By Martin Renshi, September 2012
”Load and make ready”
Many of you have been through the first POMW (Project Old Modern Warrior) course or have read all the articles here on the web and understand why Shindenkan has taken the modern firearms on the CV. In the first POMW course, you get a general introduction to firearms and the history and answer to the above. But POMW is more than this. It is also about building competencies for the shooting instructors. This is the extended part of POMW. All the chief instructors in Shindenkan have been through a special POMW course designed by Kimu Sensei, where he handed over the key essence of pistol shooting, so that the chief instructors can serve as instructors in the upcoming SDK shooting club where Shindenkan students who have attended the POMW 1 & 2 courses (POMW Pistol) can maintain and train their shooting skills under expert and competent guidance, something which, in our own experience is missing in several Danish shooting clubs. The Shindenkan Pistol Instructor training is extended with POMW 3 and acquiring this, the chief instructors have spent 3 full days of training and home training.
Monday the 10’Th of September 2012 at 12.00 the POMW 3 process started. POMW 3 is exclusively with live ammunition, using only 9 mm when the shooting is stationary, and SIRT laser guns when practicing shooting in motion. I actually had looked forward to get outside during the daytime to shoot, as it had become too dark practicing in Sorø Shooting Club, where shooting hours are between 18:30 and 21:00. The gun that I and the other chief instructors own is a CZ SP-01 Shadow with fiber optics in the front sight, and it is best when used in daylight. Well equipped with all my gear incl. the license to transport a gun, I was excited as I headed for Hanebjerg (also called Rooster Mountain) at Hillerød. The weather was fantastic and according to the weather forecast, it was the last real summer day, so it was nice to spend most of it outside. Initially on the first day of training we constructed a “stage”, which was a rather simple setup using two wooden beams with 1-2 IPSC targets in between.
I had been doing my dry firing practice almost 100%, using Kimu Sensei’s POMW process shooting manual, so my hope was that it resulted in better shooting, and I was also looking forward to see how well the others would do, as we had decided that we were to complete the IPSC A-license course all together, as a team, just as we did with the theory part during RRCAMP-POMW.Praha. Different concepts are used within shooting, and I will try to explain some of them in this article 🙂 One of them is the fear of recoil, which is a strange phenomenon. It is not that one is actually afraid of shooting, but instinctively the reaction is to jerk the gun just when the shot goes off (the recoil occurs), for example by pointing the gun up a bit so that the target is hit higher than intended. Kimu Sensei wanted us to be cured of this fear of recoil so he had acquired some hard loaded ammunition by legal means. When accustomed to this, it would be no big deal to shoot with standard ammunition and our fear of recoil would be gone 🙂
The plan was to practice from 12:30 until we were finished, which on the first day meant that we were to shoot for approximately 4 hours. Except for Claus Shishu who was on holiday in the U.S., within these hours we all shoot about 600 well fired shots. A well fired shot really mean that you are doing your utmost to make every shot count and not just shooting away. This is one of the principles of the POMW shooting technique, every shot counts, and you must evaluate every shot, yourself. The first exercises we had to go through were regular lane shooting just outdoors, and using IPSC targets as mentioned in the above setup. We started out at a distance of 7 meters to become familiar with the surroundings and the form of shooting. The hardest skill in pistol shooting, and the most essential, is pulling the trigger and especially so in double action, meaning that when you pull the trigger, you first cock the hammer and then release it, whereas single action only releases the hammer, because it has been cocked by the rail in the previous shot (That is why it is called a semi-automatic pistol).
But since it is more difficult to shoot double action we started out practicing this by simply putting the hammer down after each shot, which at the same time taught us to control the hammer, a big safety factor in IPSC and all other shooting, and it is shown in the unloading procedure, which many of you have also tried in POMW 1 & 2 – Unload, show clear, HAMMER DOWN, holster. IPSC targets to some extent simulate the upper part of a human torso, but are not shaped like a human being, as IPSC is sports shooting. There are three zones on an IPSC target – alpha, charlie and delta, where alpha has the highest score and is equal to the head or center chest if “translated”.
