Rangemaster Professional Pistolcraft Instructor Course May 2024

In late May 2024 I attended a 3 day Professional Pistolcraft Instructor course taught by Tom Givens of Rangemaster. This was Tom’s 4th level instructor course, intended for those that had passed his Master Instructor class in the past. After 50 years as a trainer, and a student of the history of handgun instruction, Tom has a lot of knowledge to pass down – thus his development of this 4th level class.

He provided each student copies of these 3 books. The “Complete Book of Shooting” is noteworthy because the entire pistol section was written by Jeff Cooper in 1965. It represents the first in depth discussion of what became known as the Modern Technique: gripping the pistol with two hands, using the sights with the pistol at the eye-target line. 5 years earlier, Cooper and everyone else in the pistol shooting community only thought in terms of one handed bullseye shooting at 25 and 50 yards, and what was essentially cowboy fast draw hip shooting even if it was done with more modern handguns.

Half the class was range work, with the other half dedicated to a variety of topics, mostly taught by Tom. The final block on day 3 was discussion of “Tactical Anatomy”, taught by two ER doctors and high level shooting instructors (Andy Anderson and Troy Miller). The focus of that material was on educating firearms trainers to really understand the size and placement of internal organs from all possible threat orientations. Most shooting drills are done using targets that have scoring zones based on the size and geometry of vital organs of a threat facing the shooter head on. That sometimes misleads shooters into thinking that accuracy within an 8″ circle (IDPA) or 6″x10″ box (USPSA) or worse, the scoring rings of an FBI Q target or B-27, is acceptable. In reality the vital zones of a target turned sideways, or moving, or both, may be a much smaller area.

Those are just a sample of the pics and drawings that were used in that block, which was material rarely covered in other courses, aside from the Tactical Anatomy classes offered by Dr. Williams and more recently by other trainers with medical backgrounds.

For those that want more details about the entire class, KR Training assistant instructor Uncle Zo did a long article about the course:

In this follow up article, Zo uses the formulas from our Strategies and Standards book to estimate the drill difficulty of the Professional Pistolcraft Instructor test.

While his analysis is correct for the formulas we presented in the book, my experience shooting the test was that it seemed more difficult than what the numbers indicated. Part of that was that we were drawing from concealment (not the typical USPSA gamer rig our numbers were based on), it was boiling hot on the range (sweaty clothes make drawing from concealment harder) and there was the added psychological pressure of being on the line with a lot of great shooters with Tom watching and scoring.

Professional Pistolcraft Instructor Qualification (original Rangemaster version)

Fired on RFTS-Q4, scored 2/1. RFTS-Q4 target

5 yards: Draw and fire 3 rounds with both hands, 3 rounds dominant hand only, and 3 rounds non-dominant hand only all in 9 seconds.

5 yards: repeat as above

5 yards: Draw and fire 3 rounds to the body and 1 to the head, all in 4 seconds, 4x

7 yards: start gun in hand, loaded with 4 rounds only. On signal, fire 4 rounds, reload, and fire 4 more rounds, all in 8 seconds.

15 yards: draw and fire 2 rounds in 5 seconds. From ready, 3 rounds in 5 seconds

25 yards: draw and fire 3 rounds in 8 seconds

50 rounds total, 100 points possible, 95+ to pass

I did have a bunch of great runs during class, managing to eke out the Top Gun award by a tiny margin, with 3 others tied for 2nd place 1 point behind me.

After reading Zo’s article I decided to take advantage of all the M/GM level shooters that come to my summer weekday USPSA matches at the A-Zone. I made a modified version of Tom’s test using USPSA targets (some with hard cover to simulate the higher scoring accuracy required for his test), eliminated the multiple strings to get the test down to 25 rounds, and ran it as a Comstock scored stage in the match, so shooters could go as fast as they wanted.

RANGEMASTER PROFESSIONAL PISTOLCRAFT STANDARDS (MODIFIED FOR USPSA)

Virginia Count, 25 rounds, Hands at sides

T1 (5 yards), T2 (7 yds), T3 (10 yards), T4 (15 yards)

T1 has D zone as hard cover, T2, T3 have C/D zone as hard cover, T4 is full target

Shoot on T1 — 5 yards

STRING 1:  Draw and fire 3 rounds with both hands, then 3 rounds dominant hand only, transfer and fire 3 rounds non-dominant hand only.
Shoot on T2 – 7 yards

STRING 2:  Draw and fire 3 to the “body”, 1 to the “head”

Shoot on T3 – 10 yards

STRING 3: Draw and fire 3, mandatory reload, fire 3 more

Shoot on T4 – 15 yards

STRING 4: Draw and fire 3 body shots

STRING 5: Draw and fire 3 head shots

Here is video (shot the morning after the match) of me shooting the test using my USPSA Carry Optics setup. The gun is the same one I used for the Rangemaster class, but instead of drawing from concealment, I’m using the gear I used for the match: a outside waistband holster with no concealment. This was to get a better calibration of the par times. I’m not really shooting “Grand Master” speeds in the video, but those times are probably respectable low Master runs, as I was being careful to shoot as clean as I did during the class.

Relative Speed Evaluation

My video time for 3 with both hands, 3 with dominant hand and 3 with non dominant hand was 4.22 seconds, roughly 50% of Tom’s 9 second par time. Zo’s estimate using my formulas was 4.53 seconds.

For the 5 yards 3 body, 1 head string, my time was 2.13 and Tom’s par was 4 seconds. Zo’s estimate was 1.88 seconds.

For the 3rd string, which we shot at 10 yards vs. Tom’s version at 7, mainly to increase the accuracy requirement, my run was 5.11 seconds, and Tom’s par was 8 seconds. Zo’s estimate was 3.92 seconds.

For the 15 yard string, my time was 2.08 seconds, vs Tom’s part of 5 seconds, and Zo’s estimate of 1.9 seconds. The 3 rounds from ready at 15 yards from the original test was not included in the USPSA version, and to simulate the 25 yard body shots, I substituted 15 yard head shots to work within the limitations of the bay that stage was being run on.

My time for the 3 head shots was 4.05, Tom’s par was 8 seconds, and Zo’s estimate was 2.8 seconds. As several shooters at the match pointed out, the 15 yard head shots were actually harder (more accuracy required) than 25 yard body shots, particularly since we were using USPSA targets with the small A zone in the head.

Using Tom’s par times, the total par would be 34 seconds, and my total time was 17.59 seconds, or roughly 52%.

Here are the scores from the actual USPSA match

https://practiscore.com/results/new/246076?q_result=3

Most of the M/GM shooters ran total times between 19-21 seconds on match day, with 22-division GM Cory K running it in 12.07 with his pistol caliber carbine. Adding another 0.5 seconds for each draw, adjusting for concealment vs gamer rig moves those times to 21-23 seconds, 23 being 67% of Tom’s original 34 second par time. Just based on the way it felt to me shooting both the official version in class and the USPSA version during and after the match, a 65-70% difficulty rating for the Professional Pistolcraft Instructor course of fire seems more correct.

As the researchers always say, more data and investigation is needed to refine the formulas from the Strategies and Standards book to align them with real world performance.

