William Aprill, RIP

Yesterday the news rippled through the firearms training community that Dr. William Aprill of Aprill Risk Consulting had passed away. I’ve known William for close to 20 years, as he and I were regular presenters at the annual Rangemaster Tactical Conferences, and in recent years I had hosted (and co-taught) his “Unthinkable” course.

His “Unthinkable” course was offered all over the country, sometimes as a stand alone package of his lectures, and sometimes as a longer course co-taught with other trainers, incorporating their material with his. The training he offered was unlike anyone else’s: a guide to understanding behavior of violent criminals, and how to interact with (or preferably, avoid) them. He was also a very skilled handgun shooter, and presented some excellent blocks of training on unarmed self-defense at some of the early TacCons.

Another course he co-taught was the “Establishing a Dominance Paradigm” class, with Tom Givens and Craig Douglas. KR Training’s Dave Reichek attended and wrote a detailed review of that class back in 2015.

William and I had talked in the past few weeks, as I scheduled him to teach two 1-day versions of “Unthinkable” in December at the A-Zone. As soon as I put it on the calendar, people began signing up. Earlier in the year his name was top of the list of student requests for guest instructors. His reputation and the quality of the information he shared on many podcasts and videos made the course easy to market.

Recently he was featured on two episodes of Ballistic Radio, sharing his thoughts on recent events. These may be the last interviews he did before passing. He was a frequent guest on that podcast and many other, older episodes are also worth listening to.

William frequently updated his Facebook page with his “they don’t think like us” posts, giving examples from the news of behaviors and situations similar to those presented in his classes. It’s another way to learn from him, even though he’s no longer with us. Hopefully his family or friends will keep his page active, so his knowledge and digital memory will be preserved.

Most of the KR Training team knew William, as many of us were frequent TacCon attendees, or interacted with him in person and online. We were looking forward to having him back at the A-Zone, not just for training but to enjoy his company and catch up with an old friend. We are diminished, and he will be missed, but never forgotten.

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Flags at half mast. William Aprill RIP.

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Book Review: The Gun Gap (Mark Joslyn, 2020)

I picked up a copy of this e-book recently. Someone I follow online (can’t remember who, sorry) recommended it. The author, Mark Joslyn, is a political scientist at the University of Kansas who does research on voting trends and demographics, including gun ownership. According to the introduction, the author “has never owned or gun or been involved in gun politics”. That lack of understanding of the history of the gun culture in the U.S. shows in some of the critical points that were missed in his analysis. He read a lot of books on the subject, mostly books written by gun culture outsiders and other academics, and draws conclusions based on graphs and charts and the third-hand conclusions reached by the authors of the books that he read.

It’s a wonky book that analyzes changing trends based on survey and poll data, making the case that political analysts and pundits and academics should be looking at more than gender, age, location and other factors to understand the growing political divide. As someone deep inside the gun culture who deals with these issues on a daily basis, nothing in the book was particularly surprising or new information. The target audience – pundits and academics who are outsiders to the gun culture – will likely find it far more interesting than I did.

Quick summaries of the 7 chapters, with my thoughts on their contents. Direct quotes from the book are in bold, my own thoughts in italics.

1 – Understanding gun culture (and introduction)

National exit polls do not regularly ask voters about gun ownership. Decades of serious research in political behavior have ignored gun owners and gun ownership. (Karl: This is because coastal elites, academics and pollsters all tend to live and work in places and at institutions where gun ownership is rare and/or secret, as cultural norms, bias, discrimination, and divisive attitudes make it uncomfortable for gun owners. I have students that absolutely do not want to be photographed when attending classes, out of concern that their employers or co-workers will disapprove, leading to interpersonal conflict or even discrimination related to job assignments or promotions. The author addresses those issues in chapter 5 of the book.)

Gun owners did not represent a serious political group until the 1980’s and 1990’s. (Karl: This is because until then, gun ownership was culturally “normal”. Prior to the late 1970s there was no significant gun control “movement” in US politics. Starting in the 1980’s, media elites and liberal think tanks began creating the same kind of lobbying/biased advocacy research structure for gun control as they were creating for other social issues. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, movie stars and politicians and presidents (JFK, for example), considered it normal to hunt and target shoot, and riflery was taught at every summer camp and in some high schools.)

The 2004 election revealed an emerging urban/rural divide. (Karl: Not really urban/rural as much as the efforts of the Boomer Left to make gun ownership and appreciation of firearms freedoms as marginalized as tobacco use and drunk driving: wiping out “urban” gun culture via passage of more and more laws making it harder and more expensive for those in major cities to own, shoot or carry guns. That trend may be reversing in 2020.)

Gun owners believed guns improved their sense of control in life and enhanced feelings of safety, confidence, and responsibility. Those believing those things supported arming teachers and concealed carry. Gun owners are increasingly unlikely to tell poll takers that they own guns, making an accurate estimate impossible. (Karl: Another factor the author ignores is that gun and magazine bans in anti-gun states, up to and including laws requiring owners of banned items to turn them in or destroy them, make those in possession of those items, even in states where bans and confiscation orders have not been enacted, very reluctant to admit to a stranger that they might own those items. Yet another factor is that modern technology makes it much easier to block or decline calls or texts from unknown numbers, reducing the potential pool of those willing to answer poll questions even more.)

