Monday, July 12, 2010

Cheaper Than Dirt! Interviews Dave Sevigny

Dave Sevigny is well known as one of the best shooters on the Steel Challenge, GSSF, and IDPA circuits. His speed is incredible, and his smooth, flawless transitions unparalleled. He developed his competitive spirit playing hockey as a child growing up in the Northeast. Given his skill on the ice, it’s no surprise that the quick reflexes and fancy footwork he gained there have helped him rise to become a 5 division Grand Master in the USPSA.

Despite all the time he spends practicing on the range and working at his office at Glock, Dave was nice enough to take some time last week to chat with us about how he got involved in the shooting sports as well as share some of his training tips and shooting tactics with us.

Cheaper Than Dirt: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us.

Dave Sevigny: Yeah, no problem.

Cheaper Than Dirt: Tell us about how you got introduced to firearms and got started shooting. What prompted you to start carrying a pistol in Connecticut, a state not well known for their lenient concealed carry laws?

Dave Sevigny: Well, today with their carry laws you have to be 21, but at the time 20 was the minimum age. I took my NRA Basic Pistol course, passed everything I needed to do, waited while the background checks were being conducted, and after that obtained my license. It was more or less just so I could go to the range and target shoot at the time, but I also carried it. It wasn’t until a few years later that I found any shooting sports to compete in. But, during that time, during the early years of my carry days I would go to the range regularly.

Dave Sevigny with GLOCK 34 Photo by Yamil Sued 2009 IDPA Indoor Nationals Springfield, MADid you find early on that you had a knack for shooting? I really don’t have a baseline to compare it to. I guess I just looked at it like a science, just studied what I was doing, learned what to see and learned how to pull the trigger and developed that background through the years by just going to the range.

What prompted you to make the move to competitive shooting? What got you started in your first matches and kept you going? It was kinda by accident. Just somebody I worked with invited me to go to a GSSF match with somebody else who he’d known who had a Glock pistol. Without knowing any details I just said “OK, I’ve got a Glock pistol” and I’ve always been a very competitive person and I’d been wanting to find something to do other than just put holes in paper. It was just one day in August of 1997 and that was my first GSSF match.

The first couple of years I didn’t compete that much. I went to one match in ‘97 and maybe two in ‘98 and then ‘99 was kinda like a break out year where I was competing in GSSF and the International Defensive Pistol Association. 1999 was really a pivotal year for me.

What happened in 1999 that really got you going? After shooting the GSSF matches and enjoying the competition, even on a very limited basis, I started looking into other shooting disciplines like IDPA and I found a club up in Springfield. I started competing up there quite a bit and did some matches and really got addicted to it and it kinda broadened out from there.

You came up quickly over 12 years and established quite a name for yourself, including becoming a 5 division Grand Master in USPSA. Was there anyone that you really looked up to, that you kinda modeled yourself after? Who were your shooting sports heroes? Well, I didn’t have any because I didn’t know any of them. It was kind of just a personal thing for me. I got involved on my own, learned on my own. It wasn’t until later that I got to know some of the personalities. Of course I respect all of the guys who have done it and have been serving as role models for everybody, guys like Rob Leatham.

One guy who’s been very influential for me at the time is Bryce Linskey, he’s a cop from Bristol, which was the town I was living in at the time. We got to be friends and I got to know him through some of the matches we’d been competing in. Also, Scott Warren, I guess he saw my ability and helped me out a little bit. I still consider him my coach, we still learn from each other and we’re actually in the sight business together.

You really came into this as an industry outsider, you weren’t born into a shooting family or anything like that. I was just a blue collar guy working in a machine shop. I went to tech school for tool and die and was in the machine trade for a number of years and at the time I found shooting sports I was building plastic injection molds. Which was kinda ironic in the sense that the pistol I always shot was the Glock with it’s polymer frame.

So, with that background, did you ever offer any advice to the Glock factory engineers? {laughs} Nah, they know what they’re doing, there’s really nothing I have to offer. They’ve got a high tech operation and very skilled tradesmen. But it’s good to understand how polymers and injection molds work.

Randi Rogers (L) and Dave Sevigny (R) 2010 USPSA Area 6 Championship Covington, GA Obviously since you’re on the Glock team you shoot Glocks in competition. What’s your favorite model? Well, the favorite one for concealed carry is the 23. It’s the one I’ve had since day one. And then for competition it’s the 34, that’s the one I have the most history with, and the most memories. From a shooting perspective it’s very easy to shoot, it’s very soft and accurate, very reliable, everything you’d want in a gun.

