Shooters Symposium 2019 – AAR, Jase Winner

“The sequel to an already spectacular event (Shooters Symposium 2018) was twice as ambitious as the first and had thrice the payoff” – Jase, GAT Daily.

That’s what movie reviews sound like, right?

Movies are pretty great, like a “based on real events” type of movie. Basically a highlight reel of a life event packed into a two hour show.

That’s pretty much how I feel about Shooters Symposium this year. It was an action packed spectacular event with non-stop excellence and near perfect execution. From the first step on the range until the last one off, it couldn’t have been better. There was never a dull moment from 0800 every morning to 0200 the next. It was a weekend filled with learning and chalked full of fun.

This is Shooters Symposium 2019 through the eyes of a 15 y/o shooter… Which is me, incase you didn’t catch that.

The first day on the range was the Vendor Day. More than anything it was a day to break the ice, shake off the previous travel day and get yourself together. You could meet new dudes and catch up with old friends, check zero on your guns, get the lay of the land, and enjoy the various competitions for the vast prize table.

There was a vendor tent to check out the event sponsors’ products and a range to shoot some of the demo guns and optics. The safety briefing and the grand welcome by event director, Matt Shockey, was priority one. That briefing was great… short, sweet, and to the point. Follow the 4-basic firearms safety rules, the medical plan, the flow of the Symposium, and a few bits of other information we needed to know about the new ranges.

After the evening welcome dinner was prize night, where the top guys on the competitions got top picks at the prize table. I wasn’t called up there for Top Shooter, but I ended up walking away with a Phlster Floodlight and a Phlster Pocket Emergency Wallet. Not a bad night. All told there was over $20K worth of prizes… It was insane!

That was also the start of my sleepless schedule…

Wake up too early/go to bed too late. Wash-Rinse-Repeat for x4 days and nights.

Vendor day was excellent.  Plus let’s not skip over the fact I got to hang out with my pal Ike from Big Tex Outdoors, shoot with my buddy Josh of Unity Tactical (Hot Button is life!), and say hello and burn some rounds with Mike from Sons Of Liberty Gun Works. I got my eyes and hands on some VIKTOS gear and fire some happy pills with Cody out of the Walther Q5SF. Lastly, finally spent some time with Joe, Eric and Brandon of Chambers Custom Pistols.  Geez… Apparently vendor day was even busier than I thought!

Now onto the stuff that matters to you all, the classes.

I can only speak for the instructor’s classes I attended this year, so let me break down my Shooters Symposium 2019 education for you.  In order of appearance…

Reston Group-Jared Reston- “Shooting on the Move”

Not only was this class a ton of fun, it was also full of information that applied to my goal of learning how to shoot in a more “tactical” sense. It has a great amount of cross over into competition shooting too. I’ve wanted to know how to hit A zone’s without stopping for years and it turns out that the secret was right there all along. I won’t spoil anything, you’ll have to take one of Jared’s classes to figure it out, but it was much simpler than I thought.

We shot moving towards our targets, at an angle from our targets, and straight across(left/right) the field. The biggest take away was on the speed and the way you need to use your speed to be successful. Reston is always a pleasure to learn from and hang out with (This was my 2nd Reston class) and was super knowledgeable. But now I know, whether it’s moving forwards/backwards or left/right I’ve got the tools to get relatively accurate hits on target. Now I just need to take it home, practice and get it down smooth.

Fun add on about this class, when it was over and the students cleared off, I was able to get x3 magazines worth of time on Jared’s Aimpoint ACRO.  By comparison to the Trijicon RMR, the Leupold Deltapoint, and the Holosun 509 that I’ve shot… the ACRO was hands down my favorite! It looks bigger than it actually is, it is easier to pick up the first shot and easier to maintain your dot.  Granted I’m not a RDS expert but I am really digging the ACRO. (CD- It’s #2 on my Sweet 16 birthday wish list.)

Tap Rack Tactical-Bill Blowers- “Tactical Carbine”

For those of you who haven’t read my very first GAT article, Bill was the first instructor I ever remember meeting. Sitting in on one of his classes here in Spokane was what really got me intrigued on pursuing the tactical training side of shooting. In Bill’s Tac Carbine class the goal surmounted on how to get accurate hits on target at a faster cadence than you’re used to shooting. We also did work on speed reloads from an empty carbine. He gave us all some excellent drills to bring home to do our own training.

