The first time I heard the name Gabe White was actually at Spencer Keeper’s Essential Handgun Skills class. When a shooter as accomplished as Spencer says “check this guy out”, it’s probably a good idea to listen up. So when I had the opportunity to register for Gabe’s block at Tac-Con, I set numerous alarms to make sure I was one of the first ones signed up.
Gabe has an interesting way of approaching the technical mechanics of shooting that’s different than your traditional “fighting pistol” type of class. If you have the opportunity, it’s well worth your time. His methods and articulation really helped some concepts to fall in place and make sense for me.
Summary: I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up for Gabe’s “Translating Technical Skills into Tactical Success”. I honestly didn’t even know the name “Gabe White” until I took Spencer Keepers’ handgun classes last January. He spoke so highly of Gabe that I figured I’d be foolish not to avail myself of this opportunity. What really struck me about the class was that there wasn’t really any new information that was presented, but the way that Gabe quantified and contextualized his material just made a lot of pre-existing pieces fall into place.
One of Gabe’s big focuses is getting better by “reaching”. The idea is that if you’re shooting at a level where you’re able to reliably and consistently perform, then you’re stagnant. His analogy was “you can’t get to a 300 lbs deadlift by repping 100 lbs over and over and over again”. Several of the drills started off with the instruction to “shoot at the level where you WANT to be, not where you are now”. Basically you were encouraged to fuck up and miss. Now that’s not to say that he advocates shooting indiscriminately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. What he DOES advocate however is pushing to a level where things start to fall apart, and consciously analyzing what felt wrong/different to better identify the areas that need improvement and gain an appreciation for what actually works for you.
Gabe stressed being PROCESS focused. The idea being that desired result is symptomatic of correct execution of the technique. Essentially, if you do XYZ, the results manifest themselves. This process focus also makes it DRAMATICALLY easier to self-diagnose errors. If you’re just gripping & ripping, without being aware of your grip, draw stroke, sight alignment, and trigger press, you’ll never be able to understand WHY your target doesn’t look like all those highspeed dudes you follow on Instagram (ask me how I know).
Another major focus of this class in particular was serial and/or non-shooting tasking. That’s Gabe’s fancy way of saying that you need to be focused on more than just shooting, because if you’re just pressing “play” on a pre-programmed subroutine, but for whatever reason at some point during that shooting process something happens that changes the circumstances and the target no longer needs to be shot (or something has interrupted or is about to interrupt your need/ability to shoot), you need to be in constant, conscious control. Going back to weight-lifting analogies, it’s like the old adage of “being able to stop the weight at any point during the lift”
There was a lot of dry work during the class, which I personally appreciated. Mostly because it allowed me to get a better idea of what my own dry practice regimen should consist of moving forward. There were several “Ready Up” drills where the focus was moving your finger from register to breaking the shot as quickly as possible, allowing you to understand the sensation of developing speed, and also an appreciation for the impact that movement could have on your sight picture. Gabe briefly addressed ready positions, and expressed his preferences. The short version of this is the primary goal is to allow for the most unobstructed view of the [potential] target, while minimizing the time/distance the pistol would have to cover to get on sights/trigger. He prefers low ready (gun extended, muzzle at the ground by target’s feet) instead of compressed high ready (i.e. Count 3 of draw stroke) for those reasons. (Context dictates)
“A deep confidence in your technical abilities helps to prevent over/premature reactions”
When it comes to drawing the gun, Gabe’s main focus in on hand speed. He teaches you to snap your hands into action “like you touched a hot stove”. Getting to the gun faster is where a lot of people can improve their time. As the gun presents to the target, he also teaches seeing the sights and working the trigger AS the gun is stopping, as opposed to reaching full extension before you initiate the firing process, and that the sights tell you when to shoot.
Transitioning from the Technical to the Tactical, Gabe quantifies Defensive Shooting as “the correct and responsible application of your existing skill level”. I’m not going to go into too much depth here because I don’t want to give away any of his secrets, but suffice it to say that he has a FANTASTIC series of exercises that allow you to practice modulating your level(s) of force and rescinding your decision to shoot, even on a square range that may not allow work from the holster.
Shamelessly stealing the Short Barreled Shepherd’s 3×3 Model for AARs, here’s the breakdown:
The top 3 things covered in the class:
- Ready–>Up Drills, focusing on acceptable sight picture (and maintaining that throughout the manipulation of the trigger)
- Incorporating No-Shoot/Stop-Shooting drills into live fire practice
- Segmented practice of different attributes (micro vs. macro)
The top 3 things I learned from the class:
- My default “compressed high ready” is costing me time
- You get better by “reaching”. I.E. shooting at the level/speed that you want to be instead of staying at the level at which you know you can comfortably perform.
- Focusing on the process will yield the desired results (instead of focusing on trying to actively create the results)
Top 3 things I’ll do differently:
- Stop “throwing down” my cover garment, instead letting it drop and keeping both hands at the same height.
- More sectioned practice instead of trying to do everything at once (I.E. practice just establishing grip, just the draw stroke, just first shot on target, then join them all together)
- Incorporating no/stop-shoot drills whenever possible.