Monday, September 14, 2020

Review - Jim Erwin - Defensive Shooting Tune-up 9-12-2020

I had the opportunity to take about 4-5 hours of instruction presented by Jim Erwin this past weekend.  Before too much time slips away, I want to share my thoughts on Jim, his skill as an instructor and the coursework as it was presented.

 Short answer . . . Get Some!!!!

 Shooting Performance Institute

But wait . . . there’s more.  Isn’t there always.

 A friend of mine owns a local gun store, Tactical Creations.  One of the firearms they are dealers for is STACATO, a Texas base pistol manufacturer that was born in the ‘racing” community but has since transitioned to the professional and civilian market as a carry gun option.  Jim is their regional representative.  Jim was coming for Open House the store was hosting and was to highlight STI products during that open house.  After that there was an opportunity to take a 4-5  hour set of coursework offered by Jim.  I was offered a table during the open house to present my coursework and also a slot in the course – I quickly said yes to both.

 Frankly, I had my doubts about Jim.  He is truly a been there – done that kinda guy.  75th Rangers, Delta, Executive Security overseas.  I have had some experiences with “elite” operators and sometimes they have a real problem dealing with us lowly civilians.  Would we spend all our time listening to war stories and being shown all these tacti-cool drills . . . or would there be something of value offered for the everyday carry kinda guy.

 First impressions didn’t do anything to lower my fears . . . he’s a good-sized critter and while pushing 50 he’s obviously in good shape.  Of course, he’s a “firearms instructor” so he’s sporting a “Lion Cut”, shaved head, full sleeve of tats on one arm and a half on the other.  Yep . . . it’s going to be a long day . . . and then he spoke . . . and the day changed.

 Yeah, I know, I’m a judgmental asshole . . . so sue me.  Not like each and every one of us hasn’t been judged or judged someone else.  It’s just part of life and especially the shooting community.  The trick is this . . . can you live up to what you are claiming you can do . . . and if you’re an instructor, can you really share the information you want to the students paying good money for your coursework. 

 As I said, the moment Jim said “Hi, I’m Jim” you could feel that there was a real person there and not just an image of an “operator”.  I listened throughout the morning as he spoke with people interested in STI products – how he listened to what they wanted, described his products, probed their shooting ability and problems they were having, while he offered suggestions as well as handling anything else they threw at him.  There was no BS . . . simply straight talk – one shooter to another.  It was refreshing.

About 1:30 PM I headed out to the range to set things up for him.  We were scheduled for around 200 rounds downrange and about 4 hours of work – it became 5 hours with just raw darkness stopping the range time.  In fact, the last shooter shooting his last set of drills was aided by Jim illuminating the target line with a flashlight. 

The session began with a safety brief, medical brief and Jim giving an abbreviated bio on his history and experience.  And that was followed by his general philosophy.  If I had to boil it down I would say is was . . . “do the basics, do them very well . . . and speed will follow”.  So, what did the basics consist of?  Let me break them down in the way that I took them – I’m sure Jim will offer correction if necessary.

 1:  Stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press follow through are the foundation of everything.

 2:  Malfunction clearing, magazine changes must be smooth and quick.

We spent hours working through number one.  The range was about 5 yards.  Our target was my favoring the LE Targets SEB target.  Our very first drill . . . all 30 rounds of it . . . were single round engagements – 5 rounds at a time – on each of the 6 shapes on the targets.  For each draw he was relentless on tweaking us from our stance, through our grip (I’ll spend a few extra words on this), driving to the target and transitioning our sight to the front sight, a smooth trigger press, follow-through in prep for a follow-up shot, and the a return to holster.  As I said . . . he was relentless – little words here, moving hands there, questioning, explaining, listening . . . for 30 rounds, one round at a time.

 During his startup of the class he said he’d recently taken coursework from Todd Jerett and that Todd had made an adjustment to his grip that had a tremendous affect on his accuracy . . . making sure the front-strap of his grip came down in the center of the Proximal bone of each finger on your dominant hand.  This is the bone immediately after the knuckle (moving towards the finger tip) on your hand.  They should all make contact with the face of the front-strap.  Ok, what the heck . . . I’m here to learn, why not try it.  Holy Crap!!!  My tendency to hit low-left with my G17 carry gun simply disappeared . . . instantly.  Holy crap!!!  Sure, sure . . . let’s see if it holds.  Well, let me tell you, it was rock solid.  If I had a good sight picture – I was golden with my trigger press.  In fact, honestly, I was really “on” dripping zero shots through the first magazine . . . 15 rounds . . . down zero.  “Bill . . . you’re not missing . . . shoot faster!!!”  So I did . . . just as soon as I saw the green dot of my Trijicon front post in the center of the target I pressed the trigger . . . and took about .3 off my shot time.  For the second magazine I dropped 3 I think . . . but I could “feel” them as I pressed and knew I had pressed early.  It was really something.

 Looking up and down I saw everyone move from “meh” on the first target to reasonably solid by the 6th.  Real, genuine, demonstrable improvement in a very short time.  One of the skills Jim truly posses is the ability to break down a fairly complex task . . . drawing and engaging a threat . . . to clear steps with an ability to watch and tweak each shooter regardless of their skill level.  He could find words to convey his thoughts.  You’d think that that’s an easy job . . . but if you’ve every taught someone something, you appreciate just how difficult that can be.  And with 6 individuals, 6 different skill levels, 6 different personalities . . . you can begin to appreciate Jim’s skill at teaching defensive shooting.

 Next up was what I called accelerated pairs.  Two rounds, high center mass . . . just as fast as you can run the gun.  This allowed him to work on recoil mitigation and again showed just how powerful the simple adjustment is my grip was.  I was still shaking my head at that.

 Next was a magazine full of mag changes.  Start with a single round in the gun and an empty magazine inserted.  On the “UP” draw and engage and do an emergency reload when your gun runs dry and holster.  Then, pick up the dropped magazine, execute a tactical reload, holster and stow the magazine.  Repeat on command until you run dry.  It was a very simple drill that let the shooter practice both an emergency reload and a tactical reload.  Again, Jim tweaked and changed and nudged everyone throughout this drill to improve their performance.

 This was followed by movement.  Turning to the left.  Turning to the right.  Turning to the rear.  Moving parallel to the line, engaging a specific target while squaring up to the threat and sidestepping either left or right depending on the direction of movement.  And finally, moving the firearm from one hand to the other, while moving and then engaging single handed while movement continued.

 Let’s just say it was a busy 5-ish hours.  Really good work was done by all.

 So in reflection, there are old sayings that are old because they’ve survived the test of time.  “Don’t judge a Book by its cover”.  While appearing to be a “tacti-cool” shooter, Jim is the real deal as an instructor.  Clear. Articulate.  Focused.  Solid material that is presented in an exceptionally clear and concise way.  And . . . he’s not afraid to laugh, crack a joke and be just one of the guys on the line.

 Jim, it was a great experience to take some coursework from you.  I genuinely appreciate your time and your feedback – I came away a better shooter – thanks.


Monday, September 7, 2020

First Aid Kit and Blowout Kit Updates

I've recently updated my Blowout Kit.  I took some time to make a video reviewing both kits as well as training.  For your consideration . . .

Here's a link to the video . . .