Small Gun class data 2019-2020

Each year at the start of summer I offer a small gun oriented defensive pistol class.  The intent of the course is to provide an opportunity for people to practice with the smaller gun that is more convenient to carry in the hot weather.  Use of pocket holsters, purses, fanny packs, and any other mode of carry that’s not a traditional belt holster is allowed and encouraged, since practice drawing from those methods is typically not allowed at commercial ranges and discouraged in other defensive pistol classes due to range safety concerns and the additional time/complexity associated with reholstering.

Earlier articles about this course can be found here.

Part of the course includes shooting our 3 seconds or Less test (3SL) with both the small gun and a full size gun drawn from a belt holster, to measure the performance change (usually a loss) that occurs when switching from the larger gun to the smaller one.

Data from the 2019 and 2020 sessions

31 shooters

Small Guns: 2 DA/SA, 3 snub revolvers, and the rest were all striker fired polymer guns. The typical “small gun” was a single stack 9mm striker fired gun.

Large Guns: 4 single action (1911, CZ75 or Wilson EDCX9), one SIG 226, one CZ P01 fired DA/SA, one S&W Model 10-8, and a lot of striker fired polymer 9mm handguns.

Scoring: 5 points for each acceptable hit (20 hits possible, 100 pts possible). Earlier versions of the 3SL test shot on USPSA and IDPA targets awarded points for hits outside the 5 point zone. Current version is scored on a 5 or 0 basis.

Average small gun score: 69.17 out of 100 possible
Average large gun score: 79.63 out of 100 possible

Performance loss from shooting the smaller gun: -10.4%

The best shooters in the classes dropped 5% or shot the same with their small guns; the worst dropped 30-50% more points with the smaller gun.

Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their small gun: 19 of 31 (61% passed).
Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their primary gun: 24 of 31 (77% passed).

Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level (desired) using their small gun: 3 of 31 (9.8% passed).
Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level using their primary gun: 12 of 31 (38.7% passed)

Historical average of the entire data set of 91 shooters:

Small Gun score: 74.9/100
Larger gun score: 83.5/100

The 2019-2020 classes included 11 shooters assessed as “low” skill level based on their primary gun scores, 11 assessed as “medium”, and 9 ranked “high”. All had Texas carry permits, carrying one or both of the guns they used for the course at various times during a typical year.

Looking at the historical data set, those in the “low” skill level (unable to pass the 3SL test with the primary gun), dropped an average of 3 points switching to the smaller gun, indicating a general lack of shooting skill regardless of which gun was used. The spread of points dropped ranged from +15 to -30, as a few shooters shot significantly better with their small gun than with their primary.

Those in the “medium” skill level (70-89 points on the 3SL test shot with their primary gun), dropped an average of 6.5 points switching to the smaller gun, with the spread ranging from +12 to -38.

Those in the high skill level (90+ points with primary gun) dropped an average of 7.8 points with differences ranging from +17 to -48.

Interpreting Data

The Three Seconds or Less (3SL) test was designed to define an acceptable minimum performance standard for concealed carry pistol shooters. I describe as a simple go/no-go assessment. If you can pass at 70% with a particular combination of gear, that configuration is probably OK to carry in public. Being able to shoot 90% means you are well prepared and not just “OK”. 90% on the 3SL test is roughly equal to IDPA Expert or USPSA B class skill.

64 of the 91 shooters using their small guns could pass at the 70% level. Only 16 of the 91 could pass at the 90% level.

79 of the 91 shooters using their primary guns could pass at the 70% level, with 37 of 91 passing at the 90% level.

The data shows what we already knew: smaller guns are harder to shoot. Those with lower skill level shoot poorly regardless of gear. Those at higher skill levels shoot higher overall scores, but drop more points on average when switching to the smaller gun. That’s a result different from what was observed in years past, with a smaller data set. More than half the shooters capable of shooting 90% with their primary gun couldn’t do it with the smaller gun (19 of 37).

Conclusions

It’s convenient to have a large and a small gun, used as weather and type of wardrobe dictates. It’s good to be able to shoot at least 70% on the 3SL test with both, better to be able to shoot 90% with both. Being able to shoot a 70% or a 90+% score with the primary gun and gear configuration does NOT guarantee that you’ll be able to do it with the small gun.

Small guns are harder to shoot fast and accurate, deep concealment carry methods slow down draw times — but violent attackers are not going to attack more slowly to compensate for the difficulties imposed by the gear you’ve chosen.

