Craig Burris and his cadre of awesome instructors from Tactical Training Solutions in Minnesota gave me a dose of reality while attending a class in September. There were laughs, friendships made and, ultimately—an understanding of what I was lacking, and where my starting point should be to improve my pistol shooting skills.
I am ashamed to admit that I went into this without taking a class of any sort in more than three years. However, I shoot on a regular basis, be it USPSA, product testing (for my day job) or with family and friends. Over the past few years, things have been interesting, as we all know, so any shooting sessions with a specific training focus have been few and far between. Thus, when I expressed to my wife that I was interested in the PPC3 course through Tactical Training Solutions, she thought it a good idea to lay it on me as a birthday present. Yes, I know I have one of the good ones and she supports me in my attempt to hold onto what’s left of my youth. Other than knowing I needed a case of ammunition, a gun, mags, holster and an open mind, I was flying blind on what to expect. But that’s okay, right?
Craig has been instructing for years, and you can tell by the way he delivers his message, analyzes the individual student, gives correction (or praise) and reinforces lessons with action. Additionally, he is always looking to improve his skills by constantly learning from others—similar to other great instructors.
Specifically, I can speak to a situation in our class where we were shooting dominant hand only at distance, and suddenly my groups would jump to 12 o’clock high, six inches or more off the center of the target. My initial reaction was that it was my equipment (for background, I was shooting a stockish Glock G19 and Holosun 507K X2, with some mill and mounting work by C&H Precision), and it was nothing that I could have been doing, because I had been doing great up to this point. But, Craig went the extra mile, using slow motion video, observation and even proving through a demonstration that it wasn’t the gun. He was able to help me modify my grip pressure, which reduced the issues I was having. This may not seem like a big deal, but the skill and professionalism displayed by Craig and his team provided opportunities for students to correct issues. There were 10 students in our class, and we all received individual attention.
The PPC3 class wasn’t in the “tactical” category, as some advance-level classes can be. We performed shooting on the move drills, barricade drills and some speed drills—but the intent of the class is to build on fundamentals at distance, with added stress, on small targets or tight time limits. The idea is that there were crossovers and skills that work in most, if not all, situations. To engage a six-inch circle at 25 yards from the holster, fire 10 rounds all under 30 seconds, and do it over and over again, has its place in competition, self-defense or just a good day at the range with friends. These drills force us to find where our wheels fall off. You really can’t start to build the foundation of improvement if you don’t know where your limits begin and end. You have to know what you can and can’t do if you want to make real progress in shooting.
The “meat and potatoes” of the class was simple: We shot just shy of 800 rounds, from three to 147 yards (pistol class, remember), with small targets, tough time constraints (often doing the most difficult drills cold)—all while finding time to enjoy ourselves. It was a class full of great shooters and everyone received something out of it. I learned about my grip, how to effectively run a red dot and that some of the stronger bonds in life can be made when you “chew some of the same dirt” as others. I don’t want to give away all of Craig’s secrets—you have to take one of his classes for yourself.
About the author: Justin Johnson is a military veteran, father, firearms instructor, USPSA competitor and a self-described “dude who takes training and education seriously.”
Article from the November/December 2021 issue of USPSA’s magazine.
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