TSA stats for guns in carry on bags

The TSA’s 2019 stats on firearms found in carry on bags are out, and Texas once again has too many airports on the top 10 list.


If you base the top 10 on total number of guns found, Texas has 3 airports on the list, tying Florida’s 3, but with more guns found.

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL): 323 – an increase of 25 firearms compared to 2018
  2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW): 217
  3. Denver International Airport (DEN): 140
  4. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH): 138
  5. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): 132
  6. Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL): 103
  7. Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL): 100
  8. Nashville International Airport (BNA): 97
  9. Orlando International Airport (MCO): 96
  10. Tampa International Airport (TPA): 87

This analysis from The Firearm Blog (in the video), uses a “percentage of guns found per passenger” rate calculation that produces a different list, with Dallas’ Love Field, San Antonio and Austin airports making that list. Either way, Texans continue to do a bad job remembering to take guns out of bags before heading to the airport.

I hate the way that TSA defines “loaded” as having ammunition in the gun but an empty chamber. At least they report on how many of the guns were actually loaded, vs. empty-chamber “loaded”.

By TSA’s count, 4,432 firearms were found at airport security checkpoints in 2019. 3,863 of the firearms they found (87%) were “loaded”. 1,507 (34%) of the firearms discovered had a round chambered. That indicates there are still way too many people carrying with an empty chamber.

In last weekend’s Handgun Coach Development class, one of the exercises was for each student in the class to explain, demonstrate and run the class through a drill. One student designed an “empty chamber” drill that required shooters to perform the worst-case scenario of an empty chamber defensive gun use. They were to bring the gun up, attempt to fire, then rack the slide and engage the target with 3 rounds. They were given a par time of 4 seconds to hit the zero-ring of an IDPA target at 5 yards, and those on the line had times from 3.2 to 4.2 seconds for that drill. Re-running the drill starting with a loaded chamber dropped that range of times by more than full second, with everyone completing the drill in under 3 seconds and many under 2 seconds.

There are several examples of failures or near-failures resulting from empty chamber carry on the Active Self Protection youTube channel. Here’s one video showing yet another example of how much slower and complex empty chamber carry is.

For every serious gun owner/concealed carrier that carries with a loaded chamber, in a decent holster or in a way that covers the trigger guard of the pistol, and practices getting the gun out and on target quickly, there are 99 that toss a semiauto, magazine inserted but with a empty chamber, in the pocket of a bag, who never practice, and sometimes forget that their gun is in that bag when they get to the airport. If you know someone in that 99%, please share this post with them and encourage them to do better. My advice to them:


All modern handguns were designed and intended to be carried with a round chambered. Many are only drop safe or safe to carry chambered if a thumb safety is on, or the gun is decocked. Either via formal training or simply reading the user manual, learn enough about your gun to understand how to put your gun in a loaded chamber, drop safe, safe to carry mode. Spend some time in dryfire practice retrieving your gun from the place you carry it, bringing it on target and getting a good first shot hit. Go to a range and (within their operating guidelines), practice that same skill live fire. If you insist on carrying “off body” in a bag, make sure that bag has an actual holster embedded in it, like the Crossbreed modular holsters that can be velcro’ed to just about anything.

Even better, look for opportunities when you can carry (chambered) in a proper belt holster, because getting the gun out and on target is much faster, and you don’t risk leaving the gun bag out of reach, and you don’t risk someone unauthorized getting access to your gun.

Purchase a locking box for your vehicle or find some way to store that is more than “loose in a bag in a locked car”, which is not really secure. When you go to the airport, transfer the gun from wherever you normally carry it, to that locking box, before you leave the parking lot. Then (1) you won’t get busted for having a gun your carry on bag and (2) you’ll be able to re-arm yourself as soon as you get back to your car on your return.

Gun owners that fail to store and transport their guns responsibly, and fail to be adequately prepared for self-defense risk legal problems (getting busted for a gun in a carry on bag at the airport), and risk injury or death in self-defense incidents (failing to be able to get hits on target, or simply access the gun to use as a deterrent, fast enough). In both cases the effort and cost required to do better and reduce those risks is small compared to the consequences of failure.

