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.

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 – 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.

Book Review – Defensive Pistol Fundamentals (Grant Cunningham, 2014)

Grant Cunningham’s Defensive Pistol Fundamentals is a fairly complete collection of the essential topics any armed citizen should know. From a historical perspective, it’s a time capsule of material commonly taught by many trainers in the mid 2010’s.  I read this book right after Dalton and Fowler’s 1984 Handguns and Self Defense book, which provided a good snapshot of what has changed and what has not during that 30 year gap between books. 

The book opens with a discussion of ‘what are we training for?’ – scenarios, threats, situations, and the NRA 3 rules of safe gun handling.  In comparison with the Dalton/Fowler book, Cunningham’s book provides little detail into the specifics of safe gun handling, telling the reader what they should do without explaining how to do it.  Before techniques are discussed, the concept of efficiency is presented. Often the convoluted (and incorrect) catch phrases combining the words “smooth”, “fast” and “slow” (smooth is fast, slow is fast, slow is smooth, etc.) get mindlessly repeated by people attempting to explain the concepts related to developing fast, efficient gunhandling and shooting techniques.  Grant uses a different approach, with sections titled “More Efficient Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Faster”, “Efficiency in a Defensive Shooting Context”, “Efficient and Effective Aren’t the Same, Either”, and “Efficiency Also Involves Your Equipment”.   This provides some guidance for the process of skill development, selection of skills to practice and explanation as to how equipment selection may change the techniques you need to master.  Grant, like most trainers, advocates training with what you carry as opposed to training-class-only gear that may make certain skills easier – but does not build the specific skill that might be needed in an actual incident.

The next section of the book, “The Hardware, Your Pistol and How it Works” covers handgun selection, with some useful pictures showing grip length relative to hand size, discussion of full size, compact and subcompact pistols, action types, caliber and ammunition types.  

The section on assessing your pistol’s reliability includes a detailed process the reader can follow to check mechanical function.  (For most gun owners, the process is simply “go shoot the gun”, but the process in the book is much more structured and likely to reveal any problems.)

Section 3, titled “Concepts You Need to Know” focuses on evidence-based training, using Tom Givens’ student involved shooting data and data from scientific papers listed in the chapter footnotes.  Like the “myths” material from the Dalton/Fowler book, this section compares what occurs in actual incidents to what untrained gun owners expect or what is depicted in television and movies.  One chapter in this section addresses natural body reactions under stress, again citing scientific studies.  Another chapter in this section discusses the importance of automaticity, which means training a skill (such as the drawstroke) to occur without significant conscious thought beyond the “go” signal.   The balance of speed and precision is explained over two chapters, with emphasis on being able to hit an IDPA target’s 8” zero-down ring as quickly as possible at varying distances.  The final segment of this section explains the concept of “necessity” – or as Grant puts it: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

Section 4, “The Skills You Really Need”, focuses on identifying the essential skills an armed citizen needs to practice.  It starts with fundamentals, ready positions, trigger control, target focused vs. front sight focused shooting, drawing, reloading, scanning, dealing with multiple aggressors, and malfunctions. 

In the book, Grant espouses the ICE doctrine of not looking at the gun when reloading, a technique that I (and every other trainer I’ve studied with in the past 30 years) do not recommend.  In other sections of the book Grant emphasizes using intuitive and efficient techniques. Running the shooting test for the Texas LTC program for thousands of students over the past 22 years has given me many opportunities to see how untrained gun owners “intuitively” change magazines. There’s no time allocated in the LTC course to teach reloading, and reloads are done off the clock in the qualification course of fire.  What untrained shooters intuitively do is look at the gun.  And highly trained shooters, who have the most efficient, fastest, consistent reloads, load with the gun close to the eye target line, using brief, limited visual information. Here’s a video of me doing a reload at medium speed. It shows how you can do an emergency reload keeping the head and eyes up but still “looking the magazine in”.

The final section, “Integrity In Training”, addresses why the armed citizen should practice frequently, how they should practice, and criteria they should use for selecting a trainer.

Included in the book are articles from Rob Pincus on “Respectful Irreverence” and a reprint of Greg Ellifritz’ “An Alternate Look at Stopping Power

The complaints I have with the book are minor, mainly related to small issues with the shooting techniques – but the core material is solid. The book covers all the topics commonly taught in everything from the NRA’s new Concealed Carry course to most 2-5 day defensive pistol courses.

