Jeff Cooper’s First Article

Here is a scanned copy of Jeff Cooper’s first published article, from the Marine Corps Gazette, in Sept 1946. Titled “What Good Is A Pistol?”, it discusses pistol training and caliber selection.

Highlights: Cooper comments that the semiauto pistol be redesigned to have more slant and a slight curve — essentially describing the difference between the 1911’s grip and the Glock frame’s design.

More pistol design concepts from Cooper’s article: Ease of field stripping (finally achieved with the Glock and other striker fired designs in the 1980’s and beyond), a capacity of 12 or more rounds, a crisp single action trigger, and a magazine with stronger feed lips. Cooper also advocates for the shoulder holster – an idea that fell out of favor after he started the Leatherslap matches and hip holsters proved to be the fastest way to get to a quick first shot.

Cooper defines some shooting proficiency standards:

  1. From cocked and locked, holstered, draw and fire one center mass hit at 25 feet (8.3 yards) in 0.6 to 0.8 seconds. (This likely assumes a military holster, open carry, and shooting from some kind of hip or point shoulder position as was commonly taught in 1946.)
  2. Draw, fire and hit 3 targets twice each (2-2-2) in 4 seconds. Today this drill often called the “Blake drill“. In Cooper’s article the target distance is 15 yards. (This would be likely be done shooting one handed, aimed fire, if commonly used techniques of the era were employed.)
  3. Draw and hit 4 targets, spread at varying distances from 5-20 yards, in 4 seconds. (Cooper doesn’t specify but my assumption is he means one shot each target, and this would be one handed as well.)
  4. FBI Practical Pistol Course, 48 shots out of 60 to pass.

These drills could be combined in this way to make a 100 round practice session, using the B21 or B21M target (commonly used in that era).

  1. Draw and fire one shot, 8 yards, one handed, from hip or point shoulder position, 0.8 seconds. Six runs, total of 6 rounds. Score is number of hits in “bottle” part of target.
  2. Three targets, side targets spread apart so they are at “10 and 2”, 15 yards. Draw and fire two on each, one handed, 4.0 second par time. Three runs, for total of 18 rounds. Score is number of hits in bottle on each target.
  3. Four targets, one each at 5, 10, 15 and 20 yards. Draw and fire one on each, one handed, 4.0 second par time. Three runs, total of 18 rounds. Score is number of hits in bottle on each target.
  4. FBI 1945 PPC course.

This article is a great example of Cooper’s vision, as many of the ideas and recommendations in this article eventually found their way into hardware and changes in shooting qualification courses decades later.

Small changes

The discussion today is all about making big changes in response to the recent active shooter events. Most of those big changes will not occur, and particularly with regard to gun control measures, even if they do occur they are incredibly unlikely to prevent future events.

I have to wonder how many guns were in parked vehicles during the El Paso Walmart incident, left behind for all the usual reasons: it’ll never happen to me, I’m just going inside for a few minutes, it’s uncomfortable, everybody will notice and I’ll feel weird, the gun might fall out/go off, and so on.

If you know people that carry “in the car” but never go armed outside their vehicle, encourage them to take the step of putting some kind of holster, belly band, fanny pack or some other carry option in the car with their gun. Make that one change in response to recent events. Then on that day they finally decide to put the gun on when they leave the car, “I don’t have a holster with me” isn’t another excuse.

It’s not a huge effort. Open a search window, buy online. Open the box, put it in the car. Even the worst product they choose will be better than no product.

Yes, they should go get training in how to use the holster, and they should carry med gear on their person and in the car, and pepper spray, and a flashlight, and buy into the whole well prepared/well trained mindset.

But don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. The next logical step from carrying in the car to all those other things is actually having a holster or some other way to carry outside the car with them. Encourage those standing on the curb to take that first step down the road.

KR Training July 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training July 2019 newsletter!

We’ve added more classes to our schedule through the end of the year and into 2020. Sign up now for any classes on the schedule by clicking the “Register” link at the top of the page. Check the schedule page on the KR Training website for the full list of upcoming classes.

AUGUST CLASSES

With the heat of the summer upon us, we’re taking it easy for the month of August and gearing up for non-stop training during cooler weather in the fall. It’s the perfect time to train and expand your skill-set, so start planning your classes and registering now. September will be here before you know it!

Complete classes toward your Defensive Pistol Skills Program Challenge Coin. Check the schedule for class availability.

