Book Review – Handguns and Self Defense, (3rd printing, Mike Dalton and Mickey Fowler, 1984)

By the start of the 1980’s, the influence of Jeff Cooper on firearms training was at its peak. Most schools, including International Shootists, Inc. (ISI) run by Mike Dalton and Mickey Fowler, were teaching the Weaver stance and promoting the use of the 1911 semiauto pistol in .45 ACP as ideal for self-defense. Their core business was teaching defensive firearms classes to the general public in the Los Angeles/Southern California area.

Dalton and Fowler

Dalton, along with Mike Fichman, created the Steel Challenge pistol shooting sport in 1981, which was one of the first practical shooting matches to get wide industry support. Penny and I traveled to Piru, California to shoot the Steel Challenge World Championships many times in the 1990’s and 2000’s (archived match pics and videos from 2003 are here). They also produced a training video titled “A Woman’s Guide to Firearms”, using professionals from the film industry to create a high quality video that saw wide distribution in the VHS video-rental era.

They also published the book “Handguns and Self Defense”, which was reprinted several times.

Handguns and Self Defense book cover

At the time of publication it was an excellent summary of good advice and explanation of the best shooting and gunhandling techniques of its time. Much of the information is as correct and relevant today as it was then.

The first chapter (“No Other Option”) covers mindset and does a good job of defining the likely threats to armed citizens: attackers, locations, motivations, and behaviors. It includes interviews with police and security officers about crime profiles, mace, facility security and other topics, providing a good overview of general concepts in personal defense. It closes with the case for the handgun as an essential tool for personal defense in situations where all other measures have failed to keep the individual out of danger.

The second chapter, “Why the Handgun – Myth Versus Fact”, and the third chapter “Women and Self Defense” address common misconceptions about handguns, including a lengthy interview with a female ISI student about her perspective on becoming an armed woman.

The fourth chapter, “Safety”, doesn’t include Cooper’s 4 rules nor any other list of numbered rules. It does start with the phrase “Firearms are always considered to be loaded and must be handled accordingly”, and includes the phrase “Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy” in bold print. The remainder of the chapter goes into detail about loading, unloading and general gun handling, explaining how to handle a handgun safely.

The fifth chapter, “Basic Shooting Styles and Techniques”, starts with a picture series explaining grip and gun fit, the Weaver stance, sight picture (and the effect of sight misalignment), trigger finger placement, and other fundamentals.

1980’s Weaver grip techniques

One picture shows the ISI dry fire target kit (similar to the Ben Stoeger Pro Shop dry fire target kit.

1980s dry fire target kit

This chapter goes beyond fundamentals, explaining not only two handed aimed fire but hip shooting, point shooting, barricade shooting and low light shooting techniques.

1980s barricade techniques

Methods of concealed carry, including appendix carry and drawing from concealment are also shown.

Appendix Cross Draw, 1980’s style

They recommend that practice sessions consist of 50% drills shot from the standing position (standing or moving), 30% from behind cover and concealment, 10% strong hand only and 10% weak hand only using the standing and barricaded positions. This is still solid advice, in my opinion.

Their basic exercises are:

  • 25 yards – 6 shots (benchrest) bullseye target
  • 25 yards – 6 shots (two handed standing) bullseye target
  • 7 yards – 6 single shot draws, 1.5 second
  • 7 yards – 2 shots each on 3 targets, strong hand only, 5 seconds
  • 7 yards – 2 shots each on 3 targets, weak hand only, 6 seconds
  • 10 yards – “El Presidente” (2 shots each on 3 targets, reload, 2 shots each on 3 targets), 10 seconds
  • 10 yards – 1 shot – reload – 1 shot, 5 seconds, repeat 5 times
  • 7 yards – 2 shots body, 1 shot head, 3 seconds, repeat 4 times

Chapter 6, “Law and Self Defense” covers legal issues, including how to handle non-lethal attacks, potential negligent shooting of a bystander, and post-shooting aftermath (legal and psychological).

Chapter 7 – “Tactics”, begins with a discussion of home defense and floor plans, the question of whether to hold someone at gun point or not, and other topics specific to home defense. These diagrams are used in a discussion of location (attacker and defender) within a room.

Bedroom tactics diagram
Living room tactics diagram
1980’s low light equipment and tactics

Carrying concealed in public is discussed briefly, as are shooting moving targets and multiple targets. When the book was written, concealed carry was not as common (or widely legal) as it is today.

The final two chapters, “Recommended Equipment” and “Modifications”, focus on the 1911 pistol and double action revolvers, which were the primary guns popular with private sector trainers of that era. The chapters provide specific lists of recommended guns, holsters, ammo and gunsmiths.

Recommended reading for anyone interested in the evolution of handgun shooting technique and handgun training. Used copies of the book are still available online at reasonable prices.