For those that have attended training beyond the state minimum, the primary value of this book is providing insight into the curriculum taught by the ICE/Combat Focus Shooting program. The book is available in both digital and print editions.

2019 Practical Pistol Reunion – Gun Guy book review

On Sept 21-22, 2019, many of the key figures in the early days of Practical Shooting reunited for a weekend of shooting and socializing. The event was hosted by Bill and Joyce Wilson at the Circle WC Ranch. Part one of this blog post series has more details about the event and who attended.

At the NRA show in Dallas last year I purchased a copy of Bill Wilson’s biography “Gun Guy” and got it signed by Bill and by his co-author Michael Bane. Since then it sat in my giant pile of “gun books to read and review”. After I got the invitation to attend the event, I moved the book to the top of the stack and read it.

During the lecture part of my Historical Handgun class, I identify important trainers and innovators in each decade. Wilson made significant contributions in training and equipment in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s, and his company continues to develop new products more than 40 years after it began. The book is really an overview of Bill’s life and all of his shooting interests – not just defensive pistol but also big game hunting, handloading, gun collecting and gunsmithing, with chapters titled “Bill’s Favorite Guns”, “A Passion for Hunting”, and “Bill’s Buds”.

From a historical perspective, it provides firsthand descriptions of Bill’s involvement in the early days of the International Practical Shooting Confederation, the guns he built for champion shooters, the development of the “gold standard” 1911 magazine, the creation of the International Defensive Pistol Association, and the growth of his business from a one man gunsmithing shop to a manufacturing business with more than 160 employees today.

From the training perspective, the chapter on “Bill’s Favorite Handgun Training Drills” includes a brief history of the “Bill Drill” and its variations. As I observed at the Practical Pistol Reunion, Wilson is still an excellent pistol shot who continues to keep his skills sharp.

The book is full of beautiful color pictures of custom guns, many personal details about Bill and his family, stories and photos from Bill’s safaris and hunts, and much more. In the early days of the gun culture, many of the key influencers, writers and trainers wrote autobiographies, like Elmer Keith and Charles Askins. In the past few decades, fewer books of that type have been written. Wilson was responsible for, or involved with many key moments in handgun history of the past 50 years, and it’s great that he was able to tell his own story and preserve it in print for future shooters.

Book Review – Handguns and Self Defense, (3rd printing, Mike Dalton and Mickey Fowler, 1984)

By the start of the 1980’s, the influence of Jeff Cooper on firearms training was at its peak. Most schools, including International Shootists, Inc. (ISI) run by Mike Dalton and Mickey Fowler, were teaching the Weaver stance and promoting the use of the 1911 semiauto pistol in .45 ACP as ideal for self-defense. Their core business was teaching defensive firearms classes to the general public in the Los Angeles/Southern California area.

Dalton and Fowler

Dalton, along with Mike Fichman, created the Steel Challenge pistol shooting sport in 1981, which was one of the first practical shooting matches to get wide industry support. Penny and I traveled to Piru, California to shoot the Steel Challenge World Championships many times in the 1990’s and 2000’s (archived match pics and videos from 2003 are here). They also produced a training video titled “A Woman’s Guide to Firearms”, using professionals from the film industry to create a high quality video that saw wide distribution in the VHS video-rental era.

They also published the book “Handguns and Self Defense”, which was reprinted several times.

Handguns and Self Defense book cover

At the time of publication it was an excellent summary of good advice and explanation of the best shooting and gunhandling techniques of its time. Much of the information is as correct and relevant today as it was then.

The first chapter (“No Other Option”) covers mindset and does a good job of defining the likely threats to armed citizens: attackers, locations, motivations, and behaviors. It includes interviews with police and security officers about crime profiles, mace, facility security and other topics, providing a good overview of general concepts in personal defense. It closes with the case for the handgun as an essential tool for personal defense in situations where all other measures have failed to keep the individual out of danger.

The second chapter, “Why the Handgun – Myth Versus Fact”, and the third chapter “Women and Self Defense” address common misconceptions about handguns, including a lengthy interview with a female ISI student about her perspective on becoming an armed woman.

The fourth chapter, “Safety”, doesn’t include Cooper’s 4 rules nor any other list of numbered rules. It does start with the phrase “Firearms are always considered to be loaded and must be handled accordingly”, and includes the phrase “Never point a firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy” in bold print. The remainder of the chapter goes into detail about loading, unloading and general gun handling, explaining how to handle a handgun safely.

