View Full Version : Dynamic Marksmanship - Taught by Tom Givens of Rangemaster– Class Review

January 5, 2008, 11:05 PM
I’ve taken about 10 handgun classes now, and without a doubt, this one tuned up my MARKSMANSHIP the most.

Tom Givens has taught in Baton Rouge before, and I have reviewed him before. I felt like his Level One class was very interesting and worthwhile. Rangemaster’s doctrine follows the beloved Modern Technique, and overall I find the material to fit very well with other classes I’ve taken at Thunder Ranch and Shootrite. While there are some differences, in the end it is largely based on the situation and what is LOGICAL in a given situation.

I helped organize bringing this class in, and Mr. Givens and I spoke at some length about what to offer… we eventually settled on a “level two” class – Dynamic Marksmanship.

I was really looking forward to the class. Mr. Givens tends to cover a lot of material in his classes, and I thought we might get around to doing some of the cool stuff… you know, jumping out of helicopters while shooting moving targets, etc.

Our first shots fired got my hopes up – the INTRO to the class was a timed diagnostic of our existing skills from 5 – 30 feet, one handed, etc etc etc. In *theory* everyone in the class was supposed to be up to speed. There were 10 total students, and as it happens – 5 were and 5 weren’t. We spent the first half of the first day covering a lot of the fundamentals.

From there, the real purpose of the class developed… and the more I train and talk to people that have had to actually use a gun to defend themselves, this class is focused exactly where you need to be focused. This class is about making precise hits - under pressure. As it happened, something was reinforced – there are no advanced skills, just a mastery of the fundamentals as they are applied together.

We fired short strings in huge numbers, burning almost 1,000 rounds in two days. Almost every drill dealt with precise placement of shots.

Our targets were somewhat unique. As is Rangemasters way, we used different targets throughout, but the ocular cavity on all the targets was very small (just like real life!). Even more interesting was that some of the targets featured much smaller targets in the periphery – circles, squares and triangles that had letters or numbers in them. They were 2-3” and they made life interesting.

As the class progressed, we began facing some very interesting drills that got progressively harder. Mr. Givens believe in stress inoculation – that some stress in training means you’ll be better equipped to deal with real stress down the line. Further, he understands that what we fear most is looking bad in front of our peers…

Hence, here is the final iteration of the drill.

You have a target with 8 possible areas to be shot – the center mass, the ocular cavity, the 1, 2, or 3 and the circles, squares or triangles.

There are a series of commands that make you THINK before you shoot – i.e. “Durka Durka” means switch to the weak hand before hitting your target. We shot a lot of strong hand only and weak hand only. You also had to take a step left or right as you drew the weapon. You also had to step to the left or right if you ran dry while you reloaded… getting the picture? Lots going on here.

Failing to perform as instructed means you step off the line.

Missed? Step off the line… and remember, some of these targets are 2” and we’re up to 20 feet away.

*Fired last*? Step off the line. Perfect hits are fine and wonderful, but we don’t have all day, Nancy!

It is a great drill. You can not just hit the lever and get your cheese – you have to think about how you are going to shoot what you have to shoot, then shoot it pretty quickly, yet with precision.

The point of the class is that this isn’t rocket science – you need to do a few things well, then practice them a hell of a lot.

1. The draw
2. Stepping off the line of attack
3. Using the sights/manipulating the trigger
4. How to hit exactly where you are trying to hit
5. How to run the gun – load/unload/reload/malfunctions

Mr. Givens did not say it exactly like that, but in the end, that is my interpretation of the point of the class.

In the end, if any of us ever have to take a shot where our life or the life of a loved one depends on us – that “perfect shot” will be a serious test of how we prepared for that moment. Dynamic Marksmanship prepares you very well for that moment.

Final note on trigger control/sight alignment…

Mr. Givens demonstrated that nothing really matters other than trigger control and sight alignment in a unique manner. I’ve heard Ayoob and a couple others shoot the gun upside down to illustrate this principle.

Mr. Givens took this to an extreme. He used my Ruger GP100, which he had never held or fired.

He was able to take my 5” 357 mag upside down and stroke the trigger with his pinky – double action – and ring the steel target 6 for 6 times.

“Trick shooting” to be sure – and it again reinforces that when shooting for precision, the GUN is always in alignment – it is the operator that needs to do their part.

Check out www.rangemaster.com for their schedule. Great information and training.

January 6, 2008, 12:45 AM
pangris, Thanks for the report. Tom Givens is a phenomenal teacher. I took a combat pistol course from Givens in January '05, just before I deployed for Kuwait and Iraq as a civilian employee of DoD. (They weren't going to issue me a gun, but I thought it would be "nice" to be able to handle a Beretta if someone tossed me one in a tight spot.) I grew up shooting revolvers and a 1911 and have had a CCW for 10 years, but have never been much of a DA pistol shooter.

I borrowed a friend's 92 and went to the range for familiarization the weekend before the course. Out of a 5 shot string, I don't think I was able to put more that 3 rounds on a pie plate -- at 7 yards! That Beretta just doesn't fit my hand, etc. As I packed the Beretta and ammo for the trip, I thought, whoa, this is going to be embarassing!

To shorten the story, Givens taught me how to shoot a pistol! By the end of the course, I passed the final exam with points to spare. I've had lessons from other instructors before, good ones, but I learned more from him in 15 minutes than from everyone else over 40 years!

January 11, 2008, 07:08 PM
I was at this class and learned more in two days then I have in 10 years of range time.

We shot so much my H&K P7 literally burned a hole in my hand!

Thanks for bringing Mr. Givens to Baton Rouge. I hope to make it up to Memphis sometime for more instruction.