View Full Version : COURSE REVIEW: "Problem Solver" with Louis Awerbuck -

September 3, 2006, 04:43 PM
“Problem Solver” with
Louis Awerbuck / Yavapai Firearms Academy, LTD
11-13 August, 2006
Copyright © 2006 [email protected]

“Problem Solver” with Louis Awerbuck of Yavapai Firearms Academy (YFA) www.yfainc.com was a three day defensive shooting class that was different from most. As the title suggests, the class was intended to help people resolve their shooting problems by diagnosing and fixing their errors, but it was also geared toward helping instructors learn how to teach the shooting fundamentals and diagnose problems that students have with their marksmanship skills. Three of the eight participants in the class were attending primarily as students, while four were there to enhance their instructional skills. I was there mostly for the former, but I was also interested in the other side for when I teach people to shoot.

11 August, 2006 – Day One

• Started with introduction and review of four universal safety rules plus range rules.
• Most of the morning was devoted to lecture and discussion about different marksmanship errors and how to diagnose them, including how the location of “misses” can suggest certain errors.
• Not all errors can be diagnosed based on the target hits; observation of the shooter is the only way to know for sure, including watching them when they’re not on the line.
• Shooting started in the afternoon, mostly just shooting different drills on flat YFA targets, with progression to the curved targets.
• Once again, the hardest shot to make is when firing only one shot because of failure to follow-through.

12 August, 2006 – Day Two

• More shooting drills . . .
o But now targets are curved;
o Then angled (but still parallel to the backstop); and
o Eventually angled toward or away from the shooter in addition to the previous angles.
o These increments increased the marksmanship issues slightly, but more importantly demonstrated the importance of “reading” the target for the best areas to shoot it.
• Again, the importance of follow-through was proven by occasional drills requiring only one shot.
• Shooting on the move was introduced, first laterally, then forward and back.
• In the afternoon we spent time discussing diagnosing malfunctions and clearing them with students presenting how to clear the commonly encountered problems.
o Malfunctions that can be fixed with “tap, rack, bang!” plus a discussion of different nomenclature such as “tap, rack, resume.”
o Smokestacks and how to clear them.
o How to fix double feeds
o Problems specific to certain models of guns as well as unique methods of clearing malfunctions, such as clearing a double feed with a Glock or Para-Ordnance.
• The use of second gun was introduced for those who brought them.
o We covered gun handling issues unique to dealing with two guns.
o We discussed when it would be appropriate to switch to a second gun vs. speed loading the primary gun.
o We did some drills using both guns, with the primary firing strong hand only, and the second gun weak hand only during the same drill.
• For those who did not choose to use a second gun, methods for acquiring and presenting the weapon weak hand only were reviewed and discussed. The students using one gun used these techniques during the drills where the others were switching to their second gun.
• In the evening, we did the night shoot.
o While it was still light, Louis discussed the various flashlight techniques, including when and why some are more appropriate for others or may work better or not as well for certain individuals.
o Louis stressed that you should have at least two techniques for using a light that work for you to cover different situations.
o When it was dark enough, we did some shooting drills using our lights.

13 August, 2006 – Day Three

• Day three started with some more basic shooting drills, both as a “warm-up” and to make sure everyone was still getting good hits.
• After a while, photo-realistic targets were introduced, which required more effort in “reading” the target with respect to where to shoot the threat to best stop it.
• Then the targets were placed with one in the foreground and one against the backstop. Working in teams of two, we conducted drills where the partners moved laterally to engage the target(s) assigned at the beginning of the specific drill.
• We then progressed to the moving paper target that is mounted on a cart with wheels with ropes on either side.
o Louis uses the ropes (aka “South African Computer”) to control the movement of the target and present a more difficult shooting challenge to the student.
o Only head shots were allowed.
• After the lateral mover, we progressed to using the “Mirage” moving three-dimensional targets.
o Drills were again done in teams of two.
o Single head shots only were required, the first of which had to be within three seconds.
o First, the threat was the lateral mover in the background, with both of the 3-D targets on the Mirage system being the innocent bystanders.
o Then, the lateral mover was switched to a bystander in the background, with the threat being the 3-D target that moved randomly behind the front 3-D target that was controlled by ropes.
• The final drills once again emphasized the importance of the basics, especially follow-through.

“Problem Solver” was essentially a “level one” defensive shooting class, but with the emphasis on both good marksmanship and learning to coach others to develop those same skills. Overall, the class was a great “tune-up” for those of us experiencing some problems with our shooting. It was also an invaluable aid in learning how to help others to learn the same, especially in the diagnosis of errors and how to eliminate them.

