2021 Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship

KR Training was a sponsor of the 2021 Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship, held July 23-25 at the CCC Shooting Complex south of College Station, Texas. Karl Rehn and Roy Stedman represented KR Training, competing in multiple divisions in the match. Karl finished 2nd in the Single Stack division (1911 9mm) and was Top Senior out of all centerfire pistol shooters. Roy was 2nd in both Open and Limited divisions, third overall out of all centerfire pistol divisions.

What is Steel Challenge competition? Here’s the official USPSA promo video. Even if you are an experienced competitor, it’s worth watching for the cool camera angles and great runs.

On Friday, Karl taught a junior shooter clinic.

working dry fire with some junior shooters
Karl shooting his Open gun (Briley Platemaster)
Karl shooting his single stack 1911 9mm
Roy at the prize table.
Top Geezer award

Steel Challenge has 13 different divisions. For centerfire pistol (9mm) you can shoot in the standard USPSA divisions of Open, Limited (LTD), Single Stack (SS), Production, and Carry Optics (CO). Centerfire pistol caliber carbines have both iron sight and optic divisions (PCCI, PCCO). Rimfire pistols have iron and optic divisions (RFPI, RFPO). Revolvers have iron and optic divisions (ISR, OSR). Rimfire rifles have iron and optic divisions (RFRI, RFRO).

Open, PCCO, RFPO, RFRI, RFRO Grant “Super Human” Kunkel
– Grant is the current World Champion in Steel Challenge, and won five of the 13 divisions in the Area 4 match. Learn more about Grant in this Shooting Sports USA article.
CO – Cameron Templin
SS – Anthony Veith
PCCI – Bridget Cunningham
RFPI – Trinity Lambiase
Production – Jason Tielke
LTD – Jason Tielke
ISR – Mike Dines
OSR – Mike Dines

Title Sponsor: CCI Ammunition
Youth Aggregate Team Award – Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation
RO Prize Table and CO-Match Director – Axl Adv / Matt Hawes
Youth Clinic Instructors – Travis Gibson and KR Training / Karl Rehn


Stage Sponsors:
Showdown – SureFire, LLC
Outer Limits – Hunters HD Gold
Pendulum – JP Enterprises
Accelerator – Ben Stoeger Pro Shop
Smoke and Hope – MGM Targets
Speed Option – Hodgdon Powder
Roundabout – Tandemkross
5 to Go – CZ-USA

Division Sponsors
Carry Optics – Vortex Optics
RFPO – Vortex Optics
ISR – Ruger OSR – Ruger RFPI – Ruger RFRI – Ruger PCCI – JP Enterprises
PCCO – JP Enterprises Open – The Blue Bullets
RFRO – Volquartsen Custom Production – Hoppe’s
Limited – Hoppes
Single Stack – EGW Inc.
Match Sponsors: Steel Target Paint, Starline Brass, Steelshootbanners.com

Full match results can be viewed on Practiscore here

HISTORY

The Steel Challenge format was created in 1981 by Mike Fichman and Mike Dalton. The match was intended to push shooters’ speed with centerfire pistols to the limits of human performance, in a format that could attract more mainstream sponsors and TV coverage, since it used round and square steel targets instead of humanoid paper targets. The clanging of the steel had more spectator appeal, and the big match ended with a top 32 shootoff on falling steel. The match had one of the biggest prize tables and cash payouts of any pistol event.

I got started shooting pistols in competition in 1988 – the same year local top shooter Chip McCormick won the Steel Challenge World Championships for the second time. (Chip was the first to win the match more than once.) Chip had a full set of regulation targets at the range where our USPSA club ran its matches, and by 1991 I was running local steel matches and training with Chip for the 1991 World Championship match. During the 1990’s the popularity of the Steel Challenge format grew, with many local Texas clubs running steel matches.

In 2004, the last (for awhile) Area 4 Steel Challenge championship was held. Team KR Training (Roy, Karl, Penny and a few others) were there. Roy won the match. Karl finished top Open, and Penny was top B class.

Roy’s Top overall plaque from 2004

In 2004, a bunch of shooters from Texas made the trip to Piru to shoot the World Championship match. Some pics and video from that trip are still online in the KR Training Archive.

The Brazosland Pistoleros is one of the oldest USPSA clubs in Texas, going back to the late 1970s and the earliest days of IPSC as an organized pistol sport. The club has grown considerably in the past decade, expanding from one USPSA match per month to running Steel Challenge and .22 matches, and hosting special events like the regional Scholastic Action Shooting Program matches. The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets supported the creation of an action pistol team (Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit) that has won multiple SASP national titles and continues to be one of the nation’s top collegiate teams.

There hadn’t been an Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship since 2004. Since then, Steel Challenge was purchased by USPSA and the sport expanded to include more than centerfire pistols. As a result, the 2021 match looked a lot different than the 2004 match, with only 67 centerfire pistol entries out of a total of 286 total guns in the match. Over 160 of the entries shot rimfire guns (pistols and rifles).

The rimfire guns and PCC’s can be shot faster. The first centerfire gun (an Open pistol shot by the current World Champion) shows up in 67th place, behind 66 rimfire and pistol caliber carbines. Grant shot a total time of 53.83 with a rimfire rifle with optic, but shot a time of 89.81 with an open-class centerfire pistol.

After that, the next centerfire pistol shows up at 103rd place (single stack winner Anthony Veith at 98.79) and then Roy Stedman at 117th overall with another open gun with 103.01.

The game has changed a lot in 17 years. More juniors, more different guns, much faster shooting times. Change is good. With simple scoring (time only) and many divisions and categories (pre-teen and junior, senior, super senior, military and law), it’s a match format that’s accessible to a very wide range of shooters that’s fast and fun.

KR Training will be back supporting the 2022 Area 4 Steel Challenge, already scheduled for the first weekend of April. If you’ve never shot a steel match, there are matches every month all over the Central Texas corridor (for my local readers) and all over the US.

Book Review: Practical Shooting Training (Stoeger & Park, 2021)

Back in February 2021 I hosted Ben Stoeger at the KR Training A-Zone Range for three 2-day classes, each focused on a different level of student. Ben was using his new book Practical Shooting Training as the student manual for the courses.

Practical Shooting Training cover

Ben has written a lot of books and revised some of them as his training program has changed. I frequently recommend his Dryfire Reloaded and Breakthrough Marksmanship books to my students. What’s in this book that’s different from his other books?

The rest of the table of contents repeats the same four sections for levels 3 and 4. Separation of the material by level is one of the new things about this book. Ben and Joel use these definitions for the four levels:

  1. Complete a club match without a penalty
  2. Get to USPSA B class
  3. Get to Master/Grand Master
  4. Achieve competitive excellence

Many of the competitors at local club matches never reach the level 1 goal of having no misses and no no-shoots for the match, including those shooting a B or higher level. It’s fairly common for shooters to be so focused on getting their stage times down that they minimize the impact of misses and no-shoot hits on their score. The nature of USPSA hit factor scoring, particularly for those shooting major power factor, rewards speed and moderate accuracy more than careful precision. Achieving that goal requires safe gun handling, marksmanship, stage planning and ability to execute a stage plan without errors. From there to their next goal (USPSA B class) is a fairly big step.

USPSA B class is roughly equivalent to IDPA Expert. Someone at the top of B class is likely at the IDPA Master level. In our book Strategies and Standards for Defensive Pistol Shooting, we reference John Hearne’s chart relating skill level to the mental skill called “automaticity”. It’s possible to be a USPSA D class shooter and meet the book’s level 1 goal, simply by being slow and deliberate. To get to B class requires automating skills like the draw and reload, and being able to program and execute a stage plan without stopping to decide which target to engage next, which position to move to, or whether to reload or not.

Classification in IDPA is based on as few as 25 rounds fired; getting to B class in USPSA requires that the average of 4-6 classifier stages (usually shot by attending 4-6 different matches) exceed the B class threshold of 60% of the 100% Grand Master standard. It requires some consistency in performance, across a wider variety of skills than the IDPA rating does. For those that aren’t USPSA competitors, especially those focused on pure defensive shooting, B class level equates to the skill level many in the tactical, military and law enforcement training world consider as their “minimum acceptable” standard. Anyone that gets to the B class level and can maintain their skills at that level has put in quite a bit of work.

In their book, Stoeger and Park recommend training 5 days a week for a month, to progress from level 1 to level 2 (B class). All those days do not have to be live fire (and progress will likely be faster if dry and live fire are mixed). The key to this plan is frequency of training. Spreading out the 20 days of training over a longer period is unlikely to produce the same result. Several decades ago, the professional shooter J. Michael Plaxco told me, “if you aren’t training 3-4 days a week, all you can do is maintain your skills, but you won’t improve.”. Over the 30 years I’ve been a USPSA competitor, I have found that to be true.

Level 3 is to reach the USPSA Master/Grand Master level. They recommend that someone train “five days a week for several years” to make the jump from B to GM. My own experience was that I made the jump from B to M during a year when I shot 50,000 rounds and trained 4-5 days a week, and stalled out at the M level for more than a decade when my commitment to improvement was only enough to maintain my skills at the low Master level. It took a serious, multi-year effort to push from M to GM – and the past few years’ failure to keep that pace up resulted in backsliding down to A class scores.

Level 4 is what they call “competitive excellence”. This requires the motivation and training focus of an Olympic or pro-level athlete. Ben once told me that it took him 9 months to go from U to GM, in his early days of USPSA competition, firing less than 5000 rounds of live fire but doing hours of daily dry fire using the methods he’s shared in his previous books. He also said that after reaching the GM level, it took him another 5 years of work to win a National title.

The book is laid out in 4 sections, each with the same structure, but with different focus and goals for the 4 levels. Even if you never progress beyond level 2, it’s valuable information as it shows the path forward and what is required to get to those higher levels. The sections include drills with performance goals and plenty of guidance as to what and how to practice.

Insights

The first part of the book is a series of essays on topics common to all levels, including the “Why You Suck’ chapter.

Some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from this section include:

“Think about what you are willing to put in over time. Pick a goal that works for you. None of this comes for free. There will be varying costs based on what you choose, but the greatest price you are going to pay is in the form of your time. The reason that practical shooting has built up its own subculture is because this thing does not lend itself to casual participation. It is not easy to be half in.”

“Par times…should not be considered a pass/fail test. If the par time is 5 seconds, shooting the drill in 5.2, 4.8, 5.1, 4.7, 5.4 means you are pretty much in the range you want to be in. Shooting the drill once under 5 seconds does not mean you pass.”

During my push to get to GM, I learned that the only way to be sure I could shoot a GM score on a classifier stage was to work until I could shoot the required score cold, as the first drill of a practice session, which meant my “warmed up” average score had to be higher.

“Training is where instead of focusing on the score you shoot, you focus on the process by which you produce the score. Instead of focusing on the hit factor, focus on specific pieces of technique.”

