Chino Pistol Video Diagnostics AAR - 7/25/15
I should start by saying this is the first non-work related firearms course I have ever attended, after over a decade of carrying a gun for a living. That’s not to say I’m some kind of “Billy Badass”, it just informs my particular optic on this course.
I somehow had the good fortune of being both in Southern California and free of obligations for the Saturday running of John McPhee’s pistol video diagnostics course in Chino, CA. I’ve been watching McPhee’s videos and following his social media for a while now and something just spoke to me as different about this offering, so I felt I needed to check it out. I normally steer clear of the firearms training crowd, mostly because researching courses seems to always show that all I really have to look forward to is more shooting copious amounts of ammo at a target, which I can do at work if I wanted.
The course was low key and small in size. John was approachable and focused, which can sometimes be difficult with driven and passionate professional trainers. He presented solid well thought out experiences and research to back up his approach to firearms training. I was impressed with his idea of basics as the end all be all. Its an obvious point, but refreshing in an industry that seems to produce more and more “tactical” training and things we just have to have in order to survive some kind of imagined deadly encounter.
This brings me to one of the most pleasantly surprising parts of the training that day. John’s discussion of CCW training and armed citizens. As someone who teaches self awareness and protection skills, and has worked in the LE and Intelligence communities for over a decade, I can count on one hand the amount of instructors I’ve encountered who have actually pushed back on the idea of a sudden or unknown violent attack. Its a common set up in the “martial arts” and firearms world from my experience, “Ok, so now this guy has a gun pointed at your head!”….wait, what? He just materialized out of nowhere with a gun pointed at my head? What led up to this? How did I so terribly miss all the pre-contact cues, the set ups and body language of this mysterious attacker? I greatly appreciated John addressing this aspect, and dare say maybe devoting a longer portion of training to mindset could be in order.
Now to address the actual course. As you’ve doubtless read in all the other AAR’s, this course involves John using the Coach’s Eye app to record a video of you firing two rounds, performing a reload and firing two more rounds. After all the shooters were done we all went back to have John individually review and offer corrections and insights on each of our videos.
The process was enlightening. Not only do you benefit from seeing John identify (via green, yellow, red visual markers on the video itself) the positive, neutral and negative aspects of your shooting, you also see everyone else’s, giving a clear picture of what works and what does not. John sections the review into “Stance”, “Presentation”, “Grip”, and “Reload” and records himself running through the positive, neutral and negative aspects and how to fix the ones needing fixing all on the video. Each video segment is then saved and sent later, so you can reference it in the future.
After this process, which does take some time, we then went back onto the range and were shown a few more demonstrations. John addressed the idea of “trigger jerk” and clearly showed its nothing more than anticipation and issues with grip (indexing, i.e. - how the shooter is holding the gun). He then worked with each of us individually to put into practice the tips he gave us on our video analysis. The final course of fire was on multiple targets where he addressed how to quickly move from one target to another and back, by using common sense once again. Look first, then move the gun to where you are looking. Most people are familiar with the truism that where the head goes the body follows. Well, where the eyes go, the sights follow. It doesn’t work the other way, which was clearly demonstrated and practiced. The day finished with a walk back contest firing at steel, and check out his social media accounts to see one of the final videos. It ended with two shooters going head to head at 50 yards, shooting pistols upside down with their pinkies.
Personally I have to say I learned an extremely valuable lesson, especially in my line of work. John pointed out, in less than 15 seconds, a habit I most likely have had my whole career. I was looking over the top of my front sight. It is very clear in my video. I must be compensating somehow through years of practice as I maintain a consistently high qualification score at work. That said, while I was initially frustrated that my shooting seemed to get worse, I quickly realized it just means I am correcting years of poor habits. I’m certain another trip to the range will show marked improvement now that the problem has been correctly identified, and I have the video to reference at any time.
I’m extremely happy I took the extra day to stay in Southern California and attend John’s course. It was a great experience, and I look forward to training with him in the future.