Small Gun Class 2022

Each May I run a session of our Defensive Pistol Skills BUG (Small gun) class, as temperatures rise and people are more likely to carry small guns, often in a pocket or in other non-belt-holster methods.

In each class I collect performance data comparing small gun skill to skill with a larger gun carried in a belt holster, worn concealed with a cover garment. The data from 2019 and 2020 classes is here.

We did not run a small gun class in 2021 due to COVID.

drills from a small gun class

We used our Three Seconds or Less test (3SL) as the course of fire for data collection, as we have in the past.

2022 Class Data

14 shooters

Small Guns: 3 snub revolvers (2 S&W, 1 Ruger LCR). 3 Glock 42 .380’s, one Glock 44, one Glock 17 open carried (not a small gun!), Glock 44 .22, two S&W Shields, two SIG 365 9mms, and one Taurus G3C.

Large Guns: Seven guns that were either G48, G19 or G17. One CZP09, one SIG 365, one SIG 320, one M&P 2.0, one HK VP9 and one HKP30LS.

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: 76.07 out of 100 possible
Average large gun score: 73.57 out of 100 possible

Performance loss from shooting the smaller gun: +2.5%

This was an unusual result, as some shooters shot 10-15 points worse with their larger gun.

Prior to shooting the test with the small gun, shooters had fired 100+ rounds out of their small guns, practicing the different strings of the 3SL test. They switched to their larger guns for the final retest. I had let some shooters get away with shooting their “small gun” from a belt holster worn open carry, but for the large gun test I required everyone to shoot from concealment. I believe this affected the results quite a bit.

For example, looking at the 3 shooters that used snub revolvers drawn from pockets for the small gun part, and 9mm striker fired guns drawn from belt holsters (concealment) for the large gun test, their snub scores were 45, 70, and 80, and large gun scores were 60, 55 and 75. Two of them shot better with the snub than the large gun. Difficulty drawing the large gun from concealment may have been a factor.

One shooter fired a 75 with a Shield and a 55 with an M&P. Another shot a 70 with their LCR and a 55 with their G19. Again, I think that poor concealment draw skills (which were observed during the big gun test) were a big factor.

Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their small gun: 9 of 14 (65% passed)_
Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their primary gun: 9 of 14 (65% passed).

Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level (desired) using their small gun: 4 of 14 (28% passed).
Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level using their primary gun: 0 of 14 (0% passed)

Historical Data

Historical average of the entire data set of 105 shooters:

Small Gun score: 75/100
Larger gun score: 82/100

Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their small gun: 73 of 105 (69% passed)_
Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their primary gun: 20 of 105 (19% passed).

Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level (desired) using their small gun: 88 of 105 (83% passed).
Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level using their primary gun: 37 of 105 (35% passed)

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 0.8 points switching to the smaller gun, indicating a general lack of shooting skill regardless of which gun was used.

Those in the “medium” skill level (70-89 points on the 3SL test shot with their primary gun), dropped an average of 6.2 points switching to the smaller gun.

Those in the high skill level (90+ points with primary gun) also dropped an average of 6.2 points.

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 Sharpshooter or USPSA upper C class skill.

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. About half (46%) shooters capable of shooting 90% with their primary gun couldn’t do it with the smaller gun (17 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.

Texas Handgun Association 2022 conference

I just got back from attending and speaking at the Texas Handgun Association‘s 2022 conference, held at the YO Ranch hotel in Kerrville, Texas May 13-15.

The Texas Handgun Association was originally the Texas Concealed Handgun Instructor Association, and I was one of the organization officers (vice president) in 1997-1998. Growth of my business caused me to step away from that organization (as well as shooting competition and being a match director for local USPSA and Steel Challenge matches). Since 1997, the organization expanded its focus to all carry permit holders, and more recently expanded its mission to represent and serve all handgun owners.

The full conference was a 3 day event that included range training, hands on medical training, active shooter training, instructor-focused sessions on marketing and social media, advice and information from criminal defense attorneys that have worked Texas deadly force cases, and my own presentations on realistic standards and the history of handgun training. I was able to attend several sessions on Saturday and the panel discussion Sunday morning.

My presentations

On Saturday afternoon I talked about realistic standards for handgun training, which was of interest to both instructors and armed Texans at the meeting. In the new permitless carry era, many Texans that choose to carry may not choose to take the state carry permit course or shoot the classic LTC test. That leaves them with no answer to the question: how good should I aspire to be with my pistol to be well prepared for a defensive shooting incident?

Using material excerpted from John Daub’s recent “Minimum Competency” writing and his presentation at the 2022 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, I discussed the failings of the Texas carry permit test (target selection, time limits, lack of requirement to draw from a holster) and referenced the standards used by Tom Givens in his program, which has produced 67+ successful defensive gun uses with a 96% hit ratio when shots were fired.

I concluded my one hour presentation with three recommendations for higher standards:

  1. Draw from concealment and hit the 5.5″ center of an NRA B-8 in two seconds or less (3-7 yards)
    99% of carry permit holders get no training in proper draw technique and never practice this skill under time pressure, yet it’s one of the most critical defensive skills. I explained during the talk that even though many ranges do not allow live fire draw practice, that dry fire practice was free, and simple, free shooting timer phone apps can be used to provide the time pressure. Even for those uninterested/unwilling to attend training beyond the state minimum, there are dozens (hundreds?) of videos from qualified trainers on youTube teaching draw technique. There are no barriers other than low motivation preventing any handgun owner from developing this essential skill. Start at 3 yards and increase the target distance until a 2 second first shot at 7 yards can be accomplished 10 times out of 10 tries.
  2. Gila Hayes’ 5x5x5 drill. Five shots, five seconds, 5 inches, five yards.
    Again the B-8 target can be used, with its 5.5″ center, and the difficulty of the drill can be adjusted for shooter skill. Practice the drill starting aimed at the target, then from ready, then from a partial draw (firing hand gripping gun, support hand lifting garment or high on chest), then from a true hands at sides concealment draw. With each change in start position the available time to make the shots decreases.
  3. The no-reload F.A.S.T. Two shots to the 3×5″ area, 4 shots to the 8″ circle, using the F.A.S.T. target at 3-7 yards. Can be started from ready, partial draw or full concealment draw. Eliminating the reload makes the drill simpler and puts the focus on learning two shooting speeds: carefully (two head shots) and quickly (4 body shots). Many permit holders and armed citizens don’t carry a spare magazine, and both John Correia’s and Tom Givens’ data set indicate that the need to reload an empty gun during defensive incidents is extremely rare (odds of less than 0.1%). Eliminating the reload removes the requirement to have two magazines, to have a magazine carrier on the belt, to have a magazine loaded to a specific capacity (one round) for each rep of the drill, to drop magazines on the ground (many gun owners with no experience in defensive firearms training are reluctant to do this, particularly at ranges with hard concrete floors), and no need bend over every 6 rounds to pick up a dropped magazine.

Dry Fire Gear

I discussed the importance of frequent dry practice, and dispelled the gun shop myth that dry firing centerfire pistols will damage them. Often gun owners will make their dry fire practice unnecessarily complex by trying to use dummy rounds or snap caps, which have to be hand cycled for every shot. I explained about modern dry fire gadgets such as the DryFireMag, SIRT pistol and Coolfire Trainer, each that allow dryfire practice for multiple trigger presses without developing the training scar of racking the slide between each dry shot.

History of Handgun Training

My Sunday morning talk was a 90 minute version of the 4 hour lecture presented in the Historical Handgun one day course. I started with events in 1880’s and progressed decade by decade, identifying important events and individuals that produced changes in handgun training and technique.

Joining Texas Handgun Association

I recommend a membership in THA to any Texas handgunner, carry permit, instructor, or not. At $30/year it’s a great value. They put out a weekly email newsletter with links to the best articles from blogs and other sources each week. They plan to expand their efforts in 2023 to offer some regional meetings and will offer the multi day conference again in May 2023. I’ve been invited to present again next year.

Electrophonic Expanded album released

Back in the 1980’s and 1990’s I wrote and recorded a lot of instrumental music. The songs spanned a very wide range of genres, involving a lot of different collaborators. I had compiled that material into album called “Lost in Time” that was a single CD length greatest hits package. A few years ago I let it slip out of print and did not renew the licenses to keep the tracks online on the streaming services.

A few years ago I revisited the idea of re-releasing that old material as a two CD set, one mainly electronic and high energy tracks including everything on my 1989 Electrophonic cassette release, the other mostly acoustic & new age work including everything on my 1991 The Illusion of Competence cassette release.

Streaming Links

Apple Music

Amazon Music Unlimited

Pandora

it’s also on Spotify but I don’t have a Spotify account to look up the URL

It’s also live on a bunch of other streaming services

Electrophonic Track List

  1. Suburbia (Elephant Jam) – This came out of a jam Peter McNutt and I collaborated on, trying to use all the different keyboards in his studio, so it incorporates a bunch of different styles and themes. Remastered from the original digital audio tape (DAT).
  2. Autumn Leaves/Summertime – My arrangement of these two seasonal classics, for a quintet that had drums, bass, piano, organ and vibes. The different instruments trade off as the time signature jumps around from 4/4 to 3/4, including a section where the three lead instruments trade 3-bar phrases (normal jazz players trade 4 bar phrases), and Summertime is played in 5/4 time, just because I was trying to put as many cool ideas into each track as I could during that era. Remastered from the original digital audio tape (DAT).
  3. Samba for Steve – Chris Bennett helped with the drum programming on this one, playing the part live on a set of drum pads with MIDI triggers. Includes a Chameleon (Herbie Hancock) quote at the jump where the song changes from piano-based samba to synth based funk. This original is one of the few that’s been played live, mostly at Luigi’s with the house band. Remastered from the original digital audio tape (DAT).
  4. Night Song 2 (electric) – This 7/8+5/8 ballad started out as an acoustic guitar song, was reworked into a synthy ambient song for electrophonic, and was re-recorded in its original acoustic form for The Illusion of Competence. Remastered from the original digital audio tape (DAT).
  5. Now I’ve Found You – This is a fairly straightforward 4/4 funk/fusion jazz track with some odd meter parts and an Eleanor Rigby quote in the piano solo. Remastered from the original digital audio tape (DAT).
  6. Round Body Midnight and Soul – The idea here was to take the jazz standards Round Midnight, and Body and Soul, and put them in a mixmaster. I make copies of the charts for each and cut them into sections with scissors, taping them back together in a structure where the A part of Round Midnight led into the B section of Body and Soul, and the final section changed songs every 2 bars (2 bars from Round Midnight, 2 bars from Body and Soul, and so on) to make a new melody. The electrophonic version of this track was solo piano only. I went back to the original MIDI file, had Michael Holleman play some MIDI triggered drum samples, added sampled acoustic bass, and trimmed about 2 minutes out of the original 6 minute version to make an updated version of this track that had more feel with less repetition.
  7. Untied – A simple happy dance track. Remastered from the original digital audio tape (DAT).
  8. Mesa Village Blues – This is really two songs: the slow solo piano section is part one, and the full band version (piano, bass, drums, accordion) is part two. Remastered from the original digital audio tape (DAT).