Jeff Cooper’s Three? Rules of Gun Safety

From Bob Hanna of my historical handgun research team, a 1978-79 era document from Gunsite & Jeff Cooper listing his three rules for gun safety. Three? Conventional wisdom within the firearms training community is that Cooper’s “Four Rules” Shall Not Be Questioned, as I did in an older post about reducing his Four Rules and the NRA’s Three Rules down to two.

This early version of Cooper’s rules doesn’t address attention to the trigger finger at all, which seems like a glaring error to me. (My reduced safety rules are to pay attention to muzzle direction and trigger finger placement, in that order.) Granted, if someone pays attention to Cooper’s three rules, the worst that can happen is a negligent discharge in an acceptably safe direction. Inattention to trigger finger can absolutely result in a “mishap” with a gun. Attention to trigger finger does appear in the document, down at #6 in the Gunsite Ground Rules.

According to Bob, the addition of the trigger finger rule to the official safety rules occurred sometime in the early 1980’s.

Applegate’s House of Horrors (1945)

From my historical handgun research team: a 1945 NRA article written by Lt. Col. Rex Applegate describing the floorplan and training conducted in his shoot house. The shoot house included multiple scenarios with 3D targets, props, blank firing guns simulating return fire, audio cues and other elements to provide a realistic simulation.

Advocates of Applegate’s point shooting techniques should note that out of 24 rounds fired in the shoot house, Applegate was pleased to point out that his training improved their hit ratio from 4 out of 24 to 8 out of 24 – a hit ratio of 33% on targets closer than 10 feet. The students in his training were all shooters who scored Marksman or Expert with the .45 pistol — but that shooting was done on a 24″ wide bullseye target at 15, 25 and 50 yards. Applegate’s data doesn’t really show the success of his technique as much as the failure of traditional one handed bullseye to develop skills for close range combat shooting…and the failure of his unaimed/unsighted fire techniques to elevate performance even to the 50% hit ratio level.

The gun used in the shoot house, according to Applegate, was the Colt Service Ace .22. More info about that gun in the video below.

Himmelwright Pistol and Revolver Shooting Targets

Back in 2017 I posted a review of Himmelwright’s “Pistol and Revolver Shooting” book (1930 revision). In going through my archives I found that one of my historical handgun research team had scanned pages from the 1930 edition, mostly pages related to target design, and shared with me. The original book review is here.

From the reviews cited in the 1930 edition, this book was apparently one of the more popular books on shooting in the 1920’s.

The scanned pages are below

The American Standard Target, shown in the image above, was the most widely used target design for many years, probably until the 1950’s. It was designed for 50 yard shooting. The NRA B-8, probably the most popular bullseye style target in use today, is a modified version of the American Standard, but commonly used at closer distances than 50 yards. For shooting at closer ranges in the 1920’s, scaled down targets were used. This practice survives in the form of 1″, 2″ and 3″ dot targets used today.

The post World War 1 / 1920’s era was the start of most of the shooting drills and targets we use today. Other than the influence of Jelly Bryce-style hip shooting on FBI training, the standards and targets developed in the 20’s (not just the American Standard Target but also the Colt Silhouette Target) were the foundation of handgun training until the post World War 2 / 1950’s era.

J. Edgar Hoover NRA article 1945

My historical handgun research team sent me this article from a 1945 issue of the American Rifleman. Credited to J. Edgar Hoover, it gives an overview of all the guns and shooting drills the FBI was using in that era. In the article, Hoover shares the qualification courses for the .38 special revolver, Thompson submachine gun and 12 gauge shotgun, and also explains how the FBI uses the .357 magnum revolver and .30 caliber rifle as special purpose weapons. Most of these drills were shot on the old Fitzgerald target designed in the 1920’s, also known as the Colt Silhouette target or the NRA B-21. I wrote about the history of that target in this older blog post.

I’ve written a lot about the FBI’s Practical Pistol course, which became the course of fire for PPC (Practical Pistol Combat) competition. Several of those articles are linked below.

Here’s some vintage film clips of FBI shooting practice from the 1930’s and 1940’s.

KR Training May 2024 Newsletter

2024 UPDATE

March and April were very busy with more than a dozen classes, a road trip to teach 3 classes in Ohio, an Austin church security conference that brought more than 30 shooters to the A-Zone for a range session, and a feature article in the Austin Chronicle. This newsletter includes information on classes we’ve added to the schedule for April through August. Waiting for a particular class? Let us know and we’ll try to find a date for it in our remaining open dates!

Upcoming classes with space available:

MAY

JUNE

JULY AND BEYOND

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin.
Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

Click HERE to register for any class.

Dynamic First Aid May 11

Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics will teach a one day general first aid class on Saturday May 11. This class is suitable for students of all levels. It teaches essential skills needed to keep yourself or another person alive before more trained medical personnel can arrive on scene. I have taken more than 3000 hours of pistol training, but I have used the medical skills learned in Caleb’s classes more times in real life than any gun skill. This is one of the most valuable courses we offer and I highly recommend it.

Caleb is also offering a private 2 hour Family Medical Readiness course to anyone in the Austin/Elgin/Giddings area, available on Friday May 10. Contact Caleb at the link below to schedule it.

https://www.lonestarmedics.com/register-for-class/x2j89kmkobm9ua1x79b9khfzu5sokc

Intro to Competition Pistol May 18 & Summer Matches

Doug Greig and Greg Howard will teach a 6 hour intro to competition pistol class at the A-Zone on May 18. This will be great for those interested in coming out to shoot our summer matches, which will be on Wednesday evenings in June and July (click for dates and registration).

Beyond Basics Rifle – May 19

Doug Greig continues our popular series of rifle/carbine courses with Beyond Basics Rifle May 19 for those past the beginner level.

Beyond Basics Handgun & Top 10 Drills – June 1

I’ve paired Beyond Basics Handgun and Top 10 Drills on June 1. Beyond Basics Handgun is for anyone at the carry permit level or higher. It’s a required course for those pursuing our 40 hour challenge coin completion. Top 10 Drills can be taken as a stand alone or back to back with Beyond Basics Handgun to provide a 2 hour block of focused practice and evaluation.

Home Defense Shooting Skills / Basic Pistol 1 – June 9

June 9 is an all-basics day suitable for new gun owners, family members or anyone that wants basic instruction in shooting fundamentals and safe gun handling. Basic Pistol 1 is in the morning, and our basic level Home Defense Shooting Skills class applies those fundamentals to the common tasks of home defense: accessing a gun from a table or locked box quickly, moving to cover, verbal challenges, shooting under stress. The Home Defense class can be taken with a pistol, carbine, rifle or shotgun or multiple guns can be used during the course.

DISCOUNT CODES

I have collected up all the discount codes we have set up with vendors we recommend. Alumni of KR Training classes will find them in the monthly e-news email. You’ll have to open the email and scroll to the bottom to find them. It’s a reward for actually opening and reading the email!

PRIVATE LESSONS

I am available for private weekday training. Doug Greig is also available for private weekday and some weekend sessions. Contact us for details.

REFRESHER DEALS

Re-take any class you’ve taken before for half price! Contact me to get the alumni discount code. Firearms skills deteriorate without practice. Most ranges don’t allow drawing from a holster, shooting quickly, moving or shooting from cover. If you don’t practice the skills you learned in class, they won’t be there when you need them.

BLOG O RAMA

All the articles you missed if you don’t follow the KR Training Facebook page and Instagram feed.

