Sixgun/Fast Draw book reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

TacCon 2019 part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicken and Waffle.

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

list of deadliest mass shootings in US history

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

Aqil and Tiffany
Download their lecture notes at

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

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

TacCon 2019 part 3

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

Part one is here, part two is here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few more pictures from that talk.

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

TacCon 2019 – part 2

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

Part one of this series is here.

Massad Ayoob – Controversial Acquittals

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

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

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

Beyond the One Percent (2 hour version)

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


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

TacCon 2019 part 1

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

History of the National Tactical Invitational

Each year after the conference is over, the Rangemaster staff survey the attendees to get recommendations for trainers and sessions they would like to see in the next year’s event. “History of the NTI” was one of my recommendations. The National Tactical Invitational (NTI) was not a widely publicized event, but the influence it had on those that attended, and the innovative ideas that were tested and developed there, are an important part of the story of evolution of defensive handgun training. Many elements of the Rangemaster Tactical Conference were inspired by the NTI, and most that were part of the NTI consider the Rangemaster event to be carrying on the NTI’s legacy.

The session was presented by Skip Gochenour, who was the event organizer for most of its 20 year history.

During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, IPSC/USPSA competition was in peak “equipment race”. The single stack .45 ACP 1911’s and leather holsters used at the start of the 1980s were replaced by higher capacity .38 super pistols, with compensators and red dot sights, drawn from plastic competition holsters unsuitable for practical concealed carry use. Many that had shot IPSC matches for their value as defensive pistol training drifted away from the sport. Also during the 1980s, many defensive pistol schools were established. Some schools had close ties to the Gunsite/Cooper/IPSC community, others did not and taught curriculum that was rooted in pre-Gunsite law enforcement training, or techniques that the instructors had developed themselves.

In 1991, the first NTI was held. One of its goals was to run scenarios to test the training (and trainers) of the defensive pistol academies. The event was truly an “invitational”: those that wanted to attend had to submit a resume listing their credentials and training history. As a result, the event was not widely advertised beyond the alumni contact lists of the schools and trainers that were invited by the event organizers.

The event was not a competition in the traditional sense. It was presented as a training exercise, where each practitioner’s skills were evaluated both with a score and by team members who looked at more difficult to quantify elements such as tactics and awareness and communication. Score cards were detailed, and most scores were not posted. In some years a top 5 list was identified, but the intent was not to create another shooting sport.

The match was a “shoot what you carry” event. Each person was inspected before each stage to ensure that they had the same gear they had declared on their card.

The live fire stages were different from IPSC/USPSA events. 3D reactive targets were used. The event was run as a “hot” range (all guns were always loaded), and some stages required engaging targets that appeared behind the shooter as they moved through a building set into a 360 degree berm. Stage descriptions were not posted in advance, shooters were not allowed to see the stages before shooting them.

The NTI team developed several variations on reactive 3D targets that could be engaged from any angle.

In 1998 several articles were written about that year’s event – by Lyn Bates for Women and Guns magazine, and John Farnam for his alumni newsletter.

The most unique element of the NTI was called the “Village”. The NTI team were pioneers in incorporating force on force scenarios into the event. This evolved into a 60-90 minute session each practitioner would spend in the Village, interacting with roleplayers performing mundane daily tasks. Many of these assignments resulted in no drama, no drawing of guns, no criminal attacks…just like real life. The way to win in the Village was to use awareness, movement, tactics and communication to avoid any use of force situations…just like real life. If a use of force incident occurred, the Sheriff (Vicki Farnam) was called, and the event treated like a real incident would be.

Participants were evaluated using a complex form.

Tom wrote about his experiences in the 2009 NTI in Concealed Carry magazine.

The key to the success of the NTI was a team of up to 50 people who met multiple days a week, and one Saturday each month, as a study group. This group invested the time and effort to develop innovative targets, build complex stages, become skilled role players and evaluators.