Magazine Springs and More

From the KR Training website archive Training Tips section:

Magazine Spring Tips

General advice on magazines and magazine springs: at least once a year, take your magazines apart. (Those that shoot competition or drop magazines on the ground during defensive handgun skills training should do this much more often.) Clean the insides of the tubes with a brush or a rag, wipe off the followers and other plastic parts, and check the magazine spring length against a new spring. You should keep at least one new magazine spring in your range bag. Brownells.com is a great source for buying magazine springs for most handgun models. The photo below shows an example of a worn out mag spring – it’s shorter than a new spring by several coils. Time to replace that spring.

mag spring photo

Number your magazines. One easy way to do this is to buy pre-cut, numbered grip tape from Dawson Precision and stick them on your base pads. If you number your magazines, when you have a malfunction, you will know what magazine it occured with, and you should run that magazine some more and watch for that same error, and/or take it apart and clean it and check the spring. We recommend having 5-6 magazines for your gun, so you can use some for practice and some for carry (and match day). If you own a lot of magazines, you can pre-load them all at home, so when you get to the range, you just get out of the car and get right to practicing without spending a bunch of time standing around loading magazines. That’s particularly useful when you are paying by the hour for range time!

One more tip on magazines: the more ammo the magazine holds, the more pressure the spring is under. Downloading your high capacity magazines (by 1 round, for mags that hold 11-20 rounds, by 2 or more rounds, for mags that hold more than 20 rounds) can really make a difference in reliability. The #1 problem that occurs with an overloaded magazine is difficulty seating the magazine when you have a round in the chamber (as in a “speed reload”).

Next time you are on the range, try this: with a round already in the chamber, eject the mag. Load it to 100% capacity and try to seat the mag. Eject the mag. Take one round out, and try to seat the mag. The difference in seating pressure should be very noticeable. Under time pressure, the odds that you’ll fail to seat the 100% full mag hard enough increase. I’ve seen quite a few shooters flub a “speed reload” to a full mag this way. What happens is the mag goes on but does not lock in. They fire one round (the one in the chamber), and the mag drops out. Also, it can sometimes be difficult to strip that first round out of the 100% full mag, and that can cause feeding problems. Since I started running my high capacity magazines downloaded by 1, I haven’t had a mag drop out on a reload or have a 1st round feeding problem – none in the past 10+ years.

KR Training January 2020 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training January 2020 newsletter!

We’re continuing to add some new classes to the training schedule. Register in advance to hold your spot; they’re selling out quickly.

Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are Defensive Pistol Skills challenge program core courses. All the courses taught by KR Training staff can be counted toward the “elective” hours needed to earn your coin.




Classes of interest to instructors and coaches coming up this spring include:

*To attend the NRA CCW Instructor course, you must be an NRA Basic Pistol instructor and have taken the NRA CCW student class. Sign up for the Apr 17 NRA CCW student course to meet the CCW student class requirement.


Want to get prepared for storms and other emergencies, but don’t know how? Do you wish someone would just tell you what you need to purchase and what you need to do? Do you want to get reasonably prepared in as little as a weekend?

Paul Martin of prepperdepot.org can help.

Join Paul for a FREE installation of his Rapid Preparedness Program, offered by the Austin Preparedness MeetUp. The event will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, February 8, at the Riverbend Church Student Center on Hwy 360. You will leave with handouts, spreadsheets, and a plan of action that takes the guesswork out of preparing yourself and your family for emergencies and disasters.


Aprill Risk Consulting logo

“Knowing the how and why of violence and violent criminal actors is a needed step to keep you and your loved ones safe.”

Cecil Burch, Immediate Action Combatives

A big part of making sure you’re ready for anything is developing an “adaptive” mindset, deepening your understanding of violent criminals and how to avoid becoming a victim. Dr. William Aprill of Aprill Risk Consulting is the leading expert on violent criminals and victim selection. His flagship seminar, “Unthinkable,” is coming to the Childress Auditorium in Childress, Texas, on February 22. The class is only $100 and includes instruction on how to avoid being a victim, including hands-on firearm retention and disarm techniques. Register by sending the fee via PayPal to the seminar host, jimanders1967@yahoo.com, or make checks payable to James Anders, 507 Avenue E. Nw. Childress, Texas 79201. Coffee, water, and donuts will be provided.