The author refers to those that own twenty or more guns as “super-owners”, and mistakenly infers that the main reason those people own that many guns is that they have interest in “gun collecting” and belong to gun collecting “clubs”. (Karl: That has not been my experience at all. Most of the people I know that own a lot of guns do so not because of collecting but because of participation in shooting sports, hunting different species, equipping family members of varying sizes, ages and physical abilities, the hobby of building and customizing guns, preparedness and purchasing guns and magazines specifically as a hedge against future bans, for investment or to hand down to family members. Others purchase new guns simply because new models that interest them or that may work better for their needs are introduced, and those that shoot a lot may purchase multiple copies of a frequently used gun or replace a worn out gun.)

The standard observations about the change in gun owner motivation from hunting to self defense (aka Gun Culture 1.0 to 2.0) are made, referencing the usual sources. Also the usual discussion of the NRA is included, with the usual overstatement of the NRA’s influence on gun owners, with the false claim “The NRA is often noted as the singular voice in articulating, refining and forging a gun owner identity.” (Karl: Gun culture is far more tribal than outsider academics realize. There is on singular gun owner identity, and at best the NRA’s positions on issues is a reflection of gun owners, not the other way around. NRA lagged behind the curve on acceptance and growth in interest in the AR-15, USPSA/IDPA matches, suppressors, concealed carry, open carry, and just about every major trending change in gun owner behavior of the past 30 years.)

The widening gap between the two major parties on gun issues is discussed and explored with charts and graphs, showing a result that should surprise no one: as the party platform of the Democrat party supported more and more restrictions on gun ownership, gun owners stopped supporting that party. (Karl: The author points to John Kerry’s failed attempt to pretend to be “one of us” as the last attempt of a Democrat candidate to appeal to gun owners.)

2 – A gun gap in voter choice

In this chapter the author makes the case, using charts and graphs and data, that political scientists should study gun ownership as a factor that separates voting blocks, noting big shifts starting in 2000. Southern Democrat candidates Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton attracted majority support from households that did or did not own guns in 1976 and 1996, respectively. Donald Trump’s “gun gap” is 3x larger than the gap was in 1976. (Karl: This is largely a function of the Democrat party’s hard left turn and aggressive push for gun control, as well as the growth in popularity of concealed carry and the AR-15 rifle. The GOP pays lip service to gun rights during campaigns but rarely exerts political effort to expand gun rights. The best they can do most of the time is vote ‘no’ on Democrat proposals and give weak excuses to gun owners as to why promises made to repeal or revise existing laws are never kept.)

The gun control-group talking point claiming that poorly educated white men make up the largest block of gun owners is repeated in the book. Gun ownership is, as the author identified, a strong indicator of voting preferences. (Karl: My own experience with three decades as a trainer is that my students come from a wide variety of backgrounds, from construction workers to doctors and lawyers and professors, as well as musicians and programmers and service industry workers. The key point the author, and most academics, ignore, is that each election gun owners must choose between one party intent on taking guns, magazines and the rights to carry and own specific (or any guns) away from gun owners, and another party that at least pretends to support gun owners and gun rights during the campaign, that only votes for gun bans occasionally. There is no “compromise” ever in play, as a compromise would involve gun owners trading some freedoms for others. Instead, when the word ‘compromise’ is used, it always refers to gun control advocates only getting some of their policies enacted today, with others deferred until the next opportunity.)

3 – A gun gap in voter turnout

This chapter studies the gap in voting turnout between those motivated to support gun control and gun rights. Gun owners have the most to lose and unsurprisingly are the most motivated to vote and to urge others with similar interests to vote. The author does a fairly good job of explaining this, and going farther into gun owners’ motivation to be politically active by contacting elected officials, staying informed, and peacefully protesting.

(Karl: If every election posed the risk of new regulations and criminal offenses for academics owning certain kinds of books, or studying certain topics, or being prohibited from using certain words, perhaps they would better understand what motivates gun owners to be as politically active as they are. The upcoming election may pose that actual risk to academics, as “cancel culture” and woke censorship has become a serious concern of the traditional Left, who are under attack from the extreme Left.)

4 – Safer with a gun

People that own guns feel safer because they own them. Those that do not own guns are (justifably) scared of being harmed by a gun, and therefore want fewer people to own guns or carry guns in public. This idea is supported by graphs and charts and poll data, all of which shows what gun owners already understand.

This chapter leads into the next, which explores this idea further.

5 – Feelings toward gun owners

Unsurprisingly (to any gun owner), those outside the gun culture have considerable bias and believe many negative stereotypes. This bigotry and bias affects opinions about gun laws and voting patterns.

From the book: The gun is simply an object. Assailing it and demanding limits can be construed as harassment of gun owners and disapproval of gun culture generally. Gun owners may view criticism of guns as insulting, questioning their judgment and their capacity to carry and operate a gun safely. The resounding message after a gunman claims dozens of innocent lives is “we must regulate guns.” Gun owners may hear this as “we must do something about gun owners”

From the book: If people like gun owners, they also believe concealed carry improves public safety and guns are not threats to personal safety. And this makes sense. If an individual favors gun owners, why would she be threatened if others own guns and carry them in public?

(Karl: There are essentially no portrayals of normal gun ownership presented in modern entertainment media. “Good guy” gun users are always law enforcement or military personnel, typically engaging in very violent behavior, often dismissive of citizens owning guns, parroting the gun control talking point that regular people can’t possibly have the judgment or skill to use a gun for self defense.” Cop shows like Law and Order, set in New York City, mislead national viewers into thinking that NYC gun laws are representative of gun laws in their home state, while false claims made by Democrat politicians mislead non gun owners into thinking that anyone can order a full auto gun over the internet.)