Do Aftermarket Mods Help You Shoot Better?

I’m a big advocate of upgrading sights and trigger parts on factory guns, and changing the controls and grips to make manipulation of the gun easier. One giant weak spot of the gun culture is that most of the advice that’s given to others about equipment is nothing but anecdote and opinion. “You should get X instead of Y” or “the gun’s not shootable until you replace A, B, and C” are common statements. I’m guilty of making them myself.

Over the past few years I’ve made an effort to collect comparison data to back up those statements: full size guns vs. pocket gun performance, iron sights vs. red dots vs. lasers (study in progress), and so on. I developed a short shooting drill that could be used to measure the benefits (or detriments) of aftermarket mods and holsters.

The Gun Modification Comparison Test

The GMC test is shot using two IPSC or IDPA targets, one at 5 yards and one at 10 yards:

Drill 1: (4 rounds) Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed (test draw and “hosing” split times)
Drill 2: (4 rounds) Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed (test draw and “medium” split times)
Drill 3: (4 rounds) Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target (moving draw, transitions)
Drill 4: (6 rounds) (insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target. (Reload, additional tests of split times)
Drill 5: (insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. (One hand reload, additional tests of split times)
(4 rounds) Drill 6: Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target. (Draw, shooting with more precision.)
(2 rounds) Drill 7: Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. (Non dominant hand shooting)

That’s a 30 round test that pretty well covers gun manipulation and defensive shooting skills. I would score it using IPSC “minor” scoring (A=5, B/C = 3, D=1).
I would not run par times, instead record raw times and log every shot time.
Goal times are listed below. They assume open carry. Adjust the ‘draw’ time as you see fit for concealment, pocket carry, or using a ready position. Just use the same start position for every string and every time you run the test, so you are comparing similar data.
Drill 1: 2.00 sec (1.25 draw, 0.25 splits x 3)
Drill 2: 2.50 sec (1.5 draw, 0.33 split x 3)
Drill 3: 2.50 sec (1.25 draw, 0.45 transition 5-10, 0.35 transition 10-5, 0.45 transition 5-10)
Drill 4: 4.75 sec (1.25 draw, 0.25 split, 0.25 split, 2.50 RL with step, 0.37 split, 0.37 split)
Drill 5: 8.00 sec (1.5 draw, 0.33 split, 0.33 split, 5.34 sec reload, 0.25 split, 0.25 split)
Drill 6: 3.50 sec (1.5 draw, 0.50 split, 0.75 transition, 0.75 split)
Drill 7: 2.50 sec (2.0 draw, 0.50 split)

Testing the Glock 42

I had recently purchased a Glock 42 to add to my collection of loaner guns. Generally I discourage use of .380 ACP caliber pistols, largely because it fails to meet FBI standards for defensive ammo. However, I’ve had students whose hands were too small, and hand strength too weak to handle any 9mm comfortably. In the past, we looked for 9mm pistols that had the shortest trigger reach, to accommodate those students, and for many the M&P Shield and Kahr 9mm pistols are an option. The challenge with those pistols is slide racking, since the single stack 9mm pistols almost always are subcompact models with heavier recoil springs than their 4” and 5” barrel cousins. (The Springfield XD-S 4.0 was briefly considered, but my dislike of the XD’s grip safety, specifically the fact that you can’t rack the slide without pressing it in, ruled it out. The grip safety “feature” of the XDs added yet another challenge to those already struggling to rack the slide.)

When I resigned myself to buying a .380, I looked at everything on the market and finally decided that the G42 was the least bad option, since it had the simplicity of the Glock, and skills learned on the G42 could someday transition to a G43 or G19, for those students that end up with the G42 due to lack of upper body/hand strength and not hand size. Around the same time I got the gun I was involved with developing the GMC test, so it became the test platform. I got some extended base pads for the G42 mags and used them for the testing as well.

(Note: since this article was originally written, the S&W EZ380 came out. I like the EZ380 better than the G42.)

Baseline Testing

When I started the testing, I was torn between the idea of running multiple runs each time to get average data, or limiting my shooting of the G42 to only the tests, to eliminate the potential that the testing, as I added mods, would be as much from improved familiarity with the pistol as much as hardware. Being short on time and .380 ammo, I opted to run the test once per mod and see what happened. Lacking a belt holster for the G42, I decided to use a ready position as the start position for all the tests.
Note: rather than burden the article with all the raw data, I’ll make the Excel file downloadable for those who want to see the breakdown. I’m going to limit my comments to observations and high level results here. It shows total time, points shot, and hit factor (points divided by time).

Stock Glock 42 Results

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 2.19 14 6.39
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 3.13 16 5.11
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 3.26 18 5.52
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 7.29 26 3.57
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 11.28 26 2.30
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 4.06 6 1.48
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 2.34 10 4.27
TOTAL 33.55 116 3.46

Ghost Trigger

The first mod I made was to install the Ghost G42 connector, which promises to be lighter and smoother, having perfect function and being suitable for self defense.

