KR Training October 2017 newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training October 2017 newsletter!  Upcoming classes include Basic Pistol 2 & Defensive Pistol Skills 1 (Oct 21) and License to Carry (Sunday, Oct 29th)

Check the schedule page on the KR Training website for the full list.

If you aren’t already a subscriber to receive this newsletter each month, you can subscribe here or follow this blog. You can also follow KR Training on Facebook or Twitter for more frequent posts and information.

CLASS DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

50% price refresher slots available in all courses.  If you haven’t practiced the skills you learned in class in awhile, refresher slots are a great option.

UPCOMING CLASSES

October 21 morning – Basic Pistol 2 (Rehn)
October 21 afternoon – Defensive Pistol Skills 1 (Rehn)
October 29 afternoon – License to Carry. Two sessions; Rehn at A-Zone, Maldonado in NW Austin.
November 6 (Monday) – Low Light Shooting at CCC Shooting Complex (south of College Station)
November 18th – Advanced Training 7: More Force on Force Scenarios

Register here.

NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER

Every November we take a break from live fire classes at the A-Zone, due to requests from our range neighbors and the start of deer season.  I’ll be teaching a Monday evening (November 6th) Low Light Shooting class for the Snook chapter of A Girl and a Gun.  The event is open to everyone (men and women). Pre-registration is required, via the KR Training website.  And due to student requests I’ve added a session of the Advanced Training 7 “More Scenarios” force on force course on November 18th.  I’ll be working on my Historical Handgun book during the fall and winter also.

KR TRAINING ON THE ROAD AND ONLINE

Karl and Dave Reichek will attend the Rangemaster Instructor Conference in Oklahoma Nov 11-12. Karl will travel to El Paso to take a one day handgun class from legendary trainer John Farnam in December, and Tracy Becker will attend the MAG-120 with Massad Ayoob in Florida in December.  I’ll also be a guest host on the Handgun World Podcast, filling in for Bob Mayne. You can also hear Tracy on the Polite Society Podcast every episode.

2018 CLASSES

We have guest instructors scheduled every month from January through June in 2018, and I’ll be making several trips out of state to teach Historical Handgun, other classes, and be an invited trainer at multiple national conferences.  Next month I’ll be announcing class dates for our in-house classes for the first half of 2018.  If you have any requests for specific courses, let me know.

BLOG-O-RAMA

We look forward to training you!
Karl, Penny and the KR Training team

Muzzle Direction during a reload

Kathy Jackson recently posted an article about muzzle direction during reloads. It generated a lot of discussion and controversy, which motivated me to go run some tests to analyze the issue a little deeper.

Relative importance of Reload Speed

Reloading is one of those skills that’s been a part of handgun training and handgun qualification drills since at least 1945, when the FBI required officers to do multiple reloads in their test.

The classic “El Presidente” drill includes a reload.

Those drills were created back in the days of 6 shot revolvers and 8 round single stack 1911 pistols.  And even in that era, I’m not sure that reloads were that common during gunfights. Tom Givens’ data on his 66 student-involved shootings show that none of them reloaded during the fight. Some shot to slide lock.  Analysis of police gunfights also shows in-fight reloads, where reload speed could be a factor between success or failure, rarely, if ever, occur. Similarly, John Correia of the Active Self Protection youTube channel has watched over 5000 gunfight videos, and observes:

I have seen precisely 2 reloads in a real gunfight that weren’t on-duty LEO. And neither of those affected the outcome of the fight. I have seen about 7 or 8 where a higher capacity firearm or the presence of a reload might have affected the outcome.

The main driver for obsession with reload speed comes from modern pistol competition, where reloads “on the clock” are an integral part of almost every course of fire, and tenths of seconds matter.

Where Does My Muzzle Point During a Reload?

I chose 3 reload techniques to study.  (1) the one I normally use, which has minimum vertical muzzle movement, which was the technique that worked best for me to hit those Grand Master level reload speeds.  (2) The muzzle up reload technique, taught by some tactical schools, which places the muzzle pointing up at the sky. It puts the mag well right in front of the shooter’s eyes, which aids in ensuring the magazine is seated cleanly.  (3) A muzzle down technique, with the gun held down at stomach level, muzzle down as far as I could tolerate and still reload smoothly and within reasonable time limits.

The video below shows both the reload technique and a view of where the muzzle wanders, as the green laser starts and returns to the center of the NRA B-8.  I did the video standing 7 yards from the target, using the same target I used for the live fire time trials of those 3 techniques.

For my default technique, the muzzle goes high and left, up to the yellow window frame, which would likely keep the gun pointed into the berm. My wall is 8′ high, which is shorter than typical 10-12′ berm height.  In the upward technique, the laser dot was pointed at the ceiling.  In the downward technique, the laser, at its lowest point, was on the floor a few yards in front of me.

Which technique is faster?

I grabbed a shot up target from the pile, stuck an NRA B-8 on it, and put it at 7 yards out on my range.

I ran 10 trials of each reload technique, changing technique each trial, pitched the slowest and fastest runs and kept the best 8 as data.  I started aimed at the target, finger on trigger, as if I had just completed a shot. On the buzzer, I reloaded and fired one round.  A run only counted if the magazine seated smoothly and the shot hit the 6″ bullseye of the B-8.

I expected to be a bit faster using the reload technique that I used most often, but the data really doesn’t show that.  My average time for my preferred technique was 1.75 sec, and the averages for the other two were 1.77.  The spread of values was not that big, and all of them were below 2 seconds.

 

What is a safe direction?

In my classes, I define a safe direction as “any direction in which you are willing to fire a live round”.  And I discuss the concept of safest available direction, which may change as you or people around you move.

Off the range, options for safe directions may be limited.  Down is generally better than up, because with down you can see where the bullet may impact and you have some control over what it impacts and at what angle.

Down may not always be an option, if you are on the top floor of a building, or there are people close enough to you that you risk shooting someone in the leg or foot – or worse, if someone is lying on the ground or a small child is clinging to your leg for protection.

