The 16x16x16 drill

The 16x16x16 drill: 16 rounds at 16 feet within 16 seconds, onto a KRT-1 Target.

To set up, divide 16 rounds between two magazines; it does not have to be 8 and 8, in fact it’s encouraged to have an unknown and varying round count between the two magazines. Load the gun with one of the magazines, and holster. Stand 16 feet from a KRT-1 target, gun concealed, hands relaxed at your side. Par time of 16 seconds.

KRT-1 target available from letargets.com

On the signal, shoot each numbered shape on the target. The shapes marked “1”, shoot with 1 round. Those marked “2”, shoot 2. Marked “3”, shoot 3. Shoot 3 rounds in the A triangle and 1 in the B triangle. Whenever the gun runs empty, reload and continue until you’ve shot at all the shapes with the required number of rounds.

Your score is your time plus 1 second for every miss, and 1 second for any procedural (such as failing to shoot the right number of rounds for the drill, or right number of rounds on each shape). Total score under 16 seconds is good. Times below 12 seconds are excellent. While I haven’t run it with my competition gear yet, I think times in the 10’s or maybe lower are possible.

Note: the KRT-1 is an 18″ wide target you can buy from LETargets.com. It’s intended to be put over a USPSA or IDPA cardboard backer. If you print the image on 8.5″x11″ or even 11″x17″ paper, the target will be the wrong size, and the drill will become MUCH harder. Scaling matters.

Development

During a brief moment of “down time” at the 2019 A Girl and A Gun national training conference, John Kochan and I started thinking about how we could use the KRT-1 target in a drill similar to the Rangemaster “Casino” Drill.

Tom explains the Casino Drill

Sample Run

I ran it with a Glock 48, from concealment, shooting at a comfortable pace, in this video. If you watch carefully you’ll see the gun fail to lock open (my support hand thumb was riding heavy on the slide lock lever), and I actually take one ‘dry’ shot, realize the gun was empty, do the reload, rack the slide and resume shooting. All that extra work probably added a full second to the run time, which was 13.65 with all hits.

Randomize it

In-the-moment decision making is a skill that’s not tested by most formats of competition shooting. To do well on match day, typically what is required is the ability to quickly put together a stage plan, memorize it, and execute it without conscious thought in an automatic sequence. If all you want from this drill is to discover the fastest possible time you are capable of, you can plan out a sequence to minimize target transitions, and carefully load your mags so you can reload between two large shapes. But taking that route doesn’t provide all the training you could get from the drill if you run it in a less structured way.

To get maximum value from this drill, randomize it. If you practice with a partner, have that person load your mags for you, so you don’t know how many are in each one. Have your partner call a color or a shape or a number right before starting the timer. Then you have to shoot all the 2’s, or all the triangles, or all the blue shapes first. Or they can give you a full sequence by calling these items in any order:

  • 1,2,3, triangles (or) 1,2,3,A,B
  • circle, square, diamond, triangle
  • red, yellow, blue, triangles (A, B)

Each of those lists calls out all 8 shapes on the target using a sequence of 4 or 5 items. I think only giving the shooter one item to start, and tasking them with the job of figuring out how to finish, is harder — and a more realistic decision-making task.

No partner? Make a pile of 16 rounds and don’t count when you load the two mags. Take some index cards, mark them with 1, 2, 3, circle, square, triangle, diamond, red, yellow, blue. Shuffle the deck. Draw a card and use the shape pair identified by what’s on the card as your first pair to shoot.

Your times will be slower. Decisions take time. Reacting to the surprise of the gun locking open takes time. The drill, in a small way, can be used to build decision making speed, making choices between a small number of options in between sequences of 1-3 shots per target.

Not hard enough for you?

Load your magazines with 16 rounds and one dummy round. Add reacting to a surprise malfunction to the tasks to be performed. Add elements of the 3M test to it. Move on the draw, move on the reload, move on the malfunction. Move the target farther back. Lower the par time.

Variations for all levels

If the full drill with all the tasks in the 16 second par time is more than you are ready for, here are things you can do to simplify the drill and still get value from it.

  1. If the range won’t allow drawing, or you have no training in how to draw, start the drill from the ready position. Any ready position that keeps your muzzle pointed at the backstop will do. Muzzle at your feet or the range floor is too low; muzzle pointed at the ceiling or over the backstop is too high. The safest ready position, particularly for shooters with less training or experience, is simply to point the gun just underneath the target with arms at full extension, with finger OFF trigger, laying against the slide. (Finger resting underneath the frame, against the trigger guard, is a bad technique that can easily deteriorate to finger on trigger. Finger on slide is just as fast and much safer for general gun handling.)
  2. Run the drill with no time limit and just work on hitting all the shapes with no misses. If you can’t shoot the drill “clean” with no misses and no time limit, keep working on that until you can.
  3. Once you can shoot the drill clean with no time limit, use the timer or a stopwatch to figure out how long it takes you. (No par time. Just look at the time recorded for the last shot when you are done.)
  4. Set your own par time by cutting your “clean” run time down by 10%. Work at that until you can shoot it clean. Then knock another 10% off and keep working.
  5. Skip the reload. If your magazine holds 16, use one magazine. If your magazine holds less, shoot one round per shape, or shoot fewer shapes.
  6. If you are close to making the par time and need a little help, move the target closer. Try it at 12 feet (4 yards) or 9 feet (3 yards).
  7. Pro tip: don’t aim at the middle of the shapes. Cover up the numbers or letters with your sights. The top edge of your front sight is usually 2-3 bullet diameters above the center of the barrel. Point of aim won’t be exactly the same as point of impact. There is holdover. That means at close range (16 feet) your bullets are likely striking 1-1.5″ below the top edge of the sight. On a 3″ dot, aiming at the center and doing everything right could result in a hole down at 6 o’clock on the shape itself. Covering up the numbers/letters will move your aiming point above the center and move your hits to the center of the shape.

