by Nathan Shonts
Earlier this year I made the transformation from firearms admirer to firearms owner. For years now I’d been interested in guns but had never actually gone out and shot one before – a total noob to the firearms world. The only thing I knew about guns was what I learned from video games, which isn’t saying much. But last December I received my first gun, a Walther P22, from my parents who always knew I had an interest in firearms. On that day I was bitten by the gun bug and it bit hard . . .
Within the next six months I somehow procured four brand new firearms. A Walther PPQ (which I later sold because I was not yet comfortable with a gun without a manual safety and a hammer), a Smith & Wesson MP 15-22 (which is amazing by the way), a SIG Sauer SP2022 (which was my way of buying a SIG for half the price of a new P226) and finally a Marlin 1894c in .357 mag that allows me to act like a cowboy for a few hours every now and then.
I’ve mainly just been shooting for fun these last few months and haven’t concerning myself too much with ultimate marksmanship – I have my good days and my bad days. But recently I realized I’m spending all of this money on ammo and after 8 months of shooting, I haven’t progressed much in the accuracy department, specifically with handguns.
So I decided enough is enough. I need to start hitting what I am aiming at and become the best sharpshooter west of the Mississippi. Or at least decent enough I can keep a 2-inch group from 7 yards away. I started to search around for classes to help me out, but all were ridiculously expensive. And some I would have to drive 10 hours to get to. That’s when I stumbled upon the Magpul Dynamics Training DVDs.
I read some reviews of their DVD, The Art of The Dynamic Handgun, and everyone seemed to love it. People raved about the knowledge gained. Even seasoned shooters said they learned a lot. So I ponied up the $50 and I have to say that when it arrived I was pretty excited to learn everything I possibly could.
So I popped the disc in and set out to absorb as much as I could. The first disc covered a lot of basics: I learned how to improved my stance, do speed reloads, develop better trigger control, get a good grip on the gun to get back on target faster, clear malfunctions quickly and drop to a knee or the prone position while drawing my handgun to get a more stable shooting position.
After that I was hooked so throughout the next two days, I finished watching the three remaining discs. Disc #2 picked right up where #1 left off, covering more advanced techniques such as shooting on the move and reacting to various situations. Disc 2 wrapped up with some awesome real-life scenarios that included law enforcement, military, and even concealed carry so that the students could use to show off their new skills.
Disc 3 was all about concealed carry. Chapters ranged from clothing choices to shooting one handed if you’re injured. There was even a session on the pros and cons of different handgun choices for concealed carry. It really opened my eyes to the concealed carry way of life and how much more there is than just having a gun tucked in some uncomfortable spots( *cough* crotch holsters *cough*).
The last disc has some discussion and videos on gear such as holsters, belts, lights, lasers, suppressors, and ammo. This disc also points up the big downside of the lesson package — the drills. This was one of the chapters I was most excited to get to and maybe that’s why I was disappointed with the drills portion. Instead of each drill having a simple instruction section describing what to do and what not to do, instead it’s just footage of either Travis Haley or Chris Costa running through the drill in full speed. Then the video is shown in slow-motion so you really have to be paying attention to pick up what’s right and what’s wrong.
One other gripe: the case the DVDs are packaged in almost caused me to break the first disc before realizing you have to maneuver the disc downward before pulling it out. Also be aware that there are Smith & Wesson and Surefire commercials you’ll have to fast forward through.
That said, I went to the range the other day after I’d watched all of the DVDs and I can already see some improvement. Now I can’t wait to hit the range again and keep practicing.
To be clear, this isn’t a couple of special forces operators telling you “this is the right way to do it so shut-up and do it my way.” Instead, it’s Travis Haley and Chris Costa — two highly experienced shooters and instructors — showing you what they do and letting you decide if you want to use their method or not. They also tell you in detail why they do what they do. It all has a purpose; they focus on making everything as easy as possible and not wasting any time or energy in any movement they do.
One thing I did not expect from these DVDs, though, is how energized I get about shooting when I watch one. Seeing Haley and Costa kick some butt and shooting so fast and accurately really makes me want to keep shooting and improve my skill level.
In the end, these DVDs were definitely worth my $50 and I think they’d benefit shooters of any skill level. From newbie to the seasoned veteran, there is something there for everyone. Next up: I’m going to order their Art of the Tactical Carbine DVDs. I think I’m hooked.