Bonus Tracks

9. Clip – this is a demo from 1986, featuring Julien Kasper (who went on to much bigger and better things) on the end guitar solo. Originally released on the decrepitude cassette release in 1995 and included in Lost in Time. Remastered from the 2 track DAT mixed from cassette 4 track)

10. But I Shouldn’t – Jazz organ trio composition influenced by Monk’s “Well You Needn’t”. Additional drums and organ polish added during the remastering process. Recorded 1994, released on decrepitude and revisited again in 2010 for the evolution CD project.

11. Men in Blues – recorded late 1990’s featuring Mick McMillan on guitar and included on the et. al. CD release in 2000. Edited, trimmed and remastered for this project.

12. For July 3 – Written in 1982 with David Nather for a July 3 jazz gig. Originally recorded by Karl and David on the “Do Not Eat The Glass” cassette. This version is a completely new recording featuring Dr. Wayne Smith on acoustic drums, along with electronic drums, and all other instruments by me.

13. Dog Park Blues – written and recorded mid 2000’s at the request of Greg Phelps, to be used as background music in a film he was making. Previously unreleased.

14. The Teacher – Originally a bonus track on the first Hidden Agenda cassette release. Remixed, edited and remastered from the original 16 track for this project. The title refers to the synth solo at the end sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher (with a sample of the original ‘teacher’ sound, which was played on muted trombone at the start of the track).

15. Pitch Bender – Original title “I’ve Got a Pitch Bender and Can Play Keyboards like Eddie Van Halen”. The whole song is built around a thing I figured out where I could use the arpeggiator on my Korg Polysix to imitate the style of playing EVH did in the finger tapping part of Eruption. Featuring John Taylor on drums. The original recording was released on my Baf Ensemble cassette back in 1985. For this version I went back to the original 4 track reel to reel and did major audio surgery reprocessing the drums, autotuning an out of tune guitar, reprocessing the bass, and editing the song down from 6 minutes down to a tidy 3:51.

16. Breakin’ Glass – Another 1985 Baf Ensemble track. We used the 4 track reel to reel to play the intro music to the film Koyaanisqatsi at double speed, and then painstakingly hand tuned the tempo of a Roland “Dr. Rhythm” drum machine (precursor to the TR808 used in hiphop) to add the synth drum track. Then I played other synth parts, and we chopped up a bunch of other tracks, including bits from new age harpist Andreas Vollenweider, Herbie Hancock and R.E.M. to make a sonic collage that linked the other three parts of the track together. We did all this in the analog world: starting and stopping tape machines and turntables, working with a 4 track reel to reel and analog synths that had no way to sync to tape. Remastered from the best cassette copy I could find for this release.

Credits (Electrophonic tracks)

Sequenced tracks recorded September 1987 – August 1989. Mixed direct to DAT August 5-7, 1989 at Sixth Street Studio.

Produced, composed, arranged and performed by Karl Rehn
Associate producer – Andrew Wimsatt
Drum programming – Chris Bennett and Karl Rehn. Additional drums from Michael Holleman and Wayne Smith.
Recording Engineer – Aaron White (tracks 1-8)
Advice and Support – Peter McNutt

Autumn Leaves by Johnny Mercer, Summertime by George Gershwin, Round Midnight by Theolonius Monk, Body and Soul and J. Green.

Relative Performance Measurement

One of the classes I offer, my Advanced Handgun Road Course, focuses on measuring student performance and comparing it to known baselines. I use a sequence of 18 different drills, ranging from 25 yard group shooting and B8-centric exercises like the 5 Yard Round Up and The Test, to USPSA/IDPA standards like the IDPA 5×5 classifier, Four Aces, the Bill Drill, and more complex tests like the 3M (Farnam) and Casino (Rangemaster).

John Hearne developed a chart linking shooter performance on widely used standard drills to assess how automatic a shooter’s handgun skills are. He and I and others have had discussions about the relative difficulty of the drills he used. I didn’t run all the drills that John used in his chart in my class, but I ran several of them and can compare class results with his estimates, and link performance on some other drills not used in his chart.

The majority of students in the class had abilities in the USPSA C class range, which spans from 40%-60% of the skill required to shoot 100% Grand Master scores on classifier stages.

Bill Drill

The Bill Drill involves drawing and shooting 6 shots at 7 yards. We used a USPSA target but used IDPA scoring (+1 sec for a C hit, +3 seconds for a D hit). This was because John’s data is all time based and not hit factor based.

Student raw times ranged from 2.85-4.03 seconds, with penalties pushing a few students over the 5 second mark, but basically all of them fell within John’s 2nd category “Performance suggests some automaticity”.

IDPA 5×5 Classifier

The IDPA classifier is 4 strings shot at 10 yards, described in more detail in this video.

During the class, I ran each string with all shooters firing and a fixed par time.

Draw and fire 5: 5 seconds
Draw and fire, strong hand only: 8 seconds
Draw and fire 5, reload, fire 5 more: 11 seconds
Draw and fire 4 body, 1 head: 6 seconds
This is a total of 30 seconds, which is (depending on division), somewhere in the Marksman/Sharpshooter range, which is the lower end of John’s 2nd tier.

All the students were able to complete the strings under the par times, but due to penalties, their scores ranged from 31-41 seconds. Relative to John’s chart, they underperformed, perhaps indicating that the IDPA classifications need to be slid to the right, with a clean Sharpshooter run moving to the boundary between tiers 2 and 3.

F.A.S.T.

Todd Green’s Fundamentals of Accuracy and Speed Test, often just called the FAST, is a simple 6 round drill: draw and fire 2 precision shots into a 3″x5″ rectangle, reload and fire 4 faster shots into an 8″ circle, all at 7 yards.

On the Hearne chart, FAST scores between 7-10 seconds place students in the 2nd tier. Student scores from class (raw times plus time penalties) ranged from 6.51-13.49, with raw times all below 10 seconds.

CASINO DRILL

The Rangemaster Casino drill is a 21 round, 7 yard test that includes drawing, reloading, counting and shooting targets in the correct order. Tom’s video explaning the drill was shot at our A-Zone Range.

Based on Hearne’s chart, times of 22-27 seconds would be expected, based on the other student data. We ran the drill twice during class, once with everyone shooting and a 21 second par time, and a second time with individual timing. For both runs, time was added for shots outside the numbered shapes and procedurals. Student scores ranged from 19-32 seconds, with most in the 22-27 second range.

Other drills

This same group of students, who were fairly close in skill level, scored as follows on other drills:

The Test (10 yards, 10 seconds, 10 shots, B8 target): 87-100 points

The Test 5 yards (5 yards, 5 seconds, 10 shots, B8 target): 87-100 points

Five Yard Roundup (5 yards, multiple strings): 57-98 points

Three Seconds or Less (3 and 7 yards): 16-19 points (out of 20)

Wizard Drill (Hackathorn, 2.5 sec par strings): 100%

Four Aces (draw, 2, reload, 2 at 7 yards): 3.39-7.05 seconds

15 yard Bill Drill: 5.37-9.84 seconds (raw plus time penalties)

Placing these other drills on the Hearne chart

A modified version of Hearne’s chart with the other drills placed on the relative difficulty scale.

Reasonable Goals

John Daub has written and taught extensively on concepts of Minimum Competency. Obviously there’s lots of room between minimum competency and maximum human performance. If you use the Hearne chart and set a life goal of keeping your skills inside the “performance sufficient to strongly suggest automaticity”, these drill goals make a good set of standards to aspire to or maintain.

The Test – 90 points
5 Yard RoundUp – 90 points
Three Seconds or Less – 18 points
Wizard Drill – clean, no overtime shots
Casino Drill – 21 seconds no penalties
Four Aces – 5 seconds all A’s
15 yard Bill Drill – 6 seconds all A’s
F.A.S.T. – 7 seconds
7 yard Bill Drill – 3 seconds all A’s
El Presidente – 10 seconds all A’s
FBI Bullseye – 250 points
Failure Drill – 2.0 seconds all A’s

Essentially the goal is IDPA Expert or the boundary between USPSA B and C class.

In most cases, it’s draw and reload times that result in the biggest gains on these drills past the sufficient skill level, as most drills are low round count strings where draw time can be as much as half of the total string time.

Book Review – Street Warrior

Ralph Friedman was an officer with the NY Police Department in the 1970’s and 1980’s, during the gritty, high-crime era made famous by so many movies and TV shows of that era. Friedman was promoted to detective after five years on the job and his extraordinary career has been commemorated with 219 awards, including the department’s second-highest honor: The Police Combat Cross.

From the book:

In 1971 the NYPD engaged in 314 shootouts. Ninety-three hoodlums were killed and 221 were wounded. We lost 15 police officers and hundreds wounded. In March 1974, a man was exchanging gunfire with two uniformed officers. When Ralph arrived on the scene, he immediately jumped onto the hood and then the roof of a Cadillac. Ralph leaped onto the culprit, and after a furious battle, was able to subdue, disarm and arrest him.

Street Warrior, foreward by Captain Tom Walker.

Street Warrior is a retrospective on Ralph’s police career, told in his own words. He describes himself as “not a gun guy”, but he was involved in multiple shooting incidents in his career. A majority of his use of force situations were hands on, sometimes involving guns and knives in grappling distances. When he started his career, cops on foot patrol didn’t have portable radios, and had to use land line phones to call for backup. He spent a lot of his time working in the district known as Fort Apache.

The full history of Fort Apache is detailed in another true crime book written by retired NYPD Captain Tom Walker.

A few choice quotes from the book:

The NYPD of the 1970’s didn’t frown on force, excessive or otherwise. Bringing a prisoner in dead wasn’t advised, but anything just short of it was usually overlooked and considered good police work. “We use violence to implement justice” were the words to live (and survive) by.

The book is full of great cop stories and lots of history about organized crime, radical groups attacking the police, and all the civil unrest of New York in the 1970’s. Definitely recommended reading for those that weren’t alive in that decade, to give perspective on current urban crime and unrest and riots and other current problems in major cities.

Ralph is still around and has an active profile on Facebook. He and I exchanged some messages and I was able to get an autographed copy of his book for my collection.

Ralph was also host of a TV show, Street Justice: The Bronx. Episodes are available from Amazon Prime and other sources.

USCCA also has an in depth interview with Ralph available online

KR Training April 2022 Newsletter

APRIL 2022 UPDATE

We have added more sessions of popular classes from June-October. We will announce more summer rifle and red dot classes soon! Upcoming classes with space available:

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

JULY

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours. More class dates through end of October are listed here.
Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

SUMMER USPSA MATCHES

We will run Thursday evening USPSA matches starting May 26, through end of July, on selected Thursdays. These matches are suitable for anyone that had training in how to draw from open carry, or has a pistol caliber carbine. USPSA membership not required. Limited to 18 shooters. Matches start at 6, you can show up as late as 7. 4-5 stages, 100-ish rounds per match, $25 entry fee. Pre-registration is required. Pay match fee in cash on event day. Stages remain set up after the match for open practice until it gets dark. Highly recommended for DPS-1/2/3 graduates that have never shot competition.
Register here for the May-June matches.

