October is always a busy month for KR Training, as we take advantage of cooler weather before we hit our annual November/December “no live fire classes on weekends during hunting season” break. The last 4 days have been a busy blur of classes and events, planned and unplanned.
Friday October 12 – Force on Force Instructor class
All day Friday, October 12, I ran a session of my Force on Force Instructor course. This class teaches instructors how to plan, script, and conduct live action scenario based training. It’s a skill set that has almost no overlap with traditional “live fire” instructor training, since the purpose of scenario based training is mainly to develop skills not taught or tested in live fire classes, including
- recognize pre-fight cues
- identify potential threats
- manage unknown contacts
- avoid or de-escalate potential violence incidents without shooting
- take actions prior to violence occurring to gain better position
- make legally justifiable and appropriate use of force decisions
- interact with bystanders, witnesses, and first responders after the incident occurs
These are often discussed in lectures. Properly run scenario based force on force training provides opportunities to practice those skills, interacting with live roleplayers. Successful scenario based training requires detailed scenario design, careful scripting of roleplayers, and attention to safety.
There are very few programs around the country that offer scenario based FOF training, and even fewer programs that provide training to instructors in how to run that type of training. My approach is to integrate the instructor training with scenario based training classes. Instructor trainees attend one day of lecture & exercises with me, and assist with one or more days of scenario based training courses. This gives them the opportunity to see how I run the scenarios, and to work all the different instructor jobs (exercise coordinator, roleplayer, safety officer) in an environment where they can get coaching and feedback on their performance of those jobs.
This fall’s class had 3 students: an LTC/Rangemaster certified instructor, a Texas law enforcement instructor (that already was using scenarios for his Taser, baton and OC classes), and a Federal law enforcement officer. The small class size gave them ample opportunities on Saturday (and Sunday) to participate in every aspect of the training. All 3 did extremely well.
Friday night I rushed back to College Station to play a 2 hour solo piano show at a local restaurant, then right back to the A-Zone that night, to get ready for the marathon of classes the next day.
Saturday October 13 – Defensive Pistol 2, Advanced Training 2, Low Light Shooting 1
Once each spring and fall, we run 3 classes back to back in one day. The 3 classes are intended to taken as an 11 hour block of training, but we split them up into three separate events because many have limited funds, time, or stamina. The three classes are a four hour live fire class (Defensive Pistol Skills 2), a four hour scenario class (Advanced Training 2), and a three hour low light shooting class.
Instructor and podcaster Bob Mayne (Handgun World Podcast) attended the DPS-2 class, and discussed it in this podcast.
Episode 466 – Listener Voice Mails, KR Training and M&P 2.0 Compact Testing Finished
DPS-2 picks up where DPS-1 ends – reviewing concealment draw and general defensive handgun skills, adding in shooting from cover, shooting while moving, one handed shooting, the ‘tabletop’ drawstroke, malfunctions, and reloads. Additionally, every shooter got a run in the shoot house.
Advanced Training 2 is our original scenario class. In 4 hours students get to observe and/or participate in as many as 18 scenarios. Some use Simunition and Airsoft guns (outdoors), and some are conducted indoors using SIRT pistols, red guns and other props. The outdoor scenarios provide opportunity to fire projectiles at others (and be shot at); the indoor scenarios provide opportunity to learn and practice reading faces and body language without the barriers of full face masks and other safety gear that has to be used for the Airsoft/Simunition work. Both variations of scenario based training have value.
In the second half of the class, students take over all the roleplaying jobs in multiplayer scenarios simulating convenience store and restaurant situations. Roles include employees of the business, customers and criminals – so everyone got to play an armed citizen several times, but also got to see scenarios from the perspective of the unarmed bystander or criminal offender.
Interest in this type of training has increased in recent years. We discuss it in many of our classes to educate students about the value of it and explain how it’s conducted. Those efforts appear to be paying off, as this fall’s AT-2 class filled up with a wait list.
Running quality force on force scenario training requires a lot of gear and a lot of staff. It takes 6 people to run the four hour AT-2 course, with activities running in parallel in two locations, and the amount of prep time (and clean up time) involved is a lot more than the typical square range everybody-gets-one-target live fire classes most instructors run.
We offer the Low Light Shooting class once each spring and fall, on dates when the moon is small and the sun sets early (March and October). Longtime KR Training instructor John Kochan (20+ years on the KR Training team) compresses the history of tactical lights and low light shooting into an information rich hour that goes all the way back to lanterns and double action revolvers with no night sights.
After John’s lecture we get out on the range, running drills without flashlights as the sun sets, until it’s too dark to see. This part of the class is important, as it provides useful knowledge about what can and cannot be done without artificial light. Then we move on to techniques using a handheld flashlight, including steel targets at 10-15 yards, one handed, working around cover in many different positions.
Students also get another run in the shoot house in low light, and participate in a ‘red gun’ scenario indoors. Like the AT-2 course, this class takes 4-6 instructors to conduct, for a 3 hour class, to provide all the multiple events running in parallel. This reduces student down time and makes it possible to expose students to a wide variety of low light training in a short period.
