Monday, October 05, 2015

Fundamentals Accuracy and Speed Test

Five years ago, I took my first class with Todd Green of It was probably the single most significant step in my ability to shoot a pistol of all the classes I've taken. Since that first AFHF I've often wished, for instance, that I could have then done a repeat of the Todd Jarrett class at Blackwater, because back in '08 I simply wasn't a good enough shooter to absorb half of what Jarrett had to offer.

My second class with Todd Green was actually two one-day classes, Speed Kills and Get SOM; the former about shooting fast on small, difficult targets and the latter all about Shooting On the Move. I was barely able to keep up with the pace of the classes and, again, found myself  wishing in later years that I could re-take the classes, knowing what I know now.

One of the biggest influences in Todd's shooting career was Ernest Langdon, and since I couldn't go back in time and re-take a class from Ernest's padawan, I jumped at the chance to take one from Ernest himself.

My hopes were not misplaced. Bright and early on day one, I had my first revelation of the class as he pointed out the single biggest handicap to my ability to shoot fast: The obsession with pinning the trigger and slowly riding the reset at ranges and paces where it's not only not necessary, but actually a detriment to shooting accurately.

To paraphrase Langdon: Before we start offering little pointers on grip and stance and suchlike, let's make sure you're pulling the trigger right. You can be perfect with your grip and sight alignment, but if your trigger pull is a soup sandwich, you're not gonna hit a barn from the inside with the door closed. Conversely, you can have a wretched grip and pretty coarse sight alignment, but as long as you're pulling the trigger right... well, that A-zone/-0 circle is really a pretty big target.

Ernest Langdon about to reload from slidelock. John Johnston of is running the timer.
Anyhow, regarding the post title...

The FAST is a test (not a drill) that measures a discrete set of pistol-handling skills arranged in a certain order:
  1. The draw from concealment to a fairly precise target. (A 3"x5" box at 7 yards)
  2. Split time on that small target.
  3. A slidelock reload.
  4. A string of four shots on a fairly wide-open target. (An 8" circle at 7 yards.)
My previous best time in a class setting had been 10.00 seconds clean. That was with the 1911 at that first class back in 2010. I'd been carrying 1911s at that point for most of a decade. I switched to the M&P 9 shortly before the 2011 class and made a dog's breakfast of it; raw time wasn't good and dropped shot penalties bumped my time to a shade over 12 seconds. In 2012, I got my raw time slightly below 10, which would have earned me an "Intermediate" rating, but dropped shots again bumped it over the ten second mark.

With Todd having passed the official FAST record book to Ernest, I had a chance to clean the blemish off my record. I'd shot quite a few last summer clean in the high 8s, but I was afraid that the pressure of shooting it in front of the class might bump me back over the ten second mark.

I needn't have worried. I did drop a head shot (out of the 3"x5"; it was still in the head box) on the draw, but my raw time was a personal best of 7.62 seconds, thanks to the trigger control advice on my splits from Ernest. This meant that even with the two-second dropped shot penalty my score was an "Intermediate" of 9.62 seconds.

I used to think I'd be happy just erasing the sting of not making "Intermediate". I was comfortable being painfully slow. Now I'm within just over a half second of an "Advanced" time and my goals have changed.

Ernest explaining the difference between cover and concealment.
I really, really, really need to work on my draw and reloads. Got some good tips from Ernest there, too; I'll be working his reload drills this week. If you have the chance to go to one of his classes, do so. I haven't learned so much about shooting a pistol in just two days for many years.