Beyond the One Percent (part 3)

The Beyond the One Percent presentation explores the topic of how many people train, why they train, what courses they choose and why, and ways to possibly motivate more than 1% of adult gun owners to take training beyond their state minimum.  It is based on my presentation at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

Here are the links for Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.  If you haven’t read them, start there.

RISK ASSESSMENT AND TRAINING NEEDS ASSESSMENT

In this section I discuss how to do a realistic all-hazards risk assessment and derive a training needs assessment from that.

People attending for different reasons, as I discussed in part 2.  I’m going to start with an approach that assumes risk reduction (aka personal safety) is the primary goal.  (As we learned in part 2, that assumption is probably incorrect.)

From 2007-2016 I managed the Infrastructure Protection training program that the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) taught as part of a larger block of 50+ courses they offer nationally for DHS.   In addition to managing full time and adjunct instructors teaching over 200 sessions of those courses annually, I was a co-author of the curricula of the four courses in the certificate program.  The course most relevant to the individual is the MGT-315 Critical Asset Risk Management course, which focuses on protection of a single facility. (For those in the Austin, Texas, TEEX is offering that course April 18-19. The classes are open to the public at no cost, but per-registration is required.)

The courses uses this risk assessment graph, which plots probability (threat x vulnerability) vs. consequences.  It considers both the odds and the stakes.   To reduce total overall risk, identify which risks are highest and then explore options to reduce those risks, by lowering the threat, the vulnerability or the consequences.

For example, consider the typical armed citizen’s risks.

Based on statistics, an auto accident is the most likely risk, followed by the other examples I listed.  The process for determining values is a relatively unscientific one.  Each individual, in this case, is instructed to set the values using a consistent scale, calibrated by statistics for their geographic area and lifestyle.  Your numbers will likely be different from mine. Mine map to these locations on the graph.  Some are medium probability, medium consequences. Others, like the bombing risk, are low probability but higher consequence.

There are 3 basic choices to reduce risk:  mitigate (do something about it), transfer (make someone else responsible for it) or accept (live with it).  Mitigation options include changes to plans, policies, equipment, training and organization.  Transfer options include insurance, and outsourcing (as in “the police/fire/EMS will save me”, or within families “my spouse/brother/etc trains and always carries, so I don’t need to since they will protect me”)

 

A longer list of all-hazards risks and the priority areas for action looks like this:


Health and fitness are #1.   No one in the health and fitness industry has figured out the magic way to motivate everyone to do the right things in those areas.  I’m as guilty as anyone of finding reasons not to go get sweaty or to eat delicious foods that contribute to weight gain.

I’ve taken over 2200 hours of firearms training, and a few hundred hours of medical training. So far in my life, I’ve needed the medical training more times than I’ve needed the firearms training.

I drive every day.  Being a better driver – not just “safer” but better, particularly at accident avoidance, is important.  TEEX runs a Traffic Accident Avoidance course using the driving track at the law enforcement academy that included hands on training.  I was able to take it as an employee.  Facilities for this type of training are much harder to find than shooting ranges, and classes offering hands-on instruction are difficult to find.  But if you have access to this type of training, you should consider attending.

I sorted the category of “anti-crime” skills in priority order, starting with the awareness and communication skills and non-fighting skills.  Next I made a list of specific scenarios for which I might need to be prepared or trained, in order of likelihood.

Defensive gun use made the first page but not the top 5.  One way to make this list is to start with a list of all the things that you have to deal with every year, every 5 years, every 10 years, and so on.

One of the changes we’ve made over the past 5 years at KR Training is integration of broader preparedness training into our program, first with medical classes from Lone Star Medics and more recently with hosting Preparedness conferences and seminars.  KR Training’s Paul Martin presented on “Events Other than Violence” at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, to encourage other firearm trainers to expand their programs in similar fashion.

Page 2 has a few more, in order of likelihood.

While I know that “gun grappling” and groundfighting is a popular area of study within the private sector training community, review of actual armed citizen incidents don’t show the likelihood of the need for those skills as high compared to basic “draw and shoot”.  I’ve taken Craig Douglas’ Extreme Close Quarters Concepts class 3 times, hosted it 5 times, have trained in that topic with Cecil Burch, Insights Training Center (Greg Hamilton/John Holschen), John Benner (Tactical Defense Institute), Tony Blauer, Leslie Buck and a few others.  The training has value, particularly in developing mental toughness and ability to function under both physical and psychological stress.  So I’m not saying don’t take those courses.  Just put their value in perspective.

I reviewed Claude Werner’s list of Negative Outcomes that frequently occur to armed citizens, and paired them with the best solution to reducing them.  Scenario based force on force training, not just Simunition fight club/gunfight classes but even simple red gun roleplay and video simulators, develop skills that aren’t trained much or at all in typical live fire classes.

Does training matter? Gun politics activists lobbying for reduction in, or elimination of mandatory state training for carry permits have strong arguments and data showing that simply having a gun when you need it is the most important component.  It’s rare that examples of an armed citizen failing due to a slow draw or poor marksmanship occur; much more common to find errors in judgment and negligence in gunhandling.

I adapted a phrase I’ve heard John Johnston use on his Ballistic Radio show.  For someone that goes through life and never needs a gun or the skills that go with it, they aren’t important.  Perception of the need for skills affects motivation to train and selection of courses to attend.

