Modern Samurai Project 2-Day RDS Pistol Course TD2 Thoughts

Six months ago, I took a Modern Samurai Project red dot pistol class – really only a single day of it – and it totally blew my mind. I have been shooting red dot-equipped pistols almost exclusively ever since. I immediately signed up for the next class when it became available, which I took this past Sunday. This class was hosted by Green Ops.

Since I was only able to take one-day of the class (as I am Sabbath observant and can’t shoot on Saturdays), I will refrain from calling this an AAR and instead just call them “thoughts”. Read on for what I thought!

Class Title: 2-Day RDS Pistol Course

Class Description: A list of topics from the website:

  • Zeroing your red dot. 10 yard zero. 25 yard confirmation. Ammo selection.
  • Draw and how to stop fishing for the dot. Why back up irons are necessary?
  • Only use the necessary amount of information required to make an acceptably accurate shot at the speed and distance required.
  • Red dots up close. 5 yards and in.
  • Red dots at distance
  • Speed: Efficiency of draw and presentation. Concealed and Open setups. Speed is the economy of motion. Speed is not useless frenetic movement. Micro Drill training method.
  • Dot tracking: Grip, stance, dot movement, predictability. Stop over confirming the dot!
  • Modes of Practice: Speed mode. Accuracy Mode. Match/ Real Mode.
  • How to get better on your own. Dry fire for skill building. Live fire for confirmation.
  • Target transitions
  • Shooting on the move
  • Why you should compete
  • Mini match to test skills

Instructors: The lead instructor was Scott “Jedi” Jedlinski. Scott is basically a competition guy. He is one of the big red dot pistol instructors out there; you can read more about his bio on his website. If you have spent any significant amount of time listening to the Primary & Secondary podcasts, you’ve heard Scott. The assistant instructor was Jeff Hewes. Jeff was a very competent shooter, but didn’t do much instructing. He seemed focused on logistics and keeping things moving – very valuable in executing a good class!

Location/Date: The class was held on the weekend of 11/9-10/2019. I was only present for 11/10/2019. The event was at the “Stone Quarry” range in Culpeper, VA. Presumably, it was an old stone quarry, given the stupendously huge rock berm. I think the total range is about like 50-75yds, but we never exceeded 25yds. The ground was a little moist, but not wet or muddy. For the first couple hours of class, the sun was very much in our eyes.

In terms of human amenities, there were some benches and an only-slightly-gross porta-potty. Green Ops brought some water bottles and (I think) targets. On the whole, not a bad place to shoot for the day.

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Weather: TD2 was pretty cold at the start (38f), but warmed up to about 60f. I was told that TD1 was cold throughout the day. Thankfully, no rain or snow. I wore a light jacket until around noon, at which point I ditched it and went short sleeves.

Equipment Details: Fauxland Special (Glock 19 gen3 frame, Brownells slide, threaded barrel, TBRCi comp, and Trijicon RMR01), 17/21rd pmags, and some hot-ish 125gr coated reloads (1.125 OAL on 4.0gr of TiteGroup). All of that rode OWB in a Bladetech holster on a BOSS hanger and a set of Bladetech mag carriers on my Bladetech competition belt. Total round count at the end of class was just a touch over 400. Mags were Magpul 21rd pmags, all of which performed quite well.

The TBRCi comp was the only piece of gear in the class to go down hard; I’ll talk about that more later in this post.

Preparation Drills: Semi-regular dry-fire. I had recently put more of a focus on dot torture, which I think paid off in class.

Author’s Previous Experience: Civilian with no military or LEO background. Have shot some competition, but no accomplishments worth bragging about. Training junkie since April 2018, and have averaged a class a month since then. I am OK with a carbine, pretty good with a pistol, and just average with a shotgun.

Class Demographics: The twenty students were a diverse group of folks, as is the norm for the area, including one woman. There were a substantial numbers of LEOs – at least 25% of the class, including a few SWAT cops. I mostly saw striker-fired pistols, but I think one or two people were using hammer-fired guns. As far as I could tell, everyone was shooting 9mm.

