While hanging out on Discord awaiting primer notifications and checking out the dankest memes, I heard some chatter about a new advanced class that was being put on by David Wampler in collaboration with Kevin Gorospe, and that it was amazing. Honestly, I had no idea who these guys were, but some Internet research showed they were legitimately top-level shooters with a lot of good knowledge to share. Plus, it was a one-day Sunday class on a free Sunday, and not a ton of money… things were lining up such that it seemed like a great idea to go. I signed up on @gw_collab Instagram and this past Sunday, I saw what it was all about.
Was it good? Read on.
Disclaimers of Sources of Bias: None. I don’t know Kevin Gorospe or David Wampler outside of this class, nor did I receive any discounts.
Class Title: Gorospe x Wampler Collaboration Advanced Practical Shooting Class
Class Description: The class was advertised on Facebook and Instagram, so the description is somewhat minimalistic:
-Shot call and go
-Efficiency of movement
-Breaking down partial/noshoot targets and theories behind available space.
I found it slightly odd that they named this a practical shooting class; I suppose it is in some sense, but it’s extremely competition-oriented.
Round Count: 700-800 rounds was the class round count. I think I shot about 650 rounds. Others claimed to have shot 800 rounds. There’s some flexibility in how much you shoot.
Instructors: Kevin Gorospe and David Wampler, both of whom are Open division GMs sponsored by Atlas Gunworks. They were assisted by “Raf” and Omar Ayoubi as assistant instructors.
One thing I really liked about this class was that the AIs were there to not only ensure safety and help the instructors run more students simultaneously, but they also took a great deal of responsibility for pasting and stage setup. That’s not to say that the students didn’t do some work, but the learning process goes much more smoothly when some of that work is offloaded, too, and the students have a chance to rest and think a bit.
Location/Date: 8/14/2022, from 9AM – 4PM. The class was held at Shadow Hawk Defense, which is a great range in West Virginia. We were spread across three bays (one of which was covered), and there was a porta-potty nearby.
There was a display of Atlas Gunworks pistols at the safe table to look over. I picked a couple up to look, and they were nice, but I think maybe the proof in the pudding is how they shoot, and that’s hard to determine from a safe table. I am not a serious Open or Limited shooter, so it was not of a ton of interest to me anyways… maybe in the future if I can spend some time with my Bullesteros.
Weather: The weather was almost perfect. It was about 75f and cloudy most of the day, with the exception of some rain near the end of the class. It was maybe a little warm, but a light breeze really helped make it comfortable.
Equipment Details: I ran a P320 X5 Legion with a Deltapoint Pro, using my own 124gr hot-ish 9mm reloads. The holster was a Blade-Tech Signature on a Springer Precision QD drop offset setup.
My primary P320 went down after the DPP flew off it and hit me in the face. Fun times! I swapped to my identical backup pistol, and it was fine for the rest of the class. Always bring a backup. (And always use loctite on your pistol optic screws!)
Preparation Drills: For once, I can say that I had been dry-firing a lot before this class. I had been trying to dry-fire with my kid most nights of the week, and succeeding more often than not.
Author’s Previous Experience: Civilian with no military or LEO background. Have shot some competition, but no accomplishments worth bragging about. Training junkie since April 2018, and have averaged a class a month since then. I am OK with a carbine, pretty good with a pistol, and just average with a shotgun.
Class Demographics: The class was all guys – I think about 14 students – but diverse otherwise. This was an advanced class, and all the shooters were pretty switched on.
I would say the equipment was about 60/40 carry optics and open division guns, with one PCC also in the mix. This is the most open guns I’ve ever seen in any class ever, which was neat. I did not get a good look at the open guns (and wouldn’t know how to identify them by sight anyways), but a good portion of the Carry Optics guns were P320s.
TD1 (morning): Class kicked off with instructor and student introductions and some discussion of what we should expect from the class. Safety was stressed heavily, and we were cautioned against expecting miracles out of the class… we’d be getting tools and techniques to practice, but the real gains would come with putting our own work in. Oddly, there was no medical brief; I’d suggest stating that explicitly in the future. I think the assumption was that Gorospe would handle it due to his real life job as a first responder, but hearing the plan out loud would have been nice.
We led off with a discussion of efficiency, including the 90/10 concept (which, if I understood it correctly, is basically dialing it back at the last ten percent of a hard run, your draw, a reload, and so on, so that you don’t overshoot what you’re trying to do). Kevin and David are also fond of talking about dead time (that is to say, the time you’re not actively shooting), and reducing it as much as possible. Dead time can be something as simple as the time your gun is cycling, which led us into our first drill: getting that trigger reset while the gun is cycling. The instructors very correctly noted that most people wait until the gun finishes cycling to reset the trigger. But that’s a good .1 seconds that you’re not doing anything with, that you could be resetting the trigger with. One thing that they really stressed that I had not previously considered is that a good bit “aim wobble” is introduced by pre-travel. This does make sense, and I had been noticing it more and more with my P320s as I dry-fired with tuned 2011s.
