Spring and Fall are what made me fall in love with Michigan. There is nothing like a Michigan spring day with a cool morning and warm afternoon to make training an enjoyable experience.
Train like you fight is an often-uttered statement from the most tactical of students but give me a cool morning and warm afternoon with the sun out and that takes training from something you have to do, to something you want to do.
After a nasty winter and wet spring, I expected my class with DMI and Jeff Wild to be another class that involved suffering through rain, mud and freezing my hands. It was a pleasant surprise for the class to fall on one of the first nice days of the year.
Class began at DMI’s newest host facility in Adrian, Michigan promptly at 8:00am. The 1.5-hour drive there gave me plenty of time to re-hash tactics and wake up prior to hitting the ground running. This course is one of the newest offerings from the DMI crew and I was amped up to see what they had to offer. Handgun Manipulation 02 is a performance based course with a huge focus on positive mindset, deliberate movement with a pistol, various off axis shooting positions, problem solving and laser like focus on fundamental manipulations of a pistol.
If you have seen me at the range or watched any of the shooting videos, we put out you would know that my pistol shooting is the weakest of my skills. I have taken only a CPL course (2 times as I went with my wife as well) and a level 1 class in the past. None of these classes had me prepared for Handgun Manipulation 02
The day started out as most previous classes do signing of waivers, discussion of range safety as well as casualty care. A brief overview of the class and such. Next Jeff did something I have seen only a few trainers do, he established a proper mindset for the students. Jeff is an acolyte of the positive mentality mindset. Imagine it, see it then do it. His brief but empowering discussion prior to class helped to place the student in a place where they were open to learning and more importantly establishing a positive attitude as opposed to a failure mindset that easily can grow as application of fundamentals get more difficult.
Handgun Manipulation 02 builds upon the core skills you should have learned in a Handgun Manipulation 01 class. There is not time to re-hash these techniques and for the good of the class the day starts with a fast paced, consequence based 100 round evaluation.
Drills during the evaluation included, but where not limited to, accuracy at various ranges, draw speed with accurate hits, timed sequences to add a stress level, and worked back and forth from different ranges out to 25 yards.
As to not spoil the sequence this evaluation is consequence based. There is a pass fail grading. This induced a lot of stress in my personal performance and showed to be a real eye opener. I have never shot under this type of scrutiny and it proved to more difficult than originally anticipated. There is nothing that gets you to push harder than a fear of failure in front of your peers. When combined with the hellish sounds of the timer you can feel your heart race and watch your “perfect form” quickly break down.
This type of initial qualification test is important for student growth. You cannot improve if you do not measure your skill. By combining hits on target with a timer, you establish a dual benchmark of your skills. These metrics can be used by the student to continue training past this one day class. Let’s face it, if you go to a class shoot 500-600 rounds, go home and never work on the drills and skills you picked up you pissed the money away.
After students had passed the qualification drill we had a quick rehash of the mindset lecture from earlier and at this point, Jeff’s words sank in with the reality of my performance as evidence for me to visually accept. We addressed the fundamentals quickly as Jeff felt we were ahead of the curve so we jumped into the instruction portion of the course.
The intent of this review is not to go minute by minute to detailing each step so I won’t spoil the class for you, however what I will mention is we didn’t just do drills to fill up the day. Each drill started off with a discussion based on the practical application of the technique the drill re-enforces. This instruction allowed us to transition from a training mentality to a more practical mentality behind gun handling for whatever your desired application included. There is something for the self-defense minded individual, the competitor or casual plinker.
Next Jeff would move into an example of the form behind the drill using a SIRT pistol. The dry run allowed students the ability to circle around in a safe manner and make sure they understood the required movements and safety procedures to ensure instructors and students alike were safe.
