By Martin Renshi, oktober 2012
It was time for the big exam, or rather a full weekend in October, when the preparations made during the POMW 3 course, should stand the test of IPSC A-license course. We were five chief instructors, who had all been through the special POMW process to become Shindenkan shooting instructors, which requires a significantly higher level than in the traditional rifle clubs. We had already passed the first part of the course (the theory test), during the POMW course in Prague, where a theory test – primarily on the safety issues in the IPSC Manual – was done online. The practical test would show if we had understood the theory, but there would also be test questions to the theoretical part. The most important thing was that we had avoid being disqualified (DQ’ed) during the exam which consisted of 4 IPSC stages.
Saturday 13 October the alarm went off at 06.30, the big day had come when POMW 3 would be tested at the exam for the IPSC A-license. Kimu Sensei had prepared us that it would be a few hard days, and that the weather forecast promised a lot of rain both Saturday and Sunday. I had done most of my packing the previous day and my gun had been given a thorough clean. It was a heavy load, since I also had an ammunition box with 1000 9 mm bullets to carry. In addition to this I had packed quite a bit of clothes, since it would be both cold and wet. I was collected by my brother, Claus Shishu, around 7.15, as we had to be at Hanebjerg in North Zealand at 8.30 at the very latest. When we arrived around 8.15, Jens Hanshi-dai and Kjeld Renshi-dai were already there, but we had agreed that we would pretend not to know each other as it would bring additional pressure on POMW project, if the IPSC instructors knew that 5 Shindenkans with only 5-7 months structured shooting experience was going to the A-license exam 🙂 An old cigar-smoking gentleman, who later turned out to be one of our instructors, received us under the canopy at the building, where we got breakfast and an introduction to the course. Søren Renshi also turned up, and we greeted him nicely and formally like we had done to the other students. Finally we were seated inside and the only person missing was Claus Henneberg, who was the main instructor and the one we had signed up with and with whom we had had all our communication with along the way. When Claus Henneberg finally showed up with a 5 minutes delay, he was applauded by both his co-instructors and some students, to which he replied “Yes you’ve got to keep in mind who finally will issue your A-license.” During breakfast we introduced ourselves after the instructors in a true “ego-trip” way had explained how many people they had met around the world and how widely they had traveled, etc. When it was my turn I said that I had been shooting for a couple of years, but that I had grown tired of lane shooting and wanted to try something different. I could then just hope that I wouldn’t fall through when we finally got to shoot. It must, however, be said that there were some nice instructors on the team who were not looking for the slightest opportunity or weakness to “bully” us with. We had been pre-warned against the harsh tone and the personalities, so I held my head up high and acted where possible.
We started the practical exercises in the “hole” where we already had practiced POMW shooting technique and IPSC with SIRT laser guns 3 full days under Kimu Sensei’s expert guidance, so some of us felt at “home”. The first exercise was really quite simple, since we had already tried it before; it was basically learning how to shoot an IPSC target, i.e. where to aim (alpha, charlie and delta) and basic shooting technique. As for the shooting technique we were already levels above what was shown, but we played along and did what was said and later we returned to what we had learned from Kimu Sensei. Claus Henneberg explained the basics of how he thought a gun should be handled and he said word for word: “do not miss any of the pearls falling from my lips during this course – so you better listen carefully to every word I say”. Then he explained a lot of stuff that we already knew, but he could not know that. Most of the team shot very well, but I also noticed, without bragging, that the other chief instructors and I actually had the best ‘collections’, and there was not uttered many words. The funny part was that the others on the team were a mixture of shooters with e.g. a past in the police forces, that all has many years of experience. We were divided into two teams early on, where Søren, Kjeld and I got on one team, and Jens and Claus on the other team. We were asked if any of the 2 “squads” knew each other, to which we replied no J My team went for a short lane near the “hole”. It was really just an excavation of a large moat and was a true mud hole. From this point and until lunch we had the pleasure of Claus Henneberg, as our instructor. One of the first things he said was “Our job is to make it as difficult as possible for you guys so we can DQ’e you”. This was actually quite good, because the harder it is, the more you can learn. Then we were introduced to the transitions (alternation between several objectives) :-), where once again I felt at ‘home’. We were also introduced to the commands in IPSC shooting, which we had already rehearsed ad nauseam (Load and make ready, are you ready, standby … etc.). The whole time Claus Henneberg and the other instructors tried to make it harder for us, and at a point he said that we were actually really good, which of course was a compliment. Before lunch, we also managed to be introduced to firing on the move. It was quite simple, we were running up to a box, marked with four wooden strips, and from this position fire on 2 IPSC targets. First we were given the task to show what we could, which I believe we did really well, it was not fast but safe. Claus got his equipment on and said, “Now I will show you how I will shoot at it, but when I have to demonstrate I always miss.” I thought: “How can you as an instructor and role model say something like that and not be able to perform what you are to teach us!” When he demonstrated it he was very, very fast, but as he had said he did not manage to hit anything and, at least not the target and certainly not the alpha zone. Then it was time for lunch and the timing was perfect, the moment we got indoor it started pouring down.