Often until you think something is broken, there’s no motivation to fix it. For example, I ignored several years of weight gain until it caused back problems and daily back pain in early 2016.  That moved it from low risk to high priority, motivating me to make changes in diet and exercise and drop 40 pounds.
Everyone knows someone that has a carry permit that never carries, or only carries in the car. That person’s perception of risk is different from those that carry daily, and both are different from the risk perception of those that carry daily and train seriously.

Specific to the topic of firearms training, at least 75% of time, a handgun is going to be used when a firearm is needed in a defensive incident.

The next two slides are pure opinion – my views on which courses are most popular, vs. their actual value to the typical armed citizen.  It reflects a fairly upside down set of priorities, based on analysis of which courses I offer are most popular, which courses are discussed in podcasts and forums, and what I see other schools offering.

The state carry permit is the most “needed” – not because the content is useful, but because the class is required to be able to carry.  All the other classes on page 1 are live fire courses, with the “operator” carbine course — the one you take with your chest rig and dump pouch and multicam and so on, being the most popular but the least likely to be needed.  I separated long gun courses that were more focused on home and building defense (including carbine and shotgun courses together) as a separate category from the “enterTrainment” classes.

A high quality basic pistol course is the most important because it builds the fundamentals of safe gunhandling and shooting skills that are the absolute most likely to prevent negligent discharges and result in acceptable hits in defensive gun uses.  (One big problem in the industry is that there a lot of people teaching those lower level courses that stopped their own training at the minimum required for certification to teach at that level, leaving a big gap between those courses and the generic 2 day defensive pistol skills national level traveling trainers offer.)


Page 2 includes many classes that are much less popular but more likely to be useful, particularly those that do not include any live fire, or live fire that is less fun than shooting a carbine at a 7 yard target.  Every year I offer a pocket gun/small gun class that gets a anemic response compared to similar courses I offer that allow students to use holsters and guns that they admit they never carry.  Participation in divisions in IDPA that use smaller guns is low compared to those allowing customized duty-sized guns.

Just as with diet and exercise, it appears that doing the right is hard. Junk food is more pleasurable than health food.  My assesssment is that the Inconvenient Truth about the private sector training industry is this:

I’ve talked to many trainers about this.  Those that offer a variety of courses have observed similar trends in course popularity.  Most attempt some balance between offering the courses that always fill, and the courses they wish would be more popular.

In Part 4 I’ll continue down the bad news trail, discussing Dunning-Kruger and various aspects of mindset that de-motivate people from training or competing.  Then after we hit bottom, the rest of the material is about steps trainers can take to overcome some of those challenges.

Visit the KR Training website if you want more information about me and my courses.

March 2017 KR Training Newsletter

March is almost over, and it’s been a very busy month, with the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, our own classes and Craig Douglas visiting to teach his ECQC course.  Here’s my AAR from the Conference and an instagram post from Craig about an interesting moment from ECQC.

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

APRIL CLASS DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

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

Deal #2) Refresher slots in April 1 DPS-1 and DPS-2 classes. If you’ve taken the class before, you can take it again for half price.

Deal #3) DPS-1 bring a friend deal:  one new and one refresher slot for $100
(total for both slots combined)

Deal #4) DPS-1 and DPS-2 bring a friend deal:  one new and one refresher slot for $200. (total for both slots combined)

Deal #5) DPS-2 bring a friend deal: one new and one refresher slot for $140
(total for both slots combined. The friend has to have completed DPS-1
to attend DPS-2).

Deal #6) 50% refresher price for MAG-20 range and MAG-20 classroom, for those that have taken them before.

For all deals – must pay in full in advance.

Register here.

DPS-1 and DPS-2

Spring weather is perfect for shooting.  We are offering Defensive Pistol Skills-1 and Defensive Pistol Skills-2 back to back on April 1.  We will offer DPS-1 again on April 22, taught by John Daub.

Register here.

TRAIN WITH MASSAD AYOOB

Massad Ayoob returns to KR Training to offer his 20 hour MAG-20 range course on April 6-7, and his 20 hour classroom MAG-20 course on April 8-9.  We plan on bringing Mas back in 2018 to offer his Deadly Force Instructor and MAG-80 courses.  You can’t take MAG-80 unless you’ve taken both the MAG-20 range and classroom parts (also known as MAG-40).

Register here.

April 22 – Basic 2 / Defensive Pistol Skills 1

John Daub will teach both of our popular Basic Pistol 2 and Defensive Pistol Skills-1 courses on April 22 while three KR Training team instructors (Karl Rehn, John Kochan and Tracy Thronburg) will be presenting at the 2017 A Girl and a Gun national conference.

Register here.

April 29 Beyond the Basics / Competition Pistol 1

Each spring and fall we offer the matched set of Beyond the Basics: Handgun and Competition Pistol 1BTB Handgun has material not covered in our basic or defensive pistol classes, focusing on 5-15 yard shooting and being able to quickly shift between targets at different ranges, adjusting your shooting speed appropriately.

Competition Pistol 1 is for people that want to learn more about USPSA, IDPA, Steel Challenge and similar matches. Shoot sample stages, learn the basic rules and what division best fits your gear.  It’s a good class for people that have shot a few matches and want to do better.

