Recently I had the chance to participate in the Defensive Handgun 210 course at U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, OK. I’d been to USSA once before and I’m always impressed with their facility and the attitudes of the staff and trainers – the place is top notch. The 2-day course was taught by Mike Seeklander and the description on their website was focused on just what I was looking for; practice and honing of fundamentals for an experienced shooter, not a course for beginners. I had built some bad habits . . .

and I thought it would do me good to get a refresher from a top trainer and competitor. So I arrived with my Glock 19 and 1,500 rounds of 9mm. We spent about an hour or two in the classroom for a quick orientation, then hit the range. The rest of that day and the entire following day were spent practicing Seeklander’s tactics.

That first morning was taken up by a lot of dry-firing, mainly practicing the draw and drawing while moving. This was hugely valuable; not only was I more comfortable when we moved to live fire, but it gave me a chance to really get my draw down under the direction of an expert (without having to worry about hitting the target). It’s easy to get too focused on the shot and forget about the fundamentals of the actions you need to take before pulling the trigger; the dry-fire practice really helped here.

The bullets came out after lunch, and the rest of this first day was spent mainly on the draw, malfunction drills and reloading. Mike stair-stepped us into more and more complex maneuvers, each building on the others. By the end of the first day my draw speed had increased and I was putting rounds on target twice as fast as when I started. But day two is where it all really began to come together.

The next morning, we started bright and early with live fire. From the start I was much more comfortable on the draw thanks to the work we put in the previous session. And my three and four shot groups had tightened substantially. The prior night’s rest seemed to multiply what I’d practiced the day before.But it wasn’t just me, I could see each student’s targets needing fewer and fewer pasters.

Not an hour later and Mike already had us moving on to more complex drills. Working on secondary target acquisition to get around body armor, one-handed and support hand shooting and stepping to and shooting from cover in various positions. One of the tactics I hadn’t worked on much until this course was up close and personal shooting. I got some good practice in moving toward and away from a close threat while firing from the high-ready. This was a skill I should have learned a long time ago, but didn’t.

The coolest thing I learned? The Seeklander “zipper drill”… I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

Mike has a very intuitive way of teaching. For each new technique, he spent a few minutes explaining “why” he teaches it the way he does, then another minute or two demonstrating it. Then we started on it ourselves. This worked well for me because I’d much rather try something out and have Mike correct my form than try to just replicate what he’s doing right off the bat. Sometimes this can be tough, especially when guns and egos are involved. No one wants to do something wrong. Which is why in any training course, it’s a good idea to leave the ego in your car. Mistakes are what drive perfection.

Mike’s broad military, law enforcement and competition experience also made for some extremely practical, yet effective techniques. I never felt like I was being taught something that I wouldn’t be able to use in a high-stress defensive situation. Mike and the other USSA instructors work a lot with operators who are forced to kill a lot of bad people, so the experiences of those students help shape the lesson plans for everything they teach. I learned some very effective techniques that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.

One other note about USSA – they didn’t try to up-sell me which was a welcomed surprise. Not once did I get a sales pitch about how I needed to take the next course in their curriculum or how they offer a ton of great courses on handguns, rifles, and shotguns. This was refreshing as that’s not the case with most other training facilities. The whole weekend was focused on me getting better, not how great USSA is or how good Mike Seeklander is. I really felt like they wanted me to leave prepared.

Will I be back? Yes. In fact, I’ve already reserved my spot for their 5-day Defensive Handgun Intensive course that takes what I learned here and expands on it even more. It includes 360-degree threat engagement, extreme close quarters, low-light and much more. Expect a two part review on that monster.

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15 Responses to Course Review: U.S. Shooting Academy – Defensive Handgun 210

  1. Hey I am NOT bashing any instructors nor TTAG. But when is it going to be time for an honest discussion about training in the US of A in the year 2012? Look there are a probably between 6 to 8 MILLION CCW permits out there. Let’s do some quick math ok? If each class can handle 30 students (and I’m being real generous) and a good amount of training is 2 days in the LIFETIME of the CCW holder (many recommend that you go every year or so, so I am being REALLY generous here), HOW MANY classes in a year (gonna do all 364 days, so that is VERY generous) to train all permit holders???

    6,000,000 / 30 = 200,000 full classes

    200,000 / 182 (the num of 2 day sessions possible in a year) = 1098 instructors (at minimum, if only one instructor per class)

    OK…so we can see I think that the reality is that Clint Smith, Tiger McGee, Gabe Suarez, Seeklander, the SIG academy …. and on and on and on….ain’t gonna cut it. RIGHT? So can we lighten up on this training meme??? If you have the money, if you have the time, if you have the inclination, and you can get in a class, good on you. If not, as the vast majority of readers don’t, this is all just pipe dreams…..

    • Pipe dream? I’m not sure I understand the point you’re trying to make. Is training “inconvenient”? Yes… But so is having to shoot someone to stay alive. A few hours of travel, a few hundred dollars, and a few nights away from home are a small price to pay for decent training. Everyone has access to it, it’s not like there’s a long waiting list at USSA… Especially if you plan ahead.

