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.

KR TRAINING

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.

MUSIC

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.

UPCOMING CLASSES

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.

JANUARY HIGHLIGHTS

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

ROAD CLASSES

FEBRUARY PREPAREDNESS MEETUP

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.

INSTRUCTOR AND COACH DEVELOPMENT

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.

DOUG GREIG CLASSES

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

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.)

Book Review – Combat Pistol Shooting (James Mason, 1976)

James Mason’s 1976 book, Combat Pistol Shooting, is an excellent book full of great photos and scientific discussion. Mason was a “small arms and ballistics consultant” to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. The book merges the classic techniques of the pre-Gunsite era with Modern Technique information.

The photographer for the book liked big plumes of smoke, and while wearing ear protection was common in 1976, wearing eye protection was not.

Classic law enforcement basket weave duty gear

This photo sequence shows the lingering influence of cowboy fast draw and FBI hipshooting drills on gear and technique. Note the finger on trigger as soon as the gun is out of holster – a holdover from fast drawing single action revolvers, where the trigger was pressed before the hammer was thumbcocked. The dropped and offset position, and holster angle is very similar to holster rigs used in USPSA. The commentary notes that using closed front holsters would be more realistic and practical. Disagreements between competition and defense-oriented shooters about gear and technique have been going on since the first gun and holster were created.

The book contains a lot of discussion about grip and gun fit, with some nice drawings of muscle groups.

Revolvers were still in much more common usage than semi-autos, so the book includes a lot of useful information relevant to double action revolver shooting.

The top picture of the pair of photos shows a two handed grip that’s very close to the thumbs forward grip in wide use today. The book recommends the technique shown in the bottom, not the top, picture as optimal. By 1986, ten years after the book was published, the grip shown in the top picture was more representative of what the top competition shooters were doing.

Interesting data on reaction time to different stimuli

Part of book addresses hip shooting, which was still widely taught by law enforcement trainers and advocated by the FBI.

Data from fast draw tests using holsters with different cant angles (rake).

This sequence shows variations on point shooting positions, with a recommendation that point shooting be used beyond 15 yards. Even at 25 yards, thinking in 1976 was to only use the “tops” of the sights.

The Weaver stance and aimed fire is also discussed.

Interesting graphs of trigger pull weight vs pull distance for common double action revolvers.

Discussion of courses of fire mention the classic FBI Practical Pistol course, and several of the courses we shot at the recent Practical Pistol Reunion, like the Los Alamitos Pistol Match and Advanced Military course.

Classic barricade shooting techniques are shown in detail.

Part of the old FBI Practical Pistol course required reloading the revolver using loose rounds. Some reloading time measurements for revolver and semiauto, when the semiauto magazine had to be filled with loose rounds as part of the reload.

Revolver speed loaders were still a relatively new thing in 1976.
Calculation of recoil
Recoil data relative to gun weight.

Mason clearly shared my interest in measuring different aspects of shooting. The data here shows that the ultralight 14 oz snub revolver had almost triple the recoil of the 39 oz model.

Before the Dillon progressive presses took over the high volume pistol reloading market, Star was state of the art.

Early calculation of Force Factor

“Force Factor” was a more accurate name than “Power Factor”, which became more widely used. M*V is momentum, not “power”, using traditional definitions from physics.

Ballistic data
My copy has many handwritten notes

The used copy I purchased is full of handwritten notes from the previous owner.

I enjoyed this book more than many that I’ve read for my historical handgun research, mainly because of the smoke & fire shooting photos and ample supply of equations and graphs. This book is the successor to Paul Weston’s 1968 book. Weston’s book was pure classic technique. This book, written 8 years later, is a historical marker of how the semiauto pistol, Weaver stance, aimed fire and other elements of Jeff Cooper’s influence on firearms training began to be incorporated into mainstream shooting instruction.

KR Training November 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the KR Training November 2019 newsletter!

Happy Thanksgiving 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. While you’re at it, consider adding training to your Christmas wish list or giving the gift of training to those you care about.