Stray Dogs Join the Class
Around lunchtime Saturday, two stray dogs wandered up to the range house.
No tags, no collars. Tired and hungry but not starving. Nails clipped, teeth brushed – looked like they belonged to somebody. Friendly. They hung around during the AT-2 class, and we managed to get glow stick necklaces around their necks before it got dark. I took some pics, sent to all the neighbors I had contact info for, and hoped that someone was missing them and would come get them. When we started the live fire part of the low light class, one dog stayed on site and went and hid, the other took off and disappeared. When class ended, the one that hid, took off in search of her dog friend.
Sunday October 14 – AT-7 and Low Light Shooting 2
I have two other force on force scenario-based classes in my program: AT-5 (Tactics Laboratory) and AT-7 (More Scenarios). AT-7 hadn’t been offered in the last 2 years, so I put it on the calendar for Sunday, to give my force on force instructor trainees more opportunity to practice their skills, and for students wanting that course to attend. The AT-7 course presents scenarios originally developed for sessions at Rangemaster Tactical Conferences, including scenarios I developed with Paul Gomez and Caleb Causey that incorporate medical skills. We were too busy training to take pics or video for this class. Had a great group of students, sold out class, and the rain stayed away the whole afternoon.
One of the stray dogs returned Sunday morning and stuck around the rest of the day. One of my neighbors brought some dog food down, and to avoid her running off during the low light 2 class that night, we managed to get her in the classroom building, which has a dog door and fenced back yard. Nobody had responded to any of my texts or emails regarding lost dogs. I decided to keep that dog at the range house Sunday night so I could take her to the Giddings Animal Shelter the next day.
Low Light Shooting 2 was the final course of the 3 day weekend run. Three more hours of more complex low light shooting drills, including scored low light shooting tests from the KR Training and Rangemaster programs, multiple runs in the shoot house (one with handheld light, one with weapon mounted light), and work indoors with weapon mounted lights. The focus of the weapon mounted light work was on learning to use the light to assess unknown contacts without muzzling them. It takes additional concentration on muzzle direction to use a weapon mounted light. That class wrapped up Sunday night around 10 pm. It was a very long weekend. But wait, there’s more…
Monday October 15 – Dogs, Music and Video Simulator
The one stray that showed up Sunday was happy to hang out with me that night at the A-Zone. Overnight the temperature dropped from the 70’s down to the 40’s, with heavy rain. When I got up Monday morning, the other dog that had wandered off Saturday night was back. I got that dog in, dried her off, fed her what was left of the dog food the neighbor had brought, and decided to take both of them to the Giddings shelter, since I had a long day on the road in Austin planned.
If anyone is interested in adopting two adult females, very well behaved, friendly – they are currently at the Giddings Animal Shelter and will be eligible for adoption this weekend. They are holding them hoping someone looking for them will contact them. I sent pics of the dogs to a KR Training student that is also a Lee County Sheriff’s deputy, and he was going to get the pics to their dispatchers in case someone called. Still don’t know if these dogs were dumped or ran off from someone that was maybe visiting a neighbor. Several students in the Sunday class offered various forms of help – and may relocate the dogs to an Austin no-kill shelter this weekend.
My next stop Monday was the Recording Conservatory of Austin. KR Training student (and groundskeeper) Wade D is studying to be a recording studio engineer, and he invited me into the studio to record some tracks he could use for a project. I was able to do 7 songs (keys and vocals), and we are going to finish the project with me bringing in some guest musicians to my home studio, recording those tracks, sending to him and he’ll mix and master the complete package. I’ll be sharing those online as we get them completed.
My next stop Monday afternoon was to see a demo of the Immersive Training Solutions simulator. They have a projection screen/video/laser mobile training system that includes marksmanship drills and scenario training. We are discussing bringing their equipment to the A-Zone to enhance some KR Training classes in 2019, if we can work out logistics and costs.
Final stop was rehearsal with Johnny D and the Genotones. I’ve been a part of that occasional Austin-based band since the early 2000’s, playing 1-2 shows a year with them. We have a private party coming up October 29th. This year’s version of the band includes Houston-based luthier/guitar guru David Hazlett and Austin singer Julianne Banks. We were able to get everyone together for one long rehearsal to knock the rust off.
Tuesday – October 16th
I’m at the A-zone this morning, cleaning up from 4 days of classes, and getting my gear packed for a 5 day trip to the Washington DC area, to teach a one day Historical Handgun class, a one day (sold out) Advanced Handgun course (both hosted by John Murphy of FPF Training, who will be coming to KR Training in February 2019) tour the NRA museum, meet with NRA Training Department personnel, and spend some time with my wife Penny, who recently started a 6 month “Special Advisor” job with the Department of the Interior that will keep her up in the DC area until spring 2019.
When I get back from that trip I’ll do another AAR about that.