Monday, October 6, 2014

AAR Pace Performance: Performance Pistol One (Beard Driven Fighting Extraordinaire)

This past weekend (Oct 4-5) I was in New Jersey with Paul Van Dunk Jr of Pace Performance for a collaborative handgun course.  I've known Paul for a while and despite the fact that he is a much more attractive man than me, we decided to get together and offer students something they dont get very often from instructors.  Paul could have simply hosted me, or I could have hosted him down in Atlanta but it made sense to us to offer students two different approaches to the same level of training.  The saying goes (or at least they saying I use with students) is dont get all your training under one roof.  Paul and I kept it organic, we didn't organize our blocks of instruction to compliment each other or discuss any differences in instruction points.  We just ran our respective classes as we normally would run them and both thought this would give everyone attending a great training experience.

Day one we ran my Defensive Handgun Fundamentals course and New Jersey gave zero fucks with plenty of rain most of the morning that, while not on the biblical level i'm used to in Georgia, was enough to complicate things and force students to learn while approaching the miserable feeling.  I'm convinced the weather in New jersey is at the very least bi-polar, at worst very anti-gun.  With 13 on the line including the glorious beards of Kevin Markland and Rob Brotzman, my work was cut out for me.  Cops down from the NYPD, some local Jersey LEOs, everyday self-defense minded citizens and enough Sage Alumni to keep the inside jokes going, we fought through the weather and ran a great class. Paul was on the line participating as one of the students and got twice the malfunction training of anyone else do to some inconsistent ammo.  The class ran seamlessly despite nature not helping things and by the end of the day much learning had occurred.  I was glad to have made the trip up.  From first setting the class date I looked forward to my course, but I had been looking forward to Paul's much more.

This beard presented without comment
Day two was cold, but Paul was granted the better weather.  Overcast and little in the way of wind, no rain.  Since I had flown up and not thought to ship ammo ahead of time, I only had a few hundred rounds to participate and despite offers from everyone in the class shooting my caliber to share their ammo, I refused so they wouldn't lose out on a single training round.  Within the first five minutes of Paul's Performance Pistol One course, I knew he was a solid instructor.

also, this happened....

We share a like mind on many things, which is why we talk.  We discuss a lot of technical and self-defense oriented skills and those conversations led to this class taking place.  I never had any reservations about teaching with him and if I did, those first five minutes would have dug a shallow grave, shot them in the head, had a slice and forgot about it.  We dont have the same teaching style, perhaps we could be described as "diametrically different" in our approach but one thing is clear, we are both student-focused.  Just within the first thirty minutes, solid learning was occurring and it was obvious that shooting performance on the line was being looked at in a new way.  Paul wasn't giving out magic, he was buckling down the basics in a simplified way that focused strictly on the gun.  His explanation on handgun grip alone; from the draw to presentation, is worthy of careful attention and makes so much sense it might as well be written in stone.  We ran drills I had never experienced and a few personal favorites including the "pass your gun to the right" which lets shooters experience a different weapon (hard to do in a class of mostly Glocks) and realize its more them than gun or accessories.

Many of the fundamentals were talked about, some were simply addressed because Paul, like me, knows that certain things dont need fixing or are so natural that trying to change them is detrimental to the shooter.  I was working from appendix on the line, a carry position I dont prefer but do run occasionally to remain proficient so I can teach it.  Using Paul's method of the draw stroke, I was easily able to iron out some inefficiency and get the gun to the bad guy faster.  Just that alone was worth my time.  Paul's teaching method is personable, like hes having a one-on-one conversation with everyone on the line, its not as "formal" but it is highly effective.  The students responded to small changes in certain topics that I had covered the day before, I watched more than a few of them going back and forth with my instruction and Paul's, seeing which one worked better for them.  That was the whole point and it looked pretty damn successful.

I am a self-defense focused instructor.  Paul says he isn't, which he honestly believes but I did not see a single bit of instruction given that did not apply to self-defense shooting.  The drills were common sense and realistic, the time constrains, movement, physical involvement and stress were more self-defense focused to me than a competition general skills class.  Paul pushes the physical movement envelope a little harder than I do at that level, with drills that get the heart rate up but don't last long enough to cause long term fatigue.  Students are pushed towards their performance max but not dangerously close and mistakes are addressed from word one with a plan to fix them.  Paul does not go into the physiology or psychology of the fight and he doesn't have to,  he is helping students blueprint their skills as he puts it, and by the middle of the day I noticed further improvement in many of the students I had watched improve the day before when they went though my class.   

As firearms instructors, as teachers, Paul and I have "lanes" we are supposed to stay in, at least that's the word on the street.  I agree with this to an extent, we are indeed responsible for teaching only what we are capable of teaching and shouldn't make attempts to gimmick or sell snake oil to students just to be unique.  Paul says he doesn't teach self-defense because it isn't his lane.  Well, he may not realize it but he is driving in that lane because what hes teaching applies very well to self-defense shooting and practice without needing to wear that hat.  There are many different ways to do things and many different ways to approach teaching how to do them.  Adults learn in different ways and that requires different approaches.  Without solid and interrupted one-on-one training, some things may not be as well understood by a student.  With two different methods covering the fundamentals of the handgun, I think that each student walked away with a much greater understanding of new skills and how to improve their existing skills; I know I did.

what I lack in beard I make up for in RBF.

Im still not going to grow a beard, but I will take any class Paul Van Dunk offers.      

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