This review originally appeared as a post on Pistol Forum in November of 2018 right after the class.
The following is a review told from my unique perspective of the Gabe White Pistol shooting solutions class held in Waverly TN October 27-28 2018. It is not like nor was it intended to be your standard review….
Gabe White Pistol Shooting Solutions Waverly TN Oct 27-28 2018
Gun: Gen 4 Glock 34 with Warren/Sevigney Competition Fiber Optic Sights and Ghost 3.5# Connector. Otherwise COMPLETELY Box Stock. (This pistol is my IDPA Stock Service Pistol Gun)
Holster : Dale Fricke Archangel modified for slightly more forward cant worn strong side just barely forward of my hip bone.
Mag Pouches : Blade Tech Single Mag Pouches
Belt: Graith Shivworks Specialist Belt
Cover Garment : T shirt on Saturday Polo Shirt on Sunday
Shoes: Vasque Juxt
Lunch: Subway and Walmart Deli
Get ready…. it is a long and winding road to Waverly…..
I first became aware of Gabe White from lurking here at Pistol Forum in 2013- 2014 when he still posted as OrigamaAK. I found the parallels interesting that he was shooting competitively in USPSA with a Glock 34 from AIWB at the same time I had started shooting higher level IDPA matches with a Glock 34 in IWB holster with closed front garment. In the Master Class IDPA world of starched Armadillo vests, shooting from under a T shirt from IWB is just about as much a quaint oddity as shooting USPSA from concealment is. Sure you still see people shooting that way at local matches but NOBODY is shooting that way in the higher divisions at major matches. I could certainly relate to the comments he must have gotten from other shooters and ROs at matches. I can’t count the number of times I reported to the line to shoot and was asked if I forgot my gun or told “this stage requires concealment”….even though they could not see any of my gear under my shirt. But I’m not a gamer at heart. I’m a serious gun carrier and professional instructor who plays the games in order to compete with and test my skills against good shooters. I also found Gabe’s “Competitive Timmy” persona very familiar too and though I’m pretty opinionated I rarely disagreed with anything that he posted…
Shooting the 2014 IDPA Nationals. Glock 34 from IWB with closed front garment.You’d have thought I was from a different planet….
I followed along reading the posts like the rest of us here as Gabe went to the Rogers Shooting School in 2014…and on 4/19/14 I was texting Ronnie Dodd at Rogers right after the twin 125s were achieved with Gabe and Manny Bragg. A 125…TWO 125s …on the SAME test ! That’s pretty freakin’ amazing…especially for a “Timmy” shooting from concealment ! For years John Hearne had been pestering me to finally get to Rogers so in 2015 I finally made the pilgrimage to Ellijay and got my Advanced ranking and Red Pin. No I did not shoot a 125 but my 115 is at least respectable as far as Advanced scores go. Now having been there I had an even deeper appreciation of what it took to shoot a 125, so when Gabe started offering a travelling class I made mental note to hit that class at some point in the future.
Ronnie Dodd congratulates me after my 115 score in August 2015 .
So in late December 2017 I saw on Pistol Forum that Gabe White was going to be in Waverly TN in October 2018. Waverly is only about 3 hours from Chattanooga so I decided to sign up quickly before it was full. My good friend Mike Swisher attended the class in McHenry Illinois in January and scored a light pin (with a couple of Turbo runs) and got me all excited about the class…well as excited as I get about anything….. John Hearne then contacted me in February to see if I was going to the class and to see if I wanted to share a room. He had just done Gabe’s class in Florida with Tom Givens and had just missed Turbo by ONE run. So he was coming back to claim his pin.
Hearne and I have a long history of room sharing at training events to the point that John says our wives probably think these trips to obscure places like Harrisburg Pa, Shawnee Ok, and Waverly TN are romantic getaways for us….Seriously though Hearne and I have been bouncing ideas off of each other since we first met at the Warriortalk Symposium in Memphis back in 2006 about training, tactics, how to better motivate and educate students (and ourselves) and discussing what historically has been deciding factors in winning and losing gunfights (and the answer damn sure isn’t more Molle gear). John is also a voracious reader of the same type books that I read and he’s just a wealth of information and makes for very stimulating conversation in the “training nerd” realm. We can talk Hickok and John Wesley Hardin , McGivern , Bryce, Jordan, Askins, Kruger -Dunning Effect , training industry history or why the Comanches were able to raid all the way to the Texas coast in 1840…. Oh crap…maybe these ARE romantic getaways….