My own experience was a hybrid of this approach. If the time goal was 2.4 seconds, and I was stuck at 2.8, I had to break the drill down (draw, splits, reload, transition, etc.) and look at the timing of each part of the drill, to identify which skill needed the most improvement. Then I had to work on that specific thing to get it to the speed needed to make the overall time goal. One trick I learned from Ben, that I didn’t see in the book, was to move closer to the targets until I could make the goal time, then start backing up, one yard at a time, not slowing down. The point to this approach was to learn how to execute the skills at the required speed (and see at that speed) and become comfortable running the gun at that speed.

The book includes a long discussion of predictive vs. reactive shooting. What they mean by this is how much visual confirmation is used for the 2nd shot of a pair fired at a paper target. “Predictive” means the same thing as what Jeff Cooper called a hammer pair, where the shooter aims once and uses “the strong grip and shooting platform to take care of recoil mitigation so the second shot will still hit in a desirable location”. Reactive shooting takes more time and requires seeing a sight picture for the second shot. Most defensive shooting training emphasizes reactive shooting, with some trainers focused on splits no faster than 0.50, giving time for a shoot/no-shoot decision between shots (for legal and tactical reasons). For USPSA competition, the ability to do predictive shooting on smaller targets and at longer distances is essential.

They make many recommendations to make your training more effective – with the most effective being to do a lot of dry practice, which takes the time spent doing these live fire tasks:

  • driving to the range
  • hanging targets on stands
  • setting up stages
  • loading magazines
  • running drills
  • scoring and pasting targets
  • picking up brass
  • tearing down stages
  • driving home
  • cleaning guns
  • cleaning brass
  • reloading ammunition

and replaces that time with

  • walk to dry fire area already set up at home
  • dry fire drills
  • walk away from dry fire area already set up home

If you add up the total number of hours spent in all the tasks associated with live fire practice, and skip every other live fire session, replacing it with an equal amount of time spent dry firing, you are likely to see more improvement than you would see from the live fire only work. There’s also a significant cost savings in range fees, gas, supplies and ammunition. There’s actually no point to doing a live fire session until your dry fire sessions get you to the point that you are meeting performance goals in dry fire. Since live fire is a lot more fun than dry fire, that provides motivation to dry fire – to get to the point you can reward yourself with a live fire session.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I liked this book. It’s a good companion to the DryFire Reloaded book, particularly for someone motivated to go beyond B class, or anyone interested in understanding what it takes to get to those higher levels, whether they intend to pursue those levels or not.

KR Training July 2021 Newsletter

YOU ASKED, WE ADDED MORE CLASSES

More classes added to July & August: Basic 1, Basic 2 (LTC completion), Handgun Beyond Basics, Stop the Bleed, and Handgun Coaching now on the schedule.

UPCOMING CLASSES AT THE A-ZONE

Here are the classes we have coming up with space available. Don’t see the class you want here? Let us know. Many classes can be taught as weekday private lessons, or we can add it to the schedule if there’s enough interest.

Courses marked with *** are core classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course (Red Dot, Competition, Team Tactics, AIWB Skills, Skill Builder, AT-7 Scenarios) taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.

APPENDIX CARRY CLASS

John Daub offered his Appendix Inside the Waistband Carry Skills course as a session at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference. Stick around for the 2 hour Skill Builder course afterward to get even more AIWB practice!

With AIWB’s growth in popularity as a carry method, it’s important to know how to use this mode of carry safely, efficiently, and effectively. Our AIWB Fundamental Skills class provides you with knowledge and skills about AIWB concepts, equipment, and technique to enable you to safely and effectively carry AIWB. This 4-hour, 50-round class will cover: pros and cons of AIWB; equipment design and selection to maximize comfort, concealment, and skill; two-handed concealment drawstroke; one-handed concealment drawstroke; proper holstering technique; working from a seated position; and more!

COMPLETE COMBATANT JULY CLASSES

We are hosting Brian Hill from the Complete Combatant in July for a 1 day Close Quarter Decisions (integrated gun/unarmed) course on Friday, and their 2 day Image-Based Decisional Drills Instructor Certification class July 17-18.

SUMMER USPSA MATCHES

You don’t have to be an experienced competitor to shoot one of our summer USPSA matches. There are 3 matches left this summer: July 8, July 23 and August 5. Show up as late as 7 pm and join the fun! Preregistration is required as spaces are limited.

AREA 4 STEEL CHALLENGE CHAMPIONSHIP

The Brazosland Pistoleros of College Station will be hosting the Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship July 23-25. Competitors can shoot in any of the Steel Challenge’s divisions: rimfire rifle, rimfire pistol, centerfire pistol, pistol caliber carbine, and revolver (each with separate iron sights and optic categories). KR Training is one of the match sponsors, and I’ll be teaching a clinic for junior shooters on Friday, July 23. Slots are still open. Every competitor gets a free T-shirt. For more information, follow this link.

AUGUST 7 INDOOR CLINICS – HODGDON RELOADING AND STOP THE BLEED

We are offering two low cost indoor clinics on Saturday August 7. The Hodgdon powder company is sending factory reps to give a seminar on reloading your own ammunition, and our own Levi Nathan will teach a session of Stop The Bleed.


DOUG GREIG CLASSES

Jul 18 – Concealed Carry Techniques (Conroe)
Jul 18 – One Handed Defensive Handgun (Conroe)
Aug 14 – Intermediate Rifle (Conroe)
Aug 21stDynamic Handgun – Shooting on the Move (Conroe)
Aug 22nd Mid Range Carbine (Caldwell)

PAUL MARTIN AUGUST PREPAREDNESS WEEKEND

The Ninth Annual Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference – aka “The Niner” – has already filled half of the registration slots available for this year’s event, scheduled for August 28-29 at KR Training.  Given what’s transpired over the last 18 months, I asked Paul to fill me in on his vision for this year’s conference.

“Texans in general, and Austin area citizens in particular, are now on notice – your government cannot keep you safe, nor can it get water and electricity to you reliably.  Couple this with the alarming increases in cyber attacks, reports of significant inflation and supply chain disruptions.  While it’s great that America is coming out of the pandemic, there are significant problems on the horizon.  We’re going to focus on these things at the August conference,” he said.
Paul added “We’ll be discussing alternative energy solutions that don’t involve generators, using items you can purchase on Amazon.  Scott Bradford, recently featured in a television interview with CBS Austin on portable power station usage during emergencies, will be presenting during an extended block of time on Saturday on how people can build their own power stations cheaper and better than many of the products available commercially.  I’ll be covering a number of topics as well, such as preparing for a full grid collapse, dealing with rising crime rates and changing gun laws, along with my annual situation report and outlook.”


Sunday’s presentation will be a full-day block with Dr. Ben Weger, an U.S. Army physician in Fort Bragg, North Carolina with Womack Army Medical Center.  Dr. Weger also runs First Do Know Harm, aimed at helping citizens become better prepared for medical emergencies during crises.   He will cover several topics, including:

  • How to secure emergency supplies of prescription medications you rely upon
  • Managing sanitation and hygiene during grid down conditions
  • What over-the-counter medications to keep on hand
  • Managing injuries and illnesses common during prolonged emergencies
  • Best first aid skills for you and your family to know to prepare for emergencies

Click here to get registered.  Students signing up for both days get around 20 percent off the registration fees.

RECENT BLOG ARTICLES

APPEARANCE ON “THAT WEEMS GUY” PODCAST

I recently recorded two episodes of Lee Weems’ podcast. Part 1 is online here. Part 2 will be released in a week or two.

SONG OF THE MONTH – RADAR LOVE

Video of Midnight Express, with horn section and backup singers, performing Radar Love at the Wolf Pen Amphitheater, May 8, 2021, College Station, Texas. We were the headliner for a city-funded summer concert, performing to more than 1700 people that evening.

FOLLOW US ONLINE!

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

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

Target Evolution: B-21, B-21X, to B-27 and beyond

In the spring 2021 Historical Handgun course Tom Givens and I co-taught, Tom presented some information about the history and evolution of the B-27 target. After that course, a retired Indiana police instructor named Bob Givan found one of my blog posts about the B-21 target and contacted me. Bob shares our interest in the historical evolution of handgun training, and back in the 1980’s he was teaching his own class on the evolution of police training targets (which counts as a part of handgun training history). The information below is a compilation of recent discussions between the three of us on this subject.

Before the B-21

In 1917, British military officer C.D. Tracy published his concept of a design for a realistic humanoid target in his book, “The Service Revolver and How to Use It” (reviewed previously on this blog).

There are no records indicating any of these targets were ever printed in a formal way, but the shape and dimensions of Tracy’s target are very similar to the target used by the US Practical Shooting Association. The normal size for this target is 18″x30″.

Birth of the B-21

J. Henry Fitzgerald, who worked for Colt, published the Police Revolver handbook in 1920. It included instruction in technique, and a police course of fire, using the Colt Silhouette Target, which he probably designed. The standard B-21, as the Colt Silhouette Target became known, is 35″x 45″, wider than the 24″ x 36″ targets in common use today, and much wider than the 18″x30″ targets used in USPSA, IDPA, GSSF, and NRA Action Pistol matches.

The B-21 has “K” (Kill) scoring values, and “D” (Disable) scoring values, from back in the time when police (or perhaps police administrators) considered the idea of using deadly force to disable attackers (this idea faded quickly, and D-values were not used by the time the FBI introduced its classic Practical Pistol course in the 1940’s.

The target remained in use through the early 1960’s. From trainer Bob Givan:

In 1963, we were issued S&W model 10 nickel plated fixed sights. At 7 yards we were instructed to take a step to the left to get off of the line of attack, then shoot one handed from the crouch position. We loaded with 5 rounds and a big deal was made about getting the empty charge hole under the firing pin making sure of the indexing.

The course of fire, originally shot on the B-21 target (later on the B-27) was:

  • 7 yards 10 rounds in 25 seconds with a reload.
  • 25 yards 15 rounds in 90 seconds Left & Right hand barricade and kneeling all double action.
  • 50 yards 20 rounds in 2 minutes and 45 seconds sitting, prone, left and right hand barricade single action.
  • 60 yards 5 rounds in 15 seconds, prone single action.

All stages started in the standing position with the revolver loaded and holstered. I don’t recall what year that we dropped the 60 yard line and went to using the 15 yard line shooting from the point shoulder. The times stayed the same when we went to loading 6 rounds. Sometime in the mid 70s, we dropped the sitting position at the 50 yard line and shot off a shelf on the barricade to represent shooting over the hood or trunk of a car. The sequence went prone, shelf, left, and right hand barricade. Now single or double action was allowed. I think that we followed the NRA’s PPC course times and most of our instructors were trained by the FBI. I think that it wasn’t until the early nineties that the 50 yard line was dropped.

Over time (particularly as hip shooting at 7 yards was replaced with point-shoulder “over the sights” shooting and later, aimed fire), scores began to increase, and a circular X-ring was added to the B-21, making it the B21X.

