I recently attended an 8-hour training class with Green Ops, specifically their Practical Pistol/Competition Skills class. There were three instructors for only eight students, which made for plenty of personal attention from each instructor. Normally this is the part where I write that I received a discount or was comped the price of the class. That’s not the case, I paid for the class myself because I wanted to learn and while all three of the instructors have a strong relationship with Spotter Up, no monetary aid was given. Joshua Shaw, Luke Brooks, and Chris Alvarez were the three instructors for the course, and they each have a very diverse background. Josh is an intel analyst and has been competing for several years in USPSA, with several M and A class rankings across a variety of disciplines. Luke is essentially a giant farmboy with an extremely diverse training background, having taken classes with Modern Samurai Project, Steve Anderson, Centrifuge Training, and a host of others. He is also sandbagging as a B class shooter in USPSA, the skill he demonstrated during class definitely puts him at A Class or higher. Chris is a retired Ranger and SF, having spent almost as much time on active duty as I’ve been alive. To view his or anyone else’s bio more extensively please visit https://www.green-ops.com/instructors-bios While these instructors all have much more extensive backgrounds than I’ve listed, they were humble teachers that only briefly gave a background before moving on with the class.

Quick photo during a water break. Myself, Dave, and instructor Josh Shaw with Chris Alvarez providing some extra instruction to a student in the background.

We were even graced by having the old man of Spotter Up enrolled as a student as well, he’s the old guy in all of the photos. He too demonstrated great improvement throughout the class, I guess you can teach old dogs new tricks after all. On a serious note, how awesome is it that the dude that founded all of this that is Spotter Up still humbles himself to enroll as a student and learn with the rest of us?

This dude created Spotter Up, gave guys like me a sense of purpose again. Without Spotter Up I wouldn’t have grown to be who I am today, would never have found Green Ops or progressed so far in my shooting abilities.

The class opened with discussing the course of action for an ambulatory injury, and then moved on to covering safety on the range and a quick but detailed examination of the four universal safety rules. After confirming everyone understood the procedures for safety and medical emergencies Josh opened up with discussing the importance of dry fire and some tools recommended for enhancing that process. Green Ops has a partnership with Go Fast Don’t Suck for their incredible dry fire targets. These targets are adhesive, they will stick to anything and can be reused repeatedly, without ruining paint or anything else they’re stuck to. I’ve had mine for over six months, they continue to be of great use and have yet to lose any of their adhesive nature. Steve Anderson’s Refinement and Repetition was also highly recommended, and as a personal user of his book for the last year I couldn’t agree more with the recommendation. Josh didn’t simply list the tools he uses in dry fire, he went into detail on how he utilizes these tools for his dry fire practice; he and Luke gave a detailed layout of their dry fire regimen and how they approach it to improve and not just coast in the comfort zone.

After covering these topics we moved to the range and proceeded to practice some of the first ten drills in Refinement and Repetition. I was initially running AIWB for this course with my Beretta Elite LTT, after getting a solid amount of dry fire reps in I was ready to swap to strong side as my stomach was becoming raw from the amount of reps we were getting in. I’d highly recommend an undershirt for this course if you plan to run AIWB, especially if your grip texture or panels are aggressive. During the dry fire practice the instructors were moving among the students, offering individual coaching and advise while another instructor took over running the group. They were also running a timer and quickly decreasing the par time to push students towards finding their breaking point and then learning how to correct deficiencies to make the par time. With such a small student to teacher ratio if anyone needed extra attention they received it immediately. Even with the amount of daily dry fire practice I get there were a few things I learned to improve my practice.

After dry fire we moved from the flat range to where a mini USPSA style stage had been set up. We were told the structure for the drill and given a few minutes to walk the stage and develop our own stage plan. Once this was completed the firing order began and shooting abilities were matched against the mental aspect of shooting under time with an audience watching. The first shooter was my good friend David Bruce, and while I sadly didn’t get his run on video, he absolutely smoked it. Dave and I are both avid shooters, but with our combined match experience still being counted on one hand, we had less experience with actual matches than others. In spite of that he still laid down the best time for the stage, while I ended up struggling to execute the drill as I had planned. While it was pretty humbling to do so poorly out the gate, it was a bit of a wake up to the mental aspect of the game, something that had been mentioned several times already.