OK back on task here….So after I signed up I pretty much just went on living my life for the next few months. The only “Gabe White class specific practice” I did was at my late January training group I had one of my students run the timer while I knocked out 1 run each of the 4 tests. Those results are below.
In March I finally met Gabe in person at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference in Little Rock Arkansas where we both (along with John Hearne) were presenters. Gabe and I talked briefly at an instructor get together at the hotel but I didn’t want to monopolize his time and besides I rarely get to talk to Gary Greco so John and I spent the next several hours monopolizing HIS time. That dude has been there done that and then some all over the world and is just a cool old cat to talk to. So I got far too little sleep that night and then had to get up and teach my block of instruction the next morning. This is proof that Tom Givens either has a warped sense of humor or a wicked mean streak as he had scheduled Gabe and myself to be teaching during the exact same time slot. Thanks Tom. So I was not able to get to see any of what Gabe was doing as I , along with the much appreciated assistance of Lee Weems and Mike Swisher (JLW and MVS from Pistol Forum) presented my block on “Point Blank Pistol Skills.
Me and my crew. (MVS, Me, Scott, JLW, Adam)….Lee was certainly not going to get accidentally shot because he couldn’t be seen….
When we were done and I was all packed up I headed over to be a spectator at the final 16 shoot off ( I had a bad trigger press at the 15 yard line on Saturday and missed getting into the shoot off. Stuff happens. Even squirrels and monkeys fall out of trees sometimes. Adversity builds character.) Not surprisingly I watched Gabe win the shoot off and filed that away as not only motivation but as further reason to be glad I was signed up for the October class.
So the months went by, I worked my day job, I taught classes, shot an IDPA match or two ( finishing 3rd overall in the BUG division at the Sand Gnat Challenge Southeast Regional BUG and CCP match in Savannah GA) , led training groups, attended a Sons of the American Revolution grave marking for a Revolutionary War veteran 5th Great Grandfather of mine , went to Mexico with my fabulous wife, taught some more classes , and attended the Rangemaster Instructor Reunion in Athens GA in June. I turned in the best score on the bullseye course of fire but I had a couple of sub 300 runs (292 and 296 IIRC) on the Rangemaster Instructor course of fire and was a point down on the FBI Qualification for the first time ever….between the Tac Con match disaster and this performance my confidence was in free fall. Those lower than normal runs had me questioning my eyesight, my trigger control my choice of front sight and just about everything else….but as my wife says…”you do know that sometimes people just have a bad day?”. I really should probably listen to her more often….. I was just concerned that I seemed to be having a run of way too many bad days in a row lately….So I did my daily dry work and just went on living my life until September. In September the wife and I took a MUCH DESERVED 2 week vacation to Fort Walton , Destin and then over to Pensacola to hit some historical sights…..
John Wesley Hardin Capture Marker in Pensacola
( Leon Metz’s “John Wesley Hardin : Dark Angel of Texas” is a great book recounting this)
Fort George in Pensacola. The British fort built in 1778
The Battle of Pensacola monument where Spaniards under Bernardo Galvez took Pensacola (and Fort George) from the British in 1781. An excellent book about this is “Independence Lost ” by Kathleen Duval .
I came home mid September and taught a Low Light Pistol Class and then the bottom dropped out of life….I had a kidney stone episode that lasted for TWO WEEKS , I missed 6 days of work , had to cancel a class I was scheduled to teach and had to have a procedure done to break up the stone since it was clearly not going to pass without medical intervention. Then after my procedure my wife also got a kidney stone but fortunately that was not as bad as mine. All of this led to me not being able to make it to the range to shoot any live ammo from Sept 22 until the morning of Gabe’s class…..so I was going to pretty much go into Gabe’s class with just my regular walking around skills and the dry work regimen I had been using to get me through. The week of the class was my “long days” week at work where I go in at 8:30 AM and get off at 7:30 PM which means that it is dark by the time I’d be able to get to the range. While I still felt pretty solid you just never know how things will play out. Some days you eat the bear and some days he eats you. I would have felt a lot better about it if I’d been able to shoot some live ammo the week leading up to class. I asked Tom Givens for any last minute advice and he said this…. “Don’t worry about your shooting. You’ll practice each drill before shooting it for score. I suggest you watch and listen closely to how Gabe teaches. He is very organized and methodical. I was VERY impressed. Send me your pic of your Turbo Pin after class”…..Thanks Tom..no pressure there or anything…..
