Hey there, it's Myles from Tactical Hyve with another class review for you.
I had the chance to attend JJ Racaza's 2-day, High-Speed Marksmanship class.
JJ he is a highly sought after trainer, world-class competition shooter, and former Federal Agent. He is known throughout the industry for his movement, and his knowledge, experience, and accomplishments continue to catch the attention of the world's most elite military and LE units.
I've been wanting to train with JJ to improve my shooting because I know there is a lot to learn from professional shooters, like efficiency and movement. The class was exactly what I hoped for, and a whole lot more.
There were so many gems shared in JJ's class, and just as many golden nuggets informally shared in between drills and repetitions, that it's impossible to cover everything. My goal, however, is to give you a good idea of the meat and potatoes of the class.
Let's take a closer look.
JJ's class was well organized with practically no dead time. It's clear that he has a lot of experience teaching and loves what he does. Even without an assistant instructor, he was able to keep a close eye on all the students, continually providing feedback, while keeping everyone engaged.
Gear requirements were on par with other classes. At a minimum, students had to bring a pistol, magazines, a range belt, OWB holster, ammo, and eye and ear protection.
JJ's class is an advanced marksmanship class. In other words, the class focuses on improving your skills as a shooter, specifically accuracy, speed, and movement.
This class doesn't cover tactics, though with JJ's experience as a former Federal Law Enforcement Officer, and as a trainer to elite military and LE units, I really liked how he related everything he taught to real world applications.
JJ covers so much material in his class that I believe only advanced shooters will be able to fully appreciate the details. While intermediate shooters may take the class, I don't feel they will get as much value or really grasp everything, but they will still learn a lot.
We started Day 1 with student introductions and JJ talking about what we could expect over the next two days. He mentioned that by the end of the class, we would have a heighted sense of awareness and we would be better thinkers. Boy, was he right…
I think every student left with an improved ability to self-diagnose: they immediately knew when something was wrong, if they were doing something right, and what they needed to do to fix an issue or to improve.
JJ also explained his approach to teaching. He likes to go from the micro to the macro, meaning, he likes to start by isolating skill sets then gradually combining them.
That said, we started the day shooting from the 10 yard line for accuracy so that JJ could see how we performed to get a better idea of what he needed to breakdown more for the students.
After the first course of fire, he talked about how people shoot differently when shooting for accuracy versus when there is a need for speed, and accuracy. Shooters use different techniques, and this is where the disconnect is between shooting accurately and shooting fast and accurately.
Typically, when people shoot pistols for accuracy, they have a slow, steady trigger pull to the rear, pinning the trigger to the rear for a moment, then they hear the audible click when they reset their trigger.
JJ taught us that this was one of the biggest obstacles to overcome when shooting fast and accurately. There shouldn't be a disconnect–the way we manage our trigger should be the same, whether we are shooting for accuracy or for speed and accuracy.
To help us overcome this disconnect, we spent a lot of time working on trigger manipulation–specifically, learning to take all the slack out of our triggers.
Now you might be thinking, “I already know how to do that.”
Well, likely not as precise as JJ wanted us to be.
We spent time playing with the slack in our triggers, feeling and seeing how many walls we encountered before the trigger break. Many were surprised to find three or more walls before the trigger break.
I used my Glock 34, and previously, I thought there were only two walls. But after our exercise on playing with our trigger slack, I noticed three.
So what was the point of all this? JJ wanted to prove–that we could jerk the hell out of our triggers while still being accurate. He was absolutely right and proved it to all of us with a test.
From 7-yards, he had me take shots on his command, using a timer. I had my trigger fully prepped and my sights on target. The goal was to break my shot even before the timer could register any kind of time.
After breaking several shots around the .14 mark, I was able to consistently do so without any time being recorded.
Here, JJ's point was that in order for me to shoot fast enough so that the timer didn't record anything, I needed to jerk the trigger–and I definitely did. Despite doing so, my shots hit the credit card box from 7-yards.
When your mind tells you to pull your trigger, you still need to go through any remaining slack. That slack, even the slightest, is enough of a delay for your brain to kick in and think recoil management, and anticipating the recoil will change your point of aim.
If you really get rid of absolutely all slack, you've increased your level of timing. In other words, now your body is truly in sync with what you’re thinking, and not behind.
We spent a good amount of time individually, and with a partner, doing live fire drills to help us work on proper trigger manipulation.
JJ taught us that inefficiency happens between a shot breaking, recoil, and the next shot that breaks. The secret is resetting and prepping triggers efficiently. It's not how fast one comes off the trigger, it's how effectively and efficiently one gets back on the trigger.
