I was an emotional, uninformed gun control-supporting high schooler once

Today’s top story is the national school “walkout” and protests by high school kids, in response to the Parkland, Florida mass shooting.  They are calling for more restrictive gun laws.

In 1980, I was 15 years old.  I lived in Austin, Texas, and I lived, ate and breathed music.  Rolling Stone magazine and the local Austin Chronicle paper were my primary sources of information. All my opinions about what was hip and cool and what “correct thinking” was came from those sources and the musicians those publications glamorized.

I had no strong opinions about guns. My father had passed away when I was young, his guns were in a closet (unsecured) in our house.  I had been shooting once, with my sister’s boyfriend, when I was 12. We shot .22’s and muzzleloading rifles.  I was more interested in electric guitars than guns at that point in life.

In December 1980, John Lennon was killed.   The impact of that incident on the rock world and the remnants of the 1960’s counter-culture was significant.  Jann Wenner, the owner of Rolling Stone magazine, went all-in supporting an organization called Handgun Control.    Rolling Stone subscribers received letters from HCI, playing on our emotional reaction to Lennon’s death, encouraging us to join and support their efforts to pass all kinds of gun laws.  Banning “Saturday Night Specials” (a.k.a. practical carry guns) were one of their primary goals at that time. I joined.

Having no significant firsthand knowledge with guns and no close interaction with anyone that was a regular shooter, hunter or other armed citizen, and being in habit of taking my opinions and cues from left-leaning pop culture figures, I believed all the material they sent and bought into the anti-gun talking points.

Just like the high school kids all marching today, I was mostly uninformed, reacting emotionally to a tragic event, with no relevant life experience, heavily influenced by the left-leaning opinions of cultural icons and institutions I considered hip and cool.   I didn’t know enough about firearms, nevermind the Constitution or data on gun ownership and crime statistics, to do more than spout slogans.  Like most the kids marching today, I had the completely naive belief that if particular kinds of scary guns were banned and somehow magically removed from the country, that the particular violent event that caused my reaction would not have happened, and many other violent events would be prevented.

Over the next decade, I would gain a lot of life experience, performing music in bars, including being mugged in an alley after a gig, and being challenged to “go learn something about guns before spouting off” by pro-gun co-workers, actually learning about guns, buying my own guns, taking possession of my father’s guns and becoming a competent shooter.  By the time I was 25 my opinions on gun control had completely changed.

In 10 years, it’s very likely that the opinions of some of those marching today will have changed too.

Having been that uninformed and emotional once myself, I know firsthand how deep their ignorance is, and wrong their opinions are, no matter how earnest and well meaning their feelings are today.  They are right to care about reducing violence, but they are wrong to think that a few more administrative gun laws or random bans on particular gun models or magazine sizes are going to stop any mass killer.  It’s not enough to care. Policy decisions need to be based on facts, and be likely to produce useful results.  Gun control policies, for the most part, fail both criteria, no matter how much they appeal to those ignorant about firearms, tactics, and crime.

My opinion on gun control and gun laws aren’t going to be swayed by the emotional reactions of uninformed high school kids, heavily influenced by left-leaning pop culture figures and politicians.

Yours shouldn’t be either.

Notes from private lessons (Feb 2018)

I taught a lot of weekday private lessons in February.  Here are some thoughts and observations from those lessons and from recent group classes.

Holsters and Carry Methods

One of the biggest challenges many gun carriers face is finding a holster or a carry method that works for them.  Almost every week, in group classes, private lessons, or email, I end up giving the same speech, which basically goes like this:

There are no decent holsters or other products suitable for practical daily carry available at any retail store, including the big box sporting goods stores.

Problem #1 is that there are dozens of gun models, and it’s not economically viable for any retailer to keep 3-5 different holsters in stock for every possible gun someone might want a holster for.  Problem #1A is that buyers for those stores really aren’t gun people and they are looking at profit margins and inventory systems and not thinking about the products as life safety gear.  To them holsters are the same as shoes and insulated drink cups.

Problem #2 is that you can’t really evaluate a holster until you wear it while doing your normal activities, *and* you use it for the task it’s being purchased for…which is drawing from concealment.  You can’t do either of those while shopping for holsters in a retail store.  Most ranges don’t allow drawing. Most shooters don’t dry fire, and most don’t own shooting timers, so they have limited capability to properly assess the holster.  A common mistake people make is wearing an empty holster around, thinking that they can assess the comfort aspect of the holster that way.  Unfortunately that doesn’t work.  Some rigid kydex holsters become *more* comfortable when worn with a gun in them, and some soft, floppy leather or nylon holsters only reveal their true awfulness when you put a gun in the holster, and it flops and sags and moves around because the holster is too loose or thin to support it.

Problem #3 is that the holster that puts the gun at a position and location that minimizes printing usually puts the gun in a position and location where your draw time can be measured with a calendar, rather than a stopwatch.  That leads of use of deep carry methods that are essentially useless, if tested in a force on force scenario where a live opponent is attacking at a realistic speed.

