Another loss for the KR Training family

Last Saturday, the KR Training family lost another close friend and team member: Tom Robertson.

Tom was a former Texas A&M police officer, NRA high power competitor, USPSA competition shooter, and NRA instructor, as well as a former homebuilder and skilled craftsman/salesman in the construction industry. He was a pretty good singer too!

Tom was Penny’s next door neighbor during her PhD years at Texas A&M university, coaching her in NRA high power rifle competition and inviting her to join his friends hunting deer, hogs and birds. He
encouraged Penny to seek out NRA instructor certification, around the time the Texas Concealed Handgun License bill passed, so that she could start offering CHL classes in the Bryan. That’s how Penny and I met, which led a beautiful partnership both at the personal and professional level.

During our dating and engagement period, Tom and his shooter buddies in Aggieland served as Penny’s surrogate big brothers. I eventually passed their evaluation, despite being a t.u. graduate, and Tom was one of my groomsmen at our wedding.

As KR Training grew, Tom took my NRA instructor certification class, started shooting USPSA matches with Penny and I with the local Brazosland Pistoleros club, assisted with beginner classes, and helped us develop some of the original curriculum for the Advanced Training 1 and Advanced Training 2 courses.

After we purchased the A-Zone property (16 years ago from the date of this post), Tom convinced several of his friends & customers into helping make the classroom building a reality, and he spent many weekends with us, assisting with construction of the building, fences, and every other project that needed doing, including teaching me a lot about home building and construction.

Tom’s day job was selling door and window units for Weatherford Door Company, and he would frequently talk about KR Training with his customers, promoting our classes.  Ronald Weatherford, Tom’s boss, was an avid hunter and gun rights advocate who also passed away this month.

Even after Tom’s health declined, he would talk about our classes to the doctors, nurses, physical therapists and anyone else he encountered.

Most KR Training students never met “the T”, but his influence and impact on Penny, me, and KR Training was significant.  He will be missed, but never forgotten.

Book Review – Guns and Gunning, Capt Paul Curtis (1934)

Over the past year I’ve been developing a new course for KR Training, Historical Handgun, that teaches the history & evolution of defensive handgun skills.  Part of that effort has been seeking out and reading old books on shooting, purchasing copies signed by the authors when possible.

In 2016, Penny had a chance to visit the Armstrong Ranch to conduct interviews as part of the Legacy of Ranching exhibit at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum.  While there, she noticed a copy of Guns and Gunning by Paul Curtis, on a shelf in the library of what had been Tom Armstrong’s (son of Texas Ranger John B. Armstrong) home. She read a few pages and was impressed – the section on trigger press was terrific.  Capt. Curtis was a WWI veteran and longtime editor of Field and Stream magazine.


I was able to find a 1st edition signed copy of the book to add to our library.

Much of Curtis’ book contains advice and observations that remain true 80+ years later. The book covers all types of shooting (rifle, shotgun and pistol), with particular focus on hunting. My comments focus on the pistol shooting part of the book.

Gun buying trends haven’t changed

The pistol buyer who is interested in target shooting is very much in the minority.

The average pistol is bought solely with the idea of having it on hand for self-defense, and the skill of the owner is in most instances highly superficial.

It is sufficient to observe here that it is ignorance and lack of familiarity with the pistol that is responsible for the wrong type of weapon being bought by the vast majority of people.

The Narrative: crime always going up, gun ownership always increasing

Not only are the members of our military and civil establishments devoting more time to practice with the handgun, but bank clerks, messengers and others in responsible positions are recognizing the need of such practice to combat the crime wave which has engulfed the country.

Gun selection advice hasn’t changed either

As a matter of fact, very few of the great number of revolvers and pistols on the market are worthy of serious consideration…

If one requires a pistol for the pocket to be concealed upon the person, the Colt .380 automatic is, in my opinion, quite in a class by itself.  There are those who will prefer a revolver… any revolver is more apt than an automatic to catch in the clothing if one attempts to shoot it from a pocket in an emergency.

Obviously the gun for the civilian who must carry one upon his person at all times must be light. A certain amount of power must be sacrificed.