Several times a week we post links to interesting articles to our Facebook and Twitter feeds. In the past we have included them in the newsletter each month for those that refuse to follow us on social media or don’t have social media accounts. It takes a lot of time to compile the list of dozens of links and insert them into the newsletter. We need to know if you still want that information included.

If you want us to bring the Blog-O-Rama section back in 2020, please click on this survey link and answer “yes.”

Keep up with the interesting links 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

A testimonial from Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training about Karl Rehn and John Daub's book, Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training.

2019 Year In Review

2019 was a fantastic year for me and KR Training thanks to tremendous help and support from my wife Penny, my KR Training team instructors, trainers that hosted my road courses, podcasters that invited me on as a guest, and the great musicians I played with in the musical side of my life.


I spent 110 days on the range teaching and 8 days on the range shooting matches (the 7 summer USPSA matches I ran at the A-Zone and the match that was part of the Rangemaster Tactical Conference). Those days don’t include days I was on the range doing live fire practice, range maintenance or hunting.

I spent fewer days on the range this year than in 2018, mostly due to making multiple trips to Washington DC to visit Penny while she was working there, on loan to the Department of the Interior from Texas A&M.

I taught classes in multiple Texas cities (from Lubbock to Bandera), and in Louisiana, Virginia, Georgia, Oregon and Washington, and was a guest on 8 different podcasts and one national TV show. In September 2019 I was part of a large group at the Practical Pistol Reunion for an upcoming Shooting Gallery episode.

I worked on two legal cases in 2019. One was a felony murder trial in Louisiana, where my analysis of the video of the event itself supported his (successful) claim of legal self-defense. In the other, I collected and analyzed shooter performance data and researched incidents in which more than 10 rounds were fired in self-defense incidents against multiple attackers, supporting a case that is still in progress.

KR Training reached over 1000 students in 2019, counting students taught at home, on the road, and at conferences. We published more than 60 blog posts, including 15 gun specific book reviews. I have another 16 gun books read in 2019, with reviews not yet written, and a stack of at least 20 more in the queue to read in 2020.

The biggest accomplishment in 2019 was the release of the book Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training, co-authored with John Daub, in print and e-book format. The book was extremely well received and well reviewed, with sales beyond our expectations. Even better than that, the ideas in the book influenced other instructors, and drew attention to other trainers that inspired and influenced us.

I’m still hard at work on research for the planned Historical Handgun book, as I’m still gathering data, photos, interviews and information. As word has gotten out about my project, many that were involved in historical incidents have reached out and shared their first-hand accounts with me for inclusion in the book. Research led me all the way to the Library of Congress, tracking down out of print books and military training manuals, and to used book stores in every state I visited, looking for rare and out of print volumes.

Professional Development

I attended 221 hours of training: courses I hosted, two I traveled to attend, and multiple sessions at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference and Rangemaster Instructor Reunion. Guest instructors I hosted included Hock Hockheim, John Murphy, Lee Weems, Gabe White, Tiffany Johnson, Aqui Qadir, and Dr. Ben Weger.

I also added new certifications: the 33 hour Force Science certification, GLOCK armorer, ALERRT Civilian Response to Active Shooter Instructor, and Training Counselor certification (instructor trainer) for the new NRA CCW class.

During the summer I set a goal of trying to get to GM in USPSA Revolver division, with coaching from a Bryan/College Station area revolver shooter that earned his own GM rating in 2018. After spending more than a month trying holsters, speedloaders, moon clips, grips and other gun mods I finally found a combination of gear (S&W 625 in .45 ACP running moon clips, Federal Syntech major power factor ammo, CR Speed revolver holster) that worked well enough to get me shooting solid Master, but not Grand Master, scores in USPSA. Considering that I started that summer effort as a solid low-B shooter, I was happy with my progress. I also shot some classifiers in Single Stack and now have a true Master class classifier percentage in that division as well. With USPSA’s recent increases in GM high hit factors, earning GM ratings has become more difficult. Scores that would have been GM level a few years ago are now Master level.