The fifth chapter, “Basic Shooting Styles and Techniques”, starts with a picture series explaining grip and gun fit, the Weaver stance, sight picture (and the effect of sight misalignment), trigger finger placement, and other fundamentals.

1980’s Weaver grip techniques

One picture shows the ISI dry fire target kit (similar to the Ben Stoeger Pro Shop dry fire target kit.

1980s dry fire target kit

This chapter goes beyond fundamentals, explaining not only two handed aimed fire but hip shooting, point shooting, barricade shooting and low light shooting techniques.

1980s barricade techniques

Methods of concealed carry, including appendix carry and drawing from concealment are also shown.

Appendix Cross Draw, 1980’s style

They recommend that practice sessions consist of 50% drills shot from the standing position (standing or moving), 30% from behind cover and concealment, 10% strong hand only and 10% weak hand only using the standing and barricaded positions. This is still solid advice, in my opinion.

Their basic exercises are:

  • 25 yards – 6 shots (benchrest) bullseye target
  • 25 yards – 6 shots (two handed standing) bullseye target
  • 7 yards – 6 single shot draws, 1.5 second
  • 7 yards – 2 shots each on 3 targets, strong hand only, 5 seconds
  • 7 yards – 2 shots each on 3 targets, weak hand only, 6 seconds
  • 10 yards – “El Presidente” (2 shots each on 3 targets, reload, 2 shots each on 3 targets), 10 seconds
  • 10 yards – 1 shot – reload – 1 shot, 5 seconds, repeat 5 times
  • 7 yards – 2 shots body, 1 shot head, 3 seconds, repeat 4 times

Chapter 6, “Law and Self Defense” covers legal issues, including how to handle non-lethal attacks, potential negligent shooting of a bystander, and post-shooting aftermath (legal and psychological).

Chapter 7 – “Tactics”, begins with a discussion of home defense and floor plans, the question of whether to hold someone at gun point or not, and other topics specific to home defense. These diagrams are used in a discussion of location (attacker and defender) within a room.

Bedroom tactics diagram
Living room tactics diagram
1980’s low light equipment and tactics

Carrying concealed in public is discussed briefly, as are shooting moving targets and multiple targets. When the book was written, concealed carry was not as common (or widely legal) as it is today.

The final two chapters, “Recommended Equipment” and “Modifications”, focus on the 1911 pistol and double action revolvers, which were the primary guns popular with private sector trainers of that era. The chapters provide specific lists of recommended guns, holsters, ammo and gunsmiths.

Recommended reading for anyone interested in the evolution of handgun shooting technique and handgun training. Used copies of the book are still available online at reasonable prices.

Do Aftermarket Mods Help You Shoot Better?

I’m a big advocate of upgrading sights and trigger parts on factory guns, and changing the controls and grips to make manipulation of the gun easier. One giant weak spot of the gun culture is that most of the advice that’s given to others about equipment is nothing but anecdote and opinion. “You should get X instead of Y” or “the gun’s not shootable until you replace A, B, and C” are common statements. I’m guilty of making them myself.

Over the past few years I’ve made an effort to collect comparison data to back up those statements: full size guns vs. pocket gun performance, iron sights vs. red dots vs. lasers (study in progress), and so on. I developed a short shooting drill that could be used to measure the benefits (or detriments) of aftermarket mods and holsters.

The Gun Modification Comparison Test

The GMC test is shot using two IPSC or IDPA targets, one at 5 yards and one at 10 yards:

Drill 1: (4 rounds) Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed (test draw and “hosing” split times)
Drill 2: (4 rounds) Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed (test draw and “medium” split times)
Drill 3: (4 rounds) Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target (moving draw, transitions)
Drill 4: (6 rounds) (insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target. (Reload, additional tests of split times)
Drill 5: (insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. (One hand reload, additional tests of split times)
(4 rounds) Drill 6: Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target. (Draw, shooting with more precision.)
(2 rounds) Drill 7: Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. (Non dominant hand shooting)