KR TRAINING STAFF NEWS

Dave Reichek wrote up his experiences as a roleplayer in Craig Douglas’ scenarios at TacCon in this blog post.

I wrote up my own after-action report for the Tactical Conference in this blog post.

John Daub was on the “That Weems Guy” podcast talking about minimum competencies for defensive pistol.

BLOG-O-RAMA

SONG OF THE MONTH

I’ve appeared on the “Free Music Friday” segment of College Station’s KBTX TV several times over the past few years. Recently I was able to get high quality copies of those performances. Lyle Lovett got his start playing at the Mr. Gatti’s pizza place on Texas Avenue (and other venues) in Aggieland, so I cover several of his songs in my solo act. “She’s No Lady” was the first song of his I ever heard, and I think it’s one of his best.


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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: Fast Draw Yesterday Today (Blasgen, 2009)

book spine

Very few books have been written about the history of fast draw competition, and the few that have been written are out of print. As part of my research for the Historical Handgun book, I’ve been trying to track down copies. As I wrote in a previous entry about this topic, Bob Arganbright’s book has been impossible to find outside of the one copy the Library of Congress has (which I was able to access and read a few years ago). Last year I was able to purchase a copy of the other major work on this topic: Fast Draw…Yesterday Today, which is a 600+ page compilation of magazine articles put together by Tom Blasgen.

Disclaimer: The book is thick and I did not want to destroy it by flattening it to scan pages, so I took pics with my phone, and you will see some warping and other distortions as I used Photoshop to remove shadows and crop images. But because copies are rare and very hard to find (I lucked into a copy by being on a Fast Draw group on Facebook), I’m including the pics here along with the key points I think anyone interested in the history of pistol technique should know.

Prior to the 1950’s, wax bullets had been used by early 1900’s dueling trainers, whose force on force sport of simulated dueling was the precursor to modern paintball and marking rounds used in combatives training. Simulated dueling even made a one time appearance in the Olympics.

This page gives the highest level summary of the sport: started in 1954 at Knott’s Berry Farm by the stunt show gunfighters and a tech who developed the first shooting timer.

In the following years, it became a national fad, with Western TV/movie stars, the Rat Pack (particularly Sammy Davis Jr.) and other celebrities taking up the sport. As the article claims, over 250,000 people participated in fast draw matches. That was out of 150M people. The population of the US has doubled since then, but even if you add up the memberships of USPSA, IDPA, SASS, Steel Challenge, and count those that shoot NRA bullseye matches, pretending that there’s no overlap…those numbers are less than 250,000, nevermind a population adjusted 500,000. So the Fast Draw era was a point in time where pistol competition got more (positive) mainstream media attention and general population participation than at any other time in US history.

Jeff Cooper wrote about the sport of Fast Draw in Guns and Ammo magazine back in 1958 (the magazine’s first year of publication).

E.B. Mann was a writer of Western pulp stories and paperback books, who also wrote for gun magazines, and was the champion of Fast Draw at GUNS magazine. In addition to collecting books on guns, I enjoy reading and collecting Western fiction books and pulp magazines. E.B.Mann is one of my favorite authors and over the past few decades I’ve found hardback, paperback, and pulp magazine copies of most of his works.

GUNS covered Fast Draw more than any other print publication and many of the articles in Blasgen’s book can be found in the GUNS magazine digital online archive.

Many early articles focused on the draw speed, similar to the current obsession with the “1 second concealment draw”. Quarter second draw times were the goal of that era.

More data from elsewhere in the book:

At the peak, Fast Draw championships, sponsored by Colt, were held in Las Vegas in the early 1960’s. Interest in fast draw led to many innovations in holsters and timers, and technique. Shooters using the “twist draw” technique, where the gun was fired at a 90 degree angle, began beating the traditional fast draw competitors, and shooters began transitioning to stronger-built Ruger sixguns. As with most other shooting sports, gamers, gamer gear, and gamer techniques pushed the limits of performance but also drove many in the general population away from the game.

KPIX-TV news footage from November 1960 featuring silent views of people preparing for and taking part in a fast draw competition, including Dee Woolem (‘The Daisy Kid’). Also shows movie stars like Ernest Borgnine, Gene Barry and others (possibly Clu Gulager?) watching the event in an indoor arena. Opening graphic designed by Carrie Hawks. (WordPress would not let me embed the video so click the link to see it).

https://diva.sfsu.edu/collections/sfbatv/bundles/238558

Andy Anderson was another influential holster maker of the Fast Draw era.

This article mentions Ernie Hill, who started out making fast draw holsters and shooting fast draw matches, who became the dominant holster maker for IPSC in its early days, making the same kind of steel reinforced leather holsters the fast draw shooters used, only for 1911 pistols.

By the mid 1960’s, fast draw had waned in popularity, and the dominance of Westerns on TV and on the big screen began to fade as well, as spy and space shows surged in popularity. Most importantly, Jeff Cooper began running fast draw matches using modern firearms and holsters at Big Bear Lake, which led to two handed aimed fire, comstock timed shooting matches (instead of par time), and to basically everything we know as standard practice in defensive firearms training.

Arganbright ties the history together with modern technique in this 1988 article.

Fast Draw competition is still alive, with the Cowboy Fast Draw organization and World Fast Draw Association each sanctioning and running matches. This page from their website lists all the national and world champions by year.

Update: a great video compilation of 1950’s fast draw

Rangemaster Tactical Conference 2022 AAR

Tom and Lynn
Tom and Lynn Givens

Since the early 2000’s I have been attending and teaching at the annual Rangemaster Tactical Conferences. They were originally held at “the mothership” (Tom’s indoor range in Memphis), later moving to the Memphis Police Academy and other outdoor ranges in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas before finding a new home at the Dallas Pistol Club.

This year 5 of us from the KR Training team taught or worked the event: Karl and John Daub taught sessions, Tracy Thronburg and Dave Reichek worked as range staff, and Dave and Ed Vinyard were roleplayers in Craig Douglas’ force on force sessions.

Dave Reichek

Dave wrote about his experiences in that session here.

John wrote about his experiences teaching on his own blog.

As of April 14, 2022, registration for the 2023 Rangemaster Tactical Conference has been open for a few days, and the event is already 80% sold out. It will be March 24-26, 2023 at the Dallas Pistol Club. You can register here if it hasn’t sold out already.

FRIDAY

I taught one of the first sessions of the conference, starting at 8 a.m. on the first day. My “Becoming a Better Drawstroke Coach” session was mainly for instructors, discussing all the different problems I’ve observed in 30 years of teaching the skill of drawing to a wide variety of students.

demonstrating proper initial grip on the pistol

I started with gear: does the holster attach to the belt properly (belt thickness, belt width, belt loop width)?, and is it riding at an acceptable height and angle? The importance of getting a good firing grip on the pistol while it’s still in the holster was discussed at length. I see a lot of appendix-carry holsters set to ride too low, preventing the users from getting all their fingers on the gun without doing some sort of pinching/palming movement to partially raise it. In addition to being slow and awkward, it can lead to the trigger guard being exposed as the fingers are curling around the grip, which could result in negligent discharge and serious injury. I also see strong side holsters designed for behind the hip use (angled forward) worn too far forward of the hip, causing the users to curl their wrists to grip the pistol and “bowl” the gun out of the holster rather than lifting straight up.

We continued to work through the steps of the draw, ending with what I call “hand chasing”. This occurs when the support hand doesn’t join the firing hand until the gun is at full extension. This usually begins with the support hand not moving at the same time as the firing hand, with the hands failing to join close to the body. This occurs most often to people that do not use the support hand to clear their cover garment.

hand chasing during the draw stroke

The morning was cold so I had on multiple layers, which were shed as the day went on.

After finishing up my session I listened to training legend John Farnam discuss his thoughts on instructor development. His talk focused on the language trainers use during classes: “Us” vs “you”, “we” vs. “I”, and perhaps most importantly, “when” vs. “if”. John is a great trainer with more years experience as an instructor than anyone else still teaching. John Daub and Ed Vinyard took his instructor certification course recently, and I trained with John a few years ago.

My next session on Friday was the excellent “Concealment Tune Up” presented by Jon and Sarah Hauptman of PHLster.

Jon and Sarah from PHLster

After developing the innovative Enigma chassis, which allows carry without a belt or pants with belt loops, they turned their attention to the broader topic of concealment. The notes and slides from their talk can be found here, and I recommend them to everyone reading this post. Whether you carry strong side or appendix position, the principles and concepts in their talk are applicable. Talking with Jon after his session about the uses of wings and claws to assist the holster in following the body’s contours better, he suggested that I try adding some washers to my belt clip on my strong side holster, to turn the grip of the gun farther inward, closer to my body. When I got home from TacCon I implemented that change, which helped reduce how much the grip of the gun poked out.

I finished up Friday by teaching a two hour “Low Round Count Training” session, structured around our Three Seconds Or Less test. I showed students how to build a 100 round practice session from a 20 round test, using dry fire, live/empty drills, dummy rounds, and other variations on each string of the test, to work on specific skills firing less than 10 rounds per topic.

SATURDAY

After an early Friday that ran late (the KR Training crew went to a Brazilian steakhouse and filled up protein.), I started Saturday by skipping the 8 am sessions in favor of being well rested before I shot the pistol match Saturday at 10.

The pistol match at TacCon has become very competitive, with a few points or fractions of seconds separating each place in the overall standings. Over the past 20 years the level of shooting required to win the TacCon match has advanced, with Grand Master level scores required to get into the top 10.

This year’s match was no different. As with previous years, there was a timed fire standards course with turning targets. 49 of the 175 shooters shot perfect scores on the standards. The tie breaker was a 5 yard, 4″ circle comstock drill. Draw and shoot 5 shots. Points divided by time.

I debated this year whether to shoot the match from appendix carry or strong side, knowing that at some point draw time would be a factor. My draw time from appendix carry is faster and less likely to be fouled from garment clearing, but despite everyone in the world insisting that AIWB is “perfectly comfortable”, my experience, after buying 5 different holsters and an Enigma, and spending dozens of hours experimenting with wedges and claws and foam pads, that AIWB remains uncomfortable if I’m sitting down for more than few hours. So I opted to shoot the match from strong side carry, using a lightweight open front cover garment. As I explained to students in the draw stroke coaching class, using one hand to clear a lightweight open front cover garment is fast when it works, and a mess when it doesn’t and you end up with a handful of shirt when you grab the gun.

So I knew better.

On the one string tiebreaker test, when drawtime mattered most, I pushed my draw and flubbed it, losing a full second, was aware of that and fired my first shot outside the 4″ circle, then hit the brakes to make sure the other 4 were inside…ending up 38th/49 out of the group that cleaned the standards.

On the plus side, my score was 95.8% of the 1st place score. But it took a score of 97.3% of the 1st place score to make the top 16 shootoff. KR Training instructor Dave Reichek made the cut for the shootoff.

