Central Oklahoma - Eastridge Training & Consulting - Pistol Skillbuilder 1

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Class AAR: ETC Skillbuilder 1

Instructor: Bryan Eastridge is 16-year police officer with a large metro agency, a competitive shooter, and prior to his LE career he was an Army Ranger.

Location/Date: Oak Private Range, Tuttle, Oklahoma. September 30th, 2018.

Course Equipment List: Bryan provided a list of necessary equipment to ensure students were prepared for the day’s training.

1. Quality semi-auto handgun, 9mm preferred, with AT LEAST two magazines with 10-round capacity.
2. Holster, kydex preferred
3. Magazine carrier (optional)
4. 500 rounds of ammunition
5. Hearing protection, electronic preferred
6. Eye protection
7. Comfortable attire for weather conditions.
8. Sunscreen
9. Rain jacket
10. Folding lawn chair
11. Water
12. Sack lunch (optional)

My Gear: I attended the class with a GEN2 Glock 17. Only modifications are a factory extended slide stop, a Glock minus connector, and steel Novak sights (no inserts or fiber). I used a JM Custom Kydex AIWB1 holster and a Blue Force Gear belt mounted magazine pouch. My ear pro was my backup Howard Leight L3s, as I loaned my Leight electronics to a friend who was also in the class. Eye pro was Wiley X. I brought eight loaded magazines, and shot 124 grain Speer Lawman ammunition.

My Experience: I am a hobbyist shooter with an interest in personal defense and a focus on handguns. I have approximately 150 hours of formal firearms instruction, most of which is LE/government based. I have some experience in law enforcement from years ago, but I have been in the civilian world since 2003. I dry practice occasionally and do not shoot often, mostly because of cost constraints and family obligations (3 small children). I’m hoping this class will be a launching pad for a more regular shooting schedule. I did no special preparation prior to attending the class.

Other Students: The class was at full enrollment with eight students. The students were all male, age 40 and up. Our distinguished attendee was 72 years old, I believe. Everyone had some basic familiarity with their firearm, and everyone was a concealed carry permit holder. One student was an instructor who teaches Oklahoma’s carry permit course. There were no active LE/MIL members in this class. One student brought the wrong pistol bag, and ended up shooting an XDS instead of an XDM 5.25. Another shooter had a Glock 34 MOS with a Vortex red dot sight. Bryan was able to make adjustments for the subcompact pistol, and was also knowledgeable about the handgun red dot, providing specific points of instruction for that shooter.

Class Details: Skillbuilder 1 is focused on handgun marksmanship, at speed, inside of 10-yards. While the concepts imparted in this class are very applicable to serious use of a handgun, this is not a fighting handgun class. There is no holster work, and all reloading is administrative. Skillbuilder 1 is a one-day class, and was scheduled from 0800-1700 hours. The range is a private facility located near Tuttle, Oklahoma, a farm town just southwest of Oklahoma City. It is off a main county road, and was easy to find with Google Map directions provided by the instructor. The Oak Range is an outdoor facility with eight 50-yard lanes, it has indoor bathroom facilities, and a very nice classroom. The class started on time as students gathered at a large conference table with comfortable chairs. Bryan began with a short safety brief that included firearms safety rules, as well as information about first aid equipment that would be present on the range.

The lecture then moved into course material, where Bryan discussed the fundamentals of pistol shooting. He went over the basics of stance, grip, trigger control, sight alignment/sight picture, breathing, and follow through. He approached these topics from a modern perspective, while addressing older concepts so that students would understand the progression of certain techniques. For instance, breathing – Bryan discussed the historical tenets of breath control from a pure marksmanship/bullseye perspective, and then promptly threw them out the window for our purposes. Just breathe normally, and don’t worry about it. Another example would be his discussion of stance, where he detailed older concepts like the Weaver stance to explain how we’ve ended up using the athletic stance/modern Isosceles.