IN MEMORIAM – TED BONNET

San Antonio-based professional shooter Ted Bonnet passed away last month after a long illness. Ted was one of my first shooting coaches, back in the early 1990’s. He won the IPSC World Championship in the Limited division the first year the field was split into Limited (iron sights) and Open (compensated optic guns). That match was held at the Bisley range in England, back when UK gun laws were better than they are now. He practiced for that match by going to the range on every cold, rainy day South Texas got, preparing himself for the typical English weather expected at the match. That hard work paid off with a major match win. He was the first US shooter sponsored by CZ and shot major matches for them for most of the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

He taught classes for decades, and started his own shooting competition format – American Action Shooting – running its national championship in San Antonio each year. Up until the very end, he was running matches and getting out on the range every week. Ted was also a staunch 2nd amendment advocate. The last time I saw him in person was when we were both at the Texas Legislature lobbying for permitless carry. He made great contributions to the shooting community in Central and South Texas, and he will be missed. I was told that anyone wanting to donate to a gun rights group in his memory should give to the Firearms Policy Coalition – a group that has done tremendous work fighting for gun rights in the courts.

SONG OF THE MONTH

In March the Black Cat Choir played a lot of shows in Round Top as part of the biannual Antique Week festival. It brings thousands of people and dealers to Central Texas to buy and sell. Round Top is right down the road from La Grange, and we play that ZZ Top classic at every show. This fan shot video (he came up onstage with us) includes me playing a synthesizer solo using my best ZZ Top guitar-ish sound.

Black Cat Choir plays ZZ Top La Grange

FOLLOW US ONLINE!

Keep up with the interesting articles, links, and stories we share in real time. Follow KR Training on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Subscribe to this newsletter or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. Send me an email to schedule your private weekday training session.

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

Mushin SST Ohio classes AAR

I met James and Korey at the 2023 NRA convention in Indianapolis, and they invited me to visit their MushinSST facility in Brookville, Ohio, to teach in 2024. I made the trip April 12-14 to teach 3 classes: Force on Force Instructor, Tactical Scenarios, and Advanced Handgun.

Their facility is much like the KR Training A-Zone Range – a medium sized classroom and range on the back end of their home property. They have a lot of local students and attract some traveling students from nearby cities and states.

Here are some pictures from the classes. Most of the pics are from the classroom lectures (FOF instructor and the first block of Advanced Handgun). The FOF instructor & scenario classes were small and we needed everyone in every scenario. With a small class we got through 24 scenarios in that course, though, including 4 scenarios the instructor trainees wrote during the instructor course and ran as the exercise coordinator/director during the Saturday class.

Wesley (Korey & James’ dog) and Thor (a german shepherd that came with one of the students that attended all 3 days) also attended the FOF instructor class, and I spent a lot of time playing with Wesley after class each night.

They have a 9 person golf cart that was used to transport people from the parking area to the range.

I also got to play with their Ace shooting gadget that works with the Occulus VR headset. Here’s a video capture of me playing with it, with some still pics of me using it.

They have invited me to return to MushinSST in 2025, dates and specific classes will be announced fall 2024.

Tac Con 2024 AAR

During the Trainer’s Dinner, Tom asked me if I could remember how many TacCon’s I’ve attended/taught at. I think the number is 23. I missed the very first one, but traveled to Memphis as an attendee for the second Polite Society Conference, back when the event had that name and it was held at the Rangemaster “mother ship” facility in Memphis. I hosted Tom and Jim Higginbotham at my range several times, and he graciously invited me to start teaching (mostly running Force on Force scenarios) in 2004.

If you want a sample of that era, here are some videos of an episode of Shooting Gallery from 2005, featuring Tom, Michael Bane, John Farnam, William Aprill and me.

Tom and I figured out that Farnam, me and John Hearne had been to the most events. Since I missed two of them for work conflicts, I’m probably 3rd on the list behind the other two.

2024 Tactical Conference

This year’s event was held at the Dallas Pistol Club, a convenient 3 hour drive from Bryan. More than 40 trainers presented 69 different blocks of instruction, plus the pistol match and shootoff. It sold out in 30 minutes after registration opened spring 2023. I taught 4 blocks (8 hours) in 2 days, that included two lecture blocks of new material and two live fire sessions of the Top 10 Drills program taken from our Strategies and Standards for Defensive Pistol book. John Daub was supposed to co-teach with me but a family trip come up, so I taught all 4 sessions solo. I had a rock and roll gig to play with the Black Cat Choir Thursday night, so my original plan was to drive up Friday morning, attend sessions Friday afternoon and teach Saturday and Sunday.

Car Troubles

Friday I stopped for early lunch in Corsicana Texas and my car didn’t start when I got in it to get back on the road. Used my AAA account to summon a tow truck and he jump started me, which got me on the road in search of a shop that could install a new battery. The battery in my car appeared to be the factory one so it had 90K miles on it. Replacing the battery on a Honda Pilot requires removing a giant plastic part the width of the hood, and removing an air duct. I bought a new battery at AutoZone and installed it in their parking lot. Battery did not solve the problem. At this point I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to get to TacCon and what to do about a car that might have to be left at a shop over the weekend for repair. I ended up calling Allstate because (on the advice of preparedness guru Paul Martin) I had purchased a 100K mile extended warranty. They gave me the names of several shops in town they had worked with and I found one (the Chevy dealer) that actually worked on Saturdays fixing cars. I was only an hour from TacCon and Tracy said she would drive down and pick me up if needed.

Call AAA for another tow truck. Tow truck driver says “let me try jumping it before we tow it” and surprisingly enough the jump worked, so I drove it to the Chevy place and they ran a bunch of tests (except testing the battery which we all believed to be good because it was new). They found no problems and sent me on my way…so I drove on up to TacCon. Car started up just fine Friday after dinner and again Saturday morning…until I stopped in the parking lot to get my nametag and check in before I had to teach at 8 a.m… and the car wouldn’t start again. KR Training alum JJ saw me trying to get the car started and handed me his GooLoo lithium battery car jumper box

https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/BEBCF7F3-1E3E-4061-86CC-CFC06263821C?ingress=2&visitId=afbfc9f1-524a-428d-bc9f-b0f431c0c978&ref_=ast_bln

This worked to get the car restarted, and I used it to jump the car multiple times until I got it home to the Honda dealer…where they found that the “new” Autozone battery was defective. Autozone in Bryan was able to pull up my purchase and give me a full refund on it and since then I’ve had no problems.

Moral to this story: if you install a new battery and it doesn’t work, don’t assume the new battery is good.

Teaching at TacCon

My first block to teach was a 2 hour lecture on Designing Scenarios. The intent was to make it applicable to finger gun, red gun, SIRT gun, Airsoft, Simunition and live fire. Attendees got a worksheet and we went through the process I use to fully design a scenario: location, equipment, desired outcome (harsh word, threat of deadly force, OC, physical, shooting), level of aggression from roleplayer, additional roleplayers (bystanders, family, friends, workers, multiple attackers), and other variables. Designing a scenario is more complex than just telling a roleplayer “go in the store and rob it”.

The second lecture was material John and I put together on our Top 10 tips for teaching Gateway Students, since a lot of our training business is bringing people with carry permits into the training universe and (hopefully) motivating them to return for additional classes. A few attendees post some pics of me teaching that block.

