Friday, July 20, 2018

Competitive Pistol Training with Brandon Wright

I recently took part in an intensive two days of competitive pistol training under the tutelage of Brandon Wright of Wright Shooting. Brandon is a Distinguished Master in IDPA and a USPSA Grand Master shooter, and a member to Team Smith & Wesson. In addition to his shooting accomplishments, he’s an excellent instructor. The seven others in the class were folks I shoot with regularly, which added to the fun, and even created a bit of friendly competition.

Throughout the two days of Competitive Pistol II, Brandon reviewed, in great detail, both the fundamentals and advanced techniques employed in competitive shooting. We discussed not only the how but also the why of the techniques we covered. And we ran the associated drills, over and over, as our very observant instructor demonstrated, watched, critiqued, and corrected.

While the techniques we learned were applicable to action pistol shooting in general, the emphasis of the class was on IDPA competition. The major themes of the class were efficiency in getting to the shooting, and then making accurate shots. With the 2017 IDPA scoring change to one second penalties per point down, inaccurate hits became even more costly. Putting the gun where it needs to be quickly, gives the shooter more time to insure accuracy. 

Naturally, I won't give specifics here, you'll need to take the class yourself. General topics included different sight pictures, varying trigger presses, footwork and movement, reloading, and moving targets, among others. The individual concepts were reviewed and practiced. Different methods were timed and compared. A log book is a critical component of Brandon's training. Eventually we put our new knowledge all together and ran different small stages to see how it worked.

Stage planning was also covered throughout the course. Brandon reminded us frequently why it is important know our skills and strengths, especially focusing on the time it takes to perform various actions. We were able to shoot the small stages repeatedly in order to compare and different interpretations of ways to shoot the stage. We even got in a few mini-competitions throughout the two days.

I fired somewhere around 1,050 shots in the course. Though I came away with sunburn and achy muscles, it was an intensely fun two days of shooting and learning. Several days later I am still processing everything did. I took copious notes, and have been adding to them since. Brandon has an amazing ability to break things down into individual components, fine tune what we do, and put it all back together again. There were many "ah ha!" moments throughout the course, as well as many bad habits broken and falsehoods disproven.

Going in to the class, I knew there was a lot that Brandon could teach me. Despite the awareness of having a lot to learn, the class was a humbling experience. I believe that seven of the eight students in the class hold Expert classification in at least one IDPA division, yet Brandon found frequent areas for improvement; grip, trigger control, stance, foot placement, stage planning... Despite that, the training was both inspirational and confidence building. With practice, I believe I can make that new knowledge part of my arsenal and habits, and improve my shooting.

I found the investment in tuition, ammo, hotel, food, and gas to be all money well-spent. Fortunately, so much of what we covered can be practiced in dry fire, in my home. Now that my week of travel for work is over, I look forward to doing just that.

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