“If you are missing, you aren’t getting the work done.” -Frank Proctor
I first met Frank Proctor of Way of the Gun when he taught a block of the FBI Police Firearms Instructor course that I attended in 2013. When the members of our “C Shift” told me they had arranged for a private class with Frank, I quickly jumped on the spot offered to me. It was a long day, but it was well worth it. We left at 5:00AM so that we could get through Atlanta prior to rush hour traffic and didn’t get home until 9:00PM. One additional challenge to the day was the weather as we experienced an overnight temperature drop of 25 degrees. The temperature never got above the mid-40s, and it was windy.
As I have written previously, I prefer to train with instructors who have backgrounds in both the “tactical” and competition worlds, and Frank certainly fits this bill being both Army Special Forces as well as a USPSA Grand Master as well as an IDPA Master.
As the above video demonstrates, Frank is very much into “processing”. This involves seeing and processing everything that is happening around you, and this translates into seeing the sight picture, tracking the sights during recoil, breaking the shot at the right time to so much more.
We began the day shooting an exercise on paper targets, and after each string, Frank would ask us questions about what we saw during the string, and he would then offer teaching points. We also worked on properly gripping the pistol as well as recoil control.
Frank makes a point of saying that he utilizes exercises rather than drills as exercises can be “compounded” to add other things to them. Throughout the day, we would shoot an exercise, and then he would add a twist or variation to the exercise building upon the previous work. After the initial exercise on paper, we shot steel targets for the remainder of the day.
One of the first exercises that we shot on steel was the “Shake and Bake” exercise in which barrels were stacked upon top of each other to create a vision barrier. The shooter had to move side to side completely compressing the pistol and then punch back out to the target. The barrels were not “cover”. They were there simply to block the shooter’s vision and to force movement.
We shot the exercise in the above video, but he had us moving through a row of staggered barrels as we did so.
Another exercise involved an array of targets with numbers painted on them and the shooters having to move through a row of barrels with each barrel having an index card with information on it telling us which targets to shoot. As an example of compounding, this exercise was introduced with our simply moving through the barrels and shooting the targets in sequential order. We then moved through the barrels again putting the number of hits on a target corresponding with the number that was painted on it, and then finally the exercise involving the information processing. As a twist, the same exercise was set up in the an adjacent bay but with a different target array to avoid memorization of the information while at the same time providing for additional repetitions.
There was not any downtime during the day. Frank told us to bring 600 rounds with us, and I think we all exceeded that number as we all were stuffing magazines as fast as possible to bang some more steel.
Frank’s teaching style is extremely relaxed and humorous. You’ll also get serenaded and peppered with sound effects as well as movie one-liners that lead to teaching points. As I wrote above, there isn’t any downtime in the day. If we weren’t shooting, we were loading magazines. You’ll get a lot of material thrown at you, but it will be in a manner that you will readily understand and is often a tweak or a unique insight on something the student has already heard previously, but the presentation “compounds” the previously obtained information. Also, he breaks things down to be done efficiently with the subconscious mind being allowed to control the simple things with the conscious mind focussing on processing. To drive this point home, “Walking isn’t hard until you think about it”. In others words, just walk and don’t think about walking while you are walking. Another example would be driving a vehicle and looking through the windshield. You are making constant inputs to control and steer the vehicle, but you really aren’t thinking about them as you do them. This can be applied to shooting as well. Focus on the things that need focus and just do the other stuff naturally. Oh yeah, and PROCESS.