How did you spend last weekend? I spent mine in class. Not your typical school though, but rather a Basic Pistol Class. Yes....I spent all weekend with other like minded folks on a range with shooty-things!
A little background first--DH grew up shooting in the wilds of the Midwest, and spent 4yrs with the University of Science, Music and Culture where they spent a lot of time beating certain concepts into his head. Myself, on the other hand did not grow up shooting though I really wanted to. It just wasn't in the family dynamic. That didn't change really, until college. So all my knowledge, such as it is or isn't, is self taught. No formal instruction. So I do have certain bad habits, ones I planted, nurtured, and perfected all on my own--often without a "reason" behind them.
With the current craziness going on concerning firearms and ammo, we decided to create some liquidity with the specific condition of it being dedicated to attending a couple training classes (1 each--good training is not cheap). We talked about the type of training we wanted or felt we needed. Though I was wanting a carbine class, I have to agree with DH that it was not a wise choice. Reason? I don't carry a carbine daily. I do a pistol. A pistol is the most likely shooty-thing I will have available to me at the moment I most need one. It is also probably the hardest platform to learn well. Pistol shooting is full of minutia to learn and manage--all of it important or critical to performing well, especially under stress.
We chose to use a local company, Hardwired Tactical Shooting, for their well regarded Basic Pistol class. Instructors Darryl and Wayne are superbly professional--whether teaching high speed low drag folks (real operators, not keyboard commandos), or a handful of housewives. Their biggest focus is shooter safety. They don't give a 30-second safety brief. I think our initial brief was over an hour on day one. They saw all our faults and made sure we knew what they were, and what to do to correct them. Sometimes they would ask you "why" you did something the way you did--both to make you think about it, and to learn if there was a legitimate reason for your actions (perhaps a physical disability?). They encourage questions from their students.
The class stressed fundamentals--proper grip and trigger press being the most vital to getting accurate hits on your target. At one point, Wayne even did a demo for us where he was shooting the X-ring from about 5yds, with his eyes closed, to demonstrate how effective proper grip and trigger control can be. It proved to us that sights are helpful, but not nearly as essential as most folk think. The drills were built around a strong foundation, and a new action or item was added in each iteration, building on that base.
There was not a lot of jargon in class either. SEE was simple effective acronym used, one I personally prefer to OODA Loop. I can never remember what OODA stands for, but SEE made sense to me. See it, Evaluate it, Eliminate it. See it, is simply being aware of your surroundings and who is in it. Evaluate it, means to decide if it represents a threat to you or not. Eliminate it does NOT mean you have to shoot something--it only means you need to make the problem go away. If that means you can turn around and walk away, then you eliminated it. And no lawyers were involved! YAY! But situational awareness is key. You have to give yourself every advantage to spot trouble before it spots you.
I was pleased with how I performed in class. I shot pretty well.
But more importantly, I learned a LOT, especially about the areas I need the most work on. (No bowling, keep the workspace up, don't catch the unfired cartridge when you clear the pistol, watch your weak hand when racking the slide...) I learned some good drills and dry practice I can use at the range or at home safely. I learned it IS easier to learn, and learn well from professional instructors. I worked on fundamentals, and when budget permits, will take their next level class, 1st Responder Pistol.
I highly encourage all of you who are interested, or who carry a pistol, to seek out high quality training in your area. It will open your eyes, and can make you a better, safer, more effective shooter. And that, like rain, is a good thing!