Continue your Defensive Pistol Skills Program education in August and September with classes that apply toward your challenge coin. Remember: now is the time to check out the September and October class schedule and register for any classes you still need to complete your 40 hours of required coursework.

While you’re building skills in your defensive toolkit, start thinking about attending the MAG-20 Range September 7-8 with Tracy Thronburg, followed by the MAG-20 Classroom with Massad Ayoob himself September 14-15. Together, these classes make up the MAG-40, the Massad Ayoob Group’s fundamental shooting skills and legal self-defense course for armed civilians. If you haven’t trained with Mas, register now for these classes. Click on the class links to make sure you have the gear, ammo, and mindset to prepare and be ready to learn.

Seven more students earned their Defensive Pistol Skills Challenge Coin in July.

SUMMER USPSA MATCHES

Our summer USPSA-format matches continue with two more matches July 31 and August 7. Anyone that has completed DPS-1 or other classes using a holster can attend and new shooters are welcome. Details and dates here.

PRIVATE TRAINING AVAILABLE

I am available for private lessons on weekdays. Contact me to schedule.

BLOG-O-RAMA

Here’s a list of links to articles we’ve shared so far in July. See links as we post them by following KR Training on Facebook or Twitter.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, to receive this newsletter each month, subscribe here or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. You can also follow and interact with us on Twitter or Instagram.

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

Book Review – Breakthrough Marksmanship (Ben Stoeger, 2019)

Multi-time USPSA and IPSC champion shooter Ben Stoeger recently published another book, Breakthrough Marksmanship. This book is all about troubleshooting. As Ben puts it:

There is a disconnect between what happens and why it happens for many shooters. Connecting the dots between what happens and why it happens is complex, and that’s the reason most people … don’t understand what corrections to make.

Breakthrough Marksmanship, Ben Stoeger, 2019

Ben’s been teaching for about a decade now, and I was one of the first people to host him early in his teaching career. One of my first observations about him was that he got more value out of each round fired in practice than most shooters. That value came from spending more time in dry fire preparing for live fire practice, more skill at structuring his live fire time, and better mental focus during the drills themselves. Many of his earlier books explained how to do effective dry fire practice, and the best drills to develop skill. This book is the fix-it manual – like a well written set of notes from one of his classes.

It has 4 major sections: Intro, Marksmanship, Practical Marksmanship, and Drills. The Intro section puts the rest of the book in context, giving some examples of target arrays that have been shot, showing how the shooter can gather information about what errors occurred during the run from reading the holes. That skill is something that comes from firing hundreds of thousands of rounds and observing thousands of shooters — and it’s a topic that really hasn’t been addressed or explained in any other shooting book I’ve read. His analysis goes beyond the over simplified “bullseye chart”. Practical shooting involves engaging multiple targets, drawing, reloading, movement – many skills that induce errors that aren’t addressed by the bullseye chart.

The second section, Marksmanship, has sections on each of the key fundamentals of basic marksmanship: grip, index, acceptable sight pictures, acceptable aiming areas on targets (relative to target distance from the shooter), shot calling, trigger control, recoil management, and one handed shooting.

He uses the international IPSC target for all the examples, but the concepts translate easily to the USPSA and IDPA targets and their larger scoring zones. His concepts about what are acceptable aiming areas and acceptable sight pictures connect nicely with the ideas John Daub and I presented in our own book.

The third section, Practical Marksmanship, adds in all the dynamic elements of practical shooting matches (and defensive shooting) such as gun handling, drawing, reloading, target transitions, movement, shooting on the move, and stage planning/mental preparation.

The final section, Drills, includes 9 drills familiar to readers of his earlier books. The difference here is that for each drill, he provides examples of what usually goes wrong and how to fix it. This is valuable information for those trying to improve without a training partner or a coach.

(Aside: Ben is now offering online coaching through the Practical Shooting Training Group, which is an excellent resource for USPSA and IPSC competition shooters wanting more instruction than a normal weekend course can provide.)

Who should read this book? The first group I would recommend it to are instructors, particularly those teaching carry permit and mid-level students (including those teaching law enforcement officers). They should take the book and go to the range and run the drills in the last section, and learn how to improve their own shooting using the fix-it information the book contains. Then they can start applying that information in classes with students to become better coaches.