After lunch, I attended a Progressive Folding Knife session taught by Chris Fry of Shivworks. It was an excellent review of material I had learned from John Holschen from InSights, Allen Elishewitz, and Craig Douglas in their knife and close quarter classes. Because I had to teach another drawstroke class for the final session of the day, I didn’t get to stay for the whole knife session.

Chris Fry
Larry Lindeman of Shivworks assisting

I got one of these cool “Slowpoke Rodriguez” patches from Tony from JM Custom Kydex, who attended my Saturday session. After the sessions ended, I attended the annual trainer’s dinner.

If you are unfamiliar with this classic Warner Bros. cartoon character, here’s a short clip.

SUNDAY

I started Sunday by attending Darryl Bolke’s excellent “Police Guns of the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush” presentation. He dug deep into the history of all of the shooters, and guns they were known to have carried, and the history of how some of the guns others claimed were used in the Bonnie and Clyde Ambush may not have been.

After Darryl’s talk I went to Erick Gelhaus’ talk about ready positions and “mistake of fact” shootings.

He reviewed many recent studies about the use of different ready positions affecting shooter ability to make correct use of force decisions. The high ready (gun near face, muzzle pointed up) is perhaps 0.1 sec faster to get gun to target than lower ready positions, but in well designed experiments, shooters using the high ready position made 30% more errors in shooting decisions. On the street this translates to “they shot people that should not have been shot”. Erick made the argument that lower ready positions sacrifice very little speed to provide significant reduction in unjustified use of force.

Sunday after lunch I taught one more session of my Low Round Count Training block, before slipping out early, to get downtown to attend a concert from Little Feat, one of my favorite bands whose tour schedule put them in Dallas that night.

MORE ARTICLES

The NRA’s Kevin Creighton and Tamara Keel were at Tac Con taking pictures and gathering content for articles. One of Kevin’s TacCon articles, about the Managing Unknown Contacts training provided by several different Shivworks trainers during the conference, is here. It features a nice pic of KR Training assistant instructor Wiley Swift about to pepper spray someone.

TAC CON 2023

The Rangemaster Tactical Conference is a great opportunity to train with dozens of different instructors teaching topics spanning the full spectrum of self defense concepts. Trainers that were there, that I didn’t train with this year included Tom Givens, Massad Ayoob, Wayne Dobbs, Gabe White, Scott Jedlinski, Tim Herron, Ed Monk, Craig Douglas, Eve Kulcsar, Chuck Haggard, Jeff Gonzales, Tatiana Whitlock, Tim Chandler, Ashton Ray, Andrew Branca, Tiffany Johnson, Greg Ellifritz, Cecil Burch, Tim Kelly, John Murphy, Hany Mahmoud, John Hearne, Sherman House, Tim Reedy, John Holschen, Lee Weems, Larry Lindeman, Steve Moses and Scott Oates.

I’m already looking forward to 2023, as this is always a great time to reconnect with many of my favorite trainers and longtime friends.

Experiential Learning Lab (Force-on-Force) Observations from the 2022 Rangemaster Tactical Conference

Scenario Description

This year’s Experiential Learning Lab scenario features an armed robbery, perpetrated by a single actor, of a convenience store populated with multiple additional customers. The participant’s instructions are to enter the store, purchase a bottle of water, and leave. The robber enters as the student is picking up a bottle of water at a table, which is intentionally placed such that the participant’s back is turned when the robber enters and the participant will be caught off guard. The robber enters, fires a shot into the ground, and orders everyone to get on the ground, but does not point the gun at the customers. If not stopped or otherwise derailed, the robber will get into a verbal and physical altercation with a disabled woman over her purse near the cash register, murder her, then run out of the store with the purse and the money from the register. I role-played the armed robber.

Key decision points in scenario timeline

There are a series of intentionally crafted decision points for the participant:

  • Initial gunshot and declaration of robbery
  • Escalation of tension between robber and verbally combative disabled woman, culminating in direct threats of violence
  • Murder of disabled woman
  • Robber fleeing scene

If the participant initiates a drawstroke (including a flinch reaction), “picks” at their concealment garment, does not immediately comply with demand to get on the ground, or otherwise draws attention of robber, the robber challenges their actions but does not point the gun at them or shoot them unless the participant’s gun becomes visible, even though partially initiating a drawstroke is highly likely to be recognized in the real world by the “bad people” as evidence that the person is armed.

Range of Participant Reactions/Scenario Results

Actions taken by the participants varied widely, as expected:

  • Immediately turn and draw pistol when robbery is announced (always resulted in a losing gunfight)
  • Flinch or initiate draw (gun does not become visible) but stops when challenged and complies with robber’s demands to get on the ground 
  • Initial partial compliance with fidgeting and obvious indecision (kneeling or partially proning, or repeated attempts to get into a more favorable position on the ground) 
  • Initial total compliance 
  • Engage with robber once violence or threat of violence escalates with disabled customer
  • Wait for robber to be distracted with robbing the clerk, then drawing and challenging 
  • Fired shots at robber (now murderer) as his back is turned and he is fleeing the store
  • After gunfight and robber flees, several continued to point gun at clerk and other customers (at least one participant displayed no awareness that they were doing it)
  • Flee once robber is distracted with clerk and not facing participants

Debrief/After Action Discussion Notes

I found some of the participant remarks or reactions during the short debrief following each scenario particularly worthy of note:

  • Some students expressed disappointment during debrief that their situational awareness “failed”.  In reality, “complete situational awareness at all times” is a unicorn. It doesn’t exist. To paraphrase Craig, anyone who claims it does lacks real-world experience.
  • Some students, when being debriefed after having gotten into a losing gunfight after drawing immediately when robber entered and verbalized, did not grasp that initial compliance was actually an option.  
  • At least one student falsely recalled the robber initially pointing a gun at them as justification for immediately drawing.

Considerations and Lessons Learned

I really like Craig’s hotwash/debriefing approach with participants immediately after the scenario has been terminated, asking the participants to recount their view of what just happened, what they thought they did well, and what they thought they could have done better. I can tell you from personal experience that there is a lot to absorb, and just like an actual incident, the participant’s full recollection of the event may not be complete (or as complete as it is going to get) for 24-48 hours. The participants are probably going to be “their own worst critic” assuming they have requisite knowledge to critically evaluate their own performance. However, it is necessary for the sake of discussion in this blog post to examine the reactions and actions of some of the participants more critically in order to property convey a few key points. It is not my intent to disparage the participants personally; participants were selected for the scenario based in part on their relative inexperience with force-on-force scenarios.

Prior to diving into what some of the participants could have done better, one positive point merits highlighting. Although getting into a gunfight with the robber and getting shot is obviously a negative outcome, all participants who got into a gunfight continued to fight back until the robber fled. This is critically important and speaks to the committed mindset of the participants – you are not out of the fight until you are out of the fight!  

Tactical considerations

Feigning compliance and “waiting your turn”

Whether you have decided to act and are waiting for a tactically advantageous opportunity, or are observing and initially intend to comply (I say initially because reasons may develop which cause you to change your mind about complying, such as escalations in threats, escalations in violence, or people are being searched), one point needs to be made very clear. Compliance means 100% compliance. As the “robber” I observed a lot of participants exhibiting only partial compliance to the point that they attracted my attention. You do not want to attract attention to yourself. Immediately exhibit a submissive posture. If they tell you to get on the ground, get on the ground. Become a ghost! All of the fidgeting around, squirming, partially kneeling, etc. that I witnessed and challenged the participants about will get you threatened at best, probably searched, and possibly shot. You aren’t fooling anyone when you do that.

Is it ok to shoot someone in the back?

In my opinion, as well as in my experience in force-on-force scenarios, not only is shooting someone in the back or side acceptable, it is preferable. When you are acting in defense of others, I have never seen any deadly force statutes that stipulate that deadly force is only justified if the bad guy is facing you or looking at you. Wait until their back is turned or they are otherwise not looking at you (preferably you aren’t in their field of vision at all) to draw and shoot. You may have to take incremental steps to get your gun out and then wait for the right moment. Once you start shooting, keep shooting until you are sure they are out of the fight – and for God’s sake, remember to look for the “+1”. At least one of the participants waited until I turned to face him before he decided to pull the trigger, and got themselves shot. Don’t forget that action beats reaction. If I have a gun in hand, I can bring that gun up and shoot at you before you will be able to recognize my actions and shoot me in response.

Participant has already drawn, and his gun is hidden by the person laying in front of him
I am reacting to having already been shot in the side. OW OW OW. Good tactics!

Should you “challenge”, or just shoot?

Action beating reaction is also applicable in this situation. If my memory serves me, Force Science Institute studies have demonstrated that they physical act of turning and firing can be achieved in as little as a quarter of a second. If you challenge someone at gunpoint, even if they aren’t facing you, it is possible for them to turn and shoot you before you will be able to react to their movement and open fire. I have personally proved this true multiple times while role-playing bad guys in force-on-force scenarios. As a real world example, an armed citizen verbally challenged an active shooter at the Tacoma Mall in 2005 and was shot and paralyzed.

“The right thing to do tactically in that situation, legally in that situation, and morally in that situation,” he says, “is end the shooter’s ability to keep shooting. And that means apply lethal force now.”
– John Holschen

https://www.npr.org/2013/01/29/170456129/armed-good-guys-and-the-realities-of-facing-a-gunman

When it is time to shoot, shoot, don’t talk. The only scenario where I could envision myself challenging a gunman would be if I was behind good cover (cover being something that stops bullets, as opposed to concealment).

Does my draw speed matter?

At 5 yards, the average knucklehead is probably capable of 3-4 shots a second that are probably going to hit you. If you decide to try to out-draw someone that is looking at you with gun already in hand (and perhaps you don’t have any choice, if they are about to shoot you), you should recognize that the odds are pretty high that you are going to get shot at least once. The good news is handguns are actually not very good at killing people…the bad news is you’re going to have to use one yourself to make them stop trying to kill you. Still wearing my “bad guy” hat, it is pretty reasonable that even with a reaction lag, I can shoot you one or two times by the 1 second mark. Your blazing fast 1 second draw is still going to result in you getting shot before you can shoot at me. That 1 second draw is far superior to a 1.5 second draw though, which would probably result in me sending at least 3 bullets your way before you are able to return the favor; a 2 second draw means I get a 5 bullet head start on you. We saw this play out in the evolutions when participants elected to turn and draw on me right after I came in, or waited to shoot until I was facing them.

Legal and financial costs and risks of acting on behalf of others

There are financial and legal risks involved when we use force, and especially deadly force, on behalf of others, beyond the more obvious risk of injury or death. You are going to have to legally defend your actions, even if they were 100% justified and you made no questionable decisions.  This will be expensive and could possibly financially ruin you and your family. One figure I have heard thrown as a baseline/minimum legal cost is $50,000. John Holschen poses a terrific thought exercise which Greg Ellifritz blogged about here, which I highly encourage everyone to read.  Even if you do everything right, you may still get prosecuted! You are no doubt aware that malicious prosecutions are becoming more commonplace.

