February 2017 KR Training e-news


Deal #1)  Discounts on our Basic Pistol 1, Basic Pistol 2, and License to Carry classes on Groupon.

Deal #2) $90 price for half-day training with Cecil Burch.

Deal #3) $180 price for all 3 classes on March 4 (DPS-2, AT-2 and Low Light Shooting). Save $40.

Deal #4) $100 refresher price for all 3 classes on March 4.  (Limited to graduates of all 3 classes.)

Deal #5) $150 price for Basic Pistol 2 and Skill Builder together on March 11. Save $10.

Deal #6) Bring-a-friend deal for Skill Builder – two slots for $100 (Save $20)

Deal #7) $120 price for Personal Tactics Skills and AT-7 More Scenarios on March 12. Save $20.

For all deals – must pay in full in advance.

Register here.


There is more to self-defense than just having a gun.  Cecil Burch will be offering two stand-alone 1-day classes, one in techniques useful when standing up, and one in grappling/groundfighting.  These classes are recommended for everyone, not just armed people.   Suitable for all fitness levels. Unarmed training, like gun training, is not a “one and done” thing.   Frequent, or at least annual refresher training will keep your skills at a useful level.  The standing-up class is Saturday Feb 18 and the groundfighting class is Sunday Feb 19.

Don’t have time, interest or stamina for 8 hours? Attend the first 4 hours of either day for the newsletter special price of $90 (paid in full in advance).

Register here.

MARCH 4 – DPS 2, AT-2 and Low Light Shooting

Every spring and fall we offer these three courses (DPS-2, AT-2 and Low Light Shooting) together, on one day. They are an integrated block of training that includes 4 hours of live fire, 4 hours of force on force scenarios, and 3 hours of low light shooting.    Individual courses can be taken separately. $180 pricing if you take all three.

If you’ve taken them before, we’re offering a $100 all-day refresher price.  This integrated block of training is an excellent way to work on all the skills you’ll likely need in an actual incident.

Register here.

MARCH 5 – Long Gun Sunday

Two classes on March 5: Shooting Skills, Gun Cleaning and Maintenance (Rifle), and Defensive Long Gun Essentials.   The morning class is 2 hours of beginner level training for those with a new gun or new to long gun shooting.  The afternoon class is 4 hours of drills on the essential skills for defending your home with a long gun.  Both can be taken on the same day.

Register here.

MARCH 11 – Skill Builder

Skill Builder is a 2 hour, 200 round class suitable for any student and any pistol.   We are offering a “bring a friend” deal: two slots for $100 ($20 savings).  This class is perfect for bringing that friend, co-worker or family member that has a gun but doesn’t practice as often as they should.   Drive out Saturday morning, eat Texas’ best BBQ at Snow’s in Lexington, two hours of shooting at the A-Zone, and get back home before the sun goes down.

Register here.

MARCH 12  – Tactics Sunday

On Sunday, March 12 we are offering two tactics classes: Personal Tactics Skills and AT-7 More Scenarios. The 3 hour morning class teaches tactics fundamentals: armed movement in/around structures and vehicles, mindset, the OODA loop and other topics we briefly mention in the DPS series of classes.  The 4 hour afternoon course is force on force scenarios in a similar format to the AT-2 course, but with different situations and storylines.

Register here.


The full schedule of 2017 classes is here.

One slot still open in the 2-day Ben Stoeger competition pistol course Feb 25-26.

ECQC with Craig Douglas is sold out, but there are still slots in the Friday evening “Managing Unknown Contacts” lecture.

Massad Ayoob is coming in April to offer the MAG-20 range course on April 6-7, and the MAG-20 classroom course on April 8-9. Slots still open in both courses.


(Almost New in Box) CZ 75B SA 9mm, two 16 round magazines, one 10 round magazine, trigger job. Perfect for USPSA Production division. Fired less than 50 times. Works in both traditional DA and “cocked and locked” SA mode. Price reduced to $500.  Private sale.

Springfield XD 5″ 9mm (not XDm – original XD design).  Upgraded trigger and fiber optic sights.  Comes with Comp-Tac OWB holster and 5 mags.   Used as carry, competition and class loaner gun.  Price reduced to $450. Private sale.

Contact me for more information or to coordinate with seller for purchase and pickup.


New Karl Rehn music online

I’ve put together a new promo CD of live tracks and studio recordings featuring all the bands and projects I’ve done over the past 5 years.   Some of the tracks are up on my SoundCloud page for free streaming, with more to come over the next few weeks.

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

January 2017 KR Training news


Deal #1)  Discounts on our Basic Pistol 1, Basic Pistol 2, and License to Carry classes on Groupon.

Deal #2) $50 off the Dynamic First Aid class Saturday, Feb 4. Mention this ad when you register.

Deal #3) Refresher pricing for Feb 5 (Sunday afternoon) Defensive Pistol Skills 1.  $50 for any DPS-1 graduate.

Deal #4) Bring-a-friend deal for Saturday Feb 11 Team Tactics. Two can attend for $150.

Deal #5) Bring a non-shooting family member to Team Tactics for $50.

For all deals – must pay in full in advance.

Register here.


Saturday February 4.  One day general first aid class taught by Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics. Suitable for all family members.  Everyone in your family should have medical training.  In the past 20 years I’ve used my medical skills many more times than my gun skills.   Learn what to do in the time between the injury or accident occurs and when professional aid is available.  Learn how to use modern medical gear, including tourniquets, and what gear you should have in your car, at home, and when you travel. Register here.


It’s not a “SWAT team” course.  It’s a “friends and family” course teaching how to work with and around other armed (and unarmed) people in situations at home and in public.  You don’t have to have a partner to attend.  All students will rotate assignments and get to work with a variety of partners.   Non-shooting slots are available at half price, so that the people that will be with you, when you need to use the skills taught in class, can get some training in what you will be doing and what they need to do, and can do, to assist or at least not impede your efforts to keep them safe.

This is not a class we offer very often. We scheduled it near Valentine’s Day so it could be a “couples” activity.  It’s only 6 hours (9-3) so you can still get done with class and have a romantic evening out Saturday night.  And we’re offering a partner discount so two can attend for $150 instead of $200 (paid in full in advance.)

Register here.


There is more to self-defense than just having a gun.  Cecil Burch will be offering two stand-alone 1-day classes, one in techniques useful when standing up, and one in grappling/groundfighting.  These classes are recommended for everyone, not just armed people.   Suitable for all fitness levels. Unarmed training, like gun training, is not a “one and done” thing.   Frequent, or at least annual refresher training will keep your skills at a useful level.  The standing-up class is Saturday Feb 18 and the groundfighting class is Sunday Feb 19.  Register here.


The full schedule of 2017 classes is here.


(Almost New in Box) CZ 75B SA 9mm, two 16 round magazines, one 10 round magazine, trigger job. Perfect for USPSA Production division. Fired less than 50 times. Works in both traditional DA and “cocked and locked” SA mode. Price reduced to $500.  Private sale.