The average man, however, in buying a revolver is not going to carry it around with him day and night.  He wants one to have in the house, where it will probably remain in a bureau drawer from one year to the next, or be occasionally slipped into the side pocket of his car or overcoat when he believes he might need it.  For such a man the best is emphatically a .38 special…

The householder will probably say, “Why should I bother with such a powerful weapon? I will probably never use it.”  One might just as well ask “why buy fire insurance? My house will probably never burn down”.  The fact of the matter is if the house does burn down, you could not have too much insurance, and if you ever have an emergency in which you need a revolver, there is none made so powerful that you would not be thankful for its additional punch.

I feel that the .38 special is amply powerful for the average man.  Due to its rather mild recoil, he can shoot more accurately with it than with a larger cartridge having a heavier recoil, and for the same reason his wife or any other feminine member of his family can more capably defend herself with it in an emergency.  He is more apt to practice with it occasionally because it less expensive to operate and less objectionable to his nerves and ears. 

Neverending debates: revolver v. semiauto, 1911 reliability

While in the service, as an Instructor with the automatic and Captain of the Ordnance Officer’s Pistol Team in 1918, I fired some 4000 rounds from a Colt automatic in practice with but two malfunctions, both caused by faulty ammunition.  Despite the prejudice which many men still feel against the automatic, this gun has passed beyond the experimental stage and is today as reliable in an emergency as any hand-operated revolver.

Training goals, 1934

It will be long before the novice with the pistol will be able to keep his shots in an 8” group at 50 yards.

A row of bottles full of water set up at 20 yards are splendid targets.  When you can hit 4 out of 5 at 20 paces in 10 seconds, you may consider yourself a good practical pistol shot.

Training tips

(Dry firing) He should begin by learning the proper stance from one capable of coaching , and then devote considerable time to…dry practice…being careful to squeeze off the trigger steadily while holding the sights as near the black as possible.

(Calling shots) The shooter should try also to keep the sight aligned as closely as he with the bull after the hammer has fallen.  That is, he should try to name the spot on the target where the sights were aligned at the click of the action.

(Stance) The position should therefore be upright.  The feet should be set fairly well apart.  I prefer the full extended arm.

(Square to the target) Some face squarely toward the target, while others prefer to stand sideways.  If one was hit, a shot transfixing the body was more deadly than one passing through from front to back.  Not only did the latter make a smaller wound, but these was less chance of its lodging in a vital organ.

(Don’t move your head / eye-target line) The pistol hand should be raised to a line with the eye, rather than the head lowered to catch the sights.

(Grip) The grip of the gun is most important and must be uniform.  If one holds the grip low down for one shot, and with the trigger finger wrapped around the trigger one time and just pressing it with the finger tip the next, he might as well give up practice.  The (dominant hand) thumb should be carried in a line parallel to the trigger finger and the barrel.

Flinching & double action shooting

One cause of flinching which can be well avoided is an excessive trigger pull, which in the pistol should not exceed 3 pounds.    While all but one of our revolvers are double action, this is of no use where a fair degree of accuracy is demanded, and, in consequence, should only be resorted to for the fastest of shooting at a man size mark at close quarters.

Two handed shooting

…though the conventional use of the pistol is with one hand and no rest, it is really capable of very excellent accuracy when shot with two hands.  …hold the pistol in the right hand as usual and then grasp the right wrist with the left hand, while the left arm is pressed tightly against the side for support. The shooter much then face somewhat to the right of his target, with the right forearm across the chest.

(If you do this, what you end up with looks a lot like a Weaver stance.)

Shooting for Women

Women have so firmly established their position…that no book upon shooting that did not consider them would not be complete.  I have made the statement many times that in a rifle or pistol match between teams of boys and girls of the same age and experience the girls will almost invariably beat the boys.  In selecting the gun for a woman, the points to be considered are the same as those confronting a man.

Trigger Press

He preferred the term “press” to “squeeze”, and advocated “riding the slack” in the trigger, similar to what many pistol and rifle instructors teach today.

I use the term “let-off” because trigger “pull”, as it is commonly called, is a misnomer.  “Press the trigger” is better.  Pressure should be lightly applied the trigger with the index finger as the aim is started, and completed when the sights are in line with the mark.

What changed?

