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Chino, CA 1-Day Pistol and Carbine July 26-27, 2015

Posted by Abbey C on

AAR –Sheriff Of Baghdad, Pistol & Carbine Video Diagnostics Course – 07/26, 27 2015 – Chino, CA

Driving home from a video diagnostics class with John “Shrek” McPhee, you will either feel empowered, broken, or a bit of both. That depends entirely on your personal outlook, a variable John “Shrek” McPhee, a.k.a. The Sheriff of Baghdad, has no control over. What he brings to the table is a revolutionary training model for the firearms community.

The course name is only the first indicator this is not your typical training experience. The round count stays relatively low (exactly 4 rounds fired before lunch), the class size relatively small (12 students or less on average), and the focus is not on repetition, but on absolute perfection of technique. You’re not here to mindlessly blast away all day, but to learn how to operate the gun properly. This is achieved using a simple 3 step process. First, your skill level is assessed. Right off the bat, you are filmed with a high speed camera completing a very short course of fire (shoot two, slide-lock reload, shoot two) cold, with no warm-ups, and no do-overs. This ensures a level of performance close to what you would realistically deliver in an unexpected high-stress shooting scenario. Second, Mr. McPhee sits down with you and analyzes the footage in very slow motion. He critiques four major elements of your technique: stance, grip, presentation and the execution of the reload. The high frame rate reveals every hidden imperfection in what you thought was pretty decent shooting. And one by one, these problems get dissected, deconstructed and prioritized. Mr. McPhee arms you with a battle plan for improvement, and only then do you finally head back out to the range to work on very specific aspects of your shooting for the rest of the day.

It’s hard to describe in words just how mind-blowing the video diagnostics process was for my classmates and I, one “Aha!” moment after another. Being told you’re doing something wrong leaves plenty of room for denial, but when you watch it with your own eyes, there is no ignoring the hard, cold truth. And the sooner you admit you have a problem, the sooner you’ll get to fixing it. With his deep body of experience as a gunfighter and as an instructor, Mr. McPhee offers insight that could only come from an expert. For each problem, he knows all the permanent fixes and he will spend the time to help you find the one that works for your body type. And when you head back out to the practical portion of the course, he will stay on you to make sure you do not deviate from your battle plan.

This was by far the most personalized training environment I have encountered in the industry. The entire time we were there, John McPhee’s focus was on us, the students. He genuinely cared about pushing our improvement as far as he could, a first in my personal experience. He clearly enjoys interacting with others who love firearms, and that passion is immediately palpable and infectious. His demeanor is very warm and good-natured, but he will not hesitate to get serious and start discussing the intricacies of modern barrel profiles if he feels you care to join him. He’s a gun guy to the core and clearly gets a kick out of pushing others up to their full potential.

Still, a tiny minority of students seem to have difficulty watching their whole approach to shooting put into question. Perhaps it’s ego, or perhaps they’re just not ready to take that next step yet. One thing is certain, this class is designed to challenge you, and not necessarily in a comfortable way. If you truly wish to improve your performance, this course will show you how. But as Shrek himself says: “I’m here to give you the roadmap, you have to get yourself there on your own.”

At the very end of the course, when all the guns were put away, Mr. McPhee sat us down and asked us what we liked most about this course and what we wish we could change. I think I’ve answered the first question sufficiently in this AAR, but in response to the second, I would say I wish my very first shooting class had been with The Sheriff of Baghdad. I would be that much farther ahead today.

JP Belliard
Los Angeles, California

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