To understand how we differentiate new, beginner, intermediate, and advanced shooters, check out this post.
A few months ago, I attended Rick Hogg's 2-Day War Hogg Pistol Class.
Rick is a 29-year US Army Special Operations Combat Veteran with 13 combat deployments. He also was a Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Instructor.
I first learned about Rick after seeing some posts on the Internet and wanted to train with him; however, scheduling conflicts always got in the way.
But when I learned he was coming to San Diego to hold a class, I jumped on it.
Rick's class teaches solid fundamentals in a building block fashion, and he does a good job of balancing instruction with actual shooting time.
While Rick covered the same core topics as other instructors, he takes more of a ‘real-life' approach, requiring students to think more and to have the proper mindset to survive a deadly encounter.
Rick's class was safe and organized, and he taught using a logical progression that helped students improve their fundamentals of marksmanship without overwhelm.
Class requirements were on par with other pistol classes. At a minimum, students had to bring a pistol, magazines, mag pouches, a range belt, OWB holster, ammo, and eye and ear protection. Students were also asked to bring an old T-shirt–more on this later.
Unlike many other instructors I've taken marksmanship classes with, Rick placed the most emphasis on having a defensive or perhaps even a gunfighting mindset when training.
He harps on being unemotional and thinking through everything we do–as he puts it, “He won't be there if anything ever happens, and we need to think for ourselves.”
His class balances the fundamentals of marksmanship with practical drills to work on what was taught, and there are parts of the class requiring students to shoot from 15 and 25 yards.
Because of this, I feel the class is best suited for beginner to intermediate shooters and acts as a good refresher for more experienced shooters.
(Here is a post about how we define different shooting skill and experience levels.)
Rick started the class with a short classroom talk were he discussed his building block approach and encouraged students to be open to trying different things.
I liked this because to grow as a shooter, one needs to continually try new methods. All too often, I come across instructors who say they know there is more than one way to do things, but when they teach, they continually push their method down students' throats.
We started the live fire portion of the class with a self-evaluation where we had to shoot two pieces of paper from the 5-yard line, timed. We were instructed to take 5 shots on one piece of paper, 5 shots on the other, reload, then repeat the course of fire again.
The self-evaluation gave us a baseline performance that would could use as a basis of comparison at the end of the class, as we ran the self-evaluation at the end of day 2 as well.
Rick used the self-evaluation to also point out two things. One, holding ourselves to a higher standard by considering whether we should count shots that hit the outside edge or line of our intended target as a hit or not.
And, two, to think about our decision making process. Rick never told us which target to shoot first. If we consider shooting in order of priority, shooters typically engage a closer target first, the closer target is represented by the larger piece of paper.
After the self-evaluation, Rick taught us his War Hogg administrative loading process, which students were to use through the weekend. His process allows shooters to check if their sights or red dots are intact and gives shooters the opportunity to incorporate valuable reps of important movements, such as presenting one's gun to a target.
Before diving into the fundamentals, Rick moved on to working malfunctions revolving around a failure to fire or a failure to feed so that students knew how to deal with these malfunctions if they happened during the class.
The class then moved on to the fundamentals of marksmanship: stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger control, and recovery or follow-through. Here, Rick discussed each fundamental and the class worked on everything dry.
During this block of instruction, we spent some time on working our presentations. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what this means, it's basically working on the point from when both of your hands meet to grip a pistol all the way to pushing your pistol out in front of you to get on target.
Rick mentioned that one's presentation is critical, and I completely agree. During presentation, we refine our grip, get our sights aligned, prep our trigger, ultimately breaking our shots at full presentation.
As we covered the fundamentals, I liked how Rick mentioned that when it comes to trigger control, the amount of finger placed on a trigger will vary depending on factors such as a shooter's hand size and gun size.
Instead, the focus should be on the principle of pulling the trigger straight to the rear. Assuming all fundamentals are in place, I doesn't matter where one's trigger finger placement is as long as the trigger moves straight to the rear without disrupting one's sights.
After the fundamentals, Rick discussed natural point of aim to help students understand how the alignment of our body with an intended target matters if we want to shoot fast and accurately.
Our first live fire drill of the day was working on single shot presentations, on our own, and on Rick's signal. Given the importance of the presentation, we spent a good amount of time on this, allowing students to get enough reps while being hyper aware of the process.
We move on to working controlled pairs from different distances to work our fundamentals. We shot a few strings on our own, then a number of strings on Rick's command.
After, we worked on reloads, specifically emergency/combat reloads and the tactical reload, and the draw. We spent some time here working on everything dry to ensure all students had efficient movements. We then ended these blocks of instruction with live fire drills to work both reloads and our draws.
Having covered the fundamentals and the draw, we then moved on to 5 shot drills from different distances to continue working on our fundamentals and recoil management. Shooting from different distances allowed students to understand how much they needed to adjust their rate of fire to maintain accuracy.
We wrapped up day 1 working on side-stepping and drawing, target transitions, and slow aim fire drills from 15 and 25 yards.
On Day 2, we started with one-handed shooting, both our strong and support sides. Rick emphasized how we should keep our body as squared to the target as possible instead of blading off, which is often seen a lot in the competition world. Blading off can expose ourselves to more harm if we're shot.
He also discussed shooting one handed with the natural cant in our hand versus having more of a vertical grip orientation. I liked how he had students try both methods to find out what works best, because I for one, shoot faster and more accurately one-handed without canting my pistol on my strong side while shooting better with a cant with my support side.
He talked about hand transfers, which might seem simple to many, but there are details in making the movement more efficient and safer. For example, he talked about using one's index fingers to maintain positive control of a pistol during the hand transfer. It made a lot of sense and I have yet to run into anyone who has taught this little detail.
The remainder of day 2 was focused on drilling to work on everything we learned.
We started off with a neat little drill that required us elevate our heart rates by running then taking 15 shots at a target from 10-yards, all while we had water in our mouths. Having water in our mouth forced us to control our breathing to ensure accurate shots on target.
The next drill required us to work on processing info. A target with various letters, shapes, numbers and colors was used, and Rick called out the course of fire revolving around the different elements on the target. It required us to listen attentively and ID what we needed to shoot.
We worked on our recoil management and throttle control again by shooting 5-shot drills at different distances.
After, we used the t-shirt we were asked to bring for the next drill. We stapled it over a standard USPSA target and conducted a number of drills shooting the shirt. We shot from the holster in a stationary position then worked turning and shooting.
The purpose of this drill was to highlight that if we focus on shooting targets center mass, we will most likely shoot a person's abdomen in a real gunfight. Instead, we want to aim higher around one's chest.
If we get sucked into shooting center mass on competition targets all the time, we are building bad habits. So for the competition shooters out there, for defensive shooting purposes, you really want all of your hits on the upper half of an A-zone.
We wrapped up day 2 with the self-evaluation we started with to gauge improvement and a number of different courses of fire that worked on everything we learned throughout the weekend.
Rick's class provided a good balance between instruction on the fundamentals of marksmanship and live fire drills to practice what was taught.
Beginner to intermediate shooters will get the most out of the class while more experienced shooters will have a chance to practice their fundamentals.
Rick's focus on having the proper mindset when training stands out the most to me. Most of us learn to shoot to defend ourselves and our families. Knowing how to shoot is necessary, but not sufficient.
We need to learn more, such as soft skills, tactics, and proper mindset.
If you're looking for a class that will give you solid instruction on pistol marksmanship, check out Rick's War Hogg pistol class.
The Final Verdict: RECOMMENDED