That’s a 30 round test that pretty well covers gun manipulation and defensive shooting skills. I would score it using IPSC “minor” scoring (A=5, B/C = 3, D=1).
I would not run par times, instead record raw times and log every shot time.
Goal times are listed below. They assume open carry. Adjust the ‘draw’ time as you see fit for concealment, pocket carry, or using a ready position. Just use the same start position for every string and every time you run the test, so you are comparing similar data.
Drill 1: 2.00 sec (1.25 draw, 0.25 splits x 3)
Drill 2: 2.50 sec (1.5 draw, 0.33 split x 3)
Drill 3: 2.50 sec (1.25 draw, 0.45 transition 5-10, 0.35 transition 10-5, 0.45 transition 5-10)
Drill 4: 4.75 sec (1.25 draw, 0.25 split, 0.25 split, 2.50 RL with step, 0.37 split, 0.37 split)
Drill 5: 8.00 sec (1.5 draw, 0.33 split, 0.33 split, 5.34 sec reload, 0.25 split, 0.25 split)
Drill 6: 3.50 sec (1.5 draw, 0.50 split, 0.75 transition, 0.75 split)
Drill 7: 2.50 sec (2.0 draw, 0.50 split)

Testing the Glock 42

I had recently purchased a Glock 42 to add to my collection of loaner guns. Generally I discourage use of .380 ACP caliber pistols, largely because it fails to meet FBI standards for defensive ammo. However, I’ve had students whose hands were too small, and hand strength too weak to handle any 9mm comfortably. In the past, we looked for 9mm pistols that had the shortest trigger reach, to accommodate those students, and for many the M&P Shield and Kahr 9mm pistols are an option. The challenge with those pistols is slide racking, since the single stack 9mm pistols almost always are subcompact models with heavier recoil springs than their 4” and 5” barrel cousins. (The Springfield XD-S 4.0 was briefly considered, but my dislike of the XD’s grip safety, specifically the fact that you can’t rack the slide without pressing it in, ruled it out. The grip safety “feature” of the XDs added yet another challenge to those already struggling to rack the slide.)

When I resigned myself to buying a .380, I looked at everything on the market and finally decided that the G42 was the least bad option, since it had the simplicity of the Glock, and skills learned on the G42 could someday transition to a G43 or G19, for those students that end up with the G42 due to lack of upper body/hand strength and not hand size. Around the same time I got the gun I was involved with developing the GMC test, so it became the test platform. I got some extended base pads for the G42 mags and used them for the testing as well.

(Note: since this article was originally written, the S&W EZ380 came out. I like the EZ380 better than the G42.)

Baseline Testing

When I started the testing, I was torn between the idea of running multiple runs each time to get average data, or limiting my shooting of the G42 to only the tests, to eliminate the potential that the testing, as I added mods, would be as much from improved familiarity with the pistol as much as hardware. Being short on time and .380 ammo, I opted to run the test once per mod and see what happened. Lacking a belt holster for the G42, I decided to use a ready position as the start position for all the tests.
Note: rather than burden the article with all the raw data, I’ll make the Excel file downloadable for those who want to see the breakdown. I’m going to limit my comments to observations and high level results here. It shows total time, points shot, and hit factor (points divided by time).

Stock Glock 42 Results

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 2.19 14 6.39
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 3.13 16 5.11
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 3.26 18 5.52
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 7.29 26 3.57
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 11.28 26 2.30
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 4.06 6 1.48
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 2.34 10 4.27
TOTAL 33.55 116 3.46

Ghost Trigger

The first mod I made was to install the Ghost G42 connector, which promises to be lighter and smoother, having perfect function and being suitable for self defense.

How did it work? I shot about 20% better with the part installed, a combination of faster and better points.

Ghost Trigger Results

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 2.02 18 8.91
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 2.87 20 6.97
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 2.78 18 6.47
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 7.41 30 4.05
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 10.21 20 1.96
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 3.53 13 3.68
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 2.34 10 4.27
Total hit factor 31.16 129 4.14
Stock hit factor 3.46
Hit factor change 0.68
% improvement 19.74

Trijicon HD sights

I’m not a fan of Glock factory sights. I don’t like the overall design or their cheap plastic-ness. Several students have showed up for class recently with Trijicon HD sights, so I decided to try a set on the G42 to evaluate them.

How did they work? I picked up another 7% improvement over the stock gun. Again, improvement in both points and time.

