Hey, this is Myles with Tactical Hyve.
I've wanted to take one of Mike Pannone's classes for a while, and a few months ago, I had the chance to attend his Hybrid Pistol Class.
If you're unfamiliar with who Mike is, he is a former member of U.S. Marine Recon, a Green Beret, and a former member of Delta. He is a USPSA pistol shooter holding a Master class ranking in Limited, Limited 10, and Production divisions. He's also the owner of CTT Solutions.
His Hybrid Pistol Class is divided into two days. The first day covers his Advanced Handgun class and the second day revolves around his Covert Carry class.
Mike's class places a heavy emphasis on drilling. So if you want to get a lot of repetitions in, this is a great class for you. But make sure you're ready, as you'll be shooting a lot over the course of two days.
Let's take a closer look…
Mike runs a safe, professional, and organized class. It's clear that he has a lot of experience and has been teaching for a long time.
He covers a lot of simple, albeit important, details that other instructors do not. The type of details that come only from being in the game for a long time.
For his class, at a minimum, students had to bring a pistol, magazines, a range belt, an OWB and IWB holster for day 2, which focused on concealed carry, ammo, and eye and ear protection.
Unlike other pistol classes I've attended, Mike required each student to bring 1500 rounds of ammo. As I mentioned earlier, his class incorporates a ton of shooting.
His Hybrid Pistol class is definitely not a typical marksmanship class where the amount of instruction outweighs the amount of shooting. The class seems geared towards those with experience who want to put rounds downrange while learning how to polish their technique along the way. Because of this, I think this class is best suited for intermediate to advanced shooters who are ready to put in the work.
Speaking of experienced shooters, given Mike's pedigree, I wasn’t surprised to meet some really cool and accomplished shooters in his class, such as competition shooter, Emily Chen, and protection specialist, Byron Rodgers.
We started Day 1 with a safety brief, then dove right into a couple of basic drills on paper to warm up, so Mike could assess each shooter's skill level.
Then, we moved on to cover various fundamentals of pistol marksmanship, specifically stance, gross body alignment, grip, sight alignment and sight picture, trigger press, and scanning and assessing.
Mike didn't spend hours on the fundamentals. In contrast, he spent a total of about twenty minutes covering the fundamentals so that he could talk about his take on things.
I liked how Mike wasn't preoccupied with how students did things, as long as they could get the job done and weren't doing anything grossly incorrect.
It was great to hear him talk about natural point of aim, or gross body alignment, as Mike likes to refer to it. Not many instructors I've trained with dive into the topic.
I liked how he talked about being target focused, front sight focused, or somewhere in between, also because many instructors do not cover the topic.
Lastly, in regards to scanning and assessing, Mike belongs to the group of instructors who believe many students look around, but they don't really see anything when scanning. Students move their head on a swivel, but aren't really taking in any information–they are simply going through the motions.
We moved on to talk about reloads and the process Mike recommends. Mike talked about the different ways to approach a slide lock reload, and how one should use the technique appropriate for the task.
I liked how he taught that students should avoid bringing the pistol too close to their face and to be mindful about pointing the muzzle straight up, which can make it difficult to release some magazines–for example, Glock magazines.
Instead, he recommends one should point their empty mag well to the incoming magazine pouch (assuming you're carrying a magazine pouch on your support side hip).
After, we jumped right into shooting, with Mike sharing bits of instruction while we drilled. As I mentioned earlier, this class involves a lot of shooting and weapons manipulation. Often, students feel that there must be a sexy, secret technique or method to getting better, but the truth is it takes disciplined practice–and this is where Mike's class shines.
You get the opportunity to do hundreds of repetitions under the watchful eye of a very experienced instructor.
We started with a reactive partner drill which Mike calls the Coyote and Rabbit drill. This was a partner drill where one student played the role of the rabbit, and the other, the coyote.
The rabbit chooses a starting position and a course of fire, and relays this to their partner. The students position themselves beside each other, and the rabbit starts the drill. Once the coyote sees the rabbit move, he or she starts their course of fire.
The rabbit tries to finish the course of fire first, while the coyote's goal is to beat the rabbit. This was a fun drill and forced people to react off of visual stimuli instead of an audible beep from a timer.
