Posting for my friend from the Marine Corps who attended this class with me. His words. He is a former Marine Scout Sniper (combat vet), private military contractor designated marksman "DM" (basically a sniper), and is now operationally deployed.
Review of Larry Vickers 3 Day Advanced Tactical Pistol Course October 22nd-24th 2010
From Johnny Bravo:
Hello, new to the online gun world so here’s a little on my background. Former US Marine Corps MSPF (Maritime Special Purpose Force) member, Marine Scout Sniper, and OIF veteran. Additionally, I have worked protection for two of the world’s largest private security firms since 2006 as a personal security specialist and designated defensive marksman (DDM) in Iraq and am still doing so worldwide.
The 3 Day Advanced Tactical Pistol Course cost $700 with a requirement of 1200 rds of ammo minimum. The class was outstanding, straightforward, and never over complicated itself. A relatively small group made up of security professionals, police, active duty military, and a few civilians held at the US Training Center (USTC) in Moyock, NC. The training facility had anything you could possibly need and breathing room for drills that could be created or modified on the fly. Ammo can be purchased from the Pro Shop next to the range as well as any other extra equipment you might need.
On the man himself: Prior to attending the course, I had heard many things on Larry himself and they were all good. His resume spoke for itself as not only being of the best but also as a former Delta Force instructor in which he would in turn train the best. I wasn’t quite sure if Larry would pull up in a gold Trans Am with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” blaring on the stereo as he steps out wearing a pair of circa 1983 Gargoyle sunglasses, and a T-shirt that read “100% pure, uncut Larry.” He didn’t rock the “don’t stare directly into my awesomeness” tough guy persona that I was used to dealing with in the security field nor did he present the let’s get this over with because my wife left me for a keyboard player in an REO Speedwagon cover band and I’ve been drinking Thunderbird all night” attitude I’ve endured many times in the past from certain Marine instructors in SOTG (Special Operations Training Group). Instead, Larry showed up with high energy, hilarious, good natured, and on top of his game; able to coordinate a small to large class with safety as well as efficiency at a level and speed I had not witnessed before.
On the drills: The two most important things from my experience are translation and interpretation. We all knew that Larry was himself capable of shooting Robocop in the lips from 50 yards away from a concealed draw but could he translate his methods in to retainable lessons for the class? Absolutely. The answer is the fundamental way he takes simple techniques combining them one by one into groups and then stacking the groups into a fluid motion, taking all of the important aspects of the method and shaving off all of the unneeded or overcomplicated points much the same as Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kun Do method would gather from all of the most effective points of fighting styles and leave the rest.
The drills start off with basics modified by Larry such as dry firing with shell casings on the front site as a way to always revert back to seeing what went wrong with your shot group. Then the drills escalate to kill remaining trigger snatch or flinching as partner drills are incorporated with your partner (shooting partner not life partner) loading your weapon with your back turned then turning to target and firing at the target which makes it impossible to fool yourself on trigger control. I myself was suffering from the overemphasis on front sight alignment which killed a lot of my shot groups at 20 yards and out that Larry teaches and proves can be a hindering illusion and can be corrected by proper trigger manipulation over and over again. As I said in translation, you take to the drills very fast and adapt without reverting back to old methods or bad habits because the economy of motion in the weapons manipulation are some of the most logical and fastest I've ever seen. You try them a few times and it work, it just works. Once stacking the drills after a few rotations and you're rocking like DIO in ‘86 and ready to proceed on.
The shooting iterations are broken up in a way to keep the whole day high energy and focused so as your staying on your game and don't even notice how much you've been zoned in on task until the end of the day when class ends and your ready to crash out. On interpretation; I refer to being able to read what you are doing wrong or lacking in the drills as well as the instructor’s evaluation on what your doing that needs improvement. After firing and missing a few you can immediately see what you did incorrectly because you know exactly how the shot placement ended up that way and can refer back to previous lessons which takes away much of the "what in the holy living F@#$ happened with that last one?" factor when you drop a shot. If for some reason you can’t, Larry's right there behind you offering instantly assessment because there’s nothing you’ve done to a target that he hasn't seen. "Flinching. Jerking. Lean forward more on the balls of your feet. You’re too stiff in your shoulders. El Snatcho (trigger snatch)! Why aren't you wearing any pants? Jesus, are those Reebok pumps you’re wearing? No, it's not cool if you shoot with a ski mask and ball gag on, get off my range!"