We then moved back to our static targets to execute the dry fire drills we had practiced with live ammo, giving us the opportunity to confirm our times and work from dry fire with live fire. The Green Ops crew worked as more than simply paid coaches, they demo’d drills, got some reps in themselves, and demonstrated genuine patience and passion for passing their abilities and knowledge on to their students. More than that though they all kept the mood light-hearted, there was no yelling or anyone trying to speak down to the students, they wanted us to have a good time as much as they wanted us to learn safely. I even fell for Luke convincing me I was dropping my DA shots 3′ low three times in a row before I realized he was shooting my target. I was getting so focused on trying to recover from my failed stage run that I had lost some confidence and was getting too serious to learn what I needed. Small actions like that by the Green Ops team really kept everyone focused on learning without getting too serious or wallowing in doubt over a missed shot.

Progression Green Ops Class from Spotterup on Vimeo.

A short break for lunch allowed everyone to get some food and hydrate while loading mags for the second half of the day. I also got some time to dump some rounds through the Pickett’s Mill Armory 10.5″ AR pistol being tested for another article for Spotter Up. Myself, Dave, and Josh all got a few mags through the AR and then it was right back to learning with the pistols.

I switched over to my Glock for the remainder of the course, which allowed me to focus more on the lessons being taught rather than struggling to master the DA/SA of the LTT. The next shooting drill may be what I enjoyed most, learning to transition rapidly between targets. Luke demonstrated how much time could be wasted by not driving the gun or not letting your eyes lead the sights to the next target. They drove us hard to really let go of focusing too much on precision and learning to just let the speed happen. We started with accurate shots on steel with a focus on making an accurate transition as quickly as possible, and then moved on to paper.

On paper we broke into three small groups with an instructor in each group running the timer to push the student to make faster and faster transitions from the first target to the second. Some struggled to let go of the accuracy portion, but with such close attention from the Green Ops crew everyone got their times down. I felt quick making .20-.23 splits until Dave started running his in the .18-20 and then we got Josh to try a few and his were in the .15-.18 range. We then moved back to steel with the goal of seeing how much faster we could make the transition. Some of us, myself included, had trouble letting go of the pure speed we had been pushing and had to make quite a few runs until a solid run was made. With the exception of one student everyone had managed to shrink their transition split time by a distinct amount.

Tons of fun was had, learned a lot but never too serious.

After the transition drills were complete we switched to running the mini stage with the two longer steel shots removed from the drill. After each student made a run one of the Green Ops team would point out any errors for them to fix, offering advice on how to correct the issue, and then shots were pasted and it was run again. There were no perfect runs, they seemed to find everything and not in a negative sort of way. Experience from competition and military backgrounds meant they knew what to look for and how to correct it, even down to foot placement for the final shot was pointed out. Once everyone had a few runs down the full stage was run for the final time, with improvement being blatantly evident for all shooters.

There was a lot I loved about the class. The instructors were all thoroughly experienced in what they were teaching They could teach the why behind the how, and do it without talking down to any of the students, no matter how naive the question. They also were not Glock/Striker gun focused, while they all ran striker guns they weren’t ignorant to the nuances to using a SAO or DA/SA firearm. As I said before they also kept the mood light, it felt far more like a range day with the boys, except the boys knew a lot about shooting and were all about helping us improve.

In the few days that have passed since class I am consistently being blown away by my improvement in just my dry fire practice. My only regret for the class is only that I wish I taken a class with them sooner. The improvements I have made in one 8-hour course have dwarfed the improvements I’ve made on my own. Even being able to send videos and questions to Josh previously, while very helpful, did not truly capture how effective learning in person from him and his fellow instructors would be. While the class did have a general focus on competition style shooting, you absolutely do not have to be a competitor to find the class useful. Anyone wanting to improve their shooting abilities will find a Practical Pistol class with Green Ops extraordinarily helpful.

*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.

By Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson spent six years as a USMC Machine Gunner. He deployed three times to Afghanistan as a gunner, team leader, and section leader and left the Marines in 2015. After leaving the Marines he attended college and earned his Bachelors in Business Administration in 2019. He is currently raising his three small sons with his wife, while continuing to learn as much as he can about firearms, and pass that knowledge on. He also dryfires entirely too much in his basement.

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