Have you ever dreamed of attending a course where you receive real-world training in tactical and defensive handgun shooting techniques from true professionals? You probably have–and promised yourself that you’d do it “one of these days.” Well, for a half-dozen handgunners, “one of these days” turned out to be sooner than they may have expected.
Handguns TV, which is broadcast on Sportsman Channel, held a Hot Shots contest in which six winners received an intensive three days of tactical and defensive handgun training from Aaron Roberts, the show’s co-host.
Aaron has served with the U.S. Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment and 10th Mountain Division Long Range Surveillance Detachment. After his discharge, he became a Texas state trooper and later the lead staff firearms and tactics instructor for the Blackwater Training Center. He continues to do professional training at Tactical Shooting Solutions and has recently opened a custom rifle shop.
The course was conducted at Trigger Time (trigger-time.com), a firearms training facility in Carthage, North Carolina, last September. The contest winners–Jeffrey Newell, Kurt Alcron, James Burks, Martin Slone, Kevin Durham and Michael Allen–hailed from Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina.
While they displayed varying degrees of experience with handguns, all of them (including me, as I was able to tag along) were eager to learn more. Each winner received lodging, meals and a prepaid gift card to help cover expenses. Ammunition was provided by Winchester, and everyone received a range bag containing electronic hearing protection, clothing and other useful items from the seminar’s sponsors, which included Legacy Sports International, EOTAC, Safe Tech, Peltor, Gunzilla and Gun Storage Solutions.
Before leaving the hotel, Aaron gave us a presentation on handgun fundamentals such as the different types of triggers, safeties, grip styles, sight alignment, gear placement, holsters and so forth. Then it was off to Trigger Time to put rounds downrange.
The seminar included intensive instruction on the basics: stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control and follow-through. To this Aaron adds an additional pair of skills for combat shooting: recoil control and keeping both eyes open.
We shot from standing, kneeling and prone, engaged single and multiple targets and worked on drawing, reloading and clearing malfunctions. Aaron also covered topics such as tactical priority and sequence and how to properly disengage from a fight.
The primary commandment Aaron wanted to instill in us was that accuracy is more important than speed. Accordingly, each day’s training included several draw-and-shoot drills in which the shooter would repeatedly engage individual and/or multiple black dot targets ranging from three to eight inches in diameter at moderate ranges. Such drills impressed upon the student the importance of the combination of the draw, presentation, sight alignment, trigger control and follow through.
There was also a daily “diagnostic drill” in which the students would attempt to fire as tight a group as possible on a USPSA target with five rounds each from five, 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards. Aaron promised all of us that we would improve as the course progressed–and we did.
The training included drills that not only challenged the shooters but were plain old-fashioned fun. Each day saw a head-to-head shootoff on a steel plate dueling tree until only one man was left standing. Aaron also had us engage steel targets from 25, 50, 75 and 100 yards, proving that if you follow the basics outlined above, a handgun can be a lot more accurate than you might have imagined.
We all came away from the seminar better shooters and with a more complete understanding of the defensive use of the handgun. Several of the participants knew that I had attended such courses in the past, and on the last day they inquired what I thought of this one. I told them that I found it both an educational and humbling experience. I’d forgotten just how much I had forgotten.