The other group that should read this book is it’s stated target audience: people that practice a lot and are working to get better, but may have roadblocks that need to be broken through. Back when I started training with Ben, this was me. His approach to training got me past the USPSA Master level up to the Grand Master level, after being stuck at M for many years. This is one of Ben’s shorter books, but it condenses the key knowledge from his program and presents it very well. Highly recommended.

Book Review – The Secrets of Double Action Shooting (Bob Nichols, 1950)

Book cover – Secrets of Double Action Shooting

Bob Nichols published this book, “The Secrets of Double Action Shooting” back in 1950, in an era where most handgun shooting was one handed bullseye, or point shooting (unsighted) from the hip. Nichols was ahead of his time, advocating for handgunners training for personal defense to transition from thumb cocking to double action technique. The book discusses nuances of grip and trigger control in more depth than most books on shooting from the 1950’s do. It was reprinted by Sportsman’s Vintage Press, who brought it back into print in both physical and e-book format.

Nichols was convinced that the Smith and Wesson revolver design was far superior to the Colt. It’s worth noting that both the best revolver shooters of the 20th century, Ed McGivern and Jerry Miculek, accomplished all their world record feats using S&W wheelguns.

Nichols was a big fan of Lt. John D. Leppert, of the municipal police force of Saginaw, Michigan, who would shoot traditional bullseye matches, firing all his shots double action, rather than thumb cocking for each shot as was common in that era.

The ten-second interval for five shots in the conventional rapid fire stage of bull’s-eye match shooting was a laughing cinch for Lt. Leppert. He could shoot five shots in five seconds, or even faster. Leppert’s rapid fire scores were nearly always winning scores, too; and the same was true of the other double action shooters (William Peterson, Joe Rivers) mentioned here.

Nichols, Bob. The Secrets of Double Action Shooting . Sportsman’s Vintage Press. Kindle Edition.

As Nichols describes it, McGivern manipulated his trigger using a smooth, continuous roll all the way through the double action. Leppert staged his trigger pull, pausing part way through the stroke with hammer at full cock, confirming his sights before finishing his trigger press. McGivern shot with the gun in a traditional grip, with the barrel aligned with the bones of the arm, recoiling into the soft space between thumb and forefinger. Leppert twisted his gun to the right, as shown in the photo.

Nichols believed that combining Leppert’s grip and McGivern’s trigger control techniques was the key to shooting the double action revolver well.

  1. In the long, smooth double action trigger pull to let-off of the shot, no “breaking glass rod” climax of single-cocked sear disengagement takes place. We are therefore not tricked into easy transgression of the first commandment of all good pistol shooting, which is: Know not the instant of thy trigger let-off. The long, smooth double action trigger pull simply “dissolves” into let-off of the shot. Result: accuracy of fire
  2. The one-digit fire control and four-digit alignment control, as in double action shooting, gives us much more positive alignment control over the pistol—especially with the added control of the trigger finger on the long double action trigger pull following the recoil disturbance of the fired shot. Result: speed of fire.
  3. Double action triggering is a technique of natural motion—which naturally blends and synchronizes with natural and unavoidable body motion, both internal and external—and which also blends and synchronizes with target motion, if any. Result: hitting, whatever the target, whether motionless or in motion—and easier hitting.

Nichols, Bob. The Secrets of Double Action Shooting . Sportsman’s Vintage Press. Kindle Edition.

McGivern finger

Nichols’ notes that McGivern’s trigger finger was abnormally short, causing him to manipulate the trigger using his finger tip, from an unusual angle compared to most revolver shooters. This likely required a significant amount of grip strength.

Another historical fact in Nichols’ book may be the origin of a training technique still in use today. He credits with Col. Sandy McNab, during World War One, with developing the technique of having the shooter aim, and the instructor press the trigger for the student, or press the trigger while the student’s finger is resting on the trigger, so they can feel what a proper trigger press feels like. I use this technique a lot, because one repetition of this drill can convey the concept of what a good trigger press feels like more than thousands of spoken or written words can.

Nichols explains that there are two dominant modes of “one-digit fire control and four-digit alignment control”: either pinning the trigger of a Colt single action to the rear and running it purely by manipulation of the hammer, or shooting a double action revolver purely in double action mode. He felt that the awkwardness of thumb cocking, whether it was a single or double action revolver, added unnecessary complexity. Similarly, he felt that having to click off the manual safety (or rack the slide as part of the draw) made the 1911 semiautomatic’s design suboptimal as well.