Springfield XD 5″ 9mm (not XDm – original XD design).  Upgraded trigger and fiber optic sights.  Comes with Comp-Tac OWB holster and 5 mags.   Used as carry, competition and class loaner gun.  Price reduced to $450. Private sale.

Contact me for more information or to coordinate with seller for purchase and pickup.


KR Training is now an American Warrior Society affiliate. AWS is run by Mike Seeklander, who is an outstanding instructor, USPSA Grand Master, former law enforcement, former Marine. If you join AWS you get access to all Mike’s excellent books, videos and articles. Use the KR Training affiliate link to get a discounted membership.


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

2016 in Review

2016 was a big year, with the biggest news being that I retired from working for the state of Texas after 33 years of service (I started working for UT when I was 18) at the end of August.  I worked for the Applied Research Laboratories at UT-Austin from 1983-2006, and for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service for 2007-2016.  The instructors I managed (and others I worked with) at TEEX made this fun, short video for my retirement party:

That cut my workload from 3 jobs to two: KR Training, and playing music.  I have long “to-do” lists for both of those careers that are keeping me as busy as I’ve ever been.

The other major item of 2016 was that I got serious about dieting back in July, losing 35 pounds from August to December, and started working with the Atomic Athlete gym in Austin and their online fitness coaching program.   What finally motivated me?  A bulged disc in my lower back that finally improved after injections, physical therapy and most importantly weight loss.  My top 2017 goal is to lose another 10-15 pounds and improve my overall fitness level.

KR Training

I taught 56 half-day classes to more than 600 students, developed a new course (Open Carry Concepts, w/ Leslie Buck), resumed teaching the Texas License To Carry courses again, and hosted all of these guest instructors:

I presented at three conferences: the Paul Martin Preparedness Conference, the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, and the A Girl and a Gun annual conference.  I was invited to return to speak at each of those conferences again in 2017.

From June-August, I ran bi-weekly USPSA matches at the A-Zone, serving as the primary match director and stage designer.

In addition to teaching for KR Training, I taught DHS courses for TEEX and was a developer on the revision of the MGT-414 Advanced Critical Infrastructure Protection course, a class that I and my TEEX instructor team originally developed for DHS in 2012.

Professional Development

In addition to teaching, I took courses from other trainers, more than 150 hours of formal training, not counting the opportunities I had to sit in on all or part of other courses I hosted.

During the late spring and summer, I shot USPSA matches in the new Carry Optics division, getting classified as a Grand Master in that division.


I played 106 shows as a musician in 2016, mainly as a solo act at Luigi’s and Paolo’s, but also with the Brazos Valley All Star Band, Midnight Express, the Luigi’s house band, Java Jazz, Johnny D and the Genotones, and with Mike Reed and the Revelators.

I did some studio work for Donald Ray Johnson, and added some keyboard tracks to the new Joey McGee CD “Terlingua Taproot” (released January 2017).

2017 Plans

In addition to the usual lose weight and get stronger goals, my goals for KR Training are to update our online content (new website, more videos, more blogging), revise some courses, and take action on the things I learned from our 2016 alumni survey.

For professional development I’m looking at taking some courses on the road, taking some armorer’s courses, an Appleseed rifle course, and bringing in a few new faces to offer classes this fall at KR Training.  Late spring & summer will see me working on raising my classification in the USPSA Limited division from Master to Grand Master, part of my multi-year plan to get GM rated in all the USPSA divisions.

My musical goals for 2017 are to play at least 100 shows, play more of my original music in my live shows, and release some studio recordings of new original tracks.

2017 Preparedness Conference AAR

On January 7th, KR Training, in collaboration with Paul Martin, hosted the 5th annual Preparedness Conference.  Each year we’ve presented a series of speakers on preparedness topics. This year we were able to bring in a national level speaker, Dr. Omar Hamada, to speak about medical and personal preparedness, as well as some returning and new local experts.

Dr. Hamada is an emergency room physician and U.S. Army veteran who oversaw 30 Special Forces medics during his military service.  He discussed how to create a medical plan for the grid down environment, including supplies you should have on hand, managing prescription medications during supply shortages, and medical skills you and your family need to learn.

Paul Martin spoke on Interacting with Emergency Responders, discussing challenges in being the true “first responder”, managing the incident, others at the scene, and interacting with uniformed responders. Paul’s recent experience giving CPR to a family member, coordinating that effort and communicating with EMS, as well as other accounts of first responder interactions in critical incidents from other attendees at the conference enhanced this presentation.  As part of the presentation, Paul played the audio of the 911 call that he made during the CPR effort, and analyzed what went well and what did not, both from his and his family’s perspective, as well as observations about the 911 dispatcher’s interactions with him during the call.

During the lunch break, I gave a short presentation providing detail about upcoming courses, specifically the Unthinkable class with Caleb Causey & Dr. William Aprill, the Cecil Burch unarmed courses, the Ben Stoeger pistol class, the Craig Douglas Extreme Close Quarters Concepts class, and both parts of the upcoming Massad Ayoob MAG-40 classes.

After lunch, Tarek Saab, Chief Operating Officer of Texas Precious Metals, spoke about  Basics of Gold And Silver Investing For Preppers.  Tarek is the Chief Operating Officer of Texas Precious Metals and a co-founder of the company. In 2006 he was a finalist on NBC’s television show, The Apprentice.

Mike Legatt, Ph.D., C.P.T., CEO and Founder of ResilientGrid, Inc., presented on Human Resiliency When The Lights Go Out. Mike has spent the past 10 years as ERCOT’s Principal Human Factors Engineer and will share his thoughts on what preppers need to know about the grid, what to expect, and what to do if the lights go out.

KR Training assistant instructor Kelli Kochan provided insight into Strategies for Getting the Reluctant Spouse Into Prepping.  Kelli is an NRA Refuse To Be A Victim instructor, and a research associate for animal breeding and genetics at Texas A&M.  She will share her story on how she went from reluctant spouse to prepper and offer tips on getting hesitant spouses on board.   Kelli will be expanding this presentation into a series of blog posts here at Notes From KR, to address not only prepping but self-defense training.

Texas Law Shield provided a speaker that covered their Active Shooter Response material.  That lecture presentation is a seminar that is being taught at multiple locations statewide.