During lunch Larry would always join the group usually at the “Cracker Barrel" restaurant which has great food that takes years off your life and is loaded with hot small town waitresses with big city dreams who come to work after the day’s class at their community colleges, making their way through North Carolina's scenic ancient Indian burial grounds, Delorean dealerships, and check cashing/criminal attorney law offices/pawn shops, turned out to be some of the nicest (hottest and unspoiled) servers I've ever encountered.
We would eat and talk shop discussing the drills, new firearms technology and the other players in the training community. As a testament to Larry's status in the game he was literally flooded with free equipment that was sent in with a request for him to test out and hopefully endorse. Everybody wanted the OLSA or the Official Larry Seal of Approval. In fact if his truck were to suddenly explode we would all be killed by fragmentation from laser sites, optics, scope rails, cash and fabulous prizes. The survivors would have to construct tourniquets out of the free shirts people send him all of which there would be plenty of no matter how many times he generously gives away equipment for team shooting prizes.
At lunch I asked Larry if for $100,000 would he wear an awesome red cape to the range with a sponsor's logo sewn on the back and he said NO. I absolutely believed him and to me that was pretty damn impressive, given 2010 is one of the worst years financially for everyone suffering through "The Barackolypse" and the fact that I know tons of shooters that would star in "Brokeback Mountain 2:The Musical - Brokeback On Ice" for $100,000 without thinking twice about it.
In the course a target with an above and below bullseye are plastered onto a silhouette frame, which is the continued target you fire upon. Using this type as opposed to the normal man sized silhouette forces you to focus in more than you would normally which in turn causes the shooter to increase his emphasis on trigger control. Movers were fired upon from varying distances as we were instructed to implement the "tracking" technique of following the target as opposed to the "ambush" method I was used to in Snipers.
Once the drills began there was really not much of a problem because when missing we would simply revert back to the fundamentals we had learned earlier and not be fooled by a new element added into the mix. Trigger control, aggressive stance, relaxation and good stance. I say 'not much of a problem' because it took a little getting used to for me and once shooting movers at the 25 yard line and back I missed the target like MC Hammer misses a paycheck and David Lee Roth misses food and shelter. As mentioned before the drills were stacked upon each other consistently and steadily such as the move back steel target fire and shooting on the move. The drills did not take the drastic giant leaps that many military schools do where you go from shooting on the move to then shooting while running through a MOUT house while being Maced by riot spray that was banned in Mexico. Many of the students had been graduates of two or more Vickers courses and were hitting steel with strong hand only at over 100 yards on the walk back drill.
The last day was low light drills with and without the sights and with and without light mounts or lasers. Their methods were impressive due to the speed and how you can learn to be accurate with no illumination in such a short period. Proving again a wealth of information, Larry was for some reason flooded with a perfect storm of "what if?" questions during the night fire from which laser site is recommended, which one breaks, which grip methods is best, the do's and don'ts of surefire gripping and then a thousand tech questions I had never even heard of on things I didn't even know existed. Larry punched out answers for every single one just as fast as they came. After ten minutes I admitted to being a little lost on all the new toys coming out because I had been using the same M4, SR-25 and Glock 19 in Iraq for four years and hadn't been keeping up with the latest so was just standing in the background dumbfounded as Larry responded with answers like: "Yes. No. 5.56. You want to stay away from that type. Here are all the negatives and positives about hand held vs. mounted.7.777777777.89, don't cross the streams. Your dad will probably accept your alternative life choices eventually, just give him time."
Larry's class was outstanding straightforward and virtually all the drills can be replicated at any range dry or live fire. Advice was all gospel from one of the most reliable and sought after individuals in the business as well as virtually any technical questions answered from training to gear recommendations to future gadgets coming down the line. The training was invaluable as well as a good time with a great team atmosphere and pace to keep it fun and challenging. I would recommend this course to virtually everyone in the business, in the service or just in it for recreation. Simply outstanding. 5 out of 5.