The next drill we did was the Unknown Gun Drill. This was another partner drill where a student has the opportunity to set up their partner's gun any way they want and call the course of fire.
The gun is placed back into their partner's holster, and on the go signal, the shooter has to carry out the course of fire dealing with any malfunctions or reloads they encounter along the way.
Mike then moved on to a block of instruction on one-handed shooting. He covered strong and support hand drawing, shooting, and hand transfers. He also discussed his preferred method of one-handed reloading, which doesn't involve placing the pistol between your knees nor does it require placing the gun back in a holster. He covered all common one-handed manipulations, even a tap rack, immediate action.
Out of all the instructors I've trained with, Mike places the most emphasis on one-handing shooting, drawing, and manipulations–followed by former Navy SEAL, Bill Rapier. I feel more instructors should do so, because for civilians, there is a good chance they won't be able to cleanly draw or initially fire their weapon with both hands. This comes from my own experience in civilian, FoF training and from watching videos of civilian shooting incidents.
The class then moved on to a partner validation exercise. Here, a student sets up their partner's gun and dictates the course of fire, like in the Unknown Gun Drill, but this time, the student who comes up with the course of fire can instruct their partner to use both hands, strong, or support side hand to draw, shoot, reload, and deal with any malfunctions.
This was the first time I did this exercise and really enjoyed it as it allows you to put everything you've learned together.
We then discussed moving and shooting. Mike talked about the different approaches that have been taught over the years, for example, only taking shots when both feet are planted on the ground or when one's lead foot is in the air.
Mike explained how moving and shooting isn't rocket science. One should have a slight bend in their knees and walk as if they were sneaking up on someone, rolling their feet in a heel to toe fashion. As for when to press the trigger, Mike lets his sights lead his trigger as opposed to waiting for the “right” body position to fire.
The class then moved on to two moving and shooting drills, that allowed us to move and shoot in all directions. We did this individually, and with a partner.
We then ended the day shooting the available steel targets working reps of what we covered and to have some fun.
Day 2 was focused on concealed carry. Mike spent some time talking about the proper way to defeat different garment types to access one's pistol, and the different ways to draw one's pistol depending on their carry position.
As I mentioned earlier, Mike would share simple, yet important details throughout the class. For example, when drawing with one hand, it's important to pin one's garment along their body when defeating their garment and before reaching for their pistol. Many people do this without thinking about it, but it is an important detail to teach to ensure one is drawing their weapon as efficiently and effectively as possible.
After Mike's block of instruction, we got right back into drilling. We started with 50 draws freestyle (meaning with both hands) from concealment and 1 shot on steel, with 25 reloads using both hands.
Then, we moved on to 50 strong hand draws from concealment and 1 shot, with 25 reloads using only our strong hand.
We moved on to 50 support hand draws from concealment with 1 shot, and 25 support hand reloads.
Moving into the afternoon, we ran the unknown gun drill, the coyote and rabbit drill, and worked the steel targets again, this time from concealment. Students were able to get a ton of reps to help instill good form and execution.
The class ended with Mike running the class through a timed, speed draw exercise. Each student drew their weapon from concealment and took one shot at a steel plate.
During this exercise, Mike explained how we need to be aware of our body's sympathetic response. When we try to increase trigger speed, we tend to tense all of our muscles and throw shots. We should remind ourselves that once it's time to shoot, as Mike mentioned, the only things moving should be our trigger finger and heart.
He also warned students about point shooting. It's important to make sure you can see your sights with every shot.
If you're looking for a pistol class where you can work both overt and concealed carry, and get a lot of repetitions to hone your skills, I recommend checking Mike's Hybrid Pistol class. Just when you think you're done, there will be more work to do.
There are no ninja secrets or magic techniques. It takes consistent, disciplined practice under a watchful eye to get really good, and Mike's class gives you this opportunity.
What I liked the most about the class was Mike's approach to learning and training. He doesn't sugar coat anything and is upfront about having to put the work in to get better. I also like how he mentioned that every time we interact with a gun, we're learning and instilling confidence in our ability to handle our weapons.
Mike has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share regardless of your skill level. If he rolls around your neighborhood, I recommend taking his class.
This is Myles with Tactical Hyve, signing off.
The Final Verdict: RECOMMENDED