I taught a lot of private handgun lessons over the past two weeks, and I wanted to share some of the observations and lessons learned from those classes, which I taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range facility. Private lessons are available, by appointment, on most weekdays and weekday evenings. Often these take the form of private versions of our regular group classes, refresher lessons on group course material, or coaching to get graduates of those courses tuned up and ready for the next course in the series.
Part 1 in the series is here.
USING PAR TIME QUALIFICATIONS TO IMPROVE
One student was working on improving scores on the Massad Ayoob Group qualification test. Mas has an interesting approach to his qual course. It can be shot at single speed, double speed (divide times in half), triple speed (divide by 3), and quad speed (divide by 4). For classes beyond the MAG-20 and MAG-40, such as MAG-30 and MAG-80, students are expected to shoot the test at those faster times.
We were working on the triple speed version (single speed in parentheses)
- 4 YARDS: fire 6 rounds in 2.6 seconds (8 seconds) – non-dominant hand only (from ready)
- 4 YARDS: 6 rounds, 2.6 seconds (8 seconds)– dominant hand only (from holster)
- 7 YARDS: 12 rounds in 8.3 seconds (25 seconds). 6 rounds – reload – 6 rounds. Two hands, preferred standing position
- 10 YARDS: 18 shots in 25 seconds (75 seconds). 6 in cover crouch – reload – 6 in high kneel – reload – 6 in low kneel.
- 15 YARDS: 18 shots in 30 seconds (90 seconds). 6 rounds classic Weaver – reload – 6 rounds Chapman – reload – 6 rounds isosceles.
At that level, to improve requires breaking down each string into a shot-by-shot time elements: how fast can you get to the first shot, reload time, and shot to shot split times. To shoot a perfect 300 point score at those speeds is probably around high B class USPSA level, particularly the 4 and 7 yard parts.
The student could consistently hit 300’s at single and double speed, but had problems with the 4 and 7 yard strings as the times decreased. Fixes focused on speeding up the first shot time (shaving 0.5 second off the 4 yard drills), covering up the rear sight and just watching the front sight, and trying variations of stance and amount of gun ‘cant’ for the one handed drills. By the end of practice the student went from only getting 25 points in 2.6 seconds to hitting all A’s (30 points) in 1.7 seconds with a series of small improvements over multiple runs.
The downside to working a par time drill, trying to make X shots in Y time, is that it can cause the shooter to think too much about cadence and too little about simply seeing what needs to be seen. The magic fix for the “double Bill drill” at 7 yards turned out to be putting away the timer and running the drill with the goal of hitting 12 As with no preconceived pace. The challenge for the coach in that situation is to have enough feel for the pace that needs to occur that you can get the shooter close to the right speed without actually using a timer. I must have done OK because after a few clean runs with no timer, bringing the timer back revealed that the shooter was capable of 12 A’s under 8 seconds without feeling that “time is running out and I have to faster” that was producing bad runs with shots fired without an acceptable sight picture.