One student had multiple different carry systems: a coat purchased from the NRA store that had an integral “gun pocket” that sort of functioned like a shoulder holster, except the velcro holster that came with the coat was the absolute cheapest velcro holster insert I’ve ever seen.  We cannibalized a Dillon Precision Plan B day timer to use the velcro holster from it in the NRA jacket.  Anything heavier than a Kahr 9mm caused the jacket to sag badly, and after some time spent fighting with that option, we gave up on it and went back to working from a belt holster.

Another student had an Urban Carry crotch holster, which sort of worked, but was completely impractical for doing multiple presentations and reholstering, which was the goal of the lesson.  I ended up loaning that student a Keepers Concealment appendix carry holster, and teaching him proper technique for drawing and reholstering carrying in that position.  Using that loaner holster he was able to pass the NRA Defensive Pistol course, which included a 34 round test with multiple concealment draws.

Targets past 15 yards

I had students at a wide variety of skill levels, including two students who were USPSA A class/Master class level shooters, both very fast at drawing, reloading and hitting targets 10 yards and closer.  I ran them through the Central Texas Standards, which is a 125 round course of fire handed down to me from other Texas IPSC shooters in the late 1980s.  It includes strings at 25 and 50 yards, and quite a bit of shooting at 15 yards, which used to be more common in IPSC matches in the 80’s and 90’s.  Both of the high speed shooters struggled with the longer shots, mainly because neither practiced that skill very often.  Statistically, that skill may never be needed in a defensive situation, but for those aspiring to the highest level of handgun competition, accurate shooting past 15 yards matters.

Handgun Zero

Another seemingly forgotten or often ignored issue is really understanding how the gun is zeroed. Most shooters are able to ignore this by never shooting targets past 10 yards, or simply having low standards and being happy with any hit on paper.
More on how to zero your handgun can be found here.

During the low light shooting class I taught on March 3, I had students shooting my Bianchi plate rack (six 6″ round plates) at 12 yards, with gun in dominant hand and flashlight in non-dominant hand.  In a few cases students struggled to hit the plates, and it appeared that their trigger control was acceptable.  I would ask where their gun normally hits, relative to the sights, at 15 yards, and none of them knew, including those that had put aftermarket sights on their guns.  Several of them had guns that were shooting high, where a 6 o clock hold was required to consistently hit the plates.  One had a gun with Big Dot sights on it, and ended up switching guns to a non-Big Dot model, because he found it much easier to hit the plates with traditional notch and post sights vs the “lollipop on a stick” design of the Big Dot, which completely covered the plate at that distance.

Red Dots and Optics

One student was a highly skilled USPSA competitor currently shooting in the Carry Optics division, running a slide mounted red dot with no backup irons.  Due to a lot of hard work, most of the time his presentation was quick and he was able to find the dot quickly.  But a few times, he would stop after his draw and want to start the drill over, because the dot was just not there when the gun came up.  I remain convinced that backup irons are essential equipment for anyone running a slide mounted red dot, whether it’s a carry or competition gun.

Another student brought several ARs to the lesson, one with a 3x traditional scope mounted above the bore, and two red dot sights, each mounted at an angle, for left- and right-shoulder close range shooting.  We spent about an hour checking the zeros on all 3 optics, and ended up removing the one hanging off the left side of the gun completely.  The second gun had a Leopold HAMR optic, with a Deltapoint mounted on top of the HAMR sight.  The HAMR is apparently a very expensive  optic.  Both the student and I found it difficult to use due to eye relief, with the Deltapoint sitting so high above the bore that we could not get it zeroed at 15 yards before running out of adjustment.

If I was building a rifle for 3-gun competition, perhaps having separate magnified and red dot optics mounted in every possible way makes sense.  My ARs are set up more simply, either with an Aimpoint red dot or a Primary Arms 1-6x variable – one optic with the option to use backup irons.


Equipment matters.  It can make shooting (and carrying) easier, or harder depending on your choices.   In our Basic Pistol 2 and Defensive Pistol 1 classes, we assess student equipment during the pre-class check in, so we can identify any problem areas and offer loaner gear.  Over the past 27 years I’ve invested in dozens of loaner holsters, mag pouches, belts and other gear because so much of the retail-store-grade gear students bring to class ends up being a problem on the firing line.  Using correct gear is safer, and it makes learning the skills taught in class easier.

KR Training February 2018 newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training February 2018 newsletter!  Upcoming classes include School Safety/Active Shooter March 12-13, Beyond Basics/Competition Pistol March 10, and Basic 2/Defensive Pistol Skills 1 on March 17.

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% discount on the School Safety/Active Shooter course for any K-12 teacher. FREE tuition for any school board member or school administrator.

March 10th: Beyond Basics and Competition Pistol. $160 ($40 savings). Must pay in full in advance.
These two courses cover material not included in other courses.  Taken together they are a great introduction to handgun competition. We’ll be running Wednesday night matches at the A-Zone starting in mid-May.

March 17th: Basic 2 and Defensive Pistol Skills 1. $160 ($40 savings). Must pay in full in advance.
Our two most popular courses.

Register here.


