1-Day Pistol and Carbine Course

Posted by Abbey C on

Berwick, ME August 27-28, 2016

This past weekend I attended two of Sheriff of Baghdad Tactical's Video Diagnostics courses.  Day 1 was for the pistol and day 2 was for the carbine.  Here is the Who, What, Where, and Why of those classes.

 Who:  John "Shrek" McPhee is a former US Army Delta Force SgtMaj and now owns and runs Sheriff of Baghdad Tactical.  Here are a few websites to learn about him:  His company website.  How he ended up becoming a commando.  How he got his Shrek name and his SoB name.

 What:  SoB Tactical's Video Diagnostics course uses modern sports coaching methods to improve a person's shooting abilities.  Specifically, John takes a video of a student as that student performs a simple shooting drill.  With that video, John uses the Coach's Eye software to analyze the video in slow motion to see exactly what the student is doing, whether it is good or bad.  Many of the mistakes that shooters make happen so quickly that the human eye and brain can't see the mistake.  Using HD video, John can analyze the angles, timing, alignments, speed, and effects of shooting.  It is the same type of modern sports coaching that major sports teams and professional athletes use.  As far as I know, only John McPhee uses this technique in the shooting world.  Since the video diagnostics part takes a large chunk of time, classes are limited to 8 students and the overall round count is low, which is a good thing.  Too many instructors have large classes that are more about shooting drills than learning to shoot well.  A smaller class means the instructor can spend more time with each student

 This video shows how John uses the Coach's Eye software to diagnose the drill.  Skip to the 4:00 mark.

 In class, the video diagnostics is the first thing you do.  The students shoot the drill while John records them, then they all gather around a video screen and John coaches each student on his own video while everyone else watches.  The video coaching is recorded, including all of the audio, and uploaded to John's video hosting service.  The student is given a link to the video so he can download it and watch it as often as he wants.  I shot the pistol class on Saturday and had access to all five of my videos on Sunday night, which is a very quick turnaround.

 About those five videos:  One is the raw video of the student shooting the drill.  The other four focus on Stance, Grip, Presentation, and Reload.  

Everything John coached me on in class is recorded on those videos that I get to keep.  I think that is pretty cool.

 The rest of the class focused on basic drills that were designed to reinforce the changes that we made to our Stance, Grip, Presentation, and Reload skills.  As I said earlier, this was a diagnostics class, not a shooting class.  I shot under 200 rounds for the class, but I did see improvements in my skills.

 The next day was about rifles (carbines), but it was in the same format as the pistol class.  All of the techniques we learned in the pistol class transferred to the carbines.  Seven of us were using AR15-pattern rifles and one guy was using a Tavor.  

 Where:  These classes were in Sanford, Maine, but John does travel for classes.  Check his website for future classes.

 Why:  The "why" of this class is what sold me on it.  I have attended close to 20 shooting classes over the last 15 years.  They all pretty much follow the same style:  Instructor talks, instructor demonstrates, student shoots, instructor critiques.  The problem with that is the student's actions happen so fast that the instructor can't see the mistakes, so most instructors use the results, the bullet holes in the target, as an indicator to how the student performed.  That has lead to many mistaken believes about what causes missed shots.  You've probably seen this chart:

It is nearly completely wrong.  Every one of those missed shots is caused by poor form in Stance, Grip, or Presentation.  John proved that to us by using HD video in slow-motion replay.  Simply put: the bullet goes where the gun is pointed.  Proper form helps the shooter point the gun better.

 I went to this class thinking I was a pretty good shooter.  I left as a better shooter, but I also had the video proof of where I could improve even more.

 Wrap-up:  This class is completely different than every shooting class I have attended.  As John McPhee says, it is a PhD-level shooting class.  It is more detail-oriented and uses the power of the sub-conscious brain to improve shooting ability.  John uses modern sports coaching philosophy along with modern computer and video technology to make bigger improvements in shorter time than a "standard" shooting class.

 If you are interested in a class, but can't attend or afford a class, SoB tactical offers the same video diagnostics via the internet.  Go to to see what they offer.  Personally, I think it is a great idea.

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