B-21X target

Later versions of the B-21 that removed the D values were called the B21-E.

In James Mason’s “Combat Pistol Shooting” book from 1976, the B21-X target was still in use, firing the “Advanced Military” course of fire.

I shot that same course of fire using the IDPA target at the 2019 Practical Pistol Reunion, except we used our sights and did not hip shoot.

The Prehle Target

As Tom Givens pointed out during his lecture on target development: when shooters begin shooting perfect scores on timed courses of fire, there are only a few options to make the course of fire more difficult: make the scoring area smaller, or decrease the times. By the end of the 1950’s, the FBI Practical Pistol Course of fire had become a shooting sport known as PPC. According to this history, in 1962 the National Rifle Association formalized PPC and held the first National Police Revolver Championship match.

The International Rapid Fire target actually comes in two parts. It consists of a stylized torso, with a stump of a neck but no head. The second portion is a tapered area that represents the groin and legs. These rings were superimposed on the Colt Silhouette in 1962 and called the “Prehle target”, after the guy whose idea it was.

B-18 and Prehle target

From Bob Givan: I have been trying to find the INTERNATIONAL RAPID FIRE PISTOL TARGET for some time. Well, I have found it with the help of Guy of the National Printing Co. and his research assistants. The National Printing Co. stopped printing this full size target in 1982. It was designated the NRA B-18 at the time.

The Prehle target had many problems, from a defensive pistol perspective. It moved the highest valued scoring zone down into “center mass”, from the high chest area where the X-ring on the B-21X was located, and it introduced many smaller scoring zones, bringing the sport of PPC closer to bullseye than to actual combat.

It also treated shots that went low, below the belt line, as hits that were as acceptable as the upper chest hits on the high side of the 10-ring. The arms were removed, the scoring zones in the head and lower torso removed, the target simplified, and the result was called the B-27.

The B-27

For better or worse (mostly worse), from 1962 until the early 1980’s, the B-27 gradually replaced the B-21X as the default police training target. By the 1970’s and 1980’s, the black color of the target was controversial. Green and blue versions, as well as many photographic variations were produced.

Some trainers began mixing existing targets and photographs to provide better and more varied training, as in this example from Bob Givan.

Beyond the B-27

It wasn’t until the mid 1970’s that targets began to change again, with the development of the IPSC Item and Option targets.

The FBI Q, IALEFI Q (International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors) target, and many variations were produced in the 1980’s and beyond.

The IALEFI Q was later modified to add a belt line, and the FBI-QIT target mirrored this change.

In 1995, Texas designed its own target for use in the (new) Concealed Handgun License training course. It was closer in design to the IPSC Option target, with a large circle in the upper chest, than the B-27.

Sadly, in the early 2000’s, Texas DPS abandoned the use of this target and returned to a B-27 derivative for our state carry permit qualification.

The Rangemaster updated B-21

After teaching his material on the evolution of target development, Tom Givens went back to the original B-21 and integrated more modern elements, such as circular head and body zones, and a belt line defining the bottom of the primary target area.

The Rangemaster RFTS-Q2 target

Historical perspective

I’ve spent the past several years diving deep into the history of handgun training. In the 1910’s and 1920’s, ideas like using the sights, realistic humanoid targets, rapid fire drills at close distances, and gripping the pistol with two hands began to evolve, only to be tossed aside for less effective one handed hip shooting techniques and slow fire, long range bullseye drills shot on unrealistic targets (particularly the B-27). It wasn’t until Jeff Cooper and those influenced by his ideas to put training back on the path it has followed since the mid 1970’s. Today’s shooters have a very wide variety of better-designed qualification targets, and courses of fire more relevant to actual defensive pistol use. The RFTS-Q2 B21 variant is a great example of fusing 100 year old ideas and 21st century thinking.

Book Review: The Search for an Effective Police Handgun (Bristow, 1973)

During the recent Historical Handgun class Tom Givens and I co-taught, Tom mentioned a book I hadn’t heard of: “The Search for An Effective Police Handgun”, by Allen Bristow, published in 1973. This book came out prior to his more complete Modern Police Firearms book (previously reviewed on this blog). It’s basically a collection of articles and material from other sources that Bristow compiled together, all related to the topic of handgun and caliber selection. As a result, it’s interesting, particularly as a snapshot of what firearm experts were thinking in the early 70’s.

Who was Allen Bristow? Among other things, he was a Professor of Police Science at a California college, Director of the Police Marksmanship Instructors’ Institute, and a consultant to President Nixon’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration and Justice. From the introduction, in his own words:

This book is both a defensive and parsimonious act on my part. Requests for information arrived in my office at a constantly increasing rate….I decided to collect the research reports, test evaluations, and magazine articles that directly related to the problem and to publish them…I hope the police adminstrator who must make a decision regarding his department’s armament will find herein the information he needs. I regret that I was unable to secure permission to include some materials but am satisfied that all viewpoints are well represented.

Section 1: The Problem

This section begins by explaining that during the 1930’s, the .38 special cartridge became the standard for most US law enforcement officers. This was done to standardize for purposes of economy in ammunition reloading. .38 Special was considered to be the most accurate cartridge., popular with police handgun competitors.

The root problem with .38 special, as Bristow notes, was generally considered to be ineffective. Bristow cites a 1959 study, performed by students at Los Angeles State College, that analyzed 110 cases involving more than 150 officers. The study found that it was common for both officers and criminals shot with .38 special rounds to be capable of continuing the gunfight or retreating. In the book, he provides multiple case studies detailing the failures of .38 special solid bullets (158 grain round nose, typically) to be effective fight stoppers.

Section 2: Early Warning

This section compiles technical and medical studies published by Colonel Louis La Garde in the early 1900’s, Major J.S. Hatcher in the mid 1930’s, and the US Army Surgeon General at the end of World War 2. Each of these reports presents evidence that the ‘accepted police cartridge’ should be re-evaluated in terms of effectiveness. (Many of these studies also included data showing the virtues of the .45 ACP cartridge, and their recommendations were frequently cited by .45 ACP advocates in the 1960’s and later years.) Summaries and articles written by the original researchers are included in this section. Longer works by LaGarde – his “Gunshot Injuries” book and Hatcher (Hatcher’s Notebook) are excellent reads and highly recommended to those interested in the technical and medical aspects of ballistics. The links here go to archive.org free downloads of scans of these books. There are also used print copies and republished print editions available online.

Section 3: The Solutions

Bristow shares data from a “Law and Order” magazine survey of 352 police chiefs who provided data in sixteen different categories related to equipment and training. The date of the survey is not provided, but from the way this section is written, my assumption is it was late 1960’s or early 1970’s, near the time of book publication. The data was broken down into five brackets based on size of community served. .38 special 4″ revolvers were by far the most popular, with 80% or more (depending on bracket) carrying that gun. .357 magnum accounted for most of the remaining 20%, with .45 Colt, .45 ACP or other calibers lumped together into one “miscellaneous” category.

The last part of this section includes data from 174 nation-states, surveyed by author James Cramer in his book “Uniforms of the World’s Police” Bristow notes that the semiautomatic pistol is preferred by a more than 2 to 1 ratio, with the popularity of the revolver is highest in the US, Central and South America, and the United Kingdom. European and Asian countries favored semiauto pistols.

Like any good researcher, Bristow devotes part of his book (the end of section 3), defining a potential research project to provide more data about police firearm effectiveness. He even includes the budgeting numbers, perhaps hoping that one or more of the big city police chiefs or gov’t personnel that might read the book would have interest in funding that work.

Section 4: Making the .38 special more effective

This section opens with a 1969 Law and Order article from Jim Cirillo, who would become famous for his 17 on-duty gunfights. The paragraph below is from Cirillo’s article, and the video from an interview.

Lee Jurras developed the Super Vel, higher velocity expanding bullet load for the .38 special, and Bristow includes material written by Jurras, as well as discussion from others about the virtues of this new load. At the time, use of jacketed hollow point ammunition was an unusual and sometimes controversial idea, or as Bristow notes “It was felt that issuing more high-powered weapons would be attacked by certain organized members of the community as an attempt to use repressive and dangerous force against them.”

Bristow shares the full report of a study done by a “major California city police department” (most likely Los Angeles PD given Bristow’s location) evaluating these 5 loads and calibers for police use

  • .45 auto with 230 gr, 800 ft/sec cartridge
  • 9mm auto with 124 gr, 1100 ft/sec cartridge
  • .38 revolver with 158 gr, 800 ft/sec cartridge
  • .38 revolver with 158 gr 1000 ft/sec cartridge
  • .38 revolver with 110 gr 1370 ft/sec cartridge (“half jacketed”)

The testing included evaluation of “hydrostatic shocking power” by shooting the loads into gallon plastic containers, a box of 12 pine boards, gelatin, and a vehicle door. The 110 gr Super Vel cartridge was selected as a result of the testing. Following the selection of the Super Vel, Remington developed two loads, a 125 gr and 158 gr, using the term “jacketed hollow point” to describe them. While not specifically noted as such in Bristow’s book, this was a significant moment in firearms history, as the use of JHP rounds began to become standard issue for law enforcement.

Bristow includes a full article from Major George Nonte on the risk of hot loads (the Super Vel load) blowing up lightweight guns like the S&W Airweight. Nonte used an S&W M38 Airweight Bodyguard and a Colt Agent in his thousand round torture test of those guns with hotter .38 special loads from multiple vendors. Both guns survived the testing with no significant or unusual wear.

Bristow also includes a full 1970 article from The Nation (“Vietnamization on Main Street” by Robert Wells) describing the new ammunition as “dum-dum” bullets, warning that the rounds have “violent expansion…giving the bullet an explosive effect on the victim”. The author does share multiple stories of traditional .38 special rounds passing through criminals and hitting innocent bystanders, and police officer deaths resulting from the failure of multiple hits with .38 special rounds to stop a criminal attacker. However, by the end of the article, the Nation’s author concludes:

With the advent of the dum-dum it may well be time for us to leave our chiefs of police the technical decisions which they have been trained to make, and to begin finding ways of relieving them of responsibility for decisions that ought to be the business of officials who are accountable to public opinion.

Wells continues to write about his opposition to jacketed hollow point bullets in this article on the “Socialist Viewpoint” from 2016.

Section 5: A Change in Revolvers

Section 5 opens with an essay from Elmer Keith on the virtues of the .41 magnum caliber, an opposing viewpoint article from Bob Wallack of Gun Digest from 1965, and a lot of technical data about the .41 as it compared to .38 special and .357 magnum. Bristow includes a report on a 1965 firearms study done by the Amarillo, Texas, police department and their decision to switch to carrying the .41 magnum revolver. Another study report from the Los Angeles Police Department, also from 1965, considering the .41 magnum is also included in this section. A Chicago PD report from 1966 on the same topic, also concluding that the .41 was an excellent choice for duty use, covers much of the same material, with similar tests to the other reports. A 1969 report from the Nevada Highway Patrol, discussing their 1965 switch to the .41 magnum, and 1969 decision to switch back to .357 magnum, includes reasons for the switch: mainly related to lack of ammunition and lack of ability to reload for that caliber. The .41 was described as “virtually unmanageable in rapid, double action firing due to extreme recoil”.

