In each issue of OFFGRID, "The Final Weapon" will serve as a place to...
Over the last few months, I’ve taken several handgun classes that incorporated intermediate and advanced concepts. These skills have made me more well-rounded, but it’s critical to periodically check and strengthen the foundation they’re built upon. With this in mind, I signed up for a one-day pistol fundamentals class taught by David Laird of Dynamic Combative Solutions (DCS) in Phoenix, Arizona. This class was split into two four-hour segments taught back-to-back. The first half, Precision Pistol, was intended as an introductory class, covering basic shooting technique and accuracy. The second half, Holster Fundamentals, focused on drawing the gun from a holster quickly while maintaining accuracy. If you’re an experienced shooter, this may sound painfully simple, but don’t underestimate the value of these core skills. As Ernest Emerson told students at the Surviving Inside the Kill Zone class I covered last issue, “An expert is one who has mastered the basics.”
After the safety briefing, students headed out onto the range with inert blue guns and took a shooting stance. Laird pressed firmly against the muzzle of each student’s blue gun, looking for signs of staggering or instability. Next, he emphasized the importance of controlling recoil with the support hand. The dominant hand has one job: press the trigger. Laird says students should be able to shoot accurately with only the support hand gripping the gun. One tip that stuck with me from this segment was locking the wrist. Extend your support hand in a “thumbs-up” gesture, then tilt your wrist forward until the thumb is pointing straight ahead. You’ll feel a little extra tightness along the top of your forearm, which will help with recoil management. Trigger press is another essential element — placing the center of the fingernail over the center of the trigger, applying steady pressure to break the shot, and returning instantly to the reset point.
After a few hours of practice with guns in hand, we began drawing them from our holsters. Laird taught students to begin with the backstrap pressed inside the heel of the palm, and with the support hand flat across the chest. The gun is drawn up along the torso, the support hand slides across to meet it, and wraps firmly around the dominant hand’s knuckles as the gun is pressed outward. We began slowly and deliberately, completing this draw stroke in five seconds. The process was then accelerated to four, three, two, and one-and-a-half seconds, taking care not to rush and build bad habits.
Above: Once students have completed a class with Dynamic Combative Solutions Training, they’re granted access to a Facebook group where they can download target PDFs and other helpful resources.
All of these skills came together in the Dynamic Combative Solutions Warmup Drill, which involves shooting a piece of printer paper at the five-yard line. Sounds easy, right? It isn’t. The paper has four rows of 1-inch boxes
Consistency: Draw and fire one shot, three times per box for a total of 15 rounds.
Height Over Bore: Draw, align sights on the indicated line, then fire one shot per box. (This shows the difference between point of aim and point of impact.)
Confirmation: Draw and fire one shot, putting the bullet directly through the 9mm black dot. Repeat twice per box.
Cadence: Fire five shots per box in time with a metronome set to 60, 120, 180, and 240 beats per minute. In the final box, shoot a full magazine as quickly as possible without missing the box.
By the end of the day, I was much more confident in hitting these 1-inch boxes, but the real revelation occurred when we stepped back to 25 yards. Every student was amazed at how easy a standard target felt after working with tiny boxes at close range for eight hours. By slowly layering each element of stance, grip, draw stroke, sight alignment, trigger control, and follow-up shot cadence, this class from Dynamic Combative Solutions served as a much-needed refresher on the fundamentals of handgun precision. For more information on future Dynamic Combative Solutions pistol, rifle, and shotgun classes, go to www.dcs.training.
Keep an eye out for a recap of another training experience in the next edition of The Final Weapon. Until then, get out there and work on sharpening your own skills — when the time comes to use them, you’ll be glad you did.