POMW – Rob Leatham, Mesa, Arizona, USA
The sun was low on the horizon to the east. It was still chilly in the desert with cacti scattered all over it and with the mountains in the background. It was incredibly beautiful and peaceful – and a landscape, that you since childhood, always has been associated with “Cowboys, settlers, cavalry and Apache Indian” – because it was like something taken out of a movie.
I got into the big American car and soon the V8, 5.6 liter engine was growling. Very soon I could take a sharp left turn where the sign said “Rio Salado Shooting Range, Phoenix, Arizona.” Mesa shooting range is in the IPSC circles the world’s second most famous range in the world after Norco. A position Norco took over from Mesa somewhere in the 90s.
Both places are used by most of the U.S. country team and the majority of the world champions over the last 30-40 years in practical use shooting. In Norco, the world champions and shooting legends like Jojo Vodanes, KC Eusibio, Maggie Reese and probably the world’s most complete shooter ever, Michael Voigt. In Mesa, the world champions and shooting legends like Brian Eno, Arnt Myhre, Sarah Dunivin, Don Golembieski, Doug Boykin and the world’s most talented gun shooter ever – TGO, The Great One, Rob Leatham.
Both Rob Leatham and Mike Voigt are also Team mates on Team Safari Land, with Rob Leatham as team captain.
Rob Leatham won his first world championship in 1983 and his latest one in 2011. He is the only one in the world who has won the Triple Crown in the same year, the Nationals, Bianchi and Steel Challenge. I just forgot to mention that he also has won the IPSC World Championship 14 times, including 6 individual titles and has more than 24 individual U.S. championships behind him and is the only male shooter, who has won five divisions ever. In 2011 at the World Cup closing ceremony he was honored along with Jerry Miculek (the best revolver shooter ever) with an IPSC Lifetime Achievement Award. Rob Leatham is a full-time professional shooter and instructor, and teaches both civilian and military shooters like different countries’ SOF teams, including Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
Every year, he was between 6-10 official day courses with a maximum of 8-10 students, so he can give optimal attention and instruction to each shooter. There must be applied for each student with a motivation letter and CV on the shooter. There is great demand for the places on the course and in these courses, the participates are often from the world elite, such as world and continental champions, American champions and national team. They did so also on the course I was on .. I had applied like all the others and much against my expectation, I got a welcome mail on 28 March, 2012 from Kippi Leatham, Rob Leathams wife that they had selected me as one of the participants.
The handbrake was trampled down and the sound of the shots was very clear. I now held in the large parking lot at Rio Salado Shooting Range. My eyes spotted a verdant Chief Range officer with sunglasses and a decent gun in his belt – it was like a clip from an American movie. When I approached him to ask for directions, I was greeted by a polite but very specific behavior and speech shape – just like in movies when the local old veteran sheriff has stopped fast bully and ask for the license. This tonal behavior and tone changed dramatically by 180 degrees, when I politely asked for directions to “Rob Leatham – Day of Steel” course. With a slightly gaping where I was weighed and measured from the toe to the top of my green cheap caps “Bagsvaerd Hunting & Fishing” which I got from a friend, his gaze was replaced by a respectful look and he gave me a short drive instruction.
I understood then that he had measured me just to see if I was an elite shooter and how good I was, as it usually only very experienced shooters who are selected to participate in these daily rates – but also to Rob Leathams name and the respect for him is “sacred” in Mesa shooting range. I was extra excited now to see who the participants would be on the course .. And I also knew now that this would be a great experience and I absolutely had to do my very best and just learn all that I could take to me on the way. With 9 hours of jet lag, no sleep, drills that I had never tried before and borrowed non calibrated pistol, which I was shooting with for the first time, the situation was perhaps not quite optimal – but on the other side, it was like this every time I has been shooting in a match, so I was not used to anything else. To this a wise man told me that a competent practical applied shooter must always be able to shoot anything, anytime ..
Shortly after at 07:00, a big blue ford truck drove up near the track and out came a big man with a big smile and went straight towards me and asked if I was Kimu, then he handed me my loan gun and gear. It was Rob Leatham. I had to borrow and shoot with one of Rob Leathams new guns; Springfield XDM 5.25, 9 mm and Safariland equipment. The aeration, however, was heavy and the magazine fell out a few times. For example, during an elimination round (mini-match) where I pulled the gun and instead of a shot against the steel disc, is was the magazine that was going against the steel, to a great gaping for everyone including myself, and then all collapsed with laughter. Of course I was convinced that I was involved in covert camera and all agreed that if it were true, then the video had certainly won on humor and gaping :-).
