Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gun class review: Suarez International Defensive Pistol Skills with Randy Harris

I took this class in August, 2012 and wrote the review right after.  I figured I would add it here as well.  I added a few things for this post from the original review.

I took Suarez International's Defensive Pistol Skills class with Randy Harris in Chattanooga, TN.  This is a two day class. I have been around guns my whole life, I'm a country boy, but this was my first real training.  I have a concealed carry permit, and carry a pistol on a regular basis.  If you are going to do this, you need to take a training class to be more effective and be ready in case you ever actually need to use your gun.

First thing, this class was listed as a Chattanooga class, which is Eastern Time, but the class was actually held in Alabama, which is Central Time. I showed up the first day about an hour and a half early because I was thinking eastern time. The class was clearly listed in CST on the website. So that is my bad, better early than late.

Ok, so the actual class: First thing after signing waivers and going over safety rules we spent a while discussing mindset, and Randy's PESTS EAT FAST.  This is a long, but excellent article on everything from situational awareness to after a gunfight. Then we went over the 4 stupids.  Don't do Stupid things, with Stupid People, at Stupid Places, at Stupid times.  Basically, don't go to a gas station in the hood at 2 am. Then we all showed clear chambers and mags and did some dry work, Randy showing us the techniques we would need for the weekend and we spent until lunch working dry practice.

After lunch we went to the range and started working on putting our dry practice to work with live fire. We started with slow, take all the time you need to get it done right shots on a 3" circle from ~4-5 yards away. Then Randy showed us that with a proper grip and draw stroke you don't have to get a perfect sight picture to get good shots if your are up close. After some more drills(including variations of a "dot" drill and "ball and dummy") we got to take turns shooting at a COM size steel target from ~5 yards back to about ~25 yards. Randy explained that starting with the 3" circle gets you used to hitting more accurate, consistent shots than starting out shooting a full size COM target. Aim small, miss small.

After we were done the first day we all pitched in and got pizza and I took the opportunity to pester Randy with all sorts of questions about guns/defensive related topics. It's not everyday that you get to hang out with a SI Instructor with the amount of knowledge Randy has about this stuff, and I took full advantage of that.

The second day started with a sit down discussion including review from the first day and Randy read several excerpts from various articles, studies, and newspaper stories, and shared some of his own experiences. Then we went to the range and did a few of the drills from the first day to get warmed up then we went to the realistic looking "70s mustache guy" target. This is where we started speeding our shots up, shooting with or without actual sight alignment depending on how close or far we where from the target. We also included a simple single step left or right get off the X as part of our draw, and started doing after shot assessment as part of every shot string. After doing the "scan for other people that need shot" several times Randy noticed everybody not really paying attention, just turning our heads but not really looking. After one drill he asked, "what did I just have in my hand when y'all turned your head to scan?" After getting blank stares he drew his knife again and told us we all just died. Everybody actually scanned after that. At the end of the day after a few more drills(including a multiple adversary drill) we got to try out the steel target again, back to about 40 yards this time. Everybody showed a marked improvement over the previous day. Then Randy got out his TSD modified Glock 17 with Trijicon RMR red dot sight and everybody got to try it out.

Overall I was really happy with the class. I had a blast and came out shooting much better than I went in. I used my EDC 2nd gen Glock 17 in a Dale Fricke Archangel holster worn at 12:00 for the class. I did not shoot myself in the femoral artery or blow my junk off. Suarez teaches a "reluctant reholster" and emphasized that there is never really a time where you would need to reholster fast, so you can take plenty of time for that part.

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