Finally, Paul Martin discussed the year ahead:  the political, economic, social and individual factors he recommends people prioritize over the next year.  His key points:

  1.  Solidify preparedness for high frequency events.  Identify the biggest risks you may face in the next year, and make sure you have plans, equipment, organization and training in place to be ready for them.  Run an exercise with your family to make sure you have everything you need — before the event.  Those risks could be individual (personal health/financial, loss of property due to theft, fire or other weather), local (weather, civil unrest, power down), or larger in scope (stock market/financial, political).  If the scope of getting ready seems too large, identify small steps you can take and take those.  Don’t let the size of the project overwhelm you into doing nothing.
  2. Get yourself in shape.  As KR Training assistant instructor John “Hsoi” Daub recently blogged, good fitness is self defense.  KR Training recently affiliated with Mike Seeklander’s American Warrior Society.  Mike, in collaboration with Atomic Athlete (based in Austin) now offers the Warrior One program, which outlines a 6 week sequence of bodyweight only exercises, dry fire and live fire to improve fitness and firearms skills.  This online training program is excellent, and all the exercises and dry fire work can be done at home.  I’ve been an Atomic Athlete customer since November 2016, and their online coaching for fitness has helped me improve my fitness.
  3. Identify easy opportunities to prepare for high
    severity events.  This ties back to #1.  Small steps forward are still steps forward.
  4. Talk about preparedness at home, work, school,
    church, civic club – whenever you have a good
    opportunity to do so.  In an emergency, having  a good team around you, capable of assisting, is far more valuable than everyone looking at you to solve all the problems because you prepared and they did not.  The DHS “Ready” program is an excellent resource.
  5. Start making preparedness a means to improve
    yourself.  Being prepared builds confidence and reduces stress, particularly in the high stress situations most preparedness efforts focus on. 

Paul and I polled the participants of this year’s conference, as well as those that attended previous conferences, to assess our own way ahead promoting preparedness.  Based on responses we will likely shift our focus from the conference format (or least a preparedness specific conference) to offering some short courses in specific preparedness skills, including hands-on training, in the 2nd half of 2017.  Some of the courses already on the spring KR Training schedule, specifically the Unthinkable, Dynamic First Aid, and unarmed self defense classes, fall into the “general preparedness” category.


Armed Parent course Dec 10-11 2016

On Dec 10-11, 2016, I hosted the new Armed Parent course taught by John Johnston and Melody Lauer from Citizens Defense Research.  John and Melody are best known for the Ballistic Radio podcast.  The concept of the course came from articles Melody had written on the challenges of carrying around small children.  It’s a new course, still evolving with each delivery, but covering a topic that’s rarely discussed in depth in traditional firearms and tactics courses.  John and Melody both have young children and have studied with many top national trainers.  Development of the course involved several trainers as consultants and advisors, all credited during course delivery for their contributions.

Scheduling a 2 day course in December, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, at the end of school semesters and in the middle of Texas’ deer and football seasons was probably not the best idea, as holiday bills and a crowded schedule made it difficult for actual parents to attend.  But a handful of determined students enrolled, and we had perfect fall weather for the entire weekend.

The first day was mostly classroom, a mix of review of the standard topics covered in every defensive shooting course (safe gunhandling, use of force philosophy, gear and pistol shooting techniques) enhanced with deeper discussion of the aspects of those topics as they related to family situations.  John and Melody used many carefully selected video clips of real incidents to illustrate key points.

We did get out on the range after lunch on day 1, shooting 2″ circle targets, concentrating on techniques and trigger control, to set a foundation for the drills that followed on the next day.

Day 2 was almost all range time, starting with a demonstration of carry ammo penetration in ballistic gel.  This provided a deeper understanding of risks of penetration or over-penetration both for the rounds fired by the armed parent but also those that might be fired at the armed parent and/or other family members.

Range time emphasized one handed shooting, trigger control and muzzle direction awareness.  Handling a gun in close proximity to family members, particularly those that may be at waist level or lower, poses unique problems.  For most of the shooting drills we used their custom paper targets that presented front and side views of an armed threat.

CDR side view target


To baseline our skill, we also shot the FBI qualification test and other drills for score.


Drills requiring manipulation of a weighted prop (simulating a child carried in one arm), movement, and other tasks were added to the mix, building on the foundation built on the previous day.  A modified version of the FBI qualification test that incorporated all the armed parent-specific skills taught during the course was used as a graduation test for the live fire portion.

This course aligns with my own approach to training: relevant to likely situations an armed citizen might encounter, with focus on using the gear the armed citizen is likely to have.  I don’t have kids, but I have quite a few young relatives, as well as neighbors and friends with children.  Even for someone that may not be around children on a daily basis, understanding the concepts taught in this course are valuable.

Shooting Small Guns in Competition

This is a guest post from long time KR Training student Glenn M., who shared his thoughts on shooting several different guns over several months, at a local tactical match, with permission to use as a blog post.  (He’s a left handed shooter. The most common shooting error for a left handed shooter is hits going low right, the mirror image of the low left hits the typical trigger yanking right hander produces.)

One endless debate is whether competition (usually IDPA or USPSA will hurt you on the street). The matches supposedly lack realism as compared to actual critical incidents and/or training motor memories in ways that are not useful in such. One other solution is a more ‘realistic’ match – if a match can be realistic. In the San Antonio/Austin area, Eric Lambersons’s Short Range match is oriented to your carry gun and scenarios based on real critical incidents:   http://www.sensibleselfdefense.com/category-s/1836.htm. I’ve shot it a few times and used my actual carry guns: a S&W 642 revolver, Glock 42 and a Glock 19. Here are comments on three different matches with all my faults visible:

Glock 42:  I bought it has pocket gun for those dress circumstances that warrant it and as a BUG. Out of the box it was a horror during a KR Training pocket gun class. It jammed almost on every round. At an indoor range, it fired out of battery, with fire, sparks and smoke coming out of the ejector port – which scared the crap out of me. It went back to Glock as the 42’s had lots of trouble at first. It seems fixed now and it ran at the match.

The Match:  This was a fun match.

The emphasis was close up and difficult target configurations. My frustration was with me. I decided to shoot my new G42. It’s the third match for the gun. After going back to Glock, it now runs well. No problems with it. However, on the first two stages, I stunk. I couldn’t hit a whale. The smaller grip, etc. led me to default to the classic left hander’s problem of hits going down to the right very badly. The last three stages, I managed to get back into decent but not great shooting. I was truly annoyed with myself.

My G42 mags do not drop free easily. You have to extract the empty mag most of the time. Thus, carrying a bigger higher capacity gun is a plus for the more complex stage or problem. But this is a pocket gun. I’ve conquered the “low right” hit problem with my full sized guns. But this little guy just brought it up. I had shot it in an IDPA match before and it wasn’t that bad. More practice is needed. I think I shot a J frame a touch better. Might try that.

Since the stages were based on real problems with multiple attackers – the guy who says you only need two shots on the average – BAH! Reloading the little guys is slow, esp. if you pocket carried the gun and extra mags.

It is a very soft gun to shoot. Not like a Ruger LCP which I found really was sharp in my palm. WWB, Herters and Blazer Brass – no problem or discomfort.

Not my best day. Lots of reloads and screwing up at first with the G42. However, it was a good match and a learning experience. Takeaway points.

1. Scenarios can be more complex than those written with IDPA standards
2. Small capacity guns and lots of targets are challenging
3. Need to practice with new small guns. Can’t assume you will be on target with it.
4. G42 – after its trip to Glock – ran perfectly and recoil is trivial.
5. Used a DeSantis belt holster for the G42 – it’s very small. It’s the only left handed holster I found when I last looked. For a mag pouch, I found that a Galco leather 1911 one would take the G42 mags with some screwing around with the screws. However, carrying it on the belt seems silly. If it’s a belt gun – then the G19 or 26 is the gun for me. The 42 is clearly a pocket gun.

