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I spent yesterday with Frank Garcia at Universal Shooting Academy in Frostproof, Florida. I had wanted to do this for some time, but my schedule and his prevented that until now.

A bit of background about Mr. Garcia: He is a Grand Master ranked multi-year IPSC/USPSA champion with nearly a dozen area championships under his belt. He has conducted high-performance shooting training for many spec-ops tier-one combat units (Special Forces/Delta, SEAL), law enforcement (SWAT, Special Police Units, Federal Air Marshalls), and foreign special tactics units. He spent three years in Iraq Iraq, where he was the Team Lead for the Counter Terrorist Special Operations Force (CTSOF) Iraq Mentor / Instructor program. He has a fantastic reputation as an instructor and competitor, and he’s been at it for about 30 years.

His philosophy, proven both in combat and competition, is that shooting sports may be a game, but they accurately mimic and prepare you for gunfighting. Unlike some other folks out there, he feels that the skills used in the shooting sports are vitally important to running a gun in battle. Although there are unrealistic tactics (like targeting order) injected into match play, they are minor compared to the big picture. Apparently, the spec ops and high-level LEO communities agree.

Originally, thought that I was to participate in a several person one-day class but, once I arrived Frank informed me that the other student(s) had canceled at the last minute. I had lucked into a full day of one-on-one!

We started with some classroom work, which I found surprisingly useful. My first thoughts were that I was there to better my shooting, not become a scholar. I was wrong. The physical game starts with the mental game. To become what he calls a “high-performance shooter,” you gotta’ first understand the ”what” before you learn and practice the “how.”… and he made me take notes!

Next, he had me draw, aim, and dry fire about three-dozen times to check and correct (happily didn’t need much fine tuning here).
Then we started the first of many drills. In order (to the best of my recollection), they were:

• Dot Drill. USPSA cardboard targets were stenciled four rows down and three across with 2-inch dots, and placed at 7-yards. First, we practiced draw and fire on each of the first row dots. Individual shots on each dot going across and then back (total of six shots). Of course, these were timed and critiqued. Then we did draw, fire controlled pairs on each dot, then reholster for the second and third rows. Then he mixed it up, giving me two non-consecutive dots on each row to draw, fire controlled pairs, and reholster. Again, these were all timed and critiqued. We ran through maybe a half-dozen targets with this drill.

• Control Drill. Draw then empty magazine into a 2-inch dot placed center-of-mass on a cardboard target at 7 yards, with shots at half-second intervals. Timed and critiqued (this was the theme for the day). We did “a bunch” of these.

• 8” Plate Rack at 15-yards. We worked on these for quite some time, going from right to left, left to right, outer to inner, inner to outer. Then we did the drill with two sets of plates, starting in front of one set, drawing and firing, then transitioning to a second location to finish the other rack. He called this subset of the plate torture… I mean drill, a lateral movement drill. I think I only had two or three perfect runs on this drill.

• Moving Target Drill. Draw, fire three shots on cardboard target moving (fast) across the stage at 10 yards, then reholster. We did this right to left and left to right until I had gone through 18 magazines loaded with 12 shots each (216 rounds).

• Swinging Targets Drill. Ther were two metal poppers set one to the left and one to the right of a target swinging from behind a barrier. We performed this drill at about 10 yards (I think). Frank started the swinger; then I was to draw from surrender position, place one shot on one popper, then two shots on the swinging target as it became visible, then one more shot on the other popper. We probably did this for as long as the Moving target drill.

• Various other drills, including double tap and reloads, were practiced throughout the day; oh, and we did stop for lunch.
Last, he ran me through a couple of USPSA stages a few times each. Quite honestly though, by this point, I was spent (after all, I will be 60 this summer)! I had spent from 0830 until 1700 there and had run through 1300 rounds of ammo.

Did I learn something? Absolutely! I picked up so many pointers that I can only hope to retain half of them. I realize that I was not as bad as I thought, that I need to practice differently (and I know what drills to practice now), and I need to enter more competitions. Oh, and I have a few bad habits that I need to break.

I will definitely be calling on Frank Garcia and Universal Shooting Academy again as I progress in my shooting skills.
 

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I'm new to Florida and will actually be taking a training class near Tampa this weekend. Thanks for this helpful review - will have another instructor to look for next time.
 
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