How did it work? I shot about 20% better with the part installed, a combination of faster and better points.

Ghost Trigger Results

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 2.02 18 8.91
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 2.87 20 6.97
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 2.78 18 6.47
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 7.41 30 4.05
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 10.21 20 1.96
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 3.53 13 3.68
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 2.34 10 4.27
Total hit factor 31.16 129 4.14
Stock hit factor 3.46
Hit factor change 0.68
% improvement 19.74

Trijicon HD sights

I’m not a fan of Glock factory sights. I don’t like the overall design or their cheap plastic-ness. Several students have showed up for class recently with Trijicon HD sights, so I decided to try a set on the G42 to evaluate them.

How did they work? I picked up another 7% improvement over the stock gun. Again, improvement in both points and time.

Trijicon HD Sight Results

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 1.74 18 10.34
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 2.56 20 7.81
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 2.85 16 5.61
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 6.35 26 4.09
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 8.54 22 2.58
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 4.29 14 3.26
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 2.35 10 4.26
Total hit factor 28.68 126 4.39
Stock hit factor 3.46
Hit factor change 0.94
% improvement 27.06

Mag Release

Slide lock reloads were a problem, so I went looking for aftermarket mag releases, and found the Ghost Tac Mini, promising to be faster and better.

Here’s a close up of the difference in the mag release from factory.

How did it work? The reloads were taking a lot of time, and the mag release made a big difference in reload time. The total score for the run with trigger, sights, and mag release added showed a 52% performance improvement.

Ghost Tac Mini Mag Release

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 1.6 18 11.25
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 2.35 18 7.66
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 3.13 20 6.39
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 5.28 28 5.30
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 7.88 26 3.30
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 3.48 16 4.60
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 2.04 10 4.90
Total hit factor 25.76 136 5.28
Stock hit factor 3.46
Hit factor change 1.82
% improvement 52.70

Slide Racker

I still found myself fumbling around with the slide doing slide lock reloads. Apparently I was not alone, since Larry Vickers is now marketing this part:

I installed it and ran the test one more time. Again, a big reduction in reload time resulted in a big change in hit factor – a total of 80% improvement over the pure stock gun, with 26% improvement from the slide racker.

Vickers Slide Racker

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 1.62 20 12.35
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 2.22 20 9.01
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 2.4 20 8.33
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 4.88 28 5.74
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 6.44 30 4.66
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 3.58 16 4.47
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 1.88 10 5.32
Total hit factor 23.02 144 6.26
Stock hit factor 3.46
Hit factor change 2.80
% improvement 80.92

Analysis

Reloading a subcompact gun is slow compared to reloading a full size pistol. The mag release made it easier to get the mag out, the slide racker made it easier to finish the reload after the new mag was in. Had I chosen to use the slide lock lever as a release, that would have changed the outcome. I stuck to the “power stroke” method for all the tests on purpose.

If you were looking at results and trying to choose which mod was most important based on percentage improvement, you’d start with the mag release and slide racker, then the sights and finally the trigger work. That’s not what I would recommend, though. My order would be sights first, trigger second, slide racker third and mag release last. My reasoning for this is that the G42 stock trigger is not as bad as the G42 stock sights, and the data showed I got more improvement from the sights than the trigger upgrade. Sights and trigger matter on every shot, and the odds that someone will reload during an actual defensive use are very low. Why the slide racker before the mag release? The slide racker will be more useful in clearing a malfunction and for basic loading/unloading of the pistol.

The test protocol and the test itself aren’t perfect, certainly not from a pure science and statistics perspective. However, I think the general concept of doing an A/B comparison test is important, and I encourage others who upgrade their guns to try the test before and after the modifications.

Gabe’s class and the Swampfox Kingslayer RDS

On October 19-20, 2019, KR Training hosted Gabe White’s Pistol Shooting Solutions class. John Daub’s AAR provides a lot of background on Gabe and information about the course. Gabe runs long days on the range (10+ hours each day), and I was performing music Friday and Saturday nights, so I attended about 14 of the 20 hours total in the course. Six KR Training instructors attended the class, all earning pins (5 Dark, 1 Light).

The pins were earned by shooting qualifying scores on Gabe’s Technical Skills Tests.

Gabe’s tests are heavily weighted toward first shot draw time. Each one is 2-6 rounds. Gabe’s scoring allows a 0.25 second bonus for drawing from concealment.

I started out working the drills from appendix carry but once again found carrying in that position uncomfortable enough that I switched back to strong side concealed for the afternoon of the 1st day. The rough grip tape I had put on the Glock 48 I was using for class ended up tearing a hole in my undershirt. We did a lot of draws to build that skill during the first part of the course. Gabe’s explanation of all the steps in concealment draw was very complete, discussing garment length and material, hand position relative to carry mode/garment style, and the fine details of clearing the garment for different garment and carry position types and establishing the initial firing grip. For me that information was the biggest takeaway, as I’m going to spend some time this fall exploring the relationship between some of those factors and draw time.