Karl: The only moderately positive examples of citizen gun ownership I can identify are one Simpsons episode where Homer buys a gun, learns that most of the characters on the show are gun owners and members of the National Gun Association. They try to teach Homer gun safety and end up kicking him out for being irresponsible and unsafe. At the end of this episode, Marge takes possession of the gun, using it to thwart a Quik-E-Mart holdup. Similarly, a King of the Hill episode involves Bobby Hill participating in target shooting in a somewhat ‘normal’ setting. And the final season of “Major Crimes” involved a subplot where the gay abused teen adopted by the series main characters is allowed to get a California carry permit, is trained (by his police step-parents) to carry responsibly, and who uses his gun to protect himself from a lethal attack.

The rest of the Gun Gap chapter provides plenty of examples of anti-gun-owner bias in major media. From the book:

Gun owners are often lampooned by media outlets (Kohn 2004). Common labels are “fanatics,” “gun nuts,” “violent hicks,” “rednecks,” and “racists.” Hallman (2017) noted that reporters tended to frame stories in ways that “make it clear they see gun-owning Americans . . . as distinctly other.” The frames effectively separate gun owners from the world where most journalists and the bulk of their audience live. Scholars examined the representation of the “other” in journalism (Furisch 2002). And journalists are now advised to help them become aware of the habit and its consequences (Ordway 2018). Gest (1992) suggested that many journalists grew up in urban environments where guns were uncommon. They acquired a cosmopolitan perspective, which questions gun ownership and leads to antigun bias in the news media.

In 75 percent of the documents, covering typical gun policy debates, gun owners were characterized as selfish, incompetent, and irresponsible, “caring more about guns than people”. In articles that concerned child endangerment, over a third suggested owners were the danger. The characterization is reinforced in headlines such as “Gun owners are responsible for almost as many death annually as motorists” . When referring to gun owners and self-defense, Downs found the most common adjectives describing owners were selfish, incompetent, dangerous, and unreasonable… The most common terms for the NRA were “most feared lobby,” “gun organization,” and “powerful gun lobby.” In a careful study, Steidley and Colen (2017) analyzed the New York Times responses to press releases from the NRA and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. In general, their findings show greater sensitivity toward the Brady Campaign.

Joslyn, Mark R.. The Gun Gap (p. 129). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Missing from this chapter is a discussion of how research from biased academics, for example those working for the “Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health” and the University of California Violence Prevention Research Project – both funded by partisan, anti-gun sources, tasked with the job of generating studies and data opposing gun rights, are treated as impartial and valid sources by major media, while the work of John Lott, another academic whose results typically contradict the work of the anti-gun academics, is consistently presented as questionable or tainted.

6 – How many gun owners

This chapter explores the difficulty in determining how many gun owners there are. (Karl: That number has definitely changed in the past 6 months, as I and many other trainers on instructor forums indicate that the number of new gun owners and new carry permit holders, and demand for training, are all at record high levels – and most of the new gun owners are buying semiauto pistols that hold more than 10 rounds and AR-15 rifles. This means that gun control measures proposed by Democrats will affect a larger number of voters. The question remains whether these new gun owners will fear those new restrictions enough to vote against candidates advocating those new laws.)

7 – A gun gap in death penalty support

Unsurprisingly, gun owners support the death penalty more than non-gun owners. The death penalty is only an option for the most heinous crimes – the same crimes the average gun owner (and their state’s Penal Code) would likely identify as situations in which use of deadly force is legally justifiable. Those uncomfortable with the idea of potentially taking a life to save others while a crime is occurring are far more likely to be uncomfortable with the idea of taking a life as punishment for that same crime.

Summary

Overall the book is a good presentation of reality from the gun owner perspective, showing the different aspects of the gap between gun culture and mainstream media, and the reasons and ways the gun culture separates from the views and motivations of non-gun owners (or casual gun owners with less affiliation or alignment with gun culture values). With the significant numbers of new gun owners, particularly those that are not conservative older white males, demographics and possibly support for new gun control measures may be changing rapidly.

Because of that, it has value for new gun owners and non-gun-owning friends and family of gun owners, as it explains the political landscape in a way that’s accessible to those outside the gun culture.

KR Training August 2020 Newsletter

TRAINING UPDATES

Classes continue to fill quickly at the A-Zone Range, so we’ve added more training opportunities to the schedule to accommodate more students while keeping classes small. We’re also aware that ammunition can be hard to find, so we have scheduled more non-shooting classes and reduced total round counts in many classes.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The page at this link is our official COVID status page.
  • Masks are mandatory inside the A-Zone classroom building.
  • The range is set up to facilitate 6 feet of distance on the firing line and at the safe tables.
  • Classes remain at 50% of normal capacity per state and Lee County guidelines.
  • Round counts are lower in many of our classes, but not all.
  • Registered students will receive updated round counts in their pre-class email.
  • We recommend finding deals on ammunition at AmmoSeek.com, but read this message from AmmoSeek to understand why your order may be back-ordered, sold out, or delayed significantly.

Although we’ve added many classes, they continue to fill quickly. Weekday lessons are available with Karl for individuals, families, or small groups. Tina Maldonado and Sean Hoffman are available for weekday and weekend sessions in the NW Austin/Georgetown area, and Doug Greig is available in the Caldwell/Bryan/College Station and Conroe area. Training is available at any level, including LTC online completion. Contact us to schedule.

