Training Reports

Pistol Marksmanship Course - SOB Tactical

John McPhee - Sheriff of BaghdadOver this past weekend, Shooting Strategies and Fair Weather Farms teamed up together to host John "Shrek" McPhee (aka Sheriff of Baghdad). This course specifically dealt with handgun marksmanship fundamentals and utilized the video work that John has introduced to the firearm industry. Though this is a one-day course, I was present throughout both days as a host to make sure that everything ran smoothly.

John and his wife stayed at the location with us, and arrived Friday after the NRA show. It was great to get the opportunity to spend the evening chatting with the two of them and getting to know them both a little better. Saturday morning, we went to the range and got everything set up. We began the day with a simple drill... 2 mags, both with 2 rounds in them. From a holstered position, we would draw and fire two rounds and then immediately perform a slide-lock reload and fire the other two rounds. John was filming this and from here we went straight to the TV to review what he had recorded.

I was surprised at how much information John could identify about our shooting from such a short drill- but as we came to understand, the video camera doesn't lie. John breaks down the film into four sections: stance; grip; presentation (draw); reload. He also emphasizes that these are in order of importance. The largest takeaway from this section was the amount of time wasted at the end of my draw stroke. I was out of the holster and at full presentation at about .84 seconds but wasted another .33 seconds prior to breaking the first shot. This lesson would be re-iterated multiple times throughout the course as John worked us more toward the ability to "shoot at zero" (to break the shot at the exact moment that we reach full presentation).

For the first half of the day, John went through each participants' video and walked through the four sections one at a time. This was helpful to hear as numerous shooters had similar issues and so we got better at identifying and diagnosing what they were doing wrong even before John would elaborate on the issues. There were varying levels of skill present amongst the participants, but even the best shooters there were able to take as much as the newer guys simply because the video catches everything that you're doing: both right and wrong.

John has a very different view on many of the fundamentals of shooting. For instance: he insists that you must slap the trigger in order to shoot fast. To prove his point that "slapping the trigger is a myth" he has a participant (me) draw and aim at the target with a solid stance and grip. Then he stands beside the shooter and places the handle of a ratchet into the trigger guard. Holding the rotating knob of the ratchet in his right hand, he slaps his hand against the handle of the ratchet, making the gun fire. To exaggerate this point, he does it quite forcibly. He then will do it in a rapid fire sequence. The result is that all of the shots ended up in a tight group on the target. His point: no one's trigger finger is faster or stronger than what the ratchet was doing, and therefore it is not "slapping the trigger" that causes the misses but rather a different failure point.

John also takes the time to systematically break down the "pie chart" that has been popular for years and supposedly helps a shooter diagnose why they are missing their shots. Instead, he created his own pie chart. Surprisingly enough (to me), his seemed far more useful... 

John broke down the most common failure points into five separate categories:

  • Stance
  • Grip
  • Index
  • Wobble
  • Looking over the sights

After we shot strings of fire, we would analyze the grouping on the target and could readily identify which of these points were causing our misses. All of your shots are left/right of center? You have an index problem (not holding the pistol in line with your radius correctly). Shots are missing vertically? Stance seems to be an issue... Diagnal lines in your groups? Grip isn't correct.... It was quite impressive to see how John could glance at a target and identify what you're doing wrong, only to be able to back it up with crystal-clear evidence in the form of video.

In conclusion- I would certainly recommend this course for shooters of any skill level. I'm an advanced shooter, and I certainly felt as though the time was incredibly well spent. Being able to see a breakdown of every hundredth of a second during my shooting is both humbling and enlightening. John can diagnose more in a 15 second video of you firing four rounds than most instructors could if they trained with you for extended periods of time. Both he and his wife were a pleasure to be around, and we look forward to hosting them again in the near future.

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