UPCOMING CLASSES

Trying to complete your coursework for the DPS program challenge coin? Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are core courses and ALL the courses taught by KR Training staff can be counted toward the “elective” hours needed to earn the coin.

More class dates will be announced in the December newsletter.

A-ZONE Classes – Jan-Mar 2020

ROAD CLASSES

INSTRUCTOR NEWS

Welcome to new KR Training Assistant Instructor Doug Greig. Doug is a graduate of all the SIG Academy instructor courses, Army veteran, NRA certified trainer and highly skilled shooter. He will be assisting with some of our courses in 2020, and offering some courses in the Franklin and Caldwell areas.

Adjunct Instructor Paul T. Martin and Assistant Instructor Becky Dolgener successfully completed Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor certification in October. Read Becky’s write-up about things she learned in the class, and consider signing up for Defensive Long Gun Essentials along with the rest of “The Ocho” 2020 Preparedness Weekend January 4-5.

Take a few minutes to get into the Christmas spirit with these videos of Karl performing at Santa’s Wonderland in College Station. The fun continues every day through December 30, so there’s still time to come out and watch Karl and his fellow musicians perform live.

Kurt Summers of Austin Generator, with Paul Martin at the 2014 Preparedness Weekend.

“THE OCHO” 2020 Preparedness Weekend

There’s still time to register for the 8th Annual Preparedness Weekend to kick off your 2020 training. Attend any half-day session for $100, two sessions for $180, three sessions for $240, or all four sessions for $280. Payment in full in advance is required to register for The Ocho.

  • Friday, January 3. Chuck Haggard of Agile Training will teach a one-day pepper spray instructor course. SOLD OUT
  • Saturday morning, January 4, Chuck will teach a half-day student pepper spray course. SOLD OUT
  • Saturday afternoon, January 4. Learn all about generators, from selection to care and use, from Kurt Summers of Austin Generator. Paul will then present lectures on The Second Civil War, Austin in Crisis, and Preparing for Civil Unrest. After dark there will be a night vision equipment demo from Third Coast Thermal.
  • Sunday morning, January 5. KR Training Instructor Dave Reichek will provide hands-on training in managing communication, position, movement and body language when interacting with unknown individuals in public places.
  • Sunday afternoon, January 5. Karl Rehn and Wendell Joost will teach a session of Defensive Long Gun Essentials.

POLICY CHANGE

Just a reminder: starting January 1, 2020, registrations for all courses will require payment in full in advance to help make class registration easier for all of us.

BLOG-O-RAMA

Here’s a list of links to articles we’ve shared since our last newsletter. See links as we post them by following 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. You can also follow and interact with us on Twitter or Instagram. I will have very limited weekday availability for private lessons in December. KR Training instructors Sean Hoffman, Tina Maldonado and Tracy Thronburg also offer private training on request.

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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 – How To Use the Pistol (Charles Taylor, 1875)

Back in 1875, Charles Taylor published a small book on defensive pistol skills. The book was digitized and is available for download here. Many of the concepts in the book are as relevant and applicable today as they were when the book was published. The copy that was digitized was a gift to the Harvard library from the author, who graduated from that school in 1890.

Other information about Taylor has been hard to locate, as more recent “Charles Taylor”s return many more online search results. The book is all text, with no illustrations, so the review will mainly consist of selections from the book, presented here as italicized text.

From the Preface

It is a singular fact that notwithstanding the enormous number of pistols in the hands of the public, no book giving simple and plain directions for their selection and use has ever been published.

The reason possibly lies in the fact that the pistol has hitherto been looked upon either as a toy or as the weapon of the desperado.

It is frequently urged, and with justice, that if all weapons were banished from use the amount of crime that is committed would be greatly lessened. The difficulty lies in the banishing of all weapons. This is confessedly impossible.

Self-protection is the first law of nature, and there certainly can be no sound reason for preventing the refined and the intelligent from learning how to protect themselves against the brutal and the ignorant.