REFERRING NEW GUN OWNERS

Many of the classes we’ve added are entry level classes suitable for new gun owners and those with LTC and no other training. Often new gun owners think that the only training they need are classes in gunhandling and marksmanship. As discussed in Claude Werner’s excellent book “Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make“, the greatest failure area is tactics: taking the wrong actions, at the wrong time. If you recommend our courses to new gun owners, please encourage them to attend not only the basic gun skills courses we’ve added, but the Home Defense Tactics and Personal Tactics Skills courses that teach the non-shooting skills necessary to avoid making serious mistakes.

We do have loaner guns available for beginner classes, including shotgun and carbine classes, for those that want to learn those skills that don’t yet own a firearm, or have had difficulty finding the firearm they want in stock.

UPCOMING LIVE-FIRE CLASSES

We asked for your input into the class schedule, and have responded by adding many of the most-requested live fire classes to the August – October training calendar. Some classes (not listed below) are already sold out.

Due to an agreement with our range neighbors related to deer season, in November and December live-fire training will be limited to private, mid-day weekday sessions. We will also offer some non-shooting group classes on weekends.

For those seeking their Texas License to Carry, our recommended option is to take an online course and do the range completion with us. Under DPS guidelines, completion requires a 1 hour (minimum) classroom block of training and the shooting test. The shooting test is not part of the 1 hour instruction. We are now offering 2 hour LTC Completion weekend courses priced lower than our private weekday completion sessions.

The LTC completion sessions also make excellent refresher courses for those that already have LTC but have not practiced or taken other training since getting the LTC. They are scheduled on days that other courses appropriate for LTC level students are offered, such as our shotgun, carbine and Skill Builder classes, to encourage those attending to use the LTC completion classes as a low cost handgun tuneup session.

UPCOMING CLASSROOM-ONLY COURSES

These indoor classes are still open for registration at the time of this writing, but there aren’t many slots available. Register soon to reserve a spot.

As you can see from the class list above, one of you still has a chance to train with Lone Star Medics and Tactician Concepts August 1, learning knife and medical skills in Cut and Stuff. Massad Ayoob’s MAG-20 Classroom also has spots available. We’ve also added a Tactics-Based Land Navigation 8-hour class on October 25, and two options to attend Dr. William Aprill’s cornerstone class, Unthinkable, December 12 and 13. These are opportunities you don’t want to miss, so register now and secure your seat in these classes.


AUGUST VIRTUAL PREPAREDNESS CONFERENCE

Paul Martin and I are putting together a virtual preparedness conference, which will offer low cost, short videos on a variety of preparedness topics from us and guest experts. We will announce more about this mid-August when the videos are available to download and stream. We still have over 14 hours of material from the 2018 preparedness conference online for low cost download or streaming. The trailer for that video series is here.

JULY BLOG POSTS

If you don’t subscribe to this blog or follow us on Facebook, you may have missed these articles we posted in July:

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.

STAFF NEWS

Instructor Doug Greig attended and passed the SIG Pistol Mounted Optics Instructor course, held at the SIG Academy in New Hampshire, this month. He joins Karl and Sean Hoffman as SIG-certified trainers in red dot pistol shooting.

SONG OF THE MONTH

Most of the places I used to perform music each week are either closed or operating at reduced capacity with no live music, but Luigi’s Patio Ristorante in College Station continues to have live music every day they are open. Those of you in the B/CS area are encouraged to support them (dine-in and takeout), and everyone is encouraged to support all the family-owned local restaurants near you as they struggle to stay open.

I have started live streaming my Luigi Tuesday performances via my personal Facebook page. Here’s a sample from a live stream a few weeks ago.

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

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

Austin Crime Stats and upcoming tactics courses

(From Paul Martin): Last week, the Greater Austin Crime Commission released a Crime in Austin report. Download it here. Citywide, aggravated assaults and individual robberies were up last year. Response times are slower, and traffic fatalities increased. Cutting 100 cops takes us back to 2015 staffing levels. Does that make sense in a rapidly growing city?

The link you will find most interesting if you live in or near Austin is here.  Note the summary of the report for the first half of the year:

  • Murder up by 64%
  • Auto Theft up by 30%
  • Robberies up by 16%
  • Aggravated assault up by 14%
  • Arson up by 9%
  • Burglaries up by 8%

Remember – if you think crime happens “to other people,” rest assured that to someone else, YOU are “other people.” Take time this week to:

  • Honestly and critically evaluate your own readiness and prevention measures for crime, both in and out of the home
  • Determine what training you need to alleviate those deficiencies.  Given the pandemic, you may have to resort to online training – it’s better than nothing
  • Don’t limit your evaluation to just self defense needs – what first aid training do you need?  Do you have enough fire extinguishers at your house and in your vehicle?  What can you do to promote health and safety with your neighbors and community?
  • Make any necessary changes in your habits or daily activities to reduce the risk to you.

If you appreciate the reporting below, consider getting on the Greater Austin Crime Commission’s email distribution list by going to their website It’s free to join.  If you can, consider making a donation for the work they are doing.  I have provided financial support to the Commission in the past.  

(from Karl): Recently the head of the Austin Police Association advised officers to “do the minimum” while on duty, as protest against the attitudes and policies of local leadership regarding police and policing. With crime increasing, police staff reductions, limited response levels and slower response times, the importance of taking steps to minimize your risk and improve your abilities is high.