On the range, the Minimal technique keeps the muzzle in a safe direction if you are close to the backstop and the backstop is relatively tall.  If that technique is done standing 25 yards from the backstop, the muzzle is going to point over the berm at most ranges, and into the ceiling of an indoor range.

Unless the range has a bullet proof roof, there is no way to do the Upward reload technique without pointing the gun in a direction that doesn’t quality as “safe”.  And muzzle down, particularly at indoor ranges, may bring the muzzle completely below the backstop down to a concrete floor, which would be less safe than the top of the backstop.

Final thoughts

Many that commented on Kathy’s article claimed that any technique other that what they were currently doing would make their reload times unacceptably slow.  My own small experiment indicated that modifying my reload technique to change muzzle direction from “up at the sky” to “down at the ground” didn’t really change my reload times.

Many pointed out that a key part of learning to do a reload is getting the finger off the trigger during the load.   The problem is that the basic gun safety rules of muzzle direction and trigger finger placement aren’t “one out of two is good enough”.  In every class, I or one of my assistants have to remind at least one student about finger off trigger during a reload. So do range officers in matches.   A few competitors in national and local matches get disqualified every year for that error.  And under stress, people that have been trained to keep finger off trigger will do what is called “trigger checking” – unconsciously touching the trigger, preparing themselves to fire.

My advice to those training for real world defensive handgun use is to spend some time practicing reloads using all 3 techniques I showed in the video, and practicing some administrative (off the clock) reloads working to minimize muzzle movement. A laser was a great training tool for this, as it revealed a lot more muzzle movement in my default load technique than I expected.  Any reload not occurring while the shooter is in immediate danger can take a extra heart beat to make a decision as to what the safest available direction is, and the muzzle can be averted to that direction do to the load.  This is no different than the skill of averting the muzzle in any other situation – and learning to modify muzzle direction in a rapidly changing situation is a skill anyone that carries a gun should develop.

Those chasing Master and Grand Master level scores at matches need to be diligent about trigger finger placement and timing of getting the finger back on the trigger – both to avoid disqualification and to avoid launching a round over the backstop, which could have life changing consequences in the worst case scenario, particularly at outdoor ranges with houses (or people) within the 1.5 mile drop zone a bullet might land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

October 14-15 2017 Multi-Class AAR

Over the weekend of October 14-15, 2017, I taught 5 short courses at KR Training: Defensive Long Gun Essentials, Skill Builder Handgun, Advanced Training 4, Advanced Training 6, and Low Light Shooting 2.

Some post-class observations:

Defensive Long Gun Essentials

The class is designed to be suitable for any long gun. This session was all semi-auto rifles, with one pistol caliber carbine.  One student brought a Steyr AUG to class.  Steyr is now making these guns in the US.  The bullpup design provides short-barrelled rifle length, using a 16″ barrel, making it an excellent handling long gun for armed movement in structures work.

The level of shooting by the students was above average, allowing us to run additional drills going beyond the standard curriculum, including multiple runs in the shoot house using my pistol caliber carbine, and some work at 75 yards shooting my steel rifle targets.

I think this class is a very useful, practical course relevant to anyone that has a long gun for home defense – a course that students could or should take each year to maintain skills, particularly since refresher slots are available for half price.  Turnout for this class is often lower than I think it should be, possibly because the curriculum or the class name.  The curriculum isn’t ninja operator enter-trainment. It’s the basic skills people will likely use:  get the gun from ready to target quickly, move to cover if available, and get a few effective hits, all within a few seconds, at across-the-house distances from 5-25 yards.  No chest rig is needed, we aren’t shooting underneath cars or learning how to assault an enemy position. The skills in the class are the ones people should be practicing and proficient at.

During the classroom lecture I joked that I needed to rename the course something cooler, like Advanced Dynamic Tactical Operator Zombie Defense Carbine, to optimize my search engine keyword use.  In 2018 I’ll be revising the lesson plan and course description, as well as adding a scored shooting test (3 Seconds or Less Long Gun) that must be passed to earn the course certificate.  In the past, we’ve run the drills for that test but issued course certificates whether students made the par times or got acceptable hits or not.  That may have created a false perception that those that graduated the course are ready for a “level 2” long gun class when they may not be.  I’m hoping to see more graduates of the course return for refresher work (and better evaluation of their long gun skills) in the future.

Skill Builder Handgun

The Skill Builder class is mainly a trigger control class, working on hitting smaller targets at 5-7 yards, including work shooting with right hand only and left hand only.  As typical for this course, it drew a mix of students at different skill levels.   It’s a great course to refresh and maintain skills. 200 rounds in 2 hours in a solid structured practice session.

Advanced Training 4 & Advanced Training 6

On Sunday, I offered Advanced Training 4 and Advanced Training 6 back to back, and most students attended both classes.  AT-4 included group shooting at 15 yards, training to speed up draw and reload skills, and several hours of drills shooting on the move, including hitting 12″ steel targets on the move at 10 yards.   A 12″ steel target at 10 yards is basically like shooting a 6″ A-zone on a USPSA target at 5 yards. Practicing on steel makes bad shots that would be C or D (-1 or -3) hits obvious and is an excellent way to realistically assess shoot on the move ability and speed.

The AT-6 course is the reality check class: it’s a series of baseline drills that students practice and then shoot for score.  At the end of class, each student gets their personal data sheet, with times and hits recorded.  We started with 25 yard group benchrest shooting, measuring group sizes and offset of the group from intended point of impact.  If student abilities at 25 yards are acceptable, the class includes a walk-back drill shooting steel to determine each students maximum effective range with their pistol.  Unfortunately, student performance on the 25 yard drills exposed a lot of deficiencies and the walk back drill was bypassed in favor of additional drills working to improve trigger control.

Other drills run during this class include Bill Drills at distances from 7-25 yards, the F.A.S.T. drill, Hackathorn’s The Test, and the 5×5 drill.