Many of the arguments Nichols’ makes for the double action revolver can also be made for the modern striker fired semiautomatic pistol. Here’s his description of trigger manipulation:

With the long, smooth double action trigger pull, this sudden climax of the “breaking glass rod” single-cocked sear disengagement simply disappears. Actually it no longer exists—there is no such sudden climax, no sudden change from the static condition to a condition of abrupt motion. The long, smooth double action trigger pull simply “dissolves” into a let-off of the shot. Automatically we are thus led to obey the first commandment of all good pistol shooting, Know not the instant of thy trigger let-off.

Nichols, Bob. The Secrets of Double Action Shooting . Sportsman’s Vintage Press. Kindle Edition.

In his discussion of the “new” Commander sized 1911, he writes that

I wish Colt’s might have foreseen what a long, smooth, imitation double action take-up trigger pull might accomplish for its already cunning hitting quality. Such an imitation double action trigger take-up continued into quietly “dissolving” let-off of the shot would, I surely feel, make this new light-weight big-bore centerfire automatic the most astounding gun ever produced in its class. Such an imitation double action trigger take-up continued to quietly “dissolving” let-off of the shot should avoid completely the treacherous climax of the “breaking glass rod” trigger let-off which is inherent in all single cocking. Also, the extra realignment control of the gun from the trigger finger, following the recoil of the fired shot, should give the big-bore gun increased speed of aimed fire with better accuracy. Even with an imitation double action trigger take-up, of smooth quality, the .45 automatic could be gripped for best control, whatever the shooter’s preference in hold so long as it seemed to him secure and steady.

Nichols, Bob. The Secrets of Double Action Shooting . Sportsman’s Vintage Press. Kindle Edition.

In a later section of the book, Nichols shares his opinions on statements made by earlier authors, such as Winans, Frazer, Hatcher and Himmelwright – several of which I’ve read and reviewed in previous posts. He cites Askins’ 1939 book as the only one in which double action shooting is discussed in any detail. Nichols also discusses Ed McGivern (his book, and his shooting skills) in detail, giving some insight into how influential (or not) McGivern was in his day.

Here’s a fascinating tidbit about Colt legend Henry Fitzgerald:

Next, we come to the trigger guard. Shall the front be cut away, or not? This all depends. On a snubnose pocket gun for a civilian, yes. This cut-away front of the trigger guard was originated by Fitz of Colt’s. Fitz was a civilian. Fitz’s favorite carry was the side trousers pocket carry. When Fitz rattlesnaked his guns on his lightning double draw, his guns were lifted out of his pockets by the trigger finger, already on the trigger, already to go. Fitz carried his two big snubnose .45 FitzGerald Specials strictly as shooting man killers, not as striking weapons.

Nichols, Bob. The Secrets of Double Action Shooting . Sportsman’s Vintage Press. Kindle Edition.

Throughout the book Nichols points out that American pistol shooting has become too focused on sport, with the defensive aspects being ignored. His observations were ahead of their time, as it wasn’t until the Southwest Pistol League began developing what became known as “practical shooting” to change the focus of both sport and defensive shooting.

This book should be a “must read” for any fan of the double action revolver, and the content makes it one of the most significant books on handgunning published in the 1950’s.

KR Training June 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training June 2019 newsletter!

We’ve added more classes to our schedule through the end of the year and into 2020. Sign up now for any classes on the schedule by clicking the “Register” link at the top of the page. Check the schedule page on the KR Training website for the full list of upcoming classes.

JULY CLASSES

After a break the first weekend of the month, we’re offering the 2-day Active Shooter/School Safety training July 13-14. If you aren’t seeking DPS certification, you can opt to attend only the lecture portion of the class at no charge. The lecture portion is suitable for armed or unarmed civilian response and will be followed by a FREE, 2-hour Stop the Bleed course.

Complete classes toward your Defensive Pistol Skills Program Challenge Coin. Check the schedule for class availability.

This summer is a prime opportunity to begin our Defensive Pistol Skills Program and begin earning your challenge coin. KR Training Instructor John Daub will teach Personal Tactics Skills July 27, Defensive Pistol Skills 1 August 17, then Top 10 Drills August 27. Top 10 Drills runs students through the 10 drills John and I identify in our book as an essential training set, and it counts as elective hours toward your challenge coin.

SUMMER USPSA MATCHES

Our summer USPSA-format matches continue most Wednesdays through Labor Day. Anyone that has completed DPS-1 or other classes using a holster can attend and new shooters are welcome. Details and dates here.

