Six Reasons You Aren’t Agreeing to More Gun Control

(November 19, 2017)

This article from The Federalist, listing 6 reasons why “Your Right Wing Friend Isn’t Coming to Your Side on Gun Control” has been getting shared by many of my gun owner and trainer friends. The clickbait title was cleverly written to appeal to gun control advocates as the target audience.

The points the article makes are valid but fall short of hitting the X-ring of a clear explanation.  Here are the key points from the article, with my additional thoughts on each:

We Rarely Get to Come to the Conversation in Good Faith

The article correctly points out that when gun control advocates tell gun owners their opposition to new gun restrictions means that they “don’t care” about the tragedy and loss of life, it’s offensive.  After each tragedy, gun rights supporters point out the linkage between gun-free zones and mass killings, and provide examples of incidents where immediate armed response from an individual saved lives.   Both sides have their preferred policy solutions (eliminating gun free zones and national concealed carry reciprocity, on the pro-gun side), and both come to the issue with a desire to save more lives.

A true compromise on gun policy would be if gun control advocates were willing to trade support for national reciprocity, for example, if the pro-gun side would agree to universal background checks.  When gun control advocates use the word “compromise”, they want you to agree to give up some rights, but not as many as they would like to take away, offering nothing in trade.  It’s like a mugger taking all the cash in your wallet and your phone but leaving you your credit cards and ID.

The definition of good faith is “honesty or sincerity of intention”.

Gun control advocates have a long-term “truthiness” problem – a lack of credibility. Whether it was Bill Clinton knowingly lying when he claimed the AR-15 was the ‘weapon of choice of drug dealers’ (when FBI data showed that handguns, not so-called assault weapons, were the weapons of choice of criminals), Barack Obama saying “we don’t want to take away your guns” one day, and wishing for “Australian-style gun laws” the next, or random Bloomberg-funded spokespeople claiming that the “gun show loophole” is the primary way criminals get guns (when BATFE agents and interviews with jailed violent criminals show otherwise), gun control advocates have a terrible track record of using lies and deliberate deception to make their case in the press and with voters.

This recurring pattern of deliberate dishonesty goes back well into the 1990’s, when gun control strategy was specifically to exploit the ignorance of the masses to build support for gun bans.

Awareness of this ongoing pattern of disinformation is widely known within the gun culture, as examples of technically incorrect information, prejudicially selected data, and gun control movement “talking points” are repeated without verification by media outlets whose editorial boards all support any and all new gun restrictions. (Media bias against gun rights is explained in depth in John Lott’s book The Bias Against Guns.)  

This excellent article explains to gun control advocates what they need to do to gain credibility to engage in an actual ‘national conversation’.  (The phrase “national conversation” is of course a focus-group tested propaganda phrase that actually means “People who disagree with me on a specific issue should listen to what I have to say, realize that I’m right, and address it in the way I want.“)

The ‘Blood on Their Hands’ Attacks Are Offensive

The article’s point #2 is the same as point #1.  The majority of mass shooting incidents have occurred in “gun free” zones.  Gun control advocates resist the idea of allowing more people to be armed in more places, claiming “more guns leads to more violence”.  Yet gun shops, gun shows, and shooting ranges, where almost everyone present is armed, are not locations where mass killings occur, and in those rare occasions where violence starts, armed defenders quickly end it.

From a pro-gun perspective, it is those that insist on disarming victims through implementation of gun -free zones, and laws making it difficult/impossible to get carry permits in states such as California and New York, who have the victims’ blood on their hands.

The Loudest Voices Are Often the Most Ignorant

In the mainstream media, and even in the “conservative” media, the number of actual gun owners, who carry on a regular basis, or associate with anyone who carries, is near zero.  Sean Hannity (FOX news, Sirius XM) and Andrew Wilkow (Sirius XM) are gun owners and shooters, but those that typically speak for the gun owner side of the debate in panel shows are coastal elites living in areas with the nation’s most restrictive gun laws, working in a business in which gun ownership and daily carry does not exist.  Former FOX news megastar Bill O’Reilly’s views on gun control leaned closer to his pal Michael Bloomberg’s than to Wayne LaPierre’s, and he frequently used his top rated show to spout misinformation and technically wrong facts about guns and crime.  Gun control advocates that claim that the pro-gun side of the discussion is being heard because there are conservative media outlets or because some right wing pundit was on a panel show are wrong.  Most of the conservative websites and old school publications, like National Review and the Weekly Standard, are also run and written by coastal elites as isolated from the gun culture as their friends at CNN, NBC, Time, Newsweek, Slate, Salon and other media sources are.   The NRA’s new team of spokespeople, Colion Noir for example, would do well if given the opportunity to speak for the gun culture, but are largely ignored by mainstream and “conservative” media alike, as they just keep featuring the same insular group on show after show.