A longer, more detailed test of the .41 magnum was conducted by an officer with the West Covina, CA police department. The tests included velocity tests with a chronograph, explosive effects in soap and clay, sheet metal penetration (straight on and at angle), plywood penetration, and benchrest accuracy. That officer’s analysis concluded the .357 magnum, not the .41 magnum, was a better choice for law enforcement use.

Section 6: A Change to the Semiautomatic Pistol

The final section delves into the pros and cons of the semiautomatic pistol, as an alternative to the revolver. It opens with a letter from San Diego County Sheriff J.C. O’Connor and his range master, Elden Carl, (one of the Southwest Pistol League’s Combat Masters) advocating against the use of the 1911 .45 ACP semiauto pistol for law enforcement use, citing “safety” as the primary concern. George Nonte contributes an 1971 Guns and Ammo article pointing out all the ways in which a revolver can malfunction or fail. Another article from W.G. Wheelright covers the 1966 change of the El Monte, CA police department from the .38 special revolver to the 1911 .45 ACP semiauto pistol – another important inflection point in firearms history. This article references Jeff Cooper, Ray Chapman and others that were influential in changing attitudes about semiauto pistols during the 1960’s.

The Torrance, CA police department also transitioned to the 1911 pistol in 1968, and a lengthy article related to that change is included, along with an article from Mason Williams from Law and Order magazine. Bristow adds his own opinion to this section, defining a training program for those learning the semiauto pistol. The program emphasizes technique halfway between the Jelly Bryce hip shooting approach and true aimed fire as being advocated by Jeff Cooper and others. (At this time in history, many 1911’s still had the WW2 era tiny sights that were virtually useless, which may have influenced the decision not to try to see them at defensive shooting speeds.)

The rest of the training program includes slide lock reloads, firing pairs of shots, and shots fired at distances as far as 20 yards. Compared to the PPC, FBI and bullseye courses used by most departments, this program is considerably more realistic and relevant, even if it discourages sighted fire. (My suspicion is that many shooters of this era, particularly those that performed well, used the sights more than their instructors wanted them to.)

Another subsection of this chapter goes into the usual laundry list of modifications one should and should not make to the 1911 pistol. Bristow does recommend higher visibility combat sights (even as he recommends not using them in his training course…) The section includes with reprint of an article about the military’s use of semiauto pistols, published in 1955.

The Illinois State Police switched to the S&W Model 39 DA/SA semiauto in 9mm, and shared their report on the factors behind that decision with Bristow, which he shares in the book. The most interesting aspect of it, to me, was the data included on relative officer performance on their Marksmanship Qualification course with a .38 revolver (full size), a .38 snub revolver, and a Model 39 9mm.

Note the substantial performance drop (from 78% average to 43% average score) when officers switched to their backup guns. The .38 snub has its fans and advocates in the modern era, but here is yet another example of regular shooters (who are not gun hobbyists who put in far more effort to develop skill than the typical shooter), suffering significant performance loss when using the lightweight frame 2″ barrel .38 snub. Even with the low recoiling .38 target loads, and shooters familiar with double action revolver shooting, the size and weight difference between the large and small revolver has a substantial effect on proficiency.

Section 7: Conclusions

Like every TV special about Bigfoot or UFOs, this book concludes with more questions than answers, and weak recommendations that we need to “keep studying the problem” and hope that better information comes along. At that time, that really was the right answer, as the innovations in load development and handgun design since 1973, as well as testing protocols, training and evaluation have all improved considerably. The book is still an interesting read, since it compiles so many studies and sources that would otherwise be lost or forgotten, had they not been collected and archived by Professor Bristow.

KR Training May 2021 Newsletter

UPCOMING CLASSES AT THE A-ZONE

Here are the classes we have scheduled with space available through end of August. Don’t see the class you want here? Let us know. Many classes can be taught as weekday private lessons, or we can add it to the schedule if there’s enough interest.

Courses marked with *** are core classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course (Red Dot, Competition, Team Tactics, AIWB Skills, Skill Builder, AT-7 Scenarios) taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.

CLASSES WITH DOUG GREIG (CONROE AREA – Thunder Gun Range)

KR TRAINING TURNS 30!

I taught my first for-profit group class, Handgunning Beyond the Basics, in May 1991 at the Hill Country Rifle Range. This month will be my 30th anniversary as a trainer. Many thanks to all the student and staff (and of course, my wonderful wife and KR Training co-owner Penny Riggs!) for being a part of that journey. The first newsletter we put out was in winter of 1996, after the Concealed Handgun License program started. Click here to see that piece of KR Training history.

MEDICAL CLASSES

Caleb Causey returns to the A-Zone June 5 and 6 for two 1-day courses: Medicine X Scenarios (for graduates of Medicine X or similar courses), and Dynamic First Aid (general first aid and trauma training).

DAUB DRILLS BOOK UPDATE

John Daub has updated and expanded his “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” e-book (May 2021 edition). Now with 79 pages and over 60 drills and variations, as well as expanded commentary on topics such as “how to start” and the importance of the “draw to first shot” skill.

“Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” will help you achieve your goals of acquiring skills beyond minimum competency. It provide insights into John’s training approach, and commentary on various drills. It also captured bits of history and interesting backstories behind some drills. The drills themselves are presented in a manner to facilitate administration when you’re on the range: setup, execution, scoring.

The e-book will be continually updated, so subscribe to the KR Training mailing list to be notified of release updates

Download your free copy here.

NEW APPENDIX CARRY CLASS

John Daub offered his Appendix Inside the Waistband Carry Skills course as a session at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference. Stick around for the 2 hour Skill Builder course afterward to get even more AIWB practice!

With AIWB’s growth in popularity as a carry method, it’s important to know how to use this mode of carry safely, efficiently, and effectively. Our AIWB Fundamental Skills class provides you with knowledge and skills about AIWB concepts, equipment, and technique to enable you to safely and effectively carry AIWB. This 4-hour, 50-round class will cover: pros and cons of AIWB; equipment design and selection to maximize comfort, concealment, and skill; two-handed concealment drawstroke; one-handed concealment drawstroke; proper holstering technique; working from a seated position; and more!

COMPLETE COMBATANT JULY CLASSES

We are hosting Brian and Shelley Hill from the Complete Combatant in July for a 1 day Close Quarter Decisions (integrated gun/unarmed) course on Friday, and their 2 day Image-Based Decisional Drills Instructor Certification class July 17-18.

SUMMER USPSA MATCHES

We are starting up our summer USPSA matches May 13. Limited to 18 shooters. No prior match experience required, but you do need to have completed a holster class with us (DPS-1 or higher level). Show up as late as 7 pm, 3-4 quick stages, and the opportunity to shoot the stages again for fun after the match is over. More info and registration links here. In the pic below Dave Reichek demonstrates an IDPA-style stage set up in our shoot house using a SIRT pistol.


RECENT BLOG ARTICLES

SONG OF THE MONTH – TEXAS T-BIRDS PROMO

New short promo video from one of the bands I play with.

FOLLOW US ONLINE!

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

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

Book Review: Jelly Bryce: The Legend Begins (Conti, 2014)

Firearms trainer Mike Conti has written a three-book fictionalized history of the life of famous FBI agent and gunfighter Jelly Bryce. “The Legend Begins” is book 1 of that series.

Bryce was an influential figure in the history of shooting training. His techniques became the core of FBI firearms training, which were taught to law enforcement officers for more than 40 years. I wrote about the 1940’s FBI firearms qualification course of fire in this Historical Handgun class after action report.

Bryce had exceptional vision and dry fired constantly, giving him the ability to hip shoot and point shoot with accuracy and speed far better than an average-sighted person less motivated to practice and dry fire as much as Bryce did.

The first book in this series covers Bryce’s early years: childhood and development as a shooter, joining an Oklahoma police department after winning a cop-only pistol match, his first gunfights, his career as an Oklahoma cop and transfer to J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.

Conti’s approach was not to recite dry facts, but to write the story like a novel. All the incidents occur as they did in real life, but with his fictionalized dialog and descriptions of the action. It’s a fun read purely as a gangster-era police tale, even more fun as a way to learn Bryce’s history. I just started book 2 of the series, and will write another review when I finish books 2 and 3.

Highly recommended for all students of the gun, and anyone that likes a good pulpy action-filled cops and robbers tale.

Historical Handgun class April 2021 (part 2)

As part of the 6 days of training Tom Givens (Rangemaster) taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range in April 2021, Tom and Karl co-taught a one day session of Karl’s Historical Handgun course. The course consisted of a 4 hour lecture from Tom, and a 4 hour block of live fire drills from the 1910’s-1980’s run by Karl. Part 1 of the class AAR is here.

US Army 1930 Qualification

We shot the US Army’s 1930 pistol qualification, which was all slow fire at 15 and 25 yards, on a giant bullseye.

We shot a version of the standard Gunsite 250 qualification test, using 1911 pistols shot using the Weaver stance.

We also shot some of Chuck Taylor’s drills, from his late 1970’s training program.

The final course of fire we shot was the FBI qualification from the 1980’s. Those striving for historical correctness shot 9mm DA/SA style pistols using the Weaver stance.

SCORES

The class is not a competition, but I do track scores, to get an idea of the relative difficulty of the different historical qualification courses. For this particular group of shooters:

  • Pollard 1918 test: average 50.4%, high score 77.8%
  • Fitzgerald 1920’s qual: average 82.7%, high score 90.7%
  • Army 1940: average 73.1%, high score 97%
  • FBI 1945, average 79.8%, high score 95.2%
  • Gunsite 1970: average 60.8%, high score 96%
  • Chuck Taylor basic 1970s: average 83%, high score 100%
  • FBI 1980’s: average 88.8%, high score 100%

Different sessions of the course have included a variety of courses of fire. All the data for all the sessions:

  • Pollard 1918 test: 15 shooters, average 50.4%, high score 77.8%
  • Fitz 1920: 15 shooters, average 82.7%, high score 90.7%
  • Army 1940: 42 shooters, average 73.1%, high score 97.0%
  • FBI 1945: 43 shooters, average 70.5%, high score 99.2%
  • Gunsite 1970: 43 shooters, average 68.1%, high score 96.0%
  • Chuck Taylor basic 1970’s: 15 shooters, average 83%, high score 100%
  • FBI 1980’s, 38 shooters, average 83.0%, high score 100%
  • Texas metro PD: 27 shooters, average 95.9%, high score 100%
  • FBI 2000’s: 20 shooters, average 81.1%, high score 96.7%
  • Marine Combat Pistol 2013 qual: 7 shooters, average 78.5%, high score 99%

The dataset is good for a rough estimate. Some shooters had the correct guns for the courses of fire. Some used their modern carry gun for everything. Some made a good faith effort to use the correct techniques. Some reverted back to two handed modern isoceles when the whistle was blown.

