Viking Tactics Pistol 1.5 Class
Back at shotshow 2008 I was fortunate enough to meet up with Kyle Lamb and was quickly able to determine he was a cool dude that knew his shit. He even tossed me his book Green Eyes and Black Rifles, which reminds me I still need to put up a review on it. Long review short, it is pretty rad carbine intel. Anyway, not too long ago my buds informed me of VTAC classes coming to our area and we decided it should be a pretty fun event. I was a little iffy at first since ammo costs suck these days, but I'm quite happy we splurged and made it happen.
On day one we managed to get our night-owl asses up and over to the San Jose range on time. Everyone got through the usual if-you-die-it-isn't-our-fault paperwork and then it was straight to business. We started off with some slow warm-ups so Kyle could come check basics such as gear setup, grip, and stance. My grip was decent, but Kyle got me to close up some gaps and this was already one of the big improvements I took home. While adjusting to the grip I was having some issues with my gloves so took one off to keep things simple. From the beginning it was good to see Kyle giving every student attention as needed. He didn't bother saying nit-picky stuff just to hear his own voice. My crew and I were quickly surprised of the skill level of most of the class. We were there to learn, but damn a lot of the others were already some salty dead-eyes. This wasn't a problem since everyone was really cool and helped set a high bar of achievement goals; we stuck to just trying to be safe and not embarrass ourselves.
Kyle made his teaching theory clear which I think is a great semi-laid back approach. He shows you multiple ways of doing actions that work for him and others, yet always notes there is no true right and wrong. It is encouraged to ask questions and offer alternate solutions. Out of all the real deal experience Kyle has, he doesn't let that go to his head and is willing to accept new good ideas. The only thing he asks is that you try it his way for a bit to see how it goes for you.
I forget the exact order, but after some good ol' fashioned target shooting we got into multiple shots and shooting multiple targets. We were shown how to best "drive" the gun switching between targets and soon got into proper footwork for shooting on the move. I don't know about you, but shooting on the move is fun as hell. This is where you really start to combine all of the shooting fundamentals together to apply to real world pistol uses. In a semi-short amount of time we blew away most of our available targets and moved to steel targets. My crew and I were pretty jazzed about this since we had very little steel time. They work great as a quick way to determine if you shot a solid hit zone. Every now and then some spall would come flying our way to keep us on our toes as well. Once slight problem, however can be the desire to look too soon at the steel target to see if a shot hit or miss. This makes you shoot crappy real quick so one just needs to keep those eyes on the front sight and listen for the hit.
On the start of day two we spent a good deal of time on ways to clear weapon malfunctions. Most people knew the classics so the real learning came in when we covered strong arm and weak arm only clearing techniques. Lets just say fixing a double feed with your weak arm only is a slab of no fun, so it is good to be prepared if that unfortunate circumstance ever comes your way. After that we started to get into some drills to combine shooting, moving, and a dash of memorization. We even broke out the Pro-Timer to get some of stress kicking in. This really helps show our weak areas to see where to improve.
Day three began with shooting from wacky positions. Now that I was more accustomed to my new grip I was able to shoot well with my backup gloves. We tried out some stable crouched and prone positions finding good ways to shoot long distances without blowing our feet off. This transitioned well into the barricade training so we could apply what we just learned into new and hybrid shooting positions. It was a good lesson to be prepared to shoot out of whatever height and size hole you may be given. Once we got our groove on we got into some fairly elaborate drills including moving and barricades. One had to not worry about the Pro-timer too much since clearly some of the folks had advantages with large capacity magazines and speed holsters. It is important to get good with the equipment you will be using outside of training and not stress over what other people have. I wasn't too stressed on the final drills, but they did make it clear I could use work on reloading from alternate positions and just generally trying to speed things us while being consistent. The drills aren't a lot to remember, but for whatever reason some of the steps become easy to forget when it is blasting time.
In the end we thought this was a really good fit for our skill level. We knew enough to be safe, yet still took plenty of new stuff home to practice on for a good while. If I were to dig up a con, I'd say the class size (Approx 25) was noticeably big when we did timed drills. Since only a few or typically one person could go at a time, it took a while to give everyone their turn. That aside, the knowledge gained was great and Kyle is just plain a fun guy to be around. I highly look forward to the next VTAC class I can scrounge up enough ammo to attend!