The list of errors the media publishes on firearms is long, with the most recent being the USA Today info graphic showing a chainsaw bayonet as a popular accessory to the AR-15.  A recent Houston Chronicle editorial discussing a “gun surrender” policy for domestic abusers included a stock photo showing a revolver, with a single stack 1911 magazine sitting next to it.  Stock photos automatically linked to news articles on Facebook seem to always find the derpiest pictures showing the worst examples of handgun carry and handgun shooting technique available.

Some in the media are starting to wake up to this problem, but none in positions of power to actually get the details right.

David Kopel’s recent article on The Hill hit the ball out of the park, listing all the major components of existing gun law.  The overwhelming majority of gun control advocates do not understand existing gun laws, or how guns operate. That widespread ignorance makes it nearly impossible to have any kind of conversation on the topic, as most of the pro-gun person’s time is spent attempting to bring the anti-gun person up to a basic level of competence on fundamental issues, with the anti-gun person refusing to believe what is being explained out of an emotional confirmation bias driving them to reject anything a pro-gun person says as “NRA propaganda” that cannot be true.

This is why many that are the most informed on the pro-gun side simply walk away from discussions of the issue, and why so many will no longer bother to be interviewed or talk to reporters at all.

The Most Prominent Policy Ideas Have Nothing to Do With the Tragedy

In incident after incident, analysis reveals that existing gun laws were broken, or the guns were purchased legally by someone that would not have been prevented if measures favored by gun control advocates were in place.  Despite this, the same ideas continue to be promoted as “common sense” solutions by gun control groups, even though many that study the data discover that those ideas haven’t worked and are unlikely to work.

We are past the tipping point for gun laws in the US.  The majority of gun laws passed after Sandy Hook have been met with widespread disobedience from gun owners: magazine capacity bans, assault weapon registration, and universal background checks are essentially being ignored.  Law enforcement in states that have passed those laws are not enforcing the laws, and in many cases have taken legal action to oppose them in court.

Technical and tactical ignorance of gun control advocates is a factor yet again, as their belief that banning particular types of guns or magazines would change the outcome of a mass shooting situation is pure fantasy.  Shooters using 19th century mechanically operated firearms are capable of firing with significant speed and accuracy.

The other common fantasy that is promoted by those seeking to ban magazines based on capacity is that unarmed people can rush an attacker during the time he or she is changing magazines. The gun control advocates believe that untrained people can succeed in that highly dangerous, unlikely-to-succeed tactic but are unable of doing something even easier, drawing a pistol and shooting back, during that same time window.  A typical handgun reload time for a moderately trained shooter is under 2 seconds. Similarly, the typical handgun draw time for a moderately trained shooter is 2 seconds.  Skilled shooters can draw and reload even faster.

There can be no rational discussion of what policies can prevent mass killings when one side of the debate lacks any expertise on the realities of armed and unarmed self defense, particularly the abilities (or lack thereof) of the typical armed citizen.  When gun control advocates insist that the typical armed citizen is incapable of successful armed response, or  warn that ‘It just makes sense that if people are walking around armed, you’re going to have a high rate of people shooting each other.‘ (which did not occur when dozens of armed citizens fought back against the UT tower sniper)– opinions the speakers have no experience, expertise or data to support – gun owners turn off, turn away and drop out, (to paraphrase Timothy Leary).

A new trend in the Left is to pout that the public no longer takes advice from “experts” on policy issues (in books like The Death Of Expertise).  They accuse the Right (and Trump supporters specifically) of ignoring data and science and verified experts on topics where the experts favor left-wing policies–while engaging the same exact bad behavior themselves when it comes to gun violence. Actual subject matter experts in firearms, tactics, criminal behavior and any other relevant topic whose opinion did not align with the narrative have been systematically excluded from the policy making process for decades.

We Seriously Don’t Care About Gun Laws in Other Countries

Gun control advocates frequently cite the gun violence rates of European countries, with the implication that if the US had EU-style gun laws, we would have EU-style violent crime rates.  There are two basic flaws with that approach:

  1. The pro-gun person does not believe that EU style gun laws will reduce their risk of being attacked with a firearm.  States with strict gun laws, particularly Illinois, California and Maryland, have terrible violent crime problems that their neighboring states with more gun freedoms do not have.  It would take house to house searches and mass confiscations to reduce the number of guns in circulation in the US to EU levels.  If that occurred without starting a civil war (unlikely), the same network that brings in billions of dollars of illegal drugs into the country each year could easily supply (and already does supply) criminals with illegal guns.
  2. The pro-gun person believes that EU style gun laws would increase their vulnerability to injury death by criminal attack. When a pro-gun person imagines themselves being a victim of violent crime, the scenario ends when they present a firearm, use it, and the attack ends – regardless of what the mode of criminal attack is: gun, knife, or physical attack.  In many cases simply presenting the gun is sufficient to stop the attack, as noted in this Obama-era CDC study.  The CDC estimated that more than 500,000 defensive gun uses happen each year, exceeding the 30,000 gun deaths (only 15K of these were murders, the rest were suicides and accidents) by a factor of more than 10.  A simple cost-benefit analysis of those two data points shows that the net benefit of allowing citizens to have defensive firearms far outweighs the potential negative outcomes.

