Simplicity in the basics…
“This is not a tactics class.” Brian Searcy, one of the co-founders of TigerSwan was very clear. “Tactics change based on the environment. We are here to teach you how to execute the basics properly, every time you pull the trigger.”
Brian is an impressive guy. He spent 16 years in the 1st Special Forces Detachment – Delta (yes, kids, that would be Delta Force), retiring as that unit’s Operations Sergent Major. Like most folks that I have met from elite units, he is remarkably understated about his accomplishments. (“Well, when we were in Iraq, teaching guys how not to get blown up…”, “Why do I like the Glock? Well, I carried it for 8 years in the Balkans…”) Brian was an excellent instructor. He offers criticism where appropriate, but also offers encouragement. On a particularly bad string, I was lamenting my performance. Brian told me that I was looking at it wrong. “Don’t focus on the fact that you dropped 8 shots. You executed perfectly 20% of the time. Next time do 30%.” This encouraging, and yet results oriented feedback is the hallmark of TigerSwan training.
The instructors had us take the line at the 25 yard mark with an NRA B-16 target. Are you kidding me? Every other shooting class that I have taken starts at somewhere near the 3 yard line. “10 shots, slow fire” My first string was all over the place. TigerSwan starts shooters at the 25 yard line for one simple reason: it’s much easier to diagnose what you are doing wrong. Problems that are masked at close range become readily apparent at 25 yards. And if you aren’t doing something right, you will see it right away at 25 yards.
By mid-morning, we were scoring our targets. This gives the instructors a baseline to measure our shooting performance. TigerSwan teaches that every round should have a purpose, and that we need to measure our practice. “We are all results oriented people,” Brian said. After each string, we ran a self-critique. How was my stance? My grip? Was I looking at the sights, or was I looking at the target? If you did it right, you would see scores going steadily up. By mid-day, I was putting 40-50% of my hits in the 10 ring. Did I mention that was at 25 yards?
The instructors broke down each part of handgun shooting: the stance, the grip, sight alignment, trigger squeeze and presentation. For each piece, we ran a slow fire string, concentrating on perfecting that one piece that we working on, while getting coaching and feedback from the instructors. By the afternoon, we had graduated to IPSC silhouettes, and moved in to 10 yards. After shooting at 25 yards, moving in to 10 yards was pretty easy. I had a few dropped shots, but making “A” zone hits seems really easy when you have been shooting at the 25.
Each drill is designed to test one skill, one part of the process. And each drill that we ran, Brain demonstrated first. This proved two things to us. First, the techniques worked. Second, even world class shooters have off days. On one or two drills, Brian’s shooting was not up to his standards. “Let’s try that again,” he would say, he would do it again until he got it right. It’s a little thing, but it got me thinking about making small improvements and continuously improving my own shooting.
“Simplicity in the basics” is how TigerSwan describes their training. As Brain put it, “There isn’t any such thing as advanced shooting. There is just doing each piece exactly right, and doing it that way every time.” And that is precisely what they teach at TigerSwan: how to do it perfectly, every time. The level of training that you receive for money spent is simply ridiculous. I can’t recommend them highly enough.