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Monday, April 30, 2012

Combat Focus Shooting - Tom DuPriest

Tom DuPriest is a Combat Focus Shooting instructor who is local to my area and when I heard he was offering the course locally I jumped on the opportunity to take it since Rob Pincus doesn't make the rounds in my neck of the woods. I knew some about Combat Focus Shooting before hand, and keep up with Rob Pincus a little and think some of his stuff is pretty solid. I was a bit hesitant taking the course from someone other than Pincus, but it was convenient.

The Combat Focus Shooting course that I attended was hosted by Last Resort Firearms Training in White Hall, AR, also about 30 minutes away from where I live. This is the first time I had been there and other than being a little hard to find because it is tucked back into the woods it is a pretty decent place to shoot. From what I understand the only open to the public shooting they have are monthly IDPA matches, everything else is either a course they are hosting, a course they are teaching, or personal instruction by appointment. Otherwise, they do not allow people to just show up and shoot. They had three bays, all about the same size at around 15-20 yards deep and 15-20 yards wide. Big enough to do most things with a pistol as long as you didn't have too many people on the line at a time. There was a class room as well, but we didn't make use of it and I didn't take the time to check it out. Mike and Ed Monk who run Last Resort were also in the class and by far were the most skilled shooters there.

Tom Dupriest is the owner/operator of Shoothouse USA in Conway, AR . I have not been to his range to shoot so I cannot speak to it directly but I have second hand information that it is a pretty decent place to go shooting. Worth checking out if you live in the Conway area I am sure. He also offers courses at Shoothouse USA that are probably worth looking into if you want some training.

I place a lot of emphasis on instructor quality or teaching ability when I attend courses because I believe an instructor will make or break a course. Generally speaking, most good firearms courses have a lot of over lap in terms of course material so it isn't always that you learn something completely new, but that the instructor did a better job of teaching it. From a teaching stand point, the best instructor I have trained under is Mike Seeklander. Not because his course material was necessarily any different than anyone else's, but because his teaching ability was more developed.

For this class I thought Tom did a pretty good job. Is he a Mike Seeklander or Todd Green? Not in my opinion, but he is pretty good and I imagine will get even better with time. As far as instructors in the central Arkansas area go I would say he is near the top of the pile. He has enough understanding and knowledge to back up what he teaches. If you have a question about something that is being taught, or why it is being taught a certain way he generally has an well thought out explanation. Up to you if you buy into the explanation or not. The only thing I like to see in an instructor that Tom did not do is live fire demonstrations. He would demo a skill dry, usually at a slower pace so that students could track the skill which is good but I also like to see drills run live at near full speed so that the students can see what it is supposed to look like in real time. This also lends a touch of credibility to the material showing that it can be done, and also to the instructor. I understand the danger of fumbling a demo, but I think the reward outweighs the risk. Personally I think if an instructor fumbles a demo as long as they recognize it, use it as a teaching point and re-demo the skill correctly it doesn't hurt anything.

As for the Combat Focus Shooting course material. From my perspective it isn't anything special. I do not think I came out of the class knowing anything that I didn't already know going in or with any significant improvement. There is a lot of balance of speed and precision shooting and cognitive processing drills which are all good drills and the weapon manipulations are generally sound but if I were to rename the course to something other than Combat Focus Shooting I would call it Defensive Handgunning 101.

I would recommend this course to a relatively new shooter who has a basic grasp of fundamental shooting concepts. For someone with a solid training background and well developed skill level I think the resources could probably be better invested somewhere else. There were perfect examples of this in the course itself. Some shooters who coming into the course were not as skilled showed improvement, others who came into the course already at a relatively high skill level didn't show significant improvement. If you are a well rounded, well developed shooter with good fundamentals, an existing understanding of balancing speed and precision, good cognitive processing skills, sound weapon manipulation skills and good movement skills then that $700 ($400 course fee, 1,200 rounds of ammo) could probably be put to better use somewhere else.So if you are a relatively new shooter who has a good grasp of fundamental shooting but not much beyond that, then it might be a good place to invest $700.

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