Glock 19 – This is a 2nd generation gun I’ve had for years. It usually runs well (until it doesn’t). It is my most common EDC, alternating with a G26. Holster was a Galco Matrix.

The Match:  Shot the match again today but with my G19 which is a carry gun. So I didn’t suck. I hit most targets quite well. The scenarios were taken from real life and some were quite interesting. A multiple attack Mumbai run does make the pocket gun less attractive as a primary and more of a BUG. However, sometimes reality dress issues intervene.

On an Internet forum, a poster claims never to see a semi jam. Well, in my squad – I saw a CZ fizzle out once. A new SIG was repeatedly problematic. My Glock did one stove pipe and another Glock malfunctioned twice. I guess semis do jam. Lots of folks were hitting three targets twice each in 3 to 4 seconds from the draw.

The incident used for scenario set up is relevant as compared to the artificiality of some matches. Of course, all such matches are somewhat artificial.

The results: Good news – points down out of 30 shooters, I’m 5th. Time – I am an old fat sloth who rambles around. Towards the bottom. I might say that I’m deliberate – yeah that works. I’ve always been slow in IDPA. Accuracy – always good.

Short range with the J frame – 642.

I’ve carried the 642 quite a bit.  I’ve shot it in IDPA. Since I carried it – I took a class in snubby usage from Claude Werner’s at KR Training. Very useful.  Folks who just recommend them and don’t shoot them – they need to rethink that recommendation for a beginner.

I decided to shoot my S&W 642 that has a Crimson Trace laser grip. I wore a holster as you can’t draw from the pocket per match rules. I had two speed loaders (HKS speed loaders) on the other side. So, gun on the left side and the ammo on the right.

Eric’s match is designed to simulate real and close up encounters that he draws from life and videos of such. Thus, the targets can be complex. There can be no easy cover and clear shot paths. This is unlike IDPA where the design usually gives you cover and the path to shoot fairly easily with cover with a small number of no-shots.

One stage had six targets mixed in with overlapping and close to equal numbers of no-shoots. Another had three close in opponents with t-shirts to obscure the obvious IDPA centers. Third, a drill: three targets, hit the first with two rounds, the second with three rounds, reload and the last with 4 rounds. Repeat. Fourth – barricades, no shoots and lots of targets – the kicker – the last target is at 10 yards (the farthest distance) and it is a picture of a terrorist. You have to fire one shot at the head – if you miss – it is considered that he was a bomber and he blows up and you lose 10 seconds (as you are blown up). Last, a series of close targets with a kneeling component. So, how did it go?

1. Accuracy – pretty decent – on the first stage before my grip and trigger settled in – I missed two head shots between some no shots but got the body shots.

2. On the others, usually no -3s (targets were 2 shots, except for some mandated 2 body and 1 head and the bomb dude warranted just one head shot. So at these distances I was in the range of most of the semi shooters and better than some. I got the head shot on bomb dude – by that stage my muscle memory of the J had returned. Most people in my squad got the bomber but some were blown up. The other squad blew up quite a bit or so I am told.

3. The laser – at the real close – I could see the dot and used it for a fast sequence close up. However, in the Texas sun, it was not visible beyond really close and looking for it, is stupid – thus -the old iron fixed sights.

4. The tee shirts – lots of folks shot so low. Below the bottom of the 0 circle. Hmm? I dealt with those by remembering what I was taught and shot between the shoulders.

5. The no – shoots. In the very crowded stage, about 5 out of 8 people hit a no shoot. The shots were usually on their edges, I don’t recall a center mass shoot through but there could have been one. Something to think about for the Internet dude who will not shoot an innocent in a Orlando scenario because he is soooo good.

Take away about the J as a gun. Well, I could use it. With multiple targets – oh, are those reloads slow – no I’m not Jerry Miculek and I run out three times in a stage.

Thus, it is a nice one or two mugger at the gas pump gun. In the pocket and let’s hope they flee in terror. In some horror show – I would prefer my Glock. I shot that the match before and it was much, much easier.

The J is uncomfortable to shoot after 90 rounds – ouch. 130 gr. UMC. Started to feel it. Usually never feel my 9mm, 45 ACP or a 380. These weren’t +Ps, my usual carry.

It’s not a gun for the non-gunner if you take it seriously as compared to pulling it out and scaring the bad guy away. Yes, folks do use these successful and shoot them better than me.

Conclude, it’s a bug or mowing the lawn gun. Today’s world, I want better for the extreme case. Taking Claude’s class was a big help. Laser – maybe at night or from a weird angle with no time for a sight picture but I like the sights better. The match is a good one as it moves away from some of the artificiality of the big games.

Take aways:

  1. Practice with a real carry gun when you can. Of course, competition with a specialized gun is fun but one needs some experiences with the EDC.
  1. If you carry a little gun, that needs practice. I note that the first shots with both little guys were off until my grip settled.
  1. In my mind, there is a distribution of critical incident intensity. It’s multimodal. The first peak is no shots fired as the gun is a deterrent. Don’t need to carry ammo. The second is the one or two muggers with economic motivation. They generate the arithmetic mean we hear of 2 to 3 shots fired. Those shots, usually stop or shoo away the attackers. Then, there is the rarer high intensity incident like an Orlando, Mumbai or San Bernardino – multiple attackers and shots. Sure you should flee but if you had to fight – a low capacity J frame or semi-auto is not optimal. Shooting a match like Eric’s points out all these factors.

Hardwired Tactical/Lone Star Medics 2 day course AAR

Class AAR: Close Quarters Pistol / Tactical Medicine
25-26 June 2016
Instructors: Darryl Bolke & Caleb Causey
review by Karl Rehn and Mike Byrom

KR Training recently hosted a 2 day class taught by Darryl Bolke and Caleb Causey. The course combined their skills and expertise to offer training in the application of shooting and medical skills to difficult, close quarters situations.  Much of the course emphasized performance of complex tasks and decision making under stress and time pressure.

For those unfamiliar with the instructors: Darryl Bolke is a retired SWAT cop from Southern California who was involved in multiple shootings during his 20 year LEO career. He also investigated more than 70 officer-involved shootings.  He currently teaches with HardWired Tactical based in DFW. Caleb Causey is the lead instructor for Lone Star Medics and a former Army medic.  Caleb offers a wide range of courses for the general public and for medics, and he partners with many firearms instructors to offer integrated, scenario based training.  He’s been a guest instructor at the annual Rangemaster Tactical Conference, featured in a Personal Defense Network DVD, and interviewed on many national podcasts including Ballistic Radio.