Register here.

April 30 – Competition Pistol 2

Competition Pistol 2, taught by USPSA Grand Masters Karl Rehn and Roy Stedman, is for people that have shot at least 3-4 matches and/or have taken DPS-2 or higher level classes, and are ready for detailed analysis of their skills.  The class includes a lot of individual coaching by both instructors, including stage breakdown and practice planning.

Register here.

SUMMER USPSA MATCHES

My plan is to run 9-10 weekday evening USPSA matches at the A-Zone this summer between May and end of August. The first 3 will be May 24, June 7 and June 14.  I will post registration links closer to match day.  The format will be identical to the 2016 matches so follow that link for more information.

UPCOMING CLASSES

The full schedule of 2017 classes is here.

Class dates in May and June have been posted, with July-August classes to be announced in early April.

RANGEMASTER TACTICAL CONFERENCE

KR Training was well represented at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference.  Karl Rehn presented two sessions of the new “Beyond the 1%” talk, which explores the demographics of who trains and why.  The talk has been expanded into a multi part series on the KR Training blog.  Dave Reichek assisted Craig Douglas with two force on force sessions, and placed 5th overall in the match.  Assistant instructors Ed Vinyard and Tracy Thronburg attended also.

KR TRAINING SHOOTING TEAM

Cory Klemashevich has been representing KR Training in the new USPSA Pistol Caliber Carbine division. He earned his Grand Master rating in that division recently, and placed 1st in the Factory Division at regional 3 Gun Nation shotgun match, as well as 1st and 2nd place finishes in several local matches.

Dave Reichek won Master class in USPSA Production at the Space City Challenge, with a 5th overall finish.  He also finished 5th overall at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, running a CZ P01 compact pistol.

BLOG-O-RAMA

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.   It’s now available on youtube for your listening pleasure, and physical copies will be available for free at the A-Zone.

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

Beyond the One Percent (part 2)

The Beyond the One Percent presentation explores the topic of how many people train, why they train, what courses they choose and why, and ways to possibly motivate more than 1% of adult gun owners to take training beyond their state minimum.  It is based on my presentation at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

Part 1 of the series is here, if you haven’t read it.

Part 2 is about understanding what motivates people in general and shooters specifically.

According to National Shooting Sports Foundation research, the top 3 reasons people go target shooting are that they go with family and friends (that means one of their family/friends is highly motivated to go shooting), sport/recreation, and self-defense.

The issue that interests me, as someone trying to fill classes that go beyond the state minimum, is this:

 

Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs is a good place to start.  Meeting one or more of those needs drives many of our decisions, both long term and short term.

If most people had to pick one as the need they think motivates most people that train beyond the minimum, they would probably pick “safety”.  But that may not be the case.

Being a much more profitable, economically larger industry than firearms training, the video game industry has inspired or funded more research into understanding what motivates players than gun schools have.  So I looked at some of those studies and some pop culture articles like this one from Cracked.com that summarizes research results.

 

The three main attractions are achievement (winning but also skill development), social (in multiplayer games) and immersion (fantasy fulfillment).  The gun school/competition subculture appeals to those motivations too.

Competition shooters want to win their division or the whole match.  Those that get the top tier ratings (Expert, Master, Grand Master) take pride in those accomplishments.  There are schools and specific classes offered by national firearms schools that are known to be hard, with status associated with getting their Advanced rating or being top shooter in their class.

Some students want to learn every variation of every technique for every task and want to debate the pros and cons of those techniques ad infinitum online, usually heaping great scorn on those that don’t use the exact same techniques they do, for the exact same reasons they chose them.

Many just like the challenge of trying to improve their own skills, both the analysis of skills and performance data, and the effort involved in improvement – particularly tracking their gains and posting about them to social media.

The gun culture is very tribal  – with divisions between “warriors” and “sheepdogs” and “sheeple”, Games and Timmies, Fudds and TacTards, Gun Culture 1.0 and 2.0, 9mm vs .45, appendix carry is safe/unsafe, AR vs shotgun, and so on.  Tribal identification symbols are rampant in the gun culture. NRA decals on cars, morale patches, competition shooter shirts covered in logos, IDPA vests, 5.11 pants.  We derive satisfaction from self-identification with the gun culture tribe as well as particular factions.

Shooting well requires a lot of concentration.  That’s one form of immersion.  Taking that step from occasional target shooter to Serious Student of the Gun requires an investment of time that can immerse the person in something separate from the mundane annoyances of daily life.  The size of the aftermarket upgrade industry for 1911, AR-15, Glock and other popular guns shows that those that immerse themselves in the gun culture love customizing gear to make it have character that reflects the owner.  And many people have “classtumes” that only get worn to the range. Our play clothes to go spend a day in some degree of live action roleplay.

None of those things are inherently bad.  My point here is that all those factors appeal to us in various ways, and they bring us pleasure and satisfaction.

The best thing about shooting is that immediate gratification to an accurate shot. It produces a bit of dopamine, which makes us feel good.  When something makes us feel good, we want to do more of it. When it makes us feel bad, we avoid it.  So for a trainer (in any activity), it’s important to understand that nothing motivates someone to do more or work harder than that feeling of success, or more optimally, feeling that sense of flow that comes from performing that task really well with good results.