My general observation is that modern shooters do well on courses where the shots are 15 yards or less, and have difficulty when the shots are at longer distances and there is plenty of time. The ability to hit targets with a pistol past 15 yards isn’t emphasized in many training programs, and based on data from actual incidents, is rarely needed for self-defense. The classic FBI qualification from 1945 is the hardest of the most widely used standards, requiring proficiency at hip shooting at 7 yards and long range shooting out to 60 yards from prone, sitting and barricade positions, but none of the aimed, rapid fire, close range work modern pistol programs teach. Tom’s data on FBI agent-involved shootings 2012-2016 shows only 9% of shots fired past 15 yards, with no shots fired past 25 yards.

Historical Handgun class April 2021 (part 1)

As part of the 6 days of training Tom Givens (Rangemaster) taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range in April 2021, Tom and Karl co-taught a one day session of Karl’s Historical Handgun course. The course consisted of a 4 hour lecture from Tom, and a 4 hour block of live fire drills from the 1910’s-1980’s run by Karl.

The oldest course of fire that we shot was the drills from Pollard’s 1917 book on pistol shooting. Details about that course of fire, including video, are here.

We also shot Fitzgerald’s 1920’s police qual.

Tom discussed “point shooting”, including Jelly Bryce, Fairbairn and Applegate.

We shot the 1940’s FBI course of fire, including the hip shooting part at 7 yards.

Older blog posts about this course of fire are here (part 1, part 2, part 3)

More about this course will be in part 2, as we move into the 1950’s-1980’s.

Book Review – The Book of the Pistol and Revolver (Pollard, 1917)

In 1917, WWI veteran and British gunwriter Hugh Pollard published “The Book of the Pistol and Revolver”. Pollard wrote for magazines and authored shooting books from 1912-1945. He was a soldier, possible spy, firearms expert, widely published author, sportsman, social butterfly (son of a surgeon), forensics and ballistic expert, historian and collector. This particular book was reprinted as part of the excellent Firearms Classics Library and is also available as an inexpensive ebook.

Much of the book, as shown in the Table of Contents, is standard mechanical discussion of how guns work, and how to shoot them. The parts that interested me the most were the sections on Speed Shooting, Duelling (which was in its fading days after WW1), and his course of fire for Active Revolver Training.

Pollard Speed Shooting Standards

Pollard’s basic standards for speed shooting were:

Single action – 6 shots into a 12″ square card, at 20 yards, in 3-4 seconds. (since no discussion of drawing from a holster occurs in the book, I assume this was from open carry, starting at a ready position). Here’s a video I posted to instagram of me shooting the single action qual. I scaled it down to 6″ at 10 yards in 4 seconds.

Double action – 6 shots into a 12″ square card, at 12 yards, in 2 seconds.

Here’s video of me shooting this drill on a 12″ round plate at 12 yards.

For the drill, I used my 1953 S&W K-38 Combat Masterpiece, with adjustable sights and a BK Grip adapter. A more period appropriate gun would have had smaller, fixed sights and possibly black powder loads.

I ran students through these drills in the recent Historical Handgun course I co-taught with Tom Givens. For that class, I created an 11×17 target that had a 10″ square and 6″ square, so we could run both the single action and double action drills at 10 yards quickly. The bottom part of the target had 1.5″ white squares on a black ground for the dueling practice drill discussed below.

Pollard’s understanding of the fundamentals of speed shooting using aimed fire was detailed and specific. In the book he writes:

The average man refuses to believe that such speeds are humanly possible, and reinforces his argument by the claim that the double action of a revolver cannot possibly be functioned by the human finger at this speed. He actually means that the muscles of the finger and eye cannot obey the brain commands necessary for each separate discharge of the six shots. In this he is technically right; but the actual process that makes the feats of speed work possible is—that the eye receives only one command—look straight at the target, and does not need a separate “brain message” for each shot. Next, the trigger finger of an expert operates the mechanism of a revolver much more easily and instinctively than can that of a novice, the muscles of the trigger finger being perfectly trained to their work by previous practice. Then there is the rather complex process of utilizing the recoil of a revolver, translated through the various arm muscles to the trigger finger to operate the double action almost to the point of discharge, before the barrel is level with the target for the next shot. Just as Press photographers develop a knack of instantaneously pressing the button of their reflex cameras a fraction of a second before whatever they desire to snap happens, so the speed shot anticipates the falling in line of target and weapon, and presses his trigger at exactly the right instant. To fire the six shots at different targets takes infinitely longer than to fire the six at one, the time being lost by the transmission of the brain orders to change direction to the muscles as well as by the actual traverse of the weapon. The recoil of a shot naturally throws one off one’s aim, but by practice it can be absorbed, just as one absorbs the shock of a caught cricket-ball, and the muscles trained to bring the weapon automatically back into correct alignment with the target. This is the first point to remember—always accustom yourself to bring the weapon back to the point of aim after each discharge.

Back in the 1990’s I had the opportunity to take a one-day revolver class from Jerry Miculek. In that course, he made the comment that often he started pulling the trigger for the next shot as soon as a shot was fired, and it was “a race” to get the gun to the next target before the new shot fired. That process is very similar to what Pollard describes in the passage above.

Next master the practice of double-action shooting. In this a firm grip of the weapon is taken and steadily increased as the trigger is squeezed back. You will soon get to “feel” intuitively the end of the travel and the imminence of the fall of the hammer. This “feel” of the exact moment previous to the fall of the hammer varies with different weapons, as some have shorter or longer hammer falls than others. In some pistols, notably the .38 hammerless Smith and Wesson, a distinct pause can be felt after the hammer has reached the top of its stroke, and before the continued trigger pressure pulls the sear clear of its bent. Speed practice should be commenced at the short range, and continually varied by practice at two or three targets arranged unevenly at the same distance. A good practice is to let the marker give the command at which target the shot is to be delivered, as the varying order of the commands—Left, Right, Center, as his fancy dictates—insure more practical shooting than plain high-speed discharge at the same target.

Always work against a stop-watch, and vary your practice, firing some targets for speed alone and some for speed and accuracy combined.

Pollard’s advice regarding working with a timer, varying target sizes, positions and distances, is still valid today. Much of what the British pistoleros wrote about techniques and training was either not known, forgotten, or rejected by US shooters, particularly after the FBI adopted the hip shooting approach of Jelly Bryce as their preferred combat shooting technique. It would not be until the late 1950’s and early 1960’s that much of the knowledge was rediscovered and put into practice.

US National Guard Qualification

According to Pollard, the U.S.A. National Guard grades its men into three classes: Marksman, Sharpshooter, and Expert. To qualify as Marksman or Sharpshooter, 65 and 80 per cent of the possible score of 200 points must be made respectively. The course is as follows:

  • 15 yards, two scores of five shots, 10 seconds per five shots.
  • 25 yards, two scores of five shots, 10 seconds per five shots.
  • 25 yards, two scores of five shots, 30 seconds per five shots.
  • 50 yards, two scores of five shots, slow fire 1 minute per shot.

 The expert qualification is only open to those who have passed the previous test as sharpshooters:

  •  15 yards, two scores of five shots, 8 seconds per five shots.
  • 25 yards, two scores of five shots, 8 seconds per five shots.
  • 25 yards, two scores of five shots, 20 seconds per five shots.
  • 50 yards, two scores of five shots, 20 seconds per five shots.
  • 75 yards, two scores of five shots, 20 seconds to each shot.

An expert must make 80 per cent. of the possible score—200 out of 250 points.

The U.S.A. revolver course is fired at “Target D,” a silhouette figure of a standing man. Another target, “Target K,” the silhouette of a mounted man, is also used. These targets are set up in groups at varying distances and varying angles to the line of movement of the shooter, who has to ride past them at the trot, walk, and gallop, firing one shot at each as he passes.

In the U.S.A. Navy practice is carried out at “Target A,” a 6-foot by 4-foot rectangle, with an 8-inch black bull’s-eye, counting 5, and other concentric circles of count: 26-inch ring counts 4, 46-inch ring 3, the rest of target 3. The sharpshooter’s course, both for instruction practices and annual record, has to be fired on this target—6 shots at 15, 25, and 50 yards. Time limit, 18 seconds for 6 shots.

Dueling

Pollard describes a shooting club in France where participants train to duel using wax bullets against live opponents wearing fencing safety gear. This is the earliest reference to training similar to today’s force on force training I’ve found in any book on shooting. The book claims that faux duels were held as club matches, with formal scoring. The next time this type of face to face shooting competition resurfaces was in fast draw matches in the 1950’s.

Pollard’s advice to someone training to fight an actual duel was this:

Practice was made at small white wafers about two inches in diameter pasted on a black background, and the novice was advised to “culp,” or break, three dozen of these each morning before breakfast. When he could be sure of breaking twelve of these at fourteen yards in six minutes, he himself reloading his pistol between each discharge, he could consider himself trained.

I simulated this by printing some 1.5″ squares at the bottom of my Pollard Test target, white against a black background, and ran a 6 round drill in 3 minutes, loading one round at a time. Even going as slowly as I could stand it, I never took more than 2 minutes for this drill, but my best run only landed 5 of 6 in the squares. This is basically the 1918 equivalent of the dot torture drill, but shot one round at a time, at 10 yards (for my 1.5″ squares) or 14 yards for the 2″ wafers.

If you want to try the Pollard drills for yourself, download and print this image on 11×17 paper. The drills, all shot at 10 yards, are:

  • 6 shots, starting from ready (can be aimed at base of target stand or even higher just below the target), single action, in 4 seconds. 6″ square at 10 yards.
  • 6 shots, same ready position, double action, in 2 seconds into the 10″ square.
  • 6 shots, load one, fire one, reload, in 3 minutes. One shot per white square

KR Training April 2021 Newsletter

MAY-JUNE OUTLOOK

Ammo is slowly becoming more available and less expensive. We have loaded up our schedule with classes for all levels. May and June are great months to train before the serious summer heat of July and August arrive. Mask and class size restrictions are all lifted and we are back to normal operations.

UPCOMING CLASSES AT THE A-ZONE

Here are the classes we have scheduled with space available through end of June. Don’t see the class you want here? Let us know. Many classes can be taught as weekday private lessons, or we can add it to the schedule if there’s enough interest.

Courses marked with *** are core classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course (Red Dot, Competition, Team Tactics) taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.

CLASSES WITH DOUG GREIG (CONROE AREA)

CHALLENGE COINS EARNED

Five more students earned their Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coins in April. Congratulations to Stephen J, O. Lee J IV, Bojan B, Chris S and Thomas W for completing 40 hours of training with us and passing the written test and shooting qualifications! Learn more about the Defensive Pistol Skills program here.