20160625_113714(l-r, Caleb Causey, student Mike Byrom, and Darryl Bolke)

Day 1 was spent mainly on the range, with Darryl running the students through lots of drills.  Much of the work involved shooting around tightly spaced no-shoots, with strong emphasis on muzzle direction.  One excellent point that Darryl made during class is that most training (and all forms of ‘defensive’ firearms competition) allow shooters to cover no-shoots with their muzzle as they transition from one shoot target to the next.  That develops bad habits that could lead to pointing guns at people you don’t intend to shoot, or worse, in real situations.

This video shows student Mike Byrom running one of the drills, which was a variation of the Hackathorn “Snake” drill.

13494929_1234037633282513_1048427234044337232_n This drill simulated being in between your car and the gas pump, with family members between you and the threat (at the back of the target stack).  A correct draw in this drill required you to get the gun on the threat without muzzling the family member immediately in front of you.

Many of the students in class had long training resumes and solid skills, and that enabled us to run some challenging drills, with some individual coaching from Darryl, who had an excellent eye for detail and provided great tips, corrections and feedback.    Emphasis for the entire day was on shooting “zero down” on the IDPA targets, with hits outside the 0 ring and outside the center of the head box considered misses.

Day 2
Day 2 started with an introduction to medical treatment for injuries that would be expected in a close quarter gun fight. Caleb demonstrated the proper use of pressure dressings, chest seals, tourniquets, combat gauze, patient injury assessment, and much more. He had lots of practice equipment so you were able to handle each of the items, ask questions and practice with it first-hand.

2016-06-26 11.06.36

The afternoon was spent running scenarios that integrated live fire (on paper and steel targets) with application of medic skills to live roleplayers.  The scenarios required application of shooting skills, significant attention to gunhandling and muzzle direction, and concentration on tactics, communication and medical response.


(Karl notes:) As an instructor, I’ve had the opportunity to run similar scenarios with Caleb in our “Unthinkable” and “Medicine X” classes, and at the annual Rangemaster Tactical Conference, both live fire and force on force.  It was great to be able to be a student in this course, working through the problem without knowing the “answer key”.  Darryl and Caleb did an excellent job of scenario design, execution and coaching.

Full context scenario training that includes pre-incident setup (where ‘managing unknown contacts’ as well as opportunity to improve position or take other pre-fight measures are included), a fight of realistic scope and duration, and post-fight phase that includes movement, communication, assessment and response (medical and tactical) should be extremely important to anyone serious about being well prepared for any type of self-defense incident, from being attacked by a single threat while alone, to an attack where family/friends are present, to a mass casualty situation.   It’s not necessary to be an expert to participate in this type of training, but a minimum level of skill in drawing, shooting, and safe gun-handling is essential.    In depth scenario training replicates as many of the factors that will present in an actual situation as facilities, staff and safety will allow.    If skill building classes are the equivalent of practicing scales and etudes, scenarios are the dress rehearsal in full costume before the live performance.    Your preparation for an actual event really isn’t complete without this type of training.

Caleb will be returning to KR Training, with Dr. William Aprill, in January 2017 for another session of “Unthinkable”, and we’re talking with Darryl about HardWired Tactical returning in 2017 for some pistol and AR-15 training, and/or a return of this specific course.

-Karl & Mike

Paying attention to your draw technique

Lots to learn here in this slow motion video of a drawstroke recently shown on Guns and Ammo TV.

It’s from a segment where the presenter defends the SERPA holster, dismissing anyone who claims the SERPA design is unsafe as “not being able to internalize keeping their finger straight and off if the trigger” or “don’t understand the four safety rules”.  Unfortunately the video shows the shooter coming within a fraction of an inch of trigger travel of a negligent discharge as soon as the gun’s muzzle is free of the holster.

There’s a lot to learn from this video, good and bad.

At 0:07 seconds, the shooter has a full firing grip on the pistol and the support hand is close to the body. That’s good.  His support hand is really low on his body though, compared to where it eventually needs to be.

You can see the holster and the belt push down as he pushes down on the gun while making that firing grip. That’s good too.

From 0:07 to 0:22 you’ll see the entire holster lift as he pulls up on the gun, because he’s using 2″ belt loops with a 1.5″ wide belt.  You can see the whole holster move up, the belt ride up in the belt loops, and even see the pants rise a little.  The belt is too loose, and the belt attachment on the holster needs spacers to close up the slots, or a different belt attachment entirely.  “One size fits all” means “fits none properly”.   You don’t want your holster to move at all when you draw.  That’s bad.

Part of the reason for the holster moving up is that the gun is still locked into the holster.  The button finally gets pressed to release the gun, and immediately the trigger finger starts moving to the trigger.  At that point in the draw the trigger finger should be up on the slide or at least on the frame above the trigger guard, not in line with the trigger, curling in as shown in the video.   I and many others believe that the design of the SERPA facilitates this particular gun handing error, which is why we don’t allow that holster to be used by students.

At 0:26 you see the trigger finger start curling to the trigger.  This is very, very bad. He also doing what we call “frame dragging”.  His trigger finger is laying completely against the frame.  As this article from Tom Givens explains, you don’t want contact between the middle joint of your trigger finger and the frame at all.

From 0:26 to 0:43 you see the gun coming up, with his support hand sitting motionless until around 0:35.  By this point the muzzle is high enough that the video makes it appear that he’s covering his support hand with his muzzle.   It turns out that getting that support hand way down low really didn’t make his draw any faster – moving it to the place where it’s going to mate up with the gun would be more efficient and prevent any risk of muzzling his own hand.   So that’s bad.

Many of these same problems can occur with a non-SERPA holster, so be aware of them as you do your dry fire draw practice at home.   There is much more to drawing properly and safely, at high speed, than “grab it and rip it out”. Many small details that have to be done in the right sequence, at the right time.  It’s not a skill you can practice in a 1 or 2 day class a few times and check off as “done” with no need to practice.    If you’ve never had formal training in how to draw, this video shows why you need it.  If you are an RO for IPSC or IDPA, this video has great examples of problems you need to look for, particularly with competitors who jump straight into shooting matches without getting any actual training in good technique (which is increasingly common, as many consider shooting matches as a cheap substitute for training.)

Dry fire draw practice is free and can be done at home. 5-10 minutes of dry draws a few times a week, with attention paid to proper technique, is important.  Without the practice, and without attention to detail, little problems can creep in that you may not even be aware of.  It’s very likely that the person shown in the video was not aware of what the slow motion replay revealed.

Initial Impressions: NRA’s new blended learning Basic Pistol course

In late February 2016, the NRA will convert its Basic Pistol course to a blended learning format, where most of the course (7+ hours) will be taken online, and the course is completed (and a certificate issued) after the student attends a range session run by an NRA Certified Pistol Instructor.  The Basic Pistol course is used in many states as the official training standard for issuing of carry permits, and switching to this format ensures that every student that takes the course is actually learning all the required material and spending the required amount of time on it.  It brings the Basic Pistol course closer to being a true, consistently delivered national standard.