Trijicon HD Sight Results

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 1.74 18 10.34
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 2.56 20 7.81
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 2.85 16 5.61
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 6.35 26 4.09
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 8.54 22 2.58
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 4.29 14 3.26
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 2.35 10 4.26
Total hit factor 28.68 126 4.39
Stock hit factor 3.46
Hit factor change 0.94
% improvement 27.06

Mag Release

Slide lock reloads were a problem, so I went looking for aftermarket mag releases, and found the Ghost Tac Mini, promising to be faster and better.

Here’s a close up of the difference in the mag release from factory.

How did it work? The reloads were taking a lot of time, and the mag release made a big difference in reload time. The total score for the run with trigger, sights, and mag release added showed a 52% performance improvement.

Ghost Tac Mini Mag Release

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 1.6 18 11.25
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 2.35 18 7.66
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 3.13 20 6.39
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 5.28 28 5.30
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 7.88 26 3.30
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 3.48 16 4.60
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 2.04 10 4.90
Total hit factor 25.76 136 5.28
Stock hit factor 3.46
Hit factor change 1.82
% improvement 52.70

Slide Racker

I still found myself fumbling around with the slide doing slide lock reloads. Apparently I was not alone, since Larry Vickers is now marketing this part:

I installed it and ran the test one more time. Again, a big reduction in reload time resulted in a big change in hit factor – a total of 80% improvement over the pure stock gun, with 26% improvement from the slide racker.

Vickers Slide Racker

time points hit factor
Draw, fire 4 on 5 yard target, two handed 1.62 20 12.35
Draw, fire 4 on 10 yard target, two handed 2.22 20 9.01
Step left, draw, fire 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target, 1 on 5 yard target, 1 on 10 yard target 2.4 20 8.33
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. Reload (from slide lock, use power stroke) & step right. Shoot 3 on 10 yard target 4.88 28 5.74
(insert mag with 2 rounds plus one in chamber). Draw, shoot 3 on 10 yard target. Do one handed reload, rack slide by hooking sights on something, one handed, shoot 3 on 5 yard target. 6.44 30 4.66
Step, draw, shoot 2 in head of 5 yard target, 2 in head of 10 yard target 3.58 16 4.47
Start with gun lying on ground, kneeling position. Pick up gun with non-dominant hand and fire 2 at 5 yard target. 1.88 10 5.32
Total hit factor 23.02 144 6.26
Stock hit factor 3.46
Hit factor change 2.80
% improvement 80.92

Analysis

Reloading a subcompact gun is slow compared to reloading a full size pistol. The mag release made it easier to get the mag out, the slide racker made it easier to finish the reload after the new mag was in. Had I chosen to use the slide lock lever as a release, that would have changed the outcome. I stuck to the “power stroke” method for all the tests on purpose.

If you were looking at results and trying to choose which mod was most important based on percentage improvement, you’d start with the mag release and slide racker, then the sights and finally the trigger work. That’s not what I would recommend, though. My order would be sights first, trigger second, slide racker third and mag release last. My reasoning for this is that the G42 stock trigger is not as bad as the G42 stock sights, and the data showed I got more improvement from the sights than the trigger upgrade. Sights and trigger matter on every shot, and the odds that someone will reload during an actual defensive use are very low. Why the slide racker before the mag release? The slide racker will be more useful in clearing a malfunction and for basic loading/unloading of the pistol.

The test protocol and the test itself aren’t perfect, certainly not from a pure science and statistics perspective. However, I think the general concept of doing an A/B comparison test is important, and I encourage others who upgrade their guns to try the test before and after the modifications.

Gabe’s class and the Swampfox Kingslayer RDS

On October 19-20, 2019, KR Training hosted Gabe White’s Pistol Shooting Solutions class. John Daub’s AAR provides a lot of background on Gabe and information about the course. Gabe runs long days on the range (10+ hours each day), and I was performing music Friday and Saturday nights, so I attended about 14 of the 20 hours total in the course. Six KR Training instructors attended the class, all earning pins (5 Dark, 1 Light).

The pins were earned by shooting qualifying scores on Gabe’s Technical Skills Tests.

Gabe’s tests are heavily weighted toward first shot draw time. Each one is 2-6 rounds. Gabe’s scoring allows a 0.25 second bonus for drawing from concealment.

I started out working the drills from appendix carry but once again found carrying in that position uncomfortable enough that I switched back to strong side concealed for the afternoon of the 1st day. The rough grip tape I had put on the Glock 48 I was using for class ended up tearing a hole in my undershirt. We did a lot of draws to build that skill during the first part of the course. Gabe’s explanation of all the steps in concealment draw was very complete, discussing garment length and material, hand position relative to carry mode/garment style, and the fine details of clearing the garment for different garment and carry position types and establishing the initial firing grip. For me that information was the biggest takeaway, as I’m going to spend some time this fall exploring the relationship between some of those factors and draw time.