I tend to use classes I attend as a student as an opportunity to evaluate gear under stress. For the past month or so I’ve been working with a Swampfox Kingslayer optic mounted on a Glock 48 with a Dueck mount. The Dueck mount replaces the Glock rear sight and provides rear and front back up sights and a place to mount anything that fits the RMR footprint. It comes with two set screws to help hold the mount in place. The set screws are Allen heads. I used loctite to secure the mount, and discovered (after I wanted to remove it) that the little Allen heads are easy to strip. So for now the Dueck mount is permanent on my ‘testing’ Glock 48 until I decide to resort to extreme measures to remove it.

I had to do some additional cutting on my Comp-Tac CTAC holster for the G48 with Kingslayer to fit. The holster is actually a G19 holster that I modified to fit the G48 by replacing some washers with thinner ones to make it close up tighter. I also replaced the factory belt clips with Discrete Carry Concepts belt clips, which are thinner and hold the holster to the belt much more securely.

The version of the Kingslayer I am using has a green “circle dot” reticle with a 65 MOA outside circle and 3 MOA internal dot. This is basically the concept I recommended at the conclusion of the red dot study we did a few years ago, and I was eager to try it out during class.

The Kingslayer is still a relatively new sight, and the model I had was a manual on, timed off unit not ideal for concealed carry. The next model to be released will have “shake awake” and other features more suitable for daily carry use. So far I’ve put about 2000 rounds through the gun with the sight on it, with no problems or failures. The Gabe White class was really the first time I really pushed my performance using the reticle.

Sight Deviation Drill

One of the drills Gabe runs is the classic Sight Deviation drill, where you deliberately get a flawed sight picture and learn how much that affects shot placement at varying ranges. We did it at 5, 10 and 15 yards. The version in the NRA materials keeps the rear sight stationary and moves the front sight. Gabe runs the drill the way I prefer it: leaving the front sight stationary and misaligning the rear sight, so it looks like this:

What I did for this drill was use the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock points on the circle reticle, and misalign the optic that way:

Normal alignment
using 3 o’clock on the big circle on the desired point of aim
6 o’clock offset
9 o’clock offset
12 o’clock offset
10 yard sight deviation results
15 yard dot deviation results

Results from this process yielded results very similar to what students using iron sights achieved, indicating that the big reticle can be used the way a sloppy sight picture can be used for closer, faster shooting.

I shot the drills during class with the Glock 48 w/ Kingslayer, and then during a break I shot the drills again using my other Glock 48 with XS F8 sights. Same holster, same day, drills shot in the same order. While this isn’t enough runs or data to make any major conclusions, here are the numbers:

Penalties were my primary problem, keeping me from earning a Light pin, mainly a result of pushing for speed. I shot fewer penalties with the dot than I did with irons overall. When I get back from this weekend’s teaching trip to Georgia I intend to replace the KingSlayer with a Trijicon RMR with red dot and reshoot the drills, to get a better feel for whether it’s easier or harder to track the big circle vs the smaller dot.

I’m still carrying the Glock 48 with irons for now, but in my practice the remainder of the year I’m going to continue running the circle-dot KingSlayer.

Interesting side note: Prior to Gabe’s class I developed some painful tendinitis in the muscles around my right elbow, which was further aggravated by the 5 hours of piano playing and 14 hours of drawing and shooting I did that weekend. During a doctor’s appointment after the class, we measured my grip strength. My left hand had about 100 pounds of strength, which is normal for me, but my right hand, due to the tendinitis, only had around 50 pounds. I think that definitely affected my drawspeed and shooting during the class. In practice prior to class day, pre-tendinitis, I was consistently shooting Light-speed runs with the occasional Turbo run. On class day, best I could manage was a Dark pin, with one Turbo run out of the 8 scored tests. Earning a Turbo pin in a future Gabe class will be a training goal for me in 2020.

KR Training will be hosting Gabe again in September or October 2020, date to be announced soon. Due to high demand for his courses, those that have earned challenge coins in our Defensive Pistol Skills program will have first opportunity to register, and any remaining slots will be opened to general registration later.

KR Training October 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training October 2019 newsletter!

November and December are quiet at the A-Zone Range out of respect for our deer hunting neighbors, but we’re still training. I’ll be teaching a 2-day Active Shooter class with Richard Worthey of RW Defense November 7-8 in Lubbock. Closer to home, KR Training Assistant Instructor Sean Hoffman will teach a Texas LTC course in Liberty Hill November 16. We’ll kick off December at the A-Zone Range with a full day of medical training on December 7 with Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics. There are a few spots left in that block of classes, so register now before it sells out. Due to high demand, I’ve also added another session of my Advanced Handgun course on Monday, Dec 8 hosted in Bandera, Texas by TDR Training.