As a help Kimu Sensei marked the targets in the center with a piece of yellow marking tape, so we knew exactly where we should aim, since it was the first time we had to shoot “live” ammunition on IPSC targets. He also demonstrated his marksmanship, but as he said “I’m a little rusty as I have gone over to rifle and LRS training”, after which he placed two shots a few millisecond apart right on the yellow tape. It looked just like two snake eyes and that type of shots, with two shots in such rapid succession is also popularly known as “snake eyes”. It must be noted that in barely one year he shot approx. 80,000 good shots during focused trainings and in matches all over the world with the worlds best marksman instructors and trained dry training at least once every day, often several times a day. Kimu Sensei’s known to be uncompromising with his own training :-). At the same time, he had demonstrated what we were to train during the day – “reset control”. A pistol has a mechanical reset where the trigger just starts pulling the hammer back and the next shot is possible, that is, there is a little space in the trigger. You can train your trigger pull to use the reset between shots, ie. while you are about to take aim again after the first shot (recoil control) you have already taken the first part of the trigger pull and you can take the next shot quickly. If you master this technique, you can actually fire 6 shots within 1-2 seconds, and they will still be closely grouped.
But you have to learn to crawl before you can walk, so we started as mentioned by practicing double action. I took my first shot and was glad when it also hit the marker tape, but the second shot was not exactly a snake eye 🙂 We were shooting standing up with the gun starting at 45 degrees, because you may not draw from holster and fire shots until you have passed your IPSC A-license test.
Thus, we moved backwards at, 12, 15, 20 and 25 m, the further away from the target we got, the bigger the spread in the hits, i.e. the distance between the bullet holes. Therefore, the further away you are, the more time you should make sure to spend aiming. It is quite hard to shoot many shots and at one point I suddenly discovered that I was bleeding, which turned out to be my trigger finger, that simply had cracked, the trigger goes a little bit back when you are firing shots, and with enough repetitions, that was enough to create a leak in my finger 🙂
Typically we fired two magazines on each distance, which is 36 shots before we moved backwards and fired the next 2 magazines. We each have 4 magazines for our pistols, so after 72 shots they had to be reloaded, and I can tell you, that its quite strenuous for the thumb, and time consuming to load all the many bullets, but then there was time to reflect on one’s performance and also an opportunity to get a sip of water, there is no time wasted in Shindenkan 🙂
The many shots also means many empty shells, which can be reused, thereby saving money by buying reloaded ammunition, which Kimu Sensei also has obtained for us, but it requires that we return the empty shells. Therefore, I also found out what the word “range chicken” means – people have to go with their bottoms in the air collecting empty shells, just like a bunch of chickens picking grain from the ground. On this first day, we also practiced transitions i.e. alternating between targets, as remembered from the POMW 1 & 2 courses. The difference here was that this course was with live ammunition and there were different stations with targets on top of each other and at different distances.
One station created some challenges for most of us and it was a steel target (plate 20 x 20 cm) located at approx. 45 meters from where we were shooting. The hard part was not the target itself, but that we should shift our focus from a target nearby and immediately after to a target far away. The problem was clearly visible when we subsequently analyzed our shot groupings, of which Kimu Sensei throughout the day made a great virtue. Based on your shooting image, you can analyze the errors you may have in your handling of the gun, to which we were introduced on POMW 1 & 2.
Since we have had some difficulty with the steel target, I chose to spend the last couple of magazines trying to hit the steel target from a distance of 55 m. We were allowed to choose freely what we wanted to train on and Jens Hanshi-dai and I chose the steel target distance, which Kimu Sensei then turned into a shoot-out.
It was quite entertaining, the winner was the one who first emptied his magazines; we were allowed to shoot for as long as we were able to hit the target, if we missed the target then the shooting passed to the other one. We had fun, while being pressured and it was great to feel that you actually easily can shoot 55 m with a pistol and hit the target, it is a distance where it takes a split second from the shot has been fired until you hear it hit the target. Søren Renshi and Kjeld Renshi-dai, had otherwise chosen that they would practice transitions, but when they saw what Jens Hanshi-dai, and I was doing, they also wanted to shoot on the steel target.
Overall, it was a really super good and lovely shooting day in good weather, where I learned a lot to take home and practice on. It was also quite hard to shoot for just over 4 hours, but as Kimu Sensei said “get used to it and you will be a bit battered and bruised today and tomorrow, but for the A-license course it is 2 days of 8 hours in a row “. I left quickly, since I was going to Korsør that evening to teach all my students in karate. Well I was wasted when I got home from karate, but fortunately, I am in good shape as all Shindenkan instructors are, so I was fresh again the next morning after a “coma-sleep”.