Top 10 Drills Live Fire

John and I put several different versions of our Top 10 Drills in the 2023 version of our book, but for TacCon we created yet another variation optimized to reduce the number of different targets, target swaps, target taping, and anything else that might take up time in our limited 2 hour block. That list of drills will be the topic of a future blog post. Those sessions were attended by many trainers, including Don Redl and Unc.

Official TacCon photographer Tamara Keel took this great pic of me during one of the Top 10 sessions.

Sessions Attended

I only got to attend two sessions, since I was teaching for 4 of the 6 time blocks that I was present for. Saturday afternoon I went to Cecil Burch’s talk on the history of combatives and firearms. He reviewed training history, observing that unarmed and armed skills were often taught together, until the Gunsite era when armed and unarmed training separated. It wasn’t until the 1990’s when many events (UFC, invention of Simunition, National Tactical Invitational) and trainers (Kelly McCann, John Holschen, John Benner, Paul Gomez, Phil Messina and many others) brought the topics back together.

Sunday morning I was able to attend Rhett Neumayer’s Deep Carry class. Because I’ve been training a lot of armed teachers in the past year, deep carry has become a topic I’m very interested in. Deep carry, for teachers in a school environment, may be the best option. Rhett provided excellent instruction in his techniques for carrying with the gun completely below the beltline, guidance for what clothing works well (and what does not), and the proper way to access and reholster when the holster is completely below the belt. He has some great videos online. Here’s one of them. Anyone that is teaching concealed carry, whether you personally choose to carry this way or not, should understand it and be able to demonstrate it to others, as deep carry may be the only practical solution for many that can’t (or refuse to) wear an untucked shirt.

For Rhett’s class I was shooting my M&P Shield from an Enigma, and used an empty coffee cup I dug out of the trash bin to hold my loose ammo. Another student in class took this pic hoping to win the TacCon photo contest.

The Match

I almost didn’t shoot the match, since I had planned to shoot it Friday. However, I found a little time window during lunch Saturday to shoot. I managed to shoot a clean score on the standards (one stray strong hand only shot came perilously close to the edge), and decided to push for speed on the tiebreaker, knowing that it was going to be scored Comstock where a hit factor was going to matter.

They told me I had a time of 1.66, with one shot of the 5 head shots about 1″ above not just the head circle but the grey target area, so 40/50 points. When the scores were published later, it said my time was 1.76. (Note to self, check the scores that are written down next year). That 0.1 second difference mattered (and of course the missed shot). I ended up 19th overall, just below the cutoff for the top 16 shoot off. Worried about my car situation and needing to get home to be ready for our A Zone Eclipse Viewing on Monday, I left at lunch and didn’t watch the shootoff or attend any afternoon sessions.

As it turned out I missed a big afternoon for Team KR Training and Dave Reichek.

Dave was 9th overall after the tie breaker, but had a flawless run of 2-0 wins in the shootoff (winning every run of every bout) right up until the very last bout of a 2-2 match for overall match winner. The match came down to the last shot, as Simon Golob got his last steel target down a fraction of second faster than Dave did. Still, Dave ended up 2nd overall – a win made even better by his daughter Rachel (who attended TacCon) being present to see him win.

That picture ended up winning the TacCon photo contest.

Other articles

KR Training’s Uncle Zo wrote his own AAR

Greg Ellifritz also wrote about TacCon, mainly about a tragedy that occurred Thursday night at the match hotel when an event attendee had a major heart attack in the hotel lobby. Greg was one of several match trainers (including two ER docs) who responded.

TacCon2025

TacCon 2025 will be held at the Dallas Pistol Club March 28-30, 2025. Registration has not yet opened but when it does I expect it will sell out quickly. I will be a presenter at the 2025 event.

KR Training March/April 2024 Newsletter

2024 UPDATE

This newsletter includes information on classes we’ve added to the schedule for April through August. Waiting for a particular class? Let us know and we’ll try to find a date for it in our remaining open dates!

PRIVATE LESSONS

I am available for private weekday training. Doug Greig is also available for private weekday and some weekend sessions. Contact us for details.

REFRESHER DEALS

Re-take any class you’ve taken before for half price! Contact me to get the alumni discount code. Firearms skills deteriorate without practice. Most ranges don’t allow drawing from a holster, shooting quickly, moving or shooting from cover. If you don’t practice the skills you learned in class, they won’t be there when you need them.

NEW COIN HOLDERS

Six students earned their Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coins in March, by completing 40 hours of coursework, including all the required classes, a few elective courses, and passing the written and shooting tests. We have more DPS program courses coming up in April and May. Spring is a great time to go shooting. Come see us and check off more courses toward your own challenge coin!

2024 CLASSES Upcoming Texas classes with space available:

APRIL

MAY

JUNE AND BEYOND

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin.
Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

Click HERE to register for any class.

PALISADES TRAINING GROUP CLASSES IN APRIL

We are hosting Palisades Training Group for 3 one day courses in mid-April. Lead instructor Steve Moses and Doug Greig (who is an assistant for PTG and KR Training) will offer these classes:

3D Approach to Defensive Shooting (Friday April 12, 1p-5p)
Defensive Carbine (Saturday April 13, all day)
Defensive Shotgun (Sunday April 14, all day)

If you’ve taken our courses on these topics, they would be a great refresher from a different perspective, and of course they are suitable for those that have never taken courses in these topics before.

Defensive Pistol Skills 3 (NRA CCW) April 20

If you’ve completed DPS-1 and DPS-2 and are ready for the next course in our Defensive Pistol Skills Program sequence, DPS-3 is for you. Or if you haven’t taken DPS-1 and DPS-2 but want to see what the NRA’s national “Concealed Carry Weapon” course includes, you can still attend the DPS-3 course. It’s a 6 hour course working from concealment.

Appendix Carry Skills – April 27 morning

John Daub will teach a half day session of his Appendix Inside the Waistband carry skills course on April 27. If you are new to carrying, or want to experiment with appendix carry, this class is what you need. We have loaner AIWB holsters. Correct techniques for drawing from concealment, re holstering, and general tips on learning how to carry comfortably in the AIWB position will be discussed.

Personal Tactics Skills – April 27 afternoon

After the AIWB course John will be teaching a session of our Personal Tactics Skills course. This class is one of the most important courses in our Defensive Pistol Skills Program. It teaches what you should do in the most common personal defense situations, from the perspective of what is most legally defensible and gives the highest odds of the best outcome. This is a required class for those that want to earn their DPS Program Challenge Coin.

Church Security Podcast and April Conference

I was a guest on the Church Security podcast earlier this month. Listen to the episode here

The podcast hosts are putting on a 2 day conference in Austin in April I will be speaking at the conference and the Sunday Church Security Shooting Skills class is an optional part of the event as well.

The cost of the conference is very reasonable and they have a lot of great speakers lined up.

https://churchsecurityessentials.ticketspice.com/church-security-essentials-2024-austin-texas

Church and School Safety Range Session April 28, 2p-6p

This 4 hour, Sunday afternoon session will include the range drills from the Texas DPS Guardian Program, which is the state certified course for armed teachers. This material is very relevant for church security personnel. It’s being offered as part of a multi day Church Security Conference in Austin April 26-27, but you don’t have to attend the conference to attend the range session.