Try this:

  1. Shoot the 3SL test from open carry with your primary gun.
  2. Shoot the 3SL test from concealed carry with your primary gun. Assess the difference in score. More than likely draw time will be the problem, which means dry fire practice, changes to holster, cover garment and/or draw technique may be needed.
  3. Shoot the 3SL test from open carry with your small gun. Identify which parts of the test need improvement, and work on those skills with the small gun.
  4. Shoot the 3SL test from concealed carry with your small gun. Assess whether the concealment method and draw technique you are using needs changing. Or in some cases, accept that the wardrobe or other restrictions forcing you to carry in a way that has to be compensated for in other ways than changing carry method: being more cautious, reaching in your pocket to grip a pocket pistol earlier in a potential situation than you had in the past, giving yourself more space and time.

If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it, as the saying goes.

More Chuck Taylor historical docs

From Bob Hanna about central Texas firearms training history:

In 1975 I bought 49% of the Marksman indoor Range in South Houston, TX. That’s when I really became involved with the Houston gun scene and folks like: Fred Rexer – Wikipedia, machine gun dealer, screenwriter, movie consultant (Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn etc.). https://www.joebowman.net/ Joe was an exhibition shooter and trainer, taught movie stars (Sammy Davis, Jr, Robert Duvall etc.) and law enforcement. Herman Mueschke, who designed the ambi safety used by Colt. Several deceased gun writers whose names I no longer remember unless they are mentioned. Col. Cannon, former OSS, inventor of the Glaser Safety Slug, several very interesting conversations over coffee in his kitchen.

Became involved in “Combat Shooting” matches about this time with The Brazos Practical Shooters, a sub group of the Sugarland Sportsmans Club, a long gone competition club. I was Competition Director in 1978 when Jeff Cooper sent me “…the First Draft of the IPSC rules for practical pistol competition.”

In 1977 and 1978 I was Co-Manager for Collectors Firearms, probably the nicest gun store in Houston. Founded by Mike Clark, Jerry Fountain, Gary Green and a guy I can’t remember, they started with $20K. Two of them dropped out and it left only Mike and Jerry. They split up shortly after I left Houston in the early 1980s, Jerry took his half and opened Fountain Firearms.

Around this time I was an assistant for a Police Defensive Tactics course at San Jacinto College. Primarily, I knew how to do break falls and the students practiced Judo throws on me until they learned how to be thrown without being hurt.

Jeff Cooper and my Uncle, Mike Ryan were stationed at Quantico together and Mike, Jeff and their wives, Marjorie and Janelle played cards weekly, Pinochle if I remember correctly. Jeff Cooper came to Houston to teach what he called an extension course in 1979, I scored Expert.

Then in 1980 I went to Gunsite for the 499 Advanced Class, I believe I have given you some paperwork on that. This was I believe the first class after Chuck Taylor left, he had been the Operations Manager and Lead Instructor. He and Jeff had a serious disagreement and parted ways abruptly. Chuck ran things and Jeff would teach some things, but also ferried people around from range to range where the different instructors were teaching. The class, in my opinion, did not seem well organized and were not worked near as hard as in the 250 and I blamed that on Chuck’s abrupt departure. I was not the only one in the class who thought so. I mentioned it to Jeff in private and he took exception to it. This and some inappropriate actions to the wife/girlfriend of a student by two students in the class, Presidential Bodyguards from Guatemala, that was just ignored sort of turned me off to Jeff/Gunsite at the time. I guess Jeff and I parted ways as did Chuck. I had told my uncle about my discussion with Jeff and his response. My Uncle said “Jeff is very opinionated.” When my uncle died, Jeff wrote a nice comment in Guns & Ammo and his Commentaries, article attached, and twenty years had passed, I mellowed on my opinion of Jeff/Gunsite.

Around 1981, the Harris County DA’s Office asked my assistance as a Professional Witness on a couple of cases, though none actually went to trial.

In 1981, I was looking for more training and contacted Chuck and we came to an agreement that I would bring him to Houston to teach classes. I partnered with a friend, Wally Gorman, owner of Alexander’s Guns, we put on several classes a year through about 1985 or so. I moved to Wimberley in late 1982 and we put on classes in Houston and Austin. I had assisted Chuck in his classes since 1981 and in 1984 I was invited to an Instructor Course, certificate attached.  Teaching Scuba full time at Southwest Texas State and teaching gun classes on the side was keeping me pretty busy and so we ended our promotion of Chuck Taylor classes at the end of 1985 I think.

Took a class from Ross Seyfried just after he won the 1981 IPSC World Championship. I don’t recall any handouts, Ross suggested some things Chuck did not agree with.

