So you’ve got a handgun. Maybe you took an introductory safety course or a Level 1 handgun course. Perhaps you went so far as to get your license to carry. What’s next? Answer: more training and lots and lots of practice. But how to practice? What do you work on? How do you know? And How do you know if you’re equipped for the next level of training?
A few weeks ago I took the new Introduction to Intermediate Pistol class at Eagle Gun Range. The course has a valuable premise: it’s an introduction to running and manipulating your pistol properly, safely, and effectively—and—shooting faster and more competently. It’s not touted as a super-tactical gunfighting class and it is not that kind of class. Rather, it is supposed to be an instructional bridge that teaches relative beginners how to train toward that next level of gun-manipulation and operation competence.
Here I’ll present my impressions and evaluation of the class and point to what kind of shooter I believe this class is best suited.
Who is This Class Made For?
I believe this class is good for all kinds of people. It will be valuable for relatively new shooters as well as those who are experience, but have only ever practiced at a strict indoor range or engaged only in target practice. It is good for those who want to improve their self-defense competencies and those who are considering getting into competitive shooting. This class is in many ways a bridge from static target practice to high-speed run-and-gun shooting, as this class teaches the skills required in order to get there. That said, it is still a beginner-friendly class provided one has solid safety fundamentals.
Instruction for this class starts in the classroom. There, the focus begins with safety fundamentals and then those of grip, body attitude, and engagement technique. For many students, the demonstrations and explanations of safe and competent gun handling basics will hold value and provide fodder for practice.
The instructors’ detailed examination of proper grip is a vital component of the instruction. I find that many shooters at any gun range I visit lack proper understanding of grip. Their competence is greatly harmed by their poor technique. Even experienced shooters will do well to pay close attention here.
With that foundation, the classroom instruction moves into explanations and demonstrations of various gun handling operations. For example: proper techniques for reloading your pistol by exchanging magazines and an examination of various malfunctions and demonstrations for how to clear them. There are also examinations and explanations of what happens when you’re under stress and recommendations for how to maintain proper fundamentals and effective gun handling in those circumstances. Lastly, there is demonstration and explanation of the 4-step draw from a holster.
When the class moves out onto the shooting bay, as you might expect, there is the opportunity to put into practice all of the fundamentals and techniques discussed in the classroom portion. There is also, however, the introduction of some new things and the course of fire is designed to progress from easy to difficult with each technique practiced. The result is an opportunity to experience some of the under-stress shooting and gun handling presented as theory in the classroom portion.
My Thoughts on the Course
I was largely impressed by both the course content and the instruction. While every other class I’ve seen dwells either on basic fundamentals or practical techniques, this class bridges the gap. While proper grip and body attitude fundamentals are still fresh in mind, students in this class get to dive into practical techniques, like accurate rapid fire and mid-shooting-string reloads. There is great value in this approach.
I particularly like the way the shooting portion presents a course of fire that progresses from easy to difficult, allowing students to A) learn to progress in an effective and regimented fashion, and B) stretch their abilities and find failure points in a safe environment. What’s more, the instructional method in this class gives the student an effective blueprint for further self practice.
I left the class feeling like this was a course largely lacking in the industry; one that helps firearm owners and everyday carriers learn the most important practical techniques vital to responsible manipulation and operation of their tools, while at the same time allowing them to explore failure points rather than simply meet or fail to meet a class standard. This is a class that also allows students to come away equipped (after self practice) to try more advanced classes or perhaps dip their toe into the competitive world.
So I’m a big fan of this Introduction to Intermediate Pistol class and I’m very glad to see Eagle Gun Range offering it. I sincerely hope every one of their customers takes it!
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