ADDENDUM - 14 August, 2006

I forgot to mention a few things. One issue that played a big role in the class was confidence. I know that when I started having problems with my shooting a couple of years ago that my confidence suffered even more than my accuracy. It got to the point where I was no longer even trying to trust my sights to call the shots, but instead I would wait until I saw the hole in the paper or the steel fall before I transitioned to another target. I’m not talking about looking for the hole to appear as the shot breaks and failing to follow through, but actually doing everything right, but then looking for the hits. That’s incredibly slow.

During the class above, I knew intellectually that I had a confidence issue, but I didn’t realize how much it was really affecting my marksmanship. I’m still in the mode of “fixing,” but now I realize that I don’t just have to believe I’m going to get the hit when I press the trigger, I need to know I’m going to the hit. If I miss, then I miss, and it happens to everyone occasionally, but on each shot I need to know it’s going to be a good hit.

On the way home from day three, it dawned on me that the confidence issue is what really separates me (currently) from a friend of mine with whom I shoot USPSA and NRA Action Pistol Matches. He knows that he’s going to get the hit, whereas I am hoping I will get the hit. I know that I have the ability to shoot well, but that I just don’t do it consistently. Confidence in my own skills may not be the whole show for me, but it’s the biggest stumbling block I’m currently facing.

I noticed this even more so in one of the other students who declared at the outset of class that he had some significant troubles with his shooting. He did have a big problem with follow-through (which Louis saw right away), but when he was able to follow the instruction to follow through on the sights, his hits were excellent! However, I think his biggest problem will continue to be confidence. That’s not something that can be repaired in a three day class, but hopefully he got a good start. He now knows that when he does his job, the hits will be there. He is in the same boat as am I and has to eventually come to know he will hit on any given shot. We both have a long way to go!

I admit freely that I don’t practice much, but now I’m seeing that lack of practice not only retards progress of actual skills, but it also deprives the shooter of any positive feedback that could lead them to being a more confident and thus more consistent marksman. It’s hard for me to admit, but I need to start practicing specifically to demonstrate to myself that I can shoot well, I can do it consistently, and I can do it on demand.

Ultimately, I see now that from an instructor’s point of view, that it’s absolutely essential to do what you can enable students to develop that kind of genuine confidence in themselves and their abilities. I don’t think any teacher or coach can magically bestow such upon anyone, but there certainly seem to be ways to facilitate the student’s journey, and probably more ways to sabotage it. In “Problem Solver,” Louis was always realistic, but also very positive overall. Continuing with drills until everyone sees that they can accomplish the task well really helps, although you can’t keep doing the same thing over and over if it becomes apparent one or more are in a “rut,” at which time it makes sense to switch gears and then revisit the prior elements another time. Ending on a “high note” just makes good sense.

Hard Ball
September 4, 2006, 10:42 AM
I thougjt that commercials were against TFL rules.

September 4, 2006, 10:49 AM
rhino ~

Excellent review. Thanks for posting it!


September 4, 2006, 12:14 PM
Excellent review. Thanks for posting it!

Thanks! I'm glad you found it helpful.

Hard Ball
I thougjt that commercials were against TFL rules.

Excuse me?

Capt. Charlie
September 4, 2006, 12:41 PM
Thanks, Rhino, for a series of excellent reviews :) . These are exactly the kind of things we want to see in the Tactics and Training Forum! Reviews like yours provide valuable information to those considering taking these courses. They also keep the instructors (who frequent TFL) on their toes and keep the quality of these courses high. We appreciate your efforts.

September 4, 2006, 01:14 PM
Thanks for the feedback, CC. I'm glad when something I write is useful or helpful to someone else.

The Problem Solver class in particular was an interesting experience because of the dual intent. I've never been in a class that was a cross between an instructor's development class and a tutorial for helping shooters with their individual marksmanship and gunhanding problems. It was good because the instructors had real students with real problems instead of other instructors pretending to do something wrong so they could practice fixing it.

In retrospect, I wish I had taken notes. I missed a lot of details that will never be repeated in the same context.

September 4, 2006, 03:16 PM
Joe, Harry (yes, Harry in Lafayette--can you imagine the culture shock the poor boy went through?:D) stayed with me during the class and raved about it when we went out to eat. Sounds like I must go next year!:cool:

Don't worry about the negative Nellies, Joe. Some people do not like to be reminded that they should be training. The Nellies soured me on posting reviews, don't let it sour you.:)

Tim Burke
September 4, 2006, 04:38 PM
Good review. I've seen that class listed; it's good to finally get an idea of what it entails. Thanks.

September 4, 2006, 09:11 PM
Thanks, Tim B. I'm glad it was helpful to you. If you have any questions about it, please ask and I'll do my best to answer.

KSF ... I got to know Harry a lot better during those three days and he's a great guy. I'm looking forward to his next visit. Maybe we could do Ken's Gunsite 123 Carbine class in December?