I’m offering another session of the DPS-certified School Safety/Active Shooter response course, this time Mon-Tue, March 12-13, at the new Saddle River indoor range in Conroe, Texas. Saddle River is a 5-star NSSF-rated facility.  We will offer the course again at the A-Zone June 2-3.

50% discount ($200) for any K-12 teacher.  FREE tuition for any school board member or school administrator.

Here’s the AAR from the December session of this course.


We’ve added more classes to the April-June schedule, including:

Basic Courses

Defensive Program

Advanced Classes & Guest Instructors



The KR Training schedule shows most of the classes we plan to offer through early July 2018 and even a few already scheduled for 2019. Registration is open in everything listed.

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

Massad Ayoob Group MAG-120 course AAR

In December 2017, KR Training assistant instructor Tracy Thronburg attended the MAG-120 (formerly LFI III) course held in Live Oak, FL.

Tracy’s AAR

The course host owned the church where we had our classroom portion, is the pastor at same church, and who owns the range that we shot at. There were 16 students in class (3 women, 13 men).

Marty Hayes (from the Firearms Academy of Seattle and the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network) was there for the first three days of class.

We had some other assistant instructors , including an economist who works for the Fed govt,  a retired U2 pilot, and a physical therapist. Steve Denney is a retired LEO who goes back decades with Mas and was a first-rate handgun retention/disarm instructor. Very patient. Great explanation on techniques.

The MAG-120 is geared toward instructors. As such, each student had to give a 15-30 minute presentation on some aspect of threat management. We had some really good presentations.

Every day we did approximately a 2-hour block of handgun retention and disarming, led by Mas and Steve Denney. In the MAG-80, you are exposed to the Lindell method of handgun retention and disarming; in the 120, you become a practitioner of same.

I kept the class well supplied with ibuprofen.  The last day of class, we did a 4-hour block of Kubaton (TM) work, which was painful as hell and quite fun.

We went to the range every day in the afternoon. To judge our baseline, Mas took us to the range, and immediately we shot a double-speed MAG qual. (I shot a 297 or 298 out of 300, I believe).  We shot a mirror image qual, the FBI rifle qual, the Florida LE qual, and probably some others that I simply don’t remember.  A description of the single-speed MAG qual is here. In higher level classes, the time limits are cut in 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4th for a  “quad speed” qualification.

Mas set up a scenario whereby he drove you around in his personal vehicle and you shot steel (shooting from a moving vehicle). That was a fun challenge. (I shot everything one handed from the moving vehicle, as we all know I have T. Rex arms.) There was none of the odd position long-gun shooting in the MAG-120 that we had in the MAG-80. We shot two triple speed quals for score. This is the regular MAG 60-round qualification but shot in 1/3 the time of his single-speed qual. I tanked one triple speed qual but redeemed myself the next day by shooting a 280 out of 300.

We did some handgun “sniper” shooting at 100 yards on an IPSC target. I was the class champ on that.

We had a night shoot. One thing that we did in this night shoot that I had never done before was shot completely in the dark (no flashlight). You were only 4 yards from the target. You used your muzzle flash to illuminate the target. We also shot our carry ammo. We told one of the instructors the caliber, brand, and grain weight, and then fired six rounds while the rest of the class watched. Some of the students didn’t have any carry ammo with them (which surprised me). Sellier and Bellot ammo literally shot a fireball out of one student’s gun.

The only practice we had was shooting Harries technique at the night shoot. Everything else was shot for score. You pitched in a buck for every qual. High shooter got the money for that qual.

Two attorneys from California shot the class with M&P Shields. No one’s gun (that I saw) broke.

I shot the class with my STI Trojan 9 mm and a Frankenstein AR with a Spike’s ambi lower on a heavily customized M&P upper with a Vortex Strike Eagle optic.

The second afternoon of class we taught a group of home-schooled students and their parents to shoot our handguns. It was very obvious who had experience instructing and who needed a little bit more practice on that front.  I think the students and parents had a good time.

On the afternoon of our last day on the range, we shot a drill called “Outer Limits.” You shot the 60-round qual one shooter at a time. You ran the gun as fast as you absolutely could. The good news is that I shot at 5X Mas’s single-speed qual. The bad news is that I failed to achieve a 75% passing score. That means I need to work on dry fire at quad speed from now until the MAG-180 coming up June 2018.

The MAG-80 was fun, but the MAG-120 was the best class I’ve ever taken in terms of the varied skills you covered and the open-hand stuff you learned.  I’m looking forward to the MAG-180 in June of next year and becoming one of the few women to have taken that class.


Book Review – The Service Revolver and How to Use It (C.D. Tracy, 1917)

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 seeking out and reading old books on shooting, purchasing copies signed by the authors when possible.

The Service Revolver and How to Use It – Captain C.D. Tracy (1917)

The author wrote the book during World War One, explaining:

During the early stages of the War, the casualties which occurred amongst officers, both in trenches and in billets, through careless and uninstructed handling of revolvers, were numerous, if not altogether surprising, and strongly emphasized the need of correct training.

It’s the oldest book on handgun shooting I’ve found so far in my Historical Handgun work.  It was scanned and restored in e-book format, and is available (free) from Lulu.com at this link.