I think what’s really motivating people to attend training beyond the state minimum has a lot more to do with meeting higher level needs than ‘safety’.  To steal a term from neural network researchers, it’s a ‘hidden layer’.  The trainer’s curriculum is the input. All those factors that have nothing to do with actual personal protection are either satisfied (or not) by the experience the student had in your class.   When the totality of their experience in your course connects with those social & psychological elements, that results in a positive outcome for them and for you.

That means that motivating people that aren’t currently interested in doing more than the state’s minimum may require appealing to higher level needs as opposed to a fear-based approach that emphasizes “safety” as the main reason to attend.

Part 3 will cover the process of a realistic risk assessment and training needs assessment for the typical armed citizen, and how that relates to course selection and course popularity.

Update: part 3 now online.

Rangemaster Tactical Conference match performance – brief thoughts

The results from the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference live fire match are up.

The spread between the top 20 was tight, only a few seconds between Kirk Clark’s 22.78 win, Dave Reichek’s 25.90 5th place, Massad Ayoob’s 26.86 7th place, and my own 27.51 11th place finish. The split between 18th and 19th place was 0.01 second and there were many gaps of .2 seconds or less between the top 20 finishers out of the 207 that shot the match.

Lesson re-learned #1: penalties matter.  Dave had 3 seconds in time added, which would have moved him to 2nd overall at 22.90.  Would it have taken him a few more tenths to make better hits? Probably.  At 2 seconds of time added, with 1 full second spent shooting “down zeros” 23.90 would have been good for a 3rd overall finish.

In my own case, I had 2 seconds in penalties, from my first 2 shots at 15 yards.  The preceding strings in the match had all been from the 7 yard line, and despite knowing that it was going to take a little more focus at 15, and knowing that it’s common to miss shots following a transition, I still had just enough slop to push 2 shots about 1″ out of the zero zone, which was a costly mistake.

Changing a 27.51 to a 25.51 would have been a solid 5th overall finish.  Even taking a full second to turn those +1’s into 0’s would have moved me up to 7th with 26.51.

Lesson relearned #2: Any skill that isn’t 100% in practice (10 times out of 10, preferably proven under stress), has potential to fail.  The topic of whether you should do a “power stroke” or use the slide lock lever for slide lock reloads has been discussed ad nauseum on line.  The slide release technique is faster, the power stroke more likely to work every time.

There was one slide lock reload required in the 30 round match.  Seeking every competitive advantage, my plan was to use the slide lock lever on the load, to gain that 0.5 second it provides, when things go right.  I had been working that skill in practice, but it wasn’t 100%. My hands are on the “small” side of the median. I run the small grip insert on my M&P.  That means reaching the slide lock lever without shifting my grip is do-able but not easy.

In the match, I was working the lever as the gun was headed to the target to fire that first post-reload shot, when I realized the slide wasn’t moving forward.  Having to observe, orient, decide and act (pulling the gun back enough to do the power stroke) added at least a full second to the reload time. It felt like more than that when it was happening.

Advocates of the slide lock lever technique might suggest the solution is to put a larger lever on the gun. I do run a slightly larger mag release button that I took down to the absolute minimum increase necessary to split that difference between “more reliable mag ejection” and “activates when you grip the gun hard”.  So I may explore possibilities for a larger slide lock lever.

Had I just gone with the thing I knew was absolutely going to work, minimizing the risk of disaster factor, I would have been better off but left with the lingering doubt that I could have shaved off that 0.5 second had it worked.

Lesson re-learned #3:  Confidence matters.  My talk this year ate up a lot of time that took away from dry and live-fire practice, so I didn’t feel as well prepared as I wanted to for the match.  Practice creates confidence. Confidence creates performance.

 

 

 

Beyond the One Percent (part 1)

In response to many requests, I’ll be posting the content of my talk at the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, broken up into many segments with commentary.  The complete talk was over 2 hours of material, over 100 slides, so it’s going to take quite a few posts to cover all the material.

How do we get more people to attend training beyond the state minimum?

The topics covered in the talk include

  • Estimating the number of gun owners / carry permit holders
  • Estimating the number of people who train to a mandatory minimum level (state carry permit, hunter education, military, law enforcement)
  • Estimating the number of people that take at least one class a year or shoot one match a year
  • Exploring the reasons that motivate those people to train and compete
  • Identifying the reasons why gun owners do not train or compete
  • Suggesting approaches that might motivate a few more percent to participate

Since this topic may draw readers unfamiliar with me to my blog, I’ll include this slide, which covers my background. I’ve been in the training business for 26 years, have my own 88 acre training facility, a long resume of credentials as a shooter and instructor, and (particularly in the past 8 years) a very active training program offering dozens of different courses, beginner to advanced, and hosting multiple national level traveling trainers each year.  I also have several courses that can be taught on the road, including 1 and 2 day handgun skills courses, force on force scenario courses, and a force on force instructor development course.  The KR Training website has more information.

I chose the topic because back in August 2016 I retired from my day job with the state of Texas after 31 years, which enabled me to expand KR Training beyond a weekend-only business.  When KR Training started 26 years ago, it was the only firearms training school in the Austin area. There was no one offering NRA instructor training and no one hosting national level trainers.  We had a website, written in HTML 1.0, when Mosaic was the only browser and Google did not exist.

