Book Review: The Modern Technique of the Pistol (Morrison, 1991)

The Modern Technique of the Pistol was written by Gregory Morrison, as part of his PhD work. It compiles many of the techniques and concepts taught at Gunsite in the 1980’s. The book is available direct from the Gunsite Pro Shop.

The contents of the book are listed below. It covers the standard topics found in virtually any handgun training manual, separated into mindset, gunhandling and marksmanship categories, with some additional material included in the final section.

From the foreword of the book:

It must be emphasized that the Modern Technique of the Pistol is a completely civilian development and not a product of either the police or military establishment. It is practically impossible for anything radical or innovative to be introduced by people on the public payroll, bureaucracy being what it is. Several of the people involved in the movement were indeed in the public service at one time or another, but their pioneering work in shooting was done on their own time, at their own expense, and in some cases contrary to the policies of their superiors.

The Modern Technique of the Pistol, Jeff Cooper foreward, 1991

In the 1980’s and early 1990’s, the Weaver stance was widely taught and used. The book provides explanation and pictures documenting what a proper Weaver stance is.

In this video, Jack Weaver discusses the history of the stance that bears his name.

During the 1980’s, semiauto pistols began to displace revolvers as the standard duty handgun for law enforcement, and interest in semiauto pistols for personal defense grew, as traveling trainers teaching Modern Technique and practical shooting matches became more popular. Discussion of revolver reloads, in particular, began to be phased out of training programs and books on handgunning. Morrison’s book covers revolver techniques for right- and left-handed shooters. In the current era very few instructor programs spend any time at all on these techniques. Tom Givens included a block of instruction on that material in his Master Instructor course.

Gunsite has multiple shoot houses, and has always taught “house clearing” (armed movement in structures) skills. Prior to the Gunsite era, armed citizens typically had no access to this type of training.

In the early days of practical shooting, kneeling and prone positions were far more commonly taught and practiced.

The majority of students training at Gunsite were using 1911 pistols, and many of the techniques taught for gun manipulation were specific to that model (and in some cases, such as the press check method shown below), only possible for certain configurations of 1911. The pinch technique does not work for a gun with full length guide rod. (That’s one of many reasons why that technique is no longer commonly taught.)

In the section on malfunctions, a 1911-specific malfunction is explained. It occurs when the firing pin stop drops down, preventing the firing pin from returning to its correct position after a round is fired. In the days of custom 1911s this may have been a more common problem. I shot 1911 pistols in the late 80s and all throughout the 1990s and never saw this particular malfunction occur in my own guns or anyone else’s — but apparently it occurred enough times to make the malfunction list in the book.

Perhaps the most misunderstood term that’s part of the Modern Technique is “double tap”. Both USPSA and IDPA competitions require “best 2 hits” on paper targets, and many competitors (particularly those that begin competing without getting any training beyond the carry permit level) hear fast shooters rattling off quick pairs and assume that what is occurring is “aim once, work the trigger twice” shooting. (There is a USPSA club in San Antonio Texas named the Alpha-Mike shooters. Their name comes from the score that often occurs when the “aim once, shoot twice” technique is used: one A-zone (Alpha) hit, and one miss (Mike).

The book explains the more precise terms of ‘hammer pair’, ‘dedicated pair’, and ‘controlled pair’. Just as the Eskimos have many words for snow, shooters have many words to describe the nuances of sights and trigger manipulation. According to the book, the hammer pair involves pressing the trigger for shot #2 as quickly as possible and is “usually reserved for distances of a few paces”). For a dedicated pair, the shooter uses their experience and familiarity with the recoil cycle of the gun to sync the timing of the second shot to point at which the gun is roughly indexed on the target. Each shot of a controlled pair has its own sight picture, and is controlled individually. The subtleties of these concepts only make sense to those that put in a lot of time working on fast pairs (or longer sequences such as 6 shot Bill Drills), and in practice become a balancing act between timing and visual information and recoil.

Unlike many older books on shooting, the Modern Technique book is not easily located in the used market and new copies are not listed on amazon. There is no e-book version. The best way to get a copy is to order direct from the Gunsite Pro Shop.

