17 Sep AAR: Sig Sauer Academy Semi-Auto Pistol Instructor Course
BACK TO BASICS
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ave you ever had an awakening on the range? One of those moments where everything you thought you knew was essentially wrong? I had the pleasure of spending the previous week hitting it hard at the Sig Sauer Academy in Epping, NH for their Semi-Auto Pistol Instructor Course. I had heard rumor that this class was a real ass kicker and I had no preconceived notions of me simply strolling in to the week and just killing it. Previous experience with Sig has taught me that the standards are high, and there is no room for bullshit. Your hits are either in or they are not. I had no idea who the instructor for the week was going to be, and to be honest with you it did not matter to me who was running the class. I had trained with Steven Gilcreast in 2012 for the Patrol Rifle Instructor course and he kicked my ass then…. and I loved it.
Guess who greeted the class on T-1….
If you have ever met Steve you know that he is a zero bovine excrement, shoot it or don’t kind of dude. If you like a dry sense of humor (as most cops I know do) you will get along just fine with any of the instructors as Sig. Steve is no exception. You will also know that he is more than an instructor but a teacher, concerned about his students learning the why more than the how. This was an instructor level course, so a higher standard is naturally expected. More on that later….
Pre-Requisite class introductions were done and I linked up with my new best friend for the week, Paulo, who hailed from Portugal. Paulo works for the UN in a PSD role and is a solid dude.
T1: (RE)LEARNING HOW TO TEACH
Everyone has heard of the KISS Principle of Information Delivery. Steve took it a step further, and further simplified the methodology down to S.I.G., or Simple Is Good. Ok… I’m on board with simple. I like simple. We then proceeded to cover how to start a class by presenting non-arguable facts (because
everyone no one in the gun world likes to argue with facts, right?) such as the mechanical operation of the firearm itself. You can’t argue with facts! The point is, understanding the function of the weapon system allows you to fully grasp the techniques surrounding proper pistol marksmanship. Guess how much time we spent covering mechanics in the classroom?
Those of you who said a little over an hour get a gold star.
Myths were already starting to be busted and it wasn’t even 1000 am! You mean to tell me that I didn’t have to spend three hours in a classroom front loading a class with information about fundamentals? Ok, I’m all ears. The remainder of the morning session was spent getting snapped in and busting some of the cobwebs as I had intentionally not shot a lot of pistol in the weeks leading up to this class. I wanted a cold benchmark of what my skill set was dry. I didn’t do that bad, but I also didn’t do that great either.
Steve stressed on us that adults fall into three categories of learners: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. In layman’s terms we either need to see it, hear it, or just do it. I fancy myself to be a combination of all three. This brought us to the discovered learning process. Essentially we had to put ourselves in unorthodox stances and use unorthodox grips to see what physical effects we were able to impart on to the gun. Speaking of, I chose to [pullquote_right]”Float the dot, Shoot the Shot”[/pullquote_right]run my Gen 3 Glock21SF for this class out of my Bravo Concealment Patriot OWB holster. ( I will post a review on both in the coming days. In short, I’m very happy. ) Breaking down sight picture to a very simple and intuitive “float the dot, shoot the shot” process blew my mind. Again to the non-arguables: we are not made of stone so there will ALWAYS be movement in our shooting stance. Find the acceptable sight picture based off of the distance and degree of difficulty of the shot and work your trigger.
The remainder of the day after chow was spent working on our fundamentals, maximizing mobility and stability and learning to manipulate the trigger without adding additional movement. Sounds simple, right? Getting the point across with as little variables as possible so everyone in the class could understand it is truly an art form. Steve called me on it a few times as I have a tendency to front load a period of instruction, or over-instruct to a sense. I’m working on it…
T-2/T-3: BREAKING BARRIERS
These two days went by like a blur. Much learning was done by the entire class of 11 and we were finding out what worked and what didn’t. A personal hurdle for me was trigger control. I had previously been taught that proper trigger control was slacking the trigger up and then pressing the shot off. Unfortunately I had developed a bit of a mash on the trigger when the shot would break. Close in? Not a huge deal… outside of 15 yards. Ruh roh Rorge… I quickly discovered that something as simple as the inflections placed on the word “Now” could subconsciously induce someone to jerk the trigger. [pullquote_left]”Pressssss…”[/pullquote_left] Things started to smooth out once that little nugget of knowledge was passed on. By the end of these two days I had a sack full of ’em! By the way, round count was at 700 rounds of 230 gr. 45 ACP. by the end of day 3 and my blaster had ripped my Glockbite® callous off again. We were also assigned teach backs over these two days which I absolutely love as its a chance to poll a group of your peers on your delivery of information. We gave each other the good and the bad so we could polish our skills. By and far this is one of the most invaluable instructor development tools we utilized throughout the week. I also made my first attempt at the qual course. Better luck tomorrow devil dog….
T4: BUILDING CONSISTENCY or: DID I REALLY JUST SHOOT 800 ROUNDS IN ONE DAY?
Steve had informed us that we would be taking part in a “round robin” of sorts over at the Area 51 action bays on T-4. He also told us to bring ammo. Lots of it. We spent the morning returning to some accuracy drills out to distance and after chow we made out trek to the pits. We were assigned several drills that were designed to test various skill sets that we had worked on throughout the week thus far. I thankfully had my notepad out the entire time and was able to *ahem* borrow all of these drills for my own personal use. Folks in upcoming classes get ready, we have some awesome stuff for ya! There were also two more cracks at the qual course. Meh, I felt like passing it on Friday anyways… Round count was now over 1,500 rounds and my Glockbite® was now just a bloody sore. I also had the opportunity to watch Dylan Kenneson, another full time Sig Instructor, absolutely smoke all of the courses of fire all the while smashing away at his trigger like as he put it like a particular overweight female celebrity “going at a bucket of ice cream with a fork.” Whatever that means.
T5: DISTANCE & RECKONING
Most of the class was having issues at the 25 yard line, and I was certainly no exception. Focus is the key and I felt like the hammer of Thor had smacked me upside my squash when Steven told us to focus on the front sight so hard that we are able to see the brass eject out of our weapon. My group shrunk by feet and if I did the rest of my job in respect to grip, stance, and trigger control, we were dinging the steel all the way out to 50 yards consistently. THAT felt GOOD. We made it through the rest of the day of teach backs and skill builders until it was time for the qual course again. I was one of four out of eleven that still had to pass since I decided to wait until Friday to smoke this thing. No pressure, right?
That’s the ticket though. Steve rallied the troops before we started and asked us individually why we came to this class. Not a single one of us said “To pass the qual.” We all had a common goal: becoming better shooters and better instructors. That box was checked and at that point I was mildly interested if I passed or not. I pride myself on my skills with a pistol as it is literally my bread and butter. I had a solution… get mad. Just so we are all on the same sheet of music the qual is 25 rounds, starting at the 25 with various time hacks, position changes, mag changes, malfunction drills, and movement. You need 80% or better to pass, which means you have to get at least 25 within the 8″ target area on the “Brett” target without touching the line. Anything outside of the circle is a miss, anything outside body or touching the white is a disqualification. No pressure, right?
I may have been the proverbial blind squirrel but either way I found my nut that day. I came to learn and improve but the cherry on top tastes pretty friggin good.
Also… hat’s off to my wife and those who watched our kiddos during this training. It wouldn’t have been possible without you all!