If you believe that EU-style gun laws won’t make you safer, statistics don’t really matter.

We Really Do Consider Owning Firearms a Right

Self defense is the most fundamental human right.  The concept of that right goes beyond the 2nd amendment of the Constitution, all the way down to the 2nd of Maslow’s human needs: safety and security.    Both gun rights advocates and gun control supporters are motivated by concerns about their individual safety and security. As these Pew Research poll results show, the divide between them is very broad, because their core beliefs are so disparate.   The history of the US is one of ever expanding freedoms and rights: from the abolition of slavery, to granting women the vote, to protections against discrimination, overturning the national ban on alcohol, and more recent Supreme Court rulings expanding both concealed carry rights and gay marriage to all 50 states, as well as state level legalization of marijuana.  Culturally, from left to right, those standing on the side of “more freedom” tend to win on their issues over the long term.


Jack’s Rules to Live By

The 2017 Rangemaster Instructor Conference was held at the BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, OK.  On the counter at the store, they had a stack of handouts listing “Jack’s Rules To Live By”, written by BDC owner Jack Barrett.

It’s a great list, particularly his #1 rule:

Be Kind and Generous to All — Our world, our nation, our state, our community, our families and our own lives will be better if we show more kindness and more generosity to everyone.

Concealed Carry

ALWAYS carry your pistol – It does you no good at home or in your car.  Never leave a gun in your vehicle. Thieves look there first.

Carry a good pistol – Why trust your life to a piece of junk? Quality does not have to be expensive.

Get a good holster – Anything is better than nothing, but kydex or reinforced leather carried IWB or AIWB is best. Do NOT open carry.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Get more training and practice – Shooting skills do not come naturally and are perishable.  Formal instruction and frequent practice are necessary to maintain proficiency.

Carry/Learn other means of defense – You can’t shoot everyone.  You can pepper spray just about anyone! Carry it always.  It isn’t magic, but it will get you three steps towards the door.  Learn some empty hand skills: punching, kicking and separation techniques (how to get hands off you and get away). Having something sharp and stabby is useful, too.

Mind your own damn business – You are not a cop.  You are not a super hero, nor an arbiter of right and wrong.  You are an armed citizen. Nothing good can come from you butting into someone else’s problem, even if you save the day.

(KR note:  When the situation is conflict between a few people, none of which are known to you, his advice is good.  In an active shooter/mass killing incident, the decision to act should be based on the totality of the circumstances of that specific event, as doing anything other than what is necessary to protect yourself and those near you will likely place you at much greater risk.)


(KR note: Jack uses a variation of the classic 4 Cooper rules, which aren’t my favorite version of the gun safety rules. But his explanations and commentary on them is worth sharing.)

All Guns Are Always Loaded – Before you can clean it, tinker with it, or show it to a buddy, you must clear it first.  If you want to shoot it, shoot it. If you want do anything else with it, clear it first.

Never Point a Gun At Anything You Are Not Willing To Destroy – Keep up with where you gun is pointed at all times.  The gun will either be in the holster, at the ready, or on target, period.

Keep Your Finger Off the Trigger And Out of the Trigger Guard Unless Your Sights Are On the Target  – Pressure on the trigger is what causes the gun to fire.  Keep your finger indexed well away from the trigger unless you want the gun to fire.  Gun on target = finger on trigger.  Gun OFF target = finger OFF trigger.

Always Be Certain of Your Target and What is Beyond and Around It – Know what you are shooting and why.


2017 Rangemaster Instructor Conference

On Nov 11-12, 2017 I attended the Rangemaster Instructor Conference held at the BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, Oklahoma. 49 instructors, out of the more than 800 graduates of the 3 day Rangemaster Instructor program, spent 2 days shooting and learning.

The event included live fire time on the range, shooting the most challenging qualification courses in the Rangemaster program, from the Rangemaster Bullseye course to the Casino Drill, with two drills shot for score Sunday.

The level of shooting proficiency of attendees was very high, with most shooting 90% or better, and many shooting 95% or better, on all the scored courses of fire.  At one point Tom asked for a show of hands of those that were top shooter in their instructor class, and many of those present raised their hands.