Revolver vs. Automatic Pistol

Tracy makes the standard arguments, pro and con, for revolver and semiauto. “Revolvers are more reliable” (except that semiauto pistols have been rigorously tested and are reliable enough for law enforcement and military duty use, as well as self defense). Semi-auto pistols (aka “automatics”) have higher capacity and are faster to reload.  Tracy was not a fan of small caliber pistols.

I saw an officer of ours fire five or six shots at a big Boche, but they didn’t stop him. He merely coughed each time he was struck by one of those bullets and came on again. Of course he was blood mad. He got to the officer and killed him with the bayonet. The officer was using a small automatic pistol, a .380 or a .320, I know the type as I have tried them.

During a political rising in South America, I was shot at close quarters, when mounted. My opponent was also mounted and we fired point blank. His bullet—a small copper one, .25 calibre, I think—passed right through my left lung and also passed through some of the fleshy part of my heart. I got my man in the chest and, as far as I know, killed him, as I was using a revolver similar to the Colt. His shot did not stop me, for I rode on and took part in the affray for some twenty minutes afterwards, when I dropped. The bullet remained in me for three days. It was then extracted from the back. After two winters in France in this War, I am still carrying on. I owe my life to my opponent using such a small pistol.

An officer of the Canadian Forces, an expert shot, armed with an automatic pistol in each hand, went into an enemy dug-out and encountered five men in it. Both pistols failed to act! He was shot, bayoneted, and left for dead. Later he dragged himself out and received further wounds from a bomb, losing both legs. Had this officer been armed with revolvers he would have undoubtedly made quick and short work of the enemy. An expert under such conditions would probably down all five of his opponents in less than so many seconds.

War Standards

Tracy defines some shooting standards.  A good shooter should be able to put a shot into a 16×12 rectangle in one second (starting from ready), at a range of 10 yards.  He does not specify whether the shooting is done from the hip or at eye level, using the sights or not.

For the revolver, he advocates shooting all shots single action, with cocking and firing done by firing hand.  He advocates equal proficiency with both right and left handed (one handed) shooting.

Other standards: Six shots in 12 seconds (moderate), 6 in 6 seconds (expert)

Tracy suggests that most shots should be fired at distances from 5-20 yards. Shot cadence of once per second, can cock each shot.  In this area, Tracy was far ahead of his time, as 5-20 yard aimed rapid fire was nearly forgotten until the 1950s, with most qualification courses focused on bullseye shooting at 25 and 50 yards and hip shooting at 7 yards or less.

Speed shooting drills:

6 shots, 5 yards, 1 second, 4” group (double action)
6 shots, 10 yards, 2.5 seconds, 8” group (single action)

Gear and Grip

Tracy recommends a 6” barrel length as ideal for active service, but observes that a 4” is handy in close quarters, easy to carry.  He recommends a white metal or white tipped “foresight” (the UK term for front sight).  The importance of a high contrast, easy to see front sight was known 100 years ago.


Pointing (Eyes, Stance, and Training generally)

Tracy discusses identifying the dominant eye, and the idea of developing natural point of aim using pistol barrel as a sight at close distances.  Jim Cirillo would bring that idea back into the training community in the last part of the 20th century.

He recommends starting by having the student point their finger at the instructor’s eye from 8 yards away.  This allows the instructor to see ‘backward’ down the student’s eye-target line.

Tracy then recommends that the instructor move to 5 yards, and let the student aim unloaded gun at instructor’s eye.  While this violates modern standards of gun safety rules, a similar exercise could be done with a ‘red gun’ or any non-firing firearm replica that has sights.  The only time I saw this technique used in a class was a course with former Gunsite instructor Jim Crews that I hosted in the 1990s.

For his presentation from a ready position, Tracy teaches a straight arm pistol raise, no bending of wrist or slackening of muscles.  Like many in the early era of handgunning, he seems overly concerned with foot position, providing a diagram.


One odd piece of advice from his book: he suggests tightening the entire grip hard while pressing the trigger. Modern thinking is that the hard grip does already be at maximum pressure before any movement of the trigger begins.  Generally moving any finger other than the trigger finger while firing a shot leads to unwanted gun movement and shots off target.

Tracy discusses the differences between “Snap shooting” (shooting with “some sense of direction”) and “Deliberate aim”, topics that would be mostly forgotten during the Jelly Bryce-influenced hip-shooter era, and re-discovered/popularized by Jeff Cooper as the ‘flash sight picture” years later.

Tracy notes: Though fear of recoil is supposed by many to be the cause of flinching, more probably the nerve-jar occasioned by the sharp report of the pistol is the main actual cause.  Hearing protectors for shooting existed back in 1918. He names two brands:  “Mallock Armstrong” and “Elliots”.  Again, he was far ahead of his time in recommending their use in training.  To correct flinching, he recommended ball and dummy drills and use of .22 ammo.

Loading the Webley

Tracy’s preferred handgun was the Webley revolver.  Anyone interested in the specifics of that gun will find this book valuable and interesting.

1918 tactical target

Tracy’s concept of a tactical handgun target.