Later, after the first elimination rounds, I got permission to borrow Rob Elder Springfield gun with the best exhaust he had ever witnessed, and which he had shot many championships home – it was a gun which he was particularly proud of and I was indeed proud to lend his championship pistol! – My shooting during the elimination rounds also went much better then :-).
I got all the kit on me, and while the last participants arrived I could see that there were probably some faces I had seen before on YouTube, pictures and movies. It was first after the course that is actually came to me, whom I had shot with, when someone was kind enough to inform me about this. Out of the 10 participants the 70% was from the world’s elite – 3 were from the current U.S. national team and four had been. Besides Rob Leatham (RL), it was his wife Kippi, 2 x 4 dual U.S. World Cup champion, Sara Dunivin, defending U.S. champion and World Cup silver winner, Arnt Myhre, European and U.S. champion, and several other champions. In addition two retired military SOF – and then me :-).
The course began for each one of us with a goal for warming up, so Rob could judge our shooting skill levels, and where he should put the common level of the course.
Before he got started he shouted “You are all very experience and competent shooters – else you Would not be here – so Shoot your best! – And now I have two see how Kimu is managing with a gun he never have shot with before! “And then he laughed loudly, the rest of the team thought “good it is not me” – and then the course was started.
You should definitely not be sensitive on Robs courses, as he speaks bluntly, it is also incredibly humorous. To this mentality is very very competitive, very intense and Rob makes every effort to psyche and push the students to the limit. He succeeded so well in fact that some of the world class shooters missed the whole game and just had to take a pool break. The teaching method is very convenient; Each time a student did something bad, he stopped the whole team and went through it step by step on what went wrong – which I and all the others, went through many times – many times .. So he asked the student to shoot in front of the whole team on command, and also explained what is wrong, then he corrects it and the effect on the correction was then directly to be measured. There were none that were “spared” – actually, some of the mistakes I had corrected in, were also corrected at the U.S. National champions and world elite shooters.
On the other hand, this happened even when a student did something good. Again he stopped the team and asked for a demonstration – mind you it was not known in advance whether he thought it was good or bad, so it was just squeezing the buttocks together and show our best potential and competence. I experienced this fact myself. After having shot approx. 20 shots in the demonstration exercise, decreased judgment and Rob Leatham called simply “thats perfect! – That just f … perfect! “and then he explained to the team and asked me to demonstrate again, while he explained why it was good, then all the others nodded, clapped, and said congrats! (Congratulations) .. One is of course happy to do this in this company of shooters – another thing was that I later forgot it in the early elimination rounds – but remembered it again very happily in the last rounds :-).
Incidentally, I like the atmosphere where all students may well recognize others’ achievements, which were expressed with applause and congrats! At the same time, everyone could reverse also laugh and be ironic if that happened biscuits – which we all did regularly :-). There are many who might well learn something about this, instead of demeaning themselves or others. Look at the bright side!
To put extra pressure on the students, there were also nine “Steel Challenge” elimination rounds (mini-matches), to prepare and “pre-match” for tonight’s famous steel match with a few hundred participants, “Tuesday Night Steel”. Elimination rounds were every time a squad mini-match with increasing severity, number of goals and shots. The first was 6 goals, 6 shots from approx. 15 m at the time. The second was 5 goals, 8 shots and changing from single to double shot from approx. 15 m at the time. Third was Rob Leathams favoritdrill; 4 goals, 10 seconds – how many times you can hit it with single shot ‘. The fourth exercise was two-box switching and many goals, fifth exercise four-square box swap and many goals etc. So there were 43 different targets, 1-3 magazine changes, shooting while moving at different speeds, as some would have two shots, others a single shot . A final drill was also a duel tree, approx. 15 m to about 1-6. 8-10 cm targets, where the goal is to shoot all six goals on the opponent’s side. This means that you must shoot accurately and very quickly! (2-3 shots per second with magazine change any time on around a half second).
The first elimination rounds were not very good for me, Because I made different mistakes, but for each elimination round, I listened to Rob Leatham and then went on and up for each round. Unfortunately it was in the first elimination rounds Kippi caught me on video and unfortunately not the last one where I did well :-). But then I have an “eternal memory” about how I should not do :-), but also programs helping an “everlasting memorial” that I, for each mini-match chalked my shoes, listened and learned, and therefore went forth every time and then to beat some of the “big boys and girls.”
The last grande finale with 43 goals, I shot very surprising at the fourth best time, and was therefore in a wood-firing duel against Rob Leatham, – where I got beaten big time :-). That meant I had to shoot against a round 2 winner next time. I won this and also the next two. After 63 shots and the longest rally in mini match, I ran out of ammo!. If I had just ‘one shot more, and had to hit the mark, I would have won the duel, when my opponent had a magazine change. But instead I had to see that my opponent, with a smile and five plings, put all the targets over on my side – not a good experience! :-).
