Thoughts On Competitive Shooting

New Book: Your Defensive Handgun Training Program

November 11th, 2012 | Posted by Tobias in News | Training - (Comments Off on New Book: Your Defensive Handgun Training Program)

Mike Seeklander has released a new book that looks another winner. Your Defensive Handgun Training Program: A functional training program for defensive handgun purposes is now available on Seeklander’s site as well as on If it’s anything like his last book, Your Competition Handgun Training Program, it is sure to be a great training assest well worth the money and time investment. Here’s the description from the author’s site:

“Another great performance enhancing product from Shooting-Performance (, “Your Defensive Handgun Training Program” is the cutting edge functional training program for developing skills needed to survive a high stress encounter. While there are dozens of tactical handgun books out there with great material on technique alone, most do not address the “how to train” questions. Training drills alone do not address the complex needs of someone during a high stress encounter where lethal force might be needed, and this book contains an entire program dedicated to all aspects of training for a fight. 

Addressed within this comprehensive book is: Mental Preparation, Physical Preparation, Firearm Skill Preparation, Alternate Methods of Training, The Training Design Cycle, and detailed drills designed to train every aspect needed to survive. 

If you have ever wondered how you should be spending your hard earned money on ammunition and precious time, then this book was written for you.”

If you’ve been a subscriber to Recoil Sports for any amount of time you will recall my review of his last book which has been the single best piece of information I have every know in regards to training, not only for competitive shooting, but can be applied to anything you want to do better. It goes beyond With Winning In Mind (although probably heavily influenced by it) and builds a system of training that in my opinion is unparalleled in building skills for consistent excellence.

I expect this new book will be very similar to his last book with the modification of the drills which are defensive/combative focused. We’ll see. I plan to get a copy as soon as a Kindle version becomes available, so expect a review shortly after that time. I’m sure it’ll be recognized as the best text on the topic if it’s anything like his competitive shooting program.

Mike Seeklander Your Competition Handgun Training Program – Day 2

May 30th, 2012 | Posted by Tobias in News | Reviews | Training - (Comments Off on Mike Seeklander Your Competition Handgun Training Program – Day 2)

Day 2 of Mike Seeklander’s class is now over and we are all just smoked. I fired right around 1000 rounds today bringing the total round count for the class to right around 1300. Not a bad day’s work at the range. Looking back over my notebook I realized that I only took about a page and a half of notes since we doing so much shooting. And if we weren’t shooting we will loading mags while the other half of the class was shooting. But most of the items that did make it into my logbook were true gems of knowledge that Mike bestowed upon me such as:

  • Why do I always shoot poorly on the first stage or two durning a match
  • I need to add just a little bit of bend in my elbows to dramatically reduce recoil
  • Why I’ll occasionally throw a shot low
  • Taught me a new strong/weak hand grip that actually works
  • Knowing how far I can reliably shoot while moving and get A zone hits

His diagnosis was spot on and helped me with a great deal of vexing little things that I just could not figure out on my own. Now back to the garage for many, many hours of dryfire to fix my training scars.

I probably did more support hand shooting on Day 2 than I’ve done in my life. For some reason I just have a major issue with support hand shooting. Strong hand, not fast but no problems, support hand, consistant 5 o’clock hits. Mike did show us a better grip and body position that brings me back on target if I can just remember to do all the little things he showed me. We worked on the draw and transfer as well as reloading while shooting stages with strong/weak hand requirements. Note to self, you’ve got some work to do here.

Day two also focused on moving skills, lots of them. Moving and shooting forward and backward, then shooting while walking “figure 8’s” around a couple of barrels. We also learned how to move with a gun when not shooting. For example, when you need to move to the next shooting position behind you, what is the fastest and safest way to get there? What if you’re moving backwards to the left or right? And if there is a mag change? Or running to the left or right? When should I let go of the gun with both hands or when is better to keep the grip? All of these little things add up quick and now I know.