What if you do make a questionable or bad decision, despite having the best of intentions? Your legal costs just went way up, and if you haven’t sought out quality force-on-force experiences, the chances that you are going to make a serious mistake are much higher than you think (the Dunning-Kruger effect is a thing). We haven’t even addressed the possibility that a bad decision leads to lengthy incarceration on top of voluminous legal fees.

What kind of questionable decisions might lead to such a financial, and possibly legal, negative outcome? At least three participants shot me as I was fleeing the store and no longer posing a direct threat. This is a morally questionable decision, but more importantly, legally it is very questionable. Attorney Andrew Branca, author of The Law of Self Defense Principles, and the website lawofselfdefense.com, outlines 5 fundamental principles of self-defense, one of which is Imminence:

Imminence

The law allows you to defend yourself from an attack that’s either happening or about to happen very soon, meaning within seconds. It’s not intended to justify vengeance for some past act of violence, nor to “stop” a speculative future attack that you have time to avoid by other means.

You can think of the element of imminence as a window that opens and closes. Before the window of imminence is open—before the threat is actually occurring or imminently about to occur—you can’t use defensive force. After the window of imminence has closed —after the threat is over—you again cannot use defensive force.

It’s only while that window of imminence is open that you can lawfully use defensive force.

https://lawofselfdefense.com/beginjourney/

Shooting someone in the back as they are fleeing the scene of a crime is highly likely to be deemed in violation of the principle of imminence; if you prefer to think about legality in terms of the Ability-Opportunity-Intent triad, is someone running away from you fleeing the scene of a crime manifesting intent to do you serious body injury? Not likely. Some states/jurisdictions may deem this action explicitly legal under “fleeing felon” statutes, but there are some that do not. At best, in my opinion, you are taking a huge gamble with both your financial and legal freedom if you choose to shoot a fleeing felon, all moral questions aside.

More than one participant muzzled (pointed their gun) at others in the store after the robber fled, which in many jurisdictions can be deemed aggravated assault or a similar serious felony. At least one participant did not seem to be aware that they were doing so as it happened. Had the other customers in the store done anything to justify pointing a gun at them? The answer to this obviously rhetorical question is “no”. You could get prosecuted for it.

You owe it to yourself, your family, and your loved ones to seek out education and training on the legal aspects of deadly force. Masaad Ayoob’s “MAG20 / Classroom – Armed Citizen’s Rules of Engagement” course is outstanding and can’t be recommended highly enough. Andrew Branca’s classes (available online) are also very good (Gun Culture 2.0/David Yamane’s review and summary of a 2014 seminar here).

What is worth dying for?

What are you willing to die for, or to a lesser extent, sustain potentially life-long crippling injuries?  Are your loved ones and dependents (parents/spouse/children) going to understand or agree with the decision you made?  Are they going to understand the risk you took to defend someone else’s money, someone else’s business, or even someone else’s life if they are a stranger? To extend John Holschen’s Gas Station Clerk analogy, would you be willing to be euthanized if she needed a heart transplant and you were the only matching donor left in the world? Would those you leave behind understand and agree with that decision? As Tiffany Johnson beautifully expressed, “There is no shame in surviving.” There is no shame in escaping. There is no shame in keeping your head down and being a good witness.

It is my firm, passionate conviction that far too many people visualize a fantasy of how they think the action will unfold which ends with them prevailing heroically and triumphantly, without considering any other possible outcomes (the Hero Fantasy).  We need to carefully consider the worst case scenario before acting – again, what is worth DYING for?  What is worth ruining yourself (and your family) financially for?  What is worth being incarcerated for the rest of your life? Consider all possible outcomes

These decisions are extremely difficult to decide in the heat of the moment.  If you carry a gun and are willing to act on behalf of others, it is imperative that you devote time to determining what your “red lines” and moral boundaries are in advance.

Know thyself and train accordingly

If you are a high responder–if you are somebody who’s just going to run into the fray–you had better know that now so that you can build the knowledge, skills and attributes and have with you the tools that you’re going to need when you get into the kind of trouble that your temperament is going to get you into.

Dr William Aprill (from 2017 Ballistic Radio podcast episode 197)

I can’t tell you where your own moral red lines should be drawn, and neither can anyone else. Those are for you to decide. I implore you, beg you, beseech you, however, to determine where those lines are ahead of time, and make those choices with a solid understanding of the possible physical, legal, and financial ramifications that those choices for you and your loved ones. Don’t fall prey to the Hero Fantasy. Think about the worst possible outcome should you decide to act – especially if you fall into the “high responder” category. To be explicitly clear, there are definitely situations where I am personally willing to risk everything to defend others – children are a big moral red line for me – but these situations have been carefully thought through, and my wife and children understand my pre-made choices.

Get training!

Unfortunately, in my experience it is not at all atypical for people who are relatively or completely new to complex force-on-force scenarios to make poor or even catastrophically bad decisions. In fact, I would assert that it happens more often than not – I previously blogged about my experience and observations as a participant in one of these Experiential Learning Lab evolutions in 2014.  The fact that poor outcomes are so prevalent in these evolutions serves to highlight the importance of seeking out quality force-on-force scenario training for any serious practitioner.

Thank you spending your valuable time reading this post, and stay safe!

Dave Reichek
KR Training Instructor

KR Training March 2022 Newsletter

SUMMER SCHEDULE CLASS SURVEY

Help us choose what classes to add to our summer schedule: take the survey by clicking the link

https://forms.gle/BXZG6cNzDhFcbxQ79

MARCH 2022 UPDATE

We have added more sessions of popular classes and filled out our schedule through end of May. Upcoming classes with space available:

March 26 Saturday Defensive Rifle has 3 slots open

APRIL

MAY

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.
Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

KR TRAINING TUMBLERS

We are going to order another batch of the KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills Program 20 oz tumblers. Final price will depend on total order size. Estimated price will be $25 – the price includes your name engraved below the logo. Email me to order one. I will take payments after the order is placed and a final price is determined. Price does NOT include shipping to you. Shipping will be available for additional cost, or tumblers can be picked up at the A-Zone during any event.

KR TRAINING STAFF NEWS

Karl Rehn and John Daub will be teaching at the 2022 Rangemaster Tactical Conference at the end of March. Dave Reichek and Tracy Thronburg will be working as range staff for this event, and most of the KR Training instructor team (and many of our students) will be attending.

Most of the KR Training staff will be attending, working or presenting at the 2022 Rangemaster Tactical Conference in Dallas in late March.

STUDENT INVOLVED INCIDENTS

An after action report from a student about his recent pepper spray incident in downtown Austin was the subject of a recent blog post.

Another student-involved incident from last summer occurred when a homeless person living in the (Austin) Barton Creek greenbelt began pounding on a student’s front door demanding to be let in to cool off. In this case, the student’s exterior camera was used to assess the situation, and the student returned to his house after calling 911. When he arrived, the student did draw his pistol but kept it at a retention position (muzzle averted, not pointed at the individual), and the student and his wife gave the homeless person a Gatorade and some beef jerky while they waited for APD and EMS to arrive, since he refused to leave their property. Upon his arrival, the APD officer asked the student to holster, which he did. (I believe that the student’s exhibition of “trained” gunhandling and calm demeanor was a big factor in this low-drama police/armed citizen interaction). Due to Austin PD’s current policy of non-response/inaction to “suspicious person” incidents, the homeless person was not taken into custody, was not charged with trespassing, and he also refused medical treatment from EMS. The resolution of the incident was that the homeless person went back into the Greenbelt.

CONTINUING EDUCATION

Online resources you can use:

SONG OF THE MONTH

From 2009-2015 I played in the band Leannasaurus Rex based in Bryan. We did a mix of rock and blues covers, often reworking the songs in our own style, with long instrumental jams. In 2010 we released the Hot Summer Jams CD (all tracks remastered 2020, available for download here). Here’s a video linked to one of the longer tracks from that album, our version of “Old Habits are Hard to Break” by John Hiatt.


FOLLOW US ONLINE!

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

Student involved incident report March 2022

I recently received an email from a student that was involved in a defensive incident. He gave his permission for me to share it with others with some minor edits to protect his privacy.

His account

This afternoon I went to the UPS Store west of the Capitol in Austin to drop off some packages.  It’s on a one-way street and parallel parking is the only option.  I parallel park, put my truck in park, and lean over my console to the front passenger floorboard to get my packages.  

When I shifted my truck into Park, the doors automatically unlock.  This has never been an issue…until this afternoon.  As I’m leaned over getting the packages, I hear my back passenger door open. 

I look behind me and it’s a homeless vagrant.  He is already completely in my vehicle.  I tell him to get out now.  He refuses.  I tell him again, and he kind of does this half lunge toward me and tries to hit me.  I keep pepper spray in my cup-holder/console area so it’s immediately accessible.  I’m able to grab it, and I sprayed him. He starts yelling in pain and anger and falls back out of the still open door on to the pavement.  I drive off and shut my door at the traffic light.  I then circle back around to see that he’s stumbling around on the sidewalk.

It was very unnerving.  I am thankful I did not have to use my sidearm.  I carry pepper spray in my vehicle at all times.  I witnessed a road rage incident a few years ago between two parties about twenty feet in front of my vehicle while stopped dead in traffic.  A driver got out of his vehicle and put his gun in another driver’s face.  That is what made me finally realize the importance of concealed carry and appropriate use and training on firearms.  Road rage incidents and carjackings are more common than they used to be.

I am very fortunate.  Very, very fortunate.  He caught me by complete surprise.  If he had had a knife, or had been more addled out of his mind, this story might have a very different ending.  I might well be dead.  So might he.  

I am going to have my truck reprogrammed so it doesn’t automatically unlock when I shift to Park.  It’s a safety hazard, especially with a newborn infant (who thankfully wasn’t with me today).  I also should have been more aware of my surroundings. 

A lot of people scoff at the idea that they need to train or have both OC and a gun available for quick access.  What happened to me today is a reminder why it is important.  The police, especially in Austin, would have been of no help.  Had I shot this guy, our district attorney likely would have tried to indict me.  

Being prepared, protecting your family and yourself, and the steps that get you there can be hard, time-consuming, not cheap, and sometimes boring.  Today was an important reminder of why we prioritize it. 

Karl notes

This incident is a great example of the importance of having pepper spray with you, particularly in urban areas. The threat of deadly force used as force (drawing the gun) might have deterred the attacker, but that would have been a purely psychological stop, where the pepper spray caused immediate physical reaction. (He used Sabre Red, which is one of the two brands we recommend, along with POM). The student was also carrying on-body (not in a car holster or a glove box or console), which gave him options. If the attacker had a gun, it would have been safer for the student to exit the vehicle, draw and (maybe) engage than to try to stay in the vehicle attempting to access a gun that wasn’t worn on-body. And had the attacker entered via the front passenger door, a car holster or glove box carry method would have put the gun as (or more) accessible to the intruder than to the student. The same would have been true for the cup holder carried pepper spray. As the student wrote, he was fortunate that the intruder used the back seat doors instead.