PREPAREDNESS SEMINAR (PAUL MARTIN)

The videos from Paul’s March 2021 preparedness seminar are now available on Vimeo. Use discount code PTM15OFF until May 15 to get 15% off download or rental cost.

SUMMER USPSA MATCHES

We are starting up our summer USPSA matches May 13. Limited to 18 shooters. No prior match experience required, but you do need to have completed a holster class with us (DPS-1 or higher level). Show up as late as 7 pm, 3-4 quick stages and the opportunity to shoot the stages again for fun after the match is over. More info and registration links here. Here’s a sample video from a great run on one of our shoot house stages.

RANGEMASTER TACTICAL CONFERENCE REPORT

Karl and John both taught sessions at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, with Tracy Thronburg, Ed Vinyard and Dave Reichek all assisting Karl, John and other trainers as event staff. Tracy made the women’s shootoff and Dave made the men’s shootoff. Read more about 2021 TacCon in these blog posts. 2022 TacCon will be at the Dallas Pistol Club and registration will open in May. Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity to train with some of the nation’s best!


STAFF DEVELOPMENT

During Tom Givens’ 6 day marathon visit, many on the KR Training team attended one or more of the classes. There’s video from the Historical Handgun course (I co-taught with Tom) and the Revolver class on Instagram if you click the links.

Also assistant instructors Levi Nathan and David Tschirhart, along with a few new assistant-instructors-in-development (Quamodi and Wiley), adjunct instructor Mark Overstreet and many other KR Training alumni attended and passed the Rangemaster Instructor Development course. Levi wrote a class AAR you can read here. David was #2 shooter in class and Levi was top 5. Tom’s instructor class typically has a 15% failure rate, but in this session everyone passed.


SONG OF THE MONTH – MAY 8 FREE CONCERT

On Saturday May 8, Midnight Express (10-piece band with horn section) will be performing at the Wolf Pen Amphitheater in College Station. It’s a free concert, funded by City of College Station.

Some video from one of our previous shows at Wolf Pen 8 years ago of us performing Tower Of Power’s “What is Hip”.

FOLLOW US ONLINE!

With the recent trend in Facebook and Twitter deplatforming and shadow banning firearms-related content, I strongly encourage you to subscribe to this blog, as direct email and blogging remain the best ways to get un-filtered, un-suppressed information. The link to subscribe is on the right hand side of every page of the blog, including this newsletter.

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

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

Rangemaster Instructor Course AAR

“Context, you’re going to hear that word a lot for the next few days, so pay attention people” was one of the many memorable quotes said by Mr. Tom Givens. He said that to use on day 1 of the Rangemaster – Instructor Development Course and applied it throughout all 3 days.

My name is Levi Nathan and I am an Assistant Instructor at KR Training, the owner of Rainbow Tactics and one of the most recent graduates of the three day Instructor Development Course as created and taught by Mr. Givens. Class ran from April 23rd-25th 2021 at the A-Zone Range, KR Training Lincoln TX.

Day 1, Academic Lecture

Weather was grey skies, gloomy and quickly turned into a torrential downpour with 3 inches of standing rain (this becomes relevant later on) we entered the classroom at KR Training and got seated prior to 9 AM. Mr. Givens started handing out spiral bound books to everyone. The book in question is 237 pages long, bears the Rangemaster seal on the front and was updated in December of 2020. Mr. Givens introduced himself and gave us a glimpse into his professional background, with a career spanning 5 decades. After that, he introduced us to his Assistant Instructor, Dr. Troy who also had been teaching for some time and was also prior law enforcement. After that, Mr. Givens called each student to the front of the classroom, one by one, to state their name, city, any agency or school they are associated with, their current training background and then what they hoped to learn from this course.

Mr. Givens made a few things very crystal clear to us. His classes have an average 15% wash out rate, the written exam is very difficult, you must study every single night when you go home, no exceptions and no distractions.

After introductions, we went straight into academic lecture. We started going over the four rules of firearms safety, why there are only four, and safety considerations that must come into play in every single range session, private or a class.

  1. All guns are always loaded
  2. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target
  4. Always be certain of your target and what is beyond it and around it.

He explained those in depth, the context behind them and gave a safety tip to instructors, which I have personally found to be true long before he said it, due to my background in EMS. “Never, ever say to yourself, no one could be so stupid as to do that, someone will take that as personal challenge!”

Earlier I mentioned class started at 9 am SHARP and he was very serious about that, punctuality is everything. What he normally does is teach from 9:00AM to 2:30PM and then we do some range work, but because we had a torrential downpour that was not possible. It was actually a perfect example of how instructors must be able to adapt and change things on the fly, so we continued with academic work for the remainder of the day. He made sure that everyone was under no illusions. When you go home, don’t go out to dinner with friends, don’t watch a movie with your spouse or any of that. Study, study and keep studying every night. Lots of material in the book to review.

Day 2, Range Training

Weather was sunny, blue skies and cool. We spent nearly 8 hours on the range making up for lost time and fired approximately 500 rounds. We shot drills from the Parrot Drill, the Rangemaster Bullseye Course, the Casino Drill and many others, all which different areas of focus. The purpose was to teach us how to properly warm up students in Basic level courses, test our own skills and learn coaching techniques. It was difficult because we would shoot, hurry back to the tables to reload magazines, stuff loose cartridges in pockets and then hurry back. This was not a leisurely pace, it was GO! GO! GO! Nearly all the time. To add to the difficulty, he would then point at a target with an unacceptable hit (commonly referred to as a miss) and then demand an answer as to why. So we’d be standing there with racing hearts, having just fired 50 rounds, still loading magazines and going back to the academic side of coaching. Was it from squeezing the trigger? Milking the grip? Eye sprinting? But it was enjoyable to do that. Another phrase he would throw out to make certain we were not getting to wrapped up in a single unacceptable hit or over thinking what the answer could be was “c’mon dumbass, this ain’t rocket surgery!”

When we were seated in the classroom during the last hour, he could tell that some people, myself very much included, were stressed over shooting well on Day 3, which is Qualification Day. He was very kind but firm and told us that every shooter in class had made excellent progress and that tomorrow would be the best we had ever shot and explained the why. The why in this case is that, at the time he said that (roughly 5:45PM) he said the blood in our brains was in the front, we were learning new skills, applying them and processing new information. By midnight, the blood would be in the middle of the brain “while the data processes and starts saving to your hard drive” and by 5AM, it would be in the back, saved and ready for immediate use.

Day 3: Qualification Day

I just want to provide some quick context, I had been training and sharpening my skills for nearly a year before class day and for the last 3 months, the focus was all about getting good hits on a B8 target at 25 yards, which is something I was struggling with. We went into class and Mr. Givens called for all of group 1, which I was a part of, to come outside, load magazines and get on the firing line.

We shot the 2019 FBI Pistol Qualification course first, cold. I remembered was Tracy from KR Training (a Master Instructor graduate of Rangemaster) told me. “Play a movie in your head. Perfect draw, perfect sight picture, perfect trigger press. Bang bang bang”

And then the whistle blew. I came out of the holster faster than either of the gentlemen next to me and got those perfect hits. We kept shooting and then at the end, the dreaded 25 yard line! And I got 6 out of the 8 shots at 25 yards into the desired scoring zone. I scored a 98 out of a possible 100. When Mr. Givens gave the command to walk to our targets, my hands started to shake a little. I made it! We then shot the exact same FBI qualification again. This time, 100/100. We loaded magazines and too the Rangemaster Firearms Instructor Qualification Course, 2019 version. And for more context, Mr. Givens jokingly referred to passing the FBI Qualification course (at an 80% skill level) as a sobriety test. That was not the case for the Rangemaster test! For which I scored a 237 and 241 out of a possible 250.

He sent group 1 inside to study and took group 2 outside. It was a team effort inside the classroom as well. One gentleman from a local police department immediately went up to the had of the classroom and started quizzing us and discussing the points of self defense law, for which we would later be tested on. We broke of into little groups. I was with my partner known as Q and we kept going over everything we could. Mr. Givens called group 1 outside after about an hour and we shot one more course of fire, non-graded.

It was part of our academic work for later. We took a very quick 30 minute lunch and then spent the next 4 hours going over more lecture. How to lecture,  how to design a good presentation, how to hold yourself, how to coach and develop people and many more topics, concluding with Self Defense law.

And then came the dreaded written test! I won’t put to many details here but it is worth noting, only roughly half the test was multiple choice and the rest was fill in the blanks, with an S at the end. I took almost the entire allotted hour and turned in my test and left the classroom as ordered.

Assistant Instructor Troy came and got all of us. Mr. Givens stood up and appeared to be pleased as he said that every student in class had passed. I personally scored a 97.5% on my test and was one point away from being an honorable mention (barely missed 3rd place!)

Tom Givens (Rangemaster), Karl Rehn (KR Training), and Levi Nathan

The entire room erupted in applause and stayed that way when each graduate was called forth to get their certificate and a picture, if they asked for one. It was an amazing, difficult and eye opening 3 days and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who either is an instructor already, or looking to become one. You will learn so much, make some new friends and push the boundaries of your skills with a handgun.

Advice

Below are some highly recommended pre-requisites for the Rangemaster – Instructor Development Course:

  1. Make sure you can shoot the 2019 FBI Qualification at 90% or better, before coming to class.
  2. Make sure that your draw is smooth, fast and safe.
  3. Study self defense law, including terminology, from both your local state and other resources like Massad Ayoob (MAG, Second Amendment Foundation) and Andrew Branca (Law of Self Defense)
  4. Possess at least one NRA Instructor certification. It’s not nearly as good as a Rangemaster certification, but it will make some of the basics a lot easier to learn and understand if you already have a good foundation.

In summary, this class is really hard, worth every dollar, every cartridge, you should prepare prior to taking the course and take it if you have a real interest or passion in teaching others self defense.

“Mastery is a journey, not a destination” – Tom Givens, Rangemaster

Karl notes

About half of the students in the course were KR Training assistant instructors, affiliate instructors, or people soon to be joining our assistant instructor team. Many more were former KR Training students, including several instructors from other schools. We will be hosting the next course in Tom’s instructor development program, the Advanced Instructor Course, June 4-5, 2022.

March 2021 Preparedness Seminar Videos

In March 2021, Paul Martin gave a well-attended presentation on preparedness. We were able to capture the entire presentation on video, and it’s now available as a series of low cost videos on our Vimeo site. Rent the entire set for 3 months for $19, download the entire series for $25, or get the 2018, 2020, and 2021 videos (complete) for $30 (3 month rental) or $50 (download). Individual videos are $2-5 depending on video length.

Use code PTM15OFF to get a 15% discount on the videos until May 15, 2021.

Texas has its annual Emergency Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday April 24-26. You can take advantage of it to purchase items listed in Paul’s Ready Citizen Manual.