As part of a longer practice session

I suggest running it cold, as the first drill in your practice, with as little pre-planning on sequence and magazine capacity as possible. Your “cold” performance is the best indicator of actual performance in an incident or a match. After you finish the drill, stop and assess. Write down your score, make notes about which shots you missed, or anything else that’s important about that run. Scroll back through the times for each shot. Look at splits, transitions, draw time, reload time. Identify 1-2 things you can do better. Use the shapes on the KRT-1 to work on those skills. When you get down to the last 16 rounds you plan to shoot in practice, run it again. Score it, analyze it. Use those 1-2 things you need to improve on as the “to do list” for your dry fire practice before your next live fire session. (Then actually DO the dry fire work before you spend time and money to go back to the range and shoot live fire again.)


Shooter Symposium event AAR

KR Training assistant instructor Sean Hoffman recently attended the Shooters Symposium. Sean recently retired after several decades as a California law enforcement officer, SWAT team member, and trainer.

2019 Shooter Symposium

From April 4, 2019 to April 7, 2019, I attended the Shooter Symposium held at The Ranch in Columbus, Texas. This is the 2nd year this event has taken place, but it was my first year attending. The event is sponsored by Surefire and also included vendors from Big Tex Outdoors, PHLster Holsters, Walther Firearms, B.E. Myers, Lead Faucet Tactical, Viktos, Bliss, Dark Star Gear, Down Range Thermal, Chamber Custom Pistols, and Vortex Optics.

The host of the event advertised that over $20,000.00 in prizes were given away on the first day. This is possible since numerous people won suppressors, lights, and optics from Surefire, along with an assortment of other prizes from vendors. Several vendors were giving away free shirts and hats, which I stocked up on.  Lunch and dinner were available for purchase at the range. Nightly there was an open bar from 6pm to midnight. Dry camping and RV parking was available on site.

Classes were taught by some well-known instructors such as Scott Jedlinski, Mike Pannone, Jared Reston, Dan Brooks, Robert Vogel, Chuck Pressburg, Steve Fisher, Bill Blowers, Kerry Davis, Craig Douglas, and Aaron Cowan. Students were allowed to attend classes Friday to Sunday in either 4- or 8-hour blocks, depending on the courses they selected. Course varied from convert carry, pistol shooting, force on force, use of night vision, CQB, tactical rifle, shooting on the move, room clearing, and low light shooting, to name a few.

By my estimate there were approximately 200 plus students in attendance from all over the United States. I personally spoke to students from Texas, Florida, New York, California, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Washington. The average age appeared to be 30-40 years old, predominantly males. I only observed one female student in attendance. Throughout the weekend I mingled with other students in class and noticed that a large majority did not come from a law enforcement or military background, although several of the more popular classes offered focused on this form of training.

Many of the instructors were required to compress their course curriculum based on the time allotted for the course. As condensed as the courses were, I maintained a very high round count. By the completion of the event I estimated that I shot approximately 2000 rounds of pistol ammo and 1500 rounds of rifle ammo. There was very little down time and lectures were kept at a minimum.

An overwhelming majority of the students in the classes I attended had better than average firearms handling / marksmanship skills. This was a plus since the instructor to student ratio was generally 15 to 1.  While on the firing line I took note of the type of firearms (pistols) students were using. The vast majority were using Glocks. Models and generations varied. Those shooting Glocks generally had some form of noticeable exterior modifications from companies like Agency Arms, Taran Tactical, ATI, and various other builders. Nearly 90% of the students were utilizing a pistol with a red dot sight (RDS).

I did not see more than 5 completely stock pistols in the classes I attended. The use of battle belts or duty rigs was encouraged during a majority of the classes. I along with a few other students choose to complete the courses from concealment.

I observed two negligent discharges during the weekend. The first was on day one during a pistol competition that took place after our safety briefing. As the RSO was monitoring one student on line, a second student drew his pistol and was practicing his presentation. While doing this the student fired one round into the backstop and quickly holstered his pistol. The second was during a pistol class.  A student went down range to dry fire his pistol but did not verify the condition of his pistol prior. As a result, he fired one round into the backstop, which grabbed the attention of everyone on the range. Embarrassed, he came back to the tables where we were all gathered at and apologized for his actions.

Instead of giving a breakdown of specific things I learned this weekend, I thought I would concentrate on other aspects that stood out as I went from class to class.  During breaks most students choose to discuss hardware (guns, holsters, lights, lasers, NVG, plate carriers etc.). Knowing I wasn’t planning on buying anything new, I elected to discuss trainers, personal defense, and legal protection after a deadly force encounter.

During these discussions I realized there was a huge disconnect between students that seek “tactical” training and those that seek training for personal defense. Names like Tom Givens, Massad Ayoob, Dr. William April, Karl Rehn, John Hearne, Greg Ellifritz, Claude Werner, and John Murphy were foreign to them (sorry if I left your name out). This became evident when I attended Robert Vogel’s pistol class. After shooting his Test and achieving a passing score I asked him to sign and date the target, so I could later record it in my training records.  These types of achievements are often documented by instructors in the form of a certificate, such as KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills Program.  Since no documentation was being provided by the host or the instructors, I elected to create my own with the materials I had available to me. A qualified instructor, an IDPA target, a black sharpie, and my cell phone.

Later I was asked by a fellow student if I had Vogel sign my target so I could frame it. I laughed and said, “No.” I explained to him that being able to document my competency in front of a qualified instructor could possibly benefit me if I am involved in a deadly force encounter. I further explained to him that it has been my experience that every aspect of your life gets called into question once deadly force has been used.  This would include any training you have attended, performance during that training, instructor hosting that training, and the type of curriculum that was taught. I told him that simply attending a weekend of shooting does not display competency. There should be some form of standards and performance assessment during the training.