We split into two relays and spent about 60 rounds experimenting with this concept. It was, in some ways, the most physically exhausting drill the entire day despite its simplicity. We did singles and then doubles with our guns in the aimed-in, ready position. Have you ever held a heavy competition pistol aimed in for ten to fifteen minutes at a time? It turns out that’s a lot tougher than I thought, especially when you’re like me and tense up your shoulders way too much. David was on top of it telling me to relax. I tried, but it was hard to simultaneously untense my shoulders while keeping the gun high. Maybe I should lift some weights.
This was followed by a discussion of grip. Kevin really had an interesting speech about locking the support wrist to control recoil, which is perhaps a little different than some of the crush-based theories I had previously heard. We tested this with bill drills. Lots of Bill Drills. We did so many Bill Drills I literally ran out of ammunition on my person, and that was with four 23rd magazines on me. This was pretty neat, and while I know some people might argue that the 90 rounds or so was excessive, I found it to be really useful when we had a clear purpose to why we were sending those rounds down range. There were even a few reps that I simply skipped, preferring instead to think about what I was seeing and what I wanted to do in response to that.
This led to a transition drill to practice “bump” transitions, which happen during recoil. Essentially, you had an open target and a tuxedo target, and you needed to do those bump transitions while not blowing a bunch of rounds into the cover areas of the tuxedo. We did a bunch of reps, which was good, because it took me a while to get the hang of it. Targets were located close in, so hitting the targets wasn’t so challenging – you could dial in some pretty impressive splits. Keeping with the “lots of reps = good” theme, we probably did about nine or ten reps on this drill.
Finally, the relays split up into two different bays. David taught us about leading movement with our shoulders during shooting using a couple of different arrangements… we started off with a simple exercise that was just crossing over a stick – a “bar hop” drill. There was a fault line stick you had to be on one side of. You shot the target on the other side of the fault line from you, then the target in front of you… while leading with your shoulders to get you moving to the other side of the fault line, where you’d repeat the same process. I guess it’s a little hard to describe, but the premise is to push movement immediately after making your hits off a transition, and doing those bump transitions. It was a simple, yet difficult, drill.
It evolved into a much more involved pair of mini-stages where you had to move between three different positions, again, trying to lead with those shoulders. Visual barriers were also introduced to teach us to start aiming in even before we were in position, and “land” in a steady position with both our feet on the ground. David is an enthusiastic teacher, and I really felt a bit frustrated that I couldn’t quite immediately implement fixes to some of his very valid criticisms of my movement and positioning. There was a lot of emphasis on efficiency and smooth movement, and sometimes running flat-out is not as efficient as you think it is… or I thought it was, anyways.
In the other bay, Kevin showed the “reach-step” where you pre-load the knee you’re shooting with (like a lean around cover, but not quite) and extend the other foot out. This gives you a natural advantage to smooth movement, especially when you need to shoot around a barrier and then move the other direction. It started off simple with a pair of positions and targets, but then evolved into a more complex drill involving crossing a gap while shooting at targets. Kevin gently, but firmly, called us on where we needed improvement, and I think I got substantially better at it as I worked at the drills. I think starting at this section would have helped me somewhat for what David taught, but such is life… it kept the class moving.
We ran all of these drills multiple times. Like six times per evolution and station. Round count was huge – people were reloading mags frequently to keep going. Sometimes people ran dry mid-drill, including myself. But that was OK, because moving was much more important than shooting for what we were doing.
We broke for lunch around 1:15PM. Everyone was pretty hungry and needed a bit of a break at this point.
TD1 (afternoon): After lunch, it was time to shoot some mock stages. These weren’t recorded for posterity, but they did test everything we had learned in class. One of them was a fairly complex field course and another was more of a two position visual barrier stage. The third was a standards-based stage. I’d be lying if I said these all weren’t kind of disasters for me (excepting maybe the standards stage), but I certainly learned a lot from watching my and my classmates attempts, and then seeing David Wampler dominate the stage. It seems odd that this section of the AAR is so short, but as you can imagine, a squad of seven people running three stages really does eat time up fairly quickly.
This is also a good time to mention that the instructors always admitted when they did something suboptimal, with the lesson being explicit: we all make mistakes, even GMs.
Class Debrief: Class concluded around 4PM. This felt right, since we were all fairly tired and it had started raining a bit. We took a class picture, talked about what we had learned and how we could improve on our own, and had a brief conversation about where the Collaboration was going in the future. David was kind enough to chat with me for five minutes about how to work on certain deficiencies that were identified in class, which I greatly appreciated. Working on some of this in my house with no timer and no pressure definitely has aided in understanding some more subtle nuances of the movement techniques presented.
Conclusions: I really really loved this class. Any opportunity to learn advanced material from GM-level instructors is one that I try not to pass up, and Wampler and Gorospe absolutely delivered on the learning. This was the second run of the class, and while we were warned we would be drinking from the fire hose, I never felt overwhelmed by the subject matter, which is really a credit to the instructors given the material. Maybe my body didn’t quite execute sometimes, but I understood the general lessons that were imparted, certainly well enough to take them home and do something with them.
Maybe just as importantly, I thought they were excellent instructors and did a superb job of imparting their wisdom, no matter what platform you brought. The class was very well-constructed in the way that the drills built on each other, the instructors had a solid handle on running the class efficiently, and there were very few missteps. I look forward to seeing what the “GxW Collab” does in the future, and hopefully taking more classes with David and Kevin.
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