View Full Version : Course Review: OTC, Mechanics of Dynamic Shooting

01-21-2004, 11:11 AM
Review of Operational Training Concepts: Mechanics of Dynamic Shooting

This class was conducted by David DiFabio at the Responsible Shooter training facility, just outside Philadelphia, January 17, 2004. Class time was just over 10 hours. This class is the third installment in an ongoing series whose aim seems, to me, to be to reach the extreme in realistic scenarios/dynamics/tactics/legalities. Disclaimer: I am a student, not a trainer, so this is the worm's eye view. The first and second entries in this series were Force on Force training; this third entry was live fire. A FoF portion was originally slated, but as the afternoon wore on, we in the class were hitting a favorable groove in discovering new things. Rather than abandon the sweet spot in the learning curve by switching to FoF, we opted to continue the live fire tack.

My recollection of the exact sequence may be a little off, but:

We started with a (very interactive) lecture by Dr. Anthony Semone on the legalities and realities (not always the same thing, as it turns out) of deadly force events. This was the best explanation I personally have received on the specifics of deciding whether legal force is warranted, and brushed away many misconceptions I had about the legal aftermath. In short: first, don't count on witnesses UNLESS you are 100% blameless in the shooting and you prep them through the correct verbalization; the latter is as much for the witnesses as for the criminal. Second, the legal aftermath is worse than you think, no matter how pessimistic you are because even if you do everything right, your fate rests in the hands of a jury populated by unemployed anti-gun TV watchers.

Next we took a "cold" test. Yes, the range was a bit chilly on that frigid January day, but so were we: we hadn't shot that day, no warm up, we were sitting in the classroom prior to this test. This was another taste of realism: your self defense shooting will see you unwarmed up, not psychologically up to full speed, etc. We all took two passes at the basic Federal Air Marshall qualification test. A lot of drawing from holster; shoot, reload, shoot; turn and engage multiples, etc -- maybe 8 to 10 scenarios in all. Most of us failed all but one or two tests. Here's another element of realism: we shot the test and indeed the whole day with concealment garments in place. Too many classes don't feature that, and after working to shave milliseconds off your reload time, if you never practice getting past your cover garment, you have a bottleneck you're unaware of. But discovering latent bottlenecks was the theme of the day.

After that, the remainder of the class was a series of specific instructionals and live fire exercises to emphasize movement of all kinds before and after firing; dealing realistically with cover; dealing with crowd situations (i.e., your defensive shooting has many people all around; be prepared for them to be unfriendly); and then the payoff at the end was a series of scenarios where everything was tied together: multiple targets, movement, cover (moving: into, within, out of), reloading, shooting from within vehicles then exiting. Particularly eye opening to me was all the awkward angles we had to shoot from, which revealed all kinds of difficulties I had and was unaware of.

David is an excellent teacher with an eye towards the useful and non-dogmatic. In this setting, we were also able to receive a lot of personalized advice. For example, I confirmed my suspicions that my CCW weapon that day was not a good choice for me. The class value for the price is exceptional too.

The where and when of the next installment need to be worked out, but I'm sure there will be a posting in this board.

01-21-2004, 12:14 PM
Excellent review.

For example, I confirmed my suspicions that my CCW weapon that day was not a good choice for me.

What was your CCW weapon that day?

01-21-2004, 01:29 PM
What was your CCW weapon that day?

G30: fits my hand for shooting but way too small for manipulations. I end up holding it with thumb and forefinger only to do reloads.

Pat DeSarno
01-27-2004, 07:54 PM
Hey Don, I didn't know you could write so well. Great review!!

I had the pleasure of training with Don during said course and the experience was awesome.

This was the second class in the series that I attended and like Don says, the emphasis this time was on live fire from all kinds of interesting shooting positions.