This topic later shifted into a discussion about prepaid legal defense programs such as Armed Citizens’ Legal Defense Network, US Law Shield, and Firearms Legal Protection. A vast majority of the students I talked to had not considered any form of prepaid legal defense. Some felt there was no need because the states they lived in had Castle Doctrine and Stand Your Ground laws. One individual from California informed me that since he was unable to obtain a CCW (License to Carry) he felt no need to have prepaid legal defense.

I shared John Daub’s deadly force encounter with the student from California and how John was forced to protect his family inside of his residence. As I was telling John’s story and what occurred after the shooting, I could see his wheels spinning. I explained to him that Texas has some of the best self-defense laws, but that did not mean John was not the subject of an investigation. As a former California Law Enforcement Officer familiar with where this student resided, I guaranteed him that even if justified deadly force was used inside his home, not only would he be subjected to a criminal investigation, but certainly civil litigation.

Like most instructors I consider myself a gun enthusiast, so it was a pleasant to be around like-minded individuals this weekend. Since a lot of the students in attendance had high end modified guns it was natural for me to gravitate towards them with curiosity. One thing I’ve always noticed no matter where I attend training, if you ask someone to let you shoot their gun, their more than willing to hand it over. As mentioned before a large majority of the students had Glocks, so I had the chance to fire a few different models, with various internal and external modifications.

While test firing these guns, they had several things in common. Milled frames for RDS, aggressive stippling, compensators, ported slides, weighted magazine wells, weapon mounted lights, and extremely light triggers. Three guns malfunctioned during my or the owners use, but it was quickly dismissed by the owner as being dirty or defective ammo. Several people told me that the gun was not their everyday carry, but they used it in training. I brought two handguns to training. My Glock 48 and my Smith and Wesson CORE with an RDS.

Naturally I was curious why someone would spend nearly $1000.00 for training with top tier trainers, plus food, travel, and logging, but not train with a gun they carry every day. The most common answer I received was, “I shoot better with this gun.” This got me thinking. In the future when I attend formal training, should I document what gun I use during that training?  Generally, for the past year I have been using my Smith and Wesson. I rarely use a different gun in training vs everyday carry.  Since purchasing the Glock 48 I plan on attending more training using that firearm exclusively.

As with all training I like to not only obtain knowledge but share it if it’s appropriate. While taking Mike Pannone’s covert carry class (concealed carry) I noticed 16 out of the 18 students were carrying appendix. We performed well over 500 draws from the holster. By the 200th draw every student had red rashes on their stomachs and sides from their holster rubbing them raw, except me.  I was previously instructed by John Daub, who passed on a tip from AIWB guru Spencer Keepers to wear a compression style undershirt.

I shared this technique with the rest of the class. Some said it would be too hot with the Texas humidity, but others saw the benefit from it especially by the end of the training. 

Over all my experience at Shooter Symposium was eventful. I learned some new techniques and drills from very qualified instructors. I took notes when something piqued my interest and will see how these ideas can be used in my future training. Is this a course I would repeat in the future as a citizen? Unfortunately, No. If I was still in Law Enforcement or seeking “tactical” training? Yes. Although there was a nice combination of different types of classes, a large majority were geared towards Law Enforcement / Military tactics that statistically are not relevant to everyday citizens.


Force Science class – more quick hits

This week I’m taking the 33 hour Force Science certification course held at DPS HQ in Austin. The course is attended by 80+ people from 40+ agencies, 10 states and 2 countries (one from Canada). Class kept me busy last week so my plan to write “quick hits” each day did not happen. I did post some pics each day to Facebook, so I’ll use those pics for a brief AAR of the rest of the week.

If this picture is rotated 90 degrees off, sorry. Word Press keeps turning it no matter how many times I edit and re-save it rotated properly. Looks fine in the editor and wrong in the preview.

I’m a big advocate of bringing science, facts and measurements to the discussion about deadly force. The presenters do the work and publish it in peer reviewed journals. There are very few funding sources for research into the areas that need to be explored. Part of the revenue generated from the Force Science classes is re-invested into funding new research. The course was the most expensive training class I’ve ever attended — but between the large staff of subject matter experts and the information provided from the research results, the value of the course, per hour, and per dollar, was very high.

Artifacts at the DPS HQ training facility.

The class was held at the Texas Department of Public Safety training facility in north Austin. I remember going there in 1995 for the very first Concealed Handgun License instructor course, and I taught there a few times during my decade with TEEX. The hallways in the facility used for class were filled with display cases showing guns, uniforms, and other memorabilia from the long history of DPS. I should have taken more pictures of these items, as it’s unclear whether that building is open to the public to see them during regular working hours.

Truth.

This quote opened a section on mindset and mental health. The first part is noteworthy. Most that walk around unequipped and untrained don’t believe that they will ever experience a violent life-threatening event. “It won’t happen to me” is the most popular self-defense and emergency preparedness plan used by the general population.

The good news is that those that survive the events may not be as psychologically damaged by them as “conventional wisdom” might lead us to believe. One of the instructors for the course described a program put in place after 9/11 that paid psychologists to walk around New York City, offering to talk to anyone that needed counseling. According to the instructor, there were plenty of psychologists willing to do this (and get paid by the gov’t to do it), but very few takers among the general population. Talking to peers (others with similar life experiences), friends and family were actually ranked as the most effective post-event coping mechanisms.

The FSI material on post-incident counseling centers mainly on using the counseling to explain the range of reactions that can occur that are normal. And their survey data indicates that for most, within a month of the incident, many of the worst psychological effects subside and continue to fade over time. Their data indicates that mandatory post-incident counseling had little to no impact on reducing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). That position is not settled science, though.

How long does it take?

