March 14-15th, 2020 we hosted the Performance Pistol 1 course with PACE Performance Consulting.
What was expected to happen?
Some shooters use the Performance Pistol I course as a way to improve on the less-than-optimal training they have received during traditional fast-track entry-level courses. Many accomplished shooters and even experienced instructors from other organizations use the course to improve basic skills. It is not uncommon to have shooters with very diverse backgrounds in the same class, which makes this course somewhat unique in the shooting industry. One thing is for sure, everybody will benefit, regardless of their current level of certification or experience.
This class is a great review of the basic principles of firearms and their safe handling. The principles of Performance Pistol I are the basis upon which all of our other courses are built. This course gives you a solid fundamental grounding and understanding of modern Performance Shooting and the use of the tactical pistol.
If in doubt about which course to start with, take this one before signing up for the next level. You will learn a great deal and improve your basic skill sets. This course is a solid foundation for a student to build on and move to the next level. We have found a unique blend of Tactical Pistol and Performance based shooting; a blend that focuses not only on Manipulation, but Marksmanship and Efficiency.
- Shooting stance
- Proper grip
- Sight alignment
- Sight picture
- Trigger control
- Recoil management
- Proper gear selection and placement
- The draw
- Speed reloads
- Tactical reloads
- The four (4) primary malfunctions
- Strong and weak hand shooting
What actually occurred?
As always, day 1 started with a class overview, introductions and a safety brief. Even with newer shooters, it was nice to see that there were no shooters that were a safety concern.
Right out of the gate, Paul had us shoot our absolute best 5 shot group possible from approx 3 yards. No time limit, no nothing. Just our best 5 shot group. Right after reviewing each group with each individual, we went straight into grip and recoil control.
The training was well put together and well presented. Paul is an amazing shooter who knows how to impart his knowledge to his students. The training was a blast which helped with learning in a lighthearted environment.
The natural next step was working on our draw. Paul took a very simplistic approach and was careful to not over complicate the draw with too many separate steps or things to remember.
After some work on reloads (and everything else we had learned thus far…) day 1 was finished up with some positional shooting (standing, kneeling, prone) and then some shooting and moving.
We hit the ground running on day 2 with a quick overview off the fundamentals we covered on day 1.
We quickly moved into more moving and shooting drills. As our drill became more and more complexed, for safety we cut the shooting line down to 2-4 at a time and provided group feedback for each other when Paul was working with the other groups.
Day 2 also gave us the opportunity to stretch out a bit and do some longer range pistol work. We also worked on small and large transitions from various distances with focus on cadence and rhythm. A brief overview and practice of malfunctions focused on logical, but most of all effective and efficient procedures to clear said malfunctions.
The course finished up with one on one tailored feedback from Paul. Each shooter had the opportunity to shoot a fresh target with Paul coaching (no one else on the line) and providing follow up points for us to work on.
What went well and why?
Rather than just saying “do better”, Paul helps each student to do a few things:
- Identify the individual and particular deficiency
- Breaks down a possible solution into individual baby steps (and prioritizes those steps)
- Has the shooter run the drill again helping them identify when it is done correctly and helps them end on a “good note”
Throughout each day it was common for Paul to break things up a bit between drills with friendly competition focusing on the skills we had just finished refining. Not only did this offer a nice metal break in between the focused learning sessions, but it also allowed us to implement the new skills in a somewhat “stressful” environment. All the competitions were team based and Paul was vigilant in making sure the teams were mixed up and different each time. It was good practice and a lot of fun. As seen in previous classes with the Pew Pew Solutions training group, everyone was encouraging and building each other up, even when competing with each other.
The most significant positive aspect in this course was the one on one feedback provided to each and every shooter… novice and experienced. Paul would apologize that there was going to be some down time while he worked his way through each shooter, but that did not keep us from shooting anywhere from 700-1000 rounds over the two days (some shot more than others).
What can be improved and how?
Course Host / Organizer
I come away from every course with a small (sometimes not so small) list of things to make the next course even better. The items on this list range from small things like have more of this supply or that supply to quite large investments of time and money like having more of the awesome target bases from TA Targets (which are the BEST bases around, in case you were wondering). Hopefully if you have attended, or plan on attending multiple courses with Pew Pew Solutions, you see things getting smoother and optimized to allow the instructors to more easier convey their knowledge to the students. My goal is to allow you to get the absolute most out of these classes as possible.
This time around, my specific things to improve were:
- Have enough TA Targets bases for all targets in the class (rather than my old, leftover el-cheapo bases)
- Have some plastic target backers and clear plastic bags ready in the trailer (we had some threatening bad weather coming in, but it never actually hit) so we can get the most out of the course, even with bad weather.
My biggest suggestion to Paul as the instructor would be to develop and use some sort of follow up procedure for after the course. As mentioned several times throughout the weekend, this is A LOT of information. There is no way even the best of human minds can absorb, process, comprehend and apply all of the knowledge in one pass (there were several us of there taking the course for the 2nd, 3rd or even 4th time).
A fairly simple set of automatic follow up emails would be a great way to reinforce the concepts presented. This would also allow the instructor to continue to build the relationship with the students, which is good for the students and good for PACE Performance Consulting, as a business.
If you have read any of my previous AARs, you will not be surprised with my number 1 suggestions for participants: bring and use a freaking notebook! Myself and one other shooter were the only students taking notes (to be fair, there MAY have been some taking notes on smart phones). This has been on the equipment list for every course we have hosted and yet it still seems to be the least used item.
Note-taking is the practice of recording information captured from another source. By taking notes, the writer records the essence of the information, freeing their mind from having to recall everything.
Taking good notes maximizes your investment in the training by doing a few things:
- Improves focus and attention to detail.
- Promotes active learning.
- Boosts comprehension and retention.
- Teaches prioritizing skills.
- Extends attention span.
- Improves organization skills.
Maybe I just need to do an entire post about just note taking… there is so much to be said about good note taking.
I have now taken this course 2 times (the first time was in 2017). I can say with confidence that just about anybody who comes in with a willingness to learn will progress greatly from Paul’s technique coaching and feedback. This time around there was quite a wide range of abilities coming into and out of the course, but it can safely be said that everyone left a better shooter after just two days, but even more so we all left with particular items to practice that we (individually) needed to improve to get to the “next level” in our shooting.
I enjoyed the fast pace and the way he held everyone accountable and motivated them according to their skill level.
Paul teaches in a way that creates a fun, relaxed atmosphere, yet still pushes the shooters to achieve more than than they were before. No matter if you are a competitor, a parent looking to better defend your family or a law enforcement officer who wants to go home every night… this training will make you a better shooter and give you tools that you then can apply to your needs.
Paul Van Dunk has over 15 years of shooting experience. Paul has competed in USPSA, IDPA, and IPSC. Paul has taken that experience and brought it to the firearm training community. Utilizing his experience as a former competitor, his curriculum is a blend of current standards with both pistols and rifles. Paul has also worked with several law enforcement agencies providing his unique approach to training and education. Paul’s performance based approach to teaching is in-depth, thorough, and information intensive. Paul is also an experienced gunsmith with years of experience with working on firearm projects with top industry leading firearm companies.