The biggest differences I found between his book and modern technique were all related to grip.  Modern shooters use a two handed grip whenever possible, and grip the gun harder. That’s a result of the change in shooting drills and standards migrating from 25 and 50 yard bullseye to closer, faster drills more closely simulating actual defensive handgun uses.


This book is relatively hard to find but one of the better old books in my collection, since many of Curtis’ ideas and observations continue to be correct and relevant.

KR Training June 2017 newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training June newsletter!  July and August are hot so we are offering shorter and indoor afternoon classes, along with some shorter morning classes. We’ve added a LOT of classes to our July-September schedule. Check the schedule page on the KR Training website for the full list.

If you aren’t already a subscriber to receive this newsletter each month, you can subscribe here or follow this blog.


Deal #1)  Handgun Coaching & License to Carry on July 15 for $120 ($20 savings)

Deal #2) Wednesday afternoon 2 hour private lesson (3-5 pm) and evening (6-8 pm) USPSA Match – July 12 or 26 for $100 ($50 savings)

Deal #3) Defensive Pistol Skills Small Gun and Skill Builder Long Gun – July 29 for $100 ($35 savings)

For all deals – must pay in full in advance.


July 8th – Defensive Pistol 3
July 15th – Handgun Coaching (great for BP1, BP2, DPS-1 refresher!) and License to Carry
July 22nd – Handgun Beyond the Basics
July 29th – Defensive Pistol Small Gun & Skill Builder Long Gun
July 29th – Basic Pistol 1 (9-12, taught by John Daub)

Register here.


I have developed a new program called Historical Handgun, teaching the history of handgun training and skills, 1935-present. The full course is a 2 day program that I’ll start offering in 2018, at the A-Zone and on the road.  I’ll offer a 1/2 day preview of the shooting part of the class on August 12th, and a 1 day preview, co-taught with Tom Givens, on Monday Sept 18 after the Rangemaster Shotgun Instructor course.


You don’t have to be a USPSA member to attend. You don’t have be an experienced competitor to attend.
The summer matches are an excellent, new shooter friendly way to try pistol competition.
Summer USPSA matches will continue in July and August.  These are Wednesday evening matches.  We will start shooting at 6 pm but you can arrive as late as 7 pm and still shoot the stages.  After everyone has shot for score, additional runs are allowed for fun and practice.  Follow this link for more information about the summer matches. Matches are limited to 18 shooters so they run quickly.


I will be offering a weekday session of the NRA Pistol Instructor class July 19-20.  We are hosting the Rangemaster (Tom Givens) Shotgun Instructor class Sept 15-17, and I will be offering my Force on Force instructor course Friday, Oct 6.  Attendees of the FOF instructor course will need to attend the AT-2, Low light Shooting, and AT-5 classes scheduled for Saturday Oct 7 and Oct 8 as part of the full FoF instructor course. In January 2018 I’m hosting Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes (Armed Citizen’s Legal Defense Network) teaching their Deadly Force Instructor certification course.


A student has guns and ammo from his father’s estate for sale.  Contact him for details.


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

Minimum Standards for Basic Pistol

Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, shares our interest in defining useful minimum standards for different levels of pistol training.  Claude recently shared a draft of a new course of fire with us. It’s intended for students at the Basic Pistol 1 level, evaluating the abilities to shoot at 3, 5 and 7 yards, manipulate the pistol, and go quickly to target from different common ready positions.  John Daub recently discussed it on his blog.  A few weeks ago, we recorded some video of John running the drill, to add to our newly revived youTube channel.

Aside: The original KRTraining youTube channel is still live with content from 2008-2010, but due to no longer having access to the email account used to create it, and youTube’s nonexistent customer support, that channel cannot be updated.


This drill may show up in future sessions of our Basic Pistol 1, Handgun Coaching, and Basic Pistol 2 classes.

Father’s Day 2017

Thoughts as Father’s Day 2017 comes to a close:

Earlier this week we returned from Anderson, Indiana, where my father in law Mike Riggs was laid to rest.

His obituary is here.  Those who worked with him said he was always “first in, last out” on every call: a role model and a mentor that took great pride in his work, and considered heroic acts just “doing my job”.