For more complex drills that involved movement or target transition, students would be walked through a version of the drill without a pistol. Again this allowed each student the chance to get comfortable with the drill in a safe manner. For many students this might be the first time the shot while moving, or ran with a loaded weapon or fired in a position that improperly done could lead to shooting a limb. I applaud Jeff for his careful instruction as well as the students for following safety procedures so well. With the repeated dry runs we were able to move slowly and build muscle memory of the techniques and this proved to be a huge plus in my eyes.
As the day progressed, drills became increasingly more difficult. Either involving more running or shooting at greater distances. The class was finally wrapped up with a shoot and walk exercise that finished at 100 yards. It was a real moment of pride hearing that steel ring at 50 and 100 yards when just prior I may have be struggling with much closer distances. All of the students in class were elated as they confidently employed their handguns at various ranges. We jumped into a quick debrief and students shared their experiences.
What is Handgun Manipulation 02
Many handgun 1 type courses are very basic. They discuss fundamentals like grip and draw offering techniques that are easily do-able at even the strictest ranges. What I enjoyed about Handgun Manipulation 02 was not just the training and new drills but the practical applications, individual runs and consequence based set ups.
Even my CPL instructor told me how gunfights don’t happen in a straight line, a table in front of you, eye and ear protection on, with all the time in the world to line up your shot. Yet this is how the vast majority of people “practice”.
DMI’s class builds on the references of real world instances and shows you how to perform under stress, move deliberately with the handgun out, how to use and get to cover and much more. These are the types of things that even many tactical style clubs are leery of letting you do but are vital to understanding how to win if your life is threatened.
Who should take this Course?
Everyone needs to train. I can’t stress enough that if you’re not taking this class then take another class, or at least practice as close to real world situations as possible. With that said this specific class is not for everyone as a firm grasp of firearm safety and manipulation is required.
To take this class you should:
- Have a CPL
- Have taken a level 1 course from a reputable instructor
- Be physically able to run as well as get up and down from prone quickly
- Have a quality OWB holster and mag pouches
- Know how to draw properly from your holster while being safe
- Be able to follow instructions
- Be able to demonstrate responsible gun handling techniques
- Have a tough enough skin to accept criticism and not take it personal
Training in retrospect
I have a bad habit. I like to do the things I am good at and shy away from the things I suck at. When it comes to shooting, shotgun and rifle have always come to me very naturally. Pistol shooting, however, was more difficult. As such I focused more on classes for carbine and shotgun as I received a better feeling of success from those classes.
It does not get any worse to do than that. These bad habits worked against me in 2 ways.
- It gave me a false sense of security as a shooter. Knowing I could engage targets quickly and accurately with a rifle or shotgun made me think I was covered.
- A pistol is the weapon I carry every day. I do not go to the mall or about town with a rifle. As such my pistol should be the weapon, I am most proficient with.
I would imagine most people are in the same boat as me carrying a pistol for protection much more often than a rifle. While time and effort spent on carbine training may be enjoyable but not nearly as useful as pistol practice.
If you have a CPL and carry to protect yourself or loved ones, then training with your handgun should be the most important thing you do. I would even go so far as to say that before buying an AR, Rifle, Optics, or other gear, your first investment needs to be a handgun 1 and handgun 2 type course. This training needs to be supplemented with regular training and enough ammo to keep those guns running like a sewing machine.
While classes from big names like Costa, Haley or Avery are certainly advantageous, the cost, time or travel commitment may be prohibitive. Regardless of money or time availability, local trainers who are qualified, may offer you a better bang for your buck and often have classes that work for even busy families.
DMI courses taught by Jeff Wild or Barret Carver will offer you the chance to either hone your fundamentals in Handgun Manipulation 01 or stretch your comfort level in Handgun Manipulation 02. I found Jeff’s style meshed very well with my personality and style of learning. For the low cost of a class and the benefit you will get out of it, I recommend you take one of his courses for yourself and see if you enjoy them as much as I did.
DMI’s website is currently under development. For now you can reach them via Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/DMItraining