Assistant Instructor Professional Development

Highlights from the professional development our assistant instructors completed in 2019:

Levi Nathan attended 10 classes, taught 21 classes, shot 2 matches. He shot the MAG-20 course “mirror image” and began assisting with low light shoot house courses with us.

Sean Hoffman attended more than 320 hours of formal training, and received all of these new certifications: KR Training Force on Force Instructor, Rangemaster Advanced Instructor, Force Science Institute Certification, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Pistol Instructor, MAG-40 completion.

Paul Martin completed the Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor Certification, and Stop the Bleed Instructor Certification.

John Daub co-wrote a book with me, and earned his Rangemaster Master Instructor certification, certification in the new NRA CCW pistol course, and a Light Pin from Gabe White.

Tracy Thronburg earned a Dark Pin from Gabe White, taught the MAG-20 course for KR Training and attended: Paul Martin Preparedness Conference, Rangemaster instructor reunion, FPF Training – Concealed Carry: Two Person Tactics, FPF Training – Concealed Carry: Vehicle Environment Skills, NRA CCW student/instructor, Gabe White: Pistol Shooting Skills, David Maglio: Speed Skills, Massad Ayoob Group 10-year reunion, Massad Ayoob Group – 4-hour refresher handgun retention, Massad Ayoob Group – 4-hour Kubotan refresher, American Heart Association – basic life support renewal, Stop the Bleed class with Stacy Kitchens, Hock Hochheim – Hand, stick, knife, gun, and Texas License to Carry instructor renewal.

Tracy is also a regular panelist on the Polite Society Podcast, and was a guest on the Firearms Chat podcast.

Tina Maldonado completed instructor certification in NRA Refuse to Be a Victim, and ALERRT Civilian Response to Active Shooter. She also attended 3-Gun University with Dianna Muller.

Becky Dolgener earned her Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor certification.

Dave Reichek attended Shivworks Armed Movement in Structures, the Rangemaster Instructor Reunion, and earned a blue belt in Brazilian JuJitsu training with 6th degree black belt Professor William Vandry.


When I’m not doing all the other things I already listed, I perform live music, playing keyboards and singing. I played 153 gigs in 2019, from solo shows to performances with a 12 piece band that included 4 horns and 3 backup singers. During my 40 shows at Santa’s Wonderland, (based on a rough estimate of average daily park attendance in 2018), it’s likely that I performed for as many as 100,000 people. Our stage was near the entrance/exit to the park so every visitor passed by that location.

I did very little studio work in 2019, but thanks to modern technology making it possible to capture digital multitrack recordings from the soundboard, I ended up doing multitrack mixes of the biggest shows and using video from multiple cameras to make some high resolution/high fidelity band videos available on my youTube music channel. The Midnight Express videos from our big show in downtown Brenham are a good example of this.

I pulled two of my older original music CDs offline, where they had been available on iTunes, amazon, Spotify, etc., to condense them into a single best of CD, with some remixing and mastering for better sound when streamed.

My long time musical collaborator Andrew Wimsatt has been working with Slowdive drummer/producer Simon Scott, re-working some tracks that I played on. That instrumental/electronica album that should come out in 2020.

2020 Plans

I’m looking forward to 2020, focusing on finishing up some projects that have been in progress for too long, like the major update to the KR Training website (which KR Training assistant instructor Becky Dolgener has been hard at work on this fall), editing together some class-specific promotional videos from the hundreds of hours of video in my archive, completing and publishing the Historical Handgun book, offering the first session of the new Handgun Coach Development course (coming up Feb 8th 2020), launching a KR Training red dot pistol course co-taught/developed with Sean Hoffman, who was recently certified as a red dot pistol trainer from Modern Samurai Project and Sage Dynamics, getting the “best of” music project completed, attending the Rangemaster Master Instructor course, making a second attempt at a Light Pin with Gabe White, and of course, teaching students and playing gigs.

