History & Concept
We have been running classes for Scandinavian professional LR/MIL units since 1992. We teach shooting and good gun handling (no tactics or anything self-defense related). Our background is competition shooting at a (relatively – as I get older) high international level for almost 40 years. (I don’t just shoot pistols by the way – I shoot, including trad bows). Early on in process, two things became very clear:
1. Being a good shooter does not automatically make you a good instructor.
At the time I was the reigning IPSC European Champion, which should mean that I was a pretty good shot. However, on the very first day / first class for a priority unit, when the guys started asking specific, but very basic questions: What do you see? – How tight do you hold the gun? – How do you manipulate the trigger on hard vs easier targets etc… I was lost! - as I did not know. Almost everything I had learned about shooting and basically all my skills, were stored in my subconsciousness. I could show the class how to shoot, but I was unable to verbally explain what I was doing.
2. Competition techniques needed to be carefully evaluated before implementation.
Competition shooters play a game. That’s all we do and that’s what we want. There are lots of reasons why a very large percentage of our “techniques” have no place in the real world, and again, that is probably the way it should be. Beyond that, I am not inclined to go into detail on the subject. Suffice to say that as a shooting instructor you need to listen to what your customer wants and you adapt to their requirements and not the other way around. The by-product may well be, that as shooting skills improve, tactics and procedures may change, because other options become available. This is where the real work began. First of all, I had to go through a long process of actually identifying the various techniques in my “arsenal”, but also try to turn this “realization” into words and a language that would be understood on a cold and windy Norwegian shooting range. Secondly, I had to figure out to approach the whole thing in order of priority: where do you start and in which order do you proceed. What comes first: vision or trigger? – Stance or grip? and how do you teach non-competition shooters to “focus up” when needed. Thirdly, there was clearly a need to prioritize as most classes were (and are) only 3 days. Often, I was amazed how much a group of shooters could improve over a few days, but I still had to keep a narrow focus on basic skills:
Gun-handling: safe, effective and repeatable.
Grip: Thumbs forward and hold on for your life.
Stance: (no I don’t care much where you put your feet, as long as you are stable and able to move if you have to).
Trigger: Two ways to pull the trigger – and two only: with prep. or straight through. When the gun goes bang, get off the trigger and back on it. Norwegian shooting ranges will teach you not to feel for the re-set as your fingers are blue and numb. Get off and get back on. That’s it.
Vision: how much do you need to see to make the shot? Make the gun stop and that usually solves most problems. I do not believe in a “hard front sight focus” in this context, but you need to learn how to read your sights. Unfortunately, this takes range time. No way around that.
Don’t get me started on point shooting. Any instructor running classes teaching their students to base their results on “pointing” - should be “dipped in tar, rolled in feathers and chased out of town”. I’d be happy to explain why, but that will be a subject for another time.
One thing that became painfully apparent early on, was the need to ensure quality and uniform training from day one. Very often we would find ourselves spending too much time unlearning bad techniques, before being able to start real training. More than anything this was / is related to trigger manipulation where students have been taught to: relax, surprise break, pin the trigger to the rear and then slowly release the trigger to the reset. Once mastered, this technique may provide good results in traditional shooting. However, this is not the way you want to manipulate the trigger in a dynamic situation. Not at all! However, once learned, it’s hard to unlearn and teaching proper trigger manipulation will always be the second largest challenge for any shooting instructor. The no one challenge is communication in general.
Jeff Cooper once asked me how long I thought I would take me to teach somebody to shoot. I replied “one week provided that the person is dedicated”. Cooper’s response was: “I always thought so too”. Over the following 5-6 years this was a running process and we worked closely with both Police and Military, trying to adapt our training to their needs and filter out anything that was not relevant. (Training is expensive and most units are unable train as much as they need or would like. You have to make it count). We ended up with a program that was effective and eventually had almost all Scandinavian LE/MIL units as our customers.
There is no question that we, over the course of 10 years, revolutionized shooting training within Scandinavian LE/MIL.
These days, my ears no longer allow me to run regular classes. However, I’ll still do some “train the trainers” classes from time to time. Other classes are run by good friend Jörgen Andersson who is a great instructor, a great shooter and one of the nicest and most reliable people I know.
Rogers Schooting School
I took over Norwegian Distribution for Safariland in 1999 and as a result I was invited to visit Rogers’ Shooting School in Ellijay Georgia. This turned out to be a most interesting experience and there is no question that Rogers Pneumatic Target system is a great training tool. I have the greatest respect for Bill Rogers and I recommend his school highly. If you need to get your ego adjusted, just sign up for a class and your scales will quickly be calibrated. However, if you do not have good basic skills, you might want to think twice.
I was invited to shoot as part of a class Bill was running at the time and I borrowed a G17 and a Safariland 560 holster. I went on to shoot a score of 117 on the test, without trying to memorize the order of target appearance too much. I just shot the targets the same way I would shoot in a Steel Challenge Competition and saw no reason why not. However, the school doctrine was a hard front sight focus, even in target transitions and pinning the trigger after each shot (or so they said). A few years later I returned with a group of Scandinavian LE/MIL and we hold the School record to this day. (I may have to ask Ronnie again).
I have my two Rogers’ Gold pins and they are no easy to come by. Yes! Taking the Rogers classes did make us better shooters and certainly revealed some weaknesses that needed to be addressed, but more than anything it confirmed that our way of shooting proved itself in that context as well.
This one is easy. There is no better instructor on the planet. Rob is able to spot problems that others will not and he has all the tools to correct fix said problems. I have spent weeks on the range with Rob and its always an eye-opener. More than anything, I was pleased to see that there was very little conflict between Robs teachings and what we were doing already, especially when it comes to trigger manipulation. A truly great guy and a magnificent instructor.
Mike taught us more about carbine shooting in 3 days than we had learned over almost a lifetime. He was also one of the nicest and most intelligent people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Sadly Mike passed not too long ago.