Monday, June 13, 2011

AAR: 4 Days with Phil Strader and Mike Seeklander - Competition Shooting Course

May is a busy day for professional shooters: The Single Stack National in Barry, IL and Bianchi Cup in Columbia, MO. both, high-profile matches.

Somewhere along the way, Phil Strader managed to make time to teach 2 back-to-back 2-day competition shooting classes at the excellent Oak Park Sportsmen's Club in Plainfield. I think he duped Mike Seeklander into coming along and helping out...

Phil Strader and Mike Seeklander need little introduction if one has been following USPSA. To those that don't know them, they're part of the "super squad" and place among the top in the matches they shoot - Phil finished 5th overall at the Single Stack National while Mike placed 20th.

Phil had organized the days in to two, two-day classes - the first course focusing on developing the core techniques necessary for competitive shooting and the second course refining some of the issues/stage analysis that plague shooters trying to shave 10ths off their stage times. Phil's teaching style could be aptly described as "steam of consciousness" - would he a lesser man be, the courses would be incomprehensible and tedious. This, however, was not the case: Phil, even while being "in the moment", was very clear in his coaching and descriptions of the topics we was covering. Coupled with his formidable powers of perception - we joked he was like the "Eye of Sauron" - It was as if each bit of wisdom was coming at exactly the right moment for each individual shooter.

Mike's teaching style could not be more different than Phil's: Mike has undeniable broken every concept, movement, and technique down to their atomic parts in order to wring every last secret they hold. His explanations were enormously accesible!
The notes I took from his insights coupled with his most excellent book, "Your Competition Handgun Training Program", formed a solid reference that I'd flip back to in the weeks that followed the course.

While there were some "Abbot and Costello" moments...

... the two complimented each other very well - explaining topics in the manner best suited for each shooter.

It is impossible to present video of all of the topics presented - we had 7 hours of video combined which was edited to a 2 hour DVD! Suffice to say, that I'll just outline each of the major points presented each day:

Day 1 consisted of working on fundamentals, such as consistent sight pictures, developing the "prep and press" triggering necessary to take difficult shots with ease and refining the draw and magazine changes.

Day 2 delved deep into movement and setups necessary for shaving time off stages.

Day 3 was a continuation of the work done on Day 2.

Day 4 was all stage analysis - we ran stages before lunch, received a thorough breakdown and coaching during and after lunch, then ran the stages again with notable improvements!

I really feel that the instructions I received "unlocked" some of the "secret" that I've been missing. I'm really hoping that Phil and Mike can come back next year to do another class.

Overall, I ran 1500 rounds over 4 days - though I did most of the exercise sessions a few extra times.