There were 2 lectures actually. One really good one by Dr. Anthony Simone and another by David DiFabio. David spoke about things like awareness, the importance of keeping a clear mind, tactical environment, visualization and frequent thought, the importance of consistant and significant practice as well as finding a weapon system and sticking with it. To that end, he told us how the FBI swat guys do everything with the same issue handgun. Practice, carry, duty, they do it all with one gun, their Springfield 1911's. They work with that one system for thousands upon thousands of rounds and become really proficient with it. Makes sense to me. He finished up by telling us about Plaxcos Shooting Principles. They include things like accuracy over speed, speed is economy of motion and my favorite, when all else fails , align the sights and squeeze the trigger.

After the very educational lectures came the Federal Air Marshall test that Don spoke of. Frankly, with my poor performance, I won't be expecting a call from them anytime soon. After a satisfying lunch we moved onto more live fire excercises. I'm not a very travelled guy when it comes to handgun classes. Frankly I've only taken a couple at the NRA range here in Virginia. I have found that locally it is extremely difficult to get training that's realistic. Drawing from under a concealment garment was only the beginning. The following are some examples of what we did that day:

Ever wondered what it would be like to engage multiple targets while moving with people in front of and behind you with everyone shooting with the weak hand only? We did that. It taught me quite a bit including the fact that I suck with my weak hand. My handgun hadn't malfunctioned all day but I was limp wristing with my weak hand and it came back to bite me in the form of a malfunction. (It only happened once) Ever had to do multiple reloads with your strong hand to your weak and clear a malfunction all while moving? For those of you that have and can do it well, I applaud you. For novices like me, it was extremely educational. Just things like where you put your spare magazines becomes a big deal when you have to access them with the wrong hand.

Ever had to shoot from inside a car (In this case a couple of barriers and chairs) with a partner and then retreat to cover while continuing to engage threats and reloading? We did that.

Have you and a partner ever shot out of the passenger side of a car at multiple threats (Targets) while seated in the car? We did that. I learned that if you're sitting in the back seat of the car that the guy in the front seat will eventually be showering you with brass when he engages targets much further back than where the mirror would normally be. Hey, I never realized that would happen until I did it. I wonder how come all that brass in the face doesn't bother those guys in the movies?

These are just a few examples of some of the cool things we did at the class and the whole time we were going through the excercises I found myself saying, man I've never done this before.

Like Don said, the live fire went really well so we stuck with it. The last class I attended with David focused more on the force on force scenarios utilizing airsoft weapons. That training was really educational especially the low light stuff and I'm proud to say I failed most of the scenarios. Why proud? At least I was there learning. Most people I know who carry a gun don't train or practice much at all. No one I know does realistic force on force training. Perhaps I need to meet more people.

David and Dr. Simone have taught me alot about what can happen after the fact. After you've shot that guy and think you're completely in the right you'll probably still spend a night in jail. You'll probably still put out thousands in legal fees. You may never get your carry weapon back. Life can become really hard if you ever have to really take the shot. Attending classes like this has really opened my eyes.

David charges what I think is a very fair price for his classes and frankly I don't understand why they aren't packed with students. I drove 2 1/2 hours to attend and it was well worth the drive.

In case anybody would like to know, my CCW that day was the only handgun I currently own, my Springfield 1911. :)

Thanks for the bandwidth and this website Mr. Suarez. I'm looking forward to attending one of your classes in the future as well.

01-28-2004, 05:32 AM
G30: fits my hand for shooting but way too small for manipulations. I end up holding it with thumb and forefinger only to do reloads.

Were you using G30 mags for spares? I found that when I carried one if I speed loaded a G30 mag that I would pinch the skin on the palm of my hand.

After that I always carried G21 mags for spares.

My $0.02.

