Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Training with Steve Anderson

I have a confession to make. I've owned Steve Anderson's two dry fire training books, "Refinement and Repetition, Dry-fire Drills for Dramatic Improvementand "Principles of Performance, Refinement and Repetition 2" for some time. I briefly read them and set them aside, thinking I'll get to it at some point. Even though I've recently come around to the whole idea of dry fire, I had not yet dived into his program. That all changed this past weekend when I was able to attend a day-long class with Steve Anderson. In short, I was blown away by what I learned.

The first part of the day was spent on Steve's "Dry Fire Tuneup," based on the drills in his first book. We worked through basic skills; drawing from the holster, sight picture, movement, reloading, etc. and saw instant improvements. The second part of the class was live fire where we worked at putting it all together, being reminded that "technique is just a bridge to get you back to the shooting."

Steve Anderson, who is also a USPSA Grand Master, has an amazing ability to break down the techniques of shooting into their basic components and, most importantly, teach those finer points to others. I was amazed at how much improvement I, and others, could make in a short time with his guidance. Most of the drills we worked on were done as a class, but Steve would frequently pull a student out and go through the refinement process with him as the rest of us watched. It was quite fascinating. For example, he took my shooting buddy Alex, who already had a respectable 1.2 second draw time, down to .5 seconds; with about three minutes of work.

There was so much going on in the class, it's hard to pick out highlights. One highlight was when I had my time "in the box" and we went over the surrender draw. Within a few minutes my time to draw from hands over shoulder to gun on target was .7 seconds. If you had told me that was possible prior to the class I would have laughed at you.

Another amazing point was when we were working on seeing the front sight as we shot. Previously I *thought* I WATCHED my sight, but at that time I SAW my front sight. I saw it go up, and I saw it as it dropped back down. Time almost stopped as I waited for it to return. Much different than my usual waiting to find it again! It was one of those 'in the zone' moments for me.

I've been doing this shooting thing about three years now. I've had instruction on how to shoot a pistol and have spent time watching and talking to shooters, but have never received focused instruction in the critical techniques involved in practical shooting. The class was eye-opening. Sometimes what we learned was a seemingly minor tweak on what I currently did, but one that made a significant difference nonetheless. Other times it was a whole new way of doing things. Interestingly, when we were done, the new skill seemed so natural that I couldn't even remember how I used to do it!

I took notes throughout the day, but I know I didn't capture everything that was going on. Steve is high energy and provides a continuous, and passionate, stream of advice, correction, and acute observations. My day was a series of light bulbs going off and "ah-ha!" moments. It wasn't all about technique either. Steve keeps a focus on attitude too. The attitude to do more, to do it faster, and to do it with a positive approach. As I was often reminded, a screw up is to be met with laughter, not even a head shake.

Three days later I am still reeling from what I learned, or better, discovered in the class. I know I ended the day a different shooter than I started. I have learned new skills and new ways of approaching the sport. But even though I (mostly) successfully did the drills in class, the real secret to success will be practicing them until I own them. Steve taught the techniques, it's all up to me to master them. That's something I'll be working on faithfully this winter.

The class time went by extremely fast, and was never boring. If it hadn't been for darkness, we'd probably still be there. I've only touched on what we covered during the class, the details are for you to learn directly from the teacher. If you want to get the same experience contact Steve Anderson at AndersonShooting.com and arrange for a class to your area. If you're in Virginia, let me know too. I'll jump at the chance for more coaching from Steve, both to refresh what I already learned, and to continue to progress towards my shooting goals.

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