Bill Rogers Shooting School, a draft of an article I wrote

Discussion in 'Shooting, Hunting and Fishing' started by Effendi, Apr 28, 2013.

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  1. This is the draft of an article I wrote. I'll also plonk some pics up as I get the chance.

    Some things in life are sent to challenge, take you to the limit of your ability and then redefine that limit by pushing you past it. Bill Rogers, and his shooting school, in Ellijay, Georgia, USA have been challenging shooters since 1975.

    Not only does Bill run possibly the most demanding and testing shooting school in the world, but this is only one of his many notable achievements. He shot well enough to be the Florida State and Ohio State skeet champion as well as winning many IPSC titles both nationally and internationally as a member of the IPSC Team USA. As an FBI agent, when Hoover was still running the Bureau, he started the Rogers Holster Company designing and producing many holsters for FBI and police use, he was also the first person to use kydex for holster systems. His holsters were so successful that his company was bought out by Safariland, for whom he still continues to design, develop and construct products – he holds many patents for his designs and products. Along the way he has also become an accomplished pilot, spear fisherman owns and runs a couple of companies and designs and develops products for many household names in the firearms industry.

    So when and how did he find the time to start a shooting school? . Whilst with the FBI Bill decided that the types of holster available to law enforcement agents were not the best design or style for their type of work. So Bill made his own holster. Colleagues at the Bureau were so impressed with the design, functionality and quality of the holster that he found himself spending most of his off duty time making holsters for them. Word of the newer, better, holsters spread amongst the law enforcement community and eventually the Rogers Holster Company was officially founded. Bill started to be approached for large orders to equip whole police agencies and made the decision to take a leave of absence from the FBI to see if he could make it in the world of commerce and industry. He succeeded.

    A holster design request from SEAL Team 6 (ST6) resulted in a member of ST6 being sent to Bills factory to provide input and conduct onsite testing of a specialist holster. During his stay the SEAL was invited to shoot with Bill and his wife, Christie. The SEAL watched Bill and Christie warm up on the range and run a few drills and then it was his turn. He turned said to Bill “I can’t shoot like that”, so they ran him through some drills and called it a day. At dinner that night the SEAL asked Bill if he could teach him to shoot like them – so every spare hour thereafter was spent on the range. A few weeks later, after the operator had returned to ST6, Bill received a phone call from Richard Marcinko, the commanding officer and founder of ST6. Marcinko had been so impressed with the increase of shooting proficiency of the operator that he wanted Bill to teach the rest of ST6 how to shoot.

    Word of a school that could teach you to shoot spread among the special forces community and soon there was a queue at Bill’s door. Nowadays many of the early operators are civilians and the demand of them wanting to continue attending courses has meant that the doors are now open to civilians for about eight to twelve weeks a year. There are still many Tier 1 and 2 units along with specialist protective and investigative agencies who attend Bills school. Several european units also attend sending operators to learn the finer points of reactive shooting.

    The range itself is like no range you have ever seen before. It is designed to allow the teaching of reactive shooting in situations that an operator may find himself. For civilians it does not teach target shooting, it does however allow the competitive IDPA and IPSC shooters to polish their speed, target acquisition and target engagement skills. The range has six lanes and each lane provides a shooter with seven computer controlled pneaumatic targets at distances from seven metres out to seventeen metres. The target that must be shot at is in fact a moving eight inch steel plate. Those who have shot at plates previously will think this is easy, that they are on a par with special forces shooters. Wrong. Consider and try this with a timer: Pistol in the extended low ready position, sights confirmed, target appears seven metres away and disappears half of a second later. That half a second is the time in which you have to recognize the target is appearing, acquire, engage and hit. Still easy?

    Bill has condensed the essence of the successful gunfight down to trained human reaction time and passes on that knowledge. He has no fancy techniques, tricks or gimmicks to teach or justify his methods. He has taken the accepted facts and standards of human capability and applied them to reactive shooting and programmed the target computer on the range accordingly. We, human beings, have a reaction time of around 0,24 of a second and that is the basis of all the drills and tests on the range. Well, that and the perfect application of the basics.

    Reaction time breaks down to two components: Input or stimulus recognition (0,12 second); reaction to input or stimulus (0,12 second). Ok, so how does this work? Well go back to the extended low ready position waiting for the target and break down the required actions to release a shot:

    1. Input – the target has appeared I need to raise my pistol – 0,12 second
    2. Reaction – raise the pistol to the target – 0,12 second
    3. Input - sights on target I need to shoot – 0,12 second
    4. Reaction – fire the shot – 0,12

    If you now add up all the inputs and reactions you will clearly see that according to science you should be able to identify a target and shoot it in 0,48 of a second. Trust me, it works. There are a multitude of reaction testers on the internet that you can play with to test your reaction times and you will all see that they come out at an average of 0,24 of a second.

    Of course you are not expected to perform to this level on day one of the five day, 2500 to 3000 round course that you are attending. Bill first spends a couple of hours on the pre-start Sunday night, in the lodge where you stay, explaining the theories and what is expected of you regarding safety and shooting – unlike many “worldclass” instructors Bill believes range time is for shooting and evenings are for talking. With most people the theories and practice all click into place on the Wednesday of the course. Though even some Tier 1 members have had problems working through the “Wednesday wall” before leaving the course on Friday.