So I drove to Waverly on Friday the 27th and met up with Gabe, John and the class host Sherman House for dinner at the Loretta Lynn Country Kitchen. Thanks again to Sherman for dinner. John and I then rolled to the Imperial Lodge and caught up, and then got some sleep……
Class was held at the Humphreys County Sheriff’s Range. It is a little off the beaten path but was perfectly functional with range, dry fire area and classroom. Class started at 8 AM with Gabe meeting us at our vehicles as we arrived to discuss safe areas to load and unload and nip any careless “inside the vehicle gun handling” in the bud before it could take place. This is a wise policy. We then met in the class room where we signed waivers and gave brief introductions and told him what pistol and holster combo we were using. Lots of Glocks, couple of Sigs-both 320 and a 226 with red dot, at least 1 XD, 3 CZs if I remember correctly and a whole lot of familiar faces. Of the 14 people in class I recognized 5 as prior and/or current students I have had in class and/or training group plus John and Sherman and Tiffany (who was there for technical support). So I knew half the class and think I might have recognized some others from Tac Con. The training world is a small one…
In the class room portion Gabe told us this class is really about High Performance Concealed Carry. He explained this is a narrowly focused class shot outside of contact distance. While that is an important piece of the puzzle his class focuses on “outside of touching distance” range. He discussed his background and his “tactical worldview” for lack of a better term. He’s a “Timmy” who adeptly swims in the “Gamer ” pool and that comes across. He is able to straddle those two worlds and maintain good relations in each because he’s a genuinely nice guy and has the tactical knowledge and the gamer skills to be taken seriously by both sides. He’s not some poser who shot some local club level NRA Bullseye match once and then lists “competitive shooter” in his resume. He discussed the journey from Tactical Timmy to Technical Timmy. He discussed his belief (and mine) that the more skilled you are the less skill degradation will come from stress. If you start out at the top of the mountain and tumble a little under stress you will still be higher up than the guy that is close to the bottom of the mountain who tumbles the same amount when stress is applied.
He went on to discuss Fixed vs Growth mindset…if you think you can only be so good you will only be that good and no better. And he discussed process focus vs outcome focus. If you focus on the outcome you will likely fail trying to get there where as focusing on the process of doing everything right will lead to the results you want. Maybe it is best to focus on drawing the gun getting it aligned with the target and pressing the trigger smoothly instead of how fast you are doing it?
Gabe went on to explain the 4 shooting tests he uses in class – The Bill Drill, Failure to Stop, Immediate Incapacitation, and Split Bill Drill. He explained the scoring, points down, and how he came up with the particular times he has assigned to the different pin levels and explained the different pin levels. The pins we would be shooting for are as follows with times listed in seconds…
I took this little souvenir home !
Dark Pin – A tactical level of proficiency in core technical skills of drawing and shooting.
Bill Drill – 3.50
Failure to Stop – 2.90
Immediate Incapacitation – 3.00
Split Bill Drill – 4.70
Light Pin – An early stage of excellence in core technical skills of drawing and shooting
Bill Drill – 2.50
Failure to Stop – 2.25
Immediate Incapacitation – 2.50
Split Bill Drill – 3.50
Turbo Pin – A highly developed level of excellence in core technical skills of drawing and shooting
Bill Drill – 2.00
Failure to Stop – 1.70
Immediate Incapacitation – 2.00
Split Bill Drill – 2.60
Those are “open carry ” times and a .25 second time bonus is awarded for shooting from concealment.
As of the start of class there were 6 Turbo Pin holders so far….
