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Advanced Fight Focused Drills with Roger Phillips

Chris Upchurch

This was a truly excellent class. While many know Roger for his advocacy of point shooting and his excellent writing, one of the things that has always impressed me most is his ability to design unique and interesting handgun drills. His willingness to think outside the box, and in particular to get away from the “conga line of students” that pervades many firearms classes is a big part of what makes his classes graduate school for gunfighters.

The flip side of this is that many of these drills need to be run one or two students at a time. When Roger was a nobody and his classes were small, this wasn’t a problem. As his popularity and class sizes grew, however, many of these drills had to be dropped from the curriculum due to time.

Another, more recent change in his curriculum is a change in the nature of his advanced point shooting class. Initially more of a workshop dedicated to exercising the skills built up in his regular point shooting class, it has recently become much more oriented towards teaching students to run their handguns fully ambidextrously. This change had left some of his most interesting and creative drills without a home.

This class takes the drills that were dropped for time or for a change in subject matter and integrates them in a class that fills the same niche as the original advanced point shooting course: a testing ground for students’ point shooting skillsets.

One of the keys to a class like this is a student base who come into the class with the requisite skillset. We definitely had a class of highly experienced students this time around. The unique way this class was organized contributed to that. Roger initially set this course up as a private class for a group of students who had taken his advanced point shooting class last fall (the “Tucson Mafia”). They were kind enough to allow him to open it up by invitation to some of his other advanced students, primarily those who had taken his advanced course after it had made the transition to an ambidexterity oriented class. Technically, I didn’t qualify for the course; my experience in Roger’s advanced point shooting class dates back to 2010, long before it was focused on true ambidexterity (we were still working with “back up guns” then). Despite this, however, Roger was willing to credit my ambidextrous skillset and allow me to attend.

Everyone came kitted out with a fully ambidextrous setup and a skillset to match. They all threw themselves into the drills safely and with great enthusiasm. Probably more than half our time was dedicated to one or two person drills allowing a huge degree of flexibility when it came to movement and shooting. In some classes the down time waiting for others to do the drill might have been a drag, but frankly, with the heat some time to go back and sit in the shade was a blessing (it was in the 90s one day and 100 the other).

Some of the drills were familiar from my initial experience in Roger’s regular and advanced point shooting classes four years ago. Others were either new to me or a twist on what I’d seen previously. All allowed the students to really push our point shooting skillsets (and in some cases our sighted fire skillsets as well).

All in all, a great class, one I am very glad to have attended.