01-28-2004, 06:17 AM
(Originally posted on Ammolab Forum with some edits. Enjoy :))

As my first live fire handgun class, I thoroughly enjoyed the lessons as they were presented. First and foremost, I'd like to thank Dr. Anthony Semone for his indispensable advice on the intricacies and pitfalls of surviving the subsequent legal battle. And he's a damn good shot! I am at a unique point in my life where I am able to take a class like this. There are so many confusing dogmas out there of what works and what does not, and I am grateful to have David DiFabio as an instructor and friend and to have met him when I did. His teaching methods are based only on the tasks at hand and as he often says "taking it for what it is". Training like this, on a one-to-one basis is invaluable. There is a world of misinformation and opinion-based instruction out there. One could very well waste thousands and thousands of dollars and not really learn anything useful. Worse, they could learn techniques that will not work in the real world and results could potentially be devastating

I got the chance to move and shoot under careful scrutinization from the instructor. That kind of experience is critical. I found myself squatting down, and trying to engage targets from left and right side around cover. Learning to handle your gun and reload in these conditions are crucial to go through in training so that when the time comes, one will be able to manipulate the weapon and keep it running. My weapon of choice has always been a 1911 in .45ACP. My personal weapon is a Kimber Custom II TLE. I have added ambi-safety levers, Wilson Combat reduced power mainspring, S&A flat checkered mainspring housing/magwell. I am very happy with it at this point. For the class, it had the stock rubber grips, which hung up on my cover garment on my draw. They've since been replaced with S&A black micarta flat bottom grips that work great.

One of the things to which we all succumb at one time or another is not concentrating on muzzle discipline during reloads and movement. One of the main things I took away from the live fire portion was keeping the gun up in the line of sight when reloading and diagnosing malfunctions. We all tended to bring the gun down and look at it when we reloaded. That's definitely one my list of drills to do with snap-caps and spare mags. Along with, of course, my draw. It was very beneficial to be able to practice my draw and engage targets from concealment with a gifted instructor there to diagnose and help refine the movements that are necessary for a proper presentation.

All in all, I'm proud of how I did based on my current skill level, and I have great insight into where I need to work to improve my overall skill set. It was good to see Don, Pat and Gil again (as well as meet the Doc!) and work on our skills. There was a definite sense of accomplishment to work at it together. It was well worth the time, effort, and expense to have attended.

01-28-2004, 06:46 AM
Were you using G30 mags for spares? I found that when I carried one if I speed loaded a G30 mag that I would pinch the skin on the palm of my hand.

My palm was pinched raw, too. Re: G21 mags..I suppose, although again, to do any reaload I have to barely hold on to the gun with thumb and forefinger. I think I need a new, more ergonomic, .45ACP platform, though, or just stick with 9mm from now on. Mulling that over as we speak.

02-06-2004, 08:44 PM
As one of the students in this class, I can only rate it as "beyound my wildest expectations". I qualify this statement by saying that I've only seriously started Self Defense training this past summer. So I too have a worm's eye view.

The lecture material was "crammed packed" with concise, relevent information that would take you months (if not years) to accumulate from books and articles ( I know, I've tried). The range sessions were non-stop learning. We were able to take our part-task drills and combined them into a fluid response to a real world situation. I learned very quickly what worked and what didn't. More important, I learned what skills needed a LOT of work. David's teaching style is excellent. I left there that night almost in disbelief in what I was able to accomplish at the end of that session!

To the other students, Hi. It was great learning from all of you. I really enjoyed the teamwork! Hope to see all of you at the next session.

P.S. Thanks to Dave, I now have a .45 that REALLY works.

03-31-2004, 06:11 AM
I'd just like to say that, in reading and re-reading threads in the Ballistics> and Shotgun> forums that talk of spectacular failures to stop, I'm glad that in the force-on-force scenarios we went through in the first and second level of this course, we did not "stop" the scenario the first time someone was hit.

It ingrained seeking cover regardless of if and when we "thought" we were "sure" we hit the bad guy.

It really taught us the need to keep moving and seeking cover regardless of how many rounds we threw at the bad guy. You really don't know how they'll react, if AT ALL, to what we may do to them. It really put moving and getting yourself behind cover above shooting at the bad guy. He's going to continue to shoot. It's not at all probable that we'll be able to turn him off like a switch when the shooting starts.