Around 1984 I was a guest Instructor for a SWAT Class at San Antonio College with officers from small departments, The class was so they would be familiar with operations if they interacted with SWAT teams , I taught most of the firearms section. The 1991 IPSC World Champion, John Dixon, put on bowling pin matches at the Marksman Indoor Range one night a week while I was part owner.

Gear upgrades, December 2020

I made a few upgrades to the Glock 48 I carry daily.

Holosun 507C-GR-X2

I replaced the Trijicon RMR with the new Holosun 507C-Gr-X2. The sight is the latest design from Holosun. Same footprint as the RMR, with a smaller green dot and the new X2 features. The X2 has a better auto adjust, with the ability to lock out the side intensity controls to prevent them from being accidentally bumped, if the sight is left in manual adjust mode. Like the older 507C and 507C-v2 it has the option to run a dot or the circle-dot reticle, which I find a little faster on close targets.

Johnny Glock G48 trigger

On the recommendation of John Holschen of West Coast Armory North (Everett, WA), I purchased a drop in carry grade trigger assembly from JohnnyGlocks. I had trained a lot with John when he was teaching for InSights Training (Seattle), and hosted him in Texas for many classes over the past 30 years. The JohnnyGlocks trigger is put together as a full assembly that’s super easy to drop in. It comes with a variety of springs so you can do some tuning on it. I didn’t change any springs, just installed it in my gun, and it gave a nice 4.5 lb carry grade trigger, with nice takeup and excellent break. I’ve tried replacing connectors and other parts in other Glocks in the past, but never got a trigger that felt as good to me as the full drop in assembly.

Rangemaster December 2020 Drill of the Month

With ammo in short supply, I’ve cut way back on the amount of live fire practice that I’m doing, and being super busy playing music this month, I’ve done very little dry fire.

The December 2020 Rangemaster December 2020 Drill of the Month is the Baseline Skills Assessment Drill. Use a B-8 repair center, FBI-IP-1 bullseye, or the bullseye on an LTT-1 target, scored as printed. This drill is intended to be shot cold, from concealed carry.

5 yards Draw and fire 5 rounds in 5 seconds, using both hands.

5 yards Start gun in hand, at Ready, in dominant hand only. Fire 3 rounds in 3 seconds.

5 yards Start gun in hand, at Ready, in non-dominant hand only. Fire 2 rounds in 3 seconds.

7 yards Start gun in hand, loaded with 3 rounds only. Fire 3 rounds, conduct an empty gun reload, and fire 3 more rounds, all in 10 seconds.

10 yards Start gun in hand, at Ready. Fire 4 rounds in 4 seconds.

20 rounds total. Possible score = 200

Using the new sight and new trigger, I shot a 199, with the one 9-ring shot occurring on the first strong hand only shot at 5 yards.

I had shot the same drill in early December, only scoring 195. Given my lack of practice I’m going to credit the improvement to the better trigger and smaller dot on the Holosun sight.

Noisefighters Gel Pads

I also upgraded the worn out ear pads on my Pro Ears Gold earmuffs with Noisefighter gel pads.

I had purchased a set of these to repair a set of loaner Howard Leight “Impact” muffs, and started using that headset for some of my practice. I liked them enough to choose them instead of the ProEars factory replacement for the ear pads. As someone that wears hearing protection 120+ days a year on the range, often for 8-10 hours at a time, comfort is important.

Rudy Project RX lenses

Back in 2017 I spent a lot of time picking out new shooting glasses, and chose the Rudy Project Rydon frames with their photochromic lenses. I wrote a long blog post about it here. Over the last 4 years those lenses saw daily use, and this summer a hot .45 ACP case coming out of student’s gun smacked into one of the lenses hard enough to scratch it. My eyes are also 4 years older and my prescription changed. So I have new lenses coming for those frames, due to arrive early January. I dug out my old Oakley prescription glasses and have been wearing them, waiting on the Rudy lenses to arrive. All the glasses were set up for monovision, with dominant (left eye) corrected for front sight distance, and right eye corrected for driving. I have regular glasses set up that way also. This article from the Truth About Guns website, including information about an eye doctor in the Austin area who understands how to set up glasses for monovision, is a good read. (Like the author of that article, I use over the counter reading glasses for anything requiring focus closer than front sight distance.)

I have one more “new” item coming in: custom grips for my Uberti .45 Colt sixgun, in #12 Curly Walnut from Joe Perkins of Classic Single Action grips. I’ve been on his wait list since October 2019, and I shipped my gun to him in early November for the grips to be hand fit to it. It’s also due to arrive in early January.

https://classicsingleaction.com/images/grips/pagethree/2.jpg

Holiday Bullet Art

The exhibition target shooters of the 30’s and 40’s would create bullet art, tracing shapes with bullet holes. Texas shooting showman Ad Topperwein would draw an indian head, like this

Back in 2002, I created a bullet art “Merry Xmas” sign for my office door decoration, with fake snow as “trim”.