We had 2 more days devoted to POMW 3, which were on the 24’th of September and 1’st of October which meant that we could reach 3 workout times in total within our important milestone which was the IPSC A-license practical test, on the 13’th and 14’th of October 2012. The second day looked a lot like the first training day, with a recap of the various exercises. It would be interesting to see if our shooting picture had changed from last time, particularly around transitions, where we had a tendency to “pull” the shots in the same direction as the arm was moving.
For Kimu Sensei’s and the rest of us, it was a great pleasure to do so much better this time. To start practicing shooting on the move, we used SIRT’s to work on moving, just before the second shot. We practice shooting two shots as an IPSC target must be hit 2 times to give a full score. But during the second shot, you must already be on the move to the next station in the stage, which is why you practicing moving during the second shot, so that you almost hang in the air, and then quickly move on. When you can do it, it looks quite elegant 🙂 but it probably looks right comical as we all looked like Bambi on thin ice. We were also training movement toward a target, and to the side and rear while shooting. The important thing here is that the closer you get on the target, the shorter and shorter intervals you have between the shots. When you move to the side, the time between the shots should be the same, so no one can hear you change your goals along the way. Much of the training that day was on getting the correct flow.
As Kimu Sensei says, “You must hurry with everything else except your shooting”, i.e. you can run fast, draw quickly, but take the time to shoot properly. The day went by very fast and we actually got to fire no less than 725 shots, and were just as beaten up as the first day.
The last day was planned, with a recap of approx. 200 shots from the first 2 days. After which we should practice shooting in motion, where we again had to use SIRT’s, but we could also train the individual stations stationary and thereby acquire a sense of how it would be for the exam. The only thing we could not do, was to run with a loaded gun and draw from holster. This is not allowed because it requires an A-license.
After the recap, where I was delayed because of my work, we started practicing shooting in motion. The weather had also changed, we were however spared of the big storm, but it was good to try a little rain, because we do not know how the weather will be for the big exam. I was allowed to shoot on a target, while the others took a drink and filled their magazines. Then Kimu Sensei gave some private lessons, where his eyes constantly rested on me, so I was glad when the first 2 shots were “snake eyes”, then the level was set for the day. The day included shooting around barricades, through barricades and under barricades. It is quite interesting and fun to try to shoot through a small hole on your knees; it is not all of the shooters that are flexible enough to enable them to reach down take proper aim and fire shots that actually hit something 🙂 We used the last hour of the day to practice a stage with 3 stations. It contained several types of targets. IPSC targets, poppers and plates, which are those typically encountered, beyond this there are also targets that move, but we did not try this. The first station consisted of a barricade, which you had to shoot around hitting 2 targets, the next station you had to shoot high (above the barricade) and under the barricade against two targets over each other, a longer run along a so called “fault” line before shooting at 4 IPSC targets and 5 metal targets in the form of plates and poppers.
The whole essence was that particularly on the last station, you had to run far to shoot the targets within a short distance, or rely on your shooting and shoot them from a distance. I chose to run towards the target and then shoot, which most did. I got quite a good time, firing about 26 shots, but was beaten by Jens Hanshi-dai with a few seconds when we were allowed to try it again. It was fantastic to be able to try to do laser shooting in motion on a real stage and I look forward to doing it with live ammunition too 🙂 As the last training on this day we shot some magazines on poppers, because it had been proved during the day that these were the targets we were the most “uncertain” about, why it was so is not known, but it was good just to be comfortable with them too. This last day was about. 1 hour longer than the others, which was noticeable as I drove back towards Korsør, where the students had started their training when I arrived.
Totally, I managed to shoot 1725 9mm rounds on the three days plus the thousands of “dry” shots with the SIRT when we rehearsed shooting in motion. It has been an exceedingly good and fun course. It has been well designed and uncompromising in the approach to shooting, which indeed is the case with everything Kimu Sensei is designing. I feel well prepared for the upcoming exam and hope I pass it, so we can get some competent shooting instructors in Shindenkan. So I look forward to seeing all the POMW 1 & 2 pupils in the SDK shooting club where we must train POMW shooting technique and show what we can do. WHO CAN?
Epilogue; In the following weeks all the Shindenkan chief instructors passed their IPSC A-license with bravura after only one month of outdoor POMW III training. Two of them occupied, respectively, the first and second place at the final examination of four stages, in front of very seasoned and experienced Danish shooters with up to 35 years of shooting experience. Just one month later all had completed the mandatory two IPSC matches, which means that the permanent IPSC A license was a fact.
A + license – also called “Train yourself” was passed in the following week.