The KR Training Home Defense Tactics class is coming up August 15th, 2-5 pm. It’s an indoor lecture course (no shooting) that teaches how to do a security evaluation of your own home, and includes instruction on how to handle the “what if” scenarios that are most likely at home.

Lack of training leads to the actions that has gotten a St. Louis couple national attention and criminal charges. Stepping outside the home to confront an angry mob, using an unloaded rifle and fake gun was not good tactics, regardless of the legality of their actions. The Modern Service Weapons blog recently published an excellent article on this issue.

We also have slots still open in our August 8th Personal Tactics Skills class, which addresses all the “what if…” situations that can happen to people when they are away from home, in their vehicle or in a public place. That course includes instruction in selection and use of pepper spray. That course is also indoors, no shooting, no equipment required.

There is more to self-defense than just “have a gun and carry it”. If you read Claude Werner’s excellent book/ebook/audiobook “Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make“, you will learn that the training armed (and unarmed) citizens most need is instruction in tactics, not marksmanship and gunhandling. That’s why we offer these courses in addition to our traditional firearms skills classes.

The tactics courses can be attended by anyone, armed or unarmed, including teens and those with no interest in firearms who just want basic “how to avoid being a victim of crime” instruction.

If you don’t have time or interest in driving out to the A-Zone to attend a class, Lee Weems of First Person Safety is doing an online “Standing your Ground” course Saturday afternoon, July 25. You can register and attend that class by clicking this link.

Register for these courses by visiting the KR Training official website.

Texas Bar Online Course on Firearms Law 2020

The Texas Bar continuing education program offers a session titled “Firearms Law: What Every Texas Lawyer Needs to Know”, on September 24-25, 2020.

The session is not limited to Texas lawyers. Anyone can attend. I’ve attended the in-person sessions in previous years and found them very useful and informative. Speakers typically include prosecutors, defensive lawyers, judges, and legal experts. One year Don West, who defended George Zimmerman, gave a full day’s presentation on that case. Last year’s presenters included trainer Massad Ayoob, Gene Anthes, the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network lawyer that represented John Daub after his self-defense shooting, and a Tyler law enforcement officer who was involved in the pursuit and shooting of the active killer at that city’s courthouse.

My AAR from the 2018 event is here (part 1, part 2).

This year’s topics include

  • Primer on Basics of Gun Law
  • Firearms and Family Law – What Every Family Lawyer Should Know
  • Granny Had a Gun: Firearms in Estate Administration• Gun Trusts
  • How to Protect Your Law Firm from Violence in the Workplace
  • Premises Liability and Guns
  • Hosting a Social Shooting Experience
  • Understanding and Sorting out the Conflicts in Texas Carry Rules
  • Defending Our Own: We Stopped the Shooting\
  • 20 Cases Every Lawyer and Gun Owner Should Know
  • Gun Collecting
  • The Changing Policies on Use of Force and the Pros and Cons of the Decline in Officer Involved Shootings
  • Avoiding Malpractice and Ethics Violation in Representing Family and Criminal Law Matters
  • Understanding Controversial Verdicts

This year’s conference will be purely online, and discounted rates for pre-registration are available. If you can’t watch it live, the sessions will be available to view anytime for a year after the event. Print copy or full PDF of the event notes are included in the cost. Typically the event notes are very detailed (not power point slides but full text documents) and are hundreds of pages long, full of content.

This training far surpasses anything the DPS ever offered to LTC instructors for professional development, and in my opinion this seminar should be essential viewing for all Texas LTC instructors. The topics are broad enough in scope that any gun owner, armed citizen or instructor teaching outside Texas would benefit from the information as well.

For more information, here’s the link to the event brochure and registration.

Book Review: The Red Dot Club (Robert Rangel, 2014)

I picked up a copy of this e-book when it was recommended by Greg Ellifritz (Active Response Training blog).

The Red Dot Club is a series of first-hand accounts of gunfights – shooting others and being shot (getting a “red dot”) told by police officers, mostly from Southern California. The accounts are very detailed, with emphasis on what the officers thought and felt before, during and after the incidents. It’s not a book that provides “lessons learned” or after action analysis, nor does it discuss tactics for avoidance or tactics for winning in the incidents.

The main theme of the book, if there is one, is to give the reader better perspective on violence and how it affects the participants – physically and psychologically. Author Robert Rangel served 13 years with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and medically retired after multiple on-duty injuries, working executive protection, bank security, and doing civilian investigation work for a police department. That varied career provided him many encounters with those that had been involved in shooting incidents, enabling him to compile their stories into this book.

When we discuss deadly force incidents, I comment to my students that I have never talked to anyone that’s been in one that said “that was exciting and fun and I’d like to do that again”. Their stories are much more like the ones in this book: darker with more regret. Since most of the stories are set in the Los Angeles/Southern California area, it also provides insight about the drug and gang culture of that area, from the police perspective.

You can purchase the book from Amazon here. Rangel wrote a follow up book, The Red Dot Club Victim’s Voices, which was released in 2018. I purchased a copy of that e-book and will be reading it sometime this month.

KR Training June/July 2020 Newsletter

COVID UPDATE

The page at this link is our official COVID status page. Per new guidelines from Lee County masks are now mandatory inside the A-Zone classroom building. We have reduced the number of firing points on the main range to ensure students are 6 feet apart when on the line. We are running classes at 50% of normal capacity per state and county guidelines. We’ve added a second safe area to the main range to allow better social distancing between students and we have modified some courses to reduce indoor classroom time.