Dynamic First Aid May 11

Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics will teach a one day general first aid class on Saturday May 11. This class is suitable for students of all levels. It teaches essential skills needed to keep yourself or another person alive before more trained medical personnel can arrive on scene. I have taken more than 3000 hours of pistol training, but I have used the medical skills learned in Caleb’s classes more times in real life than any gun skill. This is one of the most valuable courses we offer and I highly recommend it.

Intro to Competition Pistol May 18

Doug Greig and Greg Howard will teach a 6 hour intro to competition pistol class at the A-Zone on May 18. This will be great for those interested in coming out to shoot our summer matches, which will be on Wednesday evenings in June and July. (Details to be announced in the May newsletter). The photo shows a dry run on a stage using the SIRT laser pistol.

DISCOUNT CODES

I have collected up all the discount codes we have set up with vendors we recommend. Alumni of KR Training classes will find them in the monthly e-news email. You’ll have to actually open the email and scroll to the bottom to find them. It’s a reward for actually opening and reading the email!

BLOG O RAMA

All the articles you missed if you don’t follow the KR Training Facebook page and Instagram feed.

SONG OF THE MONTH

Back in November the Black Cat Choir played a Sunday afternoon show at the Vintage Hideaway near Round Top, Texas. It was our 3rd show that weekend, and the band was in great form. We recorded multitrack audio, but nobody recorded any video (sorry). I’ve been making some music visualizer videos from those tracks. This one is our cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Sweet Melissa”.


FOLLOW US ONLINE!

Keep up with the interesting articles, links, and stories we share in real time. Follow KR Training on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Subscribe to this newsletter or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. Send me an email to schedule your private weekday training session.

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

1918 Protection Pistol Course of Fire

Another find from my Historical Handgun research team. This is an article from the US Revolver Association’s 1918 newsletter. It describes their concept of a defensive pistol event that includes drawing from a holster. Carrying a small revolver in pants or coat pocket was the default carry method of that era, particularly for city dwellers, but for safety reasons (read the article) drawing a larger gun from open carry was chosen for competition. This idea still survives today, as competitors in USPSA and IDPA matches tend to work from open carry style holsters using larger guns most of the time.

The target used for this was the USRA’s Standard American Target, which appears to have survived as the NRA B-8. The B-16 has smaller scoring rings than the B-8. This article from the NRA’s Shooting Sports magazine has a great explanation of the history of different bullseye targets.

https://www.ssusa.org/content/a-short-history-of-american-target-development-and-evolution/

More on the history of the US Revolver Association can be found at this link

https://www.ssusa.org/content/what-was-the-united-states-revolver-association/

Basic rules for the various types of matches that the USRA conducted can be found here

The “Burning Powder” book is available from Amazon as an e-book

A comparison of the NRA target sizes is here

http://www.indecorous.com/bullseye/rings.html

According to Wesson’s “Burning Powder” book, the 50 yard “standard american target” dimensions are:

10 Ring—3.39 inches 9 Ring—5.54 inches 8 Ring—8.00 inches 7 Ring—11.00 inches 6 Ring—14.80 inches 5 Ring—19.68 inches 4 Ring—26.83 inches

Wesson, Douglas. Burning Powder . Sportsman’s Vintage Press. Kindle Edition.

This is the same as the modern B-8

B-825yds1.6953.365.548.0011.0014.8019.68

The 20 yard Standard American Target dimensions are

10 ring 1.12, 9 ring 1.88, 8 ring 2.72, 7 ring 3.73, 6 ring 5.04, 5 ring 6.72, 4 ring 8.84

The modern B-16 dimensions are close to the old 20 yard standard american target from Wesson’s book and the USRA rules:

B-1625yds0.671.512.603.825.327.229.66

I went to the range and shot the Protection Match” using my modern Glock 48 with Holosun 507, and again with my vintage 1954 K-38 Combat Masterpiece. In reality even the 1954 revolver was too “modern” for this course of fire.

In putting this blog post together I discovered that I should have used a B-8 at 20 yards, or a B-16 at 10 yards, instead of the B-16 at 20 yards.

The only impact of that change is to increase my score by a few points.

The other concession I made to modern times was using two hands to shoot the K-38, vs the traditional one handed techniques favored by pistol shooters of that era. According to the USRA rules from Burning Powder, all firing was to be done using one hand.

Final Thoughts

The key takeaway from the 1918 Protection Match is that the idea of using bullseye targets for higher speed defensive pistol drills that included drawing from a holster, is not a new idea. The 10 yards, 10 seconds, 10 shots B-8 shooting drill has its origins dating back to 1918 or possibly earlier.

Harry Reeves Practical Handgunning 1951

Another article about Harry Reeves, from 1951, courtesy of my historical handgun research team. This one is from Handguns magazine. Reeves has the biases against semiauto pistols and 9mm ammunition common to gun writers and gun experts of his era. The discussion of trigger control and shooting fundamentals is great information, and I note that his acceptable standard for draw to first shot for defensive shooting, hitting a target at 5 yards, is 1.5 second — not too different from today’s acceptable performance for a moderately trained shooter. His description of the Mexican Defense Course (starting at 25 and moving to 10 yards) is more rooted in bullseye shooting than the 1960’s version I wrote about recently.

The Mexican and Yaqui Defense Courses (1964)

Another find from my Historical Handgun research team: a 1964 Guns magazine article written about two self defense shooting drills. Back in that era they were likely shot using the classic Colt target (NRA B-21). Jeff Cooper wrote about both of these drills, and Bill Wilson created an IDPA-ized version of the Mexican Defense course that we shot at the Practical Pistol Reunion he hosted in 2019.

The original article is here:

Shooting the Mexican Defense Course

I put on my 1911 .45 ACP with Gordon Davis 1970’s era competition holster and set up the Mexican Defense Course, using the ShootSteel cardboard target. The ShootSteel target is my current favorite, since it has a smaller “best torso hit” zone than the IDPA or USPSA, a larger “acceptable hit zone”, and a head with an actual neck and ears. The “acceptable hit” C zone is smaller than the K5 zone in the old B21’s used back in 1964. Somehow when I made these videos I was thinking that the article was from 1961, not 1964.

The Bill Wilson IDPA variant of the Mexican Defense Course is as follows:

Mexican Defense Course (PPR)

Type: PAR time standard exercise

Targets: 6 standard IDPA silhouettes spaced 1 yard apart edge to edge, 10 yards downrange

Scoring: 5 points, 4 points and 3 points. Complete misses and/or overtime shots are -5 points each

Time limit: 6 seconds for each string of fire

Possible score: 180 points (36 rounds)

Procedure:

Each stage starts with the shooter standing with their back to T1 (left target) approximately 8 yards from the target. On the command “walk” the shooter begins walking to the 10 yard firing line, once the shooter steps across the line the timing buzzer will sound and the shooter will turn, draw and engage the targets.

String 1: Fire 6 rounds at T1 (left target) from behind the 10 yard line

String 2: Fire 1 round at each target T1 – T6 left to right from behind the 10 yard line

String 3: Fire 1 round standing behind the 10 yard line, then advance a fire 5 more shots at T1 while moving forward (shots 2-6 MUST be fired while moving)

String 4: Fire 1 round standing behind the 10 yard line, then advance and fire 1 shot each at T2 – T6 while moving forward toward T1 (shots 2-6 MUST be fired while moving)

String 5: Fire 1 round standing behind the 10 yard line, then move laterally to the right and fire 5 more shots at T1 (shots 2-6 MUST be fired while moving)

String 6: Fire 1 round standing behind the 10 yard line, then move laterally to the right and fire 1 shot each at T2 – T6 while moving to the right (shots 2-6 MUST be fired while moving)

Shooting the Yaqui Defense Course

In the 1964 article the Yaqui Defense Course was also discussed. I set that up and shot it.