For a sample of what training at Gunsite in 1992 was like, here’s a class AAR from Barry Needham.

1978 First Draft IPSC Rules

More from Bob Hanna: a copy of the first draft of the IPSC rules for practical pistol competition, sent to Bob by Jeff Cooper, when Bob was competition director for the Brazos Practical Shooters, a sub group of the Sugarland (Texas) Sportsman’s Club.

The rules are interesting, in historical context, as so many of them have eroded over time from the original intent. Principle #4 was perhaps the first to go, as truly ‘realistic’ stages simply don’t have enough targets or shots fired to be as exciting or interesting as longer courses of fire. Principle #5 (weapon types are not separated) proved to be unworkable in a sporting context, as every practical pistol sport is now subdivided into divisions based on action type and other characteristics.

In 1978, the idea of a magazine capacity ban was not a concern. It was only after the 1994 national magazine capacity law (and state laws that persisted after the national law expired and was not renewed) that capacity limits became an issue in the pistol sports. The lack of limits on magazine capacity, along with courses of fire requiring more and more rounds, drove interest in higher capacity pistols and magazine upgrade kits allowing a few more rounds to be fit into existing magazines – from 8 round 1911 .45 magazines in the 1980’s to today’s aftermarket spring, follower and base pad vendors offering ways to increase magazine capacity by 1-3 rounds without extending mag length, and magazine extension kits for the competition approved 170mm magazines, and super extended magazines used in Pistol Caliber Carbine divisions.

The ballistic pendulum, and major/minor scoring, was later replaced with pulling and weighing bullets and measuring velocity with chronographs. The intent of this process was to prevent the use of downloaded ammunition, as was common in PPC and bullseye matches.

Principle #19: “holsters must be practical” became a controversial topic in the 1980’s, as open carry, high speed competition holsters were developed and used by match winners. Holsters evolved from steel lined leather holsters suitable for concealed carry, to very open designs using plastic locks grabbing the trigger guard. The limits imposed on holsters by IDPA are an attempt to get back to the original principles of the sport.

The current rulebooks for IPSC and USPSA and IDPA are considerably longer than this original draft, but much of the original language and intent still exists within those competition formats. Many of these rules date back to the rules for the Leatherslap matches that predate the formation of IPSC, and some are derived from PPC and other pistol match formats from the 1950’s.

1980 American Pistol Institute (Gunsite) class notes

Another artifact from Bob Hanna – notes from classes he attended at the American Pistol Institute (aka Gunsite) in 1980 and 1981.

Here’s their recommended twice-a-month practice drill.

API dry practice drill.

Another practice drill.

The advanced practice drill. Turning draws were emphasized a lot more in courses (and matches) in the 1980’s than they are today. Other than concerns about students muzzling others during turning draws, I have no good explanation for why that particular skill has faded away. We included a turning draw in our Three Seconds or Less test, but none of the other popular standards courses, including most law enforcement qualification courses, incorporate that skill.

Mindset and tactics guidance.

Holster advice. The issue with being able to get a full firing grip on the pistol when its holster remains valid. One common problem I deal with in almost every class or private lesson is holsters set up to ride too low to the belt, or having giant sweat guards that prevent a full firing grip on the holstered gun.

Schedules for 1980 and 1981.

The list of pistol modifications recommended (and not recommended). Most of these are 1911-centric as that pistol was by far the most popular one with API students.

Book Review: Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make (Werner, 2019)

Claude Werner, a.k.a. the Tactical Professor, has a distinguished background as an analyst in the military (Special Operations), as a market research director for real estate and major accounting firms, and as a firearms trainer at the elite Rogers Shooting School.

Several years ago he began to study what he called “negative outcomes” involving armed citizens. What mistakes do they make? What are the contributing factors? It’s a topic that really hasn’t been written about or discussed within the gun culture or training community to the depth that Claude explored it.