The only way the student would have seen the intruder sooner would have been to be looking at the passenger side rear view mirror at the right time, and that’s just not something people do unless the vehicle is in motion (or about to be). It’s very likely that the intruder chose the back passenger side door because of its location in the driver’s blind spot, an indicator that this person has committed this type of attack in the past. As the student observed, the best preventative measure would be to change the programming to keep the doors locked until the driver manually unlocks them. This is inconvenient (most security measures are), but would have prevented the intruder from getting in.

As of Sept 2021, Austin PD no longer responds to “attempted theft of property”, “burglary of vehicle”, or “suspicious person”. The full list of crimes reclassified as “non emergency” is here. Even if he had called 911, even a 3 minute response time would have been an eternity compared to his immediate response. In another recent student involved incident, where a homeless person came out of the Barton Creek Greenbelt and pounded on the student’s front door, demanding to be let in, when Austin PD was called, the trespasser was not taken into custody or even cited for the offense, even though the homeowner told the police he wanted to press charges. In that incident, the student drew his gun (on his own property) but kept it in a muzzle averted position until police arrived, holstering when the arriving officer directed him to. (The ability to holster quickly when directed to by responding officers is one of many reasons why we prefer solid kydex holsters over hybrids with leather backers that tend to flop over, covering the holster opening.)

The student in this most recent incident chose not to contact the police afterward, out of a (likely correct) assessment that at best, it would accomplish nothing, and at worst it would lead to more trouble for him than the car intruder.

Please share this story with your friends and family that don’t currently carry pepper spray, either because they think “I won’t need it” or because “I have a gun”. In this case having the right tool at the right time (and the willingness to use it) was the key to success.

KR Training February 2022 Newsletter

FEBRUARY 2022 UPDATE

February has been busy, with many sold out classes and some warmer than expected weather. Many March classes are already sold out or close to it. We have added more sessions of popular classes and filled out our schedule through end of May. Upcoming classes with space available:

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.
Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

MARCH HIGHLIGHTS

If you are working to complete your Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin requirements, you should get registered for these upcoming March and April courses:

March 5 – Personal Tactics Skills (morning) and AT-2 Scenarios (afternoon)

These two classes are best taken together as a one day block. PTS teaches you what you *should* do in a variety of self-defense situations and improves your ability to quickly make decisions and take action. The AT-2 course is the course we are most known for nationally: “force on force” scenarios where Airsoft and Simunition guns allow students to experience full context scenarios working against live opponents. In my opinion this is the most important class in our program and will prepare you for actual incidents far better than the live fire courses we offer. We only offer the AT-2 class twice a year (spring and fall). DPS-1 is recommended as a pre-req but those with carry permits can also attend.

March 6 – Red Dot Pistol Essentials (morning) and Defensive Pistol Skills 1 (afternoon)

Red Dot Pistol Essentials will teach you the most important skills you need to shoot and draw a red dot sighted handgun. Loaner guns are available for those that don’t have a dot-equipped gun yet. The afternoon class, DPS-1, is being offered so that more students will be eligible to attend DPS-2 on March 12.

We are hosting John Murphy of FPF Training again this year on March 19-20. John’s signature course, called Street Encounter Skills and Tactics, is a truly integrated class teaching human behavior, managing unknown contacts, recognition primed decision making, and essential hands on skills (pistol, pepper spray, verbal and medical). This course has earned many accolades from other national trainers including Tom Givens.

The class is a 16 hour in person course supported by 5 hours of lecture material available on youTube (John encourages students to watch the videos prior to class.) It’s a tremendous value suitable for anyone that has taken our DPS-1 (drawing from concealment) course or higher level training.

KR TRAINING STAFF NEWS

Dave Reichek and Doug Greig attended and passed the Sage Dynamics Red Dot Pistol Instructor course, and they will be offering a red dot pistol class on March 6. We have loaner gear for those wanting to learn about red dot pistols. Karl was a guest on two episodes of the Texas State Rifle Association’s “2A Ricochet” podcast.

Most of the KR Training staff will be attending, working or presenting at the 2022 Rangemaster Tactical Conference in Dallas in late March.

SONG OF THE MONTH

Many years ago a friend of a friend introduced me to the music of John Goodwin, a clever Nashville songwriter. Here’s my cover of his “Monday I’m Starting My Diet” (soon to be featured as music on an upcoming Michael Bane podcast!)


FOLLOW US ONLINE!

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

KR Training January 2022 Newsletter

JANUARY 2022 UPDATE

January started off busy, with warm weather increasing requests for weekday private sessions and filling up weekend classes. Many classes in February have already sold out. We have added more sessions of popular classes and filled out our schedule through end of May. Upcoming classes with space available:

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.
Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

CHALLENGE COIN ESSENTIAL COURSES

If you are working to complete your Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin requirements, you should get registered for these upcoming March and April courses:

March 5 – Personal Tactics Skills (morning) and AT-2 Scenarios (afternoon)

These two classes are best taken together as a one day block. PTS teaches you what you *should* do in a variety of self-defense situations and improves your ability to quickly make decisions and take action. The AT-2 course is the course we are most known for nationally: “force on force” scenarios where Airsoft and Simunition guns allow students to experience full context scenarios working against live opponents. In my opinion this is the most important class in our program and will prepare you for actual incidents far better than the live fire courses we offer. We only offer the AT-2 class twice a year (spring and fall). DPS-1 is recommended as a pre-req but those with carry permits can also attend.

March 6 – Red Dot Pistol Essentials (morning) and Defensive Pistol Skills 1 (afternoon)

Red Dot Pistol Essentials will teach you the most important skills you need to shoot and draw a red dot sighted handgun. Loaner guns are available for those that don’t have a dot-equipped gun yet. The afternoon class, DPS-1, is being offered so that more students will be eligible to attend DPS-2 on March 12.

March 12 – Defensive Pistol Skills 2 (afternoon) and Low Light Shooting (evening)

DPS-2 picks up where DPS-1 ends. It focuses on shooting from cover, armed movement in structures (including a run in our live fire shoot house), malfunctions, reloads and other important skills. Low Light Shooting teaches handgun use and manipulation in low light. We only offer Low Light Shooting twice a year (spring and fall) do don’t miss out on this required challenge coin course!

April 9 – Defensive Pistol Skills 3

We only offer DPS-3 twice a year, and passing DPS_2 is required to attend. Passing DPS-3 is required to earn the challenge coin.

We are hosting John Murphy of FPF Training again this year on March 19-20. John’s signature course, called Street Encounter Skills and Tactics, is a truly integrated class teaching human behavior, managing unknown contacts, recognition primed decision making, and essential hands on skills (pistol, pepper spray, verbal and medical). This course has earned many accolades from other national trainers including Tom Givens.

The class is a 16 hour in person course supported by 5 hours of lecture material available on youTube (John encourages students to watch the videos prior to class.) It’s a tremendous value suitable for anyone that has taken our DPS-1 (drawing from concealment) course or higher level training.

KR TRAINING 2021 YEAR IN REVIEW

Despite the challenges of COVID, 2021 was another great year for KR Training, with significant growth in the number of weekday private lessons. Thank you all for supporting our business! 12 more students earned their Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coins in 2021, completing more than 40 hours of training with us. Not counting students taught on the road or at conferences, we had over 800 student class registrations in 2021. Karl and John taught sessions at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference (and both are returning to teach at the 2022 event). Karl attended more than 140 hours of training, attending classes we hosted and online instruction from the Texas Bar Association and others. Many on the staff were certified by the Complete Combatant (Brian & Shelley Hill) in their Image Based Decisional Drills program as instructors, and we’ve incorporated that material into an updated Personal Tactics Skills course. Karl competed in the Area 4 Steel Challenge championship, winning Top Senior and placing in the top 3 in Open and Single Stack divisions. Karl and John Daub were guests on several podcasts in 2021.

SONG OF THE MONTH

In January 2020 I had the opportunity to perform with national touring drummer Tom Brechtlein who has backed up many top tier players (Robben Ford, Al Di Meola, Chick Corea, Wayne Shorter). Over the past year I’ve posted videos from the best songs from that show to my youtube music channel. This one is my piano trio version of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On Your Crazy Diamond”, supplemented by some cool digital psychedelic video used under a Creative Commons license. Audio was recorded multi track from the soundboard and professionally mixed.


FOLLOW US ONLINE!

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

KR Training December 2021 Newsletter

DECEMBER UPDATE

Performing music 6 days a week (Mondays off) for most of November and December has kept me from writing new blog posts, but warmer than usual weather, steady interest in weekday private lessons, Monday lunch Coin Holder Clinics, and non-shooting classes on weekends have kept the A-Zone busy. We also added more road base to the front gate area, and in early January we will replace the front gate with something fancier (and automated).

Here are the classes we have coming up in Texas with space available. 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.

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.


Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

ROAD CLASSES AND CONFERENCES

FEATURED CLASSES: JOHN HEARNE IN JANUARY

John Hearne is a longtime Rangemaster Instructor known for his deep thinking and insightful lectures. He’s been a frequent guest on some of the best firearms related podcasts and an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference. These courses are material he’s presented at TacCon multiple times. Because TacCon sells out so quickly, he’s bringing these one day courses to KR Training in January:

Who Wins, Who Loses and Why is a broad survey of the most current research into human performance during interpersonal conflict. A strong emphasis is placed on understanding how the human mind works in order to optimize performance and increase one’s chance of dominating a violent encounter. A preview is here in this Ballistic Radio episode

John Hearne Ballistic Radio episode 1

Great American Gunfights (Newhall and Miami) – This course examines two of the most significant law enforcement gunfights of the twentieth century – the Newhall Massacre and the FBI-Miami Firefight. Featuring a Powerpoint presentation with original crime scene photos, lengthy Powerpoint animations, video clips, forensic psychological analysis, and an extensive tactical analysis, the students will develop a comprehensive understanding of these events. The training implication of these lessons will also be addressed.

Newhall episode – John Hearne on Ballistic Radio
Miami episode – John Hearne on Ballistic Radio

These lecture courses are rarely offered, and are great material full of useful information. The Ballistic Radio episodes are just a preview of the course material.

FEATURED CLASSES: TEAM TACTICS IN FEBRUARY

Unless you spend all your time completely alone, understanding team tactics is a useful skill. Whether the people you are with are unarmed or armed, trained or untrained, they will be involved in any self-defense situation you might encounter. Our team tactics class focuses on two person team tactics, teaching skills for armed pairs, armed/unarmed trained pairs, and the most likely combination: one armed/trained, and others unarmed/untrained.

You don’t need to sign up with a specific partner. Individual students can attend and we will pair people up on class day. Even if you show up with a family member or friend with the intention of training together, we will be changing partners for some drills and exercises.

PODCASTS TO EXPLORE

I listen to a lot of podcasts when I drive, as they often have better and more useful content than talk radio. Here are the gun-related ones I listen to, in no particular order:

SONG OF THE MONTH

Each year the Texas T-Birds band dons a holiday costume as “Doc Tictock and the Mistletoe Medicine Show”, performing every week at the 130 acre Santa’s Wonderland holiday theme park south of College Station. Last year Santa’s had more than 325,000 visitors. This year’s attendance has been just as good, so we will end up playing for 100,000 people or more during our 7 week run of Tuesday-Thursday shows. Here’s a video of us playing Feliz Navidad.