Therefore, while we would by all means discourage the indiscriminate carrying of firearms, we would recommend every one to acquire a thorough knowledge of the best methods of using them. Such knowledge does not necessarily lead its possessor to be “sudden and quick in quarrel.” The author, although a firm believer in the value of the pistol, practically skilled in its use, and never during the last twenty years without a good one in his possession, has never, in all that time, carried one on more than five occasions. But it has been a some what pleasant thing during all these years to feel that if the occasion did arise, the weapon and the power to use it were both available.

Taylor’s coastal urban elite background shows here, in his comments regarding concealed carry. Much like many modern gun owners who “only carry in the car” or only want a firearm for home defense, Taylor fails to understand the greater risk of being attacked outside the home and the value of being armed in those situations. His decision to carry outside the home, on those five occasions, violates one of John Farnam’s rules: “Don’t go anywhere with a gun you wouldn’t go without a gun.” Worse, his comments regarding those that do carry in public echo the biases of modern gun control advocates who use similar language in describing those in favor of concealed carry as “over eager” and “reckless”. In spite of all these flaws in Taylor’s mindset, the remainder of the book contains opinion and information that has remained valid for more than century.

The Pistol as a Weapon of Defence

As an instrument of defence the pistol is undoubtedly the best weapon ever invented. It renders mere physical strength of no account, and enables the weak and the delicate to successfully resist the attacks of the strong and the brutal.

So much for the carrying of weapons under circumstances of expected danger. As for the practice of constantly carrying pistols during ordinary business hours, as is the habit of some boys and young men, too much can
not be said in condemnation of it. There is no possible ground upon which it can be justified.

The keeping of pistols in dwelling houses, for purposes of protection is a different thing. It is not only permitted by law in almost every country, but there can be no objection to it on moral or prudential grounds. The utmost care should, however, be taken to prevent accidents, and to keep loaded fire-arms out of the hands of children and careless persons. By the latter we refer chiefly to those semi-idiots who have a propensity for pointing at the head of some one, any weapon which they suppose to be unloaded. Fortunately there is in this State, (New York) a law which makes such an act a misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment.

Taylor then writes a section discussing the various pistols available in his day, and their suitability for personal defense, as gun writers during the next century would do when they wrote their own defensive pistol books. He cites the Adams double action revolver and Colt single action revolver as two viable options, noting that the heavier, longer trigger pull on the double action guns can be more difficult to shoot.

Self-acting locks, as they are called, certainly enable us to fire with greater rapidity, and in the hands of a cool and strong man, they are probably the most efficient weapon, as they shoot with sufficient accuracy for all purposes of pistol shooting. But in the hands of those who have not considerable muscular power, the effort required to raise the hammer not only causes the arm to swerve, but it destroys that fine sympathy which ought to exist between the hand and eye, and which alone can insure that the first shot shall be delivered with quickness and accuracy. When great muscular effort is needed, this very effort tends to produce hesitation, and so to defeat the end for which it was introduced. We speak now of those who use the pistol only occasionally, and not of sportsmen of experience, who can shoot with almost any thing.

It is the first shot that tells. Plant the first bullet so that it will thoroughly disable the foremost assailant, and the others will give you all the time you want before they advance. In the first place, we must remember that when we require to use a pistol, our chief object must be to instantly disable our antagonist. Whether we kill him or not is a matter of no consequence, though, we should avoid doing so if possible. But it is all-important that he be instantly rendered incapable of injuring us, and this can be effected only by giving his general system such a shock as will for the moment paralyze his energies.

Thus, for pocket purposes, a large ball will frequently be given up for the sake of portability and compactness. In such cases, the only remedy is to make this small ball more effective by bringing greater skill to bear, and this can to a great extent be accomplished.

The next section discusses the mechanics of loading, pistol maintenance, handling and ways to carry a pistol.

At night never lay your pistol on a table beside your bed, and never place it beneath your pillow. To do so is to invite your assailant to disarm you. The best place is in the bed and between the mattresses, just so far down that the hand can readily reach it. Then if a burglar should find his way into your room at night you can, with out appearing to act at all, slip your hand down to your weapon and obtain possession of it. With the pistol, as with the shot-gun and rifle, it is frequently desirable to raise the hammer without making any noise.

