Cassie Larsen submitted this article.
I had the privilege of being invited by Rob Pincus to attend a Combat Focus Shooting (CFS) class with my husband. I went to the CFS class with a lot of excitement and a lot of nervousness. I knew I was in for a long day of many new firsts. Here’s a list of some of the firsts, this day would bring; My first professional shooting class. First time wearing a gun belt, wearing a mag pouch and holster. First time moving while shooting. First time drawing from a holster to fire and first time shooting more than 200 rounds in one day. With all those firsts you would think this was a horrible day for me. But it wasn’t, it was a blast. I can’t wait to take another class. I learned so much and I feel much more confident in my ability to defend myself or my children if needed.
Favorite Training Phrases directed to me, by Rob Pincus:
“Cassie is there a reason you can hit box A but not box B?”
“Cassie we have established you can shoot low and to the left, now stop!”
“Cassie if I don’t see those hands up in a startle position, I’m going to throw a rock at you!”
“What box were you told to hit? …..Left….. Ok then why did you shoot the right one?…..Um I have no idea…..Yeah me neither, now stop!”
“Cassie, I don’t know what happened during lunch, but you’re shooting better than your husband”.
The day started out with some classroom training about the philosophy of Combat Focus Shooting. The reasons why continued training, beyond getting your conceal weapons permit, is important. We also got to see a little preview of Rob’s personality and passion for what he teaches. We were only in the classroom for about 45 minutes. Part of which we also discussed range rules and filed out waivers. Also, we got to wait for a team mate who was so excited to come to the class, he jumped a curb and crashed his car.
During the classroom portion, I learned out of the 10 students in the class, I was the only one who had never been to formal gun course, either military, law enforcement or other professional class. With this knowledge I was even more nervous. “Great, now I was going to hold the whole class back.” Rob did help me feel a little better by telling the class that the only person we were competing against was ourselves. We needed to improve our best during the class. I was also the only female in the class.
In the class of 10 students, we had two instructors, Rob Pincus and Barret Kendrick. We also had a CFS Instructor that had just finished his instructor class and was observing. I was surprised in a group setting like this that we actually had a lot of one on one instruction. I was teased a lot by Rob, but it was all to help me improve. I could really feel the passion Rob has for what he is teaching. He really impressed me with how much he seemed to care about all the students improving their techniques in the class. To me it felt like he carried about us.
Rob was very articulate with his explanations, examples and instructions. Every instruction given had a reason behind it, as to why it worked and why it was more efficient than another technique. I liked being told why I was doing something, not just being told to do something. It helped me to understand the reasoning for the specific training we were doing. No matter what questions you asked in the class, both Rob or Barret were very helpful and would give multiple different suggestions or tips to help you. Both Rob and Barret would stay with me during the breaks to help identify my problems or help with additional instructions. I saw them do that with several other students as well. For me they were outstanding and I would highly recommend this class and these instructors to any shooter.
We began with shooting center mass, drawing from the holster. We were given no instructions except to shoot center mass. For me this was stressful. It was the first time I have drawn from a holster and gone through the steps of the draw on my own. Let alone not having my husband by my side, telling me step by step, what to do. I am very proud to say that I hit center mass. I also didn’t have a negligent discharge or drop my gun. After my first 20 or so rounds, I was feeling pretty confident. I was doing well, getting faster at drawing from the holster and firing fairly accurate on the target. Then Rob came over and said, ” Cassie we have established you can shoot low and to the left, now stop!” Okay, now defeat time, but not really. That is the purpose of the class though, to improve on your shooting techniques. I had many more times during the class that I was called out for the purpose of improvement.
I actually preferred that my husband and I weren’t shooting next to each other. In the beginning of the class we were next to each other and I noticed I was watching him and looking to him for confirmation that I was doing what I supposed to. After he moved away from me, I didn’t have him as a crutch and I was able to improve in my confidence. I suggest to other women taking training classes with their significant others, to think about separating from them during the class.
The Startle Response is responding to threat stimulus, then drawing and firing. The Startle Response improves with practice or repetitions, that’s why you train with it. The easiest way to explain a Startle Response without you seeing someone do it, is to have someone scare you. What you usually do is focus your attention towards the stimulus, lower your center of gravity and put your hands up to defend yourself. I initially had problems with the Startle Response during the class, it was a foreign concept for me. Even though I understand the reason behind the training for it, it was still odd for me to act startled and then draw and fire. After talking to my husband, he also had difficulty with the Startle Response, due to years of previous law enforcement training and instructing.
We went through many different drills, shooting at the A box and B box , different numbers and colors, all while using the Startle Response and movement. We were now at the portion of the class, where we were running hard from different positions and firing at different spots on the target. We were supposed to do all the techniques taught to us throughout the day. That included the Startle Response, and moving while drawing and reloading. I patiently watched the first group go through the drill and felt confident that I too, could do the drill well. I was able to stay up to speed with the guys, running from spot to spot, drawing and firing. I however was not doing my Startle Response well enough for Rob, “Cassie if I don’t see those hands up in a Startle Position, I’m going to throw a rock at you!” Rob then picks up a handful of rocks. I think I had five or six rocks thrown at me before I threw my hands up in the air like the cops were yelling at me, “Show me your hands!” I did get a good chuckle from the group behind me.
Out of all the tips and help Rob gave me during the class, I think this one was my favorite. He really was pushing my personal limits, he wanted me to improve. The truth is, if I don’t practice the Startle Response, I won’t be prepared to defend myself. I’ll have to think a lot more about what I’m doing, where my hands are and what I need to do next. I might lose those important few seconds, that could save my life or more importantly my children’s.
Other Learning Moments:
I learned so many more things in this class. I enjoyed shooting with one hand and found it really interesting that I could hit a target without keeping my hands still. I liked that I didn’t have to line up my sights every time I shot, I could still hit the box without them, at a close distances. I learned, even in a stressful situation, I could hit the target. I realized I needed to simplify things more, I have a habit of over complicating things. Many times during the class I was thinking too much or added additional steps that weren’t needed. I was not moving as efficiently as I could be. All of the new things I learned really helped my confidence level with handling a handgun.
During the day I shot about 450 rounds. While I was loading a magazine with new ammo, my thumb locked. For over 15 minutes I was teased by Rob and Barret, trying ” field acupuncture” (poking my thumb with various non-helpful things). My lesson and advice to you is to stay hydrated on a hot day. What finally unlocked my thumb was a very cold Gatorade placed on that hand. From that moment on, I didn’t load my own mags, I had my husband do it.
I truly loved this class. I enjoyed meeting Rob, he was very nice, sincere and took the time to really help you one on one. I would not hesitate to take another class taught by him.
The biggest thing that came out of the class was related to my firearms confidence level. I now feel more confident in using my firearm in a stressful situation. I feel more comfortable manipulating the firearms in my home, especially when my husband is away from home.
Thank you Rob and Barret for all the information given, time spent helping me to improve my skills and my best effort.
If you want to learn more about the Combat Focus Shooting class or take one of your own visit Rob Pincus ICE training website. http://www.icetraining.us/index.html