Note: This is my experience of the HSP D5 Handgun course as an individual who has only began shooting a handgun for ~3 months.
If only one thing:
If there is only one thing I could stress to those who are potentially interested in this course, it will be “don’t be intimidated”. Don’t be intimidated by your own lack of experience. Or, don’t be intimidated how much better the other students might be. I have only been shooting for 3 months by the time I attended the course. And at no point did the instructors or other students made it uncomfortable or intimidating for the less experienced in the class. If anything, everyone was ultra-encouraging and very willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
There are other sources on the internet where they would go through what happens in the course day-by-day, so I won’t go over that. (it will be listed at the end of this post)
What to bring to D5 Handgun Course:
Basically, just follow what is on their course description page. Almost everyone’s main pistol was some form of polymer-framed full-size/compact double-stacked handgun (e.g., Glock 17/19, M&P fullsize/compact, HK VP9, Walther PPQ).
This is what I brought (minus the water bottle and coffee I made every morning):
The class was led mostly by Travis Haley (CEO of Haley Strategic Partner), with the help of two other HSP guys, Pierce Richardson and Nate LeCompte (see him in this video). They are the reason why this 20-student class didn’t feel like a group class. During drills, either Travis, Pierce, or Nate were always walking by and giving corrections/instructions (there were separate RSOs, so they could focus on teaching).
Travis Haley probably don’t need any introduction by the time someone is already looking into an HSP class. On top of his credentials of having “been there, done that”, the most valuable thing is his teaching ability. Many instructors could show you what to do, but cannot explain well, or vice versa (i.e., instructors who tell you what to do, but can’t actually show you). Travis can do both, and so can Pierce and Nate. Really can’t ask for more.
Throughout the class, they push students to identify their goals, to reach their failure points, thereby identifying areas to work on. It was a very tailored approach even though there were about 20 students in the class.
Fundamental of handgun, and how science helps us to improve these fundamentals.
The unique aspect of the HSP D5 course is the ‘science‘. This particular aspect probably draws a specific crowd of students due to its emphasis on theory (no fear, it is definitely not just theory). If one has watched any videos of Travis Haley, it is obvious he is a big “thinker” type. He teaches the students to understand themselves, thereby making it easier for each student to set themselves up for success. How to set up goals? What kind of things motivates me? What should I focus on? Introducing knowledge from sport sciences and psychology to shooting was part of the goal here.
Then he separates science from fiction. Travis introduced the students to modern understanding of the human mind based on cognitive sciences, and its impact on operating a handgun (e.g., visual perception, memory, concentration/focus, etc.) And of course, good amount of time was spent covering biomechanics and how it should be used to improve the fundamentals (e.g., grip, stances, recoil management, trigger control, etc.) Once the classroom material is covered, it is off to the range to test and practice.
Lastly, what I got out of this course, which will be most helpful in the long run is a system of self-diagnosing. How to set goals for training, identify problems, and design a route to get to the goal. How to concentrate on a drill that only takes 50 shots, but 50 deliberate and focused repetition beats 500 mindless shots.
Side note: As a scientist myself, I appreciate that Travis acknowledging the work of sport doctors and cognitive scientists, and stressed that he did not ‘invent’ any of these scientific theory, which is true. What amazed me about the work by the HSP crew is their ability to consolidate the vast amount of available scientific research, applied it to this topic, and effectively communicate these information to a group of individuals from all walks of life.
Some of the drills have been shown on videos before. I find it useful to try some of these drills before attending the class. It enabled me to focus on the clutch of each drill during the class (the ‘why’ and ‘how’) when corrections were given by instructors.
There were quite a lot of steel shooting. We also was given the change to shoot from farther distance (100 yards) while maintaining our fundamental. (I was surprised that we were able to do it!)
Many things could be self taught, but it is difficult to correct subtle mistakes that might only be noticeable to a well-trained 3rd-person. It is the “law of just a little”, frequently mentioned by Travis Haley during class (i.e., often times, changing something very minute could result in drastic change in performance.) This class really pushes students to THINK about shooting and training, and -not to exaggerate- reflect on how to become a better person. To me, these are things that set Travis Haley apart from many instructors. His goal is not just to help you “shoot better”, but to expose you to all the wonderful things he have found through research and experience, and hope that the students can take them and run with it. He described him and his team as a GPS, who gives direction and possible routes to the destination, but the students themselves are the drivers. There are many means to the goals, and Travis and his team is there to show us the many options, and the skill sets to keep on exploring more options.
There are other great instructors out there, and Travis is definitely one of the top guys based on the opinions of other students who have attended multiple handgun courses before. If someone is looking for a deeper understanding on fundamentals, take a more cerebral approach to training, this is definitely a course not to miss.
Lastly, to reiterate, everyone in the course were super approachable and not intimidating. Travis, Pierce, and Nate made it clear it wasn’t about them show how much they know, but the goal is to help us, no matter what level we were at, to excel. And indeed, everyone did.
It was probably the best $ I could spend in terms of training at this point -or any point-.
- $800 for tuition
- $75 of range fees for all 3 days ($25/day)
- $300 in ammo depending on what caliber you are shooting
That is about $1200 for 3 days of training from 8/9am-5pm (which is about 24 hours, so ~$50/hour of investment. Yes, it is a group class, but I already mentioned that the amount of attention was comparable to some private instructions I have gotten.