There are training videos and training videos. I am sure we have all had a good laugh at some of the YouTube “training” videos out there. Unless I’m looking for laugh, I tend to avoid the no-name YouTube personalities. Of course, there are some bona fide instructors out there who put out some material on YouTube. One of my favorites for a while now has been Pat McNamara. Pat’s training company, TMACS Inc., falls under the Alias Training banner (which includes other brands like Vickers Tactical, CTT Solutions, Trident Concepts, etc.), and I cannot recall ever reading a negative AAR of one of his training classes. I personally know several people who have trained with him, and they all agree that his in-person persona is identical to the Pat McNamara we can see in his YouTube videos.
Some of Pat’s personal history can be found in this video.
Just within the last few months, however, Pat has joined forces with Panteao Productions and has produced two, full-length training videos in their “Make Ready with the Experts” series. For those of you who do not know, Panteao Productions appeared on the scene a few years ago and produced training videos with Paul Howe, Travis Haley, Massad Ayoob, Dave Spaulding, Michael Bane, “Doc” Spears, Pat Rogers, and several other instructors from both the competitive and tactical shooting worlds. One of the cool features of Panteao Productions is that you can purchase their training videos on DVD or, if you purchase a subscription, you can watch all of their training videos streaming online. I was a member a few years ago and used that time to watch all of the Paul Howe, Pat Rogers, and Travis Haley videos, along with a few others. I let my subscription lapse for a while, but when I saw that Panteao would be producing videos for Pat McNamara and Jeff Gonzales, I thought it might be worthwhile to join again. I waited until their Black Friday sale of 25% off all DVDs and subscriptions and purchased a 3 month subscription. With the discount, the 3 months cost around $40. Most of their DVDs cost either $29.99 or even $39.99 at full price, so if you join for 3 months and then watch more than 2 videos, you’ve already gotten the better deal (the only disadvantage being that you don’t own the material forever). One strategy I have used is to watch the videos and take notes, just like I would for a class. I suppose if there is a video you really like, purchasing the DVD would be worthwhile to refer back to at your leisure.
The first video I watched since rejoining Panteao was “Make Ready with Pat McNamara: Pistol TAPS” (trailer here). I should mention now that I am not being compensated in any way by Panteao Productions, Pat McNamara, or anyone else affiliated with the production of this video. I have never trained with Pat, but he is on my shortlist of instructors I would one day like to take a class with.
In DVD form, this video retails for $29.99. Its total run-time is 1 hour and 50 minutes, and it is broken up into 21 “chapters”. I will outline a few things that I thought were highlights from the video.
1. The second chapter of the video deals with “Performance-Based Training”. Pat differentiates “Performance” vs. “Outcome” based training as “doing what we can with what we have.” He sums it up by saying that if you focus totally on the outcome (for example, trying to shoot X target Y number of times in Z seconds), you will invariably screw it up. It is better to start by getting the Y number of hits on X target in whatever time it takes as a baseline, and then working to improve from there.
2. Unusual for these videos are a pair of chapters on maintenance as well as good stuff to have in your range bag. See some of that section here. Where is YOUR Sharpie???
3. In the chapter on fundamentals, Pat places less emphasis on stance and much more on grip, presentation, sight alignment, trigger control, and follow through. I thought all of these are very well explained. A pair of excerpts can be found here and here.
4. Chapters 9-21 are all different drills to practice. Some of these would be familiar to those who watch his YouTube videos, such as the “Grid of Fire”, “Blaze X”, “Turn and Burn”, etc. A few are his versions of drills developed by other instructors, such as his “El Pres Lite version”, the “National Match Mod”, etc. Then there are a few I had never seen before like “Pick Your Poison”, the “Einstein Drill”, and “The Grinder”.
Some highlights for me included, in the “Basic Drills” chapter, his focus on doing “meaningful repetitions” in order to make things intuitive so that the brain can be used to process everything else that is needed. One thing I noticed was that, as he presents the pistol and takes aim in these untimed drills, he murmurs to himself, “Sight sight sight squeeze squeeze squeeze, sight sight sight, squeeze squeeze squeeze,” which reminded me of Paul Howe’s “Lock, Lock, Front Sight, Press” mantra. In the Einstein Drill, Pat discusses the importance of learning to fail quickly (if you fail, get over it fast, like a quarterback who just threw an interception). The “Einstein Drill” was a particularly good one, because during it Pat outlines some connections to his “Performance-Based Training” model, wherein you have to establish the limits of your performance and then push to move beyond your limits.
I should note that, if you want to perform some of these drills, not all can be performed at your basic indoor or public range. For example, drills like the “El Pres Lite” require turning 180 degrees before firing as well as multiple targets to shoot. The “National Match Mod” requires some shooting out to 50 yards, which my admittedly somewhat limited experience has shown to be a distance rarely available at indoor ranges. Other drills, such as “Delta Sevens”, “Blaze X”, and the “Grid of Fire” require a significant amount of movement on the range, such that they are probably best reserved for those who can perform them on open land, a private range, etc.
One thing that I really liked about this video was that it did not show Pat shooting perfectly. He flat out missed a few times and revealed his own disappointment in his performance in a few of the drills. The net effect of that on someone with my skills and mindset is to show that if a guy like Pat can have his own version of struggles, it is okay for me to struggle as well. As Pat reiterates again and again, it is all about “doing what you can with what you have.”
Another highlight for me was seeing how deliberately one can shoot and be successful, even “on the clock”. I can think back to my performance in Jeff Gonzales’ “Combative Pistol Two” class and how I (to borrow Pat’s phrase from the video) “shit the bed” on a number of occasions when I heard the beep. Now that I am shooting more with a shot timer, I am finding this less of an issue.
One final plus that must be mentioned is the personality of Mr. McNamara. Although he is solo in every scene of the video and therefore lacks anyone to interact with, his humor still shines through in many scenes in dialogue, facial expressions, and body movements. My sense of humor is a little strange, but there were moments during the video when I had to hit pause and laugh hysterically, enough so that my wife had to call down to me and ask what was so funny! For the record, I’ve had her watch a number of Pat’s YouTube videos, and even she wants to meet the guy! One special note: this video is not G-rated in terms of language, and Pat drops a few F-bombs along with some less-“offensive” curses at various times in the video. Buyer beware.
My ONLY complaint about the video is what I wonder might be an error. On numerous occasions in the earlier chapters, Pat refers to the shooting of the “5 Second Standards”. These were mainly referenced in the chapter entitled “Basic Drills”, where Pat was setting “us” up to shoot the “5 Second Standards”. However, and I watched the video in-full three times to confirm this, the “5 Second Standards” are never actually shown or explained! It was almost as if there was a chapter missing. I had to do a little work on Google to find out what his “5 Second Standards” are. I found the omission of a description—if not an actual demonstration—of these standards odd to say the least.
Overall, I really liked this video. I would say it would be equally useful for someone just beginning learning pistol marksmanship as it would be for someone with moderate to even large amounts of experience shooting. Although I suppose some might find it tedious watching someone else shoot, particularly in some of the slower-paced drills, I used all of Pat’s repetitions to focus on all of the things that we can see and hear him doing along the way.
I also want to mention that I really get a lot of value out of the videos produced by Panteao Productions. For those readers who cannot afford the time or money for training classes, I would say quality videos like these are the next best thing. Likewise, I also think they are great for those folks who have done some training—particularly with the instructors Panteao features—to revisit the material covered and the drills practiced in class. As of this writing, my 3 month subscription just expired, but I will keep an eye out for another sale and probably join again. I really feel like these subscriptions offer a lot of value.