KR Training December 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training December 2019 newsletter!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from the crew at KR Training. As you’re recovering, take a look at some new classes we’ve added to the training schedule for 2020. Some of these will fill quickly, so don’t hesitate to register in advance.


We’ve added more classes to the schedule. Register now to reserve your spot. Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are Defensive Pistol Skills challenge program core courses and ALL the courses taught by KR Training staff can be counted toward the “elective” hours needed to earn your coin.


We are offering the DPS-certified Active Shooter course Jan 11-12, with the FREE ALERRT Civilian Response to Active Shooter lecture as the first 4 hours of that class. We won’t offer the Active Shooter course again until summer 2020.

New student and half-price refresher slots are available in DPS-3, Basic Pistol 2, and DPS-1, scheduled for Saturdays in January/early February. Got a new gun or holster for Christmas? These courses are great for breaking in and testing out new gear. Or take advantage of the refresher pricing to be a training partner for a friend or family member that needs training beyond the carry permit level.

A-ZONE Classes – Jan-Mar 2020



Want to get prepared for storms and other emergencies, but don’t know how?
Do you wish someone would just tell you what you need to purchase and what you need to do? Do want to get reasonably prepared in as little as a weekend?

On Saturday, February 8th, Paul Martin will be offering a FREE presentation of his Rapid Preparedness Program, offered by the Austin Preparedness MeetUp. It will be at the Riverbend Church Student Center on Hwy 360, from 9a-330p. Attendees will receive valuable handouts and spread sheets to help them get quickly prepared for extended emergencies.  By the time you leave this training, you will have a blueprint on what you need to do and how to get it done quickly! Our goal is to take out all of the guesswork and provide you with proven recommendations and suggestions you can quickly implement over a weekend to get your family ready.


We have added a new course: Handgun Coach Development, teaching hands on skills not covered well (or at all) in instructor certification classes. The first session of that class will be on Feb 8th. Other classes of interest to instructors and coaches coming up this spring include:

* to attend NRA CCW instructor you must be an NRA Basic Pistol instructor and have taken the NRA CCW student class. Either the DPS-3 class Jan 18 or the Apr 17 NRA CCW student course meet the CCW student class requirement.


Our newest assistant instructor, Doug Greig, will be offering LTC, handgun and rifle classes in Caldwell and Conroe, Texas. If the other classes we have listed don’t fit your schedule or location, take a look at Doug’s schedule for other KR Training-approved options.


Blog-o-rama will return in 2020. The best way to keep up with the interesting links we share is to follow KR Training on Facebook or Twitter.

If you aren’t already a subscriber, to receive this newsletter each month, subscribe here or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. Weekday private training sessions will resume 7 January. Send me an email to schedule your training session.

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

A testimonial from Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training about Karl Rehn and John Daub's book, Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training.

Book Review – Complete Book of Combat Handgunning (Chuck Taylor, 1982)

Chuck Taylor is another of the original set of traveling trainers that began offering classes nationally in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This is the revised edition of his book, published in 1982. As you might expect, it’s all about the Weaver stance and the 1911, with a section on ballistics showing how awesome the .45 ACP caliber compares to 9mm and other calibers, using the Hatcher Stopping Power formula and his own “short form” version of that calculation.

As an archive of what was considered “state of the art” in 1982, it’s an excellent historical document, covering a wide variety of topics, with lots of pictures showing techniques.

The book includes a lot of discussion of gear, including this nice full page spread of all the different types of pistol front sights available on production and custom guns.

The part of the book of most interest to me, as a student of pistol shooting standards and their evolution, are these drills. The importance of dry fire practice was not emphasized, or explained clearly, in most gun books from the 80’s. This is one of the earliest examples of par time dry fire drills being included in a pistol training book that I can find, and the par times for the advanced drills (dry and live fire) are still relevant and challenging for the advanced level pistol shooter of the current era.

These illustrations show state of the art low light gear and techniques, circa 1982. The book also contains examples and photos of older techniques for comparison.