CLASSES ARE FILLING QUICKLY

Many of our classes through mid August are full or almost full. Weekday lessons are available with Karl for individuals, families, or small groups. Tina Maldonado and Sean Hoffman are available for weekday and weekend sessions in the NW Austin/Georgetown area, and Doug Greig is available in the Caldwell/Bryan/College Station and Conroe area. Training available is at any level, including LTC online completion. Contact us to schedule.

HOME DEFENSE TACTICS

Due to student requests we have added two sessions of our Home Defense Tactics course. This afternoon, all indoor, no live fire course uses “red guns” and other props to teach home-specific skills: how to do a security assessment of your home (lights, locks, windows, doors, cameras, alarms), and how to move indoors while armed (aka “house clearing”). The content of this course is different from Personal Tactics Skills (which is all about incidents in public). We have not offered the home defense in awhile. The course has no pre-reqs and is open to all regardless of shooting skill or experience.

UPCOMING CLASSES WITH SPACE AVAILABLE

We have added some classes to our July-September schedule. Want something not listed? Need DPS-3 to earn your challenge coin? Contact us and request it. We still have open dates in the coming months and want your input.

FIREARMS FOR SALE

A KR Training Assistant instructor is selling some guns from his personal collection, located in the Austin/Georgetown area. Contact Karl and he will connect you with the seller if you are interested in any of the following:

  • Smith and Wesson MP AR 15 complete lower receiver assembly with Daniel Defense collapsible stock, $400.00
  • Sig Sauer P938 Scorpion Flat Dark Earth. NIB with 4 magazines, $700.00
  • Glock 21 Gen 4 NIB with 3 magazines, $550.00
  • Glock 19 Gen 4  OD Green frame. NIB with 3 magazines, $550.00
  • Glock 19X NIB with 3 magazines, $600.00
  • Sig Sauer Legion P226 DA/SA with 3 magazines NIB. Includes SIG Legion series soft case, Sig Legion challenge coin, and folding knife. $1440.00
  • Sig Sauer P320 X carry coyote tan with Romeo 1 optic. 2 magazines NIB, $750.00
  • Kel Tec KSG 12 gauge shotgun, $850.00

JUNE BLOG POSTS

If you don’t subscribe to this blog or follow us on Facebook, you may have missed these articles we posted in June:

STAFF DEVELOPMENT

Karl and Sean Hoffman recently traveled to Gunsite to attend a SIG Academy Pistol Mounted Optics Instructor certification course. Paul Martin attended the Defensive Shotgun class Tom Givens taught at the A-Zone. Doug Greig was #2 overall shooter at the Rangemaster Instructor course in Dallas.

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Karl, Penny and the KR Training team

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

I finally returned to playing a few gigs as a musician. Here’s a video from a Facebook livestream where I do a solo piano version of a classic Pink Floyd song. There are many other videos on youtube.com/karlrehnmusic to enjoy.

Gunsite and the C-Bar Ranch

The SIG Pistol Mounted Optics instructor class Sean and I attended was held at Gunsite. Gunsite is the root of the tree for defensive pistol training: where the modern era began. The Col. Cooper era, often called “Orange Gunsite” by its students, had basically ended before I had the money and free time and interest to make the trip to attend a class. During the 1990’s Gunsite was in decline and Clint Smith was teaching at Thunder Ranch in Texas, so Penny and I ended up taking a class there instead of Gunsite. In the 2000’s under new ownership Gunsite made a comeback and is once again one of the best schools in the country. As KR Training grew I was able to do most of my training by hosting traveling instructors rather than going to other facilities, so going to Gunsite – something that has been on my bucket list for a long time – just never seemed to happen, until June 2020.

Thanks to Randy W, a KR Training student and longtime Gunsite student, Sean and I got a tour of the Gunsite facilities from Ken Campbell, Gunsite CEO. That included seeing several of the shoothouses and many of the different live fire ranges.

Karl and Gunsite CEO Ken Campbell

On the advice of KR Training assistant instructor Justin G, who had trained at Gunsite in the past, we stayed at Mark Brougher’s C-Bar bed and breakfast. Mark shares my passion for the Old West. He’s written multiple books (available in e-format from Amazon) and I was able to pick up a signed copy of book #1 from him during our visit. Two of the books have been made into independent films also available for streaming online.

Episode 2, in Mark’s opinion, is a better movie.

During our visit to the C-Bar I ended up watching both movies in our down time. Here are some pics from the C-Bar.

Many of the structures at the C-Bar were rescued from a “ghost town” and relocated and renovated. If you ever travel to Gunsite to train, the C-Bar is a great place to stay. Two bedrooms, could sleep 4 comfortably, slept 2 very comfortably. 10-15 minutes from Gunsite’s front gate. Quiet, gun friendly.

We also found time to stop at the Phippen Museum in Prescott, AZ, which had current southwestern art as well as classic western art and historical artifacts. One of the docents gave us a personal tour with commentary, on a slow Saturday morning visit.

Very cool 1930’s grand piano with leather trim

We also made a Friday night visit to downtown Prescott to dine at the famous Palace, where they claim Wyatt Earp and others gathered before traveling to Tombstone for the OK Corral gunfight. They serve drinks made Old Overton, Wyatt Earp’s favorite whiskey.

Friday in downtown Prescott during the summers they have live music on the courthouse square, and we got to enjoy a good local band, with a decent crowd of locals spending a nice summer evening outside.

If you are looking for a fun shooting vacation, Gunsite and the Prescott area have a lot to offer. If I had it to do over again I would have stayed an extra couple of days, done some hiking and other outdoor activities, and had at least one day just hanging out at the C-Bar relaxing after class.