If I remember correctly, this was done with my .38 super USPSA Open gun with Aimpoint red dot sight, from about 5 yards.

I cheated and used a target overlay to help me do my drawing. Topperwein would “freehand” his Indian head image. This 1936 San Diego cop used a full auto Thompson to write initials (start the video at 1:29 to see the demo.)

John Pepper’s original “Pepper Popper” drawing

Here’s another historical document from the early days of practical shooting. This is a scanned copy of the original design document for the “Pepper popper” – the most commonly used falling steel target in USPSA, IDPA and other practical shooting matches. The target’s name came from designer John Pepper, who was active in the founding years of IPSC and USPSA on the East Coast. Gary Greco shared this document with me as part of a collection of John Pepper and early practical shooting memorabilia.

Pepper’s design skills were not limited to steel: the document itself is an information-rich layout with many elements. I’ve broken each element out into a separate image for easier viewing.

Pepper is mentioned in one of Jeff Cooper’s “Commentaries”, archived here: http://dvc.org.uk/jeff/jeff9_8.html

Some discussion of John Pepper here on the Brian Enos forum: https://forums.brianenos.com/topic/116398-origin-of-the-popper/

More about John Pepper and Jeff Cooper here:

https://www.gun.rodeo/rodeo/1226/Salute+to+Col+Jeff+Cooper%2C+John+Pepper%2C+Ron+Benson%2C+%26+early+Steel+Target+designs+from+Gunsite

Vintage shooting timers (1980s)

Timers from the Bob Hanna collection: two early electronic shooting timers.

Par Timer

The first one is a simple par timer with a headphone output.

Controls are simple but complicated: start button, headphone jack, and a row of DIP switches you use to set the par time. To get a 1.0 second par time, for example, you would set the 0.2 and 0.8 switches to “ON”.

Stop Plate Timer

Instead of using a microphone to detect shots for timing, it was a simple buzzer that only displayed one time: the time when a piezo sensor attached to a stop plate registered a hit on the plate.

It was designed to be plugged into the cigarette lighter of a car (because cars back in the 1980’s had lighters). My portable Goal Zero box worked great for powering it.

I used magnets to attach the sensor to one of my steel targets, powered up the unit, and gave it a quick test.

The display is the classic 7 segment LED.

If you watch carefully in the video, you’ll see the sensor fall off the plate when it was struck. Apparently the magnets were not strong enough to hold it on. Bob explained that it was common to have to re-attach the sensor after each run. This worked OK for USPSA stages, where each shooter only got one run before targets were scored and taped. For Steel Challenge style shooting, with 5 runs per stage, a better solution was needed. Using two screws and a few zip ties I was able to mount the sensor to a 2×4, and it stayed attached. I shot the plate with 10 rounds and then stopped when I realized that a miss passing through the 2×4 could destroy the sensor. I didn’t measure the sensor cable but it looked like I could put the sensor at least 25 yards downrange from the timer box, possibly more.

Bob kept the par timer but gave me the stop plate system to add to my collection of vintage gear and targets. It will get used, at least in demo form, at the upcoming Historical Handgun class Tom Givens and I will co-teach in April 2021 at my range.

KR Training December 2020 Newsletter

2021 CLASSES AND AMMO SHORTAGES

Ammunition has become very expensive and hard to get. As a result we have reduced the rounds requires for most classes, and will continue to offer many defensive skills courses that have no live fire component. Live fire is fun but not essential for learning or developing skills. Taking classes with .22 caliber guns will be allowed, and dry firing is always a good way to maintain and develop skills.

2021 CLASSES

Here are the classes we have scheduled through end of March. We have reduced round counts and in some cases reduced class hours and prices. Some weekends were left open to add more courses as students request them or to reschedule in case of weather cancellations.

Don’t see the class you want here? Let us know. Many classes can be taught as weekday private lessons, or we can add it to the schedule if there’s enough interest.

LTC REFRESHER & BASIC PISTOL 2 now same as ONLINE LTC COMPLETION

The 2 hour Online LTC Completion class is an hour of indoor lecture and dryfire work, plus 50 rounds of practice drills and one run on the 50 round LTC shooting test. The drills are the same ones we run in our Basic Pistol 2 course, and by using a more challenging target and starting with pistol holstered, the drills are excellent practice for more advanced shooters.