So you carry the .40 caliber for personal defense and then the 9mm 34 is a little softer shooting for competition? Yeah, and it was just by accident that I ended up with that 23 to begin with. Somebody that I worked with offered it to me, I hadn’t owned a Glock at the time. So, I bought it from them.

I usually tell people, when asked the question of which caliber to choose, just get the biggest caliber you can hit with or the one you’re most comfortable with. There’s really no bad choice when it comes to Glock, there’s so much transparency between the models. The feel and overall controls are pretty much in the same place, it’s just a matter of what you want for barrel length and what you want for caliber.

What’s your opinion of the new Gen 4 models, have you gotten a chance to handle them and play with them at all? Yeah, I have. I like the grip texture the most out of all the new features, it’s pretty good. Both myself and my team mate Randi Rogers shot it in one match early in the season just after it had been released. It’d just been approved by IDPA. I won the Division and Randi won the Ladies Stock Service Pistol. That was kinda our debut match with the Gen 4 just to get something on the board for it. Still, I’m happy with my Gen 3s, but the Gen 4s offer a wide variety of options for people who are looking for those features.

What backstrap did you use on your Gen 4? I’m sure a lot of people want to know. The Short Frame. I just prefer not having any kind of step or transition from the backstrap there, and it felt just as good as the standard model to me so I really didn’t want to mess with the backstrap.

What type of training do you do? What’s a typical week of training look like for you? Well, a lot of people don’t know it, but I do have an office job also. I’m a Glock employee so I go into the office and take care of sponsorships and other administrative responsibilities.

So your time is obviously limited. Yeah, just so people understand, as long as I’ve been telling people this I still get people who think I just shoot, that I’m just paid to shoot, but it just doesn’t work that way.

Aside from my responsibilities at Glock admin-wise, I do have training days. It is a priority for me and Glock is very good to me in that aspect. I get to train and prepare for the matches as they come. Typically what I’ll do is I’ll layout a schedule for what I have upcoming. It changes throughout the year. In the fall and winter I don’t train nearly as much as I do now. I might only be out once a week.

Dave Sevigny with GLOCK 35 Photo by Yamil Sued 2009 USPSA Limited-10 Nationals Las, Vegas, NVAnd obviously you’re going to train for a Steel Challenge differently than you would for IDPA. Yeah, like right now the way the schedule worked out this year it’s a steel season right now for me. I’ve got the Pro Am coming up next week which is all knock-down steel, then I’ve got the Colorado Steel Challenge in late July and then I’ve got Steel Challenge World Championship in mid August, so it’s nothing but steel.

What I’m doing right now, like yesterday I had a good training day with all steel targets. I’ve got some GT steel I set up and also some knock down plates at a friends range. I’ll just do some movement exercises just to see where I’m at and be very attentive to how long it takes me to do things and how long it takes me to move from one position to another as well as what my time frames are at the varying ranges. With Pro Am you really need to know what you’re capable of because everything is a par time. So for right now I’m just brushing up on steel shooting.

A lot of us out here don’t have access to the amount of ammunition you do. I know you’ve said you ran through over 50,000 rounds of ammunition last year. What advice do you have for new competitors who can’t afford that amount of ammunition and range time? What type of practice can we do so that we when we do go out and live fire we’re up on our game? The number one priority for everybody is to just being able to hit what you’re aiming at. If you’re limited as to how much ammunition you’re actually burning on the range I would just shoot drills that challenge yourself.

Some of the drills I used to do were to just shoot a very small target, like maybe a 2″x4″ rectangle at 7 yards, or even just try to keep your shots in the middle of a 8.5″x11″ sheet of paper. You don’t even have to use bulls-eyes. I didn’t use bulls-eyes ever on my way up. I would just shoot at blank pieces of paper. Just practice trigger control and learning what to see. I hope I’m being clear enough.

I think we’re getting a good picture here. Do you think dry fire has a place… Yeah, I was going to get to that. I did that extensively. You know, when you’re home you want to be handling the pistol as much as you can. You know, when people talk about dry fire they usually think about just pulling the trigger. It wasn’t just that. It’s also drawing the pistol, presenting the pistol from a ready position, performing dry reloads, and also movement drills with a dry pistol as well. Just to see how stable you can keep your shooting platform and sights when you’re moving.