We covered so much material and shooting drills it’s hard to recall of them, but his X drills were probably my favorite. Mike said if he was on a desert island with a million rounds of ammo this is the one drill he would do. There are many variations on it but the crux of it is you have two USPSA targets and you draw, shoot one, then move to the next and shoot, then back, rinse and repeat. Some times you would start on the body, sometimes the head. Maybe you’d have a reload in there or would be firing different combinations or rounds counts. But however you do it, it’s a scream. There are a bunch of the listed in the live fire section of his book so you can see look them up and get a better understanding of what the drills look like. For the first time of the day I felt that I really came online and was seeing my sights track and calling my shots. I was really tearing through them after a litte warm up and wished that I always shot like this!

So after two days and 1300 shots fired the reflection period begins. What did I learn? What changes do I need to make? What next? I think Mike said it best during the after class debrief he said that we shouldn’t expect to shoot any better now than we did when we showed up. We haven’t put in our time on the drills yet or followed the training outline in the book. But I think he setup a good foundation to train upon as well as helped diagnose issues that have been holding us back. For me I know I have many long boring hours of dryfire ahead of my to relearn my basics properly but I’m looking forward to the dividends that I know it’ll pay come match day.

As far as epiphanies go, I gleaned a few from his book and his class that have already made a huge difference for me. First, separate moving speed and shooting speed as they are not tied together. Ever seen someone draw like lighting and put hits on a 3 yard target then see them draw like my arthritic grandmother for a 25 yard hit? The draw speed should always be the same. Move fast, shoot in control.

Secondly, read you sights. Sounds simple enough, but they will really answer all of your questions. If you’re seeing your sights and shooting with a proper sight picture, you are doing it right. If not, you’re doing wrong or pushing too fast. This simple concept totally eliminated the problem I used to have where you’d shoot well during practice then get on a squad of GMs that just blaze through the stage. You’d just automatically go there speed, after all, they got their hits so why wouldn’t I? If you’re seeing your sights, everything else is irrelevant. This takes discipline. See the next paragraph.

Lastly, when it comes to visual patience, perception is NOT reality. Stop and re-read that last line a few more times. When the clock starts and I draw on a target and I’m waiting for the sights to settle so I can start the firing cycle, it seems like an eternity. Note that I said seems. Although it your brain is screaming at your finger to fire the gun, if you have visual patience and let the sights get to where they need to be to get your hits, the timer difference is almost imperceivable. The difference between an A zone hit and a D or even a miss is so small I’d be a fool not to wait for the sights to settle. I’ve proven this out in practice many times now it holds true. It’s so easy to do, but it’s even easier not to do so practice this every time you shoot. Again, once you know, it’s all about discipline.

So let me get off my soap box and wrap up here with a few final thoughts. I know I mention a couple of times that we were all just smoked at the conclusion of each day, but that isn’t a bad thing. The class was great and everyone had a great time. In fact we were all already throwing dates out when we could try to get him out again. If you’re looking for a training program get Mike’s book. If you’re looking for training, call Mike. Both were money well spent.


Mike Seeklander Your Competition Handgun Training Program – Day 1

May 29th, 2012 | Posted by Tobias in News | Reviews | Training - (Comments Off on Mike Seeklander Your Competition Handgun Training Program – Day 1)

Last year I stumbled up Mike Seeklander’s book, “Your Competition Handgun Training Program” in the Brian Enos forums and had one on order an hour later. After getting it and tearing through it a suggested to my training partners that they buy a copy, too, and that we change our training regimen to this program. After following the program for a while I sent Mike an email about setting up a class and a few emails later we had it on the schedule. A few more emails later and we had the class filled with 10 of my shooting buddies who thought the class would be a great springboard to becoming a better competitive shooter.

For those who aren’t familier with Mike Seeklander, other than the author of the book, Your Competition Handgun Training Program which this class was based on, he is also a trainer (and I think president) at USSA, a co-host on the TV show The Best Defense, a Top Shot season 1 member, on a new show about machine guns, as well as a top competitor in USPSA, IPSC, IDPA, Bianchi Cup, Steel Challenge, Multi Gun, on and on and on. But when asked what he does/who he is, his simple answer was, “I’m a professional instructor.” There are a lot of great shooters out there, but not many great shooters are great instructors which I suspect is the reason for his statement. If you’re looking for instruction and worried about spending a few days with someone who’s ego is bigger than their abilities look no further. Mike is as humble and friendly as they come and did a great job of relating to all of the skill levels in the class.