Everything in that class was timed, absolutely nothing we did was without a timer. When you shoot a string of fire with all accurate hits you get a time, you do this multiple times and find your average. Based on your average you know at a minimum what you should be able to hit every time without fail. It was genius simple. He gave me, personally, some excellent things to train with to make me an all around better carbine shooter. It certainly doesn’t hurt either that Mr. Bill is also a pretty funny dude and his witty remarks keep it fun but help drive home certain points making.

This was also my 2nd class with Mr. Bill and he did not disappoint!

Modern Samurai Project – Scott Jedlinski – “Red Dot Fundamentals”

Mr. Scott’s class was definitely a tight learning curve for me. I’ve been shooting pistol for years but probably had fewer than 300 rounds with an Red Dot Sight… trial by fire definitely applied here. I loved how Jedi conveyed the information and really made me think about why he was saying what he was saying.

Learning to shoot an RDS pistol isn’t rocket science… matter of fact once you get over the hurdle with your eyes, it’s really easy! I not only learned how to shoot a red dot pistol (I’m hooked on the dot) but also learned how to just be a better pistol shooter. For the gazillionth time I got told how to fix my stance, which is honestly one of the hardest shooting habits for me to break. But I also found how to adjust my grip to minimize recoil, get more positive control on the gun, get an accurate first shot on target from the draw, and that I don’t actually need my sights to get an accurate hit on paper from three yards (weird, I know). Do less work and reap greater results… and what a true slide bite feels like (ultra high grip + bad draw= oops.  Chicks dig scars, right?) It was a great class with a ton of good info.

Easy to process and understand… so easy this 15 year old could do it.

Author Jase Winner making the ACRO do work

Quick brag, I won “high shooter” during one of the speed and accuracy drills and my reward was my first piece of Viktos gear.  Viktos was one of the Shooters Symposium sponsors, I won the T-shirt of my choice from Jedi and I can’t wait to represent!

Vogel Dynamics – Robert Vogel – “World Class Pistol Skills”

This was definitely the most competition oriented of my Symposium classes. But even with that said, it was about running a gun not gaming a stage. One of the most prevalent phrases of the weekend was “shooting is shooting” it doesn’t matter what kind of class you’re taking as long as you take away something that makes you a better shooter, that’s a win. Vogel’s class is a high round count shoot-fest trying to find the perfect balance of accuracy and speed, which is exactly what we want right? From one drill to another we would fire different distances at different cadences trying to maintain accurate hits on paper or steel. We also ran a few new to me steel drills which I thoroughly enjoyed and will definitely be taking back to my local clubs run.

It wasn’t the competition course I expected it to be, it was just a pistol course to make you better at what you do, and better for it I am.

Dark Angel Medical – Kerry Davis – “Direct Action Response Training”

There was no way that I wasn’t gonna take advantage of the opportunity to refresh some knowledge on my medical training. The added bonus of this class, other than getting an excellent refresher on how to stop people from bleeding, was that I chose just the right time to take it.

We were scheduled to go on the range and shoot some pistol/rifle drills with our fresh medical knowledge but mother nature felt like giving us a torrential downpour that morning and flooded out many of the ranges. So instead of heading out on the lake that was once a range we just called it, broke down camp, and headed back up to the food.

We went over all of the basic essential information on how to plug holes… Tourniquets, combat gauze, pressure dressings, etc. “Tourniquet the limbs, Pack the junctions, Seal the box” sort of thing. This was my 2nd time through Kerry’s DART class and was just as valuable as before, if not more. It was just the refresher I needed just when I needed it.

“Knowing how to put holes in people is easy, knowing how to stop up the holes in people is a different and much more relevant and pressing issue.”-Jase

Modern Samurai Project – Scott Jedlinski – “Advanced Red Dot Pistol”

Round two with Jedi was in the aftermath of the Texas Monsoon (I think it’s a Texas thing… do everything bigger right?). With that in mind I imagine that class got a little bit off track.