To stop a determined opponent actually in his tracks, when very close and almost making his point with his bayonet, two shots should be fired as quickly as possible.

In most practices figure targets are used, and it should be borne in mind by the firer that such targets represent opponents who can, and will, hit first or hit back if not quickly and properly put out of action.

Revolver Shooting

Two handed revolver grip, circa 1918.

The double action trigger pressure must be started well before the pistol comes to the target, and its completion timed to occur at the same instant that the barrel is brought into alignment on the mark.

When firing rapid consecutive shots on several targets, it is very important to release the trigger smartly on the fall of the hammer, and instantly re-start the trigger pressure as the pistol is moving to the next mark.

Moving target

When firing at traversing or crossing targets, the cocking action should be employed. The pistol must be kept moving in the direction the target is going, and not stopped at the moment of firing. The arm and upper part of the firer’s body should be kept rigid, the movement being from the waist.

At ranges of 15 to 25 yards, aim should be taken on the front edge of the running man target, and at his waist line. At shorter ranges, say 8 to 10 yards, aim may be taken about four inches further back on the target. With some practice, the moderate shot should score a high percentage of hits on a running man target crossing at a “five minute gait” that is, at about 12 miles an hour.

Not until the firer becomes fairly expert in his practice at the shorter range should he attempt the longer.

How to draw, 1918

Hook the three fingers under the butt, and lift the gun with the trigger finger extended outside the trigger guard. Swing the muzzle forward to the mark, at the same time slipping the trigger finger on to the trigger, and using the trigger action, so that the hammer falls forward at the exact instant the barrel is directed to the mark. In the early stages of practice, it should not take more than one second to bring the pistol into action in this way.

Texas men were noted for their speed on the draw. Some of them wore the holster very low on the thigh, and tied to the leg by a small strip of raw hide, passed through the muzzle end of the holster.

The pistol was fired by the “throw”—that is, drawn with an upward swing on the muzzle, the hammer pulled back and held by the thumb, the pistol then instantly brought down and forward to the mark, being checked with a jerk, thus freeing the hammer at the moment the barrel reached the desired downward and forward throw. The jerk freed the hammer from under the thumb, thus causing the discharge.


In tackling a dug-out, or house, a man should never stand directly in front of a door when there is the possibility of hostile reception. If possible he should get on one side of it, free the latch, and kick the door suddenly and violently open, commanding the room in sectors, exposing only his pistol hand and eye round the door-post.

Use of Cover

Tracy shows correct use of cover

as well as the wrong (no) use of cover.


With a little practice it is possible at close quarters to fire effective shots simultaneously from two revolvers at two separate objects not very far apart. The writer finds that this can be done by fixing the gaze on a spot at a point half-way between the two objects.

The fact is easily proved in the following way;—Get two people to verify your aim by standing about ten feet apart and facing you, at a distance of 15 to 20 feet. Glance at the left eye of the man to your left, and at the right eye of the man to your right, and then at a spot midway between the two people, level with their eyes. Keep your gaze on this central spot, fully extend each arm, pointing with index fingers, or two unloaded revolvers, at the two original aiming points (viz., the men’s eyes). This method has its value when “holding up” or taking a number of prisoners and preventing or dealing with a return to hostilities on their part.


Overall, Tracy’s book was far ahead of its time, introducing concepts and standards for drills that would be largely ignored or forgotten until the 1960s in the Jeff Cooper era.  With very few exceptions the content of the book is still relevant and correct by modern standards.



Skip The Line @ Franklin’s BBQ – Event AAR Feb 21 2018

KR Training staff instructor Paul Martin organized a fund raiser for the Central Texas Food Bank, a great Austin-area charity feeding the hungry.    The event was a “Skip the Line” dinner and auction at world famous Franklin’s BBQ, home of some of the best brisket in Texas (and the world).  Normally to eat at Franklin’s requires standing in line for hours. At this charity event, 50 tickets (one for each chair in the dining room) were available for $250 a seat, and those attending got a heaping plate of brisket, ribs, sausage, turkey, sides (and pie for dessert).

The Central Texas Food Bank supports many local charities, including the VA Mobile Pantry. More than 25% of the food bank’s work goes to military veterans.  Thanks to support from major corporate and public donors they are able to provide 4 meals for as little as $1.

Paul and Karl put together a firearms training package for the live auction that included a license to carry course and gift certificates for KR Training classes.

That package brought in $700 for the food bank. The total raised at the event brought in enough to fund 60,000 meals, thanks to the generosity of those that attended.

You can support the Central Texas Food Bank by donating via their website. They accept donations as small as $10, or you can set up a monthly donation.



Book Review – Virginia Tech (Make Sure it Doesn’t Get Out)

Virginia Tech – Make Sure It Doesn’t Get Out

David Cariens, 2014

In my research and study preparing myself to teach the new state certified Active Shooter course, I came across this book, written about the Virginia Tech shooting on April 16, 2007.   The author writes:

What is my goal in writing this book? There are three main goals: first, to expose the abdication of leadership and authority by politicians, school officials, and law enforcement personnel in connection with all aspects of the Virginia Tech tragedy; second, to raise public awareness about what happened at Virginia Tech before, during, and after the shooting, and in so doing give support to the Virginia Tech families’ efforts to bring about changes in state and federal laws to tighten school security; and third, to help all families understand what they can do in insisting that universities and colleges have in place effective security measures and that those measures are understood by faculty, staff, and students.

