Day 2: Rifle
Frank jumped into the rifle topic with the stance first and talked about feet position which was slightly wider than shoulders and a bit squarer than the usual boxing stance. He talked about rolling shoulders forward to push into the rifle. Your support hand is going to grip the rail with the thumbs forward, similar to pistol, and then the elbows are left to hang.
We then started out in a similar fashion to pistol by doing dry fire and getting used to seeing the target and our sights. We took single shots and did similar seeing drills with the rifle and moved onto the recoil management test. Again we shot as fast as we could 5 rounds into the target as Frank looked on. He did this for each person and made his corrections as he came down the line.
When watching some of Frank’s videos, this
particular sequence caught my eye. His reloads are fast and smooth but there was something about his rifle reload that just felt different. So I was all ears and eyes when he dove into this topic. He first talked about a deliberate loading procedure he does to make sure he is ready to rock. Then he jumped into his rifle reload as well as his tactical reload. Sure enough there was just a slight bit of difference in hand positioning and weapons manipulations to account for the smoothness. This is another thing I noticed is that a lot of the principles are things that have a commonality with other trainers but there are slight tweaks here and that will make up .5 seconds. This is something that is clearly of interest to competitors but maybe have tactical implications as well since that could mean a difference of 3 rounds from a pistol coming at you or 5 rounds from an AK.
So up to this point we had worked on recoil management which involves our stance (feet, hands, shoulder) and reloads. Like the previous day we transitioned to drills that worked on those fundamentals plus SEEING. Again Frank is big on seeing so we worked on some eye speed drills on paper and then moved to steel targets. As we broke for food he mentioned there would be a lot of movement and running so a handful of people made sure they had some gut bombs for lunch.
After lunch we worked on target transitioning. As Frank said it is just about executing a simple mathematical formula, “Target + Sights = Trigger”. And so we were off and running doing drills that involved working on target transitioning.
One thing I keep coming back to is the individual attention Frank gives to each student (note the class speed was good with the medium size of 10). Frank set up a target transition drill on steel with four targets. Two were close together on the left side of the range and the third was half way to the middle and the fourth was on the right side of the range. He would have one shooter at a time shoot the first two, then #1 and #3 and then #1 and #4. If a shooter had trouble somewhere he would have them repeat it after giving some tips. He would watch the students eyes and see if they were leading with them or if they were moving their head first or gun first. The final string was shooting #1-2-3-4 and you did that a couple times to put together everything he helped you with.
Towards the end of light we worked on drills that put everything we learned so far together. One in particular was a 20 rounds string that worked on “Targets + Sights = Trigger” and movement. You would shoot, move, shoot, move over and over until you finished your magazine. This was timed and any misses meant a fail.
We went for dinner just before dusk and then returned for the night shoot. Similar to pistol night shoot, Frank went over the thought process on where to position your light and how to manipulate it. Then we went through drills that worked on light manipulation and then worked on rifle light manipulation with transition to pistol. I didn’t have a pistol weapon light because of my holster so when it came to my turn I ran my rifle then as I transitioned to pistol I had to pull my flashlight out with my handgun. Frank saw that and as I came back he told me that instead of doing that, I should just keep my rifle light on and use that instead of turning it off and reaching for my handheld. He even had a couple different positions that I could hold the rifle with that were pretty stable.
The bonus to this night shoot was that a student had brought some night vision mounted on a helmet and laser on his rifle. So toward the end of the night he ran the final drill totally dark with the night vision and laser. A couple of people asked to try it out, including me, and he was more than eager to help us get it on and run it.
Now Frank jumped in and started to give us input on how to actually shoot the rifle with that setup and mentioned how he had run it before. He also gave the student some input on other details about working with the laser and night vision. This emphasized for me the true depth of Frank’s experience as a SF Operator and competitive shooter. He can go from tactical to practical and he has the background to back up what he says.
Day 3: Rifle
The beginning of day three we ran the last drill we did at night with rifle/pistol and then with pistol only as warm up. Then we worked throughout the morning working on different stages that incorporated a lot of what we had learned. The final morning stages were some housekeeping stuff and then we broke for lunch. Frank’s teaching has been consistent. He teaches principles and then we drill the principles individually. At the end we run drills that put everything together.
After lunch we moved out to about 100 yds and worked on some barricades. Frank went over many different positions that one could use around the barricade. He also went over a number of prone positions we could use to shoot under the barricade or if need be a car or other object. Having solid points of contact and very secure firing position was underscored in each position. As I have said before Frank puts an emphasis on fast follow up shots and even mentions that while doing single fire drills you need to put in the same amount of effort to control the gun as if you were going to do multiple shots.
We also worked on shoulder to shoulder transition to work on opposite sides of the barricade. Throughout the barricade work Frank went around helping people through their positions and getting them right.
As is tradition in Frank’s class we wrapped up the final part of the day with shooting competitions that worked the different principles we had learned.
Frank has a very good background in shooting that starts with his experience in the Army Special Forces but his background in competitive shooting is solid as well. If you were to draw a Venn Diagram with Tactical Shooting and Competition Shooting, where those two overlap is where Frank seems to live. If needed he is able to step over to either side with ease because of his hard earned experience in both areas of shooting. He is a very approachable instructor and a good coach as well. He was able to push everyone to another level through his personal coaching. I would also say he sets the example of a great student and blends in with us to shoot some competitions or set the pace. I always like to see the instructor shoot; it is good to see how someone at that level pushes to achieve a time or problem-solve their mistakes.
Frank puts an emphasis on seeing, seeing is everything. In fact seeing is probably the difference between a fast/accurate shooter and an amazing shooter. Frank started the class with this principle and kept it going throughout the class. In this class he presented fundamentals that were tuned to bias toward efficiency in seeing, shooting, moving, weapon manipulation and solid platforms for fast follow up shots. After presenting the fundamentals or principles he would have us drill those specific skill sets and would correct each individual to his satisfaction. After those were drilled we ran more drills, this time to put together what we had learned and to give them a final shake down. Teach, drill, correct, drill, put everything together, drill correct and repeat. If I get another chance to take a class from Frank I certainly will each time, I am certain I will learn just as much.
Special thanks to SuperSetCA for setting this up and getting the equipment, this was an excellent course and you put together a really excellent weekend!
While at lunch a couple shows to watch came up and here they are for the guys that weren't there.
Chris Terril’s documentaries on the Royal Marines (55 year old reporter who had to earn the beret first before he embedded).
Next Rail to Get: Noveske NSR