School Review: Rogers Shooting School (p2)

Class begins on Sunday night with a lecture from Bill Rogers himself.  Bill explains how the target system works and more importantly why they use this system (a target system which has been adopted by special units in the Navy and Marine Corps, federal law enforcement agencies, and police departments around the country).  Everything at Rogers is based on human reaction time, which they clock in at one-quarter of a second.  So on a Rogers range, you are given only as many “reaction times” as absolutely necessary to hit a target.  If you can’t go that fast, the target disappears.  You can’t control the pace.  You either keep up or fail … like real life.

And you certainly can fail.  Unlike many feel-good shooting programs, at Rogers you get rated.  If you don’t cut it, you go home with a certificate that says you failed to achieve the minimum score necessary to pass.  That score is based on a test the school has been using for a very long time.  Nine courses of fire totaling 125 possible points.  You need to knock down 70 of them to pass with a Basic rating.  Hit 90 and you walk home with a certificate that reads Intermediate.  To get Advanced, you need to score 110.  You take the test six times during the course of the week, and your best score counts toward your rating.

No student in the history of the school has ever scored a perfect 125.  No SEAL, no SWAT cop, no IPSC Grand Master, nobody.  Except, once, Bill Rogers himself.  A few have come close, but that perfect score has eluded even the best students from around the world.  Each of the nine courses of fire tests different skills.  Some are shot freestyle (both hands), others require shooting strong or weak hand only.  Some tests involve drawing from a holster, either freestyle or strong hand only depending on the specific test.  Many of them require reloading from behind cover, including a number of strong and weak hand only reloads.  In fact, 56 of the 125 targets are shot one-handed.

Monday morning, class begins with demonstrations and instruction on fundamentals.  Grip, stance, trigger press are all covered in detail.  Students are admonished constantly throughout the class to keep both eyes open, which Rogers considers a necessity to see the randomly appearing targets and react to them quickly enough.  Then the first drills begin, each one preceded by a demonstration from either Bill or one of the other four instructors.  At first, many of the students are overwhelmed.  They’ve never had to react so quickly to a target before.  There is no time to align the sights perfectly, no time for a slow controlled trigger press.  A number of students try to point shoot, but quickly learn that you can’t hit a moving 8″ plate twenty yards away by pointing at it and yanking the trigger.


Bill Rogers demonstrating two rounds to the body and one to the head plate on T1 (7yd), T2 (8yd), and T7 (20yd)

Monday’s range session raps up with the first chance at the test.  A few students pass, but most do not.  To many, the task seems nigh impossible at this point.  The one-handed shooting, in particular, costs a number of students a passing score.

But the class isn’t over yet.  About half the students are staying at a lodge which is rented out each month for the Rogers class.  In addition to serving a great hot dinner every night for the whole group, the lodge also serves as classroom for the dry-fire training session held the first three nights after the range sessions.  Each night, students pair up and work together for an hour and a half on all the fundamentals with the entire instructor cadre moving from group to group making corrections and giving advice.  Claude Werner leads the class by incorporating part of the dry-fire practice CD he’s produced.  The CD, complete with instructions and par times recorded with a shot timer, puts a solid structure on the dry-fire sessions and means there is one more instructor who can watch & correct rather than giving out commands.

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