Thoughts

The Mexican Defense Course, particularly in the Wilson-ized version, shot on an IDPA target, includes skills commonly omitted from “modern” drills that are mostly designed for convenience when running a large static firing line. Turning draws and moving cross range, engaging targets at directions other than “perfectly squared up to me in my lane” are good skills to practice, either in dry fire (if you don’t have access to a range that will allow drawing, turning draws, or cross range movement) or in live fire. IDPA competitors might find this vintage standards course, from one of the IDPA founders, useful as a stage that could be run at a local match.

Ronin Colman 1988 class video

When I first got started in USPSA competition, one of the local club members let me copy a bad quality copy of a video he had of PACT timer inventor and firearms trainer Ronin Colman teaching in 1988. Ronin had been an IPSC shooter since the early days, had attended some of the earliest classes at Gunsite and shot major matches in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He started teaching defensive handgun classes in Texas, mostly in the Dallas and Austin area, living with Chip McCormick for awhile in Austin.

He and Chip developed a standards course of fire to use in their own training that they called the “Texas Standards”. It was passed from them to professional shooter Jim Griggs, who shared it with me in the early 1990’s. That course of fire is available here on the KR Training site.

https://www.krtraining.com/IPSC/Information/Central_Texas_Standards.html

It’s a very demanding 125 round par time, multi string test that incorporates every skill in common use in IPSC matches of the early days: from 7 yard speed shooting to 50 yard prone shooting, turning draws, 1 handed shooting, reloads, target transitions and much more. When they developed the course of fire, there were no shooting timers the way we know them now, just a par time box that used thumbwheels to set fixed par time. I’ll set up and shoot the test for a future blog post.

Using video and audio AI tools I was able to restore the video and audio from the VHS tape good enough to share with others. It’s a great snapshot of what was commonly taught in the mid to late 1980’s, heavily influenced by Jeff Cooper & the Gunsite material of that era. I’ve broken the video up into 8 segments based on the topics being covered, and trimmed out all the video of students shooting the drills.

Opening Remarks

Reloads
Part 3
Turning Draws
Malfunctions
Mindset and Match stories
Low Light Shooting
Pacing and shooting under pressure

Ronin and the PACT timer company are still around, making timers and other products for the competitive shooting and training market.

FBI Practical Pistol Course (1946)

A definitive article, from the FBI’s newsletter, explaining their Practical Pistol Course in detail. I’ve written about that course of fire in multiple previous posts

Thanks to Chris Baker of Lucky Gunner for finding this gem and sharing with me so I can share with you!

The FBI PPC course was widely used in law enforcement training from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. It’s one of the most difficult, mainly because of the 50 and 60 yard strings, but also because of the hip shooting and loose-rounds revolver reload required at the 7 yard line. The classic target used for the FBI PPC is now called the B-21, and it’s still available for purchase. The course of fire requires a barricade, and an outdoor range where drawing, shooting from prone and hipshooting is allowed. If you are shooting the course of fire with a semiauto pistol, to simulate the loose rounds revolver reload, put loose rounds in your pocket and refill your empty magazine with the loose rounds, on the clock. (This is what the FBI required Jeff Cooper to do in the 1960’s when he was trying to convince them to switch to the 1911.)

Is the FBI PPC course particularly relevant to defensive handgun skills? Modern law enforcement training typically stops at 25 yards, and includes a lot more aimed fire shooting at intermediate distances from 3 to 15 yards. Testing your skills at 25, 50 and 60 yards is valuable for those concerned with long range active shooter response in schools, churches and public areas.

KR Training February 2024 Newsletter

2024 UPDATE

This newsletter includes information on a lot of classes we’ve added to the schedule for March, April, May and June. Waiting for a particular class? Let us know and we’ll try to find a date for it in our remaining open dates!

PRIVATE LESSONS

I am available for private weekday training. Doug Greig is also available for private weekday and some weekend sessions. Contact us for details.

REFRESHER DEALS

Re-take any class you’ve taken before for half price! Contact me to get the alumni discount code. Firearms skills deteriorate without practice. Most ranges don’t allow drawing from a holster, shooting quickly, moving or shooting from cover. If you don’t practice the skills you learned in class, they won’t be there when you need them.

OHIO CLASSES

I will be in Ohio at Mushin SST teaching 3 classes April 12-14: Force on Force Instructor, Tactical Scenarios (all FOF), and Advanced Handgun. Slots are available in all 3 of those road courses.
https://www.mushinsst.com/

2024 CLASSES Upcoming Texas classes with space available:

MARCH

APRIL

MAY AND BEYOND

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin.
Prices and registration links are at www.krtraining.com

Click HERE to register for any class.

AT-2 Force on Force Scenarios March 17, 1p-5p

The AT-2 scenarios course is the most important course we offer in our Defensive Pistol Skills Program, but it’s the hardest to convince people to attend. The course is traditional scenario based training: gun, pepper spray, communication. It is not “combatives” style training like you may have seen in videos. No wresting, no grappling, or unarmed fighting skills are required or even allowed. You don’t need to have a one second draw or any special skill level to attend.

Think of the class as a full dress rehearsal for an actual incident: live roleplayers you have to interact with. You have to make conversation, decide if or when it’s appropriate to de-escalate or use deadly force, communicate with 911 dispatchers, responding officers and bystanders. Students in the class will participate in more than a dozen different scenarios, some with the SIRT laser guns and some with Airsoft and Simunition gear. You will get to “do what you would do”, be the bad guy, and other roles.

The most common mistakes armed citizens make in defensive gun use incidents are not related to draw speed or shooting accuracy. They are errors in judgment: deciding to “go to guns” at the wrong time, muzzling an innocent person, saying the wrong thing to a potential threat, bystanders, or responding police. Being good at shooting does not automatically make you good at the other skills. You can’t learn the non-shooting skills in a pure shooting class. That’s why we offer the scenario based training — and we are one of a very few schools in Texas (and in the country) that offer true armed-citizen-focused scenarios.

We only offer the scenario classes twice a year – once in the spring, and once in the fall. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the upcoming AT-2 class. If you need more motivation, you can’t earn our Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin without attending this class.

March 17 Low Light Shooting 1 – new session added

We added another session of Low Light Shooting 1, to be offered the evening after the AT-2 scenarios course. The low light class will be live fire. We won’t offer this class again until fall 2024.

Church Security Podcast and April Conference

I was a guest on the Church Security podcast earlier this month. Listen to the episode here

The podcast hosts are putting on a 2 day conference in Austin in April I will be speaking at the conference and the Sunday Church Security Shooting Skills class is an optional part of the event as well.