The lecture portion of AT-6 was at the end of the course, as I went through each drill and provided students with specific goals (times and hits) they could use in dry and live fire practice.  Every student in the AT-6 class would benefit from taking that class each year, until they are meeting all the drill goals, which would get them roughly to USPSA B class or IDPA Expert level skill.

Low Light Shooting 2

The final course of the weekend was the updated and revised Low Light Shooting level 2 course.  A small number of diehard students attended this one, and were rewarded with lots of work with red guns and flashlights (handheld and weapon mounted) inside the classroom building, multiple live fire shoot house runs, and running all the segments of the 3 Seconds Or Less Low Light test (which all students passed).

The level 1 low light class is instruction in technique. The level 2 class is all application of technique in realistic context, such as not muzzling the no-shoots in the shoot house.  We’ll offer the level 2 class several times in 2018, as I think all graduates of the level 1 low light class would benefit from it. The level 2 class would be the right choice for those wanting annual refresher training in low light skills.

Izzy A. Threat Retirement Ceremony

Monday morning, after all 5 classes, one of the 3D targets we’d been using all summer & fall in the shoot house (Izzy A. Threat) was retired.

The ceremony was attended by some of his co-workers.

Final Thoughts

Classes are not a “one and done” thing.  Taking a class once, spending a few hours working on a skill, is not equivalent to truly owning that skill.  Whether it’s my classes or classes with other instructors, unless you are shooting 100% scores on every drill, never dropping a shot and always being the fastest shooter on the line, there’s value in repeating a course, particularly when the skills covered are difficult or impossible to practice at most commercial ranges.   We’ll continue to offer half-price refresher slots in all courses to encourage students to use the classes to not only learn new skills but maintain skills learned in previous classes.

 

Book Review (Historical Handgun) – G-Man (2017, Stephen Hunter)

I’ve been developing a new course for KR Training, Historical Handgun, that teaches the history & evolution of defensive handgun skills.  Part of that work includes reading as many old books on shooting technique as I can find.

Today’s book is a work of fiction, but historical handgun (and submachine gun) shooting technique is an integral part of the story.

G-Man, written by Stephen Hunter, is a “could have happened that way” story about the fictional exploits of the Swagger family, multiple generations of soldiers and lawmen, all gifted shooters.  The first book in the series, Point of Impact, about modern day character Bob Lee Swagger, was made into a movie (Shooter) and a spin off TV series (Shooter, on USA Network).  There are multiple books in the Swagger family universe.  Hunter has done several book signings in Texas, at Houston’s Murder by the Book, and I have several signed Hunter hardbacks in my collection.

G-Man tells the story of Charles Swagger, grandfather to Bob Lee, and his adventures working for the FBI in 1934, chasing down famous machine gun gangsters Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, and others.  A secondary plot, set in the modern day, involves an aging Bob Lee Swagger and works in several other Swagger family members at various points.

Many of Hunter’s recent books, like this one and the Third Bullet (about the JFK assassination), are carefully researched, with the plot woven around historical incidents.  Hunter takes great care in getting the gun details right, diving deep into technical and historical nuances, working in historical figures from the gun culture.  The reader gets to learn history and gun tech as part of the story, and the story depends on those details for key plot points.

Technique and Training

Firearms training, specifically Swagger’s advocacy of two handed aimed fire, shooting at targets from different angles and positions, snap shooting against a clock, in a memo sent to FBI HQ – in opposition to the crouched hip shooting and one handed bullseye shooting that was actual FBI doctrine of that era – is discussed in detail, as Swagger trains officers working with him to turn them into gunfighters.

Hunter’s gunfight depictions are detailed, often first person point of view, with the mechanics of aiming, firing, and reloading described in depth with the perspective only someone truly familiar with firearms can provide.  (Unlike other action/thriller authors who are not only gun-ignorant but also anti-gun in their politics, such as Lee Child, the author of the Jack Reacher books, for example, Hunter is a true blue member of the gun culture: collector, shooter, historian.)

As appropriate for a book about 1934, the Thompson submachine gun in .45 ACP is used by good and bad men alike, and passage of the National Firearms Act (and its impact on legal sales of full auto guns) is woven into the plot as well.

Summary

Anyone interested in reading G-Man should probably start with Point of Impact, to become familiar with Bob Lee Swagger (the print version), and Hot Springs (the first book about Bob Lee’s father Earl Swagger) before reading G-Man, to have more of the history of the Swagger family and content for events in G-Man to appreciate it fully.  G-Man does include enough information that those new to the Swagger family saga can probably follow the story — but for those likely to enjoy G-Man, reading some of the earlier books in the series will be worth it.

 

 

Book Review (Historical Handgun) – Modern Police Firearms (1974, Roberts & Bristow)

I’ve been developing a new course for KR Training, Historical Handgun, that teaches the history & evolution of defensive handgun skills.  Part of that work includes reading as many old books on shooting technique as I can find.

An Introduction to Modern Police Firearms was written in 1969, reprinted in 1974. It’s currently out of print and can be difficult to find. It was recommended to me by Tom Givens.   Authors Duke Roberts and Allen Bristow were Professors of Police Science at California State College in Los Angeles, and the book was written to be used as a class textbook in college level courses on policing, as well as in police academies in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

It’s a detailed time capsule of the status quo in police training of that era, covering all the techniques and drills that were already being rejected and revised by Jeff Cooper and others who were busy redefining the entire concept of defensive pistol training during those years.  The shooting skills content is essentially the same as police training books from the 1930’s I’ve reviewed in other posts.

Chapters

The book’s chapters cover these topics:

  1. Introduction
  2. Firearms Safety
  3. Nomenclature, Maintenance and Ballistics
  4. Basic Marksmanship
  5. Combat Shooting
  6. Courses of Fire
  7. The Police Shotgun
  8. Chemical Agents
  9. Legal and Ethical Use of Firearms
  10. Selecting a Firearm
  11. Police Recreational Shooting

The book’s two appendices include use of deadly force guidelines from a 1967 DOJ report, and from the Rochester, NY police department.