PREPAREDNESS MEETUP: AUSTIN CRIME

KR Training Assistant Instructor Paul T. Martin will host a special Preparedness Meetup at 7 p.m. November 14. Participants will meet at “The Quads” at Riverbend Church, 4214 Capital of Texas Highway in Austin.

Click here to download a PDF map of the church campus.

This meetup will focus specifically on the growing crime problem in Austin. Representatives from the Greater Austin Crime Commission will provide citizens with a better understanding of the problem, how citizens can prepare and avoid becoming victims, city council actions regarding the camping ordinance, and concerns about first responder staffing and response times. A representative from the Austin Police Department will be on hand to answer questions.

Skip the Line for Hunger Franklin Barbecue event promotion image

BBQ FOR A CAUSE

Tickets are selling quickly for the annual Central Texas Food Bank “Skip the Line for Hunger” fundraising event at Franklin Barbecue in Austin January 22 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

If you’re not familiar with Franklin Barbecue, you should be. Billed as “the best barbecue in the known universe” by Texas Monthly Magazine, the Austin staple might be best known for the line of people that forms before the restaurant opens each morning. The line stretches sometimes for blocks and stays that way until the BBQ is sold out in the early afternoon.

Paul and his wife Kendel serve as a host couple for the fundraiser, and Paul also serves as auctioneer.

“For those of us who think the government should do less, it necessarily means that individuals should do more to help our community,” Paul says. “The CTFB does so much to help so many, and we are proud to support them.”

Purchase a ticket or host a table now for the chance to skip the famous Franklin Barbecue line, enjoy barbecue plates and craft beer, and participate in the live auction. All proceeds benefit the Central Texas Food Bank. Only 50 tickets will be sold, and prices increase January 1. Don’t wait!

“THE OCHO” – 2020 Preparedness Weekend

For the past seven years, Paul Martin and KR Training have offered preparedness training on the first weekend of each year. The 2020 conference, called “The Ocho”, will span 3 days and offer 5 blocks of training focused on emerging problems facing urban areas (increasing numbers of homeless on the streets, and civil unrest related to politics).

  • Friday, January 3. Chuck Haggard of Agile Training will teach a one day pepper spray instructor course. $300
  • Saturday morning, January 4. Chuck will teach a half day student pepper spray course.
  • Saturday afternoon, January 4. Paul will present lectures on The Second Civil War, Austin in Crisis, and Preparing for Civil Unrest. After dark there will be a night vision equipment demo from Third Coast Thermal.
  • Sunday morning, January 5. KR Training Instructor Dave Reichek will provide hands on training in managing communication, position, movement and body language when interacting with unknown individuals in public places.
  • Sunday afternoon, January 5. Karl Rehn and Wendell Joost will teach a session of Defensive Long Gun Essentials.

Attend any half day session for $100. Two sessions for $180, three sessions for $240, or all four sessions for $280. Payment in full in advance is required for registration for The Ocho.

POLICY CHANGE

Starting January 1, 2020, registrations for all courses will require payment in full in advance. This change was necessary to decrease bookkeeping workload, reduce errors related to tracking partial payments, and eliminate payment processing on class days.

BLOG-O-RAMA

Here’s a list of links to articles we’ve shared since our last newsletter. See links as we post them by following KR Training on Facebook or Twitter.

As training season slows down around the holidays, it’s a great time to take inventory of your current skill sets and determine what type of training you need to fill in knowledge gaps so you have a well-rounded mental toolkit for personal defense and safety. Knowing what you need to learn, you can take a look at the 2020 class schedule and register for classes to plan your training year. Any class that is on the schedule is open for registration, and some of them will sell out well in advance. If anyone asks what you want for Christmas, training and ammo are always good answers.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, to receive this newsletter each month, subscribe here or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. You can also follow and interact with us on Twitter or Instagram. I will be unavailable for private lessons in November, but will have very limited weekday availability in December. KR Training instructors Sean Hoffman, Tina Maldonado and Tracy Thronburg also offer private training on request.

Send me an email to schedule your training session.

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

A testimonial from Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training about Karl Rehn and John Daub's book, Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training.

The KRT Target Series

Over the past few years we have developed three targets for use in classes. This post shares downloadable images of those targets that you can print out and use.

KRT-1

The KRT-1 is mainly used for the 16x16x16 drill. You can buy full size copies from Action Target, but if you want to print a single copy to try, you can print these two pages (upper is 11×14, lower is 11×17) to build one. We created this because all the colored / numbered shape targets on the market were all 24″ wide, and we use USPSA/IDPA style 18″ wide target stands. An extended discussion of the design of this target and its uses can be found in our Strategies and Standards for Defensive Pistol Training book.

