Sunday, January 26, 2014

DVD Review - Combat Focus Shooting - Evolution 2011


As I’ve stated in the past I separate “learning a skill” from “training” in the use of that skill. I realize it’s a nit-picky difference, but it helps me keep the two environments separate and it makes sure I impress on the students I teach that I am not “training” them to do squat. I teach them skills that are either dictated by the various NRA courses I teach or by what I find important in those courses that are uniquely mine.

But, for them to make these skills their own – they must take them home and “train” in their use, take them to the range, work the drills, establish a dry-fire training regimen. Simply attending a course I teach does not integrate those skills into the way they use their firearm – only consistent “training” on the range will do that.

So, given this particular view – there are any number of methods a shooter can use to pick up knowledge. There is a large number of excellent shooting magazines that cover everything from SWAT tactics to what the best recipe is for a .45 LC with a lead 230 gr bullet. My advice – read them all, you will always come away with something. Just one thing to keep in mind – just because you have read an article, the reading of the article and the integration of what it said into your skillset are worlds apart. Reality seldom matches how things are written.

The internet has also brought a stunning array of raw stupidity as well as some very solid instructional material. Many well-known instructors have begun to take advantage of the net to present their material on-line for a nominal annual fee. Here again, be selective but I would encourage you to take advantage of what is available out there. One that I personally subscribe to is the Personal Defense Network honchoed by Rob Picus. (given this review covers his latest CFS DVD, I suspect this is no surprise)

Newsletters are yet another resource that I take advantage of from the NRA to the weekly data dump by Active Response Training - there is a great deal of information out there at little or no cost.

And then we get to the category of this particular post – DVDs.

Let’s talk about the reality of DVDs first. They are NOT substitutes for true course work on a live fire range with the instructor of the DVD – PERIOD! You can’t watch Rob’s Combat Focus Shooting DVD and possibly learn everything you can in a live fire course with him and his assistant instructors there to watch, guide and refine what they are teaching to you. But – what they can do is to open your mind to different methods of shooting. And, as your experience grows as a shooter, as your confidence and abilities increase – it does provide you an opportunity to integrate their techniques into your own individual training.

“He sure sounds like a shooting instructor!” I hear from my own particular peanut gallery as my wife shares her thoughts from the dining room table as I watch Rob’s CFS Evolution 2011 in the living room. She gets a bit “lippy” now and then, but after 41 years together, I listen to her words and in this case, she’s right.

Rob does sound like a “shooting instructor” – he has just a bit of an edge, is very focused, earnest and intent on making sure he truly explains his current topic. I’ve had any number of instructors over the years from military range officers in the very late 60s to more recent TC instructors from the NRA headquarters in Virginia. All have their own “feel”. What I appreciate about Rob when he works through a particular skill or drill is that he makes sure it is explained in such a way that it’s understood by actually seeing it and not because he simply says “do it my way because I said so!” Each component of the video is thoroughly explained, the reason behind it is presented and then it’s demonstrated – warts and all. He doesn’t show only the 100% drills, but all of them, errors, misses and “mistakes” (learning opportunities as he says) included.

I’ve been a trainer in one shape or fashion for over 30 years. Showing warts and all is simply a necessity if you are to have any credibility at all as an instructor, as is actually shooting the drills yourself. Whether I’m teaching an NRA Instructor course of a Defensive Pistol course, I will always shoot any required qualification targets as well as multiple drills throughout the course. It builds confidence in the student and allows them to actually see what I am trying to teach.

Rob has no hesitation to do this at all, something all too rare in the training community. From the very beginning when demonstrating the presentation of the firearm to reloads to a wide variety of shooting drills, Rob shoots . . . and explains. It’s a solid combination.

There is a very broad range of information presented in a significant number of “chapters” . . .

  • Safety, Comfort, Competency
  • Combat Focus Shooting
  • Fundamental Mechanics of Defensive Shooting
  • High Compressed Ready
  • Safety Rules
  • Combat Accuracy
  • Extend, Touch, Press
  • Up Drill
  • Lateral Movement
  • Balance of Speed and Precision
  • Deviation Control
  • Balance of Speed and Precision Drills
  • Skill Development Cycle
  • Push Your Limits Drill
  • Critical Incident Reload
  • Presentation for the Holster
  • Windsprint Drill
  • 4 Factors that Effect BoS&P
  • Multiple Target Drill
  • Take a Lap Drill
  • Volume of Fire
  • Understanding the Value of Lateral Movement
  • Shooting in Motion Drill
  • I.C.E. Ethos
  • Figure 8 Drill

Let’s just say it’s a pretty “meaty” DVD

Each segment is provided in “bite-sized” portions providing a solid opportunity for you to integrate each segment into your own training or dry fire range work. And each segment is fully explained and well-reasoned.

My primary purpose for purchasing this particular DVD is that I will be attending his CFS course this coming summer – and I wanted to get a “head start”. I’ve done this with other course work and it’s a combination that works well for me. It lets me get a sneak peak at what’s coming and allows me to begin to adjust my own particular shooting.

“So why attend the course at all? Just pay for the CD and not the $500 for a 2-day course and another $450 for the required 1,000 rounds of ammunition?”

The answer is simple really. Because as well done as this particular DVD is, as detailed as each individual presentation is . . . it simply does not stack up to being on a live fire range with the instructor and his assistants and receiving instant feedback on the drill you’ve just shot. There. Is. No. Comparison. Period.

The Combat Focused Shooting – Evolution 2011 carries a price tag of $34.95 which puts it in the “no brainer” category. There is also a CFS book as well which I am working my way through – also worth adding to your library.

As for the course itself – I’ll have to wait until June 2014 for a full AAR . . . is it summer yet??



  1. NOTHING beats range time and putting shots on target...

  2. +1 on NFO! Knowledge is one thing, practical use is sometimes another.