Being an instructor in my own right I was just as interested in how Gabe presented the material and worded the concepts as I was in the material itself. So I have a couple of pages of notes from the classroom that have nothing to do with the concepts, but more the delivery and HOW he said it as much as WHAT he said. I will be incorporating some of that into my own presentations but frankly over the course of the weekend some of the lecture time sounded alarmingly like some of my own lecture points to the point that I mentioned to Gabe that my attorney will be in touch… just kidding Gabe. I told you we agree on most everything even though we may have gotten there from slightly different paths.
As we went to the range Gabe explained his range etiquette and safety procedures and had us shoot some basic drills to give him an idea of everyone’s skill levels. He used a visual aid to show various levels of sight picture and we shot what I have heard referred to elsewhere as “the sign of the cross” to show just how far off your bullet impacts are with the sights high, low, left and right”. We also did some shot calling drills and Gabe discussed some dry fire drills like the 3 Triggers and Sights meet Trigger. After that we got into the first of the 4 skill tests. We worked on the “Top Rock” rheostat drill and got ready for the Bill Drill. The Bill Drill is the time honored multi shot skill drill named for Bill Wilson where you draw and fire 6 to the body…. ideally in 2 seconds or less. Gabe demoed the drill several times and ran it on the timer twice . Then it was our turn. So after fending off the visual assault to our eyes that was John’s vest (which was most likely confiscated from the Riddler ) we all shot practice runs driving the gun as fast as we could and then practice runs at the speed we could “Own it”. Then we got 2 practice runs each on the timer and then the 2 runs for score.
Riddle me this… Batman…..
Gabe shot the drills for score before we did each time which is something that not all instructors would risk doing. If I remember correctly over the course of the weekend he put up 7 Turbo runs and a Dark. I told you those head shots that hit the body are costly and even monkeys fall out of trees sometimes. That is why having a high level of skill is important. Even a “disastrous” mistake still left him with a Dark Pin run on that one which is still respectable in anybody’s book. Also running 14 people through this is time consuming and Gabe is a trooper for all the hard work he puts into making class run smoothly. In fact he is pretty much in motion all day both days! I’m not sure the dude ate lunch either day!
On to the Bill Drill. If I remember correctly Hearne had a turbo run and a light pin run on the Bill Drill . I shot a 2.08 and a 2.14 but both runs had 5 “A” and 1 “C” so my “C”s cancelled out my “concealment bonus”. So those two Turbo level runs ended up being 2 Light pin runs because of those “C” hits. That definitely hurt because while I did not necessarily expect to hit Turbo on the Bill Drill going into it, those ended up being a wasted opportunity. I figured the Bill Drill would be the most difficult to hit Turbo on due to having to keep all 6 in the A zone and it appears I was right.
During lunch there was an optional discussion on vision and sight focus that was easier to follow in person than reading it on the web had been. While I think I’m more of what Gabe calls a “target focus and notice the sights” shooter than a “hard front sight all the time” shooter I do see the utility of pre-focusing your eyes to where the front sight will be for certain shots. Written words don’t do it justice…you need to hear it and experience it to grasp it fully.
Me and Aqil “shifting visual focus” on security camera in the vision lecture.
We continued on the range with shooting and moving around obstacles while mitigating trajectory issues and did a little man on man (or woman) shoot off action where we had asymmetrical problems to solve on steel targets. One shooter would engage his problem while the other engaged his. We ran this numerous times against different people and I think I probably both beat everyone and also lost to everyone at one time or another . As a whole this was a VERY highly skilled and competitive group of shooters and if you missed your first shot out of the holster it was very hard to catch up. Maybe that whole “first round hit” thing is really important? Hmmm…..