Another large chunk of the course explored movement times. How fast do different movements take? Draw times, shots from ready, turns, head movements, punches, steps (in street clothes and wearing duty belts), and many other actions. These things become very important when trying to figure out the exact timeline of a deadly force incident.

Another time issue relates to synchronizing sound in video. The farther the person recording the incident is from the action, the longer it takes the sound to reach the recorder. Anyone that shot steel targets understands this. Past 15 yards, certainly past 25 yards, there’s a noticeable delay between the shot firing and the “ding” of the bullet hitting the plate coming back to the shooter. This becomes important in cases where the accusation is “the cops shot him in the back”. In many shootings, shots are fired 3-4 shots per second, with split times of 0.25 on average. It can take less than 0.50 seconds for someone to turn in response to the first shot, or even as the gun is almost at firing level. In some situations, the sound can arrive late enough that it appears that the first shot isn’t fired until the person’s back is turned.

When multiple recordings of the same incident, from different positions, are available, it’s possible to correct sound-travel errors. The problem is that most videos uploaded immediately after an incident occurs are the raw feed — and the general public is completely ignorant of this basic science issue — and those most likely to view the incident through the most critical opinion are the least likely to be willing to consider the corrected recording as legitimate. Emotion and biases make rational discussion after a controversial incident almost impossible.

Block learning doesn’t work well.

Part of the course discussed how much material taught in large blocks was retained. The answer: not much. In the private sector training world, the same is true. There are people that will travel to “destination” schools, spend a week training, end the week at a high level of skill, and then check the box “done” for the year, doing no maintenance or refresher training beyond un-timed target shooting, usually at a range that does not allow holster use. That’s better than doing nothing, but by the time 12 months have passed, their return to the “destination” school usually means a lot of review and refresher just to get back to where they were when they ended the previous training. The same is true for law enforcement cadets. A better approach is what we do at KR Training – breaking up blocks into shorter segments, encouraging students to return for the next increment within 3-6 months, combined with structured dry fire and/or live fire practice to maintain skills. It’s the same approach FSI’s training indicates produces better results.

Why “the gun just went off”

This section looked into unintentional (a.k.a. negligent) discharges. Routine firearm tasks includes holstering and reloading.


One type of muscle co-activation I’ve noticed is “pinching”. That occurs when someone moves both thumb and forefinger when pressing the mag release button. Often this results in the trigger finger coming out of “register” (high and flat on the upper frame or slide) and ending up curled pressing straight into the frame, as the user “pinches” the frame to operate the mag release. This happens a lot more often than many realize. It happens because the pinching movement makes it easier to work a stiff mag release. But it puts the trigger finger perilously close to the trigger, pressing in a direction that could easily cause the gun to fire should the finger contact the trigger instead of the frame. Next time you press the mag release on your pistol, pause just before you press (or video the reload) and look at what your trigger finger is doing.

This picture shows an example of “pinching”.

Sample “public safety” questions

The conventional wisdom in the armed citizen world is that you should not say anything to responding officers. Police officers may have to answer questions like these, which are public safety related and time sensitive. In my opinion, this type of question is something an armed citizen might want to answer also, with the challenge being to keep the answers short and specific. About a half day of training was dedicated to sleep and memory, and research results showing that ability to recall details 48-72 hours after an incident occurs was better than immediately after the incident. The issue of whether someone involved in an incident should be allowed access to any recordings taken of the incident prior to giving a statement was also discussed. If the recordings were taken by witnesses, who are likely to upload (and monetize) them as quickly as possible, there may be no way to avoid that content.

Another issue related to that is the difference between what a camera sees and what an individual sees during an incident. According to FSI, we are only going to really pay attention to those details and actions that are critical to use in the moment, and our field of vision will likely be 3 degrees in sharp focus and at best 10-20 degrees of periphery. Wide angle lenses on body cams, and cell phone video taken from farther distances are going to show details that the people involved may not have noticed — and as with the issue with delayed sound, those viewing the incident with emotion and bias will be resistant to the idea that the individual actors didn’t see everything the camera did. The FSI team drew on research on driver and pilot performance, from research funded by insurance companies, car & plane makers, and gov’t agencies, as well as their own research running force on force scenarios involving participants with eye trackers, to explain this complex topic.

One of the best aspects of the course was a ‘study guide’ that had questions related to the key learning objectives for each module. During and after each module, we had to write down answers to the study guide questions (writing things down reinforces learning), and we reviewed the study guide questions and answers several times each day. This was important because there was a 75 question multiple choice/true-false test students had to pass in order to receive the certificate. The level and quantity of information was college level. Students in class were attentive – very few laptops open, very few people looked away from lectures at their phones. Lots of notes were taken. Most that attended were law enforcement or lawyers — and the topic was information essential to making better decisions under stress and (most importantly) being able to defend and explain those actions. So those that attended were highly motivated to learn. Instead of blogging I had to do homework each night studying the materials to be ready for the test.

This course should be considered essential for anyone in law enforcement or anyone in the legal profession involved with defense of deadly force cases. As with many other credentials I’ve spent “my own time and my own dime” to acquire (to borrow a phrase from Tom Givens), it’s a class that would be of great value to anyone teaching state level carry permit classes, were they motivated to attend. The Force Science website is here. They have more classes coming up all over the US, and an email newsletter you can subscribe to.

AAR: Ladies-Only Basic Pistol 1 & 2, March 30, 2019

By Becky Dolgener

KR Training hosted two ladies-only classes March 30, 2019 at the A-Zone Range. Basic Pistol 1 and Basic Pistol 2 are generally taught as co-ed classes, but this special offering gave ladies the opportunity to train in a special class. The curriculum was the same as that used in co-ed classes. Basic Pistol 1 incorporates and expands upon NRA Basic Pistol instruction and serves as the range portion of that class. Basic Pistol 2 builds on that knowledge and lays the foundation for KR Training’s Defensive Pistol Skills 1 and subsequent courses with more target presentation and trigger press work.