Mike spent 34 years working as a firefighter for the city of Anderson before moving to Texas to retire.  The firefighters stood watch over him during the visitation, flew flags at all the fire stations at half mast, and those working at the station where he spent most of his career had other tributes to him as well.  His casket was carried from the funeral home to the cemetery in “Ole Babe”, a 1953 fire engine.  Mike is one of five members of Penny’s extended family have worked for the Anderson Fire Dept over several generations, including one who was on the job when Ole Babe was a working unit.

In addition to Fire Department honors, Mike was honored for his Vietnam-era military service. The Air Force sent an honor guard who conducted a flag ceremony and presented the family with the American flag. American Legion volunteers fired a rifle salute and played Taps.


. After the funeral we had the opportunity to visit a historic neighborhood bar, The Polish Club, which was the place Penny’s grandparents were married, and a place frequented by Mike, other firefighters, and others in the community.

Funerals are never fun or happy, but it was good to see their family and friends, meet and talk about Mike with his brother firefighters, and honor his memory in all the ways we could.

Mike’s favorite charity was the Fire Rescue House, a home for fire victims (the first one was built in Anderson).


Notes from private lessons (part 5)

In addition to teaching group classes, I offer private lessons.  Here are some of the observations and lessons learned from those classes, which I taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range facility.  Private lessons are available, by appointment, on most weekdays and weekday evenings.  Often these take the form of private versions of our regular group classes, refresher lessons on group course material, or coaching to get graduates of those courses tuned up and ready for the next course in the series.

Part 1, Part 2 ,Part 3 and part 4 of the series are here.

Recently on the KR Training Facebook page, I was asked about reasons why people would prefer private training to group classes.  Here are a few common reasons:

  1. Weekend workers.  Many businesses, particularly retail businesses, have their busiest days on weekends, making it hard to get away to attend group classes.  Customers in that category range from musicians (including members of touring bands), gun shop owners, police/fire/EMS personnel, and many different retail salespeople.
  2. Refresher/booster training.  Some students want a 1-2 hour session where they can review and refresh skills learned in classes, or get follow up training shortly after taking a group class, to correct a problem identified during the group course, without the time investment of re-taking the entire course.
  3. Special challenges.  Students with poor vision, limited dexterity, limited grip strength, small hands, limited mobility or other physical issues often find private training a better choice.  A private session provides more flexibility to spend as much time as needed, try as many guns, stances, sights, lasers, or whatever is required to find the best solutions for that student.  Often the amount of time and attention required is beyond what is available in a group class.
  4. Privacy.  Some of my private lesson students are individuals that do not want others to know that they are training or carrying.   That category, in the past, has included public officials (judges, public and private lawyers, officials with state agencies and universities), professional entertainers and athletes, reporters, teachers, nurses, doctors, and others in the public eye.
  5. Travelers & tourists.  I’ve done private classes for individuals and groups that were passing through the Central Texas area for business or pleasure, who wanted some training or a fun shooting session using our gear, with coaching.
  6. Nervous novices.  Many that are new to firearms want private training because they think that their level of inexperience will put them too far behind students in our most basic classes.  They don’t want to come to a group class and be ‘that student’ that can’t keep up, or makes a mistake in front of others.  Guns are scary and dangerous, and some students need a pre-class confidence building session to feel ready to attend a group course.
  7. The serious student.  I have several regular private lesson students who are very motivated, training hard on their own.  They contact me when they have specific questions or need coaching on specific skills, often connected with one of the many challenging standardized shooting tests used by many different schools.  Even my most advanced group classes may not cover the exact training they need.

I’m currently booking private lessons for the period July 10-August 31.  Weekdays (mornings, afternoon and evenings running as late as 9 pm) are available. One popular option is to do a private lesson the afternoon of a scheduled Wednesday night USPSA match at the A-Zone. Get 2 hours of coaching in, cool off in the AC and then shoot the match.

Medicine-X Every Day Carry June 3-4 2017 AAR

KR Training recently hosted and co-taught the Medicine X Every Day Carry course, taught by Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics, at the A-Zone Range.  The two day course teaches hands on medic and scene security skills useful in that time between the injury and the arrival of first responders that can provide a higher level of security and care.  The second day provides opportunities for students to apply medic skills in multiple scenarios where shooting, tactics, and communication are also integrated.