PRIVATE TRAINING AVAILABLE

I am available for private lessons on weekdays. Contact me to schedule.

BLOG-O-RAMA

Here’s a list of links to articles we’ve shared so far in June. See links as we post them by following KR Training on Facebook or Twitter.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, to receive this newsletter each month, subscribe here or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. You can also follow and interact with us on Twitter or Instagram.

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

Tactics and Shooting Matches

Awhile back I posted this as part of an online discussion about “tactics” and shooting competition.

Those that worry about “tactics” at matches usually haven’t shot enough matches, or gotten good enough at matches, to understand what is going on. The shooters that win at major matches are good at looking at a stage, quickly coming up with a stage plan, visualizing that stage plan to the level that execution becomes automatic when the “go” signal is given, with efficient action and superior marksmanship. You could take someone good at those skills and give them a stage that has whatever “tactics” you like, and they will still do well at it, as long as you give them the rule set they need to follow.

The point was that there’s a skill unique to competition shooting that is separate from the fundamental skills themselves. To use a music analogy, it’s the difference between being good at playing scales and doing a recording session where you get sent a MP3 file of the part of the song you are to play on an hour before the session. You listen to it on the way to the studio, and think about what you are going to play, and you get one take to record the solo. Someone that is only good at playing scales is not going do as well as someone that has practiced that specific skill.

Those that are very good at shooting USPSA, IPSC, and IDPA matches have learned how to “overlearn” something very quickly, using visualization, to the level that their first actual run at it is flawless (or at least executed with minimal errors). You can’t learn that skill just by shooting matches. That skill has to be developed by setting up stages and practicing that part of the process. It’s a level of training separate from simple skill development which is what is taught in most ‘tactical’ handgun courses.

Does the skill of being able to quickly develop a plan, “overlearn” it, and execute it well on the first try matter for self-defense? Some examples where it might:

  1. Home intruder response when you and those you care about are in typical/known locations.
  2. Active shooter response when you are at a frequent or familiar location such as at work or church or school.
  3. An “armed movement in structures” situation where you need to move quickly from location A to location B (for example your bedroom to a child’s bedroom).

The elements of the over-learned plan will be different from a competition course of fire. It will likely involve communication, and shoot/no-shoot decisions that may depend on what you encounter. But in those situations, having more of your plan worked out and over-learned in advance frees up brain cells for paying attention and making decisions in the moment.

The flip side of this issue is that being good at executing pre-programmed sequences of target engagements does not develop the skill of changing your actions based on rapidly evolving situations. Returning to the music analogy: being good at sight reading sheet music you haven’t seen before is not the same as being good at improvising.

In the never-ending, low-information online debates about the value of competition shooting for self-defense training, the focus is always on the details of the preprogrammed actions: when you should reload, use of cover, what order to shoot the targets in, when or if you should drop magazines on the ground, and that sort of minutia. I don’t think those things are as important as understanding the difference between sight reading and improvisation, and the value of each of those skills for self-defense.

Book Review – “The Art and Science of Basic Handgun Accuracy” (W.W. Buttler, 1991)

The book “The Art and Science of Basic Handgun Accuracy” was published by W.W. Buttler in 1991. According to the book, Buttler was a Federal Air Marshal at the time the book was written. He was also a graduate of the Chapman Academy, the Caliber Press Officer Survival School, and many other programs, and an instructor certified by the NRA, FBI, and State of Missouri.

The book is a solid but brief (72 page) summary of what was being taught by most schools at that time. In its day it would have been a useful handbook to use in teaching basic and intro-level defensive pistol courses.

The book’s chapters are:

  1. Handgun Safety At Home on the Range
  2. Glossary of Terms – Handgun Nomenclature
  3. Out of the Box
  4. The Grip
  5. Sight Alignment
  6. Review
  7. Dry Firing – Putting it all together
  8. Recoil Acceptance and Control
  9. Live Fire
  10. Target Analysis
  11. The Stance
  12. Cleaning and Routine Maintenance
  13. Summary

Buttler’s discussion of handgun safety includes two different lists of 10 rules. All of the rules listed are good advice about safety, but this certainly serves as an example of the sort of confusion and excess advocates of Jeff Cooper’s 4 rules (and later the NRA’s 3 rules) point out as the reason for simplifying the safety rules.