When the Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL) program was being created in 1995, the NRA basic course was not used, because it did not cover all the topics someone carrying in public needs to know, such as use of force, conflict resolution, or specifics of state laws.   Historically, NRA has had a problem enforcing quality control both at the instructor-certification level and at the basic delivery of certified courses level. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) solved these problems by requiring that all Texas CHL instructors be trained by the DPS academy, and by sending the occasional undercover officer to CHL classes to monitor that the classes were being run properly. Texas CHL instructors caught failing to teach the required material or the required number of hours faced criminal charges, and their students would have permits suspended or revoked until they could re-take the course from an instructor conducting it properly. This approach worked because DPS, as a law enforcement agency, had legal authority to investigate instructors.

NRA, as a national private sector organization, has never had the same ability to enforce policies on its instructors, but had a course (Basic Pistol) being used for state licensing. This change to blended learning is undoubtedly one that is necessary (from a legal perspective) for NRA, as it ensures that much of the course is conducted consistently and documents student training hours. Many active, ethical NRA instructors are unhappy about this change, and are seeking other certifications, such as with the new Second Amendment Foundation training program, or with the US Concealed Carry Association, that will allow them to continue running in-person training that meets their state’s standards without switching to the blended course.

When KR Training started operation back in 1991, the NRA’s Basic Pistol was a 10 hour course that included detailed instruction on every variation of action type of both revolvers and semiautomatic pistols, 2 hours of one-handed bullseye shooting and 2 hours of lecture on various NRA competition shooting programs.   That course was longer and more detailed than our typical student wanted. Most of them wanted a short course that improved their ability to use the specific gun they already owned, or they were new to guns and wanted a short course that would give them an opportunity to do a little shooting and maybe figure out what gun would be a good first purchase, primarily for self-defense.

Other instructors were having similar issues with the 10 hour course, and NRA responded by creating the First Steps program, which significantly cut the course content down, focusing on a single firearm action type in a 3 hour format. We used the First Steps Pistol format as the foundation of both our Basic Pistol 1 and Basic Pistol 2 courses, adding additional material on gun selection to Basic 1, and additional shooting drills practicing parts of the Texas CHL shooting test to Basic 2.  NRA did modify the Basic Pistol course down to an 8 hour course, but we continued using our own course designs.

Since 2008 I have worked for the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). Our division (Law Enforcement and Security) has developed many e-learning and blended learning courses over the past 5 years, and I’ve been a beta tester for most of them.   As part of the change to the blended learning program, NRA provided instructors a link to preview the course, along with an updated lesson plan covering the material that still has to be taught in person to complete the course. I went through the entire course to see it from the student perspective, evaluate it from the perspective of someone familiar with other blended learning courses, and assess how it might fit into our existing courses. NRA has not yet told instructors what the final official price for the online course will be. One piece of information I saw about the course indicated that students would also be mailed a print copy of the student manual in hardback format, which may affect final cost.

Technology Implementation

I viewed the course on a typical urban home configuration: a laptop wirelessly connected to our home WiFi router, connected to a DSL line.   I used version 44.02 of the Firefox browser running on Windows 7. One of the first modules of the course went over all the platforms the course was supported on. They used HTML5 video so they claim the course could be viewed on an iPhone or Android. I did not test that claim. I did test some basic functions, like resizing the browser window while videos within the course were running, deliberately missing review questions, trying to skip over material, trying to exit videos before they had finished playing, and other tricks to try to get through the course faster, all of which failed. I did manage to induce one browser crash trying to do a second task (print a browser window to a PDF) in parallel with taking the course. After I re-launched the browser the course did not remember that I had completed several parts of the module I was in, and I had go back through about 10 minutes of material to get back to where I was when the crash occurred. I was unable to do screen captures or print screens. It appears that functionality is blocked, and trying to right-click and print to PDF from the curriculum window in the browser causes Flash to crash. So my original plan to include many screenshots of the course was abandoned in favor of taking a few pictures of my laptop screen with my phone.

The class uses a mix of static graphics, video, animated 3D models, and interactive quizzes that have to be answered correctly before you can proceed. The general format is the same for every module.

Global Complaint #1

It’s clear this course was designed to force users to spend the required amount of time on it, which makes perfect sense for users in the states where there are mandatory training hours. How they accomplished that is by making the course like an audio book. There will be text on the screen, and the audio file will read it to you. For someone who can read faster than the spoken word, this is incredibly irritating. Over and over again I would have already read the material on the screen and have to wait for the slow talking narrator to amble through all the words before I could hit “next”. At least an hour of the course time was spent in this annoying “sit and let me read to you” mode.

Global Complaint #2

The modules are broken up into tiny pieces, which is good when you want to go back and review a specific part. After you’ve been through a module, and you want to go back, if you click on the wrong topic, you are stuck going back through it, complete with “read it to me slowly” audio. It needs some way to recognize that you’ve already been through a topic so you can exit out of it promptly. There are an excessive number of content-free “transition” pieces where you have to wait on the narrator to tell you to hit “submit” or “next” to get to the next thing. Again, a lot of wasted time, bandwidth and animation. I expect a lot of users will encounter the same short-attention-span problem that I did, and will end up taking the course in parallel with one or more other tasks, since there is so much dead time & waiting built into the course flow. On the plus side, there was no apparent delays associated with waiting for videos to play or content to load. Perhaps that’s all hidden by the slow presentation speed of the content.

I don’t think anyone will actually be able to get through the entire course in one session. It ended up taking me multiple sessions over 5 days to get through all the content, and was as much fun as taking an online defensive driving class. Like those online courses, it’s full of frequent requirements for user interaction, which does keep the user from just hitting “play” on a video and dozing off.

Global Complaint #3

Left handed shooters are basically ignored by the course. There are no demonstrations of any skills performed by a left handed shooter, and there’s no discussion of the differences in techniques left handed shooters may have to use to operate controls on various handguns. Similarly, in the gun fit section, handed-ness is not addressed as a factor in gun selection other than the vague “make sure you can operate all the controls”. They also recommend that cross-dominant shooters learn to shoot left-handed. That’s not a realistic option for most right handed adults that are left eye dominant, as they have significantly less dexterity, hand strength and capability with their left hand, most gun models are significantly harder to operate left handed, and left-handed holsters are much harder to find as retail “in stock” items.   As a right-handed, left-eye-dominant shooter that made IPSC Grand Master shooting that way, and as someone with 25 years’ experience teaching adult handgun classes, I strongly disagree with NRA’s position that the best way to teach right-handed, left-eye-dominant adult shooters to shoot handguns is to require them to shoot left handed.

Course Content

The content is not just an online version of the existing Basic Pistol class. A lot of little things have been updated or improved, and all but one of the specific complaints I have about the content are minor.   The best thing about the course is its completeness. For someone that takes the time to go through all the material, it offers a decent foundation in all the things a beginning pistol shooter should know.

My understanding is that the e-course also has a scored online exam, but the preview link given to instructors did not include access to that part.

I had no complaints with Modules 1 (Introduction) and 2 (Pistol Characteristics).