We got back into the skill drills and worked the failure to stop drill which is 2 rounds to the body and 1 to the head. Gabe covered the reasoning behind it, how it fits into your tactical tool box and then demoed it. On this one you really need to focus on the trigger press on the head shot because if you pull it down into the body that will count as a miss and add a disastrous 2 seconds to your time on the test. Again we drilled it at warp speed, drilled it at the level you “own it” and then shot it on the timer for a feel for where you are and then on the timer for score. This time Hearne split 1 for 2 with I believe a Turbo and a Light pin run. He was now halfway there. He just needed 2 more turbo runs on Sunday for the pin. I followed with a 1.83 with 3 “A” for a 1.58 total and then a fouled draw conspired to give me a 2.00 with 2 “A” and 1 “C” for a 2.00 . Well….I guess 1 for 4 on Saturday is better than 0 for 4 but I felt like I had just had an opportunity to win some games on the opponents home court slip away and now the series was shifting back to my home court with me having to win out…. ( I watch a lot of NBA playoff basketball) . I called MVS on the way to dinner and reported that I had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with my Turbo runs ruined by the C hits to which he groaned “You’ve gotta be kidding me ! I’m just not sure what’s happened to you”…. It’s that unwavering support and kind words of encouragement from my friends that help get me through the tough times………
Dinner was at Jen’s Steak and Seafood and then it was back to the Imperial Lodge to discuss the day’s class, ponder the meaning of it all and for Hearne to talk me off the ledge. Fortunately Imperial Lodge is just a 1 story building…… He reminded me that the two tests coming up Sunday were theoretically the easier of the four and all I had to do was simply shoot the way I normally shoot. I just needed to shoot and not think. Then we discussed books we’ve read recently and history and how we can’t really compare today’s culture , morals and mores to people that lived in different eras when they had a frankly different day to day reality than we have. There’d be a lot less whining on Facebook about micro aggression if there was the very real daily possibility of your family’s cabin being burned to the ground, all the men killed and scalped and the women being carried off into captivity by Cherokee , Creek, Chickasaw or Shawnee Indians like it was in most of Tennessee in the 1770s. Having REAL problems tend to make a lot of things insignificant. But that’s a story for another time…..
Day 2 started with a mad dash to Walmart for a sandwich for lunch before class started. The range is a bit far from town to drive back at lunch to get something and the Subway in the thriving metropolis of Waverly TN closed Satruday night before we got back from dinner. Class started at 8AM on the range with warm up and we went into the Immediate Incapacitation drill. This is a draw and 2 rounds to the head…It is called Immediate Incapacitation since two shots to the face pretty well tends to immediately incapacitate folks more times than not….. Hits in the body here are scored as misses. So trigger control is paramount. Having blown two opportunities at Turbo runs on Saturday I was highly motivated on Sunday. I shot the timed practice runs in the 1.70s and felt pretty good.
LUCKY # 7
Apparently John did not feel quite as good as I did because he had inadvertently put that hideous vest on inside out and was wondering why it was harder to get his gun out today…. Sherman pointed out the fashion faux pas and I commented that I had gotten him so discombobulated last night that he had put his clothes on inside out that morning….After he got that all worked out he pulled off two Turbo runs and became Turbo Pin holder # 7. Gabe stopped, announced it, and we all congratulated John. I knew how much he wanted to accomplish this and I was super happy for him. I shook his hand gave him a big hug and then got ready for my runs.
IT’S ALWAYS COMPLICATED
My first run was 1.77 with 1″A” and 1″B” for a 1.77 total. Turbo Run. Solid. Two down and two to go.
Then came run #2 ….I’m not 100% sure what the time was because Gabe marked it out on the score sheet but I’m pretty sure it was Turbo…..I called a “double” with the sights and mentioned that after I fired the last shot. The only problem was that the white 4″ sticker used in the head had ripped and a larger than bullet diameter hole had opened up. We did find a grease mark from a bullet on the inside edge of the hole but the other bullet either missed the target all together or went through the gash in the sticker. Without hesitation Gabe said “just shoot it again”. I told him I didn’t want to be “that guy” and he said that he didn’t want to be the guy who cost someone a Turbo Pin because of a probable double that couldn’t be proved one way or the other. I said I’d reshoot if no one objected and no one did. So with nerves a little frayed I stepped up and reshot that run with a 1.78 with 1″A” and 1″B”. Three down and one to go. I just needed 1 more Turbo run. I said I didn’t want to forever have an asterisk after my name on the list so I really felt like I needed to knock out 2 solid Turbo runs on the last test to eliminate any lingering questions or doubts. In my opinion Gabe was extremely magnanimous in letting me reshoot that run.
After we finished the Immediate Incapacitation drill Gabe gave a lecture on dry work and then an intro to shooting on the move. Then we split up and for the next hour and a half we cycled through dry work on our own, ate lunch and one at a time worked with Gabe on shooting on the move. Having taught for the last decade for the training company Gabe learned the basis for his movement material from I naturally took to it like a duck to water. As such we spent just a minute doing it dry then shot it live and then I went to lunch and then John and I did some dry work getting ready for the Split Bill Drill. At this point in order to minimize my chances of ending up with the odd errant “C” hit like I had on the Bill Drills on Saturday I started focusing on gripping the gun a little harder with my support hand than I had previously been doing.