      The fact that top notch trainers are few and far between is only a function of the market. On the broad average; gun owners place more value on the gun itself, than training on how to effectively use that firearm. But this isn’t just a gun owner thing… It’s prevalent in other circles too.

      Again… I may be misunderstanding your comment.

      • As I said, if all the stars align and you can take a class that is great. But as I see it, this push for training…and it is everywhere, in the magazines, the TV shows, the web stuff…it just isn’t happening for the VAST MAJORITY of the CCW population. I’ll use myself as an example. I don’t have the couple of hundred for a class, I don’t have a couple of hundred for the ammo, I don’t a couple of hundred for the travel and the hotel etc. I’m not bitter or angry just stating a fact.

        I refer you back to my little math exercise. You can’t argue with these numbers can you? The real numbers are probably somewhere in the order of a MILLION classes and 10s of thousands of instructors.

        Now here I am going to anger some folks…I see it as pure sales, just like the black rifle BS bubble, the ammo BS bubble, the primer BS bubble, etc.

        My point is that when you talk about this training you’re talking to a very very very small subset of folks. This absolutely, must attend, oh so vital instruction, can’t live without it class, you’re gonna die if you don’t take it lessons, well, probably 1 or 2 percent at most can go ! So 98 or 99 percent are just not part of this equation. I am just asking for folks to step up and be honest about it. I put it on the same list as an Argentine dove hunt….I’ve subscribed to Grays Sporting Journal…doesn’t mean I’ll ever get a chance to do any of the stuff in it.

        • I disagree with your perception of the market. I would argue (like you, totally not based on any sort of real data) that the 99% you reference as “not being part of the equation” are only in that situation because they don’t make training a priority. I know a lot of shooters who own 4+ guns (even at very low income levels), and haven’t had more than their 1-day state-mandated CCW course. 1 or 2 of those firearms would pay for a course like this one at USSA.

          Training isn’t a tangible product… So it’s hard for the “99%” to feel like it’s worth the money. When in reality, it’s 100 times more valuable than the 1911 they’ve got sitting in the safe. (In my opinion)

          Think through it for a second… If you’re in a movie theater, carrying, and someone starts shooting. Does another firearm at home put you in a better situation? Or would the 2-day defensive handgun course you took 6 months ago put you in a better situation? (I’m going to assume you know the right answer) It’s this point here that got me so interested in learning as much as I could from the experts in this field.

          But hey… It’s OK to disagree. 🙂

    • If reading class reviews gets you all bound up how about not reading them.

      Thanks for the review Zack!

    • Want to become a very good shot?

      Spend a lot more time dry-firing. No bullets, no ammo, no recoil. You can use snap caps, if you wish, but they’re not absolutely necessary on striker-fired semi-auto centerfire pistols. Don’t use a rimfire pistol/rifle for dry-firing without a snap cap or a spent piece of brass to cushion the pin.

      If you put a target on a wall and you practice drawing, aiming, controlling your sight picture, squeeze/break and follow through, and you do this several times a week, you will see your groups improve quickly, even if you shoot only every other weekend with live ammo.

      Most people I see on a range who ask me how I get the groups I do don’t want to settle down and work on the fundamentals, which don’t always need ammunition to practice.

      Want to poke fun at the idea? Go ahead, tell it to competitive shooters like this guy:

      http://www.usashooting.org/library/Instructional/Pistol/pistol_sanderson_sept_oct_2009.pdf

  2. Not knocking the Oklahoma course. I’ve never been there, and it’s so far away I’ll probably never go there. But for those in Ohio and neighboring states, Tactical Defense Institute (www.tdiohio.com) puts on excellent courses. I’ve taken many of their courses and recommend them highly.

    Disclaimer: I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with TDI. I’m just a satisfied customer.

  3. Great write up, and check out Mike’s books.

    but this didnt really sound like a “TACTICS” class,but more a handling class. Anything to do with shooting the gun isnt really tactics. Everything else is tactics. Move here, move there, can you flank, should you just advance? That’s tactics. SOTM isnt necessarily tactics, but why you are sotm and which manner is best for the shoot is.

  4. This is addressed to Negative Nelly, Tommy Knocker above. I can pretty much tell from your ridiculous comments, that one, you are not prior military or law enforcement with that poor attitude and all those EXCUSES as to why you cannot train.
    I can pretty much make an assessment that you work at an hourly wage job and don’t have alot of goals or motivation to improve your skill set.
    Sure you have heard of the 80/20 rule. Same applies here brother. 20% work on improving skills set, train and practice shooting and learning weekly. They are the true sheepdogs who understand that everyone, even professionals, must train and practice to get smoother and more efficient.
    Save the excuses and everything else for another place. This is for those who seek to sharpen each others skills. Iron sharpens iron.
    I myself have spent 6 yrs in Marine Corps, with unlimited access to ammunition and training and then another 8 yrs working executive protection throughout Iraq……..and I still practice daily.
    To be a leader, one must start with oneself………………be the best YOU CAN BE. How badly do you want to be able to protect yourself and your loved ones?

    V/R,
    Greg

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