Module 3

In Module 3 (Using a Pistol), there is a 3D animated model of a single action revolver that students have to load, fire and unload by clicking on parts of the gun and on rounds of ammunition shown onscreen. My complaint with this part is that the single action revolver shown is chambered in .45 ACP – not .45 Colt (the traditional caliber) or .38 special (most popular caliber used in cowboy action shooting), and the loading/unloading process shown is only correct and safe for a modern single action gun with a transfer bar. The hammer is not pulled back to half cock to load and unload, and the gun is loaded with 6. When I teach that topic I err on the side of safety, teaching proper technique for older, non-transfer bar, only-load-5 models, because that’s safe for all owners of SA revolvers.   Unless the in-person instructors go over the differences and explain the risks of carrying an old style sixgun with a round under the hammer, students could end up learning potentially dangerous information in this section.

I was pleased to see the overhand grip technique for racking the slide shown in the Module 3 section on using a semi-automatic pistol. Finally, the NRA has caught up to what the private sector schools have been teaching for the past 20 years. That technique is not used for the malfunction clearing demonstration in Module 8, though.

I had no significant complaints about Module 4 (Ammunition) or Module 5 (Intro to Shooting a Pistol).

Module 6 – Shooting Positions

The section on benchrest shooting seems to last forever, and the technique they show has the wrists, but not the frame of the pistol itself, supported by the sandbag. The method they show does not prevent the shooter from dipping the muzzle during the shot. Using something like a Pistol Perch, that supports the front of the gun, as shown in the picture, is actually the best way to check the zero on a pistol and teach good trigger control isolated from other fundamentals.

 perch  benchrest


They are still including the Weaver stance in the course, but at least in this version of the material, both Isoceles and Weaver are demonstrated with technique that looks more like what the private sector schools that teach those skills actually recommend. That wasn’t true in the Personal Protection Inside/Outside the Home books. The graphics associated with the explanation of differences between Isoceles and Weaver do a nice job of showing the differences in arm tension.

Lesson 7 (Pistol Shooting Errors)

This module offers some well-intentioned material that goes into a lot of details. The first topic, Zeroing Your Pistol, again is clearly focused on the target .22 audience, with its direction to make sight adjustments to target sights to dial the gun in exactly. The problem of fixed sights is primarily explained by graphics showing a .38 snub revolver with fixed front and rear sights, instead of a typical semi-auto with a fixed front and windage-adjustable rear sight. I think this was a major mistake, since the vast majority of adult gun owners that will be taking this course to meet state concealed carry license requirements are going to have a modern semiauto. The most important point new shooters need to hear on that topic, which is “if the gun is shooting low left, and you are right handed, the problem is not the sights, it’s the user!” is not emphasized at all. The course does do a good job of discussing point of impact differences related to different bullet weights and types of ammo.

A section on how to score a target is included, going into detail explaining how an NRA competition target is scored. Is that really essential for a new pistol shooter? Probably not, but for someone that has to qualify on a state-mandated shooting test, the material is good to know.

The inclusion of material on many different types of aiming, trigger control, hold, grip and breath control errors was excellent. This section would have been significantly better if they had recorded high speed video of shooters actually committing the errors being discussed.   Perhaps in an update to the course that material could be included.

Module 8 (Pistol Stoppages)

The worst error in the course is in Module 8. In the video for Topic 2, Clearing Pistol Stoppages, the person handling the pistol starts out with their trigger finger properly indexed on the frame, but right before racking the slide, places it on the trigger guard right in line with the trigger, pressing on the trigger guard in such a way that if the finger slipped off, it would go right to the trigger and cause the gun to fire.

malf 1malf 2

This is a terrible example to set for students, and if a student copied that behavior on the firing line in one of my classes, I would correct them on it, with an explanation of why that trigger finger position is not safe. This video needs to be updated immediately to correct this significant flaw.

Another serious problem in this video is that the gun is tilted the wrong way, with the ejection port pointing up. In this position anything that needs to be ejected from the pistol is going to fall back down into the port when the slide is cycled, making the malfunction worse. Had this video been produced showing the shooter clearing an actual malfunction, instead of simply racking the slide, that flaw in technique would have been exposed when it failed to solve the problem.

Normally the tilt, tap, rack technique is taught by tilting the gun the opposite direction, so that the magazine base is facing centerline, and the ejection port is facing down (for a right handed shooter). That places the magazine at the best angle to be “tapped” by the support hand, and puts the ejection port at the best angle to actually eject the offending fired brass or failed round. That technique, when performed by a left handed shooter puts the ejection port facing upward – which should have been addressed and demonstrated as part of presentation of this material. (The challenges of left handed shooters trying to operate magazine release, slide lock/release, and disassembly levers on guns that are lefty-unfriendly was also not addressed, but is a problem that instructors teaching the range part of this course will also have to address.)

If/when I teach the range part of this course, I will have to spend time explaining to students that what they saw in the online course was wrong, and why.

Module 9 – Pistol Cleaning and Maintenance

I made a note to myself during this section that nowhere in the course was there any discussion of the potential hazards of lead exposure, particularly when shooting at an indoor range, and the specific risk to pregnant women and nursing mothers. They do discuss the hazards of lead exposure as they relate to gun cleaning in this section.  In the instructor lesson plan for the in-person part of the course, there is direction given to instructors to advise pregnant women/nursing mothers to consult with their physicians prior to attending. The problem with this advice is that most physicians I’ve talked to about this issue know less about it than many shooting instructors. At a minimum, the online course should include that direction to ‘consult with your physician’, to ensure that students that need that advise get it *before* they register and pay for a course and show up at the range.

One of the best places to clean a gun is at the range, so you can test fire it after you reassemble it, which is particularly useful for peace of mind if that gun is used for self-defense. That suggestion is not in included in this section but it’s one that I make in classes where gun cleaning is covered.

The course briefly explains how to clean a magazine, without actually showing how to disassemble and re-assemble a magazine. A video showing that would have been very useful.

Module 10 – Selecting Pistols and Ammunition

No mention of pistol capacity, or trigger pull weight as selection factors. Single action revolvers are referred to as “single action revolvers” but double action revolvers are simply referred to as “revolvers”, which I think would confuse a beginner.

The list of accessories someone might put in their shooting bag was very good, and I was pleased to see a shooting timer and tools on the list. I would have liked to have seen “additional spare magazines, each marked with a unique indicator such as a number or a letter”, with explanation as to the benefits of owning more than 1-2 mags for your pistol, and the reason for marking them (to tell them apart, particularly if one is damaged or has a worn spring and begins causing malfunctions).

Module 11 – Maintaining Your Skills

It included the material on the Winchester Marksmanship booklet, which is under-used and under-appreciated, as well as all the expected propaganda for all the associated NRA courses and programs. They actually under-sell the follow on NRA courses in this section, failing to explain what topics are covered in Personal Protection Inside the Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home. A short video showing shooters running some of the live fire drills in those courses would have been very appropriate and useful in motivating students to return for follow on training.