Tom didn’t do most of the teaching.  In his opening remarks he observed that many of the pioneers, founders and key figures of the private sector training industry were slowing down, retiring or had passed away.  Part of his efforts over the past two decades of his instructor program was to mentor other trainers that can carry on the great work of the previous generation.   Tom started the annual Rangemaster Tactical Conference to provide annual professional development opportunities for everyone in the private sector training industry. The model was law enforcement training conferences, where new ideas could be shared and peers from all over the country could network and compare skills and training concepts.  The impact of the conference (and Tom’s instructor training program) on the curriculum taught by trainers all over the US has been significant.

On the range and in the classroom, Tom provided opportunities for younger trainers to gain experience teaching their peers.

Tiffany Johnson, John Murphy, Lee Weems and John Hearne presented a long block discussing the ten principles of Rangemaster training doctrine.  I’ll summarize that presentation in a separate blog post.

John Murphy (in the picture above) will be visiting KR Training September 2018 to offer a two person team tactics course and a vehicle defense course.  I’ll be visiting John’s school, First Person Training, in Culpepper, Virginia, in October 2018 to offer a session of my Historical Handgun course.

John Hearne’s section included some of his excellent material analyzing gunfight successes and failures.

Lee Weems presented some excellent material on interacting with police, including an in depth discussion of 4th amendment issues, McFadden stops (commonly known as Terry stops) and the history of “Miranda rights”.

Warren Wilson, from the Enid, OK police department, presented on criminal gangs and the armed citizen, providing advice on how to recognize members of organized gangs (colors, tattoos, clothing, other behaviors).  Several instructors present at the conference were also K-12 teachers, who shared their own experiences dealing with teenagers (and younger children) with gang affiliations in classes.

John Correia of the Active Self Protection youTube channel gave a long presentation on 21 points learned from his observation of more than 12,000 videos of gunfights. I recently became an ASP-affiliated instructor, so I’ll be using some of John’s 1100+ narrated videos of actual incidents in classes.

Shooting Competition

The end of the range session Sunday was a two stage match. One stage was a 60 round qualification course of fire based on the Rangemaster Instructor qual test. The other was the casino drill.  The casino drill was scored using “time plus” (penalties added 1 sec for each shot outside any shape).  The field was tightly bunched together. Only those that shot a perfect 300 on the qual course and had zero penalties made the top 5.  I pushed for speed on the casino course and had 3 hits less than 1″ outside the shapes and ended up 12th.  Dave Reichek only had 1 hit outside a shape and ended up 9th. Spencer Keepers won the match with solid runs on both courses of fire.

John Correia did a poll of what guns and ammo the attendees carried, and reported the results in a video on his channel.


The BDC Gun Room was a terrific host for this event.  Their indoor range area was clean with a fantastic air handling system. Multiple classrooms, an archery range, machine gun rentals, inventory of guns, ammo, clothing, accessories, and store dogs – the 3 Givens dogs plus two that belonged to one of the BDC employees (who was attending the conference).


The Rangemaster instructor family is full of great people: highly skilled shooters committed to providing high quality, relevant, life-saving training.  It’s always a pleasure to be around them.

Those that attended got copies of all the powerpoint presentations and videos.  I’ll share some highlights from that content in future blog posts.

KR Training November 2017 newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training November 2017 newsletter!  Upcoming classes include AT-7 More Scenarios Nov 18, Tac Medicine Every Day Carry Dec 9, Street Smarts Knife Dec 10, License to Carry Dec 16 and a special session of the DPS-certified Active Shooter/School Safety course Dec 27 & 28.

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.


November special on gift certificates:  Get a $100 gift certificate for $80 (20% savings).  Contact me to purchase.


AT-7 More Scenarios scheduled for Saturday Nov 18, is similar to our AT-2 course.  4 more hours of scenarios using ‘red guns’ indoors and Simunition outdoors in the shoot house. Many of you asked us to add this course.  Please get registered ASAP if you plan to attend!

Tac Medicine Every Day Carry, Saturday, December 9 is a one day class teaching skills that might be needed to keep someone alive before professional medics arrive, for example after a car accident or shooting incident.

Defensive Knife Street Smarts, Sunday, December 10, is a one day teaching fundamentals of knife defense, that can also be taken as a refresher for those with prior knife defense training.

Our last License To Carry class of 2017 will be December 16th at the A-Zone.


On December 27 & 28, KR Training will offer a session of the new DPS-Certified School Safety course. Karl, Paul Martin and Tina Maldonado attended training at the DPS Academy this year to become certified to teach this 2 day class, developed by DPS to train K-12 teachers (with carry permits) the skills necessary to defend against an active shooter threat.

This course content is general enough that it has value to anyone interested in active shooter response, and as a state-certified, state-developed course, the training it provides will be more legally defensible in court.