The cost of the conference is very reasonable and they have a lot of great speakers lined up.

https://churchsecurityessentials.ticketspice.com/church-security-essentials-2024-austin-texas

PALISADES TRAINING GROUP CLASSES IN APRIL

We are hosting Palisades Training Group for 3 one day courses in mid-April. Lead instructor Steve Moses and Doug Greig (who is an assistant for PTG and KR Training) will offer these classes:

3D Approach to Defensive Shooting (Friday April 12, 1p-5p)
Defensive Carbine (Saturday April 13, all day)
Defensive Shotgun (Sunday April 14, all day)

If you’ve taken our courses on these topics, they would be a great refresher from a different perspective, and of course they are suitable for those that have never taken courses in these topics before.

DISCOUNT CODES

I have collected up all the discount codes we have set up with vendors we recommend. Alumni of KR Training classes will find them in the monthly e-news email. You’ll have to actually open the email and scroll to the bottom to find them. It’s a reward for actually opening and reading the email!

BLOG O RAMA

All the articles you missed if you don’t follow the KR Training Facebook page and Instagram feed.

SONG OF THE MONTH

Back in November the Black Cat Choir played a Sunday afternoon show at the Vintage Hideaway near Round Top, Texas. It was our 3rd show that weekend, and the band was in great form. We recorded multitrack audio, but nobody recorded any video (sorry). I’ve been making some music visualizer videos from those tracks. This one is our cover of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Leave My Little Girl Alone”, featuring me on organ and John Holmes on guitar and vocal.


FOLLOW US ONLINE!

Keep up with the interesting articles, links, and stories we share in real time. Follow KR Training on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Subscribe to this newsletter or follow this blog (right) for more frequent posts and information. Send me an email to schedule your private weekday training session.

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

The Wisconsin LEO Pistol Qual Course

Someone recently sent me a copy of the current Wisconsin state law enforcement pistol qualification course of fire. The summary version of it is here

I shot a reduced version of the course and put the videos out on Instagram.

Analysis and Discussion

I like a lot of things about this course of fire. The full document can be downloaded here

The discussion in the course description document is very detailed. For example, the limitations of the course of fire are addressed:

This course merely evaluates an officer’s ability to perform basic psychomotor skills in a controlled setting, testing whether an officer can accurately operate a handgun in a low-stress environment. This course does not indicate whether officers have received recent, relevant, and realistic training necessary to perform their job. It does not train or test an officer’s ability to perform psychomotor skills in a rapidly-evolving, dynamic, and realistic work environment. This course does not evaluate whether an officer can recognize pre-assault indicators, select and implement appropriate tactics, or determine what level of force—if any—is appropriate. It does not evaluate one-handed reloads, drawing with the reaction hand, drawing and shooting from a seated position, low-light or flashlight-assisted shooting, multiple assailants, shooting while moving, shooting at moving targets, etc. Law enforcement agencies are strongly encouraged to provide firearms and deadly force training at least three times per year.

Training Standards

The evaluation includes more than simply getting the required hits in the allotted time. Their course of fire description includes a list of all the behaviors instructors must see performed correctly during the shooting test.

The shooter must consistently perform all of the following to qualify:

  • Handgun is always handled in a safe manner.
    o Trigger finger is on frame outside trigger guard at all times, except when firing.
    o Weapon is always pointed in an appropriate direction and never sweeps the officer or others.
  • Proper draw.
    o Does not sweep reaction hand, self, or others during the draw.
    o Punches gun straight out towards target.
  • Exhibits acceptable stance and firm, high grip.
  • Verbalizes appropriately/as directed.
  • Uses cover effectively whenever it is available.
    o Moves towards cover and/or sidesteps while drawing.
    o Maintains at least one arm’s length distance from cover/does not “crowd” cover.
    o Uses cover to protect self as much as possible.
  • Maintains peripheral view of suspect when reloading or clearing a malfunction.
  • Performs autogenic breathing and a 360-degree scan for additional threats following each string. Does not reholster until completion of 360-degree scan.
  • Uses one hand to reholster. Does not sweep self or others and does not look at the holster.
  • Safely and appropriately follows all range directions and instructor commands.

That’s a very detailed list that includes a good mix of do’s and don’ts.

Target

The preferred target is an IALEFI 23″x35″ target that’s been modified to have specific scoring zones, A, B, C and D. The A-B-C zones are anatomically relevant. Note that the C zone stops at the bottom of the lungs, at the sternum/diaphragm level, and hits below that region are considered “D” hits. D hits are only considered acceptable for shots fired at 15 and 25 yards. (In a perfect world, they should not be considered acceptable there either. Changing that scoring requirement is the only major change needed to this course of fire.)

If you want to modify a standard IALEFI target, or any other target to have the correct scoring zones, the dimensions are

Any life-size photo target with target zones of 4½” diameter (head), 3”x14” (CNS), 8” diameter (chest), and short “bowling pin” (5½” head zone tapering to 12½” wide chest zone, 17” high).

STRING BY STRING ANALYSIS

3 yards

  1. Side step, draw and fire 3 rounds in 4 seconds using both hands. (2x)
  2. Standing still, draw and fire 3 rounds in 4 seconds using strong hand only (2x)
  3. Score target to verify that all 12 hits are in A/B/C zone. Repair target
  4. Draw handgun and transfer to ‘reaction’ hand (aka support hand, aka “weak hand”, aka “non dominant hand’).
  5. On signal, fire 3 rounds, one handed. (2x)

As the difficulty level of the shooting increases (from two handed to strong hand only to support hand only), the amount of gun handling that has to be done between the signal and first shot is decreased. Step & draw, vs draw vs present from ready. This allows the time limit to remain constant across all strings, which is convenient for those running the timer or turning targets. (I am a fan of minimizing timing changes between strings.)

Scoring the target after fewer strings makes it easier to track shooter performance and identify areas that need improvement. It’s hard to figure out which shots went where when analyzing a target with 30-50 shots on it. A shooter incapable of putting those first 12 rounds into the C zone at 3 yards within the fairly generous time limits probably needs additional coaching or instruction.

The assumption with this test is that some kind of retention duty holster is being used. Non-LEOs shooting this test should be drawing from concealment for the time limits to be relevant. Those wanting to run the test from an open carry/gamer/’I only wear this to training classes” rig should drop the par time for all the 4 second strings down to 3 seconds, and make similar reductions in other strings.

7 yards

All the 7 and 15 yard strings use a barricade, or a stack of two 55 gal barrels, or a cardboard target mounted on a target stand beside the shooter as cover that must be stepped behind and shot around. If you don’t have a way to set up cover to move to, cut the par times for each string down by 2 seconds, and challenge yourself to put all your shots in the B, rather than the C, zone, as compensation for the advantage you get by not moving and not having to lean out from cover.

  1. Load pistol with a total of 3 rounds (1 in chamber, 2 in mag).
  2. On signal, sidestep to cover, verbalize, draw and fire 4 rounds, performing an out of battery reload (aka emergency reload aka slide lock reload). 12.0 seconds. (2x).
  3. Load pistol with 4 live and 1 dummy round. 1 live round in chamber, at least 3 live in magazine, dummy as the top or 2nd round in the magazine.
  4. On signal, sidestep to cover, verbalize, draw and fire 4 rounds, fixing the malfunction using phase 1 (aka tap-rack). 10.0 seconds
  5. Load pistol with 1 live round in chamber and 3 dummy rounds.
  6. On signal, take at least one side step to cover, verbalize, draw and fire 2 rounds. Attempt to fix the first malfunction using phase 1 (tap-rack), perform phase 2 (double feed/full reload) when phase 1 fails. 24.0 seconds.