Firearms Safety

The book lists 12 rules for firearms safety (consolidation of the many lists of 10-20 rules into 4 rules by Cooper, later 3 rules by the NRA, was a significant milestone.)

As with older books on shooting, the safety rules are a jumbled mix of range rules and “lifestyle rules” (as Tom Givens describes them).  The rules, with my comments in italics:

  1. When reporting to the range carry personal weapons in a holster or suitable transportation device.
  2. Treat every gun as though it were loaded until you have personally checked it. (This implies that there a different rules for handling an unloaded gun, which is a bad idea.)
  3. Guns are to be pointed downrange only.
  4. Only shooters are allowed on the firing line.
  5. No guns are to be handled behind the firing line.
  6. Unload, load and fire on command only.
  7. Shoot only at designated targets.
  8. Never leave a loaded gun unattended.
  9. The only safe weapon is an empty weapon, and no weapon is empty until it has been checked.  Never lay a weapon down where someone may pick it up, unless it has been checked by you and left open. (Repeats their rule #2 with more words.)
  10. When a weapon is in use, never place your finger into the trigger guard until ready to fire. (The phrase “when a weapon is in use” is unnecessary).
  11. Never point a weapon, loaded or empty, at anything or anybody, that you do not intend to shoot, or in a direction where an accidental discharge may do harm.
  12. On the range, never, turn around at the firing point while holding a loaded weapon in your hand. (Same as Rule #11.)

Advice from the authors to police about “display of firearms”

Children occasionally question a police officer about his firearm or ask to see it.  The refusal to allow this should be tactful, yet firm.  It is generally accepted that one of the indications of an immature, poorly trained, unstable police officer is his unauthorized display of his revolver.  This officer frequently may be observed practicing quick draw before the mirror in his locker room (KR note: a practice recommended in another police training book from this era)…He practices dry firing when assigned to desk duty and shows his weapon to every department visitor, lost child and anyone else who expresses an interest in it.

Basic Marksmanship

The authors assume that a double action revolver will be carried, and much time is spent in the book discussing slow fire target shooting performed by thumb cocking the gun, shooting it single action.  The focus of the text is on group shooting at 25 yards, same as it was in the 1930s.

The student who faces the target directly will have difficulty controlling the elevation of his shots and will have a tendency rock back and forth…if the student shooter stands at a ninety degree angle..he will probably find that the shots spread right to left.

 

Combat Shooting

To the authors, this means using the revolver in double action, and not aiming. In addition to the 1940’s FBI approach of hip shooting, a point-shoulder position is taught.

At distances beyond 7-10 yards, the accuracy of hip shooting falls off rapidly.  This position is the same as the hip shooting position, except the arm is held straight, the gun is raised to eye level…and the shooter does not use the sights, but focuses on the target.

(KR note: 2017 IPSC World Champion shooter and trainer Ben Stoeger often discusses using a “target focus” on targets 10 yards and closer. The key difference between the modern approach and the techniques taught in the 1970s is that even when a target focus is used, modern shooters are looking at and aligning the sights, even if a perfect target shooting sight picture is not used.  Brian Enos referred to this as type 2 focus in his excellent book on practical shooting.  The shooters of the late 60’s/early 70s that were good at the point shoulder position were likely seeing the sights more than they were admitting to others.)

Many statements are made in this chapter that have been disproven or discredited over time, including:

  • Instinctive hip shooter is accurate up to approximately 10 yards (KR: if “any hit on a B27 target is considered “accurate”)
  • With practice, hip shooting is the fastest method of accurate shooting at this distance.
  • It is dangerous to condition the shooter to the use of both hands..as his (non firing) hand may be otherwise occupied.
  • It is important for the officer to begin firing as soon as possible..the first shot may not hit the suspect but it may distract him greatly. The period of time required for the officer to come to the point shoulder position (KR: less than 0.5 second for most shooters) could be sufficient for the suspect to shoot him.
  • from an earlier chapter: When a police officer exhibits lack of skill or judgment in a gun battle, the public is willing to accept such a situation with a “you can’t win them all” attitude.
  • To avoid being blinded by muzzle flash when shooting at night, the officer must be able to place his shots without holding the weapon at eye level.

Courses of Fire

This book is an excellent, detailed resource for those looking for information about how historical courses of fire were run, and their origins.  This was, by far, my favorite chapter of the book.  It included long descriptions of the nuances of the Camp Perry Police Course, National Match Course, International Center Fire Course, (FBI) Practical Pistol Course, NRA Combat Course (Police Practical Course aka PPC), with breakdown of scores required to reach Marksman, Expert, and Sharpshooter for each.

Shotgun

One chapter is spent on shotgun shooting, including hip-shooting the shotgun.

The courses of fire they recommend with the shotgun do all shooting at 25 yards with buckshot, but do not actually test hip shooting skill.

Other Chapters

The chapters on chemical agents, use of force, and recreational shooting for police officers all reflect the conventional wisdom and status quo of that era.  The shooting games recommended to police are the NRA PPC and bullseye sports, as practical shooting competitions (IPSC) did not formally exist until 1976 (and even after it began, was not considered mainstream or allowed at most gun clubs).

The chapter on use of force includes 10 hypothetical law enforcement use of force scenarios that end with questions to the reader about what actions are lawful and which are not.  These were clearly included as discussion questions for classroom use, and unfortunately no answer key is provided giving the authors’ opinions as to what the right answers were. It would have interesting to compare their views on which actions were lawful against current standards.

In the chapter on selecting a firearm, more disproven/discredited statements are made, this time regarding the 1911 semiautomatic pistol. This NRA article explains the 3 “conditions” or modes in correct detail.

  • It must be carried in the holster with the chamber empty (Condition 3)
  • It could be carried loaded with the hammer down, but must be thumbcocked during the drawstroke (Condition 2. In that mode the 1911 is NOT drop-safe, which the authors do not explain, which is a dangerous omission.)
  • When the weapon is carried with the magazine and chamber both loaded and the hammer cocked and safety locked, it is unsafe. (FALSE. Condition 1 is safer than Condition 2) For this reason, most agencies authorizing the 1911 also require a holster which places a leather safety strap between the slide and hammer when the gun is cocked.