The handgun nomenclature section covers both revolvers (S&W double action) and semi-automatic (1911 style). For the most part, all discussion of semi-autos is 1911-centric, aside from one picture of a field stripped Glock in the gun cleaning section.

Pros and cons of both revolver and semi-auto are presented in the “out of the box” chapter on gun selection, and the classic Weaver, as well as the thumb over thumb grip/Isoceles arm position are taught. The importance of dry firing is emphasized throughout the book.

Many photos show the author coaching a uniformed police officer, leading me to infer that the primary purpose of the book was for police academy use. Some discussion of pancake holsters for concealed carry is included.

Below are a couple of pages that I thought were noteworthy or interesting.

This was a nice graphic showing proper visual focus.

This graphic showed proper sight alignment and sight picture relative to the human anatomy.

Back in 1991, people were putting red dot sights on handguns.

This target analysis graphic is much better than the standard one that is widely distributed.

Nothing in this book is revolutionary, but it was an interesting snapshot of what was considered correct information for beginning shooters in the early 1990’s. Both this book and the author’s 1993 follow up, “The Armed Option: Zen in the art of combat pistolcraft” are out of print, but used copies are available from used booksellers. I found mine at a used bookstore in Loveland, Colorado (and I paid more than I would have had I ordered one from one of the used sellers on Amazon).

STI Factory Tour

From assistant instructor Tracy Thronburg:

STI FACTORY TOUR

07 June 2019

By Tracy Becker Thronburg

The north and south Austin chapters of A Girl and A Gun were fortunate to get to tour the STI handgun factory on a recent Friday in June. There were approximately 22 AGAG members in attendance. Dustin Tackett, a regional sales manager for STI, led us on the tour.

STI is housed in two large warehouses in an industrial park in Georgetown, Texas. One warehouse fabricates slides, while in the other warehouse, located across the street, the frames are built and the gunsmithing done.

STI was founded by Sandy Strayer and Virgil Tripp. It should be noted that I am a die-hard 1911 girl, and for many years STI made a quality 1911s, however, much to my disappointment, STI no longer makes 1911s, focusing their production only on 2011s. I asked Dustin why STI no longer makes the 1911, and his answer was that “they” felt that the market was saturated with 1911s, so “they” decided to turn their focus to making modular 2011s. I told Dustin that I own three STI 1911s, all of different models, and that I am saddened that they no longer make the 1911. My STIs run flawlessly and I shoot them well – having shot them exclusively for both of Tom Givens’ Rangemaster instructor/advanced instructor courses and all of the advanced classes with the Massad Ayoob Group. My favorite STI 1911 is the Trojan with a short trigger and a slim magwell. Oh well, too bad for me. My options are a Staccato C (which is a single stack) or a 2011 with a short trigger put in it.

STI currently employs 69 folks to build their guns, with the employees being cross-trained on different aspects of building their guns.


I inquired as to whether or not STI still has their custom shop, because I recently noticed on their website that the custom shop was not accepting new orders. I was told that, in fact, STI does not have a custom shop anymore, and the two gunsmiths who used to build the custom-order guns were now working to help build their stock 2011s. So, the days of custom STI builds are of the past and you will have to send your gun to someone else for customization, should you so choose.

The grips for STI’s 2011s are injection molded, made at an outside facility, and finished in house. The bluing for STIs is also not done in house, although Dustin did mention that something is in the works to bring that process back in house. The magazines for STI guns are also not made in house.

We had the opportunity to look at several different 2011s in various configurations, including the Staccato C, the Staccato P, a DVC 3, a DVC S, and a DVC O. The DVC O, their race gun, was described by one of the ladies as looking like something out of Star Trek or Star Wars with the compensated barrel and frame-mounted red dot.

As we were finishing up our one-hour-long tour, one of the ladies asked if STI test fired their guns before shipping them out for sale. Dustin told us that yes, each gun is test fired in the CONEX behind one of the warehouses, and that three magazines of ammo are run through each gun. One magazine is fired slowly. One magazine is fired fast. One magazine is fired for accuracy.

For their guns that come with iron sights, I was happily informed that Dawson Precision is the exclusive provider of sights for STI. In fact, Dawson Precision has sold more STI products than anyone on the planet.

We had a great time on the tour and look forward to STI bringing out some guns for an event day with the local A Girl and A Gun chapters. Thank you, STI.