FOLLOW US ONLINE!

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

KR Training November 2021 Newsletter

UPCOMING CLASSES AT THE A-ZONE

Sold out classes and a busy schedule kept us from putting out September and October newsletters. We have added a lot of classes and special events to the late winter and early 2022 schedule, as listed below.

Here are the classes we have coming up in Texas with space available. 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.

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.


Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

ROAD CLASSES AND CONFERENCES

FEATURED CLASSES: JOHN HEARNE IN JANUARY

John Hearne is a longtime Rangemaster Instructor known for his deep thinking and insightful lectures. He’s been a frequent guest on some of the best firearms related podcasts and an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference. These courses are material he’s presented at TacCon multiple times. Because TacCon sells out so quickly, he’s bringing these one day courses to KR Training in January:

Who Wins, Who Loses and Why is a broad survey of the most current research into human performance during interpersonal conflict. A strong emphasis is placed on understanding how the human mind works in order to optimize performance and increase one’s chance of dominating a violent encounter. A preview is here in this Ballistic Radio episode

John Hearne Ballistic Radio episode 1

Great American Gunfights (Newhall and Miami) – This course examines two of the most significant law enforcement gunfights of the twentieth century – the Newhall Massacre and the FBI-Miami Firefight. Featuring a Powerpoint presentation with original crime scene photos, lengthy Powerpoint animations, video clips, forensic psychological analysis, and an extensive tactical analysis, the students will develop a comprehensive understanding of these events. The training implication of these lessons will also be addressed.

Newhall episode – John Hearne on Ballistic Radio
Miami episode – John Hearne on Ballistic Radio

These lecture courses are rarely offered, and are great material full of useful information. The Ballistic Radio episodes are just a preview of the course material.

BLOG-O-RAMA

links to interesting articles you would have seen if you followed our Facebook feed…

SONG OF THE MONTH

Here’s a video of me singing Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” with the Black Cat Choir band, from our afternoon set at the Fayette County Fair back in September.


NEW BOOK FROM MIKE OX – PRE-RELEASE DISCOUNT

Trainer Mike Ox has a new book out: Real World Gunfight Training. He sent me a review copy and I gave him a quote to use on the book cover. It’s a very science-heavy book explaining the difference between institutional & group class training and the focused individual training top tier performers do. Classes are great for learning how to practice property, but real progress happens during that time spent after class reinforcing and improving on what you learned during the course.

The digital version of the book is available for 99c on pre-order from Amazon through Cyber Monday.

FOLLOW US ONLINE!

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

Marksmanship, Stress and Force on Force Training

KR Training graduate, researcher and psychology professor Dr. Glenn Meyer pointed me at this excellent paper in Nature magazine.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-90918-9.pdf
Perception during use of force and the likelihood of firing upon an unarmed person

Citation

Biggs AT, Hamilton JA, Jensen AE, Huffman GH, Suss J, Dunn TL, Sherwood S, Hirsch DA, Rhoton J, Kelly KR, Markwald RR. Sci. Rep. 2021; 11(1): 13313.

Here’s the abstract:

Stress can impact perception, especially during use-of-force. Research efforts can thus advance both theory and practice by examining how perception during use-of-force might drive behavior. The current study explored the relationship between perceptual judgments and performance during novel close-combat training. Analyses included perceptual judgments from close-combat assessments conducted pre-training and post-training that required realistic use-of-force decisions in addition to an artificially construed stress-inoculation event used as a training exercise. Participants demonstrated significant reductions in situational awareness while under direct fire, which correlated to increased physiological stress. The initial likelihood of firing upon an unarmed person predicted the perceptual shortcomings of later stress-inoculation training. Subsequently, likelihood of firing upon an unarmed person was reduced following the stress-inoculation training. These preliminary findings have several implications for low or zero-cost solutions that might help trainers identify individuals who are under-prepared for field responsibilities.

Thoughts on the paper

The paper is a short read (14 pages), describing a well designed study looking into what the firearms training community calls ‘stress inoculation’. The concept is simple: prior experience performing under stress helps to reduce stress in future situations. NYPD’s Jim Cirillo, in his book Guns, Bullets and Gunfights, identified characteristics that he and others on the Stakeout Squad believed were indicators that a person would perform well under fire:

  • Are you a competitive shooter?
  • Have you competed in major matches, placed and won awards?
  • Can you perform well under pressure or fear?
  • Are you a hunter? Have you shot big game?
  • Do you like outdoor physical sports?
  • Do you collect firearms? Do you reload ammo?
  • If you are over 28, are you married? Do you have children?
  • Do you like people? Do you attend civic affairs?

Four of the 8 ask related questions: does the person have a serious interest in firearms, have they sought out situations where their ability with a firearm is tested, and did they perform well?

The other 4 are more general measures of character. Does the person like being in situations where physical exertion and contact with others, with potential for injury, are likely to occur? Does the person have empathy for others? Close relationships with other people outside of work?

This study evaluated similar characteristics, by considering marksmanship skill and behavior when confronting 3 different individuals; one armed and hostile, one unarmed and moderately hostile, and one unarmed and compliant.

As video of police use of force incidents has become more common, more attention has been paid to questionable use of deadly force decisions, and interest in methods to improve that decision making has grown. As a result, this study’s specific focus was on the value of force on force training to decrease the likelihood of unjustified shootings. To accomplish that, they used three different roleplayers, presenting different levels of aggression toward the test subject. Physical and psychological stress were measured and correlated with performance. Marksmanship skill was also evaluated, with a live fire pre-test. They also collected data on how long the participant thought the event lasted, how many shots they fired, and how many times they were hit.

At this point you should click the link and go read the actual article.

ttps://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-90918-9.pdf

Unsurprising Results

From the paper: Marksmanship abilities did significantly predict the stress level of the training event with marksmanship as the sole predictor. The force-on-force stress-inoculation training event was less stressful overall for more proficient marksmen.

Cirillo’s list included both competition shooting and hunting as predictors of gunfight performance. My own observations from 25+ years running force on force scenarios has been that those with well developed gun skills were often able to wait longer (to confirm an actual need to use deadly force) before acting, which made them less likely to make a bad decision. Having those skills learned to the automatic level freed up attention and brain cells to focus on the situation itself rather than the mechanics of getting the gun out from concealment and into the fight.

Also from the paper: those tested in use of force decision making after participation in the training were less likely to make a bad decision to fire. I’ve seen student performance improve after a 4 hour block of scenarios where they participated in some and observed others.

The paper’s authors make this recommendation: These results could suggest a low-cost solution to identifying
individuals who may not be ready for field operations by identifying people likely to fire on unarmed citizens
before those trainees are certified ready for duty. Specifically, trainers could track quantifiable elements of training scenarios and see how well the trainee can maintain situational awareness.

Scenario based training and testing has been part of most police academies for decades, going back to use of primer-driven wax bullets and blanks in the 1970’s (and earlier, and video based training systems before non-lethal training projectile systems came into common use. “Low cost” is a relative term, since a rough estimate of minimum gear necessary to equip a test subject and a single roleplayer with a training gun, marking rounds and appropriate safety gear (conversion kit, head gear, chest/neck/throat protector) could require $2K or more, not counting the cost of a facility where marking rounds can be used. However, compared to the costs associated with a bad use of force decision, the cost for the equipment required is small.

KR Training Force on Force class AARs and mentions

There aren’t a lot of traveling trainers offering force on force courses. A lot more equipment has to be shipped or hauled to class. Demand for this type of training is far less than for high round count square range training, and it’s far easier for traveling trainers to run the square range courses. They can also be conducted at almost any range, while FOF often requires temporary shoot houses to be built, either out of props used for matches at the host range, or built on site, as we had to do for the FOF class I ran at the FPF facility earlier this year.

Lee Weems of First Person Safety and the “That Weems Guy” podcast said some nice things about my FOF classes in this recent Evolution Security podcast episode.

https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/evolution-security-podcast/id1472903822?i=1000538264323&fbclid=IwAR019M7iVOecz7xFkMFM70Y9StfUBgnpJwBdzgYLlP6EtocuV2NVdNFOzAM

Frequent KR Training student Uncle Zo wrote an after-action class report about our recent Advanced Training 2 scenario course held at the A-Zone Range

One of the students in the FPF full day scenarios course wrote up his experiences in that class

Back in September, the Civilian Gunfighter blog wrote about force on force training and mentioning my courses.

Why Don’t You Share Videos of Student Scenarios?

In the current era, everyone wants to share everything, particularly when marketing is involved. I don’t record videos of the scenarios that I run, and don’t allow students to record and share them either. The reason is this: should a student get involved in an defensive incident, those publicly shared (or privately saved) videos could be used as evidence. I do have this short clip from a 2005 episode of Shooting Gallery showing a scenario I ran at one of the early Polite Society (Rangemaster Tactical) Conferences.

The Stoeger Bandit Target

Retired police trainer Bob Givan shares my interest in the history of target development. He recently sent me some pictures from the Stoeger catalog from the 1930’s-1950’s. During that era, Stoeger’s catalog was the Sears Roebuck wish book for shooters. I purchased a few of these catalogs myself to add to my collection.

In the late 1930’s, Stoeger began selling their “bandit” target.

The target was the same size as Fitzgerald’s “Colt Silhouette Target”.

Another variant had ID numbers, which could be used to track hit locations.

The Stoeger target showed an attacker with gun raised to the eye target line, later in the attack process than the Colt Silhouette, which showed someone reaching in their pocket. The 5 point zone in the head and other scoring areas on the Stoeger target are more anatomically correct, with lower scores for the legs and lower torso.

Scoring on the target changed between 1941 and 1942. The bullseye style scoring on the target was the 1941 variant, which influenced the International Rapid Fire and later, the Prehle and B-27 targets.

Stoeger also advertised an armored vest in their 1939 catalog.

Like Richard Davis did with his Second Chance vests many decades later, the company demonstrated their vests with live fire tests while visiting police departments.

Stoeger also included some ‘Ten Ring Tips’ in a 1945 catalog.

Remembering Ronnie Jones (1955-2021)

Austin-area competition shooter and gunsmith Ronnie Jones passed away June 27, 2021, from fast-growing cancer. In the early to mid 1990’s, Ronnie and I shot matches every weekend, trained together multiple days a week, and traveled all over the US shooting major matches.

The picture above was taken by Rob Leatham’s dad Nyle Leatham, with a remote camera at one of the Ernie Hill sponsored major matches in Phoenix in the mid 1990’s. Nyle had a set up with the Ernie Hill banner at a spot that every shooter in the match had to fire from, and he sold prints of the pics at the match.

Ronnie loved machines and going fast, and came to pistol and 3-gun competition from the world of stock car racing. He lived near the Hill Country Rifle Range where (at that time) all the USPSA, Steel Challenge and 3 gun matches were held, and dived into the sport quickly after discovering the matches. A highly motivated, competitive person, Ronnie sought out the best instruction, got pro-grade gear and began working hard to win local events, which he was doing within a year of entering the sport.