We are offering special pricing for this initial offering of this course: $50 for any K-12 teacher, and $150 for all other students.  Students must have a Texas LTC to attend.  Payment in full in advance required to register for this course. 

Register here.


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’ve recorded several episodes of Handgun World Podcast, filling in for Bob Mayne as guest host.  One episode interviews John Holschen about force on force training, and one is a roundtable with John Daub and I discussing our top 10 drills for maintaining handgun competency.  You can also hear Tracy on the Polite Society Podcast every episode.


On January 7-8 we are replacing our annual Preparedness Conference with a two-day event at the A-Zone, offering a mix of classroom and range training.  It’s broken up into 1/2 day blocks so you can register for whatever part of it interests you.  Full details are on Paul Martin’s blog.   Here’s the details on Preparedness 1 (Saturday) and Preparedness 2 (Sunday).

Register here.


KR Training is hosting the only session of the Massad Ayoob Group Deadly Force Instructor class scheduled for 2018, on Jan 30-Feb 4. This 5 day course covers the legal aspects of Deadly Force at a level far beyond what is taught in the DPS License To Carry instructor course, and is highly recommended for any LTC instructor.  Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network members and graduates of MAG-40 are eligible for discounts on class tuition.  If you plan to attend, please get registered ASAP.  

Register here.


We have updated the KR Training schedule with most of the classes we plan to offer in Jan-March 2018. Registration is open in all of them.


New Gen 4 Glock 19 with upgraded sights, trigger and mag release – $580

Used Springfield 5″ XD with upgraded sights, trigger and slide release, with 5 magazines and holster – $450

New CZ75 SA-B 9mm with upgraded trigger – $450

Remington 1100 12 gauge shotgun, VangComp upgrade, ghost ring sights, extended mag tube, oversized safety, other internal work – $1000

Used 1911 Airsoft gas blowback pistol w/ 2 mags – $50

Used 1911 Airsoft gas blowback pistol w/ 3 mags – $50

Used STI-style Airsoft gas blowback pistol w/ adjustable sights, 2 mags – $75

New V-line Deskmate Locking gun box – $150 (cheaper than Amazon price!)



As many of you know, another thing I do is perform music with bands.  I’ll be in the house band at Santa’s Wonderland, performing every Tue, Wed, and Thu from Nov 14 through Christmas.  Santa’s Wonderland is a multi-million dollar facility, with a trail of lights with over 2M lights and Santa’s Town, which has shops, food, live music, and many other activities.   It’s a state-level attraction drawing visitors not just from the College Station area, but from Houston, Austin and other Texas cities.

Another reason to come visit College Station: the Legacy of Ranching exhibit at the Bush Library, curated by my wife Penny, is still open until January.  I assisted with video production and contributed some pulp magazines from my personal collection to a display about Texas ranches in pop culture.

If you are looking for a fun day trip this holiday season, come visit the Bush Library and Santa’s Wonderland. If you come on a weekend, odds are good I will be performing somewhere, since I have 35 gigs booked between now and New Year’s Eve. My full music performance schedule is here.

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

Historical Handgun – even more on the 1945 FBI course of fire

Over the past year I’ve been developing a new course for KR Training, Historical Handgun, that teaches the history & evolution of defensive handgun skills.  Part of that effort has been searching for old handgun qualification courses of fire, and shooting them using the techniques and equipment used in that era.  In a previous article, I discussed the 1945 FBI qualification course of fire. A follow up article added more detail.   Several books I’ve read since writing those articles provided more details and insight the specifics of the FBI course, sometimes called the Practical Pistol Course.

In Jeff Cooper’s 1958 book Fighting Handguns, he includes two pictures showing a range set up to run the FBI 1945 course in its original format.   That format required shooters to start prone at 60 yards and move downrange quickly to firing positions at 50 and 25 yards, firing additional rounds, all run as one long string with a 5 minute, 45 second time limit.

Unless all shooters completed each string at the same pace, moving as a group, following that protocol would put the fast shooters as much as 35 yard downrange from the slowest shooters. The FBI solution to this issue, back in the late 40’s, was to build the range with lanes that fanned out, creating more space between shooters as they moved downrange, as shown in these pictures.

This doesn’t really solve the problem of shooters being downrange of each other. It reduces the risk of being shot somewhat, but still violates basic range safety protocol.

In another book I reviewed recently, the 1974 book Introduction to Modern Police Firearms, the authors address this problem and their solution to it.   When I ran the course during a Historical Handgun class, we split the FBI qual into separate strings with shorter par times for each position.  Roberts and Bristow did the same in 1974. Here are their string par times:

  1. 7 yards, hip shooting, 10 rounds, 25 seconds
  2. 25 yards, three positions, 15 rounds, 90 seconds
  3. 50 yards, four positions, 20 rounds, 2 minutes, 45 seconds (165 seconds)
  4. 60 yards, prone, 5 rounds, 35 seconds

When I split the course into individual strings, I divided up the 5:45, leaving the total time intact.

