Review: Make Ready, with Dave Spaulding

“The average teacher explains complexity; the gifted teacher reveals simplicity.” –Robert Brault
I was extremely lucky when I first started training in the Martial Arts. My first instructor had a meticulous understanding of the crux fundamentals and the human kinesiology of unarmed combat arts. He also comprehended the importance of those basics, and drilled them into us relentlessly. He instilled solid, core principles that were applicable to, and easily transitioned from style to style during my quest to find the ultimate fighting art—core principles that I still practice and teach today.

When it came to firearms training, I was not so lucky. I naively believed that what I was being taught was “correct.” Today, after expanding my knowledge by independently attending firearms training under some of the best, I now know that my original trainers really didn’t understand the core principles of shooting. It was a bitterly disappointing moment in my life when I had to accept the fact that although I had carried a gun for a living for roughly 20 years at that time, I’d never been taught how to correctly grip a semi-auto pistol, let alone the correct methodologies of most other core principles.

I will however, give those trainers the benefit of the doubt in my belief that they were trying to do the right thing; but I also believe that a major part of their lack of understanding was training incest.

Nevertheless, by the time I had learned properly taught fundamentals, and truly understood why I was not shooting nearly as well as I wanted to, the damage had been done. I’d been training and practicing incorrectly for many, many years. Old habits are hard to break, and the consequence of years and years of poor training and improper practice is undeniable. I’ll never be as good of a shooter as I should have been.

The point: Your first trainer’s teachings, and how accurately you practice the skills early on, can affect your abilities for a lifetime. Those small, sometimes subtle details in motor skill performance, if learned incorrectly and then practiced incorrectly, can program neural pathways that can take more practice time to correct than you’ll have available. If you learn a skill correctly to begin with, your skills will be optimal and you won’t have to waste valuable training time trying to deprogram a defective mental schema.

My awakening to top-tier firearms training came in 2005. I attended Dave Spaulding’s three-day Handgun Combatives class in Northeastern Ohio. Without any hesitation, I can proclaim that I learned more about the correct fundamentals in those three days than I had in over a decade of “conventional police training” with a semi-auto pistol.

I consider Dave Spaulding to be one of the premier firearms trainers in the world. (BTW, Law Officer Magazine and ILEETA awarded Dave the 2010 Law Officer Trainer of The Year, which confirms that many others share my feelings about his competency.) Now I must make a full disclosure about Dave Spaulding. The year after attending Dave’s class, I recruited him to join me in developing and teaching the RACS Seminar. Make no mistake about this: I don’t call Dave a premier trainer because he is my seminar partner. He is my seminar partner because he was a premier trainer long before I recruited him.

Which brings me to the purpose of this article: to introduce some of the most competent, detailed, and well-presented firearms training that you can acquire for home study. Panteao Productions has recently released two DVD’s of Dave Spaulding’s Handgun Combatives Training. The first of the set, Make Ready with Dave Spaulding: Combative Pistolcraft Essentials, covers “stopping power,” equipment, grip and trigger control, body position, ready positions, holster skills, speed reloading, clearing malfunctions, one-and two-handed shooting, dry fire and much more. Dave demonstrates these core fundamentals of combative pistol shooting with far more detail and precision than any other instructor or DVD I have seen to date.

Dave always refers to what others call “fundamentals,” as “essentials.” These skills are imperative to being able to shoot accurately, rapidly, and with combative precision. While you may think you already understand all of these (I did, until I learned that I didn’t), you may not understand them as well as you could. To quote a SEAL Team Six operator regarding combative skills and training: “You don’t know, what you don’t know.”

The second in the series is Make Ready with Dave Spaudling: Situational Combative Pistol.  Some of the advanced skills Dave covers are: body rotation to the threat, multiple target engagements, close quarters engagements, shooting while kneeling, prone and supine. Also: one-handed operation of your pistol, the always controversial point shooting v. sighted fire, seated shooting, advanced skill building drills and much more.

If you’re looking for training that teaches really cool-looking ninja-cop-fu firearms skills, look elsewhere. Unlike the tacti-cool crowd, Dave keeps them as simple and physiologically efficient as possible. Simple, as in easy to learn and apply. These are physiologically efficient—that is, they seek to maximize the potential speed in application.

Something else you will note in Dave’s teachings is somewhat of a rare trait. He doesn’t teach with the “because I said so” mentality. He not only teaches you how to perform the individual skills in the most efficient way possible. He explains in critical detail as to why he believes these methods are the most efficient for life or death combat.

I have to admit these are the first Panteao Production DVD’s that I’ve seen. However, I’d like to express my compliments to Panteao for their exceptional production quality: Multiple camera angles, the sound is excellent, and close-up camera views are provided where they are needed. Having produced a training video myself, I know the amount of work involved.  A lot of production time went into these, and the results show it.

To be perfectly blunt, if I could have purchased these DVDs back when I was first issued a semi-auto pistol, I’m positive I would have learned the essential skills correctly. Thus, I would have been practicing them correctly from the beginning, and I know I’d be a far better shooter today than I am. If you’re not shooting as well as you think you should be (be honest: that’s most of us), these DVD’s are worth far more than the purchase price.

Available from Panteao Productions.


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