Thursday, November 1, 2012

AAR: Bob Vogel 2 day handgun class

I just took Bob Vogel's 2 day handgun class at Chabot Gun Club in Castro Valley, CA.  The class was arranged through Grey Group Training.  Bob Vogel is a multiple time world champion in IDPA and USPSA, and was a LEO for years.

The class had a mix of competitors and people who train for defensive handgun use who wanted to get better at shooting. Vogel's opinion on competition shooting as it relates to tactical shooting is that competition shooting is a good way to test your skills in a stressful situation, and that fast accurate shooting goes a long way towards winning fights.

At the beginning of the class, while we were waiting for the range to allow live fire in the morning, he gave a lecture on fundamentals of shooting.  A big focus area he had was grip and stance, which don't matter much for slow fire marksmanship, but which are critical for being able to shoot fast and accurately. His grip technique especially is fairly unique. It involves pinching at the top of the frontstrap and backstrap with the strong hand, rather than gripping evenly all around, and the support hand is a little farther forward than most people have it, with the support hand's index knuckle almost even with the front of the trigger guard. And most importantly, both hands apply torque inwards, i.e. your right hand applies rotational force counter clockwise, and your left hand applies force clockwise.  This causes the elbows to rotate outward and applies a static force high and inward on the gun. One of his Panteao Productions videos, "Building World Class Pistol Skills" also shows this grip technique. When he demoed various drills, the gun barely moved at all when he was firing very fast.
He checked each individual's grip and stance and offered feedback and what they were doing differently from him.

He said he dry fires at a ratio of 10 to 1 dry fire to live fire, and that dry fire is very important.  For speed shooting, he recommends pressing the trigger and hearing the click, and then continuing to press the trigger more times even though the gun doesn't reset. He gave some more tips on dry fire training. He talked a lot about seeing the sights while shooting and tracking them during transitions.

Aside from grip and stance, some techniques that were covered include the draw, trigger control, strong and weak hand shooting, tracking the sights and shot calling, reloads of various kinds, and seeing what you need to see to get the hit at various distances.

The live fire portion of the class was a lot of different shooting drills.  For most of the drills, he had everyone on the line do the drill a few times, then came by each person and had them do it individually on the timer and gave individual feedback on the person's performance and any issues he saw.  This was nice compared to some other classes where the instructors run the whole line every time and don't give as much individual attention.  If we did some drills twice on the timer, this allowed us to try to incorporate the feedback and see if there was any improvement.  There were also some longer, more complicated drills that were like small USPSA stages that could only be run one at a time.  There was down time for the other people who weren't shooting, but they could observe and watch Vogel feedback and see if some of that feedback applied to themselves.  Drills included strong and weak hand only shooting, reloads (slide lock, speed, tactical, or 'with retention'), shooting on the move in various directions, shooting from cover, Bill drills at various ranges, transition drills between different targets at various ranges, El Presidente, and some drills that involved random dice rolls which required quick thinking to determine which targets to shoot in what order. 

Vogel said that a lot of practical shooting is the ability to think fast under time pressure and that doing drills that force you to do that helps to build that skill.

He talked about some of the mental issues in competitive shooting. He recommends two books, Lanny Bassham's "With Winning in Mind" and Saul Kirsch's "Thinking Practical Shooting".

I think that competitive or tactical shooters can both get a lot out of this class.

Another AAR of this class is at

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