Cariens’ book is the blunt, raw, counterpoint to the soft-focus, committee-written, make-no-waves official reports generated by university and government officials about this incident.  In his words:

A variety of causes— including broken communications, misunderstandings of our laws on privacy, failure to follow emergency procedures as written, and the incompetence of some people in positions of power— played into the terrible events before, on, and after April 16, 2007. There were a variety of interacting causes that aided and abetted Cho’s shooting rampage.


Cariens details the life history of the Virginia Tech (VT) shooter, particularly all the behavioral problems observed by VT faculty, staff and students.  He also provides an in-depth report on all the warning signs that existed, that were ignored by the VT bureaucracy.  He correctly notes that bureaucratic inertia and concerns about lawsuits from the shooter’s family over privacy issues, and desire to protect individual careers more than students or the general public caused the bureaucrats to err on the side of inaction.  That inaction ultimately led to the loss of many lives.

Cariens advocates: If we will finally face the hard facts and realities of what led to these shootings, if we can make people in positions of authority accountable for their actions or inactions, we can prevent some of these kinds of shootings from happening again. We can make it a crime for a university president and school officials to ignore warning signs; we can adopt laws that keep guns out of the hands of those who have been deemed a threat to themselves and others.


The main text of the book is essentially the legal case against Virginia Tech, as filed by the survivors in their successful multi-million dollar lawsuit that found the state of Virginia had failed in many ways in their responsibility to protect students.

He points out discrepancies in statements made, actions not taken, and devotes an entire chapter to specific criticism of the governor’s review panel, stating: some of the most damning evidence against Virginia Tech, Virginia law enforcement officials, and the politicians in Richmond is missing in the error-ridden report’s content and in the circumstances surrounding its writing.

The report was done by bureaucrats & state officials with a vested interest in painting the rosiest picture possible, writing in passive voice to avoid naming names and holding individuals responsible.   One chapter is titled “Politics is the Art of Keeping From People The Things They Most Need to Know”, another is titled “Denial and Deception”.


The book includes details from other (similar) incidents, with specific focus on other lawsuits and findings against law enforcement and administrators. The lawsuit against the state of Virginia is discussed in depth.


Cariens is aligned with the Brady Campaign, and advocates for new gun laws several times in the book.  Many of his recommendations are valid regardless of opinion on gun rights, for example:

School administrators and politicians, may not have the safety of our loved ones as a primary goal. All too often a toxic mix of concerns for budgets, fundraising, and careers trump safety with tragic consequences. Families must recognize that they play a vital role in ensuring school safety by demanding that people be held accountable for their actions or inactions. Fourth, and finally, parents and families must put political differences aside and recognize that improving campus safety is a bipartisan goal for all to pursue.

He advises parents considering schools to ask about emergency plans, campus wide warning systems, what training is provided to students, campus police readiness and relationship with local and state police, campus weapon policies, mental health response to troubled students, policies handling harassment and parental notification.  All those issues are important.


While he does not recognize it, the real story Cariens tells in his book is simply “you are on your own”.  Bureaucrats and administrators will always be risk-averse, slow to enact new programs, fearful of lawsuits, and quick to delay, deny, deter and even lie to protect their own careers and avoid responsibility.

Even after Texas created a state-certified program, developed by the state police academy with input from a national active-shooter law enforcement training program, to train and certify teachers to carry in K-12 schools, the cowardly administrators and bureaucrats of Texas school districts, rural and urban, have refused to approve teachers that have graduated from that training to carry. They believe that the likelihood that an armed teacher would make an error that would result in injury/death/lawsuit than the likelihood that an incident would occur and an armed teacher could save lives by taking action.  The bureaucrats have no data to support this fear; it’s all coming from human nature (“it’ll never happen to me so I don’t need to prepare/train/equip for that situation” is the world’s most widely used self-defense plan) and the natural state of bureaucrats to say “no” until the consequences of “no” become worse than the consequences of “yes”.

More about that class is here.  We are offering it again in March 2018, at the Saddle River Range in Conroe, Texas.

Post Virginia Tech, particularly after the families won the lawsuit, many colleges and schools have improved many areas: emergency plans, notification, lock down, police response.  The solution Cariens refuses to consider is the obvious one: when all mitigation and prevention measures fail, and the event is occurring, the best way to end it is with immediate armed response.  It’s the solution law enforcement agencies train for, and it should be the solution armed citizens should train for as well.



Massad Ayoob Group MAG-80 class October 2017 AAR

In October 2017, KR Training assistant instructor Tracy Thronburg attended a session of the MAG-80 course that was held in Indiana. We are hosting that class March 21-25, 2018. Here’s her AAR from that course, to give you an idea of what the class will cover. Other students in previous MAG-80 sessions have posted some related videos, which I’ve linked as part of this post to provide more information about the course.