I co-taught the classes with Tracy Thronburg. It was the first time either of us had taught this curriculum at KR Training. We began the day in the classroom with seven students who showed up with open minds and specific goals that carried a common theme: they wanted to be comfortable enough with their skills and safety to carry a defensive firearm.

As graduates of the Cornered Cat Instructor Development program, that theme wasn’t unfamiliar to Tracy and me. In our preparation for the class, we discussed key points of instruction we agreed were crucial to setting the stage for the students’ continued success in progressive defensive pistol training:

  1. We couldn’t overwhelm them with information.
  2. We had to make it fun (for women, that involves lots of talking and questions).
  3. The techniques had to be transferable to subsequent training.

The Morning: Basic Pistol 1

Basic Pistol 1 is a class for brand-new shooters. The goals include the students understanding safety rules and the fundamentals of safe gun handling and accurate shooting. While it sounds simple enough, this is a lot of information to impart to new shooters in just four hours. Students have the option to expand the coursework by taking the NRA Basic Pistol online class, which none of our students had opted to complete before the class.

The classroom portion of the morning went well. Our students had a few preconceived notions we addressed within the framework of the class, but we also added some discussion specific to women. We found that the majority of our seven BP1 students had been given bad advice about safety, gun handling, and buying their first gun. None of this came as a shock to Tracy and me; as women ourselves, we shared our own experiences facing unsafe practices and advice offered by well-meaning but ill-informed people. The ladies appeared both surprised and relieved to learn that their experiences weren’t unique, but are some that all women share.

On the range, Tracy and I took a different approach to allow all the women to try all of the loaner guns Karl had provided, plus my own Sig P320F 9mm with a small grip module. We started at 3 yards with guns on barrels and the NRA Basic Pistol targets. Working with one gun, the ladies incorporated the fundamentals we discussed in the classroom and had practiced with blue guns in a set of dry-fire drills. We then worked on loading sequence, then on to one-shot drills, then 5-shot drills in a 4-inch circle. Each woman on the line had the opportunity to experience shooting a variety of common semi-automatic carry pistols in the most popular calibers. Pocket pistols typical of women’s first gun purchases were excluded from the lineup, since we wanted them to have a positive shooting experience and small guns are difficult for new shooters to handle safely and shoot accurately.

Big Take-Aways

Gun selection was huge with this class. We discussed that the concept of gun fit was one not readily embraced by a male-dominated gun culture, and that anyone of any gender working a gun counter was most likely not well versed in gun fit or felt recoil. One student had hands the size of a 10-year-old child and showed up with a Glock 19. Another student with very long fingers walked in with a Glock 42. A third mentioned she had a revolver at home that she hated—a story that’s all too familiar to everyone who has ever trained women shooters. The students appreciated the opportunity to try out all of the different guns on the line, even though doing so put us behind schedule about 20 minutes.

Overall, the morning was a success. We saw women go from shaky and insecure to loading and firing multiple firearms with confidence. The extra repetition of the entire process helped Tracy and me work on areas that proved challenging for some of our students:

  • Filling magazines, which is difficult for weak hands “in the workspace.” Many older students had a hard time loading magazines with tight springs. The S&W Shield 9mm was a predictable culprit. We didn’t offer UpLulas because we wanted the ladies to try techniques that work with larger muscle groups and make it less of hand strength issue.
  • Establishing a proper dominant-hand grip from first contact with the gun. The students tended to try and pick up the gun one of three ways: with a pincer grip, with a fist around the grip, or with a finger on the trigger. We spent a lot of time going over Tom Givens’ admonition to “get all the grip you’re ever going to have on the gun” from the first contact.
  • Gripping the gun hard. This was evident when students had to readjust grips and consistently dropped shots low. Long fingernails and weak hands weren’t as much of an issue as the comprehension of how hard they really needed to grip the gun, a challenge all new shooters face. Those shooting guns with grip safeties learned this lesson multiple times: if you don’t grip it hard enough, it won’t even fire.
  • Racking the slide. No surprise here. Racking the slide is a concept that seems foreign to most beginners, but particularly women who aren’t inclined to be forceful with their movements. Through repetition and more than a few feed issues, they learned to sling-shot the slide and stop helping it forward. Locking the slide back also requires a study in ergonomics for women. Men can lock a slide back while working inefficiently due to greater hand strength. Women need a little more coaching in positioning to work the slide-lock while also moving the slide and remaining aware of safe muzzle direction and trigger finger discipline. The students agreed that the Shield and Glock 42 were the most difficult slides to rack and lock back, while the Shield EZ was a crowd favorite.

While a cold front blew in wet and angry at the end of our time on the range, we still saw lots of smiles and an ever-increasing cadence of questions and “A-ha!” moments. Our debrief at the end of BP1 was full of comments about increased confidence and “I can’t wait to show my husband/dad/boyfriend” some specific skill or safety procedure.

The Afternoon: Basic Pistol 2

After a quick brown-bag lunch in the range classroom, we reconvened with 6 students, two of whom were new to the training day. Basic Pistol 2 classroom time includes a recap of the safety and fundamentals elements of BP1, with additional general information that relates to the students’ specific guns like ammunition selection and cleaning. BP2 applies the concepts of BP1 within the scope of defensive firearms carry, culminating in a Texas DPS License to Carry live-fire qualification. Half of our afternoon students already had their Texas LTC, but only one regularly carries a pistol. All 6 women passed the qualification while shooting in bitterly cold (for Texas) and windy conditions that required the use of every target stand weight available.

Ladies at the March 30 Basic Pistol 2 class work on filling magazines while Tracy Thronburg runs the line.

Student Physical Discomfort

Every instructor knows that the most dangerous time of any training day is about an hour before the end of class (or, the “4 o’clock stupids,” according to Kathy Jackson). That’s when instructors and RSOs know to be on high alert for students who are tired or otherwise uncomfortable becoming lax on safety.

