Ronin Tactics Gunfighter Pistol Course
July 16, 2016. PDTSS range Calhan Colorado
This was a one day course starting at approximately 10:00 and concluding around 16:00. The weather was sunny all day with a temp in the low 90’s. The PDTSS range is pretty basic. It is an outdoor range with no facilities; in other words, a few big dirt berms with an outhouse.
Gear: Most guys were using the standard mix of factory Glocks, tricked out Glocks, a few XD’s and one 1911. Most ran some variation of a battle belt or drop leg holster. I ran a Glock 19 with some WOTG Y-notch sights and a Streamlight TLR-1 HL in a JM Kydex holster on a beltman belt. This is my regular, everyday carry set up. I used 115 grain Freedom Munitions re-manufactured ammo and had no gear or ammo issues at all.
The Instructor: Ret SGM Tu Lam introduced himself as retired SF after 22 years of service. He is a good instructor with a calm demeanor. He demonstrated all the drills and techniques before asking us to do anything. The guy is smooth, fast and accurate. His knowledge and abilities are top tier. He was able to clearly articulate the “why” to each technique and drill.
The Course: This was an open enrollment course advertised as being for all abilities, beginner to advanced. It was a full course with 20 guys, and one dude rolling in late that threw the balance of all partner based exercises.
I won’t list all of the drills or exercises but after a quick safety brief we started with a slow fire drill just as an assessment. We then moved to some double tap exercises with Tu outlining proper support hand position and grip strength. It became evident that a good portion of the class was having difficulty with proper trigger press, so we backed down to some ball and dummy drills. We then moved to steel targets and worked rhythm fire and driving the gun (target transitions). After working some reload drills we moved to movement drills. Tu gave the best run down on body mechanics, hip movement, and coordinating footwork I have heard. Coincidentally, it turns out facing your hips towards the target while driving the gun or moving might be a thing, and definitely something I need to practice. Next we ran through a few drills designed to get our heart rate up and really push physical and shooting ability. We finished the class with a walk-back drill on the steel.
My Thoughts: Overall I thought this was a good course. Nothing revolutionary but there were a few techniques that made me raise an eyebrow and want to go try out and practice. Tu made a point several times to say that there is no absolute gospel in shooting. His emphasis was economy of motion. He encouraged us to go try what he was teaching and compare. There were a few times he flat out stated “this is slower” but that was rare.
My only concern with the course was how it was structured. Most classes I have attended have split the shooters into two strings allowing the instructor and AI to watch 5 guys at a time. We shot all at once with the AI’s time being taken up with the two or three guys who were brand new shooters. This left Tu to watch the remaining 17-18 guys by himself. Not saying that he was not able to do this, but I feel like most shooters got very little personal attention. Additionally, the wide range of the abilities of the shooters meant that some of the instruction was belabored review for some while completely going over the heads of others.
There was one exercise that was a bit of a safety concern for me as well as some other students. While shooting steel there were two lines of shooters. Cones were set up at approximately 7, 15, and 25 yards. The exercise was to fire five rounds on the steel at the 7, run back to the 15 fire five more, run to 25 with 5 more rounds, then repeat the process moving forward. It was set up as a race between shooters. However with the disparity in shooters skills it meant that some guys were standing at the 7 yard line with a guy behind them at the 25 shooting past them. I am not new to big boy rules and have had guys shoot past me before. However, those were guys I have shot with many, many times before and in whose abilities I am completely confident. I heard several guys grumbling about the exercise and heard one mutter “I’m not sure I can even hit the target from that far back.” The instructors were next to the shooter the entire time, but that does not stop a dude with his finger inside the trigger guard from tripping and shooting me in the back. The exercise went fine and no one was hurt, but I can’t help but feel this might be one to use exclusively in an advanced class.
Tu is a good instructor with a phenomenal amount of experience and knowledge. I feel like a day of one on one or small group training with him would vastly improve my shooting ability. I understand that in a class of 20 guys not everyone will get all the attention they want. That being said I think separating classes into different levels based on ability and experience as well as splitting shooters into different strings would have allowed for a little more learning for all levels. I actually liked the one day as opposed to multiple day class. However, I don’t feel the class was as focused or specific as it could have been with a group of shooters who were more similar in ability. I would like to train with Ronin Tactics again, but think I will either select Tu’s option for small group training by request, or just be a little choosier in the course I select.