that she get it from people that I trust, I really cant give a greater recommendation than that.
Thanks go to Pat, Rob, Wayne, and Bart for putting it all together. You guys have the ability to push and the balance to know the way to do it. You never let us stay in our comfort zone. In addition you guys know how to approach each shooter at a personal level and push them beyond it while keeping the class flowing and not letting anyone fall behind.