Two of our all-day students were ladies nearing 80 years old. Paired with the blustery cold front at our backs, the long day took its toll on our students and their targets. We took frequent breaks despite the class running long to preserve sanity and safety. We dealt with falling targets at inopportune moments. I sent one student inside to warm up because she could no longer feel her fingers and was shaking violently. She insisted that she could continue to shoot, but the safety concerns here were a no-brainer. Five minutes in the classroom helped her finish the LTC qual with a passing score, a feat she was proud to tell her whole family about.

Another elderly student was having a hard time with low ready. She had learned compressed ready earlier in the day, so she chose a spot somewhere between the two and squinted at her EZ, which refused to fire because her grip fell apart in the T-Rex ready position that had become her default. When we spoke about it, her hands and arms were tired. Her eyes were tearing up due to the cold wind, and she couldn’t see the front sight when fully extended to target. She managed to eke out enough strength and determination to pass the shooting qualification, a goal she was proud to have met despite her physical discomfort.

Why Ladies Only?

These two classes were a case study in why it’s important for women instructors to offer classes just for women. While Tracy and I regularly attend co-ed training classes across all disciplines and think nothing of it, there’s no way these ladies would have sought training without the promise of an all-female class. They told us as much.

While the class was forming, we had a gentleman request to observe the class because his female friend would be attending at his urging. Tracy and I declined to allow the observer. In our experience teaching new shooters for more than 16 years (combined), what we’ve found is that women who sign up for women’s-only events or classes expect no male interaction. The presence of a man changes a class dynamic for the women taking that class. When women are in a beginner-level class with men, they stop themselves from asking questions for fear of looking like a “dumb girl.” It’s not that the men don’t have the same questions, it’s just that they’re mostly unwilling to reveal that they don’t already know the answer.

Women need a lot of information to make informed decisions. While they may share learning styles with men, they thrive in a setting where interaction and discussion are encouraged. Yes, women like to talk! It’s because of their highly social nature that women who are just learning how to shoot will most often seek out ladies-only classes and events, like the ones offered by A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League (of which Tracy and I are both members, and I facilitate a chapter in Temple). This class day gave 10 women who would not have otherwise trained the opportunity to learn gun safety and accurate shooting fundamentals in a woman-friendly environment. Both classes ran long. Instructor time management can address some of that overrun, but it was necessary for our students to talk through their nervousness, ask lots of questions and share stories that helped them connect with each other and with us. That connection builds trust, and women have to trust that they are safe before they’re able to do something intimidating and a little scary like learning how to shoot.

At the end of the day, that’s just what they did. Despite the cold, despite the wind and rain and tears and sore feet, they persevered and learned new skills that will serve them well at the gun range, in future training classes, and as armed citizens. I’m grateful to Tracy and Karl for offering this opportunity, and I hope to schedule another ladies-only class day soon at KR Training. We’ll just add another hour to the class schedule for Q&A.

Force Science class – day 1 quick hits

This week I’m taking the 40 hour Force Science certification course held at DPS HQ in Austin. The course is attended by 80+ people from 40+ agencies, 10 states and 2 countries (one from Canada). Class is taught by 4 PhD’s, 2 MD’s and one “KdC” (as he described himself, aka a “knuckle dragging cop”).

The course opened with the DPS major who was hosting the course advising attendees to “avoid Dirty Sixth”. When cops tell other cops to avoid a part of town, pay attention.

The big focus of the course is explaining human behavior (physical and psychological) using results from research studies, to assist in understanding, explaining and training others in topics related to deadly force incidents.

Day 1 of the course included a session on anatomy from an MD, and presentation of a lot of material on measuring how long it takes to perform various skills, including

  • ready to target, finger on frame, on slide, at base of trigger guard (turns out all are within a few hundredths of a second)
  • gun to target from various ready positions (high, low, extended, compressed)
  • gun to target from seated and prone positions
  • gun to target from different angles
  • time to turn 90 and 180
  • time to take 1-6 steps with and without the extra weight of duty gear

All these time breakdowns are of great interest to me as they align with the time breakdowns documented in my recent book, and time breakdowns for movement that I’ve observed breaking down USPSA stages where movement was required.

As part of the course we are doing an in depth case study of an incident. Materials provided to the class include the full suite of reports, drawings, interviews, video, etc. that would exist for any incident investigated properly in the modern era.

KR Training March 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training March 2019 newsletter!

April and May classes are filling quickly. We’ve added more classes to our schedule through the end of the year. Don’t miss the opportunity to sign up now for any classes on the schedule. Check the schedule page on the KR Training website for the full list of upcoming classes.

The training season is in full swing at the A-Zone Range. More info here.

KR Training Standards Book Now Available

KR Training instructors Karl Rehn and John Daub recently wrote the book, “Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training.” It’s available by ordering directly from KR Training (signed copies are $20, paypal to rehn@krtraining.com) or through Amazon, and is also available as an e-book. Find out more and order your copy today!

Karl discussed the book on the Civilian Carry Radio and Guardian Nation podcasts in March, and he’ll be on the American Warrior Society podcast in April.

Welcome our newest team member!

Sean Hoffman has officially joined the KR Training team, sharing his decades of military and law enforcement experience and passion for training with us. Some of you have met him when he assisted or attended spring classes this year.

APRIL CLASSES

Defensive Pistol Skills 2 & 3

Space is still available in the April 20 Defensive Pistol Skills 3 classes. The April 6 Defensive Pistol Skills 2 has sold out. These are mandatory courses in the Defensive Pistol Skills program. Earn your challenge coin by signing up for these classes soon. Our summer training schedule is filling up, so we won’t offer these classes again until the fall.

