Back in December 2019, I attended my very first formal pistol shooting course, taught by Blue-Green Alliance founders Gabe and Josh (both active Force Recon Marines). The lessons I learned at that intense two-day class were distilled into the first entry of this column in Issue 37. As I wrote at the time, “I walked away knowing that I still have a tremendous amount to learn, but also felt encouraged by my ability to improve.” Since then, I have dedicated myself to doing just that — learning and improving. After more than a dozen other courses, thousands of rounds of ammo, a growing pile of new guns and gear, and countless hours spent practicing on my own, it’s hard to believe that only two years have elapsed.
Although I’ve seen the results of my ongoing training efforts, I wanted to quantify them by attending another Blue-Green Alliance course. This time, I opted for a two-day Dynamic Marksmanship class that integrated both pistol and carbine. We began with dry-fire and a refresher on fundamentals — stance, grip, sight picture, and trigger control. As with the first class, we recited “prep-confirm-roll” aloud while we prepped the trigger to find the wall, confirmed sights aligned on target, and rolled more pressure onto the trigger to break the shot. Saying these words helped students become more deliberate about the accompanying actions, and also ensured we maintained a rhythmic cadence of fire. To this day, I often find myself silently repeating prep-confirm-roll or the accelerated prep-roll phrase while I train — it’s a conscious reminder to eliminate rushed movement and make each action intentional.
Shooting drills began with a timed qualification that’d be repeated at the end of the class. We started with carbines at 50 yards, firing five rounds standing and five rounds kneeling before sprinting to the 10-yard line. We reloaded our ARs and fired three more rounds, then transitioned to pistols and fired another three. We were graded based on hit factor, a combination of time and round placement on the IPSC target. Subsequent drills included shooting pistols and carbines from both sides of cover, speed reloads, working various ready positions (low ready, high port, and stock over the shoulder), transitioning between multiple targets, and firing multiple rounds in a steady cadence. Variable cadences were also practiced, since we needed to speed up or slow down our split times to maintain accuracy on targets at various ranges.
Given the theme of the class, switching between our carbines and pistols was a significant focus of many drills. The shooter’s support hand lowers (but doesn’t drop) the carbine’s forend to the support side of the waistline, then moves laterally across the torso to keep the carbine from swinging around. The dominant hand draws the pistol up to meet the support hand, then moves out to full extension. Reversing this process makes it easy to efficiently re-holster, but it’s rare that you’d need to switch from a pistol (secondary weapon) back to carbine (primary weapon) in a real firefight, so we mostly practiced the other direction.
At the end of the second day, we repeated the timed qualification, and I managed a 30-percent improvement to my hit factor score. Throughout this two-day Blue-Green Alliance class, I grew more efficient with both my AR and pistol, but the achievement I’m most proud of is my overall improvement over the last two years. Of course, as the old adage goes, “The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” I certainly have more room to grow, and I look forward to continuing on this path.