In case you don’t want to spend the time to read this, all you need to know is, if you have the ability to take a Sage Dynamics course with Aaron Cowan then don’t hesitate and do it. I have been through a decent amount of courses, not all firearms related, and Aaron is one of the most professional and competent instructors I’ve seen. Just watching him teach was worth almost as much as the content that he was putting out. Let’s get down to the course itself.
Day 1 was all classroom. Lot’s of PowerPoint was involved but it was extremely informative. We first discussed how long humans have been target focused vs using sights on weapons and how red dots on handguns can help us get back to a more natural way of aiming. “We are using technology to shoot more naturally.” Lot’s of videos where shown demonstrating the main benefit of a red dot allows you to better see everything around and not get so sucked in to your front sight. It allows you to focus on the threat the entire time vs having to remove focus from the target back to your front sight. Like anything, there are tradeoffs with red dots as well. We discussed the cons but after the next couple days of shooting I’m willing to take the bad with the good.
Day 2 was out at the range all day. We zeroed all of our optics at 25m. This is the usual zero distance on manufacturers iron sights. After lots of testing this has proven to be the best overall distance to zero for the least amount of holdover at the majority of typical engagement distances you’ll use a handgun for. We tested parallax and found that even out to 25m with the dot in the extreme corners of the window you can still keep hits in the A-zone of an IPSC target. Obviously you would prefer to shoot with your dot in the center where you zeroed it but this drill showed that it doesn’t have to be a perfect sight picture to be effective. Cadence drills are very crucial in driving home the importance of grip. Since we are on the topic of grip. This may sound blasphemes but you can grip your handgun differently based on what you are trying to accomplish. We do it with a rifle depending on whether we want speed or accuracy so why can’t we do it with a handgun? The main focus of the day was getting a proper grip, allowing each person to find their red dot upon drawing from the holster, after each shot, and after reloads or malfunctions. The key here is using proprioception to line up the back plate of the pistol with your nose. This will get the red dot right where it needs to be in front of your eyes. Also, make sure you are focusing on the target and not the dot.
Day 3 began working through the different types of optic malfunctions you may experience. A front lens blockage is the easiest to deal with. If you are keeping both eyes open your brain will automatically superimpose the dot on the target. (Some people require a little extra practice to make this natural but it can be very effective.) This was actually how the OEG (Occluded Eye Gunsight) used in the Son Tay raid worked. Next, we went over rear lens blockage. If this happens you can use the optic body as a rough aiming point. You should try this at different distances to see at what point it becomes unusable. If using the RMR you can use the body of the optic and guillotine the target. A couple other options are putting a mark on the top center of the optic body and using it similar to a shotgun bead or even super gluing a fiber optic rod in this place. Another malfunction is an issue with the emitter. Usually this will result in a much larger dot being projected or multiple starbursts. It is not ideal but can still be used like a normal dot (just larger) up close. Lastly, if the battery does or the dot disappears but the window is still clear then just revert back to your iron sights. Almost no excuse not to have backup irons on your handgun. We then worked through multiple target engagements and added in some movement. Lastly, we shot the qualification to make sure everyone applied what they had learned throughout the training.
I used my work belt and my SPACENAG (which is working amazingly).
As I stated at the beginning, this course was worth every bit. Aaron’s professionalism was unmatched. He is a “why” guy. “Why” am I doing something this way? Being able to answer that will almost always lead to the best way of doing things. I also want to give a shout out to the Coweta County Sheriffs and Fulton County School Police. These two agencies are where the rest of the class members came from and they were all great guys. It was odd but nice being the lone military guy in a class. It allowed me to see and hear different perspectives and viewpoints. The class was definitely geared towards law-enforcement but I still took a lot away that can be used both in my current job and also as a civilian.
I know I recently wrote about why you should compete and I believe getting good training goes right along with that. If you carry or ever think you will have to use a gun in defense of yourself or loved ones then you owe it to them to be as proficient as you can. Take classes when you are able. Spread the love and try different instructors. Sometimes even if the instruction is the exact same but the instructor uses different words, that is all it takes for some new information to sink in. Now get out there and train.