SIG Pistol Mounted Optics Instructor Course AAR

On June 18-19, 2020, KR Training instructor Sean Hoffman and I attended a session of the SIG Academy’s Pistol Mounted Optics Instructor course. The class was a mix of private sector and law enforcement trainers. It was held at the famous Gunsite facility in Paulden, Arizona. I picked this particular session of the class to attend because it was a “double word score” on my training bucket list: visiting Gunsite and taking a class from the SIG Academy. Sean had attended red dot instructor certification courses from Modern Samurai Project, Centrifuge and Sage Dynamics in the past, so this course finished off his list of ‘red dot’ specific instructor classes.

I started shooting red dot sights on pistols in the early 1990’s, when they were mounted to the pistol’s frame. Here’s some pics of one of the Open division guns I shot during that period. And I came back to slide mounted red dots a few years ago when I ran an M&P Core with Trijicon RMR for a summer’s worth of weekly USPSA matches working my way up to Grand Master in that division. So I felt like I understood how to run a red dot (and had not been motivated to take a class from any of the red dot class specialist trainers), but the SIG class, mainly being oriented to instructors teaching transition classes for cops, interested me. I wanted to see the material they were using to bring moderately skilled shooters (average officers) up the learning curve.

Several years ago we did a 120 shooter study that essentially measured that learning curve for shooters of a wide variety of levels. What we found was that the lower the skill level of the shooter, the more difficulty they had finding the red dot under time pressure. Many red dot advocates complained that our results were not valid because we didn’t first provide all 120 people a 16 hour course so they could get familiar with the dot before being tested. We were more interested in how the typical shooter – the 99% that don’t seek out training unless the state forces them to – would or could do using the dot in a realistic drill.

By far the most common problem was bringing the gun up to eye level, seeing the target through the window, and not seeing the dot. Worse, having no visual information available to identify what to do to find the dot, usually resorting to wiggling their head and the gun around until they either ran out of time or found the dot or (most often) fired with no dot missing the target entirely.

A large chunk of the SIG curriculum addressed that issue, both in how to improve shooter index using a mix of new and old “point shooting” techniques (some going back to Fairbairn, others from Jim Cirillo’s book, and some specific to red dot sights). It provided instructors answers to the “‘what if” questions critics and skeptics of red dot sight have: what happens when you can’t find the dot? what happens when the dot’s lens is occluded?

These were our targets after a block of “no dot” drills shot from 3-7 yards, using the shell of the red dot sight, the back of the slide, and other very coarse alignment techniques for aiming.

Zeroing

The section on zeroing was very complete, including ballistic charts for 115, 124 and 147 gr 9mm loads, and discussion of how much class time can be wasted trying to zero pistols at 25 yards. They correctly observed all of these things: many shooters do not understand how to shoot from benchrest correctly, many shooters have never shot slow fire groups, and marching back and forth from the 25 yard line to the targets multiple times, as shooters fire slow fire groups and make sight adjustments, can be a very time consuming process.

They recommended doing the zeroing at 15 yards, and did a great job of demonstrating how to use an ammo can and Frank Proctor’s small sand bags for zeroing.

On day one I shot Sean’s Glock 48 with milled Holosun 507C, from concealment.

On day 2 I used one of the class loaner guns, a SIG 320 with Romeo 1 dot, to get some trigger time in with both the pistol and the optic.

The first thing we did on day 2 was shoot their 6 string standards course, cold, for score. Everyone else on the line was using the same gear they had used for 500 rounds of work the day prior. I did a few practice dry draws but didn’t get to do any live fire with the 320 before the test. Here are the 6 strings of the test, all shot on the SIG target, which has the same 8″ torso circle and 4″ head circle as the IDPA target. All strings are shot at 5 yards. The student notes say “5 yards between targets” for the two target drill, but that seems wrong and should probably be 5 feet which is about two lanes on a standard firing line. Shots outside the 8″ circle are considered misses. (I like this approach as it aligns with our concept of scoring hits as either acceptable or unacceptable.)

  1. One shot from low ready, 1.25 seconds or less
  2. Starting holstered, draw and fire one shot with two hands (open carry), 2.00 seconds or less
  3. Starting holstered, draw strong hand only, fire one shot, transfer to support hand and fire one shot. 4.00 seconds or less
  4. Starting holstered with only 2 rounds in the gun (1+1), draw and fire two rounds, emergency reload, fire two rounds. 5.25 seconds or less. (This assumes a 2.5 second slide lock reload. Most on the line had reload times of 3.00-3.50 seconds, and many were using the overhand rack method, rather than the slide lock lever, to run the slide. That’s slower. I could not reach the slide lever with my shooting hand thumb and used my support hand thumb to release the slide, which was faster than the overhand rack method.)
  5. With exactly 6 rounds in the gun (5+1), draw and fire 6 rounds, emergency reload and fire one additional round. 6.25 seconds or less.
  6. With at least 8 rounds in the gun, engage two targets as follows, one round each: body T1, body T2, head T1, head T2, body T1, body T2, head T1, head T2. 7.5 seconds or less.
My cold scores with the 320

I passed 5 of the 6 quals, only falling short on the first string involving a reload. That was because I tried to use my shooting hand thumb on the slide release, which didn’t work, and I had to immediately do the overhand rack to finish the drill, and only missed the par by less than 0.5 seconds in spite of that. (In my feedback to them after the course, I commented that reload speed has little/nothing to do with ability to shoot a red dot. The inclusion of two slide lock reloads in the standards, given John Correia’s observation from watching tens of thousands of incidents that reload speed really isn’t that critical a skill, is at least one too many. Sean shot the test from concealment, and was told later by the instructors that the par times were set for open carry. He shot the end-of-day test from open carry and was able to make the reload times.)

