I recently took Dave Spaulding's Critical Space Pistol class. It was a two-day event, located up in Brainerd, hosted by Dave Timm of Learning Firearms and Patrol Tactical. The focus of the class was skill development of shooting the pistol at close distance, as well as effectively shooting the pistol when other "non-targets" are present. What follows will be a broad overview of the curriculum, as well as some of the key points I learned. Up front, I'll say I was thoroughly satisfied with my time and money spent, and would recommend the class to anyone who carries a pistol on a daily basis.
Dave started the class with a lecture on the importance of being able to draw and shoot the pistol at contact distance. According to him, over 50% of LEO's feloniously killed are done so when within five feet of their assailant. Just as important as the ability to get the gun out, is the ability to move quickly off the line of attack. Pistol fights are usually fights first, and there's only so much that can be taught in two days, but throughout the class, Dave did as much as he could to give us tips, tricks, and tactics to give us an advantage in a close range fight. Particularly noteworthy was a neat story he shared about lessons he learned from a WW1 veteran some 40 years ago. "Affect your opponents ability to see and or breathe, and you will rule the day". - WW1 veteran.
Some of the lesson topics covered included:
-The benefits/drawbacks of low, medium, and high retention, and shooting from each one
-Moving laterally, forward, or backward while drawing, then shooting
-Drawing the pistol, then moving aggressively between obstacles, in order to get to a position from which to shoot the target
-Drawing the pistol, then firing from retention, while using the non-dominant hand to distract the opponent (face smash, elbow, groin punch, etc)
-One handed shooting
-Malfunction clearance (only briefly, both because this is an advanced class and we should all know it by now, but also because malfunctions are much more likely when we're struggling with someone at close range).
-Recoil control and accuracy techniques
I took Southnarc's ECQC class a few years ago, and I still think it's one of the best pistol courses I've ever taken. Most fights between LE vs. felon or citizen vs. felon occur at close quarters distance. Seeing the fight coming should be considered a luxury, because often it will be a complete surprise, and we'll be forced to instantly adapt and overcome. The skills that Southnarc, and now I'll also say Spaulding, teach us, are absolutely essential if the solution to the problem is our firearm. Boxing, wrestling, or whatever you like that's similar in unarmed combative nature, should also be a part of a thorough self defense training program.
I've spent a lot of time over the years working on my draw from concealment, with both one and two hands, so at this point, I was pretty much squared away. I also shoot fairly often, so my recoil control and trigger control are alright. That said, there is no such thing as an "end", or "finishing point". The skill can always continue to be developed. The old joke that if Rob Leatham still thinks he can get better, then so should we. I think I've begun to realize that the whole point of these classes, is not to make us markedly better in two days, it's to teach us what to do when we get home, so we practice effectively and correctly. That, over the course of time, makes us better shooters or fighters. Spaulding gave us lots to take home with us. Both mental nuggets, as well as lots of individual corrections he made with each of us while we were on the line. Dave seems to see everything - good and bad. I could tell his main goal is to teach us what he's spent his entire career learning, because he knows it might save lives.
I'll be training with Spalding again this fall when he comes back to teach us his take on vehicle combatives with a pistol. It will also be up in Brainerd. It's unfortunately already sold out, but all that means is he has a good reason to come back next year too. Dave Timm, the host, does a fantastic job of coordinating logistics. Not only did he find a great range for us to shoot at, but he erected two giant sun screens, set up picnic tables, brought us all lunch, and ensured accommodations for sanitation as well. Many range hosts simply tell the students when/where to show up and nothing else. Not so with Dave, and it was highly appreciated by everyone.
I'll also be training with TTS Solutions, Forever Armed, Steve Fisher, and Kyle Defoor this year. I'll post AAR's about their classes here too. Hopefully this was helpful if you're considering training with Dave Spaulding. I recommend him as a trainer, and I'll be back in the fall to train from him again.
Critical Space Pistol by Dave Spaulding - After Action Review by Aaron