Who: Sig Sauer Academy
What: Pistol Mounted Optics Instructor course, taught by Eric Palmer & Justin Christopher
When: June 18 & 19, 2020
Where: Hosted by & taught at Gunsite Academy, AZ
Relevant Previous Classes:
Two that are relevant are the Modern Samurai Project’s Red Dot Pistol – Fundamentals & Performance (2018) and Sage Dynamics’ RDS Handgun Instructor (2020, right before the Corona shut-down). I started with a red dot in ’11 and tried carrying one through all of ’12. However, after several months of repeatedly breaking Trijicon RMRs (always windage adjustments, never electronics), I abandoned the effort. I returned to them in late ’18 and have stayed with them since on both work and CCW pistols.
My reason for taking this class was to see if there were other ways to demonstrate &/or explain the hows & whys of PMO usage in preparation for some classes I've been tasked with running later this year. And there were those take-aways.
Since Gunsite was hosting the class, my tuition was comped, but I handled range liaison and support tasks during the course. There was no expectation of a review, positive or otherwise.
We started off in the classroom, dealing with the admin requirements from both Sig Sauer and Gunsite – serving each master.
Sig's west coast police department sales rep was there to talk product, etc. The instructors were clear that while they worked for Sig and shot the company's equipment, they were there to share knowledge and experiences more than sell products.
One early nugget had to do with zeroing. They advocate for a 15 yard zero. They support that position with ballistic data for both 124gr and 147gr 9mm out to 50 yards. The other classes and errornet discussion previously have been consistent with a desire for 25 yard zero. After shooting this class, I see the merit of the 15-yard model.
They also discussed their teaching model – Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, & Practice
On the range, we started with trigger control & off-set drills.
We moved onto what they call reflexive shooting. This is a combination of natural point of aim, body mechanics, and trusting those. Because of previous red dot experiences (Aimpoint Comps and on) plus the other pistol optics classes, for me, this ends up being a combination of natural point of aim & occluded optics shooting.
We zeroed at 15 yards. For me changing from Federal 147gr HST to whatever 115 gr ball is available consistently has me adjusting the optics up and to the left.
We spent the rest of the day running through processes for finding out what methods, techniques work the best for us individuals. These included SHO and WHO shooting as well as body positioning for our platforms.
Having been around some instructors, early on in traveling this path, that were dogmatic rather than just doctrinal, I appreciate this approach. Things that work for me SHO are not the same as what works WHO. One example is shooting hand thumb position, SHO it touches my middle finger, WHO it stays on the thumb safety against the slide.
Day #2 started with a series of their six school drills that we shot cold for time & score. Missing the first one, I passed two of the other five (getting the hits within the time), on the three I didn't I got the hits while not making the times.
They explained the Whys for these drills. Then they broke down the times by the tasks involved in each one. For example, they allowed 2.0 seconds for drawing and firing a single shot – whether you were carrying AIWB, in a duty rig with retention, or OWB. Target to target transitions were 0.75 seconds, and so on. The only disagreement I have with their times would be a split in the .4 to .5 second range because of human mental processing speeds rather than the faster speed (albeit doable) they use.
We then practiced all of six them, on timers, with other students for a fair amount of time.
From there, the material covered both downed and occluded optic drills. They added a couple different alternate aiming methods that I tried. I think one of these has merit going forward, but I need to work with it more.
There were movement drills done on the timer as well.
We finished out by running their school drills for score at the end of the day. I made all of my shots, only missed the time on one exercise. They award a PMO Instructor patch to anyone who gets five of their six drills. Karl Rehn, from KR Training, shot all six clean. Shawn from KR Training, Paul G – another Gunsite instructor, and myself passed five of the six. There were fifteen students in the class.
ProForce Law Enforcement Supply, who had a sales rep in the class, donated a weapon-mounted light (the first shooter to pass the standards, Karl) and a cleaning kit (most improved on their drills – you saw who won the cleaning kit) as prizes.
Round Count was just over 800 rds;
M&P 2.0 with Aimpoint Acro, Apex components, SF X300U-B & DG switch;
Teaching/training belt from the old Eagle with Safariland RDS/ALS holster, HSGI/Safariland/Surefire/Maxpedition pouches;
Peltor and Silynx ear pro;
No issues with the pistol, magazines, ammunition, or holster.
A few equipment take-aways: I still need to fiddle with the Silynx as I haven't gotten it up for me on the range when several people are shooting. Hunting or shooting by myself it's great;
PCC my range bag. I apparently removed & did not replace the strip of Acro batteries that I stashed in the bag last fall – fortunately, one of my classmates – Shawn from KR Training – came to my rescue. My Multitasker must have climbed out as well; however, the Aimpoint sight adjustment tool handled the loosening & tightening of the battery cap.
Sage Dynamic's class is excellent for someone proposing a pistol mounted optic (PMO) program and will be running all of it – policy, equipment selection, etc. – as well as leading an instructional program;
Modern Samurai Project's class focuses on the employment of a PMO equipped pistol (or any pistol) with an emphasis on doing so at speed. It is an end user-centric class, rather than being focused on program and policy development.
I'd put the Sig Academy offering in between as it hits both end-user and instructor considerations. Someone carrying a red dot will come away with a lot, and if one is teaching in, rather than running, a PMO class or program, this will help establish their knowledge base.
With attribution, I've stolen from all of these classes.
I'll recommend the Sig Sauer Academy PMO Instructor class. Based on their material and presentation in this class, I'd tentatively extend that their PMO user class.
If you ever take a class from Eric Palmer, ask him to tell you about his Maturiority (nope, not a typo. Just a new word like Strategery). Bush 43 would have been proud!