Just like any other industry, firearms instructors should continue their education on a regular basis. I try to take a class annually. These classes are usually in my wheelhouse of the tactical shooting environment. However, I try to switch up different instructors and different philosophies. I have been very fortunate to take a lot of classes from a lot of big name instructors and at this point in my career I rarely learn new techniques. I get my value on finding different methodologies of instruction and adult learning strategies.
Recently I had hit a plateau in my competition shooting performance and I decided to take a class based on competitive shooting. Coincidently, Charlie Perez was offering his Competition Pistol Training Class in Ramah, Colorado. Charlie Perez is a competition practical shooter who takes pride in what he does both on and off the range. He is dedicated to perfecting his shooting performance that allowed him to achieve a Grand Master Classification in USPSA Limited division within a year and a half of starting. His success has landed him sponsorship with Rick Hebert Firearms, Eggleston Munitions, Lucas Oil and Power Factor Shooting.
I asked Mr. Perez to write a paragraph about his instructor philosophy, he wrote, “I take pride in being able to provide effective training for shooters who wish to improve their skills and produce a maximum performance on demand. My training classes provide focused one on one interaction with each student to identify their primary weaknesses and provide solutions. Many instructors can show you how something should be done but usually fall short in defining the reason why a particular skill must be performed a certain way. My competition shooting experience and training skills allow me to explain the reason why something should be done in a particular way. I enjoy training and look forward to work with fellow shooters to help them maximize their performance. Let’s work together to bring your practical shooting skills to the next level”.
I attended Mr. Perez’s class and I would like to share my experience with you.
Prior to the class, Mr. Perez fully informed the students of the particulars of the class. I and 7 other students arrived at the Ben Lomond Gun Club to find the range already set up and prepared. It was a cold and windy day, so we gathered in the large prop shed. Mr. Perez makes it clear that the course was for competitive shooting and not tactical shooting. He asked what our expectations were and why we were there. He then started a lecture and discussion based on his Six Primary Skills. With steam slowly rising from the coffee cups, he was able to initiate and facilitate an intellectual discussion that made me forget about the cold. I feverishly took copious notes as we discussed some very common sense approaches to training and training plan development, efficiency of movement, discipline, sighting solutions and match accuracy, calling shots, gun handling and the grip. I took a lot of value from the lecture, probably more than any other lecture in the past.
We then headed to the range. We started with dry fire where Mr. Perez watched our manipulations to detect any excess wasted movements. They gave us individual pointers to speed things up in our specific gunhandling. He also had us shoot groups to confirm our zero.
After that we shot a stage he calls “Training Day”. This stage was a long course that had several different aspects of USPSA stages that a competitor would find in a match. There were targets with hardcover, transitioning to open targets, targets at distance and popper initiated swinger. This training stage was well thought out and offered enough challenge that one could make improvements through the training.
The students shot the stage as if it were a match. Mr. Perez took notes on everyone’s run and then gave a debriefing of the performance. I initially shot the course in 19.58 with 9 points down. He then broke down every shooting position and we did several dry repetitions and then shot it live. This took the majority of time in the class itself. Our runs developed our aiming solutions, foot work, target to target transitions and worked on acquiring those aiming solutions sooner.
We then worked on the final shooting position, which was the swinger. I had been told how to shoot a swinger and practiced a little, but have never been able to quite refine things. I usually just hose the brown with 3-4 rounds. We practiced several times initiating the swinger by shooting the popper, shooting an open target, and then firing several rounds on the swinger. We able to see immediate improvement in our shot placement.
The students then shot the entire stage again to see how we improved. All of the students showed improvement, sometimes dramatic. I shot the stage in 18.37 with 8 points down, which was faster and more accurate from my first run. Mr. Perez gave the students immediate feedback on their performance. Up to this point, he had not shot 1 round all day. This was by design. He did not want the students to try to match his speed and potentially tank their performance. On the timer, Mr. Perez showed the class how a Grand Master can shoot the stage and burned it down with a 13.86.
He then allowed the shooters additional runs if they wished. He stayed there until everyone was done, which was going on 7:00pm.
I enjoyed this class. As you know I like to compete in the shooting sports and extrapolate things that I learn and then bring them to the tactical shooting world. It is always a good idea to look at the world through a different lens. I enjoyed learning from someone out of the tactical world. There were some tactical habits that I may not be able to break out of but there was also conventional wisdom that, with practice, I can separate from the tactical and competition world.
I have taken a competition class in the past. In that course, we had 2 days of live fire on a flat range and then shot a match with a squad of students and the instructor coaching. That was a fun class, but I was able to get more from Mr. Perez’s class. Breaking down one stage to every nuance was much more beneficial than 2 days of flat range work.
Mr. Perez ran a very well organized and prepared course. He was able to answer every question asked. He was also able to switch his methodology of instruction from student to student. The stage was well designed so it could be broken down, and was challenging, yet allowed improvement at all skill levels.
I believe that a USPSA shooter at any level should take this course. All levels from the beginner to the Grand Master can take a lot away from this course. I will be attending it again and highly recommend it to any USPSA shooter.
Contact Charlie Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to take one of his classes!