Caleb and I discuss the course in more detail in an episode of the Modern Self Protection podcast with Ben Brannam.


Day one was mostly spent in the classroom, learning patient assessment skills, tourniquet application, wound packing, and other fundamentals.

The topic of what to carry every day, and how to carry it, was covered in depth. One takeaway for me from this course was Caleb’s observation that clotting gauze can be used more places on the body that a tourniquet can, so it may be more important to carry than a TQ, particularly for use on children.  I explained to the class that based purely on likelihood of need and risk analysis that I had changed my own daily carry to prioritize a tourniquet/med gear over a spare magazine, in situations where carrying both on my person was difficult, because the odds of needing the medical gear was likely much higher than the need for the spare magazine.  Obviously having both items available is best, but in non-permissive environments, compromises may be necessary.

Lunch on day one was Texas’ best brisket, from Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, about 15 minutes from the A-Zone.  Snow’s had just been crowned #1 in the state (again) by Texas Monthly. After a 90 minute wait in line, with 200 people behind me, I headed back to the A-Zone with multiple briskets and some pork shoulder.

Part of the afternoon of day 1 was spent working on integrating tourniquet use into a live fire drill where the shooter engaged a target…

retreated to cover (gun placed on ground to simulate the effects of an injury and as a safer substitute for reholstering)…

applied a tourniquet to the designated limb…

picked up the pistol and re-engaged the target.

The goal for this drill was under 30 seconds, with at least 5 hits on the target (3 at start, 2 from cover) and a properly applied TQ.  We ran some additional drills working on team tactics, communication and movement, and one drill integrating that material with the application of a TQ and target re-engagement by one team member.


After some additional classroom material

and instruction on drags and carries,

we split the class into teams and ran them through a scenario in the wooded part of the A-Zone property, searching for their missing friend (“Rescue” Randy), who was discovered down by the pond, injured, with multiple threats (falling steel targets) nearby.

Randy had to be assessed…

moved to cover…
his injuries treated…

and injuries to other team members that occurred during the rescue had to be treated.

Then Randy was evacuated out of the area back to a vehicle.
Additional scenarios were run in the shoot house berm, using a variety of paper and 3D targets.

KR Training hosts Lone Star Medics classes several times a year, typically offering Dynamic First Aid, Medicine X-EDC and Unthinkable classes every 12 months.   All of those courses are also available as traveling classes available anywhere in the US.


Notes from private lessons, May 2017 (part 4)

I taught a lot of private handgun lessons over the past two weeks, and I wanted to share some of the observations and lessons learned from those classes, which I taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range facility.  Private lessons are available, by appointment, on most weekdays and weekday evenings.  Often these take the form of private versions of our regular group classes, refresher lessons on group course material, or coaching to get graduates of those courses tuned up and ready for the next course in the series.

Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of the series are here.


Multiple students had challenges with lack of hand strength and small hands.  Most of the time, I strongly recommend against pistols in 380 caliber, and against the idea of planning on thumb-cocking a double action revolver in a defensive shooting situation.  However:  I had situations occur during lessons where both of those things turned out to be what produced the best results with students.

I had a student with short fingers: not unusual.  She was able to shoot both the 9mm Shield and Glock 42, but gun fit on the 42 allowed better trigger finger placement because of the 42’s shorter trigger reach.  We ran multiple drills using both guns, and her scores with the G42 were better. It wasn’t hand strength, nor any aversion to recoil.  In the end, ability to get hits has to come first before caliber or capacity, so I ended up recommending the G42.

Grip strength was an issue for one student that could not work the slide on his Walther PPK, and could not handle the double action first shot trigger.  As is very common with untrained shooters that buy DA/SA style guns, he had not practiced with the DA trigger prior to the lesson, only the single action trigger, and had not been told by the gun salesman that the gun was not safe to carry with the hammer back (had to be decocked to carry.)  We tried a variety of 9mm pistols but based on hand strength issues, the little G42 was once again the gun that worked best.

The final case study was an older student with limited hand strength and a mild tremor in the dominant hand.  That student tried a variety of guns but ended up shooting best with their own steel framed double action revolver that was thumb-cocked for each shot (S&W model 36).  The student’s hand strength was low enough that even the G42’s slide was a challenge.  At the end of the lesson I suggested the student try switching hands, shooting the gun two handed but using the left (tremor-less) as the dominant hand.  I am hoping for a report back from the student on whether that worked better or worse.