A quick overview of the topics in the 2021 videos is here

Introduction – includes basic overview of Preparedness concepts

The Ready Citizen Manual

Paul expands on the content in his free Ready Citizen Manual

Food – the most critical preparedness item

Water – second most critical

Cash and Medical

Energy and Lighting

Security

Wrapup

Learn more about Paul and his preparedness programs at paultmartin.com

Emergency Supplies Sales Tax Weekend is April 24-25

From Paul:
One of my favorite weekends of the year is coming up this week: Texas Emergency Supplies Sales Tax Holiday Weekend! I helped get this law passed a few years ago, and now we can all save tax dollars on things we need anyway.   Many of these items would have been very helpful to have back in February when our power grid crashed.  If it crashes again this summer due to hurricanes, high temps, locusts, or some other passage in the book of Revelation, you’ll want some of these items on hand. Stock up now!  The more you spend, the more you save!
These emergency preparation supplies qualify for tax exemption if purchased for a sales price:

Less than $3,000 Portable generators

Less than $300 Emergency ladders Hurricane shutters

Less than $75 -Axes -Batteries, single or multipack (AAA cell, AA cell, C cell, D cell, 6 volt or 9 volt) -Can openers – nonelectric -Carbon monoxide detectors -Coolers and ice chests for food storage – nonelectric -Fire extinguishers -First aid kits -Fuel containers -Ground anchor systems and tie-down kits -Hatchets -Ice products – reusable and artificial -Light sources – portable self-powered (including battery operated) -Examples of items include: candles, flashlights and lanterns -Mobile telephone batteries and mobile telephone chargers -Radios – portable self-powered (including battery operated)  includes two-way and weather band radios -Smoke detectors -Tarps and other plastic sheeting

KR Training, in association with Paul, will offer a two day preparedness weekend August 28-29, 2021. That weekend will include a full day of preparedness-focused medical instruction from Dr. Ben Weger, and a full day of in person activities and hands on instruction from Paul in our air conditioned, indoor classroom at the A-Zone Range.


This two-day event will cover recent developments in the vulnerabilities of the grid, societal unrest, increased response times from law enforcement and EMS, recent weather extremes and possible changes to firearms laws across the country.  Students will receive information and guidance on better managing such situations such as dealing with extended utility outages and supply chain disruptions, preparing for a wide spectrum of medical problems, and improving their ability to ready their homes and neighborhoods for prolonged emergencies.

Read more about preparedness by browsing older preparedness articles on this blog.

TacCon21 (part 3)

The KR Training team taught, competed and attended sessions at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, held in Dallas at the Dallas Pistol Club (DPC) facility. In part 1 of this series I wrote about the KR Training team’s participation as trainers, staff and competitors. Part 2 covered the sessions I attended. This part shares four video compilations from the event.

Women’s Shootoff

Men’s Shootoff (partial)

Vision and Reloading

Here’s a short clip from one of my Correcting Common Shooting Errors sessions. I was discussing what you need to see during a reload, specifically the myth that looking at your gun during a reload is a Tactical Sin that will get you Killed On the Street. Those that promote that idea often assume that person reloading gets tunnel vision on the gun for the entire duration of the reload. In reality, there’s only a small part of the reload where looking really does make a difference – the time when the new magazine needs to get into the empty gun. Those that are really good at quick reloads likely see even less than what I recommend in the video, but the demonstration conveys the general idea.

The Support Hand Only Grip

During my Saturday session I did a demo I hadn’t done in a long time – gripping the pistol with only my support hand grip and firing it. Not traditional “support hand only”, which is a standard one handed grip. What I demonstrated was the support hand gripping the gun with no fingers and no support around the backside of the frame, the way that it’s used in a two handed grip. The point of the demo was in relation to grip strength and grip pressure with the support hand. That hand should be gripping the gun hard enough to be able to hang onto the pistol in recoil. For many carry permit level shooters (or lower skill), their support hand isn’t gripping the pistol that hard.

DISCLAIMER: if you attempt to duplicate what I’m doing in the video, try it first with a .22, with no magazine in the gun, and only one round in the chamber. If that goes OK, try it with more powerful calibers, but NEVER do it with more than one round in the gun. That way if you are unable to retain your grip on the gun when it recoils, the worst that will happen is an empty gun falls to the ground. (I also recommend NOT doing this at any facility where you are standing on concrete or gravel. Soft grassy ground like we had at DPC is ideal.) Even more ideal is to have enough confidence in your grip that you know you can hang onto it. If you don’t have at least 80-100 pounds of grip strength in your support hand, I wouldn’t try it at all. “Experienced professional on a closed course”, “don’t try this at home”, and I am NOT responsible for any damage to your gun, you, or anyone else that might be injured if you choose to imitate this demo.

The M&P Shield Experiment

Several years ago I was carrying an M&P Shield and experimenting with different modifications that could be made to it. I ran the gun, with a variety of increased capacity magazines, in a John Farnam class and wrote a blog post about it.

After that class I did some additional experimenting, posted about it in some online discussions, but was reminded today that I had never written it all up as a blog post. Longer sight radius and longer slides and barrels generally reduce recoil, improve reliability, increase bullet velocity, and improve accuracy. At the time S&W had not introduced a long slide version of the Shield (now available as a Performance Center model).

Silencerco makes a threaded barrel for the Shield with a standard 1/2-28 thread, and I found one on sale at a great price. Taylor Freelance makes an interesting product called the Glock Sight Block that adds 3/4″ of sight radius. It’s basically the same sort of barrel weight/sight extender that people used to run on single stack 1911’s back in the early days of USPSA before those barrel weights were turned into compensators.

I bought one of those (an earlier model with a slimmer profile), and threaded it onto the Silencerco barrel, removed the front sight from the Shield’s slide and installed a Dawson Precision Glock style fiber optic front sight of appropriate height into the sight block, making a Shield that looks like this:

I also added a Crimson Trace laserguard to the gun, to experiment with using the laser instead of iron sights.

All the mods made the gun completely incompatible with any holster made for a normal Shield. I discovered, though, that the Raven Morrigan holster I had for a 4″ M&P could be tightened up, using the velcro strap, to fit the modified Shield.

Results

All the mods worked OK, but I found that I really didn’t see that much difference in performance between the stock Shield and the sight block extended gun. My primary complaint with the Shield became the challenge of doing reloads with a gun that only allowed me three fingers on the frame. My pinky didn’t know where to go, and sometimes wanted to block the mag well.

A lot of shooters are attracted to the 3-finger framed guns, thinking that they are easier to conceal than a 4-finger frame gun — but then those same shooters stick a pinky shelf magazine in the 3-finger frame gun, ending up with a frame that is just as long (3 finger frame + pinky shelf) as a 4-finger frame with a flush mag. So they end up with no concealment advantage but a disadvantage when reloading the gun.

The only way to get the true advantage of the 3-finger frame is to run the flush mag and have a true 3-finger gun. What I finally decided was that the Shield’s best role was in that truly minimal configuration, with no laser and no sight extender, carried as a pocket gun or deep concealment option. The experimental Shield got parked back in the gun safe after the Glock 48 came out, which gave me a 4″ barrel and a 4-finger frame with a flush mag holding 10+1 (and later 14+1 using the Shield Arms S15 magazines. I run the S15’s with the 10 coil heavy springs loaded to 14, and I get better reliability this way than loading to 15 with the 9 coil recoil springs).

The next experiment I’m going to do with the Shield, though, is to put it back to stock configuration and try the deep concealment approach shown in this Rhett Neumayer video, using a PHLster Enigma and Dark Star Hitchhiker holster.

I’ll do another blog post after I get my Enigma (they are sold out again) and can get some dryfire and range time in with that configuration.

TacCon21 (part 2)

The KR Training team taught, competed and attended sessions at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, held in Dallas at the Dallas Pistol Club (DPC) facility. In part 1 of this series I wrote about the KR Training team’s participation as trainers, staff and competitors. This post will cover the sessions we attended and other events at the match.

The Sessions

Here was the schedule for all the sessions. As you can see there were a lot of great options: classroom, live fire and hands on.

FRIDAY

Friday morning I attended a 3 hour live fire block taught by Brian Hill of the Complete Combatant. Brian’s background includes coaching for strength and fitness, martial arts and firearms, giving him a very broad perspective. He’s also an excellent shooter. I was too busy shooting and learning to take a lot of pics. A bonus of attending that course is I got to meet and chat with Scott Jedlinski and Tim Herron in person. I’ve chatted with both of them online over the past year. For the past several months I’ve been running my Holosun 507 sight in “32 MOA circle only” mode, influenced by Tim’s suggestion and recommendation. I’m finding I like the big open circle better than small dot or circle-dot.

Interestingly enough, the value of having a larger reticle is something I recommended to the industry back in 2017 when I posted my red dot study results. Apparently a few companies read the post and implemented that idea into their products. As I had predicted in the 2017 post (and something Tim observed in his own use of the larger circle) is that in cases where you don’t get perfect alignment of gun and reticle and eyeball, being able to see part the reticle at the edge of the window gives you sufficient visual information to correct the alignment faster than seeing no dot in the window and having to make a guess (educated or uneducated) about which way to move the gun.

Friday afternoon I taught a 4 hour session.

SATURDAY

The TacCon presentations and seminars are always a mix of new material, special topics trainers only offer at conferences, and “greatest hits” drawn from the presenters’ best known curriculum. Having been to more than 20 TacCons, I admit to skipping the 8 am sessions in favor of getting enough sleep and a decent breakfast, so I would be reasonably well prepared to shoot the match, sample some sessions, grab a snack and be ready to teach all Saturday afternoon. I did get a chance to observe bits and pieces of the Small Auto Pistols class taught by Chuck Haggard and the Revolver Essentials session taught by Lee Weems as they were wrapping up before lunch break.

Sunday

I started Sunday with Darryl Bolke’s Revolver Options presentation. Darryl is working on a book about the history of revolver-oriented training.

The next session I attended, (conveniently in the same classroom as Darryl’s talk) was Eve Kulcsar’s “Business Tactical”. Her talk addressed an issue I get a lot of questions about: how to balance the desire to carry and be prepared for self-defense against the need to dress in business attire, and potentially be in violation of company policies that could lead to being fired. I recently became aware of one gun blogger/serious student of self defense who had lost his job as a result of a co-worker making a comment that attracted the attention of management. That resulted in company security searching his office, finding the pistol he had in his backpack, firing him and removing him from the building.

Eve’s discussion started out presenting classic risk management concepts, and then focusing on specific risk associated with job sites and business environments.

She pointed out that one of the biggest risks (that is often neglected or discounted) is risk of being in a traffic accident commuting to/from the workplace. For most people, that risk is higher than the risk of workplace violence, but gets much less attention.

Her presentation concluded with a discussion of gear and different ways to carry it: not just firearms but also pepper spray and medical gear. Off-body carry has many limitations but is often the most practical, with the lowest risk of detection.