As with any class or training program we started with introductions, a safety brief and went about stapling up line of cardboard targets. Mike explained the program and the course outline then went over the principals of the YCHTP. Next we went over the fundamentals of form from the ground up. The stance, footing, how to lean in to the gun, the grip, gear placement, etc. Now anyone can tell you to hold the gun a certain way, but Mike took the time to evaluate each of our shooting styles and make suggestions on what was wrong and how we could improve upon any little thing he noticed wasn’t optimal. And let me tell you, nothing gets by him. If you flubbed your grip on the line, or missed a reload, or reverted back to something he corrected, he picked right up on it like a firing line ninja. Kind of spooky really.

I’m not new to competitive pistol shooting. I’ve done it off and on for a few years now and thought I had my fundamentals down pretty well. Mike picked up on no less than a half dozen things that I truly was doing wrong, those little things that cumulatively add up to big performance issues. For example, getting my support hand just a little bit further back behind the backstrap of the gun made a really noticeable difference in recoil management as well as getting the sights to return back to the pre-shot sight picture. He also pointed out that durning the draw I don’t bring my support hand far enough over to the strong hand which causes my to drive the gun over then back on it’s way to the target, which was something I’ve noticed the gun did but never understood why or how to correct it. He also showed me a new way to index my support hand while building the grip which helps me nail it every time as well as get my support hand further back on the backstrap. I really could go on ad nauseam here with fundamental shooting errors that Mike fixed with me alone, but you get the point.

One of the things that I really think sets this program apart from the others is it’s emphasis on the mental aspect of competitive shooting. How this has been overlooked in other programs is beyond me but after reading about them in his book and putting them into practice I noticed a big difference in the constancy of my match performance as well as making a major impact on my training partners. Mike outlines the entire process but for me the visualization section was a key missing component of my shooting repertoire. Running though the stage in my mind in the first person at the actual speed of my capabilities repeatedly before shooting it was another breakthrough for me and kept me form getting lost on the clock or missing a target as well as boosting my confidence for the stage.

We moved on to shooting with different trigger management techniques as well as when to use each one. Next we went through his excellent “clock” drills performing some with a step and some with a pivot which were straight out of his book, but being a visual learner, wan’t sure that I was doing them correctly (I wasn’t) and my footwork will most certainly improve in the future from doing these in practice.

Finally we worked on a few specialized skills like picking up gun up off of a table when loaded and how to place it and your mags when you needed to pick up your gun and mags from the table and then load it. We also touched on reloading and how anticipation affects our shooting.

Mike packed a ton of content into Day 1 as well as a ton of dryfire. We covered so much in fact that we didn’t fire a live round until about 2:30 in the afternoon but once we were hot I got off just about 300 rounds covering the rest of the drills. Tip for future students; bring a note book and keep it close. Mike is a torrent of great advice and hard learned tips from the top that we would probably not have figured out in this lifetime or at least much later in our shooting careers.

Wow. What a day. Thank God I brought a notebook so I can review the pages of notes I took. I also need to get my new grip dialed in which means I’ve got hours of dryfire ahead of me to unlearn my bad training scars. I think the couple of newer shooters were really the best off since they had fewer bad habits to overcome, and I can’t help but to think where would I be if I had taken this class when I first started shooting.

I’m exhausted, but looking forward to tomorrow.

Ordered “Your Competition Handgun Training Program”

August 27th, 2011 | Posted by Tobias in News - (Comments Off on Ordered “Your Competition Handgun Training Program”)

This morning I was poking through the Brian Enos forums and noticed this thread in the training section discussing Mike Seeklander’s book, “Your Competition Handgun Training program.” A few minutes later I was on Amazon and had the book on its way. From the people posting in the thread it looks just like what I’ve been looking for. I often get to the range to practice and have no plan on what to train for that day and probably waste a lot of time and ammo just shooting groups or F.A.S.T. drills. It looks like Seeklander has put a comprehensive training plan together geared for the USPSA/IDPA shooter in mind with live fire and dry fire drills. It sounds like there are even vision and balance drills outlined and the feedback in the tread is overwhelmingly positive with testimonials from shooters who have followed the program with great results. I hope to find some little nuggets of knowledge that will finally propel me out of C class!

‘Come on postman!