After trigger manipulation, we worked on follow through and calling our shots. He explained the difference and the importance of both in shooting fast and accurately.
We ran a “Calling Our Shots” Drill, for the lack of a better name, where we shot 3 strings of 6 rounds at the 10, 15, and 20-yard line–the goal being to call all of our shots and land each one in the A-zone of a USPSA target.
JJ then talked about the three major shooting skill sets: accuracy, speed, and movement, and what we need to focus on when working those skill sets. For example, when working accuracy, we need to pay attention to our sights, trigger and grip. For speed, we need to focus on our sights and grip.
He talked about movement and his 90/10 principle, where he moves quickly and worries only about the last 1 to 10% of any movement–a key to moving and shooting fast and accurately.
He also talked about control and attack targets and how they connect with accuracy, speed, and movement. Control targets are targets that are more difficult to hit, whether it be because of the size and/or the distance of the target. Attack targets are ‘easy' targets where one should be able to land accurate shots with speed, rather easily.
What an individual shooter defines as a control or attack target will vary depending on their shooting ability.
Just from this discussion alone, I picked up a ton of golden nuggets and ideas of things to work on when training.
We then moved on to target transitions, which I was excited about because it's one of my weaker points. He talked about what we should be focusing on during a transition. In competition, shooters should lead with their eyes, then focus on their trigger, followed by their muzzle. For those in the military or LE, they should lead with their eyes, followed by their muzzle, then focus on their trigger if they identify a threat.
He talked about wide and narrow transitions, and how to approach both. He also discussed flatline and bump transitions, and explained and demonstrated how we should train to use bump transitions as they are faster and lead to more time on target to land accurate shots.
JJ had us work single shot and double shot transition drills with partners, so they could keep a close eye on our transition style and see if we were prepping and resetting our triggers properly. This was the start of JJ having us combine key skillsets.
The class moved on to working cadence, or shooting with a rhythm. If you've been shooting for a while, you probably already know what shooting with a cadence is about–but perhaps not the way JJ teaches it.
Many instructors teach cadence, but many can't explain the importance or true application of it.
JJ explained and demonstrated why understanding cadence is so important. It allows shooters to merge or blend targets. In other words, it makes a shooter more efficient, which leads to being faster and more accurate.
First, we worked cadence drills on a single target, then combined transitions while working cadence. I really liked this because I still struggle with finding a good balance between accuracy and speed with my target transitions.
I found myself missing the A-zone with a relatively quick cadence. My initial reaction was to slow down, but JJ encouraged against this. Instead of slowing down, he mentioned to see more, and see faster. To get more information quicker to be more accurate.
When shooters miss, it's likely that their movements are not in sync with the cadence in their heads. Instead of slowing down one's cadence, it's up to them to make their movements more efficient to catch up with their cadence.
That little change in thinking, lead to big improvements in my shooting.
As we moved into the afternoon, JJ had us carry out a series of throttle control drills, which JJ calls attack and control drills. These shooting drills allowed us to continue combining skill sets while working on efficiency and accuracy.
These drills were an eye-opener for all the students. They allowed us to better understand and experience what JJ was teaching us about blending targets. And right in front of our very eyes, we got faster–or perhaps I should say, more efficient.
I feel students will be practicing these drills a lot–I know I will.
JJ took some time to talk about the first 2 phases in his 3 phase shooting program.
The First Phase is dedicated to working individual skill sets: accuracy, speed and movement. This is where one can work on different areas in isolation, for example, trigger press and grip.
Phase 2 is the Attack & Control or Explore and Push phase. This is where JJ recommends shooters find their new 100% or their new limits, by working the same drills over and over, and constantly exploring what needs to be changed or improved. This is also where JJ recommends students begin creating drills that work two or more skill sets.
We ended the day by working movement, specifically exiting from firing positions. One might think exiting and entering a firing position is common sense, but there are definitely ways to be much more efficient leading to faster and more accurate shots on target.
We covered the drop step, lead foot pivot, and lean or flamingo. Each exit has its own ideal application which we learned and practiced. This is also where JJ emphasized that shooting and moving should be treated separately. Just because someone is moving fast does not mean they need to shoot fast, and vice versa.
That simple two-sentence lesson was a gem, and the importance behind it became more apparent to students on Day 2, where we spent almost the entire day on moving and shooting.
Day 2 focused on movement, but we started out the day with JJ answering students' questions. As I mentioned earlier, there were so many gems shared through his class, in his set curriculum and outside of it during casual conversation. This was one of the latter moments. A student asked about grip, and JJ shared a neat way that he uses to ensure his grip stays consistent and doesn't come apart–so simple, yet so effective. If you're wondering what it is, you'll have to ask him about if you take his class.
