Sunday, June 28, 2020

Gun Skool - Red Dot Handgun by Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts

Drove to Alliance, Ohio with Tosh to attend a one-day class - Red Dot Sight Handgun - by Sentinel Concepts.

Since I'm now running a red dot, I decided I should get some instruction in how to get the most out of it and to get better at shooting.

We drove to the Alliance, Ohio PD range - located right beside the Alliance, Ohio Waste Treatment plant - to say the environment is rather pungent is an understatement.

A fun building adjacent to the police range:

Basically, it's a job for both the police and the sewage department.

The range is rather nice with a classroom building and has nice washrooms and potable water on site and given the heat was in the high 80-s that was a good thing. While we were drilling on the range, a SWAT team was practicing dynamic breaching entries in the adjacent shoot house - lots of booms and smoke rising into the air from there along with the cracks of rifles as they practiced.

Steve Fisher aka Yeti (if you ever see him in person you'll get where the name originates) is an excellent instructor.

He's friendly with a kinda gruff exterior, which helps him keep the class moving along. He's a rather no-nonsense and knowledgeable no-BS instructor, and that helps him both move the class along and get his instructional points across. He's very quick to identify issues students are struggling with and help students improve. It's one thing to be a great shooter, which he is, but another to be able to impart how to become better, which he does and does very well, and that's vital for an instructor to be able to do.

Steve definitely knows his stuff and can get it across to the students. He's very quick and able to diagnose issues students are having and can quickly propose methods to fix the problems. He also works to help students understand what didn't work with a particular shot or drill and how to move forward and fix it themselves. Since he had a lot of varied experience and levels of shooters on the line during the class, he was busy helping everyone improve, each at their own level. He also has a good practice of after every exercise going over it and getting feedback and diagnosis from every student as to what went well or wrong with the exercise. Good to listen to other students experience of the same drill and their thoughts what they did that went well, or did not go well. Very smart teaching technique.

We got a whole lot done in one day.

The class began with a bit of classroom work on choosing and installing red dots and some basics on using them. As well as the zero to use for them. Steve Fisher advocates and explains why a 25 yard zero is desirable and we got to see why. The main point was that shooting the red dot in essence requires the same fundamentals as shooting iron sights. Then to the range itself.

First we started zeroing our red dots from prone on a bag at 25 yards.

Since I had a 7-yard zero on the gun, my group was nice but high at 25 yards and we got it adjusted down to the 25. That zero then worked consistently well from 5-25 yards throughout the day. I can see why he uses the 25 yard zero and it makes a lot of sense.

Once we were all zeroed, He would demonstrate each technique before the class performed it. In short he walks the walk each time before he talks the talk and he consistently demonstrates each exercise in a very high-level manner. There were 24 students so we shot this in two relays of 12 with Tosh and I trading off on Target 3.

Once zeroed, we moved on to various drills starting at 5 yards - The first drill was Load 1, shoot 2 - which is actually a very effective drill for getting your speed and accuracy up. Then on to single shot draws, than two shots per draw, then three shots per draw all at a rapid cadence and with a focus on keeping each shot accurate.

Then shooting while only having the grip in the web of your hand and finger on the trigger with your remaining fingers away from the grip - yes you can shot accurately that way - done to show better grip management and not to choke the heck outta the gun with the strong hand. Pretty interesting drill.

Then out to 10 yards.

Then 15 yards.

Then 25 yards.

Fisher uses the B-8 repair center of the NRA 25 yard target as the target for each drill, with satisfactory hits being in the 10 and X. It's a pretty demanding standard, and the class did struggle with it. This is not a happy-fluffy course, it's a here's the tools to improve and let's push you to improve your shooting course.

I had some struggles myself - namely my grip - as I worked to change it following his analysis of my grip - basically my left hand placement is off. This threw me off my game quite a bit, as I was used to doing it as I was doing it before, but it is good to try and improve my grip.

After all, that's what a class is for - not to validate that you're already good, but to learn how to get better and it turns out that my grip really needs to be worked on.

He also has a neat technique of locking the strong hand thumb over the weak hand thumb with both pointing forward on the frame/slide which makes for a very solid hold on the gun - it really keeps the gun steady and returns it to a natural point of aim after each shot. Again need more practice to get this down but its an impressive improvement.

He also proposes actively pinching the scapula towards each other when shooting - it prevent over-extending the pistol and makes for better control. I tried it and it worked for me - so another thing to work on.

I'm going to be doing a lot of dryfire practice at home to learn the new grip and technique. It's really good, but I need to get my mind and unconscious on board.

Other struggles - yep, I had neglected to locktite the sight in place and sure enough even though I checked the screws before the class started, it came loose. This led to a really tight group that kept descending down the target face, but maintaining a tight group all the same. Oops. Rather embarrassing. Easy fix though, but it didn't hold its zero when reattached and tightened back down, which cost me nicely during the class.

I also had my first failure with the Masada - after one shot, the slide refused to open. It was shut fully closed rather tight and did not want to move. Took a hellacious tap rack to free it. Then it ran 100% the rest of the day without any other changes or anything. Not sure exactly what the cause was as I was in the middle of a drill but it was a bit of an off-putting failure. First failure, and could have been ammo induced.

The class was great, in general I was doing well but not as well as I wanted to do, as I struggled with the new grip and techniques. Good ego check, that. Obviously its going to take time to learn new techniques and make them second nature. Even with that, I hit a lot of Xs and 100s but again also hit a lot of 9, 8s and even 7 and the one 6 at 25 yards (ugh), I need to practice more to integrate these new techniques, not to mention get more practice in at 25 yards. Much learning occurred and I know how to get better which is the point. On the upside, I wasn't "That Guy" for the class which is a plus.

The class finished with shooting 10 rounds at 25 yards at the B8 target. I got all mine on the repair center with a few 10s and Xs or in the black but was clearly tired as the rest were hitting high and left (with one up in the 6 ring just outside the 7 ugh) for a total score of 85/100. I can do better, and with practice and implementing the new techniques learned will do so.

The class really showed the advantages of the dot and really helped brush up on shooting fundamentals and identify flaws. This is a very good thing.

That's another 450 rounds through the Masada for a total of 3,018 fired with now 1 failure.

Takeaways: The class was a great intro to shooting a red dot on a pistol and improving shooting fundamentals. Steve Fisher is a highly effective instructor. Well worth the time and money invested, and I got a lot out of it to work on. I'd recommend taking a class with him and this red dot class in particular if you're getting into red dots for your pistol, or even just want to improve your fundamentals. I will take more classes from him in the future.


Eaton Rapids Joe said...

Is there any possibility of you posting a picture of the grip Steve Fisher favors? Maybe a couple of shots showing how the thumbs interlace.

drjim said...

My rifle instructor taught us to zero our AR's at 25 yds, too. Between 25 and 125 it was high, but right back on the dot at 125 yds.

Aaron said...

Eaton Rapids Joe: LEt me see what I can come up with.

drjim: Yep, and on a red dot pistol, the 25 yard zero pretty much gives you an A-zone hit from 3-25 yards easy.