Advanced Red Dot was similar to Red Dot Fundamentals until the end. We put what we learned to a test on some Bill drills to finish out class. It is also noteworthy that it was in this class that I shot a $6000 dollar work-of-art-Blaster. I shot the Chambers Custom Pistols “Night Fighter” and it was nothing but fun. That gun shot like a dream and if you have the means I would absolutely recommend buying one. It basically shot itself, all I had to do was point it, squeeze the trigger and follow up my shots.  Lol

This was a fantastic class to wrap up the weekend and I’m not mad that I finished out Shooters Symposium 2019 the way that I did… Muddy, Bloody and all smiles!

For those curious souls out there, the other Instructors present this year were Mike Pantone of CTT Solutions who taught “Covert carry with low light”, Craig Douglas of Shiv Works who taught “Grappling in a Weapons Based Environment” , Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts “Low Light Practical Urban Carbine”, Aaron Cowan teaching his “Force Focus Fundamentals” class, as well as Dan Brooks bringing his “Urban Gunfighter” to the range and the master of the night life… Mr. Chuck Pressburg who was rocking the NODS and lasers in his “Night Fighter 101.”  

I would loved to have trained with ALL these Instructors but there are necessary limits put on how much training we can experience… based on 8-hrs/day. So I filled my plate this year with what I could and will do so again next year.

Bottom line, Shooters Symposium 2019 was awesome. It’s an excellent place to experience a bunch of different instructors and get a small view of what they bring to the table for future training. Think of it like a buffet… taste a little of this and a little of that and figure out what you want to go back and fill your plate with.

Me personally, I really want another class with Dan Brooks of Lead Faucet Tactical (I trained under him last year but couldn’t fit it into the schedule this year, same goes for my friend Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts.). Word on the street is they are adding another instructor for next year, I’ve got my fingers crossed for either my buddy Matt Jacques from Victory First for a carbine class or Mr. Chase Jenkins for his Injured Shooter. One of the best things about Shooters Symposium is that it really is a variety pack with something for everyone. You can be Joe Citizen, Larry the LEO or Mr. Mike Military… Shooters Symposium has something to offer all. Heck, I’m only 15 and still trying to reach a seat at the table and yet Shooters Symposium has plenty to offer me.

The days were slammed with learning and shooting, the nights with good food, good friends, and long hours of laughter. Being able to catch up with people from previous courses, Friends of Pat Rogers, SHOT Show, and the inaugural Shooters Symposium was all great.

Like I said before, the days started way too early, the nights ended way too late… but every minute of Shooter Symposium 2019 was a minute well spent.

A huge shout out and thanks for all your hard work to Matt and Rose Shockey, Mr. Trevor and the entire crew that helped put on Shooters Symposium 2019. The Ranch TX looked nothing like it did last year and is well on its way to becoming a premier shooting facility (Picture “Wow” then add about X50 “Damnnnnnn” and you’ll start to get the idea.)

Facilities were great, food was awesome, and the hospitality was killer.

Thank you to all the event sponsors: Surefire, BE Meyers, Big Tex Outdoors, Chambers Custom Pistols, UNITY Tactical, Sons of Liberty Gun Works, VIKTOS Gear, Magpul, PHLSTER, Lead Faucet Tactical, Walther Arms, Vortex Optics, STI Pistols, Saddle River Range, Troy, UTM Munitions, Down Range Thermal, Dark Star Gear, and Bliss Tactical.

Thank you to everyone who bought my T-shirt’s and Hoodies from BonFire.  The sales from those are what helps me be able to attend events like this, I very much appreciate it. By the way, you all look amazing in your JaseWinner_ShootingSports gear…Amazing!

And last but certainly not least, thank you to my amazing Sponsors… this may not have been a competition but what I learned will no doubt help me become a better competitor and, more importantly, a better person: TUFF Products, Midwest Industries, Sentinel Concepts, Victory First, Primary and Secondary LLC, Dark Angel Medical, Overwatch Precision, GAT Marketing, Magpul Industries, Heathen Systems, Liberty Timbers LLC, 3Aces LLC, In Motion Targets, Pro Shot Products, Speedloaderz, AT Armor, and Taran Tactical Innovations. You all rock!

Now it’s back to school and time to start Drivers Ed… which means y’all may not want to hang out on Spokane streets and sidewalks for the next few months.

Keith Finch
Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.