In September of last year, I had the pleasure of hosting Bill Blowers of Tap-Rack Tactical for his two day Tactical Pistol class. I am just getting around to finishing the AAR, but hopefully it will give anyone looking into the course an accurate idea of what to expect.
TL;DR: Some people want a quick overview rather than the more detailed break down. This paragraph is for you. If you are looking for a page turner AAR ending in a climactic battle between Bill and a B8 target, please skip this portion as it will ruin the ending.
Bill is a phenomenal instructor and diagnostician. It would be a mistake to overlook this class as ‘another two day basic class.’ Bill has a series of drills he uses as a qual, a few of which are chosen at random to prevent any ‘gaming’ of the qual. The standards are very high, and most people would be hard-pressed to pass on their best day, to say nothing of doing it on demand in the class. Bill has an efficient and effective way to track your own progress after the class, and you leave with plenty to work on. He runs the class in a very logical and reasonable manner. Safety is paramount, and discussed appropriately. You are expected to be safe, and Bill does not play fast and loose with the rules. You will be held to a high standard throughout the class, and I left feeling like I had gotten great value out of the two days.
Resume full AAR now:
Location: Cache Valley Hunter Education Center in Logan Utah. Although not readily seen in the name, the location has six ‘specialty bays’ that are used for anything from private instruction, classes, and a variety of practical pistol competitions like SASS and USPSA. We used the primary bay which is about 50 feet wide and 50 yards deep. As a quick aside, the facility there is great for events like this. The cost is very reasonable, the schedule is generally very open, and the staff there are very helpful. There are also eating locations very close, and a climate controlled building with power, bathrooms, and an overall good area to take a break in if needed. The location contributed to a good learning environment free of distractions.
Weather: September in Northern Utah is usually dry and hot, and that weekend was no exception. Everyone was responsible with fluid intake, and besides some sunburns, there were no weather-related problems.
A quick note on the feel of the class overall. Bill would interject stories or experiences throughout the class. These were always relevant, time-conscious, and lacking in any self-aggrandizement. He also has a very quick wit, and has the valuable ability to transition between serious and light topics, and even while pushing the class on the line still can make you laugh in a dry and off-handed way. This is not the class that you are checking your watch waiting for 5pm.
I have eased off of publishing a whole list of specific drills or leaning points in AARs, most as respect to the teacher who took the time and effort to produce the class. If anyone wants to hear more about the specifics of the class, I am happy to get more into the details if someone could be helped by it. Instead I will go over the general theme of the learning, and add a few specific points that I found to be highlights.
Day One: As host I arrived a bit early to make sure everything was set up and that everyone was able to get into the facility. Set up consisted of a target stand and backer for each shooter, and a copious amount of staples and paper targets. Bill began the class with some short introductions, and a good safety brief. As far as class make-up, we had several local LEOs from at least four agencies, and the usual collection of Joe Citizens like myself. Everyone was responsible and good company for the duration of the class. “That guy” must have stayed home this weekend.
We mostly used B8 repair centers during the class, but early on the first day we used a few different targets to work through learning blocks on grip, for example. Everyone was accountable for every round fired, and scores were kept. This is a refreshing contrast to some of the ‘spray and pray’ drills that seem to get so much online attention.
Day Two: We began day two with a cold 10 round B8 for score at 25 yards, then a second 10 round B8 at 25 in 20 seconds. This was a great way to begin class as it gave you a good idea of your ‘cold, on demand’ performance level was, as well as being a drill that got everyone back into concentrating and ready to get back into class. Day two got more into movement, as well as beginning to put your attention on other things while shooting. Bill has an excellent drill that incorporates moving while shooting, shooting as a small group, and observing your surroundings while shooting. Bill explained very well that the skill of doing other work beyond just the shooting is a paramount skill. This was a phenomenal mental workout, and was a drill I have never done before, or even heard about before. I want to note that even while shooting on the move, we were still accounting for our rounds. Bill did not allow us to get lazy on accuracy, which was a big plus.
Day two culminated with the qual. As previously mentioned, Bill has a variety of drills that make up a ‘pool’ of potential qualification courses of fire. With many possibilities and only a few being shot in a single class, each class will see a slightly different qualification. The much sought-after tiger patch is awarded to anyone who passes to the standard, and an award is also given to the student with the fewest points down over the course of the entire qual. These were drills with tight time limits and high accuracy standards, and would be a stretch for almost any shooter.
I consider myself very fortunate to have hosted Bill here in my area, which made attending his class possible. I walked away with so many nuggets and a way to make a plan to improve myself after the class. I highly recommend attending a class with Bill, and if there are no opportunities in your area, reach out and set up a class yourself. It was a great experience to work with Bill, and look forward to being in class with him again!