But what can it do for ME?

One of the recurring themes on this blog has been how I’ve benefitted from a solid physical fitness regimen and how it’s improved my game significantly. If you’ll recall, my “weapon of choice” is CrossFit. But, I’ve been shooting for a while and had a solid base of sport specific skills to work from. This weekend, I had a chance to see how a long career in CrossFit could benefit a brand new shooter.

Over the past several days, I had the immense pleasure of spending some time in the San Diego area, shooting video for some new pieces for the CrossFit Journal. Just like last time, I was accompanied by CrossFit’s Director of Training, Dave Castro, and cameraman extraordinaire Marston Sawyers. To further flavor things, though, we invited out USPSA Grand Master Jake DiVita, from Michigan, and CrossFit personality Kelly Starrett (you can see Jake and Kelly in the opening pic in this post). In addition to owning and operating San Francisco CrossFit, Kelly is also the author of the MobilityWOD blog and a Doctor of Physical Therapy (that’s a lot of hats… he has more, too… but no flip-flops).

When I first started working with Dave in August 2010, he already had a lot of trigger time from his time in the Navy. He picked things up quickly, but wasn’t a good gauge of how CrossFit might benefit the inexperienced shooter (Dave did receive his first USPSA classification at A in Limited – shooting minor power factor – which is a heck of an accomplishment in it’s own right). Jake was also a shooter before he started doing CrossFit, and certainly isn’t a good example for the same reason.

Kelly, however, is a perfect test dummy guinea pig. He only recently purchased his first pistol, had put a very limited amount of ammo through it, and had never been exposed to drawing from a holster, reloading the gun, shooting under time pressure, or moving with a gun in his hand. In short, he was a total noob. He’d spent some time reviewing the CrossFit Journal shooting videos that had already been released, and chatting with Jake about how to get started, but that was about the limit of his experience.

I took the opportunity to watch Jake work with Kelly to quickly get Kelly up to speed with regards to grip, stance, drawing from the holster, and reloading the gun. Kelly had the opportunity to try some of the positioning drills I use after viewing the in the Journal videos, so he had a little bit of a head start on grip and stance, but not a significant jump on the average student. With most students, getting through these skills successfully takes a couple of hours, including diagnosis and correction of any problems they have, and cementing things in for them. Kelly took 45 minutes.

What’s that? You’re saying Jake’s obviously a better trainer than I am, then? …grumble… Actually, based on my observation, we teach in pretty similar fashion, and as you’ll see, the progress continued with me at the helm.

We then dove into movement, with Jake and I trading off teaching different entries and exits. These skills routinely confuse students and tend to take a long time and a lot of reps to really dial in. The footwork isn’t super complex, but it gives the student a lot to pay attention to, and it taxes their body awareness. This was also Dave’s first exposure to formal techniques for movement. We finished this block of training in about an hour – two different entries and exits, a set of skills that usually require a couple of hours, on average, for my shooting students to get right. The amazing thing was that they both had solid footwork with only a couple of reps of each skill. The rest of the time was spent demo’ing (and videoing) each skill, and then cleaning them up a bit with some coaching on the fine points.

Amazing. Absolutely. How’d this happen?

Both of these guys work out frequently using CrossFit methodologies. As I told you in a previous post, CrossFit has an impressive ability to improve the 10 general fitness skills (cardio endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, coordination, accuracy, and balance), as well as the athlete’s prioperception (aka kinesthetic awareness). What this translates to is that both guys are inherently aware of where their bodies are in space, and have a lot of control over where and how their bodies move. It’s this enhanced ability that explains the accelerated progress that Jake and I observed in their training.

When I tell him “put your left foot there”, Kelly’s body already knows how to put that foot down in the right place, and stop him smooth in perfect balance so that he can break a precise shot on the target. When Jake was telling Dave how to punch his trailing foot down in a classic “drop step” or “hard exit”, Dave’s able to execute a sharp movement without hesitation or confusion of intent in the movement. The simplest way to put it is that they just “got it”, and it is a complex set of movements that seem to baffle the vast bulk of students that we teach.

Magic? Bullshit? Or maybe just training to be a well rounded, well equipped, generally prepared badass that can quickly and accurately pick up new skills and sports with an ease otherwise only displayed by children?

Back to the question we started with – What can this (the “this” being CrossFit) do for ME? What do you think? (wink wink, nudge nudge)

About the author


USPSA Grand Master, NRA Instructor, http://re-gun.com/about/

Permanent link to this article: http://re-gun.com/2011/04/but-what-can-it-do-for-me/

1 ping

  1. ziacrossfit says:

    check out this article, KStarr learning to shoot with Dave Re http://re-gun.com/2011/04/but-what-can-it-do-for-me/

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