The past 5-10 years have seen significant expansion of the number of training schools, as many in my area have started schools similar to mine, including quite a few instructors who have built their instructor resumes by attending courses I’ve taught and hosted.  New ranges have opened, all offering training classes, taught by instructors of wildly varying quality, from excellent to unqualified.  That, along with the ever changing secret metrics Google uses for search engine result placement, changes in the way people find information online, and other factors to be discussed later in the presentation, has made it more difficult for KR Training to stand out in a sea of similar looking websites, Facebook ads, and other marketing.

Both of my college degrees are in engineering, and I spent 23 years working in military R&D, so I like data.  My first task was to try to find answers to basic questions.  The TSA does a good job of tracking and reporting on firearms discovered at checkpoints.  That’s an interesting statistic because it’s tied to the number of people carrying, and even what guns they are carrying and how they are carrying them.

More people are being caught with guns in their carry on bags.  That means more of them are carrying guns in their bags.  It also means they forget the guns are there, which is reflective of the seriousness (or lack thereof) of their mindset about carrying.  Someone serious about carrying would not only remove the gun from the carry on bag, but would also be checking that gun to be able to carry it at their destination, if allowed by local law.

It’s difficult to determine from the TSA data whether “loaded” means a round was chambered or not, but for sure I know it means that ammunition was in the gun.  This stat implies that most of the people lugging a gun around in their bag were doing so for self defense reasons. Now for some national numbers, collected from a variety of sources and combined.  One of the best sources I found was the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The national landscape appears to be this:  there are 311 million people in the US.  247 million adults. 55 million gun owners. Of that 55, NSSF estimates as many as 20 million do some kind of shooting each year. John Lott’s data indicates that there are 11+ million carry permit holders.  (The growth of constitutional carry, where no license is required, is going to make an accurate estimate of the number of carry permits more difficult.)  The NRA claims 5 million members, about 1/11th of the total pool of gun owners.  NSSF claims that 5 million shoot some type of competition. Whether this is ‘lifetime’ or ‘this year’ was unclear.  I think that number likely represents the number of gun owners that have ever shot any match of any kind.  Almost a million cops, 125K NRA instructors, and smaller numbers for the competitive pistol sports.

USPSA and IDPA numbers were inferred from press releases and websites, as neither organization responded to my request for data, even with a form letter response saying they could not provide it.  NRA’s initial response to my inquiry promised a follow up with data, but as of this writing that data has not been provided.

My next step was to drill down into the numbers for my home state of Texas, both because it’s where my business is located, and because Texas has more data available than other states.  Our concealed carry license bill required the state police to collect statistics on the number of permits issued, denied, revoked, and other data on crimes committed by permit holders.  That data has been very useful to gun politics activists as it makes a strong case for the overwhelming law-abiding nature of carry permit holders, and the numbers also show the strength of the gun culture in Texas.

The Texas population (29 million) is roughly 9% of the national number, but our gun ownership percentage is above average, so for simplicity when no state level number was available, I used 10% of the national number as an estimate.  Using NSSF and state level data, that means 3.2 million gun owners in Texas, 1.2 million that buy hunting licenses each year (data provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife), 1.1 million carry permits (from Texas Department of Public Safety), an estimated 500K NRA members, with an average of over 100K new carry permits issued each year.  Sadly, I learned that membership in the Texas State Rifle Association is only 35K.  Considering that TSRA has played a key role in lobbying for concealed carry and all the improvements in Texas gun laws over the past 30 years, it’s shameful that so few Texas gun owners support that organization.

Click here to join TSRA.  Annual membership is less than the cost of 100 rounds of ammo and a range fee for most people, even less for seniors.

Trying to estimate how many actually train or compete each year was difficult.  NSSF does not track “training” as one of their metrics, only target shooting, hunting and competition.  TXDPS data shows that on average 100K people take the new permit course each year, and there are 3600+ LTC instructors. That means that the typical LTC instructor is teaching less than 30 people per year.

NRA claims to train over 1M students per year, so 10% of that is 100K, taught by the 12,500 (estimated) NRA instructors in the state. That means the ‘typical’ NRA instructor is teaching 8 people per year.  Since NRA classes are not required for the state carry permit, the estimate of 100K may be high. Most NRA training conducted in Texas relates to youth programs such as Boy Scout and 4H, with some NRA basic pistol courses offered.

Texas has a number of major fixed-location, national level and state level schools, including KR Training, that teach classes 30 or more weeks a year.  I attempted to estimate the total number of students attending classes at those schools by listing all the schools I knew about, asking contacts in major cities all over the state to add names to that list, looking at the calendars on those school’s websites, and asking people I knew that had attended those schools what the class sizes were.

That marginally scientific approach produced an estimate of 10 or so schools that taught 500+ students a year and maybe another 20 schools that taught 100-499 students a year, for a rough estimate of 10K.

On the competition side, I found an NSSF report that provided a stat on the likely overlap between USPSA and IDPA members, and used that to reduce the original estimate of 5K (based on national membership numbers claimed in press releases) down to 4125.  There are people that shoot matches that are members of either national organization that were not counted.

