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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.

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  1. Thank you for this. I would love to see more reviews of books and DVDs. There’s a lot of instructional material out there, and not a lot of money in my wallet…

  2. in my youth i was surrounded by hunters and shooters. father, mother aunts and uncles and grandparents. i learned firearms safety first and as i proved myself i was taught more skills by my family. for us training was combined with fun in informal plinking sessions.

    nowadays it seems that a lot of newbies are finding guns on their own and having to start from scratch without that level of support. for those newcomers the dvd’s and localised training classes are a great thing.

    proudest moment of my young life was when the family decided i was ready for my own gun. no gun safes then, i took my new shotgun and ammo and put them in my bedroom closet.

  3. I have the same dvd set + the dynamic shotgun dvd. Very well done and well worth the bucks unless you live next to an excellent training center.

  4. I watched Tactical Carbine vol1 last week and am actually taking a pause right now between discs 1&2 in Dynamic Handgun. I’ve been shooting for years, but I’m self taught. I wish I’d discovered this series years ago. Then I wouldn’t have to unlearn so many bad habits. These videos are a blessing because they simply show the basic fundamentals and how even experienced shooters overlook simple things like trigger control and breathing.

    • +1 & +1

      Coincidentally, I just finished that revolver book this weekend and I have also been reading The Total Gun Manual by the Gun Nuts of Field & Stream, which is proving excellent.

      • Thanks, I’ll look into the ‘The Total Gun Manual’. By coincidence today I saw Grant Cunningham’s wife Chris from a distance in a Portland sporting goods store where she teaches a class in concealed carry. Grant has a website with many good relevant articles under the library tab.

  5. Welcome, Nathan. And nice to have a new perspective. After shooting for more than half of my fifty years now, I’m still picking up new tips and tricks to better my technique (and results). Having been a martial artist much longer than that, there was so much pressure to never change the old ways (even when nobody was quite sure what the old way was), yet here I am regularly learning thoughtfully improved ways to handle a pistol that was designed 100+ years ago. And I do appreciate the trainers who offer advice and options (and explain why they do what they do) rather than insist theirs is the only right way.

  6. Welcome Nathan,

    Thanks for the write up.

    May I suggest along with dry fire drills, you might try to find an IDPA/IPSC or GSSF event/league in your area so that you can put those skill to use versus just standing in front of a paper target. Ditto with the level gun, find a NRA or MRPA Silhouette matches or also find an Appleseed event or CMP event in your area.

    The DVDs are great, but it is another thing to actually be out and using those skills even in just a gun game

    • Could not agree with you more, I bought some steel targets and am working on shooting and moving but I will definitely look into some matches.

      Thanks for the great feedback, it really motivates me to do more reviews.

    • It is not actual commercials in the video, the editor must have understood me wrong. They just use products from Smith & Weson and Surefire for almost everything and they say how great their products are, which I am sure is true. Again, no actual commercials you have to fast forward through, it just feels like a commercial because the products used are generally from the same company and they say how well each product works.


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