Another section provides documentation of two famous drills used in the Cooper Era: the Cooper Assault course and the Flying M. I’ve seen references to these courses of fire many times in articles, but this book has the best drawings of them that I’ve found. Sadly, it does not include the actual course of fire instructions.

The book also includes his target design, derived from the IPSC “Milpark” target design. The smaller, narrower A zone in the head was later incorporated into the IPSC target later in the 1980’s, and can be found in a variety of training targets in wide use today. Similarly, the idea of a smaller A-zone area in the torso, and the placement of the A Zone higher in the chest and not “center mass”, can be found in any targets in modern use.

The book was originally published by Paladin Press, which went out of business in 2018. Used copies are available for a wide variety of prices, and the book (like many classic works on pistol shooting) is not available in e-book format.

Book Review – Path of Focused Effort (Perez, 2018)

USPSA Grandmaster Charlie Perez self-published his “Learning Guide to Practical Shooting” in 2018. Perez has been a competitive shooter since 2008, achieving a GM rating in Limited in a year and half after his first match. He offers competition training through his company Big Panda Performance. The book is an excellent and very complete compendium of information that will help anyone active in USPSA (or IDPA or Steel Challenge) competition improve their skills, and more importantly, improve the way that they practice.

The book is separated into 7 chapters, as follows:

The introduction and general information includes a lot of match- and competition-specific advice about mindset (have fun, train hard but don’t let competition shooting unbalance your life). Perez points out the importance of volunteering and supporting the local clubs that run matches, mentoring new shooters, making sure your gear is appropriate and works properly, and offers advice on clothing and nutrition for match day. Both of those topics are often overlooked by shooters, getting too cold, too hot, wearing shoes that don’t provide enough traction, and falling into to “OD on caffeine and greasy food for breakfast and try to make it through the day until dinner” trap.

The second and third sections focus on training and skills. In his discussion of grip, his comments about the importance of grip strength align with my own (and Ron Avery’s) conclusions that a minimum grip strength for competition shooting is 100 lbs. Perez (and Avery) prefer 140 lbs. as a goal, and that’s something I’m going to work on in 2020 to assess whether I can see any differences in my shooting at that higher grip strength.

Perez also includes some very detailed discussion (6 full size pages’ worth) about front and rear sight widths, shooting with corrective lenses, LASIK, and monovision.

Chapter 4 covers competition gun handling skills: grip, draw, unholstered starts, reloads and related topics. Chapter 5 is a detailed discussion of movement – a critical skill for most USPSA stages, including tricks and tips, like using visual markers within the stage itself to land on “sweet spots” to engage multiple targets. More topics in that section include when to break grip when moving, getting into/out of positions, and shooting through ports and around walls. Chapter 6 is about Mental Management Skills, including mental focus during practice, preparing for matches, shooting stages, setting goals, and chasing others’ performance.

The final chapter covers “Strategy Skills”, which includes stage planning, managing match risk, shooting moving and disappearing targets, and how to break down (analyze) a stage.

The “ambush” approach to shooting a moving target.
The “tracking” approach to shooting a moving target.

I liked this book a lot. It’s an information-dense work, 130+ pages in 8.5×11 format, single spaced, with useful photos and drawings. It will go on my recommended reading list for the competition-oriented classes I teach, as it would be useful to anyone getting started, or trying to improve in competition. The book can be purchased direct from his website.

Book Review – FBI Miami Gunfight (Mireles, 2017)

The 1986 gunbattle between two violent criminals and multiple FBI agents is the most analyzed and discussed shootout of the 20th century. The FBI’s decision to shift to 10mm handguns, which led to the creation of the .40 S&W caliber, and widespread law enforcement adoption of that caliber, was likely the biggest change that affected the entire gun culture directly linked to study of that incident.

