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.