Course Review: Bob Vogel World Class Pistol Skills – Part 3

In the last couple of installments of our look at the World Class Pistol Skills class taught by champion competitive shooter Bob Vogel, we’ve looked fairly in depth at a couple of the areas (grip and trigger control) of instruction I found particularly beneficial. Hopefully you found them beneficial as well.

Several more topics were covered pretty thoroughly, but instead of trying to do each of them justice I want to wrap up our look at this class by explaining what I think the value of it is, and talking about the key to Mr. Vogel’s success as a competitive shooter.

So if you’re reading along and you’ve been wondering what you really get from a seat in this class, I’ll sum it up succinctly: It’s essentially an all-access pass into Mr. Vogel’s approach to shooting. You’ll get an in-depth look at what he does and why he does it, and in my experience in the class Mr. Vogel proved willing to answer any question posed about technique, practice, preferred equipment, and even a question or two about a Canadian with fangs who is occasionally spotted at international matches.

In the first writeup I talked a bit about great guitarists and it’s useful to revisit the theme now. Eddie Van Halen used to turn his back to the audience while playing at times to keep the many aspiring guitar virtuosos in the audience from being able to see his technique. In contrast, Mr. Vogel doesn’t seem to hold anything back. Every question I asked or heard someone else ask of him was answered clearly, without prevarication or any reluctance to divulge “secrets” of his success.

The barricade claimed a fellow student's front sight..
The barricade claimed a fellow student’s front sight..

This “all access pass” is nice to have…but it’s not magic. To get the best value out of the course as I saw it presented, the student needed to show up with a solid grasp of the fundamentals, the ability to ask intelligent questions, and the ability to do some self diagnosis when working on drills. Mr. Vogel gave every student individual attention, but since he’s one man he can’t watch just you on every run through every drill.

If you have those prerequisites down, then you’ll get a great deal out of the course. I mentioned last week how using Mr. Vogel’s dryfire with a dead trigger trick showed me that I tended to throw Glock shots left, but it wasn’t the only realization I had during the course. At one point performing an El Presidente drill I realized a critical error I’d been making with my reloads. After listening to Mr. Vogel’s lecture on how he does his reload I managed to spare a clock cycle or two of brain power to think about the little kinesthetic trick Mr. Vogel uses (touching the recess in the bottom of the frame of a Glock 34 with his left index finger) and as I was looking at my own hands during the reload I instantly saw what I have been doing wrong with reloads for years. My reloads (done from concealment, of course) have always been slow enough to time with a sun dial and I never understood why until that little moment of clarity during a run of the El Pres. Comparing what you’re doing in real time to what one of the best in the world does has its benefits, folks.

I wouldn’t recommend this course to the absolute beginner because I don’t believe they have the resources to really take advantage of the opportunity the course offers. You need a solid grasp of the basics to understand what is being taught. A complete beginner showing up in the course would be a bit like trying to learn algebra without understanding addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The subject of vetting oneself for a course is a rant for another day, so I’ll leave it saying that it’s unreasonable to show up to a course like this with no idea of what you’re doing and to expect the instructor and the rest of the class to cater to your pace. People show up to a course with a shooter of Mr. Vogel’s caliber because they want to learn how he wins championships…not to see him dumb down the class to try and teach one or two unqualified students remedial fundamentals.

When you’re on your all access tour of Mr. Vogel’s methods, the big keys to his success leaps right out at you: Focus, and intensity.

Everything he does on the range is the result of careful attention and analysis. I’ve included some snippets of the instruction given out so you can see for yourself how much thought someone at Mr. Vogel’s level puts into even the way that he moves around an obstacle. Whether it’s training with Captains of Crush grip trainers or doing dryfire work on transitions between targets using his kitchen table and a printout of small targets, it’s all done with laser-beam focus and intensity. If you want to know the real foundation of his success, that’s it. Eyes firmly on the prize, looking for every efficiency that he can find, and treating everything he does to prepare with the seriousness and attention one would normally reserve for, say, performing cardiac surgery.

A significant chunk of the course’s value is being able to see his process for yourself. It inspires you to take a harder look at what you’re doing for practice. Perhaps it even encourages you to buy a SIRT gun you keep in the office so you can work on reloads and target transitions on your lunch break instead of going to some fast food joint. If you really want to get better as a shooter, you have to do the homework.

For those who have a good grasp of the fundamentals who want to improve their skill, Mr. Vogel’s World Class Pistol Skills course is a good start on that road. You won’t leave the course a grand master just because you trained with Bob…but you’ll have a good idea of the work you need to do to hit that next level.