If you’ve ever wondered why older shooters often have incorrect ideas about operation and carry of the 1911, look no further than outdated police training from the early 1970’s, where “experts” clearly unfamiliar with, and not advocates of, the semiautomatic pistol for law enforcement use present technically incorrect and tactically poor information to their students.

They recommend that a student spend $80-100 on a handgun, and $12-20 on a holster to carry it in.  Scaled to today’s prices with 500% inflation/devalued currency since the 1970’s, that ratio becomes $400-500 on the gun, and $60-100 on a holster.  They describe a poor quality $3 holster, would equate to today’s $15 nylon gun show special.

Summary

Law enforcement training, military training and even the NRA’s own training programs, all governed by bureaucracies, are slow to change.  When this book was written, major changes were already occurring – in the same state in which the authors were teaching.  Even as late as 1974, when the book was reprinted, the authors make no mention of, or seem to have any awareness of, the innovations that were occurring.  It would take another full decade for the major changes in technique and philosophy would reach the typical police academy recruit.

 

Book Review (Historical Handgun) – Manual of Police Revolver Instruction (1932, R. M. Bair)

I’ve been developing a new course for KR Training, Historical Handgun, that teaches the history & evolution of defensive handgun skills.  Part of that work includes reading as many old books on shooting technique as I can find.

The Manual of Police Revolver Instruction is a short book written in 1932, reprinted in 2014 by the Sportsman’s Vintage Press.  My review copy was loaned to me by KR Training assistant instructor Ed Vinyard.

The author, R. M. Bair, was the revolver instructor and ballistician for the Pennsylvania Highway Patrol, and the book was originally published by the NRA.

Chapters

  • Position
  • Grip
  • Sighting
  • Breathing
  • Muscle Strain
  • Squeeze
  • Flinching
  • Safety Rules
  • Care of Revolver
  • Dry Shooting
  • Qualification and Match courses

The techniques shown are typical of other books from the 1930’s: one handed bullseye shooting, mostly shot on the Standard American Target (NRA B-6) and the Colt Silhouette (B-21).

Each chapter ends with review questions. A few examples:

  1. What is meant by firing line? Line of fire? (Position)
  2. How should the hammer be cocked, between shots, when firing with the right hand? left hand? (Grip)
  3. What is the difference between blade and patridge type sights? (Sights)
  4. How would you sight a revolver at night to hit a man-sized target at 50 yards? (Sights)
  5. If you take a deep breath and hold it until the shot is fired, what will be the result? (Breathing)
  6. When firing with the right hand, why should the left hand never be placed on teh hip? (Muscle Strain)
  7. What will be the result when firing if the thumb pressure is not equalized with the trigger finger? (Squeeze)

The review question answers are found in the text of each chapter.

The chapter on sighting includes many well drawn examples showing the effect of incorrect aiming on a 25 yard target. In these pictures, the black dot is the bullseye center, as it appears to the shooter firing at that target at 25 yards.

15 Safety Rules

The book lists 15 different safety rules – far more complicated than the current NRA 3 rules or Jeff Cooper’s 4 rules, or the 2 rules I teach.  The 15 rules were very specific to the type of training the author conducted, both for range qualification and firearms handling on duty.

Examples:

  • #1 NEVER handle, point or look over the sights of any firearm handed to you without opening the arm to be sure it is not loaded
  • #4 NEVER turn around to talk to any person behind you when at the firing point without first lifting out the cylinder of a revolver or locking back the slide of an automatic pistol, and laying either one down on the shooting bench before turning around.
  • #8 NEVER talk to a shooter when he is at the firing point.
  • #10 The revolver should be loaded with the muzzle pointing toward the ground about a yard away from the feet. NEVER load a revolver if anyone is standing in front of you.
  • #13 A shot should never be fired while the officer is running.  In the case of a running gun fight, the officer should stop and fire deliberately.
  • #15 In a running gun fight where the fugitive turns to fire at the officer, the officer should fall to the ground (where he makes a very small target), grip the revolver with both hands, rest both elbows on the ground and fire deliberately.

DRY FIRE PRACTICE

The use of reduced scale targets for dry practice is recommended, as is doing dry fire practice with a partner that can observe shooter errors.  The author suggests the following:

The officer should practice drawing the revolver from the holster with the right hand, firing one dry shot at the target, and then passing the revolver to the left hand, firing the second shot, being careful to assume the proper position in each case and to see that the proper grip has been taken.  He should continue this practice with the empty revolver until it feels natural in either hand.

Similar to today, instructors had to address bad ideas students learned from entertainers that use guns as theater props.

After drawing the revolver from the holster, the officer should never raise the revolver over his head before bringing the sights into alignment with the target. This is wild west hokum, and if his adversary were a good shot it would be entirely possible for him to fire two shots at the officer before he could bring his sights into alignment.

DRILLS

During a recent private lesson, my student and I shot a few of the drills from this book.  The first one is 25 rounds and requires one handed bullseye shooting at 15, 25 and 50 yards using right hand only.  The fastest string in this course of fire is 5 shots in 15 seconds, same as required by the current Texas License to Carry shooting test. The Texas LTC test uses the giant B-27 target, scored with the 8, 9 and 10 rings (11-3/4” wide by 17-1/2” tall) counting 5 points, but this drill is shot on a bullseye target with a 3.36″ circular 10-ring.   Unfortunately, the book does not state what a passing minimum score on this drill is. 70% of possible points is typical of other similar courses from this era.

Some pics from the 15, 25 and 50 yard strings.  I’m shooting the smaller bullseye target on the right.

One challenge in shooting these older drills is par times longer than 99 seconds.  I had to dig my old PACT timer out of the storage closet, because it could handle the 300 second (5 minute) par time for the slow fire (1 shot per minute) strings.  Shooting that slowly is a very different skill from modern training. Going as slowly as I could go, my slowest time for the 300 second par time was just over 100 seconds to fire 5 rounds.

