Jake Saenz is a former Army Ranger, a combat veteran, a hunter and a shooter. He’s also one of my coaches at Atomic Athlete in Austin, Texas. Atomic focuses on structured training to achieve specific goals. The company has been nothing short of a miracle worker for me in my civilian life. I had my first introduction to Jake’s training methods in a program called Military Athlete.
An offshoot of Rob Shaul’s famous Mountain Athlete, Military Athlete was part of my team’s “Afghan Pre-Deployment Training Program.” That training proved invaluable. While I was in Afghanistan, some of the guys from 5th Special Forces Group brought in Range Athlete, Military Athlete’s fusion of shooting and exercise.
We’d all been doing something like this in bits and pieces for years. We had lot of competitions where you would sprint to the end of the firing line, do some pushups, then start the qualification.
But that was haphazard, not real training. Range Athlete was the first time I practiced step-by-step drills with measurable standards, set goals and a specific purpose: combat effectiveness.
The results were phenomenal. Within a month of dedicated training, I was shooting faster and more accurately in real combat scenarios (and real combat) than I would’ve ever thought I could.
It wasn’t the shooting. It wasn’t the physical training. It was putting the two together with a solid, step-by-step training program. That, and doing the work.
Mike Ross Seeklander is a former Marine, Federal Air Marshal, and Federal Firearms Instructor. He’s scored in the top five of just about every national circuit event, and he’s currently a USPSA grandmaster in multiple divisions and IDPA master.
More importantly, he’s a fantastic coach. From his online training programs at American Warrior Society to his in-person training classes, to his book Your Competition Handgun Training Program. It’s is worth creating an Instagram account just to follow his tips and videos.
I first encountered Mr. Seeklander with slack-jawed admiration when I watched him shoot into the Grandmaster class on Bill Wilson’s 5X5 Skill Test (and he was shooting from concealment). It’s easy to think Seeklander’s super human. He’s not. He just does the work.
Prior to it’s release, I got full access to Saenz and Seeklander’s new course Warrior One. Having some experience with both coaches, I wasn’t surprised at what I saw. It was the same step-by-step, goal-driven training I’ve seen in their previous work, combining their considerable coaching talents into a single program.
The Warrior One first six-week course is a series of online training programs. There are three training sessions per week, with a total of 18 sessions of physical training, 12 dry-fire training sessions, and six live fire sessions.
Critical to the training: pre -and post-training assessments for both the physical and shooting portions. The delta between those assessments will let you know if this training is working for you. It will also give you an inventory of your skills, strengths and weaknesses. The online course includes 35 videos, and the firearms videos are all about 8 to 10 minutes long.
For this first series, it’s all body weight exercises. That’s appropriate for a beginner’s course, but don’t for a second think it will be easy. I’ve done plenty of all body weight workouts that left me sore for days.
That said, many of the workouts are at your own pace; you can push yourself as hard as you need to. (Jake includes an advanced workouts in his notes section for those of you who want to make it a bit harder.)
For anyone starting out exercising, or someone who hasn’t been engaged in intense, regular physical activity for six months or more, the program will get your body moving again. It will also get you moving faster. From up to down, from the crouch to the prone and back up again, you’ll be moving quicker.
The improved combat chassis you’ll develop will help you stabilize in positions where you’ll be shooting behind barricades, and better handle the gun in recoil. The biggest change that many of you will notice: breath control and the ability to get your heart rate back down after it has ramped up.
The initial training reflects the motto found on the wall of Jake’s gym: “Stronger, Faster, Harder to Kill”.
Jake’s training recognizes that some exercises aren’t for some people. Maybe, like me, you have some injuries. Maybe you just hate running. Jake provides alternate exercises and shows you how to make your own exercise equipment on the cheap. If something doesn’t work for you, just email him and he’ll answer your questions.
The shooting portion closely resembles Seeklander’s “Defensive Handgun Training Program.” Like the physical portion, it starts from the beginning. You’ll learn proper manipulation techniques, grip, squeeze, and you’ll do a whole lot of draw, prep, and press. You’ll do a whole, whole lot of shifting your focus from target to front sight.
And you should. This is the basics done right, and done a lot. I say basics, but many of you who have been shooting for a long time will consider this new material that is beyond your current skill set. Don’t be offended, and don’t get bored. I had a lot of bad habits to get rid of, and you may too.
If you put in the work, Seeklander’s instruction and drills will rid you of those bad habits, After all, practice does not make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
And that’s what I really like about what Mike does. He provides true step-by-step instruction, and lets you know what you should be focusing on. A lot of us get lost in the weeds. Seeklander lets us know what we should be paying attention to, and then gives us training drills that emphasize these skills.
Much like Jake, Mike has taught a lot of people, and seen a few different ways of doing things. If you something is confusing, or if it just isn’t working for you, email him and he’ll answer your questions.
For this first series, equipment is minimal. As the whole first series in body weight exercise, there is no gym required. No barrier to entry there. For the shooting portion, you’ll need a reliable pistol, preferably the one you will carry, a quality shot timer, ammunition, paper targets, belt, holster and range time.
Range time can difficult to access for some folks, so Seeklander makes the maximum use of your time on the range, saving all the manipulation drills for dry fire practice. You’ll spend under and hour each time, so less than 6 hours total on the range.
As for the dry fire drills, this isn’t hours and hours a day. It’s just 10 to 15 minutes three times a week. That doesn’t seem like much time, but if you actually commit to the work, that’s plenty of time to build a great foundation and get you out-shooting the vast majority of people out there.
The program goes online today (January second). If you are already a member of the American Warrior Society or Atomic Athlete this training is already available to you. If you aren’t a member of either, you can also buy the program as a one off here.
There are a range of payment options. If all you wanted was this program, you could get it for $39.99. There are also myriad options for you to join either the American Warrior Society or Atomic Athlete’s online training, or both. Take a look at the options available and you’ll see you can get a lot of training really cheap.
If you are already physically fit, and you are already an accomplished shooter (e.g. qualify at the Expert level in the IDPA or a B level in USPSA), this is not the program for you. This is too basic for that. If you’ve already got those good habits and basic building blocks, look forward to the next series.
For the new shooter, after some hands on safety instruction, this would be an exceptional course. In fact, I’m jealous that today’s new shooters have access to this type of instruction with nothing other than a smartphone. Seriously, you folks have no idea how good you’ve got it.
For anyone who’s never had professional, step-by-step physical fitness and competitive shooting instruction, this course is a giant step forward. You would likely jump a couple steps in classification. I’d highly recommend it. Even though I’ve seen this information before from these instructors, it was a great refresher and reminder of the things I need to pay attention to.
If you’ve decided to get in shape, or back in shape, and shoot better this year, this program makes the most of your time. It tells you exactly what you need to do, what you should be focusing on, with drills to make those skills ingrained. It has real, measured goals, something missing from many training programs.