Full size target, 18″x30″

Print this on 11×14 paper. It’s the top half of the KRT-1
Print this on 11×17 paper. It’s the bottom half of the KRT-1 target.

KRT-2

The KRT-2 is used for the Three Seconds or Less test. An extended discussion of the design of this target and its uses can be found in our Strategies and Standards for Defensive Pistol Training book.

Print on 11×17 paper

KRT-3

The newest one is the KRT-3 target. This one is also intended to be printed on 11×17 paper and used for 25 yard zeroing. The grid is 1″. The idea behind this target is that the giant plus sign (instead of a bullseye) gives you more visual information and makes it easier to consistently align the sights with the target. I use this target for verifying the gun’s zero and mechanical accuracy. The 3″ dots can be used at any distance for slow fire group shooting or any “dot” drill.

Print on 11×17
The KRT-3 (pasted over a larger target) in use during an October 2019 course.

The new NRA CCW class

Over the October 11-14, 2019 long weekend I and KR Training instructors John Daub and Tracy Thronburg got certified as instructors in the new NRA CCW course. The training was conducted by Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir from the Citizens Safety Academy. Tiff and Aqil are also Rangemaster certified instructors in addition to being NRA Training Counselors.

Tiffany, John, Karl and Aqil

The new CCW program is derived from the older Personal Protection Outside the Home materials, but restructured into individual modules that can be combined and adjusted to meet the varying training requirements of all 50 states, or simply used as building blocks to create one or more basic / intermediate level classes. The live fire portion of the NRA CCW course was written to teach holster use, including drawing from concealment. State specific courses of fire can be used when the class is used for state certification.

Getting Certified To Teach

To get certified to teach the new course, applicants must be an NRA Basic Pistol instructor and have taken the Basic Instructor Training module within the past 2 years. Many of those attending had not taken BIT that recently, so on Friday I ran a BIT session to update those that needed it.

Saturday, Tiffany and Aqil taught a student version of the course, built from the safety module and other modules covering material not included in the Texas License to Carry course. For the session we hosted, we made a Texas LTC a requirement to ensure that everyone had already received training in those topics. Attending (and passing) the student CCW course is a requirement for instructors getting certified to teach the new class. That requirement is rigid, even for those that are already certified in the older Personal Protection Outside the Home or have had similar non-NRA training from other sources.

Sunday and Monday was the instructor training class, where the course content and use of the modules to build courses that comply with NRA policies was presented. This included teachbacks, where instructor trainees taught material from the course, and range sessions where instructor trainees ran the firing line through the drills in the class. The instructor class includes an instructor qualification course of fire and a written test.

The NRA has requested that the course of fire not be shared publicly. It includes drawing from concealment and reloads in timed fire strings, with reasonable par times and accuracy requirements. In our class (and as reported from other instructor courses), the standards are high enough that some instructor trainees with limited/no prior experience drawing from concealment or shooting timed fire drills beyond the state carry permit level are not likely to pass. One interesting aspect of the new qual is that 100% of the shots fired must hit inside the acceptable hit zone on the target for the student (or instructor) to pass. Claude Werner recently blogged about the value of that scoring approach.

NRA Basic pistol instructors seeking to add this rating should not assume that simply attending the student version of the CCW class will build sufficient skill to pass the instructor course if they are offered back to back. Several people interested in instructor certification attended the student course but skipped the instructor class, planning to put in additional work on their skills before seeking certification. In order to pass the instructor course, you need to have enough experience working from a holster that you can observe and fix errors in the concealment draw, and enough shooting skill that you can observe and correct errors in technique beyond the basic pistol level. That experience goes beyond simply being able to pass the shooting qual at instructor level.

This aspect of the new program is something I support. Over the past 20+ years, the ‘brand value’ of NRA instructor certification has plummeted, with perhaps too many people that were not ready to be instructors getting their NRA Basic Pistol (and state carry permit instructor) certifications, and teaching others without really having enough subject matter expertise to do a good job. The NRA CCW rating is harder to get, and those that earn it will meet a higher standard. The burden will be on those of us that are Training Counselors in the new course to keep the standards of who we certify at the appropriate level. (As a result of attending this training, I did get certified as a TC in the new course, and KR Training will be offering the student and instructor classes in it in 2020, dates TBA).

The course is still new, with the actual CCW student book still in development, and an update to the Basics of Pistol Shooting coming this fall from NRA.