Finally the Split Bill (4 to the body and 2 to the head) rolled around and John put up another Turbo run and a Light Pin run (IIRC) so he finished with 5 Turbo runs total so there was certainly no doubt on his Turbo credentials. He also had become the first person to ever get a Turbo Pin shooting from strong side carry/open front concealment. All the previous winners had shot from AIWB. At this point I still felt like I needed to go two for two to eliminate any potential lingering doubts after my reshoot on the Immediate Incapacitation drill. Fortunately for me by the time we shot the Split Bill the sun was out and the temperature was up in the 70s and frankly I felt great. I joked to John that I had shot the Split Bill practice runs so fast that we had actually traveled back in time for a moment…..
Then it was my turn for score. First run was a 2.54 with 6 “A” for a 2.29 total.There it was….Turbo run # 4 and Turbo Pin # 8. Gabe congratulated me, shook my hand and gave me a big hug and John came over and did the same. I followed that with a 2.76 with 6 “A” for a 2.51. Five Turbo runs total to match John’s. How appropriate. So now according to Gabe I had become the first person ever to achieve a Turbo Pin drawing from strong side IWB under closed front garment. He announced that this was the first time he had ever awarded TWO Turbo Pins in class. In fact he actually came VERY close to awarding a third as another shooter (GuanoLoco) missed it by 1 run. My heart goes out to him, but I have no doubt he will get it next time. In fact I think there were several candidates in the class that are on the verge of getting to where they need to be to get the pin at a future class. This class was that talented.
After that Gabe did about a 45 minute lecture on use of cover and concealment and I will say this was easily the most complete and thorough cover and concealment lecture I have ever seen in a class from anyone. VERY well done. There is NOTHING I would disagree with that he covered on the use of cover. After that we shot some drills using cover and then did more man on man drills involving use of cover and moving to cover and moving to flank an adversary who is using cover. Good stuff.
Wrapping up we headed to the classroom where Gabe handed out certificates and had his pin box thoroughly looted as he was forced to hand out 4 Dark Pins, 7 Light Pins and the 2 Turbo Pins to John and Me. What can we say ? Tennessee is the patron state of shooting stuff…… John selected the Elephant Pin and I took the Alligator Pin. I told Gabe that no one looks at an alligator and thinks it is fast. In fact they look docile and even lethargic. They can hide in just inches of water and go unnoticed if they don’t want to be seen. But if you get too close they will eat you alive before you know what even hit you….So I chose the Alligator Pin. I was not only happy with my own performance but also extremely proud of the 5 students ( Miller_Man, Byrl, Chances R, Aqil, and Patrick Taylor, ) I have had in classes who took home 2 Light and 3 Dark Pins. Hopefully I helped contribute to that in some small way. Congrats guys!
Me , Gabe and John….Three pretty fair gun hands…
Afterwards I asked John…”Just so I’m clear does this “Highly suggest overlearning on our part”?
“Overlearned to the point of automaticity” was his response…….
If you don’t know what that means you really need to catch his lecture at Tac Con……
Of course now I guess the next time we room together for a class we can discuss how to best convince students that first round hits are far more important than how many spare magazines they carry or we can conjecture on what it must have been like when Hickok met Hardin when both were at the height of their prowess in Abilene in June of 1871…. while we wear Turbo Pins #7 and #8 .
I was unable to shoot a single round of live ammo from September 22 until October 27. But I followed a pretty specific and directed dry fire regimen from August through October and that was the difference in keeping my skills to where I could hit the Turbo Pin times in spite of a lack of live fire range time. I jokingly say that I might be the best shooter in the world who shoots as little live ammo as I do, but the truth is that the dry work goes a long way toward keeping my every day walking around skills where I want them to be without having to expend a ton of time and ammo at the range. I’m obviously not going to get to world champion level that way and Bob Vogel will never lose a moment’s sleep worrying about me at a match, but a regimented dry fire routine can be a huge help to keeping your skills ready for “da streetz”.