This drill was tough – one of the hardest I’ve shot in my historical exploration thus far.

I shot the drill cold without doing any dry fire runs on it, using my S&W 686 revolver, one handed, thumb cocking each shot as they did in the 30’s.  My score was 186 out of 250 possible.  I used the FBI-IP target, which had bullseye dimensions matching those listed in the book, but lacked the 5 and 6 rings the book described. I drew in a rough 6 ring, which allowed me to pick up the two 6’s and one 5 outside the printed target.

I had my student shoot another drill from the book that used the Army L (NRA B-22) target. It’s quite a bit larger, with bigger scoring rings, than the FBI-IP, but the 15 yard string has a shorter time limit (11 seconds) than the 15 seconds used in the previous test.

The drill was:

  • 25 yards, slow fire (5 rounds in 5 minutes), 2x, right hand only
  • 25 yards, timed fire (5 rounds in 20 seconds), 2x, right hand only
  • 15 yards, quick fire (5 rounds in 11 seconds), 2x, right hand only

I had him shoot my 686 revolver, also shooting the drill cold with no dry fire warmup.  He shot over 90% on the Texas LTC test, and passed my “3 Seconds or Less” test with a score over 80%, using an M&P Shield.  On this drill, he shot 64% with a lot of low-left hits, likely due to the very different feel the grip and trigger of a 6″ barrel DA revolver (shot single action) has compared to a polymer striker fired subcompact semiauto pistol.

SUMMARY

This book is yet another example of the many books written about shooting during the early 1930’s. Not particularly influential, but certainly another record of what was considered conventional wisdom of that era.  My main takeaway from it is the collection of drills that I can incorporate into the Historical Handgun course and in my own practice, as I work toward being able to shoot 90% or better on every drill, from every era.  I plan on putting some additional dry and live fire time in on additional runs on these drills over the next few weeks, and students in the October 2017 Historical handgun “one day part two” course will shoot a few of them in that course.

KR Training September 2017 newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training September 2017 newsletter!  Upcoming classes include Basic Pistol 1 (Sept 30th),  Defensive Long Gun Essentials & Skill Builder Handgun (Oct 14).  Some October courses are already sold out.

Check the schedule page on the KR Training website for the full list.

If you aren’t already a subscriber to receive this newsletter each month, you can subscribe here or follow this blog. You can also follow KR Training on Facebook or Twitter for more frequent posts and information.

CLASS DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

50% price refresher slots available in all courses.  If you haven’t practiced the skills you learned in class in awhile, fall refresher slots are a great option. 

CHANGES TO TEXAS LAWS

Knife carry: They removed the length restriction from the definition of “illegal knife” but replaced “illegal knife” with “location restricted knife.” So there are still restrictions on knives with blades over 5.5 inches. You can’t carry them “anywhere.” Basically, if you can’t carry a gun there, you can’t carry a long blade, e.g., amusement parks, hospitals, bars with a 51% sign, etc.

LTC fees and caliber: LTC minimum caliber now .22.  LTC 5 year fee now $40.
We have LTC courses coming up Oct 22 (A-Zone) and Oct 29 (NW Austin).

Law regarding storage of a handgun in a vehicle in a school parking lot improved.

Campus carry now allowed at community colleges. Here is ACC’s policy page.

More details about law changes in this Hsoi blog post.

UPCOMING BASIC / INTERMEDIATE CLASSES

September 30 morning- Basic Pistol 1 (Rehn)
October 14 morning – Defensive Long Gun Essentials (Rehn)
October 14 afternoon – Skill Builder Handgun (Rehn)
October 21 morning – Basic Pistol 2 (Rehn)
October 21 afternoon – Defensive Pistol Skills 1 (Rehn)

Register here.

ADVANCED TRAINING SERIES

October 8th (Sunday afternoon) we are offering the Tactics Laboratory (AT-5) course.  It’s similar to Craig Douglas’ Extreme Close Quarters Concepts course, covering similar material, taught by Karl, Leslie Buck and Dave Reichek.  It’s at a lower intensity level, intended for those new to integrated force on force training that merges unarmed and armed skills.  If you’ve passed our Defensive Pistol Skills 1 course, you can attend AT-5.  There is NO requirement to have taken other courses in the AT- series to attend.

In October we’ll offer Advanced Training 4, Advanced Training 6 and Advanced Training 5A (low light level 2) all on Sunday, October 15th.  These courses are for students that have completed at least Defensive Pistol Skills 2 or higher level training.  These courses won’t be offered again until summer 2018.

I’m also offering my Force on Force instructor certification class for those wanting to learn how to run scenario based training.  Attendees must take the Friday instructor course and attend/assist with all classes offered on October 7 and 8 to complete the training.

HISTORICAL HANDGUN PREVIEW PART TWO

I have developed a new program called Historical Handgun, teaching the history of handgun training and skills, 1935-present.  I’ve offered two preview courses so far, and been interviewed on the Ballistic Radio and Polite Society podcasts about the new course.  On October 28th I’m going to offer a preview of Part Two of the course.  This will be material not presented in the other two preview classes. More drills, more historical video, more classroom material on key historical figures.

Students that attend either of the preview courses will also get credit that can be used toward slots in the 2 day version I’ll offer in May 2018.

BLOG-O-RAMA

We look forward to training you!
Karl, Penny and the KR Training team

[Minimum Standards] Shooting Ed Head’s CHL practice drill

At KR Training, one of our ongoing efforts is to identify acceptable minimum standards for defensive handgun skills.  Gunsite instructor Ed Head posted a drill he recommends as a good standard for any person carrying concealed, so John and I went to the range and shot the drill to give it a try.