Fortunately the rain calmed down and it wasn’t too bad when we picked up the training again. We started on the actual stages, that we would be using during the exam the following day and if we were ever to participate in a real competition. Claus Henneberg is really good at building shooting lanes, so it was a real pleasure to train on them. We actually started shooting stages somewhat earlier than expected, because as he said “You are so talented and have such good progress that we are already in Sunday’s program.” The rest of the afternoon we spent at the shooting stages, i.e. the same stage was modified and eventually we swopped with the others in the “hole” so we could shoot the stage they had built there. We were constantly challenged on safety angles and barricade shooting, which was nearly impossible to perform without being disqualified, and if you were not disqualified, the course was just made more difficult. I got DQ’ed a few times both in pointing angles (i.e. the gun cannot point outside the security angle indicated by 2 flags), which was very narrow, but also because my finger was in the trigger guard without having a sight. But I was full of confidence as we drove home after the first day, as I knew what I needed to be aware of. I did not have to think about to shooting well, which I already could, all I had to focus on was safety, safety and safety. When I got home at night I cleaned my gun and dry trained focussing specifically on having my finger out of the trigger guard in order to do well for the exam the next day. If I did not get this right I would risk being DQ’ed and thus have to repeat the course for the remaining part of the planning up to A + license.
Sunday morning began just as early as the previous day, where we right after breakfast began to prepare the stages so that we could practice for the final exam, which would be after lunch. It went really well and I began to focus more on some technique and shooting on the move, as we had rehearsed it with SIRT’er during the POMW 3 course. I managed to get DQ’ed a few times on the same lane for my point angle and for sweeping (Pointing towards own body part a loaded gun), but in return my trigger finger was cured 🙂 The time until lunch went really fast, and we were pretty hungry after running around and shooting all morning, so the 3 sandwiches per person were quickly digested. After lunch we were asked to stay in the main building, where we had eaten, while the instructors would build the lanes for our examination. While we waited, we were given the opportunity to talk in the Shihan-kai as all the instructors were busy with building lanes well away. So we were talked a bit about what we should focus on so that we all could go through the tests without disqualified. After approximately 45 minutes, we were picked up. The rain had gotten a bit worse, but we could see an end to it all, so it was no big deal. They had been built two very good stages, which with some modifications became number three and four as well. One was built in the “hole” and the second in the “bay”, i.e. the same places we had trained. It was some pretty cool lanes and to our great relief they had fairly normal safety angles, so it was a lot easier than during the training course. After I shot the first stage, I was asked to follow Claus Henneberg. It surprised me a bit, but it turned out that he just had to ask about some of the theory, where I should score a “difficult” target and tell him about some rules concerning workmanship on a stage. It went well and I could return to the rest of the team and wait for the next stage. Shooting on all 4 stages was a success and most importantly of all, none of us got DQ’ed. After we all had been through and cleared the stages furthest away we went down to the main building where the instructors were sitting and voting. They called us in one by one for a short evaluation and a hopefully successful result. Everyone before me came out with the little plastic card that meant that they had their temporary A license, so I was pretty sure that I had passed the exam too. I was called in and was very excited to get feedback on my performance. They had no doubt that I was to get the licence and there were no further comments. In fact, they saw me as a talented IPSC shooter, and they were sure that see a lot more of me. I was also told that I was really good at moving. I also gave them a brief feedback on the course, as they wanted to know what I thought about it. I then came out to the others who were waiting. When all had received feedback and obtained the A-licence, Claus Henneberg came out and congratulated us all with our performance. He said that we had done well and we were the best team he had ever had. He still did not suspect that the five of us came from Shindenkan, even though we had the same cleaning kit and rank back. He had seen those the day before, when he was showing us how to clean a CZ 75 SP-01 Shadow correctly. We had the same way of doing it, the same mistakes (in their opinion) when we pulled from the holster, we had identical equipment and a few other small items 🙂
It was with great satisfaction that we left the course, now we could call ourselves provisional A-license shooters. We managed to keep it hidden that we all knew each other, and that we come from Shindenkan and the POMW project. We did fail and we actually had a much better shooting technique than most others on the team. Thanks to Kimu Sensei and his optimal preparation for the license, both technically but also mentally, we knew exactly what we went in for and where our focus should be, no matter what was said to us during the course. When the result of the 4 exam stages showed up Monday afternoon after the course it clearly said the same. Søren Renshi had the highest score, followed by me with a tiny margin, equal to 1.72 points or a one point ceding shot. In fact, there were only 2 other shooters who managed to get between to top 5. It’s very well done compared to the others on the course that had many years of experience in shooting. The next step will be to complete two matches without any disqualification, and then we can call ourselves permanent A-licensed shooters. The first match will be in Hanebjerg 20 October 2012, where we will be participating in the SSINs championship.