The last NTI was in 2011 – the 20th year. Running a event of that scale for 20 years was a significant accomplishment, particularly given the complexity of the live fire stages and the Village. Skip’s closing slide summarized what 20 years of the NTI taught the team. (VCA = Violent Criminal Actor, MFG = Master Firing Grip)

When the Rangemaster conference began, the live fire stages were modeled on the NTI format: surprise/secret stages using 3D reactive targets that had to fall to score. I enjoyed that format, as it provided a test unavailable at any other event. When the event was run at facilities with indoor ranges, it was possible to restrict access to the range area and prevent attendees from seeing the stages in advance. Over the past decade, the match format has changed to be a more traditional test of marksmanship – still challenging, but in a different way. In the early years of the Rangemaster Conference, I ran force on force scenarios involving multiple participants. In recent years Craig Douglas has carried on that tradition – from the Village to my scenarios to his Experiential Learning Lab sessions. The force on force/live action scenario component is one way the Rangemaster Conference carries on the work began with the NTI.

John Murphy FPF Training Vehicle Environment Skills class AAR

KR Training hosted John Murphy of FPF Training in October 2018. John taught their Two Person Tactics course and their Vehicle Environment Skills course.

John teaching the two person tactics course.

The Vehicle Environment Skills course illustrates manners and methods by which we can be deselected, deter or, if necessary, prevail in a criminal encounter in and around our cars. Students will engage in both “dry” and “live” fire exercises and engage in scenario based work around their own vehicles. For this session KR Training obtained a junked vehicle that could be shot from, at and through, to be used for the live fire part of the course.

Classroom lecture from the Vehicle class
Vehicle anatomy
Red gun work around vehicles
Live fire warm up on the FPF target
Getting ready to shoot through the car windshield
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Video from John Murphy vehicle class Feb 2019

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Civilian Carry Radio podcast

I was the guest on Civilian Carry Radio last night (March 20, 2019) with guest hosts Lee Weems and Ashton Ray. We discussed the material in the new Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training book, the red dot study, the recent TacCon 2019 event, and much more. Thanks to CCR for having me on! I’ve been invited to be a guest host for next week’s show.

The episode is available for download here:

iTunes –

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On Speaker –

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Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training book

The new book from KR Training instructors Karl Rehn and John Daub is now available in e-book and print format.

Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training” is available from Amazon, on Kindle and in paperback. Signed print copies are also available from KR Training.

Click here to Preview and Purchase at Amazon.

“Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training” contains expanded and updated material from essays, blog posts, and presentations Karl and John have produced over the past 5 years. This publication organizes the older material, combines it with new content, and presents it as a comprehensive guide to developing strategies and standards for instructors and all individuals interested in handgun training.

Section 1, Beyond the One Percent, expands Karl’s analysis and thoughts on the challenge of motivating more than 1% of carry permit holders to train beyond their state’s minimum requirements.

Section 2, Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol, shares John’s updated analysis and thoughts on what minimum standards should be. What skills are essential? What level of performance is a realistic acceptable minimum? Why testing and measurement of skills matters.

Section 3, Drills, includes guidance in how to calculate the relative difficulty level of any handgun drill, comparisons and analysis of many well known standard courses of fire, discussion of the development of the Three Seconds or Less test and KRT-2 target, and a recommended list of 10 drills as a progression of performance level and skill development any shooter or trainer could use to define standards for every level of handgun proficiency.

About the Authors: Karl Rehn is the lead instructor & owner of KR Training. His credentials include more than 2500 hours of coursework from more than 60 different trainers over the past 30 years. His certifications include USPSA Grand Master, IDPA Master, NRA Training Counselor, Texas LTC and School Safety instructor, Massad Ayoob Group Deadly Force Instructor and Rangemaster Advanced Instructor.

John Daub is senior assistant instructor for KR Training. His credentials include more than 700 hours of training in firearms, empty hand martial arts and combatives, medical, tactics and other self-defense topics. He is certified as an instructor by NRA, Rangemaster, Massad Ayoob, Cornered Cat, and KR Training.