The drill is simple:

  • 3 yards, draw from concealment.  Two rounds center mass, 2 seconds, strong hand only.
  • 3 yards, draw from concealment.  Two rounds center mass, 2 seconds, strong hand only.
  • 3 yards, draw from concealment.  Two rounds center mass, one round to the head, 3 seconds, two handed.
  • 3 yards, draw from concealment.  Two rounds center mass, one round to the head, 3 seconds, two handed.
  • 5 yards, draw from concealment.  Two rounds center mass on two separate targets.  4 seconds, two handed.
  • 10 yards, low ready position.  Two rounds center mass, one target.  4 seconds, two handed.
  • 10 yards, low ready position, Two rounds center mass on two separate targets, 5 seconds, two handed.

Ed suggests using USPSA or IDPA targets, or one with an 8″ circle representing upper chest, and 3″x5″ card for the head scoring area, which matches the dimensions of the F.A.S.T. target we used for our demo.

Drill Breakdown

At 3 yards, a 1.5 second concealment draw is a good standard to train to.  That leaves 0.5 second to make the follow up center mass shot, and another full second for the head shot on the 3-shot drills at this distance.

Moving back to 5 yards, the drill gives shooters a little more time:

  • Draw to first shot = 1.75 seconds
  • Follow up shot, target 1 = 0.75 seconds (2.50 elapsed)
  • Transition to next target and fire first shot = 0.75 seconds (3.25 elapsed)
  • Follow up shot, target 2 = 0.75 seconds (4.00 elapsed)

The 10 yard, low ready, 2 shots on one target string timing looks like this:

  • Low ready to first shot = 2.50 seconds
  • Follow up shot = 1.50 seconds (4.00 total)

If shooters are running 0.75 splits at 5 yards, doubling the distance allows doubling of the split time.

To me the allowed time on this string, compared to all the others, seems overly generous.

The final string – two shots on two targets at 10 yards,  has to be shot faster than the previous 10 yard string, if the par time is to be met:

  • Low ready to first shot = 2.00 seconds
  • Follow up shot = 1.00 second (3.00 total)
  • Transition to next target = 1.00 (4.00 total)
  • Follow up shot = 1.00 second (5.00 total)

Using this breakdown, the par time for the first string at 10 yards (low ready, 2 shots on one target) should be 3.00 seconds, not 4.  I suggest using a 3 second par time for that first string at 10 yards, or changing the start position for the one target at 10 yards drill to “drawing from concealment” to add a bit more work to the tasks to be accomplished in the 4 second par time.

Summary

This is a good 20 round drill that can be used in many ways:

  • Shoot it cold at the start of each practice session as pass/fail.  All 20 shots must hit inside the 8″ circle or 3″x5″ card, within par times, to pass.  Any string you fail, work on that string in practice until you can do it.
  • Daily dry fire.  Use a 1/3 scale dry fire target and use a “dead” trigger to fire follow up shots.
  • Add scanning and movement, or distance (change 3-5-10 yards to 5-7-15 yards or even 10-15-25 yards).
  • Run the drill with Comstock scoring instead of par times.  The total par time for all strings is 23 seconds.   If you use a USPSA target with B/C/D zones, and score using “minor” scoring (5 points for A, 3 for B/C hits, and 1 for D hits), dividing points by time, you can calculate a hit factor.  The original passing standard is 100 points divided 23 seconds, or a hit factor of 4.35.  Set a new goal of shooting the drill with a hit factor of 5, 6, 7, or higher!  A USPSA Grand Master level shooter should be able to run this drill with a hit factor over 8.

 

 

Book Review (Historical Handgun) – Shooting To Live (1942, Fairbairn & Sykes)

I’ve been developing a new course for KR Training, Historical Handgun, that teaches the history & evolution of defensive handgun skills.  Part of that work includes reading as many old books on shooting technique as I can find.

The 1942 book Shooting To Live, written by W.E. Fairbairn and E.A. Sykes, was a very influential work, introducing many concepts that remain a foundation for modern defensive handgun training.

Fairbairn and Sykes were in charge of the Shanghai Municipal Police in the 1930’s. During this time Shanghai was a very violent city.  During a twelve year period, there were 666 armed encounters with criminals documented by the authors.   They credit their techniques with producing a record of 260 criminals killed and 193 wounded, compared to 42 police killed and 100 wounded.

Key Principles

Their 3 key principles were:

  1. Extreme speed, both in drawing and firing
  2. Instinctive, as opposed to deliberate, aim
  3. Practice under circumstances which approximate as nearly as possible to actual fighting conditions.

This was in stark contrast to slow fire 25 and 50 yard bullseye shooting, which was still a mainstay of most law enforcement training, even in the FBI program.

Until Jeff Cooper, Jack Weaver and others in the late 60’s and early 70’s challenged the idea that there was “not time to use your sights” in close range gunfights, variations of what Fairbairn, Sykes and “Jelly” Bryce of the FBI were teaching were the standard.

As trainer Tom Givens points out in his instructor training courses, the duty and carry pistols of that time had tiny, hard to see sights, compared to the higher visibility sights that became common in the 1970s and beyond.  Similarly, the amount of light, and reliability, of flashlights of that era were significantly less than what became available in the 70s and later years. As Fairbairn observes in the book:

In any case, the sights would be of little use if the light were bad, and none at all if it were dark, as might easily happen.  Would it not be wiser, therefore, to face facts squarely and set to work to find out how to best develop instinctive aiming to the point of getting results under combat conditions?

Semi-auto vs. Revolver

Fairbairn favored the semiauto, referred to in the book as an “automatic”, over the revolver, for these reasons (which remain valid today):

  1. It is easier and quicker to recharge.
  2. It can be fired at far greater speed.
  3. It is easier to shoot with.

The authors write “that a beginner can be trained in the use of the automatic in a third of the time, and with the expenditure of less than half the ammunition required for the revolver.  Furthermore, once trained in the use of the automatic, men appear definitely to need less subsequent practice to maintain the standard of shooting which has been attained in the course of training.”

Unlike most gun writers that extolled the virtues of the double action revolver for beginners for decades after Shooting To Live was published, the authors were responsible for training over 1000 officers with less than 100 rounds available for annual training per officer per year.

