A Weekend With Rob Pincus, I.C.E. Training

Over the weekend of December 10 through December 12 I traveled over to Fernely, Nevada to attend a combination Combat Focus Shooting & Advanced Pistol Handling courses presented through the courtesy of LMS Training and instructed by internationally know instructor Rob Pincus. You may have seen Rob the Outdoor Channel where he cohosts “Best Defense”.

This, as mentioned, is a combination of two two-day courses compressed into three days, and 1,600 rounds of shooting! I’ll start off by saying that this course is not for beginners and challenges even experienced shooters through changes in thinking and actions – I know I was challenged(!). Rob Pincus is what I term a ‘master instructor” and, as a self-proclaimed “geek”, he carefully analyses the human psychological/physiological aspects of defending oneself in what he terms an “ambush response” – that’s like, you’re at the mall shopping for Christmas presents and gunshots suddenly break the din -> what will you do as a natural human response to that stimulus?

Combat Focused Shooting represents some changes to the ways we’ve been taught that things “should happen” in response to a surprise intrusion on our day-to-day activities. Rob asks us to consider what it is that we (human beings) really do when confronted with some sort of threat? How does our physiology/psychology respond and what will we naturally do? This is response applies to everything from having a friend throw a ball and yell “heads up”, to blocking a punch or taking fire in the mall.

We found that the first things we do are put our hands up in the perceived direction of the threat, protecting our heads (the control center) – this is called the “flinch”, then we quickly make an assessment of the situation, and finally take the appropriate and required actions to reduce or nullify that threat. Once handled, we reassess to determine if our world is safe, or at least safer (after-action).

It seems to me that those of us who have never had to engage in real combat have been trained by great instructors for what is more or less optimal situations. That is to say that when we train from a stationary or static position in front of a paper target we build “good” habits that may, or may not, be applicable in a gun fight or personal attack situation. Combat Focused Shooting, on the other hand, brings a set of tools that are based on what we will actually do when the “poop” hit the fan. In turn, it is our responsibility to practice them so that we have muscle memory when we need it.

The Advanced Pistol Handling portions of the course then dealt with gun handling under stress – combat or emergency reloads and malfunctions, both two handed and one handed. All one handed operations were performed with both strong and support hands (if you want to get a mental/physical “workout”, get some ‘dummy ammo” and a partner, for safety sake, and try things one-handed with your support hand. I felt like a fish in the bottom of a boat:-). Also involved was one-handed shooting, on both sides, and effective, efficient use of cover and concealment. We did a good bit of rolling around in the dirt, shooting on the move, and running for cover to reload, or duck!

So, it was a fun and productive learning experience that I’d like to repeat someday. I learned a number of things and found that I have to adapt some of them for my beat up body, but I did learn, and learning something should be the result of any training experience. If you’d like to know more about Combat Focus Shooting, Rob’s book, coincidentally entitled “Combat Focus Shooting” is available from www.icetraining.us , www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, etc.

My best advice for anyone wanting to improve their shooting and gun handling, is to practice with your principal weapon until you are intimately aware of all of it’s capabilities and foibles. It doesn’t always take live ammunition to gain this handling experience, but it does take some time. You should get to the point where you know without looking when the slide locks and also be able to find a magazine and reload with your eyes closed, even if it’s on the ground!