Roberts and Bristow reduced the total time from 5:45 down to 4:50, using an estimate of how long it took shooters to run from 60 to 50, and 50-25 yards.  By removing the requirement to run to each new firing position, that reduces the physical stress and made the course easier – likely something the firearms instructors that designed the course would have objected to, but their reduced par times for each string does a better job of simulating how much actual time shooters had for each string than my version does.

Another interesting artifact:  many modern shooting timers designed for high speed, short duration courses of fire typical in USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge, even NRA Action pistol were designed with a maximum par time of 99.99 seconds, making them ill suited to older courses of fire with par times longer than 100 seconds for a single string.  To run many of the older drills, I had to get my old PACT MK IV timer out of the closet, because it could handle those longer par times.  It’s yet another example of how concepts of shooting training and competition have changed over time.

For future sessions of Historical Handgun, I’ll use the Roberts and Bristow timings in place of my own variation of the FBI 1945 course.



Book Review (Historical Handgun) – Fighting Handguns (1958, Jeff Cooper)

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 Fighting Handguns, written by Jeff Cooper in 1958.

This book was loaned to me by KR Training assistant instructor Ed Vinyard, who has been assisting me with research.  It’s a reprint from Paladin Press, who re-published 4 of Cooper’s early books. As they note in the preface, the print quality of the text and photographs are not up to modern standards, but the information is well worth preserving.

Another victim of the internet age and the Amazon-ization of the book business, Paladin Press is closing up.  They are selling off remaining inventory at deep discounts until the end of November 2017.  It’s a great opportunity to get some print copies of many classic books on shooting and gunfighting. Their contribution to preservation and distribution of knowledge on these topics is significant.


  • The Beginning
  • Before the Revolver
  • Sam Colt and the First Revolver
  • Metallic Cartridges and the Peacemaker
  • The Western Tradition
  • Double Action
  • The Autoloading Pistol
  • Pocket Pistols
  • Combat Pistol Techniques
  • The Power of Pistols
  • Odds and Ends

Fighting Handguns is great summary of the early history of handgun development pre-1950, with at least half of the book devoted to 19th century guns and the 20th century concept of cowboy fast draw.  During the 1950’s the popularity of Westerns was at its peak in television, movies, books and comics.  The chapter The Western Tradition discusses “the code of the West”:

A man pays his gambling debts first.  A man’s word is kept, even if it kills him. A man may not accept an insult.  A stranger must be fed.  A man does not shoot another in the back or from ambush.  Horse thieves hang.  A man may not be held accountable for the outcome of a fair fight.

Those are all concepts deeply embedded in the way Western stories were told in the 1950’s, but probably not as widely believed by, or as important to, those living in the Old West as scriptwriters and novelists (and gunwriters) of the 40’s and 50’s asserted.

Cooper dives deeper into the science of the “showdown”, discussing draw speed for hip & point shooting:

Experiments in modern times indicate that a totally untrained man takes between 1.5 to 3 seconds to get off a controlled shot from the leather.  An ordinary good shot takes about a second. An expert can make it in half that.  So while the sharpie might provoke a duffer into a “fair fight” the result was murder.  The difference between the world’s best gunslinger and any other ace is so slight that the loser’s bullet is on its way before the winner’s shot can affect its aim. To allow a foe to initiate action and then to hit him before he can get off a controlled round requires approximately twice his speed.  A 15% edge won’t save your life.

Cooper includes some pictures showing bad (first) and good (second) point shooting technique:

Thell Reed, famous quick draw artist and Hollywood firearms coach, writes in the forward that he met Cooper in 1957 during one of the Leatherslap matches, where they were shooting live ammo out of single action revolvers drawn at lightning speed – a practice that was replaced by the use of wax bullets and blanks to reduce the risk of injury.  American Handgunner has a good article about the history of fast draw competition.  This article from the modern Cowboy Fast Draw Association is another version of that history.

The early days of fast draw competition provided insight into human performance with handguns, and motivated the development of shooting timers – two essential steps that led to the innovations of the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Cooper shares a 1958 definition of what a “highly trained pistol man” should be able to do: hit a silhouette (probably a Colt Silhouette or B-21) 10 times out of 10 at 25 yards, from the leather (open carry), given two full seconds from the signal to the shot.


The chapters on double action revolvers and autoloading pistols are heavy on technical details about makes and models of specific guns.  Unsurprisingly, Cooper favors the 1911 in .45 ACP and spends much of the remainder of the book making his case for the “stopping power” of the .45 (Colt and ACP).