What did we do at the MAG-80? In short, a lot.

Every day we shot long guns. It was recommended to bring a shotgun (alternatively an AR) to class, with either 90 rifled slugs and 10 rounds buckshot or 100 rounds centerfire rifle ammo. I chose to bring my short barreled rifle (SBR) to shoot. I was given a hard time for bringing an AR and was encouraged to shoot a shotgun. I acquiesced the first day only, and I used an 870 20 gauge pump action.  I ran my SBR the remaining four days of class.

LONG GUNS:  All long-gun drills were shot with 4 rounds in the tube (or magazine). We worked on speed. We worked on shooting from behind a table (to simulate shooting over the top of a car). We ran our long guns one-handed. We had timed races to see who could get 4 shots on target the fastest. We shot using soft body armor. We shot with the butt stock in our arm pit. We did a Hackathorn style rifle-to-pistol transition, of which I wasn’t a big fan because it was awkward. You took your empty long gun (which was already mounted to on your shooting shoulder) and transitioned it to your non-dominant hand and stuck the butt stock in your non-dominant arm pit and shot your side arm. Short arms and a big torso did not make this the easiest transition for me, but I persevered. If I didn’t mention it, we ran our long guns one-handed. (We had a person from the other relay have their hand approximately 4-6″ below the front hand guard to catch our muzzle in case we didn’t have the strength to keep the long gun mounted to our shoulder while running it with one hand. (This was a good example of how an AR was a better platform (IMHO) than a shotgun.)

We spent a good amount of one day shooting handguns from prone in different positions. This is where I found out that my Peltor electronic ears were not allowing me to get a good sight picture and I switched to earplugs instead. I got a lot out of the prone position handgun drills.

We shot handguns at 50 yards. I was the only person who shot at 50 yards standing up. I was confident that I could get my shots on paper at 50 yards (and I did). Everyone else shot prone. Even standing, I shot better than a lot of the shooters who were prone. When asked how I could shoot so well at distance in a less supported stance, I simply reminded them that in Texas we routinely shot handguns at far distances.

We did one-handed reloads differently than I had ever been taught before. We did not stick the pistol between your knees and reload. Being big and having short arms was a definite hindrance for me, as I couldn’t reach around my front or behind my back and retrieve my gun. As a result, I am comparing prices on a second Glock 43 to carry in an opposite side holster.

We shot on the move. I challenged Mas on a way he wanted me to shoot a particular drill. I was confident I could make my shots one-handed (and I did), but I had an RO who wanted me to shoot the way Mas wanted me to, so I shot the drill Weaver and isosceles and then ran it a second time the way I wanted to shoot it.

Every day we worked on handgun retention and disarming drills. My experience with handgun retention had been limited to William Aprill and Don Stahlnecker. Some retention drills I struggled with, and some were easy. You had been previously told to bring work gloves for this part of class, and believe me, you needed it. Mas had the students work with everyone in class, so you sparred with a number of different students. I was the only one who had a compact/subcompact blue gun. It was agreed upon by the students that my little gun was the hardest one to keep a hold of and the hardest one to disarm simply because it was so small. I am still bruised. We learned about tapping out before getting hurt.

The last day of class we shot a double-speed MAG qualification. There was absolutely no warm up for this other than watching the instructors shoot it. There were 17 of us in class (15 men and 2 women). Five of the students shot a perfect 300 on the double speed. Four of the five instructors who shot the double speed shot 300s (with the other instructor shooting a 299).

Everyone was very nice, and there was good camaraderie among the classmates.

You can’t really compare the MAG-40 to this class. Everything about the 80 is different. You don’t just stand and shoot on a static line. It is a pretty physical class.

I did learn two new techniques which have proved beneficial in the short time since learning them – the bridge index for quick handgun shots, and putting my hand in front of my mag well on my AR to help pull my rifle in tight.

Every day was a working lunch, with either videos or guest lecturers. One day we had a cop who had been involved in gun fights speak and another guy (who was one of the safety officer for class) who told us about being involved in a fatal shooting while working at a liquor store.

We shot steel one day, and I shot well on that, thanks to my training on the steel targets at the KR Training A-Zone range.

I took copious amounts of notes.  Did I enjoy the class? Absolutely, positively.

Massad Ayoob Group Deadly Force Instructor, Jan 2018 – class AAR

In a typical year, KR Training hosts 6-8 courses taught by traveling trainers.  In January 2018, we hosted a session of the Deadly Force Instructor class taught by Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes of the Massad Ayoob Group. This course is typically only offered 1-2 times a year, so it was a big honor to be a course host.

It’s a 5 day course, covering the material from the MAG-20 classroom course from an instructor’s perspective, along with other material related to teaching others use of deadly force concepts, and guidance about being a material or expert witness in deadly force cases.

KR Training assistant instructor John Daub wrote an excellent, in depth AAR with more details about the course content.  Before you read the rest of my AAR, click over to John’s blog and read his AAR.


Seven members of the KR Training team attended the course, helping with facility support, transporting, feeding and entertaining our guest instructors, and audio/visual/computer setup.