Click here to Preview and Purchase “Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training”at Amazon.

Defensive Pistol Skills 3 pictures

Some pictures from the February 2019 session of Defensive Pistol Skills 3‘s section on shooting from sitting and crouched positions, and individual pics of the coin earners getting their coins. We have another session of the DPS-3 course scheduled for April 20, 2019.

The course is intended as final class in our Defensive Pistol Skills Program sequence. To pass the course requires shooting 90% or better on our Three Seconds or Less shooting test.

Showing the signs students see while scanning, to identify another target to shoot
Shooting through mid-height port from a crouch
More work from the mid-height port
Drawing and shooting while seated.
Seated to standing draw.
Drawing from a seated position, shooting through mid-height port
Shooting from seated through mid port

KR Training February 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training February 2019 newsletter!

Many March classes are already sold out. We’ve added more classes to our April schedule. Don’t miss the opportunity to sign up now for any classes on the schedule. Check the schedule page on the KR Training website for the full list of upcoming classes.

February was even busier than January. We had classes every weekend including a visit from John Murphy of FPF Training (Virginia) and an M&P gunsmith class taught by Hank Fleming. I have lots of pics and video from those courses but have been busy working multiple big projects related to events in the next few months. I’m teaching at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference in March, and multiple KR Training team members are teaching at the A Girl and A Gun National Conference in April. We’ll have more about those events and more information about the projects in development in next month’s newsletter.

11 New Coin Holders

During the February 9th Defensive Pistol Skills 3 and Personal Tactics Skills classes, 11 students completed requirements for the Defensive Pistol Skills program challenge coin. Several more students will be earning coins during March classes. Congratulations to everyone!


Beyond the Basics / Long Gun Skill Builder – March 23

Space is still available in March 23rd Handgunning Beyond the Basics (BTB) and Long Gun Skill Builder classes. BTB is NOT a ‘basics’ class. It is a mandatory course in the Defensive Pistol Skills program, teaching how to increase speed and accuracy. The material in BTB is NOT covered anywhere else in our program. It’s suitable for graduates of Basic Pistol 2 and up, and particularly useful to those trying to push their skills past the DPS-3 level and/or those shooting matches and wanting to improve their scores.

Long Gun Skill Builder is 2 hours of drills with your rifle or pistol caliber carbine. It’s scheduled back to back with BTB so you can get 2 hours of long gun training in along with the 4-hour pistol class. Sign up for both classes March 23rd, pay in full in advance and save $20 ($140 for combo).

Basic Pistol 1 & 2 Ladies – March 30

On March 30 Tracy Thronburg and Becky Dolgener will teach small group ladies-only sessions of Basic Pistol 1 and Basic Pistol 2. This is the same material taught in our regular classes, just taught by ladies to ladies. This is a special event so I encourage everyone to share this opportunity with ladies that would prefer a ladies-only course. We have scheduled both classes back to back on the same day and we encourage students to attend both.

April classes added

April 6 (Saturday) – Defensive Pistol Skills 2
April 14 (Sunday) – Dynamic First Aid
April 20 (Saturday) – Defensive Pistol Skills 3
April 26 (Friday) – Defensive Shotgun w/ Tom Givens (loaner shotguns available)
April 27 & 28 (Sat/Sun) – Intensive Pistol Skills w/ Tom Givens (his level 2 pistol class)

More info available on the KR Training website.

If you’ve taken DPS-2 or higher classes, Tom Givens’ Intensive Pistol Skills will push you to the next level. It’s not a repeat of DPS-level material. It may be several years before we host this particular course in his program again. If you haven’t trained with Tom but you’ve heard us talk about him, this is an excellent opportunity to train with him.


You can also follow KR Training on Facebook or Twitter to see our favorite blog content from other authors as we post it. Due to a very heavy schedule this month, Blog-O-Rama is on hiatus. Want to see articles we’ve shared? Follow KR Training on Facebook where we post the links when they are fresh and current.

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

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