Austin-based organization A Girl and a Gun estimated that over 3000 women participate in at least one AG&G event in Texas each year. There are other women’s shooting groups in Texas, including the Sure Shots, Well Armed Woman, and Second Amendment Sisters. Their participants were not counted in my estimate, as these groups are smaller and at best are likely to add less than another 1000 to the total, particularly since many active in one group are active in others.

Summarizing the Texas data: 93% of the 3.2 million adult gun owners in Texas likely do not train. 4% of them take the mandatory new permit course, at best 3% of them take some kind of NRA course, and only 1%, less than 30K, take any kind of post-CHL level course or shoot any kind of match, including all kinds of pistol, NRA high power, and all the shotgun sports.

If you took the CHL class one time, that put you in the 4% that year. If you haven’t taken a class since then, you were in the 93% all those other years.  Same for taking a post-CHL class. If you took a class in 2015, you were a 1% er that year, and a 93%er in 2016.

NSSF data provided some encouraging results, though.  It indicates that in Texas, 22% of the 3.2 million gun owners shoot 5 days a year or more, with 3% shooting more than 20 days a year.

It’s likely that all the regular competitors and serious shooting school students fall into that 3%, so removing them from the pool means there are maybe 76K “frequent target shooters” that like shooting enough, and do it frequently enough, that they might be interested in training courses that go beyond the minimum.

I’ll post the next part of the talk in a few days, where I discuss motivation: how does training appeal to those that attend it now, and what can make training more appealing to those most likely to attend it.

Update: Part 2 now online.

 

 

2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference AAR

I just got back from the 2017 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, which was held at the Direct Action Resource Center near Little Rock, AR, March 17-19.   This was the 19th annual event.  TacCon is the event where many of the big names in the private sector training community get together each year to present on new topics, test new material, cross train with each other, and teach short courses (classroom, live fire, force on force, unarmed, knife, medical and other topics) to the attendees.  In addition to the instructors presenting material, many of the attendees are local and regional instructors and/or students of many of the trainers presenting and attending.

I’ve been an invited presenter at TacCon for the past 15 years, first running all the force on force scenarios and later transitioning mainly to classroom presentations on deep data analysis on topics that I don’t see anyone else thinking or writing about.  The match was held at Tom Givens’ Rangemaster facility in Memphis for many years, then it moved to the Memphis Police Department training complex, and in more recent years it’s been held at the US Shooting Academy facility in Tulsa, and DARC.  The 2018 conference will return to DARC.

My topic this year was “Beyond the 1%”, which explored the critical question of how to get more than 1% of carry permit holders and gun owners in general to attend training that goes beyond their state minimum requirements.  I ended up doing over 40 hours of reading and study on it, looking at materials from the diet/exercise world, the video game and entertainment marketing world, psychology, sociology, census and poll data, membership and training stats from NRA, USPSA, IDPA, NSSF and other sources, and a lot of web searching to pull together what attendees told me was an interesting talk.  I’ll be sharing that info, spread out over many posts, in the coming weeks.  The full presentation was over 2 hours, over 100 slides.  Some of my recommendations are already being implemented by trainers that attended.

(The classrooms at DARC were large outdoor event tents.  Many of the photos show the presenter in shadow due to the lighting conditions inside the tent during the presentation.)

KR Training was well represented this year by multiple assistant instructors.  In addition to my own presentation, Paul Martin spoke on incorporating preparedness topics into firearms and self-defense training.  Dave Reichek, a graduate of multiple classes taught by Craig Douglas, was invited to assist Craig as a roleplayer in Craig’s “Experiential Learning Lab” block in the shoot house.  Tracy Thronburg and Ed Vinyard attended.

Each year there is a live fire match as part of the conference.  Over the past 15 years, KR Training has consistently placed an instructor or a student in the top 10, often in the top 5, each year.  This year KR Training student Kirk Clark won the match for the 2nd year in a row, with assistant instructor Dave Reichek placing 5th overall. Final match scores have not yet been posted. There were just over 200 shooters in the match this year.

FRIDAY

The first talk I attended on Friday was “Developing Force on Force Training Programs”, from Erik Pakieser, who runs a training school in Minnesota.  As I learned from his presentation, Erik and his team have a scenario based force on force training program very similar to what KR Training has been doing for the past 20 years.  Like us, their scenarios are armed-citizen focused, using Airsoft guns and realistic props.  Anyone in their part of the country should definitely take a look at their schedule and consider attending one of their classes.  Quality scenario based FoF training is in short supply and often hard to find.

Whether it was the morning hour or the topic, this talk didn’t draw the size of audience it deserved.  One of the conclusions from my own presentation is that force on force training is the best way to minimize “negative outcomes” in armed citizen incidents, but it’s also the least popular form of training. This is because the real reason many people attend training is not based on realistic risk assessment, but simply to have a reason to go shooting, or be able to run shooting drills that are more fun than target shooting.

Hopefully Erik and his team will return in 2018 and get the opportunity to run some of their scenarios for conference attendees.  I was able to catch the last half of Steve Moses’ presentation on Church Security.  He has significant experience and expertise on that topic, and I always enjoy learning more about it, as it’s a topic I get questions on from time to time.

I gave my talk Friday afternoon, and spent the last part of the day answering questions from people who attended the talk and catching up with many friends I hadn’t seen since last year’s conference.

SATURDAY

My Saturday started with Tiffany Johnson’s “UnSuck Your Power Point” session.