In 1993-1994 we shot over 50,000 rounds apiece, putting in long practice sessions, setting up stages and racing to see who could get to USPSA “Master” class first (Ronnie did, I got there about 6 months later). He sought out sponsorships and was picked up by the Nowlin barrel company, representing them at major events for several years. His aptitude for mechanical things led him to working on his own guns, then working on my guns, then to jobs with Nowlin, STI, and SVI at various times in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Ronnie loved Open division and going as fast as he could go, once saying (after USPSA introduced the Limited division for iron-sighted guns) “I’ve never thought of myself as ‘limited'”. As the 90’s progressed he got into 3-gun matches. As cross training for 3 gun we shot skeet every week for about 4 months, using our 3-gun shotguns instead of traditional skeet guns (to the concern of some of the old time skeet shooters at the range in Marble Falls where we trained.)

I ended up buying Ronnie’s USPSA racegun to have as a backup gun for major matches. The gun had a custom serial number of “Franker 1” (in tribute to Frank Zappa & Ronnie’s habit of asking people to “let me be Frank”). He put at least 100K rounds through it and built himself a pair of new guns after retiring this one.

We had many adventures on the road, including a famous incident in Midland, Texas, where Ronnie (a connoisseur of fine cocktails) ordered a margarita on the rocks with specific ingredients, made a certain way, and sent it back (twice) when it wasn’t made correctly. He gave up and ordered the individual ingredients and mixed his own drink at the table. The manager came over to see what the problem was. Ronnie adjusted the manager’s tie, and then handed the manager the drink his bar had made, and said “taste that”, then gave the manager the one he made, had him taste it and asked the manager which one was better. The manager liked Ronnie’s more. In Ronnie’s own words:

If you are talking margarita, it would contain Herradura Anejo and Grand Marnier.
Currently that has been updated to Gran Gala instead of Grand Marnier but either will work.

About two shots of each and then fresh squeezed limes to taste. Mixes are sort of hard to judge and I really don’t have one that I like. I would suggest that you stay away from anything but fresh limes. When you squeeze them some of the oil from the skin gets mixed in and it makes a difference. If you don’t want to do that, then you could try something like Minute Maid concentrate but I don’t think you would like it as much.

Some people add a splash of orange juice and that’s ok if you like that. If you think it’s too tart you could add a little sugar. That is going to depend on how tart the limes are. When the oils are really high they will make you pucker, well unless you just add more alcohol. 🙂 Or water 🙁

Starting with a pint glass full of ice, pour it in, shake it, pour it into your glass with the salted rim and add ice to fill if necessary. Don’t chill the liquor. It melts the ice and soothes it out.

On another trip, Ronnie decided to teach/demonstrate “Rockford Files J turns” for me using our rental car in a mostly-empty shopping mall parking lot one night. The next morning we had to go back to the lot to find one of the rental car hubcaps, which had flown off at some point.

Ronnie’s drive to be a national level competition shooter pushed me to a level of skill I would not have achieved on my own, and those experiences beyond the club match level gave me confidence (and credentials) to do more with KR Training. He was absolutely an important part of the early days.

When Penny and I started dating, we spent many weekends on the road as I introduced her to matches around the state and country, much as Ronnie and I had done.  She thought it was a little strange, at first, that I had an interesting “Ronnie story” every place we went, until she met Ronnie for the first time at Hill Country Rifle Range.  He greeted her with his characteristic bear hug, and they soon became fast friends.  He helped diagnose a intermittent problem that turned out to be an issue with Winchester powder, and soon discovered that they shared an interest in the meticulous detail necessary for making a race gun run flawlessly, and made a pact to never let me near any of their firearms with a file.  He also gave me a really hard time for letting her start out competing in limited class with a well worn 2011 chambered in .45ACP, but was always available to help fix all the broken parts. Eventually by the end of the 1990’s, demand for classes overtook shooting local matches and training for major matches, and Ronnie’s work in the gun industry took away from his time to train and compete as well.

Between the growth of KR Training, the development of the A-Zone and later, a move to Bryan away from Austin, we didn’t get to see each other as often, but we stayed in contact online, and at concerts. Ronnie and his wife Karin loved to go to concerts, and we would come to Austin for special events.

Ronnie loved animals more than people, and their house was always home to multiple dogs and cats. Their cat “Tubby” was a long haired fuzzball that I was terribly allergic to, but when Ronnie asked me to play Pink Floyd songs on their piano, Tubby would always jump into my lap and purr. (Tubby had good taste in music.)

Ronnie was a huge Frank Zappa fan, and on our many road trips to matches, we listened to a lot of Zappa songs. When Dweezil Zappa formed the “Zappa Plays Zappa” band after Frank’s death, Ronnie didn’t miss a single Texas show, traveling to Houston and Dallas and Austin. The last time I saw him (outside of a hospital) was the “Hot Rats live” show Dweezil did at the Paramount Theater in Austin in 2019.

Ronnie and his wife Karin at the show that night.

“Watermelon in Easter Hay” was Ronnie’s favorite Frank Zappa song.

After Ronnie passed, John Daub and I made a special range trip to shoot some guns in honor of Ronnie. A few years prior to his death, Ronnie had sold off a lot of his guns, including his suppressed Mac-10 and the STI “Legend” .40 that he built to use in Limited division but never ended up competing with. I actually used the Legend to earn my Grand Master ratings in USPSA Limited and Limited 10 divisions back before USPSA raised the GM standards.


Remembering Mary Ann Sanborn (1936-2021)

On September 18, 2021, KR Training graduate, friend, course host and supporter Mary Ann Sanborn passed away after a long bout with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Dave Rosenfield and other relatives listed in her official obituary.  While Mary Ann was certainly well-known around the area because of her Sanborn Travel business,  I first met Mary Ann and Dave in March 1995, when they attended an NRA Pistol Instructor class that I taught that year. Interest in becoming a certified pistol instructor surged when it became clear that the state legislature was going to pass a concealed carry permit bill, and there would be demand for pistol classes as soon as DPS began certifying instructors. Dave and Mary Ann also connected us with their many shooting friends and helped me fill several instructor courses that year as a result of their referrals. Penny met them soon after!

Mary Ann and Dave – firearms dealers specializing in sales of suppressors and machine guns – had a small outdoor range at their Sanborn Shooters facility in Smithville, Texas. They graciously offered their facility as a location where we could teach courses, and converted a garage into a classroom. We used their facility and several others from 1996-2002 as our course offerings expanded from Texas License to Carry (LTC) courses to more advanced pistol classes, competition training, and force on force scenarios. The video below shows student scenarios from a 1998 class run at Sanborn Shooters.

When Penny and I got married in May 1998,  we held a fun shoot at Sanborn Shooters for our friends and family, as part of the event.  As always, Mary Ann and Dave were wonderful hosts. Here’s a pic of Dave demonstrating a full auto Sten Gun at that event.   Incidentally, long-time KR Training colleagues, Kelli and John Kochan first met at a KR Training course held at Sanborn Shooters as well.

From 1997-2006 while Penny worked at M.D. Anderson’s Science Park Research Division in Smithville, she made many lunchtime visits to Sanborn Shooters, to visit and get in short mid-day practice sessions – the original KR Training 100-round drill! On weekends in 2001 when we were not teaching, Penny and I used the Sanborn Shooters facility to train for the Steel Challenge World Championship match, where I made the top 32 shootoff and Penny was 2nd woman (rimfire) and 5th woman (centerfire). Pictures from that match are on the archive site.  Our success that year would not have been possible without the support of Mary Ann and Dave.  Dinners at Rob’s and lunches at Charlie’s and Pockets were also memorable.  Charlie’s BBQ will be forever part of KR Training Scenario lore, thanks to the guidance of Mary Ann and Dave.

As the 21st century began, Dave and Mary Ann encouraged us to build our own permanent training facility, giving us advice on land selection and facility construction. After more than a year of looking at various properties, we purchased the original A-Zone property, spent the fall and winter doing construction, and fired the first official rounds on the range into a ribbon of exploding targets from Sanborn Shooters on 02-02-02, at 2:02 pm.

Photos from the Grand Opening are on the KR Training archive site.  Mary Ann and Dave’s support was critical for KR Training branching out into its own location.  They even provided a cabin for Penny’s parents for a time after they decided to relocate from Indiana to build a home near the A-Zone.

After we moved KR Training operations to the A-Zone, we stayed in contact with Dave and Mary Ann, attending New Year’s Eve and birthday events held at Sanborn Shooters featuring fireworks manufactured by Dave, Mary Ann and their pyrotechnician friends, and kept up with their exploits as assistants working major fireworks shows around Central Texas. Especially notable events were incredible fireworks displays for Mary Ann’s 65th birthday, and of course a big event to usher in the turn of the century on 12/31/1999.

Mary Ann’s last visit to the A-Zone was October 11, 2020. A lover of dogs and cats, she liked visiting her “grand-dogs” Scudder and Rye. We brought them over to Sanborn Shooters several times during her final year.

A special remembrance celebration is planned for May 2022 at Sanborn Shooters. Mary Ann was an important member of the KR Training family, and she will forever be in our hearts. Penny, Karl, Ribo, Grand Dogs Scudder & Rye, and KR Training are incredibly grateful for Mary Ann’s kindness, generosity, sense of humor, and beautiful smile. She will be greatly missed.

Remembering Sean Hoffman (1973-2021)

On August 19, 2021, KR Training instructor Sean Hoffman passed away from a still undetermined medical cause. When we met Sean, he had relocated to Austin after retiring from a 20+ year in law enforcement in Southern California, serving as patrol officer, SWAT team member, and K9 handler. He attended many classes with us in 2018 and 2019, earning his Defensive Pistol Skills Program Challenge Coin.

During that time Sean also got certified as an NRA instructor, Texas law enforcement and private security firearms trainer, and Texas License to Carry (LTC) instructor, and began offering courses under his “Carry the Day” business name. Sean also began assisting with KR Training classes. and was quickly promoted to teaching classes for us a lead instructor.

The first course that he taught for us was a long gun class in August 2019.

Sean became interested in red dot sights, and took multiple classes from Modern Samurai Project, Sage Dynamics, Centrifuge and the SIG Academy – their student courses and instructor certification courses as well. Sean and I traveled to Gunsite for the SIG Academy red dot instructor class in June 2020.

Sean began teaching his own red dot pistol class for KR Training, and we will continue offering that course using his lesson plan and class notes. Sean, Tracy, Dave and I had a fun photo shoot one day creating the KR Training image pack (Pack S) for the new Image Based Decisional Drills program.

As a passionate student of training, Sean shared my goal of seeking out 100 or more hours of training each year. He attended the classes we hosted with traveling trainers, and joined other KR Training staff on the road taking classes at other facilities. He also served as a mentor to some of our assistant instructors, guiding them to improve as instructors and as shooters.

As a Marine Corps veteran, Sean was laid to rest, with military honors at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, in Killeen Texas, on September 21, 2021. Most of the KR Training instructor team attended the service.

Sean’s time as a part of the KR Training family was too short, but his contributions were large. We will miss him, and we will keep his memory alive by continuing the programs he created for us, and adding him to our honor wall at the A-Zone Range.