He defines three factors that lead to bad decisions and negative outcomes:

  1. Don’t Know the Rules
  2. Inadequate Skills
  3. Don’t understand the situation

There’s really no excuse for not knowing the rules, in a time where information is immediately accessible online. Perhaps a better description for this factor is “didn’t think it important enough to learn the rules”. Rules could be gun safety rules, applicable laws, or the basic rules of self-defense tactics and interaction with law enforcement when armed.

The importance of dry fire practice in building skill, particularly related to safe gun handling and rapid, effective presentation of the gun from concealment, has been understood for decades, and is widely emphasized in modern training programs. Live fire time, or access to a range, isn’t required to develop most of the skills associated with pistol shooting and gunhandling. So perhaps another description for this factor is “didn’t think it was important enough to learn how to develop skills and develop them”.

Claude has produced several books on how to practice, available from his webstore.

“Not understanding the situation” is the most difficult factor. Unlike the other two, learning how to assess situations often requires life experience, and most armed citizens living normal lives don’t get a lot of life experience in high stress deadly force situations. Watching videos and online analyses of incidents can help, as can participating in force on force scenarios, but it’s fair to say that this particular factor requires more effort to improve than the other two.

Claude breaks down the types of mistakes into three categories:

  1. Legal mistakes
  2. Imprudent mistakes
  3. Mechanical mistakes

Claude’s list of legal mistakes include unjustifiable shootings, warning shots, unnecessary intervention, and more. His definition of imprudent mistakes mainly focuses on gun access problems (lost, stolen, child access). Mechanical mistakes are related to gun handling and marksmanship.

From that he defines a list of Negative Outcomes, that include being injured or killed, arrested, tried, imprisoned, and several others.

The book itself goes into detail about each type of mistake and negative outcome.

I strongly recommend this book to all firearms trainers, particularly those teaching state carry permit classes. Carry permit students, most of whom are unmotivated to train beyond mandatory state minimums, are the ones that need to understand the information Claude presents, to understand why training and regular practice is important.

The book, like all of Claude’s work, is available from the Tactical Professor website by clicking the “Tactical Professor books” button.

1980 Chuck Taylor course notes

KR Training student Bob Hanna recently gave me his copies of class notes from training he attended with the late Chuck Taylor. Taylor was one of the early traveling trainers who spun off from Jeff Cooper’s American Pistol Institute (Gunsite), bringing that curriculum to a national (and international) audience. In 1980, Taylor had just started offering classes under his own American Small Arms Academy business name.

I’m sharing them here as part of my work exploring the history of pistol training. The full package of scanned notes can be downloaded here as a PDF. Many of the handouts were copies of copies, and are still relatively poor quality after scanning and cleanup. Taylor’s pistol shooting book, published in 1982, is a better place to find much of this material in more readable format.

The majority of the notes are copies of magazines articles Chuck wrote for various publications. They provide a snapshot of what the topics of concern were for combat pistol trainers in the early 1980’s.

The first article discusses the purpose of the handgun, ending with advocacy for the .45 ACP caliber and its “stopping power” (a major concern and favorite topic of gun writers and trainers in that era).

The next articles focus on gun modifications. The late 1970’s and 80’s were the era of the custom 1911 – days in which someone would purchase a stock pistol and have a gunsmith replace most of the parts in it with aftermarket upgrades.

In 2020 language this would be called a “build”, with the only difference between 1980 and 2020 being that the end users are doing most of the work themselves, as pistol designs and manufacturing have made it easier to install drop-in parts.

“Stopping power” and Taylor’s short form version of the Hatcher calculation gets many pages of charts and tables. The FBI’s decision to switch back to 9mm and general acceptance of that change throughout the private sector and law enforcement training community basically ended much of the stopping power debate.

Malfunctions – which were more common in the days of customized 1911’s and mil surplus magazines – was a popular topic for discussion in the 1980’s also. The “sweep across the top of the slide” technique works well with the tall .45 ACP case, but not as well with the short 9mm case, in my experience, which is one reason why that technique is not widely taught any more.

And of course, being “killed on the street” is an evergreen topic as popular on internet gun forums today as it was in the 1980s.