    On the range you start gently with drills that introduce the concepts of reactive shooting and targets that move up and down so fast you cannot believe they were actually there. It starts to click into place, the targets seem to slow down and you even start to hit them knocking them over giving the brain the instant feedback needed to know that you have done something right – another principle of human programming that Bill uses. And, to make sure that you are learning, processing and functioning correctly there is “the test” which happens at least once a day.

    The test never changes, it consists of 125 shots over nine target scenarios. The scenarios vary from the engagement of two targets (double Mogadishu) to having to deal with a full on assault of 23 targets (headshots only) shooting and changing magazines with weak hand only. There is as much shooting with weak hand as there is with strong hand and singlehanded magazine change and malfunction drills must be executed – remembering that this course was originally designed with special forces and the situations they may find themselves in – such as being unable to use the strong hand. There are grading levels within the course: 70/125 is basic; 90/125 is intermediate; 110/125 is advanced. Times and targets never change, no allowance is given – except maybe a reshoot for a weapon malfunction.

    My recent course was made up of several police officers with SWAT experience, a Department of Defense contractor from 160 SOAR, a Federal Agent, a surgeon, two airline pilots and an IPSC shooting German from Switzerland and me. Two advanced certificates were awarded, many intermediate and a few basic along with one certificate of attendance. You get a grade in accordance with your highest test score during the week.. Many of the attendees on my course, like myself, were repeat customers – some on their 6th visit - as we recognize that the course offers something that no other instructor is ever capable of offering either in ability or facilities. Interestingly many special forces and private facilities have bought the range structure from Bill but no one can teach the course and get the success rate with students that Bill does.

    The teaching is excellent. There is no self important gun guru striding around telling you what he wants and never firing a shot himself – what if he misses? At Bill’s place for every drill that is shot the drill is first explained, then the drill is demonstrated either Bill or an instructor when everyone understands what they have to do the students shoot. You see the drill being shot so you know that it can be shot. Unlike some instructors who spend their time telling you what they want and not showing you what they want. In fact many well known instructors and top level shooters in the USA attend Bill’s course to test their ability. Some do well, others……..

    Add to the excellent instruction the fact that the feedback from special forces to the school after a deployment tells them that they are teaching the right things. At a class after the Blackhawk down incident students told Bill that they were only alive because of the skills and techniques they had learned at the school. On a personal level, I found out about the school from a Navy SEAL who told me that what they had taught him had saved his life more than once.

    Of course Bill could not do this alone. He has an excellent cadre of instructors who must all have qualified as an advanced shooter on the course before being considered for selection as an instructor. The instructors are mainly serving or retired police tactical officers and also an interesting former Navy SEAL who was responsible for specialist SEAL training. They all have the ability to deliver shots where needed during demonstration drills and they are all able to positively coach to bring the full potential out of any student.

    The school motto is “Be fast, be accurate, be the best”. That perfectly describes the ability of students who achieve any level of pass from the school.

    FORUM NOTE: The Rogers targetting system has been sold to various speshul units and agencies who now use it inhouse - Not THEM, in fact Mr Rogers would love to have some of THEM along on a course officially.
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  2. Good article. THEM will never condescend to take a course from a mere civilian and aged Septic.

    As I said, I would go if it were not for the cost.
  3. They already have civilian pistol instructors
  4. I know that.

    You would be surprised WHO knows WHOM.

    An alternative: Ronnie Dodd is the Chief Instructor at Rogers, he has a good pedigree as a shooter and instructor at some of the leading shooting schools. Then he did Bills course and he was converted, I'll let him tell you if you go there.

    As the Chief Instructor Bill lets him rent the range a few times a year and Ronnie runs three day courses that are a tad cheaper than Bills full on course. People who have done Bills course and who are going back tend to use Ronnies course as a refresher before the main event, or they are people who are considering Bills course and want a taste. Either way its a cheaper option. I will be doing Ronnies course before the next time I go back to do the intermediate/advanced again.

    One of the chaps on my course had done the course 6 times and still not achieved advanced grade.........and his full time job is teaching THEIRS to shoot. Its not a fluffy bunny take their money and pat them on the head course. You either perform or you don't, no mercy, the target times are the target times and will remain so.

    The targets are set at times calculated for human reaction time, even the multiple target exposures are set that way.....perform correctly and you will hit everything.......ha, I wish! Only two people have ever had a clean sweep thats Bill Rogers and Rob Leatham. It took Bill many years to manage it and Leatham is just a shooting machine.
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  5. One can but dream....

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  6. A couple have asked for info as they are planning on attending, so a bump to highlight this for them to read.

    Re the Tacpro course I mentioned on a different thread. Yes, I spoke to the blokes range manager and he got all silly about course costs and I don't play the overly expensive game. He wanted 350 a day which is too expensive.

    I am going to Rogers next year probably Sept / Oct, weather in Georgia is still quite lovely that time of the year - cooling down from a tropical sauna. If anyone is interested give me a shout - for someone who can shoot it is arguably the most demanding and probably the best shooting course in the world.
  7. I am going this October and may try again next year if finances permit.
  8. See you next year then. This year is now officially bolloxed due to commitments.
  9. I will post some pictures hopefully: a previous participant put up a lil' video:

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