Fri. Jan 17th, 2020

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

A couple years back I took a condensed version of “Advanced Combat Pistol I” (ACP1) with my good friend Marshall Luton. It was a very exciting opportunity to be invited to take the follow on training in “Advanced Combat Pistol II” (ACP2) with The Defensive Shooting Academy (TDSA) of Tulsa, OK.

Advanced Combat Pistol 2 at first glance:

Generally most TDSA coursework sell out quickly but massive flooding across the state (and on the range) pushed the date back over a month. There were only 8 students in attendance for this course with 2 instructors; Director of Training Marshall Luton and Billy Smith as the second in command.

The course is C.L.E.E.T accredited and will qualify as 16 hours towards continuing education for Oklahoma LEO’s. This course was/is an open enrollment to the public exactly half of the students were either Law Enforcement or Active Duty Military. Only the LEO students used WML’s and every student shot with irons. Every student carried a Glock. Either a 19 or a 17. All of the students had attended ACP1 in the past. One student being the exception having some training. This was the first time TDSA has ever allowed a student to attend ACP2 without having attended ACP1 as a pre-req (more on that later).

The Instructor team:

The instructors were very brief about who they are/were and were excited to dive right into the material. Their bios are extensive and can be found under the instructors tab on the TDSA website.

The instructors elaborated on terminal learning objectives for the course with a clear designed path on how to arrive at the desired end state by the end of training. They were also totally committed to understanding where each student was in their respective shooting game along with how confident and safe each student was with weapons craft.

What stood out to me during this initial interaction was they were personally and professionally impassioned to help every student there.


The Course:



The start ran the class through dry-fire drills where the TDSA team examined each student to catch (and correct) the smallest nuances up to any potential safety issues. The attention to detail was excellent. There was an obvious uniformity as far as EXACTLY what right looks like. Corrections were instantly made as well as suggestions to improve the shooter. If you observe below it was clearly caught on camera the subtle drop/lean of my shoulder during a reload. Excess motion is wasted time and slows the process of putting shots on target. As they say at TDSA; “Get it out, get it up, get it on!”

High-level firearms training build their curriculum’s on a mix of experience and foundational principles. Content wise the principles are similar. It is the class/course itself that is the actual product. TDSA did was move from dryfire to live fire ensuring safety and standards for follow on training for everyone in the course. Regardless of skill level.

Our shooter who DID NOT attend ACP1 had obvious issues as far as gun handling goes initially. The student also had equipment as well. TDSA handled it perfectly in my opinion with this equation. The student/instructor ratio also made it easy for the TDSA team to work with the student.  The student was at an acceptable standard before lunch. He was given a complementary slot to attend ACP1 at his earliest convenience. The first morning we established the baseline.


Returning from lunch hydrated with full bellies it was on. The afternoon was dedicated essentially three things. Movement, Strong hand, and support hand. Doesn’t sound like much right? Compound that with time, malfunctions, reloads, using/moving to cover, target transitions, and more; Those three things become quite complicated quickly. Every student was pushed to their failure point. This is not done in such a way to break the student down. It was clear that we barely scratched the surface of how good we can be with a pistol. We finished the day with some competition and drills as a class. I have more work to do before I can earn a TDSA coin.      



Day 2 morning session started off reviewing many the concepts for Day 1’s afternoon training with more students getting better and better applying the techniques under different pressures and circumstances. We then went on to cover unconventional shooting positions. Billy Smith did an excellent job making it very simple to understand the movement or the positions do not change the concepts behind the fundamentals of marksmanship. We shot from kneeling, prone, supine, and many other positional variations. Before we took off to lunch we ran through a target transition drill that was picked up from Spencer Keepers. Fun drill and harder than it looks.


Day 2 afternoon finished off with the last blocks of instruction covering using a pistol at contact range or confined space. Instructor Billy Smith has extensive training and experience in this area. He gave us a great deal of personal insight with regards to this portion of the class. The students(especially the LEO’s) felt like just this portion could be a two day class in itself. From there we went on to cover fundamentals of vehicle shooting. Everyone was able to see how all the concepts we covered over the last two days culminate into one event.  The added difficulty in target discrimination also puts into the perspective the daunting difficulty of the average patrolman.


As far as the low-light shooting goes we did not shoot in those conditions but were able to cover the material on how to do it properly. Our student who student who didn’t take ACP1 finished very strong and met the minimum time hacks of the drills by the end of the course. That’s really a testament to skill teachers that are at TDSA.







My one handed shooting in either my strong or support hand improved dramatically. I can consistently shoot very tight groupings one handed. The biggest concept for improvement came from an understanding of a fast miss takes much more time than a slow hit. The TDSA team is also very engaging which made it easy to maintain focus on the lectures. My first time in Oklahoma is a memorable one. This is a very intense class and you need solid fundamentals before going.  I highly recommend TDSA to shooters at all levels. I look forward to going back for more training with The Defensive Shooting Academy.

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*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.





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