Class Review: Vogel Dynamics Private Handgun Class

Company: Vogel Dynamics
Instructor: Robert Vogel
Student Count: 2
Cost: $600 for 1-2 students
Duration: 1 Day (9am - 5pm)
Round Count: 650-750

Robert Vogel's personal practice range.

  I'm sitting at my computer with a sunburn, sore hands, and a busted up knee trying to figure out how to condense everything that we covered into a thorough, but concise blog post. If I could do it in only a couple of words, they would be "efficiency" and "personalized". Since that would be far too concise for most people's tastes, I'll begin with Bob's background. He started as a full-time law enforcement officer (LEO), part-time shooter and worked hard enough at his passion that he is now a full-time shooter, part-time LEO. His list of accomplishments in the handgun shooting world is longer than a trip to the DMV. Some highlights of his competitive shooting career are 1 IPSC world championship, 2 IDPA world championships, 16 IDPA national championships, and 4 USPSA national championships. Combine that with his LEO experiences as a patrol officer, SWAT team member, and SWAT firearms instructor and you have one of the best, most well-rounded shooters in the world.

  This was the second private class that I'd taken from Bob, and it started the same way as the first. John and I talked about our backgrounds as shooters, what we'd been up to since our last class, and what goals we had for this class. With that out of the way, Bob launched into a discussion about live-fire practice. He focused on choosing a few drills as standards that you can use to gauge your performance.

  To begin live-fire, Bob had us simultaneously fire 6 round groups into USPSA targets at 15 yards. We started at our own pace and finished with increasingly faster par times. After we were thoroughly warmed up, Bob had us shoot some Bill Drills and El Presidente Drills. Next, he talked to us about the concept of "point" or "target-focused" shooting and how it is quicker at close ranges. To demonstrate, he had us live-fire at 7 yards with our focus on the front sight, and then at about 4 yards with our focus on the target. At my request, we then spent a significant amount of time working on target-to-target transitions and breaked for lunch.

 Drawstroke with front sight focus at 7 yards.

  Once we got back to the range, Bob let John and I run some handloads through his chronographs. We don't have access to chronographs, and wanted to be sure that our handloads were meeting the required velocities, or "power factors" for our competitive shooting leagues.

John firing some handloads through Bob's chronographs.
 After we confirmed that our loads were good to go, Bob had us work on moving in and out of shooting positions while engaging targets. We did this at 7 and 15 yards. Whether you're moving to/from cover or to/from designated shooting positions in a competition, this deserves some thought and practice. At closer distances, where you can get away with a little bit, you want to keep moving through the positions, slowing down as little as possible to engage the targets. At farther distances, where accuracy counts more, you should stop, plant, and get a solid platform and sight picture at each position. It didn't sound very difficult, but I soon found that the footwork involved in efficiently engaging the close targets was pretty complicated. It felt like learning to dance and shoot at the same time. Bob kept pushing me, though, and I finished with what I felt like were several improved, acceptable performances.

Bob demonstrating moving in and out of shooting positions at 15 yards. It's harder than it looks!

  Bob then set up a small course of fire, with swinging and steel targets and had us work on stage planning. He wanted to know how each of us planned to shoot the stage, and made suggestions if he felt that our plans were not efficient. By the end of this evolution, we both were able to complete the course of fire to Bob's standard. We then finished up the day with John and I competing against one another on the plate rack. John won the plate rack competition, but I'm not ready to change the blog to "John Hall Handgunnery" just yet.

Bob cleaning the plate rack in under 2.5 seconds during our 2015 class.

  As far as gear is concerned, I used a Glock 19 with factory internals, Ameriglo steel sights, and a DIY stipple job. I used my standard CCW carry gear from PerSec Systems. I did have a couple of non-gun related gear issues that are covered in the next paragraph. John used a Glock 34 MOS with Vogel Dynamics sights and a Taran Tactical trigger kit. He stowed it in a Safariland GLS holster and carried his spare mags in a G-Code double mag pouch. John didn't seem to have any gear issues. It's always interesting to me to see what gear Bob is using. He's involved in so many different types of handgun shooting and you can usually tell what he's training for by his gear. This time he was preparing to teach a LEO class and was running his LE duty belt and Glock 35 duty pistol.

  I had a couple of malfunctions during slidelock reloads while inserting my 17 round Magpul magazine. When I thumbed the slide release to send the slide home, it moved slowly forward instead of slamming home like normal. I had one failure to return to battery with this magazine as well. I think it's possible to "over-insert" this magazine, causing the feed lips to impede the slide as it travels home. The result is a sluggish cycle of operation which can also lead to stoppages. [The magazine issue turned out to be the Indian; not the arrow. - WB, 02-14-17] The other issue was with my PerSec Systems SPEAR appendix holster. The sweat guard snapped off as I bent over with an empty holster. I haven't decided yet whether I will e-mail PerSec CS or just file the edges along the break and carry on.

My PerSec SPEAR holster with a broken sweat guard.

  It's incredible to be around a shooter of Bob Vogel's caliber and hear how he thinks about shooting. If there's one thing that I've taken away from my 2 classes with him, it's efficiency. Efficiency in a competitive shooting match is not always the same as efficiency in a gunfight. However, developing the ability to solve problems efficiently will benefit you no matter which of these situations you face. How can you minimize your movements and make those minimal movements count as much as possible? What can you do to maximize your efficiency and get the most out of each second on the timer? That's how he looks at every shooting scenario.

  Bob is also very responsive to requests and personal goals in these private classes. John and I each had certain things we wanted to spend time on and Bob was sure to cover it all in-depth. If you live driving distance from western Ohio, the value of a private class with Bob is unbelievable. We paid $600 ($300 each) for this class with an incredibly accomplished teacher who was willing to tailor the curriculum to our needs. I've paid close to that for classes with local instructors that were packed with 15 to 20 students where I received little personal attention and got little out of it except for the fun of blasting paper. Bob, on the other hand, strives to make you a better shooter, demos every drill, pastes your shots after every string of fire, and has a humble, laid-back attitude the whole time. Five stars!

Bob instructing John during a course of fire.