Interestingly enough this article calls stopping power a myth (despite Taylor’s focus on it elsewhere in the class notes). His thoughts on reloads show up in a section called “The Myth of Cover”

This article shows state of the art techniques and gear for low light shooting circa 1980.

The full package of scanned notes can be downloaded here as a PDF.

Here’s a full length interview with Chuck, recorded in 2018. It includes a summary of his history (why and how he became a trainer) along with a lot of other great insights.

KR Training November 2020 Newsletter

ELECTION 2020

While all the attention has been on the presidential race, there are many down-ballot races of major importance, from Congressional seats to Texas Legislature seats to county district attorney and state judge positions. As always we encourage you to consider the impact of elections on your gun rights. County district attorneys decide whether to prosecute defensive gun uses. Our state legislature and judges set and define policy (campus carry, reduced fees and hours for LTC, open carry, and more). At the national level, the President gets to appoint leaders of all cabinet agencies and major departments – including those that can decide whether AR pistols with shoulder braces are legal, or ban the use of lead for hunting and target shooting – all with the stroke of a pen. Most importantly, the future of the 2nd amendment ultimately lies with the Supreme Court. A pro-gun SCOTUS could overturn bans on AR-15 rifles and magazines holding more than 10 rounds; a SCOTUS “packed” with a progressive majority could overturn the Heller and McDonald decisions, bringing “California-style” gun laws to the entire nation. If you haven’t read, or don’t understand the impact of, the gun control proposals in the Biden/Harris platform, you should educate yourself. We encourage you to make a candidate’s position on gun rights, firearm carry outside the home, and the fundamental human right of self-defense a priority in your voting decision.

2021 SCHEDULE

We have guest instructors scheduled for January, February, March and April. Details are on the KR Training schedule page. We are waiting until after the election results are known and the impact on civil unrest is assessed before announcing additional 2021 courses. That planning also includes a decision regarding a potential 10th annual Preparedness Conference. Those concerned about preparedness should take a look at the 17 hours of video available on our Vimeo channel for a small fee.

UPCOMING KR TRAINING CLASSES

Due to our agreement with range neighbors, we will have no weekend group live fire classes Nov 1 – Dec 31. Weekday private live fire training will be available on a limited basis. We do have some no-live-fire courses available as listed below.

This fall eleven students earned their Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coins. Most of the classes we have scheduled in November and December (except the Lone Star Medics courses) are challenge coin program courses.

AFFILIATE CLASSES

Our friends at Bear Arms (Austin) and Greig Shooting (Caldwell/Conroe) have live fire classes scheduled for November and December. Private weekday classes including LTC online completion are also available. Tina Maldonado, Sean Hoffman, and Doug Greig also offer private and a few weekend group courses not listed here.

Register for any class using our online system.

STAFF DEVELOPMENT

Our staff participates in continuing education every year. Classes one or more staff instructors have (or will) attend in 2020 include: SIG Red Dot Instructor, Rangemaster Master Instructor, KR Training Force on Force Instructor, Rangemaster Instructor Reunion, SIG 365 Armorer’s Course, Tactics-Based Land Navigation, Texas Bar CLE Firearms Law, CutNStuff, TacMed EDC, competition training with Ben Stoeger, and others. I’m personally on track to complete 125 hours of training in 2020.

NEW K-9 STAFF

Penny and I have adopted two yellow lab-mix puppies: Scudder (male) and Rye (female), from the same litter. As we get them socialized and trained they will be “assisting” with future classes.


SONG OF THE MONTH

My trio covers “Rockin Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” (aka “the COVID theme song”) from back in March, when the bar at the George Hotel was still open and booking live music.

Keep up with the interesting articles, links, and stories we share in real time. Follow KR Training on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe to this newsletter or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. Send me an email to schedule your private weekday training session.

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

Book Review: That’s The Way I Remember it (Gordon, 2019)

Retired Texas Ranger Joey Gordon is a regular contributor to the Texas State Rifle Association monthly magazine. His articles feature stories about guns used and owned by Texas Rangers. Many of his articles have been compiled into a glossy book available from TSRA as a fundraising item.

