Course Review, Gabe White, Pistol Shooting Solutions
Although I’ve been teaching for over 40 years, I try to take 1-2 courses each year myself from vetted instructors outside my own organization. I feel this is critical to keep up with new ideas and trends and prevent stagnation.
This past weekend I was extremely fortunate to get to attend Gabe White’s “Pistol Shooting Solutions” course conducted in Lakeland, FL. A couple of my associates had attended this course elsewhere and raved about it. I corresponded a bit with Gabe, then enrolled Lynn and me as paying students. We were joined by Rangemaster staff instructor John Hearne, plus there were several other people we knew in our class. There were 14 students, including 4 ladies, from as far away as New York, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Mississippi, plus several Florida residents. Overall skill level was fairly high and there were no issues. “That Guy” was conspicuously absent.
Gabe identifies the major class focus as “Contextual shooting agility”. This is defined as “the development of core shooting skills in conjunction with spatial management- movement, barriers, bystanders, maneuver- in an attempt to allow the defensive handgun practitioner to credibly attempt the best-practice answer they can discern, when shooting is an appropriate solution.”
Gabe is one of the most organized and disciplined trainers I have ever had the pleasure of working with or observing. He has obviously given a great deal of thought to course content, time management, student observation and coaching, and delivery of course content. He carries a multi-page sheaf of printed notes with him on the line and has a well developed lesson plan, something sorely lacking in many instructors’ programs. He also is a highly skilled shooter, demonstrating all drills to standard while explaining minutely what he is doing. Gabe provided students with a 12 page printed hand-out, which lists, explains and reinforces the lessons taught on the range. This is another aspect where many other programs fail. Without these hand-out materials, the student is left to struggle with hasty notes and faulty memory, and often practice skills improperly after the class as a result.
Both training days began promptly at 8:00 am and went to just after 6:00pm, with only a very brief lunch break, on site. As I mentioned, Gabe is extremely well organized, and he had targets, props and other supplies staged and ready for the next progression. During water/restroom breaks for the students, Gabe was out on the range setting up the next iteration. There was no wasted time in either training day. We fired approximately 950 rounds total per student, just as we were advised before the course.
On the first day, Gabe began with an hour and a half lecture that covered safety and the core skill sets to be involved in the weekend’s training. His safety briefing was one of the best I have heard, interweaving real world examples into the four universal gun handling rules with which we are all familiar. He went on to explain the human performance factors involved in shooting at high levels of skill and the development of a “growth mindset”. Gabe sees high level shooting as a system consisting of three sub-systems, grip/stance/platform; sights; and trigger. He went on to explain his understanding of these sub-systems and how to develop and integrate them into an effective, accurate, fast system of shooting. Good stuff!
The rest of TD1 and most of TD2 were spent on the range, working. Gabe uses a progressive “building block” approach. He minutely explains a concept or drill, demonstrates it several times, then has the students work that drill in dry practice for a while, until the bugs are worked out. The drill is then practiced live fire for as many as 10 to 20 repetitions, to groove in the motions involved. Then, the drill is shot at full speed, so each student can determine his fastest speed for effective hits. This is a great system for learning.
There are four skill tests involved. Two are fired on TD1 and two on TD2. When a drill is part of the test, the procedure outlined above is followed, then the student is timed for two runs, to give him a feel for his performance, then timed for recorded score twice, performing one at a time in front of the rest of the class. This gives the student a chance to test his skills under a bit of performance anxiety, or peer pressure. Your performance on those four skill tests determines your ranking at class end.
I’m not going to get into specific dry practice routines and live fire drills. Suffice to say they were well designed and effective. Early on in TD1 I was able to identify a weakness and correct it through the course of the weekend, due to Gabe’s thoughtful selection of drills. If you want more details, take the class.
Topics covered during live fire training included Draw Refinements, Shot Calling, Shot Trajectory Mitigation, both vertical and lateral, Ready Position Presentations, Shooting on the Move, Barrier Use (shooting behind cover), and more.
There were some drills done solo, and some friendly man vs man competition drills on steel targets to reinforce key points.
Performance on the four tested drills results in the opportunity to be awarded a pin: a certificate only; or Dark Pin; Light Pin; and the coveted Turbo Pin. Gabe stated that he normally only awards 2-3 Turbo Pins each year, and I’m not surprised. His standards are very high, objectively scored, and difficult. I managed to win a Light Pin. John Hearne also got a Light Pin, narrowly missing the Turbo Pin cut-off. Two of John’s test runs were each .04 seconds over the Turbo time cut-off. Close!
For gear, I shot a Boresight Solutions Glock 34, with Federal 147 grain ball. I used a JM Custom Kydex IWB #3 and JMCK magazine pouches, worn fully concealed under a button front Columbia fishing shirt with the tail out. I had no malfunctions or issues with my gun gear.
Gabe’s course description states that this is not a suitable course for beginners. I second that emphatically. Unless one’s core skills are in place, this course will likely produce more frustration than progress. An IDPA Sharpshooter or USPSA C class shooter or their equivalent would likely do well and progress rapidly in skill acquisition with this course. It should NOT be someone’s first formal course of instruction. I recommend this class strongly to committed students who want to wring the maximum performance from their gear and themselves. Take this class.
See http://www.gabewhitetraining.c...-shooting-solutions/ .
Prefacing this with a disclaimer that I consider Gabe a friend, he is a great instructor with an unusual clarity of thought process behind what he teaches and a great delivery. And, by means of publicly accessible and transparent shooting proficiency measurements, he is probably within top three from technical proficiency standpoint among the self-defense oriented instructors.
Nice review. While perusing his training website, I came across a link to a forum where he has posted a LOT of drills ("Drill of the Week"), complete with setups and descriptions. That alone is a worthy resource he has made available!
Overheard at an actual match:
"Tapers! Come on, guys, we need tapers!"
"No, my name's Gonzales."
Hes an interesting dude for sure. Im trying to see if I can swing the trip up to TN to take his class later this year...
I'm all jacked up on Mountain Dew...
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