I tend to use classes I attend as a student as an opportunity to evaluate gear under stress. For the past month or so I’ve been working with a Swampfox Kingslayer optic mounted on a Glock 48 with a Dueck mount. The Dueck mount replaces the Glock rear sight and provides rear and front back up sights and a place to mount anything that fits the RMR footprint. It comes with two set screws to help hold the mount in place. The set screws are Allen heads. I used loctite to secure the mount, and discovered (after I wanted to remove it) that the little Allen heads are easy to strip. So for now the Dueck mount is permanent on my ‘testing’ Glock 48 until I decide to resort to extreme measures to remove it.

I had to do some additional cutting on my Comp-Tac CTAC holster for the G48 with Kingslayer to fit. The holster is actually a G19 holster that I modified to fit the G48 by replacing some washers with thinner ones to make it close up tighter. I also replaced the factory belt clips with Discrete Carry Concepts belt clips, which are thinner and hold the holster to the belt much more securely.

The version of the Kingslayer I am using has a green “circle dot” reticle with a 65 MOA outside circle and 3 MOA internal dot. This is basically the concept I recommended at the conclusion of the red dot study we did a few years ago, and I was eager to try it out during class.

The Kingslayer is still a relatively new sight, and the model I had was a manual on, timed off unit not ideal for concealed carry. The next model to be released will have “shake awake” and other features more suitable for daily carry use. So far I’ve put about 2000 rounds through the gun with the sight on it, with no problems or failures. The Gabe White class was really the first time I really pushed my performance using the reticle.

Sight Deviation Drill

One of the drills Gabe runs is the classic Sight Deviation drill, where you deliberately get a flawed sight picture and learn how much that affects shot placement at varying ranges. We did it at 5, 10 and 15 yards. The version in the NRA materials keeps the rear sight stationary and moves the front sight. Gabe runs the drill the way I prefer it: leaving the front sight stationary and misaligning the rear sight, so it looks like this:

What I did for this drill was use the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock points on the circle reticle, and misalign the optic that way:

Normal alignment
using 3 o’clock on the big circle on the desired point of aim
6 o’clock offset
9 o’clock offset
12 o’clock offset
10 yard sight deviation results
15 yard dot deviation results

Results from this process yielded results very similar to what students using iron sights achieved, indicating that the big reticle can be used the way a sloppy sight picture can be used for closer, faster shooting.

I shot the drills during class with the Glock 48 w/ Kingslayer, and then during a break I shot the drills again using my other Glock 48 with XS F8 sights. Same holster, same day, drills shot in the same order. While this isn’t enough runs or data to make any major conclusions, here are the numbers:

Penalties were my primary problem, keeping me from earning a Light pin, mainly a result of pushing for speed. I shot fewer penalties with the dot than I did with irons overall. When I get back from this weekend’s teaching trip to Georgia I intend to replace the KingSlayer with a Trijicon RMR with red dot and reshoot the drills, to get a better feel for whether it’s easier or harder to track the big circle vs the smaller dot.

I’m still carrying the Glock 48 with irons for now, but in my practice the remainder of the year I’m going to continue running the circle-dot KingSlayer.

Interesting side note: Prior to Gabe’s class I developed some painful tendinitis in the muscles around my right elbow, which was further aggravated by the 5 hours of piano playing and 14 hours of drawing and shooting I did that weekend. During a doctor’s appointment after the class, we measured my grip strength. My left hand had about 100 pounds of strength, which is normal for me, but my right hand, due to the tendinitis, only had around 50 pounds. I think that definitely affected my drawspeed and shooting during the class. In practice prior to class day, pre-tendinitis, I was consistently shooting Light-speed runs with the occasional Turbo run. On class day, best I could manage was a Dark pin, with one Turbo run out of the 8 scored tests. Earning a Turbo pin in a future Gabe class will be a training goal for me in 2020.

KR Training will be hosting Gabe again in September or October 2020, date to be announced soon. Due to high demand for his courses, those that have earned challenge coins in our Defensive Pistol Skills program will have first opportunity to register, and any remaining slots will be opened to general registration later.