These strings all involve a lot of non-shooting skills – movement to cover, verbalization, reloads, clearing malfunctions. The time limits are generous (could probably use 10 seconds for both of the first 2 strings) but the additional cognitive load on the shooter makes getting acceptable hits at the 7 yard line more difficult. This section of the test does a good job at incorporating all the skills a competent handgunner should be able to perform.

Those trying to run this part of the test in a single lane at an indoor range may find it difficult, as dummy rounds falling to the range floor may be difficult to recover, and shouting verbal commands at targets may have to be modified to simply mouthing the words or speaking them softly. However, don’t omit that step, as the time limits for the strings were designed to include time for those non-shooting tasks. Similarly, don’t cheat the double malfunction on the last string. Even though you will know that the tap-rack is going to fail, perform that technique before continuing on to the phase 2 clearance – both because the time limit was chosen to give time for both but also because starting with tap-rack as an immediate response to a malfunction is the correct mental programming.

The target should be scored and repaired again after all the 7 yard strings are completed, to identify problems and make it easier to assess performance for the 15 and 25 yard strings.

15 and 25 yards

The 15 yard string tests ability to shoot from both sides of cover, from standing and kneeling – skills that many people rarely practice. Practicing those skills in a single lane of an indoor range is basically impossible. Dry fire practice at home, using doorways and scaled targets, can be done to develop these skills. Older or less physically able shooters that have difficulty getting up and down from standing to kneeling should at least switch barricade sides for each pair (right side, left side, right side, left side). That does not mean changing what hand or eye you shoot your pistol with. Keep the gun in your normal two handed grip, and keep as much of your body behind cover as you can (without crowding it, as noted in the official instructions).

If you shoot poorly on this part of the test, the way to get better at it is to remove the barricade and alternate dry and live practice (at the range). 5 dry shots, 5 live shots. Or use the live & empty drill (one round chambered, no magazine in the gun, fire two shots, where the first shot goes bang and second one goes click). The live/empty (or live/dummy if you load your magazines to alternate live and dummy rounds) will expose all the unwanted movement of your hands pulling the gun off target as you press the trigger.

  1. From ready position behind cover (gun is drawn off the clock), fire 4 pairs of 2 rounds (standing left, standing right, kneeling right, kneeling left, in any order). 24 seconds.
  2. Perform an in-battery reload (aka ‘speed’ reload, or administrative reload) off the clock.
  3. Move to the 25 yard line or move targets back to 25 yards.
  4. Draw to preferred shooting position (off the clock).
  5. On signal, fire 4 rounds in 20 seconds.
  6. All of the hits at the 15 and 25 yard have to be in the D zone or better to pass.

Realistically, all the hits should be in the C zone or better. Under stress, ability to put all hits in the C zone becomes ability to put them all in the D zone. Ability to only keep them in the D zone means that under stress, some shots will fail to hit the intended target at all. That’s why the ability to keep all the hits in the B zone, in a slow fire test, is preferred. Under stress someone with that ability is likely to keep them all in the C zone, which will produce a much better outcome.

Those running this test as part of their own training should strive for A/B hits ONLY from 3 and 7, and C hits or better from the 15 and 25 yard lines.

SUMMARY

Shooting this course of fire requires special gear: a barricade, dummy rounds, a spare magazine in a mag pouch. Incorporating it into a typical range session is going to be more complicated than simply standing in one spot firing all shots from two handed standing. However: if you eliminate the repeated strings, it becomes a very compact 30 round course of fire that tests the full spectrum of handgun skills a competent handgunner should be able to perform: drawing, drawing while moving, moving to cover, shooting from cover, one handed shooting, reloading, clearing malfunctions, shooting from kneeling, and getting acceptable hits from 3-25 yards. The string times and target scoring areas are well chosen with each string of roughly equal difficulty level. I’ll be using this course of fire in some upcoming classes and in my Top 10 drills course at the 2024 Rangemaster Tactical Conference.

The Shirt Target from 1929

Another find from my historical handgun research team. This is an article from 1929 about a “shirt” target designed to look like a buttoned uniform shirt. It’s still a basic bullseye design but with scoring zones having more anatomical relevance than a classic circular style. The 6 point zone in the middle is almost like an X ring – a bonus beyond the “acceptable hit” 5 ring.

The article didn’t provide a clean copy of the target, which is supposed to be 12″ x 8″, but I used Photoshop to make a usable clean version of the basic design. I didn’t do the same with the variant with the narrower 6 point zone. I think the original design is more appropriate for defensive pistol training.

This version is cropped so that it fits on 8.5×11 standard paper with correct dimensions.

Shooting the Shirt Target

Back in 1929, everything was one handed, slow fire bullseye shooting done at longer ranges, with 12 yards considered “close range” and 20 seconds considered “rapid fire”. The double action drill mentioned in the article was 5 shots in 5-7 seconds. Being a fan of the 5-5-5-5 drill (5 shots, 5 seconds, 5 inches, 5 yards), I shot a simple 6 shots, 6 seconds, 6 yards drill on the shirt target, in honor of it having a 6 point center scoring zone. This was done starting from the ready, but two handed using my Glock 48 w/ Holosun 507 optic. For the full vintage experience, shoot it one handed with a .38 revolver with fixed sights.

I also shot this month’s Rangemaster “drill of the month” using the shirt target, mixing 2024 drills and gear with a 1929 target. Tom’s 7 yard standards is shot at 7 yards using a B8 target, where hits outside the 7 ring count as zero (misses).

Rangemaster 7 yard standards

  1. Draw and fire 5 rounds in 5 seconds
  2. Start at ready, gun in dominant hand. Dominant hand only, fire 4 rounds in 5 seconds
  3. Start with gun in non-dominant hand. Non dominant hand only, fire 3 rounds in 5 seconds
  4. Start with one round in the gun, at the ready. On signal, fire 1 round, conduct an empty gun reload, and fire 2 more rounds, all in 7 seconds.

The drill is 15 rounds total, 150 points possible. 135 pts or better to pass (90%).

I actually started my range session with a cold run on this drill before I shot the shirt target. That run is here

Score on that is either a 146/150 or 144/150 depending on how you score the line-breaking shots.

After shooting the 6x6x6 on the shirt target, I re-shot the 7 yard standards using another shirt target.

Out of 180 points possible, I shot 175/180, with the 3 and 4 point shots happening on the non dominant hand string. The low shot in the 4 point zone by the bottom button might have fallen outside the B8 7 ring and been counted a miss. Target design matters and can influence the way you train and the effort you put into correcting errors.

The Interesting 20’s

In my ongoing dive into the history of handgun training I’ve found that the era between WW I and WW 2 (basically the 1920’s to mid 1930’s) to be full of interesting treasures and good ideas that somehow got lost or forgotten after WW2 in the 1945-1965 era of hip shooting fast draw and bullseye target shooting. The shirt target target is yet another example of shooters of that early era thinking about defensive shooting and trying to come up with new targets and drills that were more relevant.

Moving Targets for Better Shooting (Guns magazine June 1956)

From my historical handgun research team: an article about moving targets for pistol training from Guns magazine, June 1956. The whole issue is still available online here.

This article discusses what is essentially a USPSA-style “combat pistol” match in a jungle walk format held in Scandinavia in the mid 1950’s.