A couple sample pages from the book’s chapters, showing more detail about the guns and lawmen featured in the articles.

The book is full of great pictures and great stories from Texas history. The Texas State Rifle Association is under-appreciated and under-supported by Texas gun owners. Much of the work to get concealed carry passed in the 1990’s, and all the reforms and improvements to the law since, was done by TSRA. Money donated to TSRA stays within Texas and is used to support not only lobbying but youth shooting programs like the Scholastic Clay Target and Scholastic Action Pistol programs.

If you are a Texas gun owner or Texas carry permit holder, particularly if you are dissatisfied with the current state of the National Rifle Association, please join Texas State Rifle Association.

Armed Citizen-Police Interaction Video

As part of the ongoing 2020 Virtual Preparedness Conference Paul Martin and I are presenting this fall, LEO instructor and private sector trainer Lee Weems from First Person Safety contributed this video giving guidance for armed citizens interacting with police.

Like the other videos in this series, it’s available to stream or download, ad-free, for a few dollars.

KR Training October 2020 Newsletter

Gov. Abbott’s policy change allowing businesses to run at 75% capacity applies to KR Training, and we have opened additional slots in October classes to meet unprecedented demand for training. (UPDATE: most of the open slots have been filled!) We’ve added more weekday group classes to the schedule also.

AMMO SHORTAGE & DRY FIRING

Ammunition has become very difficult to find, with prices up as high as 500%. This article from RECOIL magazine explains the cause and answers many questions. The current situation could easily continue into 2021. We have reduced the round counts in some classes, and are offering many no-live-fire courses (marked with ** in the list below).

Dry firing is an essential way to continue maintaining skill. Annette Evans’ Dry Fire Primer book and Ben Stoeger’s dry fire book are excellent ways to learn how to do effective dry fire practice. Training aids such as the SIRT pistol (use code KRT10 for a discount) and Coolfire Trainer (use code REHN20 for discount) can make dry firing more interesting. With 9mm ammo selling for 500 per thousand (or more!), a training gun that allows realistic practice and does not require racking the slide for each shot becomes a much more cost-effective solution. After you have dry fired the training gun 500-1000 times, the “investment” is paid for and all future use of that gun is essentially free. Dry firing doesn’t require leaving the house, ammo, or a shooting range. 10-15 minutes a few times a week can produce significant improvement, particularly if you practice drawing from concealment.

UPCOMING CLASSES WITH SPACE AVAILABLE

Private weekday classes including LTC online completion are also available. Tina Maldonado, Sean Hoffman and Doug Greig also offer private and a few weekend group courses not listed here.

Register for any class using our online system.

PREPAREDNESS VIDEOS UPDATE

Paul Martin and Karl Rehn along with guest instructors Caleb Causey and Mark Overstreet have posted new videos for 2020 as part of our ongoing Virtual Preparedness Conference. More videos will be released in October.

The entire video series can be found here.

AT-5 TACTICS LABORATORY

If you’ve taken AT-2 scenarios and want more force on force training, the AT-5 Tactics Laboratory class is for you!. This higher level class integrates unarmed skills along with Simunition guns to provide a more realistic simulation experience with full scenario context. Drills integrated unarmed and gun skills for close range encounters are also part of the class. The “shooting from retention” drills in DPS-1 are repeated, this time against live opponents using SIRT guns and other props, to reinforce and build on that skill, practicing against an uncooperative opponent. We only offer this course once a year, so we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.


SEPTEMBER BLOG POSTS

In case you missed it, here’s what we’ve been blogging about in September:

TEXAS BAR FIREARMS LAW TRAINING

Karl will be attending the (virtual) Texas Bar Association’s Firearms Law seminars this week. Guest instructor Massad Ayoob will be presenting a session. The virtual sessions are open to anyone paying the tuition fee, and the sessions will be available after the event is over for those that want to register and view them later. Texas Bar CLE has also published a new book on the essentials of Texas Firearms Law – highly recommended for any instructor or serious student of armed self-defense. Unlike mass market books on this topic, this book includes references to case law with citations, and has a college-textbook price to match its college-textbook information.

