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EOTAC Shooting Clinics
By Massad Ayoob
EOTAC’s shooting team shares knowledge with free clinics after major matches. Roy Huntington thinks this is an idea whose time has come… and can expand even further.
Fernando Coelho, CEO of the EOTAC tactical clothing company, knows that good beta testing is the key to success. To that end, he developed a cadre of experienced street cops, SWAT cops, Special Forces vets, and firearms instructors to test-wear his designs and give him input. Enough of those folks shoot in competition that he ended up with a company pistol team out of the deal, Team EOTAC. A while ago, he and Team Captain Tom Yost, a former national champion in IDPA Stock Service Pistol, decided to “give back” to the game, offering free clinics for attendees after major shooting events. They did one in early October at the splendid US Shooting Academy Range in Tulsa, right after the 2009 IDPA National Championships.
The clinic drew more than 50 competitors. The theme was to break Team EOTAC into two-person squads, each focusing on one of the many intricate and demanding stages that Match Director Curt Nichols and his dedicated crew had made available to the record turnout of close to four hundred contestants. The goal was to break each stage down into components, and give the attendees tips on how to shoot faster and straighter in each of those elements.
under the watchful eye of SuperDave Harrington.
on the move, under the watchful eye of SuperDave Harrington.
Redl and Carpenter: “Missed By A Foot”
Stage Five of the Nationals had been titled, “Missed By A Foot.” Mark Redl, a long-standing award-winner for Team EOTAC, joined with IPSC Grandmaster Tom Carpenter (who had just won the rifle side-match at the IDPA Nationals) to teach the subtleties of this one. Designed by Curt Nichols, it began with the shooter belly to belly with a cardboard target. On the start signal, the shooter would draw and fire three rounds into this target from a close retention position, then sprint to cover and engage a second with a like number of shots.
Moving down the wall to a portal, the shooter was faced with a steel boot mounted to a rotating Texas Star.
The boot represented a hostile gunman who had left only that part of himself visible. Hitting the boot and knocking it off turned the spinning-wheel Star, unleashing a fast-moving target array that raced through a short open area, left to right: two “hostile” targets with an innocent “no-shoot” in between. If the contestant hadn’t put two shots on each of these bad guys before they disappeared behind cover, they would come to rest with their heads exposed through tiny windows, and the shooter was expected to finish things with a head-shot.
Explains Mark, “Every stage needs to be broken down into small jobs that must be completed in a certain order to be successful. Our stage also had a very important shot that we talked about, and that was the boot (plate) that set the movers in motion. You had to get to that shooting position, get set, and make a clean shot the first time or it would cost you dearly.”
Each shooter went through the stage getting a detailed critique from Tom or Mark. Throughout they emphasized the mental aspect of the game, and Mark pointed out, “The three most important areas are accuracy, splits, and transitions.” The accuracy is essential because IDPA, like real life, charges high penalties for bad shots. The splits – time elapsed between shots – add up over several courses of fire. The often-neglected transition factor refers to the speed of the shooter switching between his last target and his next. Attendees learned to drive the gun quickly and aggressively from target to target.
Harrington and Ayoob: Double Trouble
I assisted veteran Special Forces trainer David “Super Dave” Harrington on “Double Trouble,” the ninth stage of the ’09 Nationals, designed by Jerry Biggs. The scenario presumes a gang of kidnappers attacking one’s family. The shooter began facing an unarmed dummy up-range. On the start signal, the shooter had to knock down the dummy, whose falling “body” triggered two fast-moving swingers – no-shoot targets that passed in front of the first “shoot” targets. After rescuing those two innocents with double-taps, the shooter had to march forward, shooting on the move, and put at least two shots apiece into four more targets, arrayed to his left, right, and center.
Super Dave first took all the students through drills on static targets, teaching them to move as they fired without bouncing the gun. “Smoothness is a key to this,” he explained. He showed them how to unlock their elbows while still keeping a controlling hold on the handgun. “If your arms are locked,” he explained, “the gun will bounce with every step, and your shots won’t go where you need them to.” They then graduated to the course of fire itself, with virtually everyone shooting it better now than they had in the match. Dave taught them to advance straight and shoot to the sides, not move straight toward each in turn. Zig-zagging took more steps and more time, he explained, and in tactical reality, moving directly at the opponent would not make the Good Guy a tougher target, while moving laterally to him, would.
Vogel and Yost: Is This on Candid Camera?
Designed by Jerry Biggs, this was Stage Six of the Nationals. The shooter began in the role of a convenience store clerk whose gun was in a drawer beside the cash register, when a robbery gang entered and the first one dropped his gun. The shooter had to grab that pistol, fire three times before it ran out of ammo (a suppressed Glock 17 was provided at the match!) and then snatch up his own sidearm and engage a fast-moving attacker, and then run to cover to duel the rest of the gang. Bob Vogel, who once again captured the Enhanced Service Pistol National Championship with his 9mm Glock 34, taught this segment with Yost, who won High Senior with his S&W M&P Pro 9mm.
Bob said, “The key part is getting your own gun out of the cabinet. You must be ready to grab it instantly; the moving target is so quick it will go by otherwise.” Tom mentioned mindset: “Play a video in your mind of how you’ll do it. I visualized seeing my fiber optic on every target, visualized where I’m do my reload, and so on.” Both champions emphasized the importance of having Plan A and Plan B in place beforehand. Once the shooters got past the first charging mover, they had to determine whether to shoot still targets or swingers first, and both decided to take the swinging target first if it was exposed when they got to the firing point, otherwise, shoot what they could so as to not waste time. Tom shot the swinger first; Bob shot it last; and they both kicked butt at high speed.
Yost says, “Team EOTAC is looking forward to doing more of these clinics in the 2010 season. The instructors get a lot out of it, too. It’s satisfying to see how many people shoot better, and they’re appreciative. 56 people attended our clinic at the Nationals, and unfortunately, some left before the graduation photo.”
And Editor Roy Huntington makes an excellent point: “If you can’t get to one of these clinics at a big match, why not set one up at your own gun club? Get your best, most experienced shooters together and have them share with the rest of you. If the Team EOTAC guys get satisfaction from doing that, so will your local top shooters, and it’s win-win for everyone.”
Sounds like a plan to me!National Champ Bob Vogel guides shooters through an intricate “convenience store” scenario. Bob Vogel’s trademark Glock 34 lies next to match-provided gun, a suppressed Glock 17. Under Bob Vogel’s watchful eye, this shooter has nailed the charging, disappearing target… …and now begins to change position… …taking great care to keep muzzle downrange and finger off trigger as he sprints leftward to the next cover point. Jon Hodaway has quickly snatched his 9mm 1911 from drawer to shoot advancing target… …which he has plugged three times. It falls as Jon turns to the next target… …and prepares to engage it as it swings out… …now! Bob Vogel explains how to “attack” the convenience store course. Here, in the actual match, former National SSP Champ Tom Yost keeps muzzle downrange and finger clear with his M&P Pro as he sprints to next cover point… …where he quickly takes out remaining targets. Many attendees had graduated and left before class photo was taken. Team EOTAC instructors are on either side, in black shirts.