Techniques

The authors recommend an hour of dry fire practice before any live fire is performed, gripping the pistol in one hand, using a thumbs forward technique.  (The conventional wisdom in one handed shooting is to drop the thumb to make a full crush grip, which provides more grip pressure on the gun than “floating” the thumb.)

They taught a technique of starting with the pistol at a low ready position, arm fully extended, raising the pistol to eye level, but not taking time to find the sights, and firing.

Raising the pistol to eye level made it possible to use a rough form of visual alignment of the pistol (the back of the slide, the top of the slide, or even the front sight by itself without alignment with the rear sight) with the target.

This technique was taught by the US Army, as shown in the 2nd half of this video.  As you’ll see from the film, standards for acceptable hits were low compared to the 6″-8″ center mass hits expected in the modern day, and many had difficulty getting rounds on paper at all — but this technique produced better results than hip shooting techniques favored by the FBI.

The use of the fully extended arm ready position influenced the low ready positions used when two handed shooting became common. This article by Ralph Mroz is a good summary of different ready positions, with pros and cons.

One of two handed positions they recommend looks like the modern thumbs forward grip, with thumbs lower on the frame than is currently taught, and the other is a precursor to a Weaver stance, with bent elbow, but with the support hand grabbing the dominant hand wrist, as opposed to gripping the pistol itself.

Fairbairn and Sykes show other positions for close quarter shooting, that will look familiar to students of the 4-count draw stroke.

This video from Paul Gomez shows the modern manifestation of the idea of shooting from positions 2, 3 and 4 of the draw – same as Fairbairn/Sykes quarter hip (2) and half hip (3) positions, with Paul showing a 3/4 hip technique as “also shooting from the 4 position”.

Handgun Loading

Fairbairn and Sykes advocate carrying on an empty chamber, and racking the slide as part of the drawstroke. The pictures in the book show a shooter loading with gun down at waist level, finger on trigger, using a “pinch” method to manipulate the slide.  None of those techniques are considered acceptable at most (any?) modern schools.

They felt that the tiny thumb safety on the automatic pistol was too difficult to manipulate as part of the drawstroke.   Cooper, Weaver, and others, who began using timers and stopwatches and man-on-man shoots to understand what techniques produced effective first shot hits fastest, proved that it was faster to start with a round chambered, taking the safety off while drawing.  The development of larger safeties that were easier to manipulate were definitely a factor in that evolution.

Training Drills

Fairbairn and Sykes advocated firing multiple rounds each time the pistol was brought to target – a technique that is still taught today.  They used live fire shoot houses with realistic mechanical moving targets, incorporating no-shoot targets (with penalties for hitting the no-shoots), psychological and physical stress on trainees, ball and dummy drills to teach trigger press and malfunction clearing under stress, and many other concepts and techniques still in use today.

Summary

In addition to contributing to the evolution of shooting technique, Fairbairn (and Col. Rex Applegate) also contributed to the evolution of unarmed self defense, as shown in this video of them teaching their techniques in this vintage film.

Shooting to Live is definitely one of the top 10 most important books written on defensive pistol, with significant influence on the change from one handed long range slow fire bullseye shooting to what is considered standard training today.  Highly recommended.

 

 

Book Review (Historical Handgun) – Handbook of Handgunning (Paul Weston, 1968)

I’ve been developing a new course for KR Training, Historical Handgun, that teaches the history & evolution of defensive handgun skills.  Part of that work includes reading as many old books on shooting technique as I can find.

Handbook of Handgunning (Paul Weston, 1968)

Paul Weston joined the New York City Police Force in 1936, was on the NYPD Pistol Team and taught at the NYPD academy.  He served as a Chief Gunnery Specialist during WW2, returned to NYPD after the war, and was a prolific author, writing and revising police textbooks, as well as articles for American Rifleman, Field and Stream, Guns and Hunting and other magazines.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, he was an Associate Professor of Government and Police Science at Sacramento (California) State College, where he taught a college level course on handgun shooting.  His book “The Handbook of Handgunning” was the reference book for that college course.  Originally published in 1968 it was republished several times, including an updated edition in 1980.

It mainly focused on bullseye competition style shooting (as shown in the classic “hand in pocket” stance on the cover photo), including many hand drawn illustrations.  This one shows proper one handed grip, and aligning the pistol properly with the structure of the hand.  I cover this information when I teach NRA instructors, but it’s not presented as well in the NRA materials as it is in Weston’s book.   Having the gun twisted in the hand, so that the gun is recoiling over the thumb knuckle, is a very common problem we corrected in classes.  It almost always occurs because the shooter has chosen a firearm with a trigger reach too long for their hand, forcing them to twist the gun simply to reach the trigger, with no understanding of the negative consequences this has on their shooting.

As is common with all gun books written prior to the Gunsite/Weaver era, the two handed grip techniques shown depict various awkward and mostly ineffective use of the support hand, with that hand placed too low relative to the barrel, or in some variation of “cup and saucer” with the support hand under the grip.

There’s some discussion of seated and kneeling positions as well.

The proper technique for the “combat crouch” is shown, with a recommendation that the shooter practice their hip shooting by dry firing at a 12″ circular mirror.

A majority of the book’s text covers traditional fundamentals, from the perspective of a bullseye competitor training for a precision shooting match.  Included in the back of the book are Weston’s two written exams used in his college course: one on “area aiming” (using a target about the size of an IDPA 0-ring or USPSA A-Zone instead of a traditional bullseye), and one on trigger motion.  I used Survey Gizmo to put both tests online (since the book is out of print), so readers can take the tests and evaluate their knowledge of what was considered correct in late 1960’s firearms training.

Weston’s Area Aiming Test

Weston’s Trigger Motion Test

I may pick up a copy of the 1980 edition to see how Weston’s curriculum evolved in response to the big changes that happened in handgun technique from 1968-1980, probably the era of greatest technique and training evolution in the past 100 years of handgunning.