SONG OF THE MONTH

This month’s music video is from summer 2010, when Leannasaurus Rex had a weekly gig at popular biker hangout Yankees Tavern near Iola, Texas. The best performances from those shows ended up on the “Hot Summer Jams” CD (download the remastered tracks for free here). Plans for a 10th anniversary re-release and Leannasaurus Rex reunion show were scrapped due to COVID. This fan-shot phone video for our cover of Matt Schofield’s “Siftin Through the Ashes” seemed appropriate given the fiery riots and civil unrest of the past 30 days.

Keep up with the interesting articles, links, and stories we share in real time. Follow KR Training on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe to this newsletter or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. Send me an email to schedule your private weekday training session.

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

Book Review: Quick or Dead (Cassidy, 1978)

Quick or Dead was published by Paladin Press back in 1978. There are still copies available online, even though Paladin has closed up shop. The title doesn’t tell you as much about the book’s contents as the subtitle on the inside cover page does.

Written during the time when the Modern Technique (Weaver stance and the rest of the program Gunsite taught) was becoming more widely accepted, the book gathers up the best of all the non-Modern Technique material from 1900 to the present. The tone of the book is better than many “point shooting” books (and the book doesn’t specifically advocate point shooting), because it doesn’t insist that the methods it shows are The Way and that the Gunsite/Weaver/Cooper material is Wrong and Bad. Many of the observations and explanations in the book actually align well with where technique evolved in the 80’s and 90’s.

The list of those named and acknowledged (and those NOT mentioned, specifically anyone that was part of the Gunsite community), is a good indicator of the roots of the book’s content, though.

And in keeping with the spirit of many of Paladin’s other publications, here’s a list of other books the author wrote for them. Several of the topics are very 1970’s in flavor.

The best part of the book, for me, as a student of history of handgun training, was the extensive bibliography. Most of the books and articles the author references were familiar to me, including many of the books written by British shooters in the early 1900’s. His frequent references to Pollard’s writing added that name to my “need to read” list. I picked up a e-book edition of Pollard’s “The Book of Pistol and Revolver” for $10 and will review it here at some point. My current stack of “read and ready to review” is over a dozen books, with another dozen or more in the “to read” stack. (The rabbit hole of old gun books is a deep one.)

Pollard is quoted in ‘Quick or Dead’:

“Shooting at a man is quite different to target practice. You are, unless cast in a specifically heroic mold, excited, possibly startled or alarmed. You may have had to run and be out of breath, or you may have experienced that emotional heart acceleration which makes the hand positively dither. In any case, you will be looking at your man, not at your pistol.”

Pollard, according to historical claims, was a “duellist of some repute”, since formal duels were still being fought from time to time post WWI. (I have been reading old books on dueling and will have a separate blog post at some point in the future discussing how the schools that taught young nobleman how to duel have their own place in the history of handgun training.) Pollard is quoted again in Quick or Dead:

“Never advance cheerfully on your late opponent without reloading. You may have used your last shot, and he may not be properly dead and still spiteful. There is one golden rule which should never be broken. If a pistol is carried it must be loaded and ready for instant use. A unloaded, unready pistol is less use than half a brick in an old stocking.”

(Only 1/3rd of pistols caught by TSA in spring 2020 in carry on bags had a round chambered, although most have ammunition in the gun, indicating that a lot of carry permit holders still need education as to what “unready” means and how little time they will have to deploy the pistol if needed. My suspicion is that most of those guns were flopping around loose in no particular orientation within the bag, which might be the reason the owner was uncomfortable having a round chambered. Two wrongs, in this situation, don’t make a right, as a gun carried off body in a bag should be in its own compartment that has an embedded holster that covers the trigger guard…with a round chambered.)

The book includes some good illustrations showing stance, grip, and other fundamentals.

In 1978, very few shooters were using this stance, but it should look very familiar to 21st century shooters, with the gun brought up to the eye target line, gripped in two hands, fully extended with no asymmetric arm bending.