I spent my time in that session actually implementing some of her suggestions into my slides, enlarging fonts, splitting wordy slides into multiple slides, and changing background colors to enhance contrast.  I use Powerpoint sparingly in my normal classes, but data-heavy presentations like my topic this year really do benefit from the supporting visuals.

Next up was Lee Weems’ talk on Police-Citizen Contacts.  Lee is a law enforcement trainer, skilled shooter and a college instructor.  A good portion of this talk was on searches, from both the law enforcement and armed citizen perspective.  My favorite example: “If you have a warrant to search a house for a 60″ TV, you can’t look in all the drawers, because the TV obviously isn’t in there.  But if you are looking for the 60” TV and the remote…that’s good search warrant writing”.

The first talk of the afternoon was from Manny Kapelsohn: Yale & Harvard educated lawyer, police officer, firearms instructor, expert witness, and long time board member of the International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors.  The topic of his talk was “Lessons Learned from Use of Force Cases”.  He presented many examples from cases he had worked, along with general use of force concepts.  I had not had the opportunity to train with Manny before.  Hopefully he will return to TacCon in 2018 and continue sharing from his very deep pool of experience and knowledge.

The final talk I attended on Saturday was Andrew Branca’s “Law of Self Defense”.  His talk connected well with Manny’s, as both discussed scenarios, use of force issues and legal concerns.  Andrew’s talk was drawn from material in his courses and from his book.

Andrew and I have set a tentative date for him to visit KR Training in August 2018 to offer 1 or more of his courses.  I like to schedule indoor-friendly classes during January and August when outside weather is the harshest.

Saturday night was the annual instructor/presenter’s dinner.  Many of us have been regular presenters at the Conference for more than a decade.  In previous years the dinner concludes with a round table discussion of a topic, with each person given a few minutes to comment on it, which provides an excellent way to survey the group and get a variety of perspectives.  We didn’t do that this year. Hoping that tradition returns in 2018.

SUNDAY

Gave my talk again at 8 am Sunday morning to a larger audience than my Friday talk.  The Sunday folks got the improved slides.  Up after me, in that same classroom area, was Kevin Davis, a law enforcement trainer with over 30 years’ experience, who was also an author and contributor to Officer.com and Police one.com.

His talk, titled “Training for the Fight”, focused on the steps involved in going from “no training” to “well prepared”. It fit well with the material I presented on identifying training courses based on realistic risk reduction.  As with all the other talks I attended, it was well delivered and full of excellent content.

I shot the 30 round pistol match at the end of my lunch break.  The level of shooting required to win the match has gone up steadily, year after year, to the point that it now takes IPSC Grand Master level skill, but with a carry gun drawn from concealment, to win it.  The early days of the match included complex surprise scenarios shot in low light, using 3D targets, which took advantage of the event being hosted at Tom Givens’ indoor range, where the stages could be set up in advance, with plenty of locally based support to run and score, and the indoor range provided both a low light and surprise environment.  As the event as moved to other venues, the difficulty of running that type of match has increased. This year’s match did not include any low light/surprise scenarios, and was a multi string, 30 round set of standards at 5, 7 and 15 yards shot on a target with smaller “A zone” than the typical USPSA or IDPA target, using time penalties for shots outside the center ring.

As I told someone after I got done shooting the match, I didn’t feel like I was fast but I didn’t feel like I was slow, either.  Two shots at 15 yards strayed into the +1 second zone, adding 2 seconds to my total time, and in a match as tightly competitive at the top as this one was, that was enough to keep me out of the top 5.  Some years I get motivated and train hard specifically for the match.  My talk took longer to put together than I expected, and that cut deeply into my pre-conference practice time.

The final talk I attended on Sunday was a double-length block from Marty Hayes and Massad Ayoob on “The Firearms Instructor as Expert Witness”. Manny attended and shared his experience as an expert witness at many points during the talk.  This talk was particularly interesting to me as I had been contacted last year about being an expert witness in a Texas case.  They presented examples of what an expert witness does, explained what level of questioning an expert witness might face in court, discussed billing and typical rates, certification, and other topics.  This was a unique topic that I can’t recall ever being presented at previous conferences.

Marty and Mas now co-teach a Deadly Force Instructor certification course.  I am working with them to get a session of that course scheduled for early 2018 at KR Training.

FINAL THOUGHTS

There were a lot of hands-on sessions that I skipped: force on force and building search skills in the shoot houses, many different pistol courses, unarmed skills, medical skills.  Many of the trainers giving those classes were people I’ve trained with before, or had hosted within the last year, so I focused my time on presenters I hadn’t trained with before, new topics and topics of specific interest to me.

The 20th anniversary of the Conference is coming up next year.  It remains the best training value available to anyone in the country, offering access to dozens of trainers, and the opportunity to train with 10-12 of them over a 3 day event.  It typically sells out within a few months of registration opening, so anyone interested in attending the 2018 event should keep that in mind.  I’ll be sharing registration information with my students via the KR Training e-newsletter as soon as it becomes available.

 

Cecil Burch – Immediate Action combatives AAR

On February 18-19, 2017 I hosted (and attended) two days of unarmed training taught by Cecil Burch.  I brought Cecil to KR Training because I had trained with him at one of the Rangemaster Tactical Conferences a few years ago, and because Craig Douglas recommended him as an instructor that could teach students skills that would be useful when attending the Extreme Close Quarters Concepts class I’ll be hosting in March.