The chapter on Combat Pistol Techniques begins with another baseline drill from Cooper:

Until a man can put nine out of 10 shots into a 6″ ring at 25 yards, using a major caliber weapon, slow fire, offhand, he is not ready to take up combat technique.

The modern equivalent of this is “The Test” from Ken Hackathorn, which uses a 5 1/2″ bullseye and has a passing score of 90 points, for a 10 shot drill fired at 10 yards, with variations at 20 yards.

If Cooper’s original requirement were imposed on students taking most modern 2 day defensive pistol classes, it’s likely that 90% would be unable to meet it.  Slow fire, one handed bullseye shooting is a skill very few still practice, and even many USPSA and IDPA competitors lack the skill to meet that requirement shooting two handed.

Later in the book, Cooper notes:

Pointer shooting is not as hard to learn as sighting.  I can teach the average infantryman to stay on a silhouette at 10 yards, using pointer fire in two-shot bursts, more easily than I can get him into the bullseye at 25 yards using sights.  Work at this starting at 20 feet until you can slam that first shot within 10″ of your aiming point every time.  When this happens go to two shot bursts and work until the first shot is always within 8″ of the peg and the second shot is always closer than that. 

Cooper’s concept of two shot bursts from the pointer position evolved to the fast double tap using sighted fire less than a decade later.

The remainder of the book covers holsters, use of cover, the draw stroke (circa 1958, based on the 1940s FBI techniques) and a faithful recitation of Hatcher’s stopping power formula as explanation as to why calibers starting with 4 are best.

Gun Politics

Cooper’s observations about the politics of gun control are as valid today as they were 60 years ago when they were written.  He explains:

The (anti-gun) arguments seem to run like this: (1) Guns are dangerous and you might shoot yourself with one (2) Guns invite the feeble-minded to use them in fits of temper (3) The prevalence of guns constitutes a hazard for the police (4) Guns are used by criminals and should be prohibited and (5) You should not resist a criminal because somebody might get hurt.

Firearms in the hands of the people do make police work dangerous. Any policeman would feel better if he knew there were no guns in town except his.  This is the overwhelming reason why police officials should never be treated as experts in the field of arms legislation.  But as much as we sympathize with the policeman’s lot, we cannot pass laws for his benefit, if they encroach upon the liberty that we established this country to ensure.


This book is often overlooked among Cooper’s work, probably because some of what he advocates in this book he later rejected in favor of better and more effective techniques.  As a historical document, it’s an excellent time capsule of conventional wisdom of the late 1950’s.

The search for new shooting glasses

Vision plays a significant role in shooting well.  Brian Enos’ classic line “you can only shoot as fast as you can see” is absolutely true.   My vision is not perfect. I’ve had to use prescription glasses for most of my 30 years as a competitive shooter.   For the past 12 years, I’ve used a set of Oakley Half Jacket glasses, with the correction built into the lens itself.  I strongly prefer having the correction in the lens, as opposed to using a prescription insert. My experiences with Rudy Project and Bolle glasses with inserts were that you had twice as many lens surfaces to attract dust that had to be cleaned off, and twice as many surfaces that could fog or be fouled by sweat or rain.  Worse, the correction was not available in the full coverage of the lens, but only in the small section corrected by the insert.

So about 12 years ago I wrote a big check to Oakley and got RX lenses in their VR28 color. When I got the glasses, I was amazed at the quality of the optics, which were better than my daily wear glasses.  The Oakley lenses appeared to correct all the way to the lens edge, giving me improved peripheral vision.  I liked the VR28 because it increased contrast with minimal color distortion.  I discovered that I could wear them from dawn to dusk anytime I was outdoors: driving, shooting, even on stage at outdoor gigs.

After more than a decade of heavy use, and some changes in my vision, it’s time to get not only new lenses, but a new frame.  Why not just get another Oakley frame and VR28 lenses?

This article from Lucky Gunner testing different shooting glasses for safety, did not show that the Oakley product performed well.  And several other companies, particularly Wiley X and Rudy Project, have competitive & similar products.  Rudy Project, in particular, is a big supporter of the practical shooting sports, sponsoring a shooting team and offering discounts to competition shooters.

I reached out to Kevin Gentry from the Rudy Project team and he connected me with Rudy’s RX specialist, who answered a lot of my questions, and arranged for me to get a T&E package to use on the range.  It included multiple lenses.  (The T&E package was not free. I gave them a credit card number and I basically bought some Rydon glasses & extra lenses, which gave me 30 days to evaluate before returning and placing my RX order.  They sent the lens samples at no charge — all of which was terrific customer support, as they even included a shipping label to return everything when I was done with my test and evaluation.  The support I got from Rudy was outstanding.)



