View Full Version : 21st Century Gunfighter - Handgun 01 course

02-13-13, 19:43

I recently took the Handgun 1 course with Stephen Pineau and 21CG. The range was located in Cresson, a small town in southwest Ft Worth. Just to be clear, I am writing this review from the perspective of a fairly new shooter (in terms of defensive firearms, I entered the community only a few years ago) with little experience in firearms training classes. But with that being said I have much knowledge about the world of firearms training, including well known instructors and training companies. I really do a lot research before pulling the trigger on anything, whether it is making a gun/gear choice or looking for a quality training course for the money. Now with all the great instructors and classes out there, there really aren’t many options for training in the Dallas/Ft Worth area, especially quality courses. Now don’t get me wrong, instructors such as Travis Haley and Chris Costa (to name a few) do come to the DFW area every now and then for some 3 day classes. But I was really looking for instructors and training companies that call DFW home (where I know they will have multiple classes throughout the year in the metroplex) as well as having shorter classes without too much bite out of the wallet. Finding a class that was a true introduction to handgun 1 and not some crazy ninja handgun 1 course was also key for me. Stephen and 21CG was just that and more.

A little bit about Stephen and what attracted me to 21CG was even though he is a young guy, he has trained with many great instructors and training companies. Not to mention he is one hell of a shooter. He is neither former military nor law enforcement and I honestly like that fact about him. As a fairly new shooter I felt he could help relate things a little better from a mindset point of view when explaining why we are learning these drills, manipulations, etc. in the class. This course was a true intro to the handgun with enough information for an even veteran shooter to not get bored.

Now with ammo shortages being so prevalent lately the ammo count was adjusted to 300, but to be honest the change was worked so well into the curriculum it was hard to even tell it was meant to have a larger round count. Don’t get me wrong though, I would love to have shot more, but I never got bored because of the reduced count. The class started at 8am and the range had a great setup. It was little bit of a ways to get to for me, coming from north Dallas, but it was definitely worth it. We started off with introductions, and Stephen really made it a point to get to know us and what we were trying to get out of the class. We obviously covered the safety side of things and the basics of safe weapons handling. We then went into fundamentals, such as grip, stance and sight alignment. There were some slight changes that I had to make to incorporate his theory and fundamentals, but once we started shooting it was clear to me why he was having us make these minute changes. He was clear to explain why these are the way things should be done. After all he has a long history and training in the shooting community. That along with techniques learned from other instructors and material validated by things such as police dash cam footage and discussions with former mil and leo guys, it helped him create what he was teaching us. He always had something to backup what he was saying and teaching to us.

This led into working on those fundamentals. We did a few drills to show our control of the weapon, what we are struggling with and what we needed to focus on to correct it. One of these was the casing drill made us balance a spent shell on the front sight of our gun with the help of a buddy and pulling the trigger while on target. It showed us about any potential failings in the mechanical aspect of our trigger control. Another was letting our buddy take the gun and either loading or unloading the chamber without us looking and then he would give it back to us where we would fire the weapon. It was a great drill for us to see who was anticipating recoil and who was compromising their grip in an effort to get a proper trigger press. After those he had us move on to sight picture and target work. He had us cover our sights and fire shots showing how we can have natural aim without having to use our sights in very critical up close encounters. His demonstration of this before we did the drill was awesome.

After the fundamentals and target work. We broke for lunch, were we all had a big pow-wow discussion on gear. Stephen was very adamant us asking him whatever we wanted, even stuff unrelated to just handguns or gear, such as weapons manipulation, defensive situations, etc. He really wanted to fill every minute or our course with helpful knowledge to make sure we got the most out of it.
After lunch we started to do more of what I would say was the fun range work. It emphasized more on certain aspects of having to use your weapon in a defensive situation and clearing any issues that may come up, whether the issues were gun malfunctions or how the environment/target affected you (i.e. civilians around the target, distance from the target, where to physically shoot a target etc). We started by having Stephen individually time us at different distances from the target to give us, individually, an idea of what affected us more, distance or the size of the target. We then moved on to shot placement on a target where Stephen discussed very in-depth why we shoot for certain areas of the body and how to stop a target quick. That was one thing about Stephen I really liked, he explained very clearly why we train this way and do things in a specific way. When he spoke you could tell he had a great knowledge of what he was talking about. But he always had a fun way of throwing jokes in there to mix it up and make the lecture sessions that much more appealing and interesting.
We also covered malfunctions and reloading during this time. We worked on the range doing different types of reloads. Then we did a drill for malfunctions where loaded our mags with spent shells mixed with live rounds. It was torture firing and then the gun suddenly would stop working and you’ve got to fix it after every few rounds you fire. But at the same time it was a blast. He then incorporated different levels of shooting. Obviously this was a pure handgun 1 course so there wasn’t much dynamic movement. But he showed us how to drop to a knee and change levels, and why this was so important. Then after putting some rounds down range while dropping to a knee we incorporated it with reloads. That was a lot of fun and the most dynamic work I have been able to do, most of the nearby ranges I go to restrict much of this type of individual training and practice.
Once most of the hardcore discussions, lectures and range practices were over we played a pretty fun game dubbed “Danger Zone”, an awesome game incorporating distance and two small targets. After that we finished the range session with some good ole dot torture drills. By far the most challenging shooting we did, incorporating everything we had learned throughout the whole day with tiny dots to shoot at.
At the end we had one last pow-wow, going back to what we had discussed about why we took this course and what we got out of it, and if we got what we were looking for. But Stephen also made use say at least one thing we didn’t like about the course. He explained that he makes all his classes do this because he really wants to make 21CG and his courses the best and most fulfilling they can be. I can honestly say no one really had anything that bad to say when it came down to it. I am sure there will be some tweaks here and there from what we suggested but nothing major to the actual course curriculum.
If you are looking for a good intro, handgun 1 course, this is the course for you. Whether you’re new to guns, a novice shooter or a hardcore shooter you will get your money’s worth out of this course. And you will truly have an instructor that you can call or email to ask for advice. Stephen is an awesome guy and great instructor with a bright future. Keep a lookout for 21CG, if you see one of their courses near you, take it! You won’t regret it.