Unique Little Snowflakes: Vehicle Gunfighting Class Review #1

| July 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

Last Saturday the She-Shepherd and I took a vehicle gunfighting course from QSI Training. Aside from some prototyping I did with them, this was the first time I’d ever done any live fire training inside of or around a vehicle.

As I mentioned in my teaser article, adding one little thing can make a huge difference. While the class covered shooting from a kneeling position, prone positions (standard, left rollover, right rollover), and switching hands to fire, I’d already done a fair amount of that before. The only new things to me was interacting with the vehicle.

Boy, did I learn a lot.

I’m going to stretch my thoughts out over a few entries, but the first thing I want to discuss is how confining a vehicle is. I was amazed — none of the 13 students had the same experience inside of my 4-door Jeep Wrangler. Arm length, height, torso flexibility, neck flexibility, chest size, belly size, leg length, and carry position all played major parts in how students engaged targets from within the car.

For example, I’m nearing 40, am 6′ 0″ and weigh just under 180 pounds. I have long, orangutan-like arms, a bird-like chest, broad shoulders, and am fairly flexible in my core due to the workouts we do. Thanks to QSI and Suarez International I have also been training on how to shoot with either hand. These things allowed me to engage targets without too much difficulty throughout the day.

Another student was in his late 60s, was about my height but did not have the flexibility, reach or body composition I am fortunate to have. He was unable to turn his neck and upper body very much, which made it very difficult for him to engage targets past the 9 o’clock position.

In yet another example, another student in his early 60s, taller than me and probably with longer arms, still had the strength, flexibility, and mobility to fight at any angle. He did, however, have to switch to his “off hand” to engage targets behind him in the 7 o’clock position.

I do not mention these things to criticize anyone, but just acknowledging that every student had a different set of capabilities.

I guess my elementary school teacher was right: we are little unique snowflakes.

I guarantee you that none of us knew what our strengths and limitations inside of a car were until we took the class on Saturday.

I’m not going to recap the class, but I wanted to discuss the layers of practice that kept this class as safe as possible and accident-free.

  • Almost all drills were practiced with either an empty gun or a practice gun first.
  • Students then did the drill according to the instructor’s commands (e.g., draw your pistol, ride the wheel, engage the first target, engage the second target, etc).
  • The next iteration was at the student’s own direction, but only at a slightly faster speed.
  • The last iteration (or iterations) were at the student’s own direction and then at the student’s own speed.

Here’s my first video from the class. This is the “starter” drill from inside of the car. We’d already spent half of the day practicing the skills that all added up to what you see here:

My thoughts on my own performance:

  • My procedurals are usually my strongest suit. Things like keeping my finger away from the trigger, reloading, holster work, looking around etc are my strength. However, being inside of the car preoccupied my mind and I made a lot of basic mistakes. For example, I didn’t scan as well as I usually do. I could have edited that part out, but stuff like this is why we practice.
  • At one point I instinctively went to unbuckle my seatbelt instead of drawing my handgun. When I realized this, I stopped and restarted. To me, that was a bigger mistake than going for the belt in the first place. I should have just pushed through it.
  • For some reason I had a hard time reloading while sitting down. Twice I didn’t seat the magazine all the way and it dropped into my lap.  I don’t know exactly why this happened, but I need to practice more.
  • My speed was pretty good, as well as my accuracy. I credit this 100% to how I’ve been training the last few years: by not forcing my speed. This was a long, difficult lesson for me to learn, and I’m grateful for my instructors for being honest with my performance from class to class.

Do yourself a favor and get your practice gun or Airsoft training pistol, go into your garage, and sit in your car.

Can you engage a target at the 11 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and 7 o’clock positions while seat belted?

Have you ever tried to draw your gun while seated? If so, is your master grip still good? We had a few students shift their handguns mid-draw, and I think they need to re-evaluate their holster choices and carry positions.

Practice makes less imperfect, folks. Let’s be ready to act if the situation every arises.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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