Student incident AAR

I recently received this email from a student, relating an incident involving a potential robbery in a Home Depot parking lot. He’s given me permission to share his original email and excerpts from our discussion of it, with his name omitted.

Well, I actually had to use escalation/de-escalation verbal and physical skills yesterday, skill sets I’ve actually practiced from your courses.

I drove over to a nearby Home Depot to pick up a few replacement faucets for our kitchen and bathrooms.  As I usually do, I prefer to park some distance away from the store entrance/exits (easier to get in/out of parking lot traffic and to avoid pedestrians) but not too far from the return cart receptacles.

Pulling up next to a green space, I noticed and man (mid 40s) eyeing me, smoking a cigar, and just loitering around as if waiting for someone; just seemed out of place.  After being in the store for 20 minutes or so, I’m on my way out.  I have to park the shopping cart in front of my truck as there isn’t enough room between it and the green space.  Then that same man comes jogging up to me as I’m picking up the boxes and placing them in my truck.

Immediately closed my door and punched the keylock.  Side stepped and extended my left hand with the a stop gesture.  He started feeding me lines of how he was a contractor and wanting to know what I payed for faucets all while slowly kept creeping forward and reaching into my cart and foundling my newly acquired property.  My cart is between me and him.  I’m about 10 feet away.  I gave him very direct verbal commands to back off, go inside and check things out yourself.  Feeding me more lines (can I take pictures of their part numbers…let me help you carry these) and not dropping my property, I went into position one while verbally ordering him to back off and to get away.  I quickly checked my six, noted a heavy set woman near my truck and in very hurried manner walking away.  I went right at the guy, I slapped the boxes out of his hands with my left hand – he got the message then and walked off.  Though I went to position one*, I never revealed my firearm.

He disappeared into the sea of parked cars.  I let a minute or so pass by before proceeding again with the normal load up the merchandise and go home routine.  Returning the cart, I caught eye of him again, this time sitting in a parked older junk Toyota sedan that has seen better days.  There is, I believe, the same heavy set women I had noted when I checked six o’clock.  There was two of them. Their body language, gestures, and faces informed me the she was emotionally upset and that he was very agitated. They both had that homeless person look about them, appearance, clothing.  The back seat of their old Toyota was full of junk and he just couldn’t get the engine to turn over.

Back to my truck, got out of there ASAP, made sure I wasn’t being followed.  I didn’t call the police because I never showed my firearm and he never acted aggressive.  I’m 99% positive he was trying to distract me, pull me into conversation so his lady friend could quietly snatch and grab the items I had just placed in the back seat.  My immediate actions of closing the door, hitting the key lock, side stepping, clear concise verbal and non-verbal actions, and the posture of position one all worked into my favor.  For improvement, I should have checked six sooner for a possible accomplice – his oddball conversation did distract and held my attention too long.  And I should have called the cops to make a report.

Living near and working within Houston, having a stranger approach you in a parking lot for a handout is about a twice per year event for me.  I’m going to see if I can get access to security recordings, if possible.

I can say that your training regimen, without doubt, added to my ability to handle the situation.

*Note: “position one” refers to the start of the drawstroke, where a firing grip on the pistol is established while the pistol is still in the holster.

When I’ve had similar incidents occur, as soon as I was on the road away from the scene, I’ve called the non emergency police number (which goes to the 911 dispatcher) and reported the panhandling / suspicious person to the police, with a description. My response to him included discussion of how pepper spray might have been another option. His response:

I purchased Sabre Red some time ago based upon your class recommendations.  However, I had it sitting inside the center console within my truck.  I’ll be keeping it on my person as it may have been the better tool for this situation.

I’m actually going back to Home Depot this afternoon to pick up more plumbing supplies; I’m taking my time stamped receipt and will ask for the manager to advise them of the experience.

Having a couple of days to evaluate; I was never nervous – I don’t believe my heart rate ever accelerated.  It just happened.  I did lag a bit in my responses because in my mind I was debating with the “is this really happening…it can’t be happening?” kind of thoughts.

Our upcoming Personal Tactics Skills course is suitable for both armed and unarmed individuals. It teaches management of unknown contacts and interaction with strangers in public places, including around vehicles. That 3-hour class is one of the required courses in the Defensive Pistol Skills challenge coin program. The class will be indoors (mostly) in air-conditioned classroom the afternoon of July 27, 2019. This incident is a great example of why non-shooting skills are important and how they can be applied.