Taylor provides guidance on how to learn to shoot and marksmanship goals.

To hold a pistol steadily at arms -length; to take deliberate aim, and to strike a two-inch ring every time at a dozen or twenty paces, is no great feat for a man who has a good eye and firm nerves. But such shooting, accurate
though it may be, is not the kind that will stand us in good stead when we are attacked.
Very few shots, except for practice, will ever be made with the pistol at greater distances than half a dozen paces.

He who can hit a four-inch circle at six paces will be master of the situation provided he is quick enough.

How is this done? Simply by steadily fixing the sight on the object (not on the weapon), bringing the pistol quickly up, and firing the moment hand and eye both tell us that it is in proper position. He who raises his gun (or pistol) and dawdles with it, is a poking shot; he who always fires on the first impulse is a snap-shot; but he who with perfect coolness makes all his calculations rapidly, and then with lightning like dexterity discharges his piece, is a quick shot and a good sportsman.

Taylor then discusses how dry-firing can be used to improve shooting skill and reduce flinching, explaining that dry firing can damage a pistol unless something soft (copper) is used to give the hammer something to strike.

Bullets fly with wondrous speed, and while we are taking a single step or assuming a new attitude we may receive a fatal wound. The moment, therefore, that we feel that the occasion for the use of the pistol has arrived we must lose no time. Of course, if we can, without delay and great exposure, secure good cover, it is our duty to do so, and we may then be able to hold the enemy at bay until succor arrives, and thus perhaps avoid the necessity for taking life at all. For it must be borne in mind in every case that both upon moral as well as legal grounds, we are bound to shun the fight as long as possible, and not to take life unless it is absolutely necessary so to do.

In every case where we are exposed to fire, however, much may be done by exposing ourselves in the best position. This undoubtedly is sideways to the assailant, with the left arm hanging straight down, and for these reasons: In this position the body presents the smallest mark; the left arm covers, in a measure, the most vital parts, and will often turn a bullet aside; and lastly, the right arm, upon which our hopes of a successful defence is placed, is still further protected.

Taylor then explains that ordinary boards are poor cover, as are lath and plaster… “everything except brick”, trees and iron.

In many cases, however, it is impossible to secure good cover, and it then becomes necessary that every effort should be used to kill, or at least disable our antagonist. Assuming that our pistol is a good one, and that we are able, without taking deliberate aim, to strike a five-inch ring every time at a distance of ten paces, we are tolerably safe if we know where to send the bullets.

The 5 inch ring at 10 paces idea is more commonly known as “The Test“, as named by Ken Hackathorn, where 10 shots are fired at 10 yards, in 10 seconds, at an NRA B-8 target with a 5.5” center.

A part of the body at which aim is frequently taken is the lower part of the abdomen. This, however, is a felon shot —a murderer’s aim, and for these reasons : A man wounded here is not immediately disabled, and if excited, courageous and armed, he will have abundant time to kill – his assailant before he himself feels the effect of the wound.

Undoubtedly the place in which a missile will ordinarily prove most effective is the chest, and the most judicious aim is that taken at the portion of the body ordinarily covered by the exposed part of the shirt bosom. A bullet planted there can hardly fail to lacerate some of the great blood-vessels and shock the nervous system.

A consideration of these facts must impress every right-minded person with the importance of the utmost caution in the use of this terrible weapon. After the trigger has once been pressed, no human power can modify the force of the missile, and therefore a pistol should never be used, except on occasions of the gravest importance.

Interestingly enough, Taylor’s book is not mentioned in the encyclopedic volume “Guns and Shooting, A Bibliography” published by Ray Riling in 1951. It lists hundreds of books on shooting published from 1420-1950. Taylor’s book, digitized as part of Google’s efforts to digitize every book, may not have been widely read. From the text, however, it’s clear that Taylor understood most of the core concepts of handgun skill, defensive mindset, tactics and marksmanship standards that are the foundation of handgun training in the modern era.