Using the CCW course materials

After the class completed and the training report was filed with NRA, those of us that were certified as instructors and Training Counselors in the new course received access to digital versions of the lesson plans and other materials. I and the other KR Training staff are taking a deep look at them, along with the NRA policies, to ensure that when we integrate the CCW content into courses in the KR Training program that we meet NRA guidelines and use the content to enhance our existing classes. NRA allows issuing a CCW class certificate for as little as one module (the safety module), so we may end up with several courses in the Defensive Pistol Skills Program that include different modules. Our intention is to incorporate all the modules in to our program so that those that complete the entire 40 hour course sequence with us also complete the entire NRA CCW course (including the shooting qual and written test.) Currently our DPS program does not include a formal written test to earn the challenge coin, and the large bank of questions NRA provided for building a module-specific CCW test appears to fit well with our curriculum.

Moving in the Right Direction

When Carry Guard launched, I wrote a white paper and submitted it to NRA with my thoughts on what should have been done (instead of the Carry Guard program). The key points were:

  • Identify instructors trained in the Personal Protection Outside the Home material or similar
  • Create a new instructor rating that had qualification standards roughly equivalent to more-respected non-NRA instructor ratings such as Rangemaster or CSAT, particularly with regard to shooting skill requirements
  • Give instructors more flexibility in delivery of the material, within bounds of industry standards for teaching of these topics. (The content of our DPS-1, DPS-2 and DPS-3 courses covers the exact material of the older NRA PPOTH course, but we could not issue an NRA certificate because we did not use the NRA’s exact range commands in teaching the drawstroke, and other minor variances.)
  • Have higher standards for Training Counselors in the new course to eliminate “certificate collectors”. (The people you want teaching instructors how to teach the CCW course are people that regularly teach these topics to actual students, and not TC’s whose only experience in the topic was their initial certification and offering instructor training classes.)

The goal behind this idea was to support the NRA affiliated grass roots trainers that were already in the field doing the work teaching these topics. I was not part of any discussions with the Training and Education Committee, nor the T&E department at NRA, after the white paper was submitted, but perhaps those ideas either reached the right people, or others had similar ideas independent of my thoughts. Regardless, the foundation of the new CCW program is in line with what I had hoped the NRA would do to update their training standards and curriculum. As a result, KR Training will be working on CCW course integration, with plans to roll out those changes (and offer the student and instructor classes) in early 2020.

2019 Practical Pistol Reunion – the original IPSC targets

On Sept 21-22, 2019, many of the key figures in the early days of Practical Shooting reunited for a weekend of shooting and socializing. The event was hosted by Bill and Joyce Wilson at the Circle WC Ranch. Part one of this blog post series has more details about the event and who attended.

Several of the participants brought historical documents with them, and Ken Hackathorn gave me one of the original IPSC double sided ITEM/Option targets. The specs for this target were documented in the notes from the 1976 Columbia Conference when IPSC was founded. The minutes from the 1976 Conference can be downloaded from the KR Training website here.

IPSC OPTION TARGET

IPSC Option target from 1976
Original Option specs

25 cm is basically 10″, 30 cm is almost 12″ and 35 cm is almost 14″. Targets in current usage (for example the IDPA target, NRA D-1 and FAST target) all use an 8″ center. The NRA D-1 has 8″ and 12″ circles in a design very similar to the IPSC Option without a head box.

IPSC ITEM TARGET

The original IPSC target was double sided, with one side being printed with the “option” design, and the other side printed with the ITEM design. The ITEM design looks a lot like the standard USPSA target.

Original ITEM design 1976

Those familiar with the current USPSA target design will note that the A zones (head and body) of the 1976 target are larger than the current designs. The general trend over the last 50+ years of defensive pistol target design is to use smaller and smaller “acceptable hit” zones, modeling the size and shape of the vital organs in a human body more accurately. Many common targets in use today use a 6″ or 8″ hit zone, with using 3″ or 4″ precision zones inside the primary body zone.

2019 Practical Pistol Reunion – Los Alamitos Pistol Course

On Sept 21-22, 2019, many of the key figures in the early days of Practical Shooting reunited for a weekend of shooting and socializing. The event was hosted by Bill and Joyce Wilson at the Circle WC Ranch. Part one of this blog post series has more details about the event and who attended.

As part of the event we shot a four stage match built from courses of fire from the pre-1985 days of practical shooting. One of them was called the “Los Alamitos Pistol Course”. The match was shot from open carry, with everyone shooting 1911 pistols from holsters in common use prior to 1985.