While the author describes this stance as “instinctive pointing”, clearly the pointing is being done by aligning the finger with the dominant eye, which is not the “point shoulder” position nor the hip shooting position some point shooters advocate. In the 21st century, shooting with the gun at eye level, using the sights but a target focus for close range (the author chooses 25 feet, or roughly 8 yards, as his definition), is widely taught, both with iron sights (particularly by multi-time USPSA national champion Ben Stoeger) and with red dots (by basically everyone teaching red dot pistol classes).

This grip drawing shows proper alignment of the gun with the hand and arm – something that remains valid today. The rise of the wide-body, double stack magazine semiauto pistol has caused many shooters, particularly those with short fingers, to learn to grip the gun with it twisted over their thumb knuckle, as the picture in the upper left shows. The growing popularity of single-stack of narrow guns, such as the Glock 48, M&P Shield, Springfield XD-S and others, has finally given small handed/short fingered shooters better options for guns that fit their hands properly, but based on what I observe with students in classes, understanding of this basic principle of gun selection is poor to nonexistent at the carry permit level. Mis alignment of the gun with the hand also occurs when the grip is built starting with the firing hand fingers, vs. aligning with the web of the hand. Another common source of this error is getting a bad grip on the pistol when drawing from an inside the waistband holster.

The author comments on the importance of keeping the thumb parallel to the slide – something that can be done with a classic thumb over thumb grip, and also with the more modern “thumbs forward” grip. Gripping with enough pressure that the hand trembles is not current thinking, but gripping with significant pressure with the fingers (of both hands) is commonly taught.

The material on how to draw from concealment is dated, showing the classic FBI “bowling” draw including movement of the head and eyes as the gun is being drawn. Draw technique changed radically in the decades after 1978. The average shooter trained in modern draw technique is faster, and getting better first shot hits, than those using the FBI lean, bowl and crouch technique were getting in their day.

Chapters

A quick overview of the chapters and topics covered:

  1. Influences and approaches – The Moros and the .45 caliber cartridge, advantages of the self-loading pistol, World War I instruction, fast draws, Ed McGivern, A.C. Gould, A.L.A. Himmelwright, and “snap shooting”
  2. The Shanghai Influence – This chapter does an excellent job of presenting the history of Fairbairn’s time in China, and the program of training he developed, particularly his shoot house, scenario based concept of training.
  3. Voices in the Wilderness – Hugh Pollard, William Frazer, J.H. Fitzgerald, A.L.A. Himmelwright, Charles Askins, Fairbairn, Sam Yeaton and Sam Moore — basically a collection of information from all of these influential writers and shooters from the WW2 era.
  4. Specially Employed – Askins, Fairbairn and Sykes, Applegate, and how the FBI got “educated” by the WW2 point shooters.
  5. Post-War Approaches – Cowboy Quick Draw, Cooper, Chic Gaylord, Bill Jordan, Colin Greenwood, Leatherslap – basically 1950’s-1960’s evolution of training and technique summarized nicely.
  6. How to Practice Shooting – this is where most of the pictures of fundamentals in the review came from. From the era before shooting timers were common, there are few courses of fire in this section, just descriptions of how to draw from concealment and shooting using the techniques described earlier in the book.
  7. Technicalities – the final section of the book is mostly a compendium of ballistic studies, mostly dated results advocating for the .45 ACP caliber and the Glaser Safety Slug, with one subsection “All Guns Are More Or Less Equal Except Those Designed by John Browning Which Are Better”, which would have been at home in any late 1970’s gun magazine.

Summary

This book would be a good choice for someone that wants the history of handgun training and technique, 1900-1960-ish, from the perspective of those that did not (or were slow) to get on board with what Jeff Cooper was teaching in the late 60’s and early 1970’s. It shows that some of the things that were later merged with the Modern Technique came from those sources, and would give any shooter a sense of historical perspective. It’s a short read, full of references to related works, making it easy for someone interested in diving deeper into the topics to track down the source material.