We warmed up with headshots from 12-yards, then immediately dove into movement.
We reworked our exits and drilled this for a while. Then we moved on to entries, specifically the 2 or 3 step entry, where shooters learn to enter a position with their lead foot to have proper hip orientation towards a target.
Like exiting from a shooting position, JJ taught us how to be efficient when entering, which saves times and leads to more accurate shots.
Students worked entries for a while, then we simultaneously worked entries and exits.
On Day 1, we learned how to blend or merge targets for efficiency. Now, we were adding on the ability to blend or mere shooting positions.
Learning about the ability to merge targets and positions was worth its weight in gold to me. Shooting fast isn't really about moving faster. It's about being deliberate and efficient with one's movements, and JJ is a master at movement, so I was happy to be learning the tricks of the trade directly from him.
JJ then shared general moving and shooting tips with the class–getting low, walking in a heal to toe fashion, taking short narrows strides, tighten one's core and so-on.
He talked about shooting while moving backwards and shared the most efficient and effective ways to do so depending on the situation.
Now some of you watching this might have been taught never to move backwards, but some will argue that is an old-school militaristic view.
There are techniques that help one minimize the chance of tripping over something while moving backwards, and the most elite military units have JJ teach them how to shoot while moving backwards–which further highlights the value of adding it into your training.
JJ then ran us through his 48-Round movement drill that works moving and shooting in all directions. It's a simple, yet effective drill, and if I recall correctly, JJ uses about 250 rounds per month on this drill.
He then talked about Phase 3 of his three phase shooting program. Phase 3 is the Execution phase. It's when you treat everything like you were shooting a real match or as if you were in a real gunfight. No mistakes are allowed. No shooting hostages. No misses. No make up shots. No Deltas on USPSA targets, and no shooting the same drill twice.
He talked about how to train using his three phases, and I think every student got a lot of great insights to take home and implement right away.
The rest of the day was spent training with the mindset that we were in Phase 3. (Though honestly, my brain was still in Phase 2 with all of the new information I learned, there was so much to think about.)
You might be wondering why this is important? In Phase 3, there is no rehearsal. It's a test of our true ability. Movements will always be different as well as targets. It requires shooters to think and analyze more, while being more self aware.
He set up three courses of fire where we could put everything together. They were challenging and a lot of fun. Any time a student made a mistake or missed a target, they had to deposit one of their magazines in what JJ's calls, Mag-jail, for 20 minutes. Think of Mag-Jail as a mild penalty for sucking. But for those who didn't bring a lot of magazines, having all or most of their mags in Mag-Jail meant they wouldn't be shooting for 20 minutes. It was a way to get students to take phase 3 more seriously. I'm happy to say that at one point, I had the most magazines in mag-jail…7 mags.
JJ set up two additional courses of fire, this time with closer targets so that students could work more on speed. Again, the courses of fire were challenging but fun.
JJ demonstrated each course of fire, breaking down how he would approach each stage. He was always watching students and giving feedback on the fly wherever and whenever needed.
We ended the live fire portion of the class with a variation of the Triple Nickle Drill, where a shooter needs to shoot 5 targets, from 5 yards, in 5 seconds, with 2 shots per target, with at least one reload during the course of fire.
JJ then wrapped up the class by talking about deficiency training and sharing eye/vision exercises to see faster.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this video, JJ covered so much great material that I feel this review does not do the class justice.
His class was perfect for where I'm at in my shooting journey, and I cannot recommend it enough.
In fact, for the first time, I'm going to categorize his class as a must-attend for advanced shooters, and intermediate to advanced shooters. If you're a beginner, I think you'll get more value and learn more if you gain more experience.
JJ will make you think better and faster, make you more aware, improve your shooting and movement…In a nutshell, you'll come out of his class a better shooter.
But the biggest reason why I think his class is a must-attend has absolutely nothing to do with the material covered in the class. It has everything to do with passion, which I think is huge.
Here, you have someone at the top of their game who has been shooting practically all his life, still, he's hungry and out there training to continually improve. That says a lot about JJ.
You will immediately feel his excitement to teach, to shoot, to engage with students, and to get better.
Genuine passion is contagious. It's the reason why all the students in the class were so engaged, and the same reason why each student left with a strong desire to train and get better.
If you're an experienced shooter do yourself a favor and attend JJ's class.
This is Myles, signing off.
The Final Verdict: MUST ATTEND!!!