Dynamic First Aid w/ Caleb Causey

Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics returns to the A-Zone Sunday, April 14 for his one day Dynamic First Aid class. This course is suitable for all levels and all ages, teaching a wide range of first aid skills from basic to trauma care (tourniquets and other ‘stop the bleed’ skills).

A Girl and a Gun Conference 2019

Multiple instructors from the KR Training team will be presenting training at the annual A Girl and a Gun national conference in April. Karl Rehn, John Kochan and Tracy Thronburg will each present sessions at this year’s event.

RANGEMASTER EVENTS

Rangemaster Tactical Conference 2019

I attended and presented at the 2019 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, finishing in the top 5 in the main match and making the top 16 shootoff. The sessions I attended and other information about the event can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

The event is open to all. It’s not just for trainers to attend. It’s a 3 day buffet of short courses from dozens of national level trainers – the best training deal in the country each year. Follow Rangemaster on Facebook or subscribe to their newsletter to make sure you get the early announcement when registration for 2020 opens. It sells out quickly.

Rangemaster Classes

KR Training is hosting Tom Givens of Rangemaster April 26 for Defensive Shotgun and April 27-28 for Intensive Pistol Skills. These classes are almost full. If you’ve taken DPS-2 or higher classes, Tom Givens’ Intensive Pistol Skills will push you to the next level. It’s not a repeat of DPS-level material. It may be several years before we host this particular course in his program again. If you haven’t trained with Tom but you’ve heard us talk about him, this is an excellent opportunity to train with him.

Rangemaster Instructor Reunion

On the first weekend of May, we are hosting the annual Rangemaster Instructor Reunion. This (sold out) event is limited only to Rangemaster-certified instructors.

MAY CLASSES

May 11 – Basic Pistol 2 (8-12p) – Daub, Hoffman
May 11 – Defensive Pistol Skills 1 (1-5p) – Daub, Hoffman
May 18 – Handgun Beyond Basics (8-12p) – Rehn
May 18 – Intro to Competition Pistol (1-5p) – Rehn
May 25 – Defensive Pistol Small Gun (9-12) – Rehn
May 25 – Skill Builder Pistol (1-3p) – Rehn

More info is available on the KR Training website.

BLOG-O-RAMA

You can also follow KR Training on Facebook or Twitter to see our favorite blog content from other authors as we post it. Want to see articles we’ve shared? Follow KR Training on Facebook where we post the links when they are fresh and current.

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

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Sixgun/Fast Draw book reviews

My ongoing research related to my Historical Handgun (Evolution of Handgun Training) project has been quietly continuing in the background, even as other projects like the Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training book were pushed to the front.

I have a large stack of books that have been read but not reviewed on the blog. One book, “The Fastest Guns Alive: the history of Fast Draw”, by Bob Arganbright, proved to be unobtainable in the used book market. It was a small volume that wasn’t widely distributed. I was able to finally get a look at a copy because the Library of Congress had one. Penny has been working in DC this year, and during a recent visit there I was able to get a Library of Congress reader’s card. I requested that book from the archives, and after a few hours’ wait (the LOC building is a great museum with guided tours with permanent and temporary exhibits), I was able to read it and even scan some of the pages from it.

Even better, I was able to get in contact with Bob, who is writing for American Handgunner and still serving as the unofficial historian of that sport. Here’s an interview he did with Howard Darby that gives a quick overview of holster development. The most popular holsters used in USPSA competition in the 1980’s, before kydex holsters were introduced, were mostly from holster makers with a background in fast draw holsters.

More about the history of fast draw can be found here. In addition to holster design, the popularity of fast draw drove the development of electronic timers. Bob’s book included many references to other resources, such as magazine articles and books. One of those books, which I was able to find, was a 1969 volume titled “The Saga of the Colt Six Shooter” by George Virgines.

The book has several sections: Colt History, 1873-1940, covers the origin of the Colt Peacemaker, the different types, variations, cased, presentation and engraved models. The Historic Colts section is detailed information about distinguished guns and guns used by famous Western actors and actresses.

The final section, Postwar Developments, covers production of the sixgun from 1940-1965. Models, variations, copies, commemorative guns, and a final section on fast draw games and gun tricks. It’s really of greater interest to gun collectors, since most of the content is heavy on lists and dates and descriptions of specific guns. The section on fast draw is nowhere near as complete as Bob’s book. It was an interesting read, though, and will get added to my shooting bookshelf.

TacCon 2019 part 4

The 2019 Rangemaster Tactical Conference was held at the Nolatac Training Facility in New Orleans, March 15-17. I’ve been a part of this conference every year since the early 2000’s, presenting training at 17 of the past 21 events. This is part three of a series of posts summarizing the sessions I attended and observed, and my experiences shooting the match.

Part one is here, part two is here, part three is here.

The final day started with the shootoff. Actually two shootoffs. In order to get the 22 people tied with the top 5 scores, there was a simple bullseye shootoff (two 5 round strings at 5 and 10 yards). Top 16 scores got in. A few of those that didn’t make the cut were previous match winners and people who had shot perfect scores in the main match. I made it into the top 16 shootoff, but ended up losing in the first tier to former student Hany Mahmoud, who went on to finish 3rd in the shootoff.

Great pic of my draw taken by Tamara Keel
Another Tamara pic from my first run of the shootoff.

Men’s Finals: Rick Remington (1st), Chris Cerino (2nd), Hany Mahmoud (3rd).
Women’s Finals: Cindy Bowser (1st), Melody Lauer (2nd), Sara Ryan (3rd).
High Lawman: Wayne Dobbs
Perfect scores in the main match: Jason Ryan, John Johnston, Ryan McCann, Brian Hill.

This was the first year that shooters using red dot sights were top finishers in both the main match and shootoff. Were their scores significantly better than those running iron sights? The data doesn’t show it. A few of the RDS-using shooters that made the top 22 shootoff, including some with perfect scores in the main match, were among those that didn’t make the top 16.