The updated course now fills 3 roles in our program:

  1. Online LTC completion for those taking LTC for the first time.
  2. Basic Pistol 2. The course includes all the drills from Basic Pistol 2 with a much shorter lecture. Students must pass the LTC shooting test with a score of 90% or higher to earn a Basic Pistol 2 certificate.
  3. LTC / Defensive Pistol refresher. Graduates of Basic Pistol 2 and/or LTC holders can shoot the drills and test on the B-27 or more difficult IDPA or KRT-2 target. Graduates of DPS-1 or higher classes can run the drills and test starting with pistol holstered from open carry or concealed.

This short, $60, 100 round course is a perfect winter tuneup for all levels of students.

HOCK HOCKHEIM VEHICLE GUNFIGHTING COURSE

On January 30-31, international (Texas-based) trainer Hock Hockheim will be visiting us to teach a Vehicle Gunfighting course. This two day, $300, 200 round class will include live fire, Airsoft/Simunition work, and lecture on fighting with firearms in and around vehicles. This is a pistol-only class (no long guns). Space in this course is limited and registration is open.

Register for any class using our online system.


GOA Texas Activist Online Training

Gun Owners of America are offering free online training for those interested in being more politically active during the upcoming legislative session. Three 1-hour courses will be offered in December. Click here to sign up for updates about these courses.

  • Thursday, December 10: Your Lifeline – the TLO Website. Learn to navigate the Texas Legislature Online website to find all the TXLege information you need without moving off of your couch.
  • Thursday, December 17: Talking to Legislators — Learn to advocate for your beliefs through phone calls, emails, meetings, and in testimony at committee hearings – and discover the most effective way to use your time.

NOVEMBER BLOG POSTS

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


SONG OF THE MONTH

My own holiday tradition is to perform with Doc Tictock and the Mistletoe Medicine Show out at Santa’s Wonderland in south College Station. This is us playing our version of “Feliz Navidad”.

Santa’s is the largest Christmas attraction in the South, more than 100 acres of lights and activities – this year’s expansion includes an ice skating rink, to complement the real snow mountain for tubing and more than 3 million lights on the hay ride trail. If you come on a weeknight (I play Tue-Thu every week through Christmas week) it’s less crowded with shorter lines.

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

1989 Texas Challenge USPSA match

I started shooting USPSA competition back in June 1988, with the Hill Country Practical Pistol Club. Since the early 1980’s they had run a statewide match called the “Texas Challenge”. The 1989 match was the 8th annual, and the club ran the match every year into the mid-1990’s. Unfortunately I don’t have any pics from the match to share.

This was back in the days of single stack 1911 pistols with single port compensators, like this old gun of mine. I had a stainless steel hook welded onto the frame, because during this time, it was popular to shoot with the index finger of the support hand wrapped around the trigger guard – something local shooter (and two time World Speed Shooting Champion) Chip McCormick did.

By modern standards this state level match was pretty small, with only 5 stages, lower round counts, and longer shots. The “Moving Softly” stage was similar to the mover at Bianchi Cup.

Here’s video of John Pride shooting the mover at the Bianchi Cup in 2011. Pride was a top shooter back in the late 1980’s when I got started, and his book “The Pride Method” was one of the earliest books on mental training for pistol shooting.

The “Full House” stage was a shoot house stage. Note that some targets were to be engaged with one round, others with two rounds.

“Eagle Eyes” was the signature stage of the match. Back in the early days of USPSA (and practical shooting generally), every major match had at least one stage that tested 50 yard shooting. Most of those stages were timed fire standards. This course was a stretched-out stand and shoot with some falling steel. The 60 second time limit had to be added to address the problem of some shooters running out of ammo on the firing line after many attempts to hit the 40 yard stop plate. By the end of the 1990’s, major matches rarely included stages with shots past 25 yards.

This was the stage I designed for the match. I had taken the USPSA range officer class in fall 1988, and had been designing and running stages at club matches. Instead of using full targets that had been painted with hard cover, we used actual “partial targets” that had been cut. (If I recall correctly the rulebook was changed in the 1990s to prohibit this, requiring painted hard cover instead.) This was a harder stage than I intended it to be (youth and inexperience) with a lot of 15-25 yard shots.

Alan Tillman was one of the club’s top shooters (and gunsmith for most of the local competitors). His stage was a move and shoot steel stage using a mix of stationary and falling steel. Counting some smaller plates as 10 points (instead of the normal 5) was another common practice from that era that faded away (or was

Here’s video from 1989 USPSA Nationals, to give you more perspective on guns, gear and stages from that era. (I still have one of those yellow RO shirts.)

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.