Todd Louis Green, Aim Fast Hit Fast
After seeing nothing but rave reviews of AFHF on a number of websites & talking to a buddy of mine, we decided to make the trip to New Mexico for the Aug. class. Due to a last minute cancellation my wife was able to attend as well. First off, thanks to Tom for hosting the class & to the Los Alamos Sportsmen’s Club for letting us use the ranges. For some background on me, I’ve taken a bunch of classes from OPS, SouthNarc & Tactical Response. I’m also an OPS instructor as of a few months ago so my perspective was primarily as a student trying to improve, but also as an instructor looking at Todd’s assessment & instructional techniques when possible to see if there were some things that I could pick up on to make myself a better coach for our students.
My notes are a little shabby for TD-1 so most of this is from memory & may or may not be the right order & doesn’t cover everything we did. The class started off with Todd talking about his thoughts on shooting fast, why the class is structured the way it is & what he expected of us in terms of safety, response to any medical issues & taking care of ourselves (hydration especially). The drills started off with shooting groups on a 3x5 card then we moved on to the first round of the FAST test. Both were to judge the class skill level and, I’m sure, to make sure we were all able to handle our weapons safely. From there we ran walkback drills on 2” circles (“You need to stop shooting so well with those Big Dots so I can make wholesale fun of them.”) worked accuracy on 3x5 cards attached to the target heads & max speed body shots. We also ran through some front sight deviation drills & those of us with Big Dots did a little extra experimenting with the deviation since the sights don’t provide as much hard info as notch & post. I think it was after lunch that we continued with the 3x5 cards & body shots & ran an interesting drill that involved shooting as fast as we possibly could at the berm w/o targets. The point was that we can all work the trigger very quickly & proved to some that they could shoot the gun a lot faster than they were. We worked the draw & getting the first shot off right at full extension. I had been having some issues flinching on my first shot off the draw & in an attempt to break myself of that I was slowing my press out & keeping my trigger manipulation at about the same speed as usual which resulted in my first shot going off at about ½ extension. Not a perfect solution but I hit was I was aiming at. We started working reloads with mags with various round counts randomly inserted into mag pouches & pockets by a training partner. The day finished off with the charging dog drill, another pass at the FAST test & dinner after a drive that nearly cause a mutiny in some of the student body. “Where the hell are we going?” “Am I following the right Jeep?” “Are we going back to Colorado for dinner?” The food was good though and, as usual, it was worth it to get some off-range time with some of the other studs & Todd.
Started off with another FAST test where I got my best score of the weekend of 5.80 with the slower press out. We ran the Dot Torture drill & a number of students managed perfect scores. I dropped the first shot of the last drill & while that was a disappointment you just have to accept it & move on. Todd talked about multiple targets for a while & some of the realities of how we react to stimuli & naturally transition from threat to threat. None of it differed from what I’ve learned in other classes, but he did a very good job of explaining the natural reactions which covered the all-important “Why?” question. Back on the range we ran some multiple target drills mixing up body & 3x5 card head targets so we could work on transitions & manipulating our shooting speed as appropriate. Next up was shooting on the move with a short discussion on how we naturally move. We ran a few diagonal movement drills with different target requirements. Then we worked strong & weak hand only drills on the 2” circles & then on the IDPA targets. Todd gave a short lecture on use of cover & we put movement, cover & multiple targets together in a couple drills that really brought up the stress level. The day finished up with another FAST drill, packing up, rain & the graduation ceremony.
Todd’s Attention- One thing I really liked about the class was that we were given an assignment like “Run this drill for 4 mags, go.” We were on our own to complete the drill while Todd walked around the group giving pointers, corrections, etc. He did a damn good job of watching & catching mistakes that we were making & offering corrections. Letting us run the drills on our own freed up his time for more coaching- definitely a good technique for an instructor.
Reverting to old habits- Watching others it is obvious that training & practice is absolutely necessary in order to maintain, let alone master, a skill. There were some people who reverted to their old habits as soon as the timer came out (stressor) or they were uncomfortable with the drill for whatever reason. We even had a few do the wrap the support thumb over the back of the shooting hand deal. My take on the issue- While there is some validity to the old slow is smooth & smooth is fast cliché I’ve become a firm believer in pressure testing yourself. Practicing something at 25% speed doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do it at anything even approaching full fighting for your life speed. Start slow so you get it down then increase the speed until you fail. Assess how/why you failed, make corrections, start slower than your failure speed, ramp it up to failure & repeat. This is where having a training partner & putting your ego aside will help a lot. You may not notice that you jacked something up but your buddy who is under no pressure can easily spot your problem.
Reloads- Using the slide stop/release/whateveryoucallit is faster and, in Todd’s experience, less likely to induce a malfunction during a reload than racking the slide. There were a number of people of various training & ability levels (including the top shooter) who induced malfunctions by racking the slide. I’ve long been a rack the slide guy but this class is getting me to think more about that. I ran the class using the slide release & didn’t have any problems but I haven’t decided where I’ll land on the issue. At the very least this has softened my insistence on racking the slide for reloads. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many shooter-induced malfunctions on reloads as I did in this class.
Sights- There were a number of people there with Big Dots (myself included) & some were making hits, some weren’t. Todd’s main criticism of them was that they don’t provide nearly as much feedback as traditional notch & post sights. In turn it is harder for a shooter to see small things they’re doing to throw their shots. I still like them & I think there are a lot of misconceptions on their use & what you can do with them but a lot of that stems from a lack of training & familiarity. The feedback issue is one that I’ve seen argued before by a few good shooters & trainers. If I get another M&P9 one of these days I want to run some timed drills with the Big Dots & standard sights to see where I’m faster with each setup while maintaining a set accuracy standard.
Cross Dominance- My wife & I are both cross dominant & we have both been shooting left handed. I started off shooting right handed with a dominant left eye, switched to shooting left handed & saw an immediate improvement so I’ve stuck with it. I started my wife off shooting left handed years ago because of that experience & this was reinforced by the opinion of Claude Warner & others on the subject. Todd suggested that she switch to shooting right handed & after some gear swapping she improved immediately & dramatically. She had been struggling in the class & was very encouraged by the improvement so I ordered her a right handed set of carry gear when we got home. Having the ability to shoot with both hands is, in my opinion, a critical skill to have so, if nothing else, she will at least have a decent “weak hand” base if switching to the right as primary works out for her.
Do what your body does naturally- I firmly agree with Todd that under stress the fancy shoot-walking, pivoting & other optimized for shooting contrivances will probably go out the window. Learning to shoot while moving like a human being & within your natural threat/surprise reactions will do more good than trying to alter your movement & reactions to conform to an ideal shooting platform.
Grip- Use that support hand to minimize muzzle flip. There is a huge difference in your ability to shoot quickly between a nancy-boy support hand grip & actually getting some good force out of the support hand. This is something I’ve found I get lazy with & it really shows when shooting multiple fast shots. You can get away with a weak support hand grip for a few rounds but once you start turning up the speed & the round count that support hand becomes exponentially more important.
Lastly, good job to Jimmy (high shooter) & Troy (the 16 year old) who both earned advanced ratings during the class.
Todd's website is http://www.pistol-training.com
That is actually a blue (inert) gun.
Dot Torture demo
One hand Dot Torture demo
Student one hand Dot Torture
Me likey cover
One hand reload behind cover- "Don't drop the bomb!"
One hand shooting from cover
One-eye reloading behind cover