Ed Mireles, Jr. was one of the FBI agents involved in that gunfight, and the one that ended the fight, shooting one handed after being wounded. After retiring from the FBI, he and his wife, FBI agent Elizabeth Mireles, wrote an account of the incident in their book; FBI Miami Firefight: Five Minutes that Changed the Bureau. The book can be purchased directly from his website. The book includes crime scene photos, drawings and other information, as well as the full story of the fight. The story starts with the FBI investigation into robberies and murders that led to identification and pursuit of the two criminals, ultimately leading to the gunfight.

Mireles’ book, along with W. French Anderson’s forensic analysis book, are the two essential reads related to the Miami gunfight. Mireles’ book is still in print and a less technical, more personal work. Highly recommended for all firearms trainers, law enforcement officers and all serious students of defensive shooting skills.

FBI agent Jerri Williams, in her Retired Agent Case File Review podcast, devoted two episodes to interviewing Agent Mireles about the incident.

Interview with Ed Mireles
Part 2

Even if you’ve read his book, hearing his discussion of the incident on the two podcast episodes is definitely worth a listen.

This video is one re-enactment of the incident, from a TV movie.

This video combines two FBI training films: one a re-enactment of the fight, and one that includes interviews with the surviving agents.

MAG Deadly Force Instructor – Thronburg article

Tracy is currently attending the Massad Ayoob Group alumni reunion, so I thought this would be good time to post her article from the MAG Deadly force instructor class last year.

Deadly Force Instructor Course
Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes
Jan 31 – Feb 4, 2018
Giddings, Texas

A group of KR Training assistant instructors took the Deadly Force Instructor Course, taught by Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes, January 31 – February 4, 2018, in Giddings, Texas. Each student had to give a presentation to the class on a topic assigned to them.

I (Tracy) was assigned the topic: “FIREARMS TRAINING: ASSET OR LIABILITY?”

I introduced myself to the class and gave some background on who I am and who I have trained with. For those who are interested, I am a fifth generation Texan, a graduate of the University of Texas, an assistant instructor at KR Training, a staff instructor for the Massad Ayoob group, a Rangemaster certified advanced instructor, and a co-host for the Polite Society Podcast.

Assets to firearms training

So, why do we train? We train for a multitude of reasons, to include learning to defend ourselves with a gun as a last resort, to document that we are responsible gun owners, to document that we can safely handle firearms, to document shooting proficiency with our firearms, to learn when we can (and can’t) legally use our firearms, and to prepare ourselves for the unexpected. As gun-carrying good guys (and gals), it is imperative that we make ourselves court defensible. Karl has researched, and put together a rather lengthy presentation, stating that only 1% of Texas LTC carriers in the state of Texas seek out more than the basic state-mandated training. Folks, that scare you! A six-hour class, pass a 50-round course of fire, and pass a criminal background check, and in the eyes of the State of Texas, you are ready to carry a gun. I am a #discipleofayoob. Massad Ayoob has some laws that he has named after himself. Ayoob’s law #1 is really important. To summarize, “Be able to predict when the attack will come and have a proven counter attack in place and poised for launch.” You don’t learn to have a proven counter attack in place if you don’t train. This is not knowledge gained through osmosis. You have to get out there and put the work in, and you document your training!

You’ve made the decision to get more than the basic state-mandated training to carry a gun. How do you make the decision on who and where to take your training? What are some things to look for when choosing a firearms trainer? In my (not so humble) opinion, things I would consider when choosing a firearms trainer would include criteria such as a good reputation, personal references, a firearms trainer who will share their own Curriculum Vitae with you, experience in the profession (how long have they been an instructor), how frequently do they instruct, instructor credentials (are they an NRA or USCCA instructor or are they an instructor from a school that has higher standards, such as Rangemaster), who the firearms trainer has trained with, are they former military or law enforcement, or do they shoot competition? I would also ask if the firearms trainer continues to take shooting classes and do they have any sort of testing or accountability for shooting standards. Kathy Jackson has written that it takes somewhere on average 128 hours to complete a bachelor’s degree and wouldn’t you want a firearms instructor who has had at least 128 hours in taking classes and in training students?