The only definitive thing that can be said about the RDS aspect of this year’s match is that there were many more red dot sights being used, and just as with irons, in the hands of skilled shooters they can be used effectively and competitively.

After a nutritious lunch of chicken and waffle, I attended John Holschen’s “Surviving the Extreme Event” session. John is a longtime mentor of mine and he always has excellent material. He’s currently teaching for the Heiho Consulting Group and at West Coast Armory North in Everett, WA.

Chicken and Waffle.

One interesting point he raised is that most of the deadliest mass shootings in US history have occurred in the past 3 years.

list of deadliest mass shootings in US history

The final session of the conference was Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir’s session on the Changing Face of the Industry. Hopefully they will present this session at the 2020 TacCon or find a way to get the information out to others. Their presentation received one of the few standing ovations I’ve ever seen at any TacCon. It addressed the changing demographics of the US generally, perceptions of the gun culture from those outside it, race and other diversity issues, and more. You can download their course notes at tiny.cc/save2a

Aqil and Tiffany
Download their lecture notes at tiny.cc/save2a

The event ended on St. Patrick’s Day, and I had a great time that evening hanging out with San Antonio-area TacCon folks at their AirBNB house.

The Rangemaster Tactical Conference is an amazing event, offering 3 days of training from dozens of instructors. If you haven’t been, you should make plans to attend in 2020.

TacCon 2019 part 3

The 2019 Rangemaster Tactical Conference was held at the Nolatac Training Facility in New Orleans, March 15-17. I’ve been a part of this conference every year since the early 2000’s, presenting training at 17 of the past 21 events. This is part three of a series of posts summarizing the sessions I attended and observed, and my experiences shooting the match.

Part one is here, part two is here.

The first session I attended was taught by Jon Skubis from Vortex Optics, titled “All About Optics”. It was an excellent technical presentation covering many concepts and definitions related to scopes, rangefinders, red dot sights, binoculars and other optical devices used by shooters.

Second session of the morning was Gary Greco’s “Gunners in Chairs Getting Coffee”. It was a sequence of short (10-15 minute) interviews. Among those interviewed were Claude Werner, Darryl Bolke, John Holschen, Michael Bane, Gabe White, and me. I didn’t take any pictures from this session, because the next thing on my mind was shooting the match.

Each year the TacCon event includes a pistol match. Over the past decade it’s mutated from a multi stage, surprise, 3D target event to a more traditional square range + shootoff format. Cold rainy weather took its toll on the ranges, as you’ll see from the pictures.

I shot the match using my new Glock 48. My match got off to a less than ideal start when my very first shot on the first string landed in the “4” ring of the RM-Q target (one point down), blowing my chances of a perfect score and tying for first overall. I ended up on a relay standing next to Massad Ayoob, and he and I ended up in a 10-way tie for 4th overall, at 195/200 points. That earned us both a slot in the next morning’s shootoff.

After shooting the match and getting lunch, I went to the classroom where I was going to present that afternoon, and caught the end of a session of Dr. Lauren Pugasli’s “Trauma Care for Pets”. I wrote about that course in detail when I attended it at the 2018 TacCon.

My final session of the day was teaching my “Correcting Common Shooting Errors” lecture. It goes through 10 common errors – how to diagnose and observe them, and how to fix them. Many in attendance were trainers looking for tips on how to coach others. Jan Sabo from Coolfire assisted me and had some Coolfire gear for people to try. I was able to demonstrate one technique for using the Coolfire recoil simulator to teach trigger control that Jan caught on video.

A few more pictures from that talk.

Saturday night was the trainer’s dinner. We celebrated Lynn Givens’ birthday with cake and caught up with friends old and new. With many of us in the shootoff at 8 a.m. the next morning, the event broke up fairly early.

TacCon 2019 – part 2

The 2019 Rangemaster Tactical Conference was held at the Nolatac Training Facility in New Orleans, March 15-17. I’ve been a part of this conference every year since the early 2000’s, presenting training at 17 of the past 21 events. This is part two of a series of posts summarizing the sessions I attended and observed, and my experiences shooting the match.

Part one of this series is here.

Massad Ayoob – Controversial Acquittals

The afternoon of day 1, I attended a session taught by Massad Ayoob on Controversial Acquittals. This was new material Mas put together for this year’s conference, including many high profile cases.

The list of cases he discussed included the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson/Ferguson incident, the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case, the Philandro Castile shooting, the Terrance Crusher/Betty Shelby incident, the Diallo/NYPD shooting, the Quan McDonald/VanDyke case, and the Lizzie Borden legend.

The common theme in each of the cases was that even though the person(s) on trial were acquitted, the general public’s opinion and perception of the incident was still that those acquitted were guilty and that the shootings were unjustified. He used the Lizzie Borden case as a historical example. Most in the audience were familiar with the “Lizzie Borden took an axe…” song, but few (including me) were aware that Borden was not only acquitted of the murders of her parents, but those in court cheered when the not guilty verdict was read. The true facts of the case have mostly been lost to history, while the legend, most of which is untrue, survives generations later.

Beyond the One Percent (2 hour version)

The final presentation on day 1 was my own. I gave a 2 hour short version of the Beyond the One Percent talk I had given at a previous Tac Con, and let everyone know that the long version, updated and expanded, was available in the new book. According to Tom, about half of the attendees at this year’s TacCon were first-timers. I was honored to have a big turnout for my talk.

Dinner

After 20 years of attending and presenting at many TacCons, many of the trainers and regulars are good friends. Most of the trainers that I host each year come from the Rangemaster “family”, as are most of the trainers and ranges that host my road courses. This year’s event in New Orleans not only offered great company but many options for great food, from oysters on the half shell at a fancy restaurant to chicken and waffles from a local food truck at the range.