“Telling yourself to go fast is a false catalyst” – Scott “Jedi” Jedlinski
People always talk about how important it is to train, but the impact of actually taking a class and finding out all the things you didn’t know is usually greater than what you imagined it to be beforehand. We all have things that we have been taught directly, things that we have learned from listening and watching our instructors and role models, and things that we have self trained into ourselves by doing something over and over again. Through these means of learning we may have gotten good by our own metrics in whatever activity or skill we are developing.
However, you don’t know what you don’t know, and taking a good training class from a quality instructor will introduce new ideas and concepts that you may have overlooked or simply never even considered. At best it will help you address the deficiencies in your skill sets and show you exactly what you need to practice on your own time in order to bring those skills to the next level. At worst it will reinforce your good habits, give you practice and an opportunity to ask questions and you will have a good time and make friends. You may have a lot of specialized training and experience, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t learn. Truly, you can’t go wrong spending your money on training with good instructors.
The Modern Samurai
Scott “Jedi” Jedlinski of The Modern Samurai Project teaches his Red Dot Pistol Classes all over the country. He uses his lifelong background of martial arts to smoothly convey the fundamental concepts of efficient gun play within the framework of kinesiology (the study of body mechanics) and proprioception (The unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself). If that sounds complicated, don’t worry because Scotts easy and good humored manner breaks the concepts down into easily digestible and memorable one-liners such as “sooner, not faster”, “structure, not strength” and do less, get more”. Basically it means that you may be doing a lot of goofy unnecessary stuff with your body that isn’t making you faster or more accurate, so stop that stuff.
Scotts background from his website:
“Lifelong martial artist (TKD, Muay Thai, BJJ), no LEO or military experience (save being an Air Force brat), NRA pistol instructor (who isn’t?). I have received previous training from George Wehby of BlackBelt Tactical, Matt Jacques of Victory First, John Murphy of FPF Training, Chris Sizelove of 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Aaron Brumley of Solo Defense, Steve Fisher of Sentinel Concepts, Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training, Pat Goodale and Wayne Fisher of PFT Training, Ernest Langdon of Langdon Tactical, Gabe White of GWT, Aaron Cowan of Sage Dynamics, and private training with Al DeLeon of the State Dept’s MSD unit.
I shoot 2000+ rounds a month. I am a Master class shooter in USPSA. I train BJJ 2 to 3 times a week. Strength & Mobility training twice a week. I am the 16th recipient of the F.A.S.T Drill coin.
In addition, I am also a contributor on PrimaryandSecondary.com and a moderator on three of P&S’s Facebook groups. I have learned, broke bread, shared drink, asked questions and (carefully) expressed my opinion with many professional pipehitters without getting my ass handed back to me.”
From Scotts background you can pick out some significant accomplishments and a lot of training with other well known instructors. I know Scott as a regular contributor to P&S and a local competitive shooter. Ive followed him on social media for quite awhile, and i watched his training and shooting videos as he rapidly attained his goal of making Master class in USPSA Carry Optics division, treating it like another martial art to master and be a lifelong student of. Oh by the way he made M class precisely one year and 4 months after his first match. That is a feat which must have taken an impressive level of dedication and focus.
Class content and instruction style
So Jedi can shoot, has dedicated himself to being a student of the gun and has accomplished some impressive shooting feats. Lets talk about his two-day red dot pistol class.
Jedi covered all the bases over two days. Rather than giving a line-by-line description of what he covered, id prefer to highlight what i took away from the class, what stood out to me about his teaching style and why i would recommend this class to anyone who wants to improve their handgun skills.
His approach to shooting is actually very simple: “do less, get more”. What this means in a practical sense is that the most efficient and fastest way to accomplish the tasks of drawing, presenting, and shooting your gun accurately is to maximize the use of your natural body mechanics. This concept could also be called the economy of motion. If you look at the best performance pistol shooters, they don’t even look like they are trying that hard. They are using “Structure, not strength”, (another saying i picked up from Jedi) and shooting with practiced, subconscious movements. This approach applies to handguns in general, however its particularly important for shooting mini red dot-equipped pistols because of the nature of the red dot optic. If you present the gun with poor, asymmetric body mechanics then you will end up “fishing for the dot”, moving your head and/or your gun around trying to find the sight. The dot isn’t necessarily in your peripherals like iron sights are, and this contributes to a major part of the learning curve for shooters who are new to using red dots on pistols.