Potential liabilities to firearms training

We’ve talked about what I would look for when evaluating someone as a potential firearms trainer, so let’s now talk about some things to avoid in a firearms trainer. Sensationalism – I would avoid a trainer who advertises “sensational” course titles. For example, “Killing within the law.” Let’s hypothesize that you have had to use your firearm in a self-defense situation. You are in court. Your training records have been subpoenaed. How good is it going to look to your defense attorney when you have to explain that you have taken a class entitled, “Killing within the law?” Massad Ayoob preaches that we must be able to articulate and explain all of our decisions in a court of law. How are you going to explain the class you took called “Killing within the law?” The prosecution is going to have a field day with that one.

What else would I avoid in a trainer? I’d avoid someone who has a criminal background or is a convicted felon. Remember, your training records are discoverable evidence, and the prosecution is going to research each and every person you have documentation that you have trained with. I’d avoid someone who has limited experience as a shooter, someone who has had limited exposure to other firearms trainers, and someone who will not share with you who they have trained with (are they a master of self-promotion or have they not taken any classes with any number of reputable national trainers). Unsafe gun-handling practices and unsafe range training practices should also be avoided, as should a poor reputation in the field.

I would also avoid a trainer who cannot speak well. Why? Your life may depend on it.

To wrap things up, good, reputable firearms training can be used by a good attorney to show that you approached firearms training in a sensible manner and that you are a responsible gun owner. You understand the lethality of the gun and the potential gravity of the circumstances that come along with carrying a gun and you made the conscious decision to seek out training above and beyond what your state says you have to have.

Book Review – Pistol Shooters Treasury, 2nd ed (Hebard, 1972)

This very popular compilation of articles from the best pistol shooters of the 1960’s and 1970’s was reprinted many times, into the 1980’s. The inside cover describes the book as

“A collection of classic articles by world champion shooters, eminent authorities and the editor (Gil Hebard) on how to shoot a pistol and how to prepare yourself for the exacting requirements of competitive handgunning.”

This Shooting Times article provides a great overview of all of Hebard’s accomplishments and contributions to the shooting sports, which were many. If you don’t recognize the names of the authors of the articles in the table of contents below, look them up too.

If you’ve been told to use any kind of ‘relaxed’ or less-than-full-pressure grip on your pistol, take a look at the picture and text below. “Gripping hard gives you better control of the gun”. That’s true for bullseye and high speed shooting, according the top performers in both kinds of shooting. Avoiding excessive pressure with the firing hand thumb, and maximizing pressure at the base of the frame (4th and 5th fingers aligned with the heel of the hand) are concepts that matter for one and two handed gripping as well.

A variety of stances and grips, from cup and saucer (with the strongest finger of the support hand on the curved “slip and slide” of the front of the rounded trigger guard), to both arms fully extended isoceles.

Advice on, and history of shooting competition from Paul Weston, whose book I reviewed in a previous post.

The book includes a chapter on how primers work – useful information not only for reloaders but shooters of all levels, for all types of shooting that uses modern ammunition.

If you have ever shot the classic 200 gr “Hensley and Gibbs” .45 ACP bullet, here’s some tips on bullet molds from one of the experts on that topic. That particular bullet design was used by everyone that shot .45 ACP in the 1980’s and 1990’s. It’s still in use today, in lead and coated variants.

Basement .22 ranges aren’t very common any more, (and never were in Texas where houses don’t have basements). Having had my blood lead level get into the 40’s as a result of shooting those 200 grain .45 ACP H&G lead bullets on a poorly ventilated indoor range, I would NOT recommend the book’s advice to have no ventilation in a basement range. Increased lead levels from indoor range exposure is a significant health concern for those that spend a lot of time shooting indoors, and why modern ranges have costly “wind tunnel” grade ventilation at the firing points.

Unlike some of the books I review, this book is still widely available in the used market. Very few books on pistol shooting were reprinted as many times as this one has been. It is definitely a classic and influential book in the history of handgunning.

(To those that have observed that some of the page scans on this page and in other book review pages have problems on the edges: this is because I’m using a flatbed scanner to scan pages, and I’m unwilling to crack the spine on many of these older books to get them to lay perfectly flat on the scanner. In some cases this results in blurry edges on the page scans.)