Type: PAR time standard exercise

Targets: 3 standard IDPA silhouettes spaced 1 yard apart edge to edge

Scoring: 5 points, 4 points and 3 points. Complete misses and/or overtime shots are -5 points each

Possible score: 210 points (42 rounds)

Procedure:

Stage 1: 7 yards. Draw and fire 2 rounds on T1 (left target), repeat on T2 (center target), repeat on T3 (right target). 2.5 second time limit per string

Stage 2: 7 yards. Draw and fire 2 rounds on each target (T1-T3). 5 second time limit

Stage 3: 7 yards. Draw and fire 2 rounds on each target (T1-T3) using the strong hand ONLY. 7 second time limit

Stage 4: 10 yards. Begin with 6 rounds ONLY in the pistol. Draw and fire 2 rounds on each target (T1-T3), mandatory slide lock re-load and re-engage with 2 rounds on each target (T1-T3). 14 second time limit

Stage 5: 20 yards. Shooter starts behind a barricade, on signal draw and engage T3 – T1 with 2 rounds each from the right side of the barricade. 10 second time limit

Stage 6: 20 yards. Shooter starts behind a barricade, on signal draw and engage T1 – T3 with 2 rounds each from the left side of the barricade. 10 second time limit

This course is a good example of qualification courses common to the late 70’s and early 80’s, with shots in the 7-25 yard zone and moderately fast par times. Over time, 25 yard shooting was replaced with 3 yard drills with faster par times, to more closely model the kind of shooting that commonly occurs in actual pistol fights. This 42 round course uses most of a box of ammo and would be a good foundation for a practice session, with its distribution of draw work, one handed and barricade shooting, and incorporation of one timed reload. To make this course of fire more challenging, replace the par times with time plus scoring (IDPA style), trying to run the drills as fast you can without shooting outside the zero ring.

2019 Practical Pistol Reunion – Advanced Military Combat Course

On Sept 21-22, 2019, many of the key figures in the early days of Practical Shooting reunited for a weekend of shooting and socializing. The event was hosted by Bill and Joyce Wilson at the Circle WC Ranch. Part one of this blog post series has more details about the event and who attended.

As part of the event we shot a four stage match built from courses of fire from the pre-1985 days of practical shooting. One of them was called the “Advanced Military Combat Course”. The match was shot from open carry, with everyone shooting 1911 pistols from holsters in common use prior to 1985.

Type: PAR time standard exercise

Targets: 3 standard IDPA silhouettes spaced 3 yards apart edge to edge

Scoring: 5 points, 4 points and 3 points. Complete misses and/or overtime shots are -5 points each

Possible score: 250 points (50 rounds)

Procedure:

Stage 1: 25 yards. Draw and fire 5 rounds at T1 (left target) from any position, 30 second time limit

Stage 2: 25 yards. Draw and fire 5 rounds at T1 (left target) from any position, 10 second time limit

Stage 3: 15 yards. Draw and fire 2 rounds on T2 (center target) offhand, repeat 4 times for a total of 10 shots, 3 second time limit per string

Stage 4: 10 yards. Begin with 5 rounds total in the pistol. Draw and fire 5 rounds on T3 (right target), mandatory slide lock re-load and fire 5 more shots on T3, 14 second time limit

Score and paste targets

Stage 5: 10 yards. Start in front of T2 (center target) facing 90 degrees right or left, on signal turn, draw and engage T1, T2 and T3 with 2 rounds each. Repeat for a total of 12 rounds. 5 second time limit per string

Stage 6: 7 yards. Start in front of T2 (center target), draw and fire 2 rounds at T2, repeat 3 times for a total of 8 rounds. 2.5 second time limit per string

Calculating Drill Difficulty

Given the high level of skill among those that attended, this course, like the other 3 events, became a contest of who could drop the least points. This stage included 25 yard strings that had generous time limits, as well as some medium speed par time strings. Because of the 25 yard targets, more shooters dropped points on this course than the others.

KR Training September 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training September 2019 newsletter!

Most of our October classes filled up quickly, so I would encourage you to sign up now for any training currently scheduled. Check the schedule page on the KR Training website for the full list of upcoming classes, and click the “Register” link at the top of the page to sign up.

After a month full of travel, our October schedule focuses primarily on curriculum that is part of our 40-hour Defensive Pistol Skills program, followed by some NRA instructor training taught by myself, Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir of Citizens’ Safety Academy. The last weekend of the month I’m on the road again to Watkinsville, GA, to teach Advanced Handgun and Tactical Scenarios.

MEDICAL TRAINING WITH LONE STAR MEDICS

It’s not too early to register for December 7 medical training with Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics. His Dynamic First Aid class should be on your list of “must-take” classes as a foundational medical skills class. You’ll learn field medicine skills in a day of scenario-based training. Pair it with Caleb’s Low-Light Medical class that evening, and you’ll have a solid grasp of what’s required to address medical emergencies in situations you may face in everyday life. This day of training is sure to sell out, so register now for one class or both. If you’ve taken the classes in the past but need a refresher (you do), sign up to maintain your skills and stay up-to-date on technique and gear best practices.

BLOG-O-RAMA

Here’s a list of links to articles we’ve shared since our last newsletter. See links as we post them by following KR Training on Facebook or Twitter.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, to receive this newsletter each month, subscribe here or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. You can also follow and interact with us on Twitter or Instagram. Remember that I’m available for private lessons on weekdays until the end of October. Send me an email to schedule your training session.

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