I wanted something that would allow dusk to dawn use, driving and on the range. Rudy Project suggested their “racing red” color, and a photochromic lens that could change from clear to “laser red” as lighting conditions changed.  They also sent a clear to brown, and a clear to red w/ blue mirror lens.  All of those lenses were their ImpactX2 line, which met the highest level of ANSI standard for protective eyewear.

One of the other members of the KR Training shooting team (Roy Stedman) had been using his Rydon glasses with the clear-to-red photochromic tint for the past several months, including wearing them at the 2017 IPSC World Shoot, so I was most interested in that option, which he recommended.

They also sent a brown polarized lens and a non polarized “action brown” color. I still had my original (15 year old) “racing red” Rudy glasses and my Oakley VR28’s (bottom right in the picture below) on hand as well.


I wore the Rydon frames for about a week, changing lenses around several times, as I used them every time I went outside.  For a long time I only needed glasses to see objects far away clearly, and I’ve been able to see my front sight without any correction.  As I have gotten older, my far vision has gotten better with near vision starting to suffer.  Last year I actually passed the eye test for my renewed driver’s license without any vision correction, which was convenient as it allowed me to use the various Rudy lenses while driving during the daytime.

Despite marketing claims that their polarized lenses made it possible to read car LCD displays and phone displays clearly, I found the polarized lens gave too much distortion in those uses to be the right answer for me.   Their polarized lens had less distortion than the polarized sunglasses I still had from 20 years ago, so it does appear that some improvements have been made.

I finally got out to the A-Zone to do a serious evaluation of all the lenses.  I went out on the main range, where I could look at my sights (irons and red dot) on white steel plates, tan targets, and a variety of colored objects (barricades and 55 gal drums), with both dirt and grass backgrounds.


I put the lenses in front of my phone camera, to provide some insight into how each lens affected contrast and color.  The photos aren’t a perfect depiction of what I saw.

Photochromic clear-to-red

Clear to laser brown

Clear to laser red w/ blue mirror

Oakley VR28

Photo Red

Racing Red

I spent a lot of time looking at my sights with the different lenses, and looking at the bullet holes I could see on the target at 5 yards with each lens, getting an idea of which one gave best visual contrast on the tan target.

The tinting on the photochromic clear-to-red and clear-to-brown lenses worked well, going from clear to maximum tint fairly quickly, functional indoors and out, dawn to dusk.


I ended up narrowing it down to the photochromic clear-to-red, maybe with the blue mirror option, with final decision to be made after I have my annual eye exam and talk to my eye doctor about it.  After that I’ll be placing my order for some RX lenses and a Rydon frame.

This is the current version of the Rydon non-RX kit.


D.C. Al Coda party for Paul Hollis

On October 23, 2017, over 130 friends and family of Austin musician/engineer Paul Hollis celebrated his retirement from his technology day job.

I don’t know how Paul’s wife Jeanne (and 130 of his friends) managed to keep the party secret from Paul, but apparently we did, as he had no idea what was in store when he stepped through the door at the Highball.


The moment Paul Hollis walked into his surprise party last night.

Posted by Karl Rehn on Tuesday, October 24, 2017


He’s not retiring from music, though, as he performs with at least 4 active bands in the Austin area on a regular basis.  He worked for Motorola, Analog Devices, MediaTek, and Broadcom in the semiconductor field for many decades.  Because of his dual careers, the attendees represented what I remember as the old, cooler, hipper Austin of the 80’s and 90’s:  technology innovators and people passionate about music.   Many musicians attended – not only Austin players but some from Paul’s younger days in Florida.

Seven bands were represented, many with shared members, with many guests, as many of us who were never full time members of one (or more) of Paul’s bands have filled in with one band (or three, in my case) at one time or another.

As one musician attendee remarked “it’s like every gig I’ve played in the last 10 years all in one night.”

The party was held at the Highball lounge run by the Alamo Drafthouse. It’s located in a shopping center where the Austin musician’s landmark Ray Henning’s Heart of Texas music store used to be.

Paul’s band Java Jazz was the Sunday brunch band at Nutty Brown in Oak Hill for 11 years. During that time I sat in with them many times, returning even after I moved to College Station.

Here’s some vintage Java Jazz video from 2005 at Nutty Brown:

After I finished my guest spot with Java Jazz, I grabbed a good seat near the stage, and live streamed some of the bands using Facebook Live.

Java Jazz playing live at the party



Java jazz live.

Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017



Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017

S7ven laying down the fusion funk


Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017


Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017

Gumbo Ya Ya bringing the New Orleans groove


Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017


More gumbo yaya band

Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017


Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017

Electron Donors playing some tasty medleys of rock classics


Electron donors playing little feat

Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017


Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017


Posted by Karl Rehn on Monday, October 23, 2017

Lots of great music. If you are in the Austin area, come out and see all these excellent bands.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.