In the section on “plinking”, they do not explain how to identify a safe backstop or safe shooting direction for this type of informal shooting. Failing to understand how far rounds can travel, and that rounds can bounce off hard ground, particularly when fired at shallow angles, as well as basic concepts like not using trees or cacti as target stands, and basic safety measures related to use of steel targets, can cause beginning shooters trying to “plink” on rural property with no supervision from more experienced shooters to make tragic mistakes.

Of course, they fail to mention any non-NRA types of competition, even though the popularity of non-NRA matches, such as IPSC, IDPA, Steel Challenge, and Falling Steel eclipses the NRA sanctioned shooting sports everywhere.

They also use the term “civilian” to refer to shooters who are not in the military or in law enforcement.   Those not in the military are “civilian”, which means those in law enforcement are also ‘civilians’. I prefer the term “citizen” or “armed citizen” to “civilian” and know that many in the gun culture take offense at the misuse of the term “civilian” when the meaning is “not in law enforcement”.

And surprisingly, in an online course, there is no active link taking students to the NRA Training Department webpage, and no link taking them to a list of courses where they can complete the live fire part of the course. I assume that those passing the online test (that the preview people were not given access to) will get that link, but I don’t know for sure.

The In-person training part of the course

The in person part of the course has to include gun safety rules, range rules, range commands, dominant eye, two handed grip, and pistol shooting fundamentals, which any beginning or even intermediate pistol course should cover. In order to meet NRA requirements, the in-person training also needs to include loading, cocking, de-cocking, and unloading a single action revolver, double-action revolver and semi-automatic pistol, and a review of safely cleaning a pistol. Students must do live fire from the benchrest and isosceles position and shoot the qualification course of fire. There is a nice skills checklist showing the student demonstrated proficiency with each of required skills.

The qualification course of fire is very simple and well designed. 4” circles are used, and students are required to put 5 shots in the 4” circle at 10 feet (level 1), 15 feet (level 2), and 20 feet (level 3). Level 1 is all that is required to pass. The instructor qualification target requires putting at least 16 out of 20 shots in a 6” group at 15 yards.

The NRA estimates that it will take 5 hours to teach the in-person part of the training, making the new “blended” course a longer class (at an estimated 12 hours) than the older 10- and 8- hour courses.

I’m not an expert on the training hour requirements in the states where NRA training is used for licensing, but to me it seems the course length may become a marketing problem in states where the minimum training requirement is 8 hours, and other in-person courses that are recognized by the state are available.

Integration with Existing Curriculum

In Texas, where the License to Carry (LTC) course has been cut down to 4-6 hours, and some of the material covered in the LTC course duplicates material in the in-person NRA course, offering the “Basic Pistol completion” course on the same day as an LTC course may work, as students wanting to do more than our state’s minimum could take the online course and complete it and the LTC class on the same day.

The requirements to cover single-action and double-action revolvers and shoot from the benchrest position will be the biggest problems.  To conduct that training in parallel with multiple shooters will require special facilities.  The typical outdoor “tactical” range used for a state carry permit course does not have a neat row of benches set up at 5 yards. Clearly the live fire part of the course was written with an indoor range in mind.   In a large carry permit course, the time required to run all students through the single-action and double-action revolver exercises, will be long, unless the instructor invests in many SA and DA revolvers to use as loaner guns.   If the course had been designed with the “run what you brung” approach of First Steps, with the arcane knowledge of how to load a Peacemaker moved to an optional exercise, the course would be shorter and just as relevant to the vast majority of students.

The other approach KR Training could take is to pair it with our existing Basic Pistol 1 class, which is essentially an NRA First Steps course, as the afternoon “follow on” class for those that wanted to get the full NRA Basic Pistol certificate. We may try both approaches over the next few months to see what type of student is most interested in taking the online class.

Final Thoughts

Many longtime NRA instructors are unhappy about the switch to blended learning. I think it’s an experiment that needs to be tried, because online learning has some advantages over in person training, and those that will actually get through the entire online course will be easier to teach when they actually show up at the range.   I look forward to training some of those students, to find out how much they retain from what they learned online.

People inside the gun culture sometimes forget that between negative stereotypes (“those people” won’t welcome me because I’m …) and the potential dangers associated with guns that many new to guns can be intimidated or afraid to just show up for a shooting class. There’s a lot of good instructional material available online, particularly on youtube, but finding it among the derp can be hard. Having a high quality online course available from NRA, even if students only take the online part and never complete the in-person training, still has net value to the gun culture.

Another potential benefit of the course is to provide formal training for the lifetime gun owner who maybe would benefit from a refresher course, or has never had a formal class, but doesn’t want to go take a class with a bunch of beginners. There may be a secondary audience of those people, who will never go take the in-person component, but will benefit from the online training by itself.

Final course grade for the 1.0 version: A-

Has great potential, very few major or minor flaws. Course length a potential problem for the intended audience.


February 2016 Scholastic Action Shooting Program match

On February 6th, 2016 I worked as a range officer for the  Scholastic Action Shooting Program (SASP) Winter Regional match held in College Station each year.   The match is based on the classic Steel Challenge format: 5 plates, 5 runs, throw out the slowest run, fastest total time wins. One SASP stage called “Go Fast” is shown in the photo.

Go Fast stage

The biggest differences is that all the runs start from low ready instead of the holster, and the main awards are for 4 person teams.   The match is for young shooters, from 12 years old through undergraduate college age. It’s set up with multiple divisions for junior high, high school and college, and 9mm and .22 categories also.   It’s one of the events supported by the MidwayUSA Foundation.

Penny and I helped local IPSC shooter Kevin Jimmerson get the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit started in 2012, and with great support from TAMU, local shooters & ranges, gun industry sponsors, and a lot of hard work by the team members and coaches, the team now competes in 3-Gun, Scholastic Pistol, Trap & Skeet, and Practical Shooting, and hosts a big SASP match each year.

The match started with TAMU System Chancellor John Sharp making some opening remarks to the crowd, encouraging all those of high school age to consider attending Texas A&M University and joining the Corps of Cadets.  The Corps supported the match with cadets painting targets, managing traffic, and assisting with scoring. I had 3 cadets working for me on the stage I was running.  Parsons Mounted Calvary brought their ceremonial cannon out also.  The Texas State Rifle Association Foundation provided some financial support for the match, and TSRA President Doug DuBois spoke to the crowd after Chancellor Sharp.

This year’s match, held at the CCC Shooting Complex, was the biggest yet, with teams from all over the US: from Florida to Washington state, attending.


All 3 military academies sent teams and there were many Texas teams as well.



I really enjoy working youth shooting events. It’s great to see all the young competitors handling their guns safely and responsibly, shooting fast and looking good.   The future of our gun rights depend on them. When politicians and pundits talk about all the problems with “kids and guns” – they’ve never met these young men and women.

The TAMU team beat the Army, Navy and Air Force academy teams.  There were a lot of winners in the different divisions (centerfire and rimfire, junior, senior and college).  The match results are here for those that want all the details.