The class consisted of multiple instructional briefs by Jedi throughout the day, after which he would demo the concept, skill or technique that we were working on, and then the class would all go through a few strings of fire under the watchful eye of Jedi and “Doc” Willoughby, his assistant instructor. After the class completed the shooting iterations, we would gather up to do a hotwash, where each student would talk about what the drill taught them about their shooting. It was a good format for a class because it broke up the shooting and instruction throughout the day so you never grew tired of either, and it kept the concepts fresh in your brain as we built up a progression of skills. The skills-drills grew more advanced over the two day period, building on the previous lessons and eventually leading up to a mini-match, a course of fire based on a USPSA stage that incorporated all the previous drills we worked on, and required you to put them all together to shoot the stage.
“Go more carefully, not slower”
Jedi talked about several recurring concepts during the class from which several memorable quotes originated. I already mentioned “do less, get more”, “Sooner, not faster” and “Structure, not strength”, which all relate to the efficiency of movement and using body alignment to your advantage. Another key concept that i did not have a lot of experience with prior to training with Jedi was the use of proprioceptive indexes, which you can use to your advantage in order to make your movements more efficient (i.e., faster and more precise) during gun manipulations and shooting.
I took away several key concepts and tips that i have already applied to my shooting with good results. For example the idea that “telling yourself to go fast is a false catalyst, and you end up ^&%ing up”. Trying to go fast often ends up with a lot of excessive motion that doesn’t actually speed up your time. It may look really fast, but the timer doesn’t lie. Another is that “your draw, is your marry, is your presentation, is your trigger press”, the idea that from timer beep to first shot fired you should have one smooth continuous action, instead of several steps that result in a “hitch” in your draw. Some helpful practical tricks i learned that showed immediate results were to place one of my feet out in front of me in static shooting positions prior to drawing my gun. This creates extra stability when shooting and makes it easier to be more accurate. Structure, not strength.
Jedi also introduced me to the concept of “micro-drills”, which are drilling a specific component of a skill, such as concealed draws. An example of a micro-drill would be to practice the first part of the draw where you slap-grab your shirt and bring to your proprioceptive index of your sternum while simultaneously bringing your firing hand down to your gun to index your grip, end drill.
Over the course of two days i saw marked improvement from every shooter in the class. Several students were brand new to using red dots and this was their first time using them. During the hotwashes and in between instruction it was clear from talking with and listening to other students that they were having epiphanies and taking away lots of good knowledge. Jedi and Doc are also easy going, personable and hilarious, so everyone was having a good time.
Here is a direct quote from Spotter Up writer and team shooter Jenny, who also took the class and was shooting Scott’s “Roland Special” Glock 19 on loan since she has never shot a red dot pistol before:
“I went from not being able to shoot the target at three yards to being able to shoot accurately, efficiently, consistently, while on the move, by the second day. The knowledge i walked away with is worth more than money. had an awesome time !! met great people. Jedi and Jon aka Doc are AWESOME instructors! the way they speak sticks to your brain…”
I can highly recommend this class for anyone looking to improve their pistol skills, not just with using red dots. I will warn you though, once you learn how to shoot a red-dot equipped pistol, you won’t want to go back to irons. Another thing to consider is that this class will attempt to wean you away from the tactical shoulder shrug style of shooting, the dynamic, kinetic, combat-action shooting style that looks really cool and makes great pictures. Come to this class with an open mind, and be willing to learn some new concepts that may just make you a faster, smoother and more efficient shooter. The challenge for you according to Jedi might be in “changing something thats myelinated into your subconscious”, but the rewards might be gold.