I was honored to be invited to be one of the guest instructors for the Surgical Speed Shooting Summit, run by SureFire’s Andy Stanford at the Tactical Response facility in Camden, Tennessee.
Andy’s concept was to put together a ‘review board’ of sorts to discuss his curriculum for his Surgical Speed Shooting class. He originally put the course together in the 1990’s. It reflected the best knowledge of its time, spanning Andy’s studies starting in the 1970’s under Jeff Cooper and other Gunsite instructors and the Southwest Pistol League, and later, Ron Avery, Greg Hamilton, John Holschen and others in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
On Thursday, Andy would present his current vision of the curriculum to us, lecture and range time.
Andy used a rule of 3’s drill (he credited Ken Hackathorn with the concept) as a cold evaluation of all the trainers on Thursday, and again on Saturday for all the attendees. The drill is simple: at 3 yards, draw and fire 3 shots into a 3″ circle, in 3 seconds. Shots later than 3.00 on the timer don’t count. Edge and touched-the-line hits don’t count. Run the drill 3 times. All shots within time and in the circles passes.
As we found on Thursday, the 3-in-a-row consistency element made it hard. Only 3 trainers shot all 3 strings clean. Lee Weems went on to win the trainers shootoff. On Saturday, we used students performance on that cold drill as a way to group them by skill level, and those that shot it clean (I think there were 5 out of about 50 attendees that shot that day), were in a shootoff Sunday morning. The shootoff drill was more complex and included a reload, and shots on 3 different sized spots on the Surgical Speed Shooting target.
Friday, each of the invited trainers would get 30 minutes to present their own ideas to contribute or rebut what Andy had presented.
Then on Saturday and Sunday, 4 dozen students would attend a 2 day course co-taught by more than a dozen trainers, getting about a half hour of instruction each day from each trainer.
This format was different from the Rangemaster Tactical Conference or other multi-instructor shooting events, because Saturday morning, Andy split us into three 4-person teams and gave us about 30 minutes to figure out what we were going to teach in our 2 hour block. A sports analogy would be like an all star game, where 4 head coaches, each used to running their own team, told to work together to coach the all star team. On Sunday Andy re-arranged the teams and we repeated the exercise, teaching different material.
I joked to the other trainers that it was like a corporate team-building retreat for instructors, where we had to work together, stepping in and out of lead instructor and range assistant modes, and doing our best not to give students conflicting instruction. As a result of hosting classes, teaching at conferences, taking classes and interacting with other teachers online over the past 20-30 years, many of us knew each other and were familiar with our material. The two days of discussion prior to the weekend training gave us more time to share ideas, but we weren’t paired into teams and given clear direction until Saturday morning, when we had 30 minutes to get organized.
As Andy explained to us: “there are two kinds of people – the ones that make a list a week before they have to travel, and those that wake up the morning of the trip, realizing they have to do laundry to have clothes to pack. You have probably figured out which one of those I am.”
Here’s a collection of short video clips taken at random times during the event.
John Hearne (Rangemaster, Two Pillars Training) came better prepared than many of us, with a truck full of steel targets, and all the gear he uses in his Cognitive Pistol classes. The video below shows a sample of the light boxes and how he uses them.
More about this event in part two, click here to read it.