A couple of the students had consistent issues with their ZQI ammo’s primers not lighting off in their Glocks. I had previously used ZQI, and found it slightly problematic, but this was far, far worse than anything I had experienced. (My reloads, for the record, were flawless in operation.)

All of the people in this class were at least competent; several were phenomenally good (and fast!) shooters. I would put myself somewhere in the middle of the pack. It was not quite the star-studded cast that the previous class was, but everyone was good people who I look forward to shooting with in the future.

TD2: I had no idea where the range was, not having been there for TD1, so I met up with a buddy so we could drive in together. Training with friends always adds something to the experience!

The class started off with Scott giving a brief recap of  TD1. Missing TD1 is kinda brutal; there’s a lot of terminology you kinda miss, and have to figure out from context. I did find it a useful reminder of some stuff from the previous time I took the class, so it was certainly appreciated.

We proceeded to the range. All drills, except for movement and the mini-match, were done in two relays of ten. Jedi asked us not to give a full POI and blow-by-blow of the drills, which is a reasonable request. I’ll try to talk about the topics we covered, and what I learned from them:

Accuracy Drills: We kicked off the day with some slow fire accuracy exercises at ten yards. The goal of this was to learn to self-diagnose our problems. One of the interesting things Scott pointed out was that people get far too focused on what they do wrong, to the point that they completely ignore what they did right. You need to acknowledge the stuff you did well as much as what you do wrong. And, further, it’s a mistake to try to learn stuff from what’s wrong if you’re not actually sure what went wrong. Don’t guess; pay attention!

STORY TIME:I started off doing a really bang-up job with my groups (I was shooting for the first time in a week, so I was pretty impressed with myself). But during the second exercise, my grouping went totally off the rails; it was literally a line extending six inches low. I blamed the sun and myself, because, hey, maybe I was just shanking them, despite the fact that I didn’t see at all how that was happening.

IMG_20191110_101120.jpg
That group under six was shot at like group number 2. Also, the shots on 4 were taken at #1. Kudos to my relay partner for a smoking group on 3.

The third time we shot the drill, my point of impact was just way, way off. Eight inches low and to the right. Not even a bad group – the shots were tight – but nowhere near where I was shooting. I assumed my red dot had lost zero. Scott came over – a little puzzled, I think – and took a look at my pistol. He then pointed to the comp on it.

IMG_20191110_100508.jpg
What happens when your Roland Special decides to become “special”.

My compensator had dramatically failed. My problems weren’t me, they were a catastrophic equipment failure. Thankfully, it was easily resolved; I borrowed a hex wrench set, pulled the comp off, and then re-zeroed after the drills. No further problems were experienced with the gun, thankfully. I think the comp (a TBRCi Micro) failed due to metal fatigue from gases; there was no evidence of a strike on the compensator itself. Pretty weird.

I bring this situation up in detail to illustrate the point Scott was trying to make. When you’re diagnosing your shooting, you also need to be honest about when you’re doing everything right. Because if you’re doing everything right, and things are all going wrong, you are either not actually doing everything right, or you are suffering some sort of equipment deficiency. I never learned to trust my own skills to the point that I even thought “huh, I know I’m not shanking those shots, let me check that pistol out for a second”.

Bill Drills: Jedi demo’d by showing us Bill Drills at 25% and 50% speed, and then a smoking fast 100% “match mode”. Like most people, I overcompensated a bit and threw a few shots when I tried to go into racing mode. I settled down a bit and focused on seeing my dot and pulling the trigger as soon as I did, which yielded better results. After a few runs, we did a timed run; I don’t remember what mine was, but it wasn’t anything exceptional. Scott gave me some very good advice during this drill regarding hand positioning during the draw – it absolutely made me a bit faster, and I don’t have a super-slow draw to begin with. Besides the draw, learning to shoot to your dot rather than a cadence was also a key insight; I think everyone wants to be fast, but you’re fast by pulling the trigger when you’re back on target, not just by pulling the trigger at a fast cadence.