Once again I was number 4 🙂 – but looking back and when I in the subsequent days was analyzing the current course, I was now quite satisfied with my performance in the company, since I couldn’t have done it better, had positively surprised the company, but most importantly had learned and had confirmed a lot! – Especially whether and to POMW.
Incidentally it was also a course where Rob Leatham twice! was beaten in the finals of some of the last elimination mini matches and was totally exhausted afterwards (I fell asleep like a stone!) but Kippi was so nice to write subsequent comment on twitter, facebook and YouTube, “Rob has some pretty talented” students ” attending his “Day of Steel” classes .. “.
For me it was a huge privilege, experience and most importantly, instructive, being directed by Rob Leatham, which is a very talented instructor. It was also a great privilege to shoot with a squad in which 70% is world class shooters!. As everyone was incredibly nice, helpful and made a very high standard for the fair course, which of course affected the level in a positive upward effect on us.
It was also reassuring to see that even if you are in the absolute world elite, you also can make mistakes when you shoot beyond your own means, just like everyone else. But as Rob Letham said, “If you’ve never fails, you shoot the abilities and never comes out of your comfort zone. You should always shoot at the limit of your performance when you train and compete – in that way you always know that you’ve done your best – whether you win or lose. ”
Here I would definitely like to return again when I have become more skilled and experienced – and if I get selected again on the application …
After Phoenix my family and I drove to Las Vegas through Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam and Lake Mead before we ended up in Las Vegas. In Las Vegas is the world’s largest outdoor shooting center, where both I and Jens Hanshi-dai has shot before, in preparation for our first IPSC and Level III match at Norco, Raahauge Shooting Range, California, USA. So I took off course, the whole family up to the test specimen slide for the first time with a quick intro to POMW’s practical shooting technique, and after 4 hours, 500 shots were all shot at distances 7 m – 12 m – 15 m – 25 m and 50 m, which went surprisingly well!.
There is no doubt that POMW practical shooting technique served on a “silver platter” from the best in Denmark and the world, acts both in theory, but certainly also in practice. This bodes very well for TLUS a POMW!, TSM B and C in May and June, 2012.
In the Shindenkan organization taught in the multi-faceted martial sports system; Yakami Shinsei-ryu, which consists of both armed as unarmed ‘martial sports techniques, all over 1,000 years of history and experience behind them. Shindenkan has revealed all the values in the complete martial sports system and made the ancient martial sport system more understandable in training of the main system and laying the competence skills into a course run. One course run, which step by step builds up the student as a champion – on the journey this must have the will and talent for, and implement over time – a time usually can take a lifetime.
In Shindenkan we are uncompromising in terms of quality, even if we do not yet possess a competence, but must build this from scratch. This was the case with POMW – Project Old Modern Warrior.
World History has shown that no matter what weapon is being used, there is always a man behind it, and it is the clarification, competence and attitude of this man that determines the outcome – it is the same in martial arts. This has Minouchi Sensei also previously described, and why POMW has previously been described in three articles on the website.
The practical POMW is a shooting skills course over approx. 12 months, which consists of a basic to advanced course with so-called “dry training”, using the basic history, progress and development, as well as air-and laser guns, as the world’s elite civilian and military also uses. This process then replaced by a so-called “wet training sessions” in which everything in the “dry training course” will be tested by salon and coarse weapons guns. Step by step instruction is built around Orbits Leading to one goal, against multiple targets and practical use shooting moving against multiple targets.
The POMW concept is that the process should be as optimal competence building as possible after POMW’s purpose – the straight road, where of course both Denmark as the world’s top shooting instructors have passed on and contributed to the essence of their shooting skills – and experience through a long shooting life. We have been very active outreach with nationally and internationally, and fortunately they all wanted to contribute and share their knowledge, skills and experiences during intensive training and courses, to which we are very happy and grateful. But we are on the other hand not been sleeping for results, competencies, experience and knowledge – it’s been a hard work and wear. But we will continue to not compromise in Shindenkan with our skills base, either before or after TG4, in which group the POMW belongs.
It should be strongly emphasized that, ALL teaching takes place after the letter of the law and sport shooting, and the correct and then optimally trained shooting instructors, as the task requires.
The POMW compulsory curriculum is for TG4, recommended 1.dan, multi-track Yakami Shinsei-ryu and 3.dan, single track Kodosokukai Bujutsu Karate-do, and will be maintained continuously on an equal footing with all other skills courses for TG4 group (1.kyu – 1.dan Sr. Yakami Shinsei-ryu).