Despite advertising the course with the Texas Concealed Handgun Association, on multiple Facebook groups open to Texas license-to-carry instructors, and getting the course mentioned in multiple national podcasts, only 3 other Texas instructors attended – all KR Training alumni.  The other 22 students came from as far as Florida, Washington state, Pennsylvania and California.  With over 4000 instructors certified by the state of Texas to teach the License to Carry class, and the direct relevance of this course to the state mandated training, I expected a better response from other Texas trainers, particularly since the course was within a few hours’ drive of Austin, Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio and about half the population of the state.


The best description I can provide of the course is “professional grade training”.  It felt like a college level law school course, complete with mock trial.  The short videos below show a student playing the role of expert witness, conduct a demonstration with the defense attorney (Ayoob) of how an unarmed person could quickly disarm an armed person, when the armed person was within arm’s reach.  (This was part of the defense team’s argument that the defendant’s decision to shoot an unarmed threat was justifiable.)

Marty Hayes as prosecutor in mock court in class today.

A post shared by KR Training (@krtraining) on


I took 30 pages of notes during the 50+ hours of class, and I know others in class whose notes were longer than mine.  References to a long list of books to read, court cases to study, case studies and discussion of recent use of force trials in the news, presentations by each student, with a lengthy written exam.

Part of the course included a discussion of what instructors might have to testify to (or about) regarding the conduct of their training: handouts, lesson plans, drills, etc.  It’s a topic that wasn’t taught in the License to Carry instructor course put on by our state police academy to certify Texas trainers to teach the state-mandated carry permit class, but it should have been.  The subject of potential problems that might occur in court as a result of controversial statements on guns, clothing, bumper stickers, social media posts, and even association with (or attending courses taught by) instructors with questionable resumes or problematic public behavior was discussed.

The one takeaway from the course of value to any armed citizen is derived from Ayoob’s first law: anticipate the attack and have a counter in place. That’s true whether the fight is the physical one, or the one in court afterward.  As one student in the course that had been through both the physical and the legal fights commented, the typical armed citizen spends a lot of time preparing for the physical fight, but is usually under-prepared for the court fight that follows.  Live fire training is fun; classroom lectures and mock trials not as fun.  If you plan to attend training this year (or any year), consider what training you’ve already had, and who you plan to train with, in the context of the value of that training in preparing you for the entire incident, not just the shooting part.


Gaining a much deeper understanding of the legal defense of use of deadly force will be useful to the KR Training team members, (and all the other students) in the unfortunate event any of us are involved in incidents, or have students involved in incidents that lead to criminal charges or civil cases.  The information will also influence how we teach live fire courses, what advice we give students about gear and tactics, how we script and conduct roleplaying scenarios, and how we teach the state carry permit class.

They plan to offer the course in 2019 at Marty Hayes’ Firearms Academy of Seattle.  It’s an excellent course. Highly recommended for any instructor teaching armed citizens or police.

KR Training January 2018 newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training January 2018 newsletter!  Upcoming classes include Defensive Pistol 1 / Skill Builder Feb 10, Basic 2 / License To Carry Feb 11, and Unthinkable Feb 17-18.

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.  In the last 30 days KR Training has been on multiple podcasts and widely viewed youTube videos (full list below).


On March 3rd we offer our biannual 3-in-1 training package: Defensive Pistol Skills 2 (live fire), Advanced Training 2 (scenarios), and Low Light Shooting 1.  These 3 courses are intended to be taken as a set, as they offer a mix of live fire, scenario and low light training in a single day.

Get a special package price for all 3 classes – $200 ($75 savings!) if you pay in full when you register.


On Feb 17-18 we are hosting the “Unthinkable” class taught by Caleb Causey (Lone Star Medics), William Aprill (Aprill Risk Consulting) and John Daub (KR Training)

This class combines medical training with lecture on the mindset and behavior of violent criminals and both live fire and force on force scenario training.  It’s an excellent choice for graduates of any of our Defensive Pistol courses, any of Caleb’s other medical courses, or those wanting to sample a variety of topics and experiences in a single weekend.

Register here.


I’m offering another session of the DPS-certified School Safety/Active Shooter response course, this time Mon-Tue, March 12-13, at the new Saddle River indoor range in Conroe, Texas. Saddle River is a 5-star NSSF-rated facility. I look forward to doing more classes there this spring and summer.

Here’s the AAR from the December session of this course.


March 21-25 we are hosting a session of Massad Ayoob’s “Level 2” class, MAG-80.  It’s a mix of handgun, long gun, and weapon retention skills.  Graduates of the full MAG-40 (both MAG-20 classroom and range) are eligible to attend.

Register here.




I’ll be on the road quite a bit this spring:  teaching classes in Oklahoma and Florida, presenting at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference and “A Girl and a Gun” National Conference, with more road trips planned for this summer.  As those plans get finalized I’ll get the KR Training schedule for classes May-August announced, probably in next month’s newsletter.


The KR Training schedule shows most of the classes we plan to offer through early May 2018. Registration is open in everything listed.


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