John Daub’s AAR from the class goes into more detail about Cecil’s background so I won’t repeat that information here.

 

I’ve hosted Craig’s ECQC class many times, going back to the original ECQC 1 and 2 one day courses he and Paul Gomez offered in the early days of his program.  One of the key lessons learned for me after that first ECQC weekend was that having a stronger set of fundamentals in unarmed skills was essential to doing well in the course.  And obviously, having better unarmed skills would be useful in situations where using them, instead of a firearm, was the best choice to solve a self-defense problem.

Unarmed skills are an interest, but not a passion, of mine.  As I told Cecil and the class when it was my turn in the “background and motivation to attend class” student introductions, I try to take 8-24 hours of unarmed & knife training each year to maintain my basic skills. Over the past 20 years that means I’ve taken hundreds of hours of training…which doesn’t equate to a high level of skill or subject matter expertise.    That level of training is enough to maintain some basic skills, though.

Over the past decade the most popular training courses are apparently carbine classes, where students fire a lot of rounds at targets at close distances, using gear and tactics familiar and appropriate to the “operator”/contractor types teaching the classes.  These courses seem to be popular because shooting targets at handgun distances with a rifle is easier than using a handgun, it gives people reasons to build and use their carbines, and the ‘fantasy camp’ aspect of doing “cool guy” stuff adds to the fun.

During the last 10 years I worked on a program at Texas A&M funded by DHS, where we taught Threat and Risk Assessment courses to communities all over the country. Applying that same approach to the threats and risks facing armed citizens led me to taking and hosting classes in medical skills, unarmed skills, knife skills and general individual emergency preparedness…basically swimming upstream against the direction the industry was turning.

As a reminder of this, response to Cecil’s classes was low, both from those enrolled in the March ECQC (which was heavy with unarmed defense hobbyists with much lighter ‘gun training resumes’, including a few that wanted to enroll but had no prior firearms training in how to draw from concealment or other defensive pistol skills), or my more frequent students who fill up my own and guest instructor live fire pistol courses.

As it worked out, we had a small number of students that fit the target demographic (gun people with limited unarmed skills), mixed with those that regularly train in standup and groundfighting skills.

Having the more experienced students in class was a great benefit to those of us with lesser skills, and frequent rotation of partners allowed those with more skills to get more benefit from the training than simply being “good bad guys” for those of us in the kiddie pool.

Cecil’s program is structured very similar to my Defensive Pistol Skills 1 class, teaching a basic response to a threat, with emphasis on developing good fundamentals for each step of that response.  That approach was applied to both the stand up and ground fighting days, and he even discussed how and when firearms would integrate with his responses as part of each day’s training.  Day 1 included default cover positions, escapes from grabs and chokes, and counter attack techniques, in many cases including skills that would carry over to the ground fighting class.

Day 2 was all ground work.  Each drill started with a disadvantaged start position. You started on your knees with eyes closed, and your opponent knocked, dragged or pulled you to the ground. This did an excellent job of simulating either being taken by surprise or your opponent in a stand up fight knocking you down.  Just as in day 1, a basic response to a ground attack was learned, adding steps as the students reached competence with each part.

Ground work is more physically taxing than stand up training.  After lunch on Day 2, Cecil encouraged us to “up the pressure” on our opponents, raising it to 50% or higher of our maximum possible. At that point I realized that when attacking I was holding back, when defending, even in ‘learning mode’, I was running at more than 50% and with some partners I was already at max capability.  By 2-3 pm on day 2, even the more experienced students were showing signs of fatigue.  Most typical martial arts classes are a few hours long; we had been going at it for 12+hours over 2 days by then.

Takeaways from the courses:  Cecil is an excellent instructor.  Back in the early 2000’s I joined a BJJ school, lasted about 6 months before getting frustrated with not being able to make techniques work and an instructor that could not explain that failure beyond “you need to come in even more days a week”.  Cecil’s instruction in one of those specific techniques identified the key change I needed to make to be successful.

His program, as promised, really is accessible to people with a wide range of physical abilities – not just young fit men.  It is those that are older or appear weaker who are mostly likely to be attacked physically, making it even more important for those at higher risk to attend this type of training.   The challenge for many is endurance.

I plan on bringing Cecil back either in late 2017 or early 2018 to offer more training, probably in a modified format focused on 1/2 day courses or blended courses that integrate live fire, scenario or other less physical components.

 

 

February 2017 KR Training e-news

FEBRUARY & MARCH CLASS DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

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.

UNARMED SELF DEFENSE TRAINING WITH CECIL BURCH

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.

UPCOMING CLASSES

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.

GUNS FOR SALE

(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.

BLOG-O-RAMA

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

JANUARY AND FEBRUARY CLASS DISCOUNTS AND DEALS

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.

DYNAMIC FIRST AID

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.

TEAM TACTICS

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.

UNARMED SELF DEFENSE TRAINING WITH CECIL BURCH

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.

UPCOMING CLASSES

The full schedule of 2017 classes is here.

GUNS FOR SALE

(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.

AMERICAN WARRIOR SOCIETY

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.

BLOG-O-RAMA

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.

Music

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.