2018 Year in Review

Here’s a quick summary of 2018, which was an amazing year in many ways.

Great People

Before I get into the numbers I want to say “thank you” to everyone I interacted with: my KR Training assistants, course and conference hosts, students in classes, blog readers, podcasters and broadcasters, bandmates, venue owners that booked me to perform, audiences, and of course, friends, family and (most importantly!) my wife Penny who has been incredibly supportive of all the different projects and activities I dived into in the last 12 months. The people are what made it all so much fun.

KR Training

2018 was a huge year for KR Training. Between group classes and private lessons taught at the A-Zone, classes on the road and running training at national conferences, I taught more than 1000 people, spending more than 140 days on a podium or on a shooting range. I presented at 3 national conferences (Rangemaster conferences in March (Arkansas) and July (Oregon), and the A Girl and a Gun conference in April), and taught road classes as far away as Virginia and as close as San Antonio, Conroe and Beaumont. Subscribers and page views of this blog increased, despite my sporadic pace in writing articles for it. This year’s improvements the A-Zone facility included purchase of many more mobile walls and props for the shoothouse bay and additional carpeting for the main bay firing line area. During the summer, I also ran 8 USPSA matches under the banner of the Chicken Ranch USPSA club, and officially took over full ownership of that club’s identity as the club founders chose to discontinue running matches at the La Grange location. I also hosted a special event sponsored by CoolFire and Walther where participants got to evaluate and handle Walther pistols and CoolFire kits.

Historical Handgun Project

Work continues on the Historical Handgun project, with the highlight being the invitation to be on an episode of the Outdoor Channel’s Shooting Gallery show. I traveled to Colorado in September 2018 for the session, and the episode is scheduled to air January 28th. I read dozens of books, wrote reviews of some of them for this blog, have a dozen reviews in the queue to be written, presented the material at conferences, and taught the range portion of the course a few times. During my Virginia training trip, I spent a day at the NRA Museum doing research on books and guns, and later in 2018 I was able to correspond with several experts on the FBI shooting program, the history of fast draw competitions, and holster evolution. (Some of that content is also in the queue for future blog posts.)

Personal Firearms Training & Matches

I used to track my practice sessions and training goals in more detail than I do now. The main goal I’ve been working on for the past 5 years (or 30, depending on how you count), is to earn Grand Master rankings in USPSA. It took about 25 years to get the first one (in Production division), and since then I’ve chosen one division per spring-summer cycle to dig into, specifically focusing my practice on USPSA classifier stages. This is doing what those that are serious competitors call becoming a “paper” GM, in that I’ve basically retired from shooting major matches and just shoot club matches a few months each year. I do it because it gives me a short term goal and the excuse to get proficient with a variety of handguns. In the past few years I took on Carry Optics (slide mounted red dot), Limited and Limited 10 divisions (iron sights, single action style semiauto). This year’s project was supposed to be Single Stack division, going back to where I started running a steel framed single stack 1911 in .45 ACP. Despite my efforts I was not able to hit the scores I needed using a .45 ACP pistol shooting Major, or a 9mm 1911 shooting minor. But JP-sponsored Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC) Grand Master Cory K, who won most of the matches we ran at the A-Zone this summer, kept handing me his PCC gun and saying “just the shoot the classifier stage with this….” and I ended up finishing up the summer earning a Grand Master rating in Pistol Caliber Carbine.

The other big accomplishment of my shooting year was a 4th place finish at the Northwest Rangemaster Tactical Conference, keeping my streak of strong finishes in the shooting match part of those events going for another year.

I also found time to attend about 130 hours of classes in 2018, including sessions at the Paul Martin Preparedness Conference, two Rangemaster Conferences, A Girl and a Gun conference, and sitting in on some classes I hosted. The biggest chunk of training, though, was completing the NRA’s Practical Pistol Coach certification course (24 hours), the Massad Ayoob Group’s Deadly Force Instructor course (50 hours), and the Texas Bar Association’s continuing education class (12 hours).

Musician

The other half of my bifurcated career is performing music: as a solo act, in duos and trios, and with multiple bands. In 2018 I played 142 gigs, mostly as a solo act on Tuesdays at Luigi’s and Fridays at Paolo’s, with a 4 night-a-week, 7 week run in November and December with Doc Tictok and the Mistletoe Medicine Show at Santa’s Wonderland, where we played multiple 5 hour shows to thousands of people during an amazing Christmas week.

I also performed with Midnight Express, Johnny D and the Genotones, the Brazos Valley All Star Band, Terry and the T-Birds and The Klone of Rock and Roll (Elvis tribute show), and was featured on a segment on local TV news in Bryan. I found time to record tracks for a new demo EP and the Doc Tictok band recorded our final week of shows to multitrack audio with multiple video cameras – so I have lots of material to edit down and release in 2019.

Personal

After Penny’s father passed away, her mother decided to move away from her home located adjacent to the A-Zone. We purchased “the Manheim house” (as we call it) in 2018 –  expanding the KR Training footprint a bit in Lee County.  I can now add “property manager” to my list of part-time jobs, as I handle maintenance and upkeep on our house in Bryan as well as everything in Manheim.

I got serious about weight loss in August, and stayed on a calorie limited keto diet until the last 2 weeks of December, dropping 30 pounds, getting down to 175 (before gaining a few pounds back with holiday eating). Still, between weight loss efforts in 2017 and 2018 I’m down a total of 50 pounds from where I was in 2016, back down to where I was in my early 30’s.

Penny and I took her mother for a week’s vacation in Washington DC in April, to see the cherry blossoms and museums. Penny and I made a quick vacation trip to central Colorado for our 20th wedding anniversary and my birthday, and I joined her in Vancouver for a few days’ vacation after she attended a scientific conference.

Summary

2018 was a memorable year, full of great experiences. In another post I’ll get into what’s already planned for 2019.