One of the places where I was impressed was in the discussion of trigger control. There are a lot of people who still teach people to pin the trigger through recoil and focus on trigger reset. Bryan takes what I think is the better approach, teaching people how to prep and press the trigger correctly, then just let the gun reset in recoil. All in all, Bryan’s lecture was informative and at times humorous, and he kept the students engaged throughout. The classroom portion lasted approximately 90 minutes, and after a short break we moved out to the range.

With eight students on an 8-lane range, we were able to work as a single relay. We posted Langdon Tactical LTT-1 targets and began a quick dry fire session. Bryan uses the crawl, walk, run method of instruction, building the skills from simple to complex. Dry fire gave Bryan an opportunity to address everyone’s stance and grip, and then the command was given to load and make ready. Demonstrating everything first, Bryan started us on 2-inch circles at about 5-yards. Our first string of fire was one-shot from presentation with ten repetitions. After we completed those ten shots he evaluated each student’s performance, with everyone learning from each other’s performance. The process continued on the 2-inch dots as we progressed to multiple shot strings. We worked pacing with multiple shot exercises, pushing us to reduce split times by timing our shots on first one-second and then half-second intervals. Bryan also utilized a shot timer to help demonstrate some training points on trigger control.

Bryan stopped frequently to review our work. Corrections were made before the group, in a way that incorporated some instructor development training into the diagnosis of each student’s performance. The morning finished with a limit of human function exercise on a 4-inch circle. In order to find their performance limit, each student was encouraged to shoot a string of fire as fast as they thought they could accurately hit the target. This is a good place to address something about this class; while Bryan didn’t specifically address the concept, Skillbuilder 1 is a performance-based class, not an outcome-based class. Renowned firearms trainer Pat McNamara teaches that performance-based training is measured by doing what we can with what we have. While Bryan provided some goals, each student was treated as an individual, working within their skill level. The class was not simply a bunch of drills shot for time, but a progression, pushing students to fail, correct, improve, and then fail again in pursuit of better performance.

After the limit of human function exercise, we took a break for lunch. Everyone brought something to eat or snack on, and we all stayed at the range. While there are several good restaurants in Tuttle, Oklahoma, the class as a whole was excited about what we were learning, and we were ready to get back to the firing line after a short bit of rest and a sandwich.

After lunch we posted new targets, replacing the Langdon LTT-1 with the late Todd Green’s Pistol-Training Q-Target. We did a quick review of the morning’s lessons to warmup, and then moved into target transitions. We initially worked as a single relay, making transitions between aiming points on the PT-Q target, and then split into two groups of four in order to work target-to-target transitions. All the students did well, with no extraordinary difficulties, and by late afternoon we were ahead of schedule. The class finished with a shoot-off, using a modified Barnhart X-Drill. I shot the drill clean in 5.53, fast enough to win a handsome Eastridge Training & Consulting ball cap.

Following the shoot-off we policed brass on Mr. Oak’s range, and went back to the class room for a debrief session. We went over what we had accomplished throughout the day, and Bryan answered any questions and solicited feedback. This was also an opportunity to purchase an ETC hat or t-shirt. Bryan simply provided the opportunity to purchase swag, with no hard sales pitch. The students universally enjoyed the class. Everyone felt like they learned something, and everyone improved their performance. One student, who during the morning lecture had commented he wasn’t sure about changing his grip after twenty years of shooting, made sure to let everyone know how much Bryan’s work on his grip had improved his shooting throughout the day. Three of the other students are personal friends of mine, with varying degrees of experience. They all enjoyed the class, learned a lot, and think it was a great value. They all agreed it was the kind of class they could repeat, which I think is a credit to the performance-based model Bryan uses.

I highly recommend this class to anyone that wants to improve their handgun shooting in a personal defense context, or those starting in action pistol sports like USPSA. With the exception of someone with zero firearms experience, do not be intimidated - enroll and see how much you can improve in one day.