Everybody talks about how flawless your transitions are. Is that something that you practice a lot? I do practice that a lot. You need a range that has a 180 degree capability so you can tag both sides of the bay. That’s really important to be able to practice your swings, and also know how to swing the gun so you don’t over swing your target area.

Many top shooters talk a lot about visualization and being able to see well, have a good sight picture and acquire your next target very quickly. How do you practice being able to see everything very quickly and not over swing your target as you’re transitioning to it? The idea there is to keep your eyes in front of the pistol. It all comes with trusting your sights. You have to understand how to call shots. Once you’re confident that when you press the trigger you know where the bullet went you’ll want to snap your eyes to the next target and then bring the sights into view there. That’s the concept behind the quick transition.

Dave Sevigny with GLOCK 34 Photo by Yamil Sued 2008 USPSA Area 2 Championship Mesa, AZ Another thing many top shooters talk about is the need to have a proper mindset, to be able to quickly see, evaluate, and make snap decisions. How do you do that? Is there some drill you can do to train your mind to work quickly and engage It comes with experience, much of it is just concentration. You look at what you need to do and break things down into steps and then blend all those things together.

When you’re looking at a course of fire there are so many things you gotta look at. I start right from the top and I want to know exactly how many targets there are and where they are, even if it means walking behind the props to make sure you didn’t miss anything. A lot of times you can get complacent. It’s easy to think “OK, I have to go here and then go there and then I’m done,” but there may be one target that may be hidden in a corner somewhere and you missed it. It happens some times. Usually the squad will point it out to you if you miss it. It’s going to happen if you compete enough. Just always make sure you take the time to know exactly what you have to shoot.

Once you do that, then it’s time to come up with a game plan. It’s usually pretty easy. Most of the stages are set up to where you know “OK, well I have to do this, then that and the other thing and then it’s over with.” Then it’s just a matter of programming yourself and concentrating on putting all of the steps together.

Dave Sevigny with GLOCK 17 by S&J Custom (Open division pistol) Photo by Akita Yasunari 2009 Steel Challenge World Speed Shooting Championship Piru, CAWhat tactics do you use to overcome the mindset that can occur when you drop a shot and find yourself scrambling to catch up and in rushing the subsequent shots find yourself missing even more? Well, you only have control over the very next shot you take. What happened is in the past and shooting fast or out of control is only going to put yourself in a deeper hole. If you have a miss and you’re fortunate enough to be able to pick it up and call it, then just make sure when you’re ready to shoot it again that you’re doing everything right.

Having the ability to call your shot is critical to have a quick follow up to make the next one? You have to be able to know exactly where your shot went as you pull the trigger each time.

If you could give a new shooter one bit of advice, what would it be? I think one of the most common mistakes I see is new shooters not understanding what to see at different ranges. The ability to use the sights at different ranges is crucial. In other words, you’re not going to see the same sight picture up close compared to what you see at a more distant target.

So, you’d encourage a new shooter to practice quickly engaging targets at different ranges? Yes. Change it up and shoot a target at 5 yards and then another one at 20. Without you knowing it, without realizing it, you’re training your eyes to shift between different levels of target difficulty.

Of course this is for someone who already has fundamentals down, someone who already knows how to pull the trigger, someone who can group well.

I love practicing where I have the capability to swing the gun 180 degrees, straight left and straight right. That’s the ultimate transition there. But change ups will work too if you have a range that just has a backstop straight in front of you. If you just set up targets every 5 yards you can work on this. That’s one thing I like about the Glock Sports Shooting Foundation is that they have stages that are very good in that manner. They have one stage that is exactly that where every 5 yards there’s a target. It’s very good for change ups.

When I practice, sometimes the best way to practice wouldn’t be to shoot it the most efficient way, it would be the hardest way in practice, back and forth between a more distant target and a close target so that you get the value of changing up.

It all comes together with shot calling and staying behind the gun. Don’t look over the gun and look for holes, if you stay behind the gun and trust your sights you know a hole is going to be there. I see a lot of people who don’t have the confidence and don’t know if they’ve got the hit and they’ll start peeking over the gun to see if the holes are there. That’s where you lose time, because if you’re looking where you just shot then you’re not looking ahead where you need to be for the next target.

That’s what I mean when I talk about visual skills and change ups.

Those are some great tips. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today and give us some insights into your shooting techniques and strategies!

Dave Sevigny is a member and Captain of Team Glock. He’s a 9-Time USPSA National Champion, 8-Time IDPA National Champion, Bianchi Cup National Production Champion, as well as a Steel Challenge World Rimfire Champion.

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