On June 6th and 7th of 2015, I had the opportunity to attend "Super" Dave Harrington's Combat Speed Pistol course in Andersonville, Georgia. Over the course of two days, the eight students fired between 1900 - 2000 rounds. It was, without doubt, one of the best courses I've ever taken.
Dave's focus was to develop the ability to effectively operate a pistol with either hand (preferably equally well.) Topics covered included precision shooting, combat marksmanship, dynamic drills and exercises, positional shooting, low light, and team/partner tactics. Beyond that, I was fortunate enough to be staying at the same place with Dave, so I had the chance to do some brain-picking over some high-end coffee. All in all, I took twenty pages of notes during the course.
Normally, there's an opportunity to relax, take pictures, grab some video footage, record the instructor, etcetera. With Dave we only left the line to hydrate, take notes, and load magazines. He was zealous about staying on task to avoid missed training time. Because of that, there's a huge gap in what I could actually record with pictures or videos. However, the lack of joking and smoking allowed more learning to occur. The high round count really burned all the students out, but it also gave us time to get a number of skills firmly set in our tool boxes. It also required us to perform while fatigued.
I've been in a number of courses where I didn't shoot farther than the 7 yard line. In many of these, student movement was limited to a step to the side or rearward while drawing or reloading. Students in Dave's class engaged targets well beyond the 100 yard mark and were still making effective hits. Additionally, we performed exercises that required a high degree of trust in our fellow students. We moved back and forth on the line, passed in front or behind each other while engaging targets in live fire exercises, and moved in and out of a line in the Snake and Dave's adaptation of it. Muzzle discipline was extremely important during the course. While some would consider the exercises dangerous, the added elements of risk made the training more rewarding and effective. This was Operator Grade training that would be at home with tactical teams or special units, and not many instructors are willing to run those exercises in an open enrollment course. While there were elements that had more inherent risk, the serious nature of the training required the students to trust each other and pay attention to what they were doing. To quote John Farnam, "Perfectly safe training is perfectly useless."
While many of his exercises were dynamic and fast-paced, Dave always came back to precision marksmanship as the key ingredient in winning or losing the fight. That is why, after 1800 rounds over two hot range days, students found themselves slow-firing full magazines one-handed into tiny bull's-eyes in a quest for the smallest group possible.
I would definitely repeat this course and would definitely take further training from "Super" Dave. You'll need to pardon the huge gap in the video content, but as I said, there wasn't much time to do anything other than stay on task.
Posted on Sat, June 6, 2015
by Clark Sparrow