SHOOTOFF

Claude Werner shared this excellent video of the final shootoff. It used the 3D targets developed by John Hearne, originally used for the main match when it was run indoors at the Rangemaster and Memphis PD facilities. KR Training has a set of 8 of these targets that we use in our shoothouse.

The final presentation I attended on Sunday was Jeff Gonzales‘ block on gun range accidents. Like Eve’s talk, it began with discussion of traditional risk management concepts. (Jeff’s presentation was held in one of the classroom tents. Lighting was poor, so these pics are not as good as others I took in other sessions.)

The topics on that last slide are relevant to every level of firearms training, as Jeff explained in his talk. From teaching beginners to working in live fire shoot houses, drawing from concealment and doing force on force training, those elements need to be considered to minimize risk. Most readers have probably seen videos of classes run with students downrange, or muzzling others through inattention, or videos in which negligent discharges occur, sometimes resulting in injury. I’m not going to link to any of those videos, because in many cases they are content the unsafe trainers have posted themselves to promote their businesses, and I don’t want to contribute to their online traffic.

Still more to come…

I still have some videos taken during my sessions and the shootoff to edit and post. That will be the third and final post in the series.

TacCon21 (part 1)

The KR Training team taught, competed and attended sessions at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, held in Dallas at the Dallas Pistol Club (DPC) facility. This was the 24th TacCon. I’ve attended 22 of them and been a presenter at at least 20 of them. For many of us, the event is a family reunion, getting to visit and train together. The event has moved around over its history: from many years at the “mother ship” (the original Rangemaster range in Memphis, to the US Shooting Academy in Tulsa, DARC in Arkansas, a combination shooting range/racetrack in New Orleans, and now Dallas.

DPC has been confirmed as the location for the 2022 TacCon, and registration will open in May 2021. The event always sells out many months in advance. I will share the registration link in our monthly KR Training e-newsletter posted to this blog when it becomes available.

Claude Werner has some history about the Tactical Conference here, and I posted some videos from a 2005 Shooting Gallery episode about that year’s conference here. Michael Bane was at the 2021 TacCon filming for his new “Triggered” online series.

Karl’s Sessions

I presented two sessions of my 4-hour Correcting Common Shooting Errors course, which was useful for instructors and shooters. It’s a class that I teach several times a year at our home facility, and have taught on the road.

Explaining acceptable sight picture (and aiming point) for close range defensive shooting
Demonstrating with the SIRT pistol
Another demo

John’s Sessions

John Daub was asked to fill in for Spencer Keepers, (who had to cancel due to a medical issue) teaching three 2-hour blocks of appendix carry skills. This was John’s first time to be a lead instructor at a Tactical Conference, and he received many compliments, in person and online, from students in those sessions.

Clearing the cover garment
Re holstering
“Hi, Mom!”

John is going to expand his appendix carry skills course into a 4 hour class we will offer this summer at the A-Zone.

Match Staff & Attendees

In addition to Karl and John teaching, KR Training instructors Tracy Thronburg, Dave Reichek, and Ed Vinyard all worked as range officers for our sessions and sessions run by other trainers. KR Training instructors Becky Dolgener and David Tschirhart also attended TacCon. Several KR Training challenge coin holders and many other alumni were there too, taking advantage of the opportunity to train with a wide variety of national trainers.

The Match

Part of the event is a live fire match that now includes an initial qualification stage, a tiebreaker stage, and a head-to-head shootoff on the final day. The KR Training team made a respectable showing, with Dave Reichek (7th overall) and making the top 16 for the men’s shootoff, and Tracy Thronburg (2nd womens) and top women’s shootoff. John Daub was 20th and Karl was 25th.

The qualification stage was a fixed time, 40 round course shot on a Rangemaster RM-Q target with 200 points possible. Anyone scoring over 190 shot the tiebreaker stage, which was 5 shots from 5 yards on a B-8 target, with individual times recorded. Total score for the main match was raw points from the qual stage PLUS the hit factor (points/time) from the tiebreaker. John will be including the match course of fire along with other drills from TacCon in an upcoming revision to his “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” eBook (free download).

K Clark’s winning target (below) shows a 200 point main score with a B-8 with 50 points in 2.83 seconds. Had they counted X’s, he would also have had 5X — a truly impressive performance. That gave him a main match score of 217.61.

Perfection

There were a lot of shooters in the top 30 that shot hit factors in the 11-13 range (compared to K’s 17.6 factor). John shot a fast 43 points to get a hit factor of 12.25, my slightly slower 50 points was a hit factor of 12.59. I shot the tiebreaker right after dropping one point on the last string of the main match, which caused me to be more conservative than I should have on the tiebreaker run. Dropping one point on the main match moved me down 8 places in the overall standards, so a 0.5% difference in score making a 5% change in overall placement. There were a lot of great shooters there and the level of competition continues to get tougher and tougher each year.

Karl’s target: 199/200. Dropping one point in the main match cost me 8 places in the overall finish.

But Wait There’s More!

Stay tuned for future posts, as I share some pics and content from sessions I attended, video from the sessions I taught, and some shootoff video. TacCon is always a very full 3 days. My reports from TacCon 2018 (both the Arkansas and Northwest Regional conferences) and TacCon 2019 are still online also.

TacCon 2005

Back in 2005, the Rangemaster Tactical Conference was featured on an episode of Shooting Gallery. The event was held at “the mothership” – the original Rangemaster facility in Memphis. Back then the event was called the “Polite Society Conference”.

Sharing these videos as I and several on the KR Training staff head to Dallas for TacCon 2021, as instructors and range staff.

Here are some excerpts from that 2005 episode.

KR Training March 2021 Newsletter

SPRING 2021 OUTLOOK

We have reduced the number of rounds required for most classes, and will continue to offer many no-live-fire defensive skills courses. Taking classes with .22 caliber guns will be allowed, and dry firing is always a good way to maintain and develop skills. February gave us a 100 year ice and snow storm, complete with lengthy power and water outages. March brings us the 2021 Legislative Session, with over 100 bills filed relating to firearms rights (pro and anti). Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s list of priorities is here. Note that Constitutional (permit less) carry is NOT one of his priorities, although there are several other firearms issues on his list.

FREE PREPAREDNESS SEMINAR (PAUL MARTIN)

Paul Martin is offering a free preparedness seminar Saturday March 20 in Austin. The seminar will be recorded and will be available after the event for a small fee on our Vimeo channel. We have over 14 hours of content on the Vimeo channel: lectures on Prepping for Beginners, Building Your Medical Kits (from Caleb Causey), Use of Force, Law Enforcement Guidance for Armed Citizens (from Lee Weems) and many more.

UPCOMING CLASSES AT THE A-ZONE

Here are the classes we have scheduled with space available through end of June. Don’t see the class you want here? Let us know. Many classes can be taught as weekday private lessons, or we can add it to the schedule if there’s enough interest.

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

MAY-JUNE

Overhead view of the A-Zone Range shooting bays

CLASSES WITH DOUG GREIG (CONROE AREA)

JOHN MURPHY CLASS IN MARCH

We are bringing national trainer John Murphy to KR Training in March, for his two day Street Encounters Skills and Tactics course. He has lowered the round count for this course to 250 rounds, and he has limited ammo available to sell to students. Slots are still open. John is an excellent instructor with his own facility in Culpepper Virginia, with decades of experience. It’s a great choice for those with a carry permit wanting their first post-LTC course, and it’s a great complement/refresher for the material we teach in our Defensive Pistol Skills course program.

HOME DEFENSE TACTICS IN AUSTIN SUNDAY APRIL 11

We will be offering a special session of the Home Defense Tactics course Sunday evening, April 11, from 5-8p at a student home near The Domain in Austin. In this class you learn how to do a security assessment of your own home, practice armed movement in structures (aka “houseclearing”) using red guns, and practice working in a dim/low light environment inside an actual home. This class is limited to 6 students plus the host family.

We can bring the Home Defense Tactics course to your home on request.

NEW E-BOOK FROM JOHN DAUB

John Daub has compiled his favorite drills into a PDF e-book that we are offering for free download.

REFRESHER SLOTS ARE HALF PRICE

Want to take a class you’ve taken before to keep your skills sharp? Refresher slots for most courses are half price!

Register for any class using our online system.


KR TRAINING ON PODCASTS

RECENT BLOG POSTS

New blog posts and Facebook article links since the last newsletter:

STAFF DEVELOPMENT

In the past few months, several of our staff have attended courses with Hock Hockheim (Karl, John Daub, Dave Reichek), Ben Stoeger (Karl & Dave), Brian Hill (John Daub), and Tom Givens (Tracy Thronburg and Sean Hoffman). Most of the staff will be attending the upcoming Rangemaster Tactical Conference in Dallas, with Karl and John both teaching sessions as lead instructors, Tracy and Dave working as assistants, and all the rest attending as participants. I’ll post some articles here on the blog about the event when we return.

Tracy’s 5×5 card from her recent Tom Givens course.

SONG OF THE MONTH

Back in 2008 I released a CD of original music called “Respectable” (link goes to amazon Mp3 version, physical copies of the CD are available from me at the A-Zone). Here’s another song from that CD: a cover of a classic Texas blues song from the 1920’s, also covered by the Grateful Dead.

FOLLOW US ONLINE!

With the recent trend in Facebook and Twitter deplatforming and shadow banning firearms-related content, I strongly encourage you to subscribe to this blog, as direct email and blogging remain the best ways to get un-filtered, un-suppressed information. The link to subscribe is on the right hand side of every page of the blog, including this newsletter.

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

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

Book Review – Legal Boundaries By State (Concealed Carry.Com, 2021)

The folks at ConcealedCarry.com have released a new state-by-state gun law book called “Legal Boundaries by State”.

It’s available as a print book, but also as an e-book that comes with lifetime updates. In my opinion the e-book version is more useful. Load it into the reader app on your phone, and you will always have the handy updated reference available. There are websites that offer similar information, but I trust the folks at ConcealedCarry.com to get the information right and keep it up to date.

STATE BY STATE GUIDE

For each state, it provides a one page summary of current gun laws, in a simple, easy to follow format. Each of the categories shown in the sample page below are repeated for all 50 states.

OTHER TOPICS COVERED

Additional information provides a nice summary of all of these topics:

  • How to check a gun in luggage when flying
  • Article 926A of the Firearm Owner Protection Act
  • Proper Vehicle Firearm Storage
  • Hotels
  • Non-Resident Permits for Expanded Reciprocity
  • Traveling With Firearms in National Parks

It also includes tables with one line summaries for all states on these topics:

  • Duty to Notify Law Enforcement when carrying (traffic stop or other interaction)
  • Duty To Retreat
  • Carry in State Parks
  • Carry in Restaurants Serving Alcohol
  • Constitutional Carry
  • Campus Carry (Colleges)
  • Magazine Capacity Limitations
  • Open Carry
  • Suppressor Ownership

In less than 100 pages, this book provides a lot of useful information, particularly for those that travel across state lines on a regular basis. Order the print or e-book editions here.