A side note: New York’s recently proposed “Child Operated Firearm” bill, mandating a 10 pound double action only trigger pull on all firearms, would effectively disarm several of my recent students, as they would be physically unable to fire a pistol with a trigger pull that heavy.

Many of these cases served as reminders to me that the end goal has to be improving the student’s ability to get timely, effective hits, regardless of the equipment used.   For younger, stronger shooters with medium or larger sized hands and good vision, many equipment options are available.  Those with less ideal physical characteristics have to work harder, and often have fewer viable choices for gear.

We are diminished.

Michael Riggs

My father-in-law, Michael Riggs, passed away early Monday morning after a very long fight with cancer. His official Texas obituary is here.

Mike spent his life helping others, as a firefighter/EMT for 34 years, in the Air Force during the Vietnam War, through his church, as a Knight of Columbus, in his kitchen equipment repair business, and in his personal life.  He welcomed me into the Riggs family when Penny and I got married, and after moving to Texas, became a part of the KR Training family, as a range safety officer with me when we worked Lee County Wildlife Association youth shooting events, and assisting me with many behind-the-scenes projects fixing, maintaining and building equipment used at the A-Zone range.  He was the one that drove me to the La Grange hospital ER when I had a bad case of norovirus and called him at 4 am from the A-Zone needing help.

He was a great father-in-law to me, a great father to his children, and a devoted grandfather to his grandson Dusty Tilbury.  I am glad I had many years to enjoy his frequent company after he and Karen moved to Texas and built their home next door to the A-Zone.

Kalen Perez

On Thursday, June 1 2017, Kalen Perez, the fiance’ of my nephew Alan Rogers, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from complications due to a seizure.

Kalen and Alan had been together for many years. Every time I saw them it was easy to see how close they were and how much they cared for each other.   They made each other happy.

In lieu of flowers, her family is accepting donation via their church, The Well to help pay for her services or donations to TGPR-Texas Great Pyrenees Rescue, an organization Kalen spent the last few months of her life dedicated to.


Notes from private lessons, May 2017 (part 3)

I taught a lot of private handgun lessons over the past two weeks, and I wanted to share some of the observations and lessons learned from those classes, which I taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range facility.  Private lessons are available, by appointment, on most weekdays and weekday evenings.  Often these take the form of private versions of our regular group classes, refresher lessons on group course material, or coaching to get graduates of those courses tuned up and ready for the next course in the series.

Part 1 and Part 2 of this series are here.


I had an older couple come to class with a variety of guns, including the NAA 22 mag mini revolver with integral holster grip.  We started with those guns, to assess what the shooters could do with them, and they let me do some runs to see what I could do with them.  The fastest I could do, starting with hand on gun in the pocket, getting the gun out of my pocket, opening the grip, cocking the hammer and firing one shot, was a 3.5 second draw, compared to a sub 2 second first shot time with an M&P Shield, starting with hand on gun in pocket.  The tiny bead sight on the NAA pistol was usable for getting hits at 5 yards on a 3″ dot, but shot to shot time was slow because of the single action design.  The biggest problem with the gun was reliability.  It was rare that any of us could get 5 rounds in a row to fire, with difficulty loading and unloading the little pistol.  I finally had to tell them that I simply didn’t consider the gun to be suitable life-safety equipment, even as a backup gun, and we put those guns away and moved on to the other guns they brought (a .380 and a .38 revolver).  Those guns were more typical carry guns, with better sights, better triggers that were safer to handle, faster to shoot, and more reliable than the NAA revolvers.

Another student had been using a soft nylon belt paired with a Comp-Tac holster belt hanger designed for a wide, rigid competition belt.  The end result was more holster movement and wiggle than was useful for the student’s training goals (faster drawspeed).  A secondary problem was the limited adjustment of the stock holster belt attachment.  To really speed up draw time, matching the angle of the pistol to the natural arm/hand angle makes a difference.  That student ended up switching to a rigid Double Alpha Academy belt and BOSS holster hanger to end up with a more consistent, stable holster placement and angle.