This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of attending Pistol Shooting Solutions taught by my friend Gabe White.
Gabe starts by explaining his intent for the class: “a reunification of the technical and tactical shooting worlds,” bringing together technical skills and tactical prowess to achieve “Excellence at Arms.”
I think he more than accomplishes this.
That means work on “contextual shooting agility,” or core shooting skills in conjunction with movement, barriers, bystanders/”no shoots” in the backstop and foreground, and maneuver. These are a lot of programs to be running simultaneously when also managing compressed time frames and a high degree of accountability for one’s rounds…. But that is real world.
I’ve trained previously alongside Gabe in combatives, had a chance to work with him briefly on a visit to his regular training group, and have corresponded with him discussing various elements of tactical application over some years now. I like the way he thinks. He has an analytical mind that embraces a granular level of technical analysis as well as big picture strategy. I also like the way he uses language, through which he links a high degree of performance processing to practical application. The words he uses evoke the “feel” we want to achieve when bringing these together outside of the narrow band of technical performance. He connects the emotional element of performance to what is happening between your heart, your head, and your gun. And teaches you how to manage it.
He runs an extremely organized class, keeping to his time hacks and with a high degree of attention to safety. When shooting A LOT of rounds (over 900 per person), often very quickly, and when changing positions, moving, and running on a range this stuff has to be dialed in, and it very much is. There is a lot of taping and resetting targets for different emphases in the drills, but he is so organized that this happens quite quickly and doesn’t detract at all from the class. It had the added benefit of promoting the social aspect of the shooting community as well.
Gabe working the line on Contextual Shooting Agility.
He also teaches you how to train. Using a series of drills that are timed and scored for performance, he takes you through some basic preparatory shooting, a set of wheels-come-off runs that push your skill level, and then repetitions of the same drill at speeds that are more manageable based on your skills. You get timed unscored runs, then runs for time and performance awards – if you earn them. Gabe first demonstrates each performance run and describes his internal dialogue as he does so. He pushes it so that even he goes off the rails a bit, which is at about half the times the best shooters in the group can post.
This was the first class I’ve been to that also really dug into how to dry fire properly for development of different skills. Several basic dry fire drills were given, and then he explained how they can exponentially expand into many more based on the kinds of things you are trying to improve. We also got a chance to practice all of these while he ran the group one at a time through individual lateral shooting-on-the-move at speed. This is a “Get Off the X’ drill with a lot of practicality. I learned Gabe was a highly ranked competitive fencer in his younger days, and some of his wiring for this drill probably got its start there.
Holding forth on Barricade Use and Maneuver. One of the most cogent and thorough takes on the subject I’ve heard.
There was a detailed discussion of barricade use that really captured the essence of this discipline. Come to find out, Gabe also used to be a paintballer badass, which is where some of this stuff comes from. Though different from the tactical world, the human dynamics are very similar, and there are lessons that apply to other kinds of projectile fighting.
Later I suggested that this part of the class could probably be condensed, going right to the barricade shooting drills which followed. My point was not that it was superfluous, but frankly that I’d love to see this section as a separate class with a day of life fire and one of force-on-force drilling, as I think it is that valuable. For various reasons this is more of an undertaking than I imagined, but I’ll keep crossing my fingers waiting for it to happen.
I’m not much of a gear nerd, but some people like to know. Day 1 I ran a Glock 17 with an intermittently malfunctioning RMR in a Safariland ALS duty holster. Day 2, concealed AIWB with a Gen 4 Glock 19 from a Tenicor Velo holster.
There were three Light Pin winners in the class, two highly skilled citizen carry folks and one cop. I got the Dark Pin. Not where I want to be, but thanks to Gabe I’ve a much better sense of where to go from here.