 

Movement: There was some of the usual “figure out how you move best” experimentation. I’m a stand-up guy, others do better with bending their knees. Re-reading my AAR from last time, I seemed to have liked bending my knees previously! I wonder what changed.

Where I think this class took it to the next level was the focus on moving while doing transitions while moving forward and moving side to side. I tended to overdrive my gun rather than just let it naturally fall back to where it needed to be; once I let it do that, my accuracy improved tremendously. This is stuff you just cannot practice at the local range – you’ve either got something in your backyard, or you’re shooting matches, or you’re taking classes like this.

One-handed Shooting: I don’t know anyone who likes shooting one-handed; I drill it on dot torture and my personal favorite “triple el prez” drill, and it never gets better. Scott drilled us hard on shooting one-handed using both hands, and had us experiment with various grips. What I liked in this class was much the same as the previous time I took it; a really deep dive into what makes a good one-handed grip. The advice to treat it like free-style minus one-hand was huge for me; I always have had inconsistent results shooting it on my own (one day it’s great, the next day it’s so-so), and that really revealed a big piece of the puzzle for me, especially getting that index off the draw quickly.

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Mini-Match: The capstone exercise of the class is the mini-match at the end. It ties everything together, plus gives you some insights into how to do a good stage plan. Jedi’s emphasis on learning how fast you can go at full open throttle is a real eye-opener for everyone, and always seems to lead to measurable improvements between the first and third runs.

 

Belt Testing: After all the class drills are done, people can test for the Modern Samurai Project black belt. One guy came pretty close, but had a close C during the Bill Drill portion. The black belt standard is tough; I think even tougher than the FAST coin standard. You have to be able to execute a number of different drills perfectly against brutally difficult time standards.

Besides just the raw material, what really makes this class is Scott’s teaching style. Scott is a genuinely gifted instructor, and he’s both funny and to the point. He slaughters sacred cows when necessary, but is unafraid of telling you to do the work to get better. The focus, as I noted above, was getting you to the point where you could improve yourself, and I think that’s really invaluable.

Further, he demos everything, and is also unafraid to screw up and own it. If he’s going faster than he thinks he really can, he tells you and lets the chips fall where they may. I think the subtext is pretty clear; if he’s not afraid of a failure while demo’ing in class to his own students, the students themselves should feel free to push just as hard.

Class Debrief: There was brass pickup, which went for about half an hour until darkness made it impossible to continue. This was really the most physically demanding part of the whole class; I got in about fifty squats just trying to get brass off the ground (and sometimes out of the wet earth), and really felt it the next day. Honestly, I think most people would rather pay an extra $10 in their tuition to not have to deal with it.

Once brass cleanup is done, everyone gathers around in a circle, and Scott asks us what we thought of the class, what we learned, and so on. You shake hands with him, get the MSP patch, and think about where you’re going to go from here. At least, that’s what I did.

After Class: I didn’t stick around, but sometimes people go out for a beer or dinner.

Conclusions: What can you say about this class that’s not already well-known? Taking a Modern Samurai Project class is nearly a rite of passage in the serious tactical training crowd, and it has a lot to offer for USPSA competitors as well. You can tell how Scott’s experiences on the training circuit are shaping him, and his real-life applications were readily confirmed by the LEOs in the class.

This class is always a must-take for me, even though I can only come to a single day of the class. It’s fun, I learn a ton, and I walk away feeling motivated and ready to really push forward with competition and taking that next step towards real mastery. Clear off your calendar and sign up for the MSP class in your area; you will not regret it. I’ve got two patches, and it’s going to be three in 2020. I am always honored to train with Scott, and am eternally grateful that he can accommodate my unique needs.

And while it’s a red dot pistol class, and you should come with your red dot pistol, let me give you one final secret: almost everything you learn from this class is totally applicable to your iron sighted pistol, too. When I shot multi-gun with my Glock 34 recently, after months of having not shot irons, I was better than ever with it because I put in the work with my red dot pistol. Something to think about!

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