One of the students, Jim from ProForce LEO supply had donated a NightStick weapon mounted light as a prize to the top shooter in the day 2 morning “cold” test…which I won. Here’s the light mounted on my CoolFire M&P. My plan is to use the light for low light scenarios and dryfire work and class demos.

Day 2 was fewer rounds fired (about 250), with more complex drills requiring shooting on the move and more transitions, giving students an opportunity to work at finding the dot doing more than standing in one spot. In talking with students that attended a previous session of the course taught at the SIG Academy home facility, I learned that the version of the course they took also included shooting from cover, kneeling and prone. Our course, run in the summer heat at Gunsite, left the students fairly bronzed and baked in full 8 hour days on the range. Omitting the prone and barricade work was OK with us, as the work we did verifying that the sight has no parallax even when the dot is in the corners of the window confirmed to us that as long as we could put the dot on the spot we wanted to hit – even if the dot was not centered in the window – the hits would be on target.

In the end, everyone in the course performed well on the final run through their 6-string standard course. I passed all 6 and was top shooter in the class. Sean tied with several others with 5 of 6 passed for the #2 slot.

Happy graduates and the SIG instructors

The course met its goal of teaching pistol instructors what they needed to know to coach competent shooters familiar with iron sights through a transition to red dot sights, and they provided us with solid drills and information. Sean and I teach another session of our “Red Dot Pistol Essentials” class in July 2020, and I teach a short version of it in August at Buck and Doe’s in San Antonio. Students in those courses will definitely see some of the material we learned in the SIG course.

1920’s Police Revolver Qualification

During the Rangemaster Master Instructor Course, Tom Givens shared a police qualification course of fire with the class. The course was published in J. Henry Fitzgerald’s book “Shooting”, in 1930, but was in use in New York in the 1920’s. That book is available in print and e-book edition here. It’s one of the earliest, best collections of information about practical and defensive pistol shooting, and should be a “must read” for any pistol instructor or serious student of this topic.

A sample of the book, including this course of fire, is here.

The following course in practical police shooting has been used for many years by the New York State Troopers and is taught by the author at the New York State Police School. This organization was the first to use the Colt’s Silhouette target. When Captain Albert B. Moore and I visited all the barracks in the state and taught the officers this new course in the shooting, the valuable suggestions of Captain Moore were of great assistance in compiling the course, which has the sanction of former superintendent, Colonel George Chandler, and the present superintendent, Major John A. Warner. The Colt Silhouette target is used because it is the shape and size of target which must be hit in an emergency.

FitzGerald, J. Henry. Shooting (Kindle Locations 3745-3750). Sportsman’s Vintage Press. Kindle Edition.
B21-X

The B-21 target shows a 6 foot tall man drawing a pistol from his pocket with his right hand and arm. It has both K (kill) and D (disable) zones, with different K and D points associated with each zone. Note the zero zones associated with the edges of the target’s clothing. Also notice that the left arm, assumed not to be drawing a gun, has lower K and D points than the right (gun) arm. The center torso K5 zone goes all the way down into the lower chest cavity. Modern targets such as the current FBI-Q, USPSA and IDPA targets, no longer consider abdominal hits to be of equal value as high chest hits. The target is wider than the 18″ and 24″ targets commonly used today, because of the inclusion of both arms and the bent elbow of the right arm.

The original target did not include the center X ring, which was added later as more bullseye elements were incorporated into police training and qualification. The B21 was the first realistic pistol target mass produced and widely used for handgun training.

After returning home from the Master Instructor class, I shot the course of fire, using a S&W .38 revolver from a basic leather holster, using techniques common to that era, on the B-21X target, which is a variant of the Colt Silhouette target with an additional “X” ring in the center. I used Tom’s version of the drill, which only uses a single target. Fitz’s original version (shared here) uses 2 targets for some parts.

Course I: 6 shots single action, 10 yards distance, 2 Colt Silhouette targets used. 3 shots with right hand, 3 shots with left hand. Not timed, K zone to count. (Tom’s version has the distance at 25 feet fired on a single target.)

From the book: “The object of this slow-fire course is to familiarize each officer with sights, position, recoil, and general shooting instructions, also to teach him the use of right and left hand, a very important accomplishment for any officer. Two targets are used to determine proficiency with each hand.”

Course II: 6 shots double action, 15 feet distance. 2 Colt Silhouette targets (Tom’s version uses one target.) Position: Hands at side, revolver in holster. At command FIRE, draw and fire 3 shots with right hand at right hand target; change revolver to left hand and fire 3 shots with left hand at left hand target. K zone to count. Timed from command FIRE to last shot.

From the book “This course teaches quick draw, double action with right and left hand and shooting with speed and accuracy.”

Here’s video of me shooting courses 1 and 2.

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Part one of the 1920s cop qualification.

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Course III: 6 shots double action, 1 Colt Silhouette target 15 feet distance Stand, hands at side, revolver in holster. At command FIRE, draw and fire 1 shot; return revolver to holster, arms at side. Without command, draw and fire second shot; return revolver to holster, hands at side. Repeat until 6 shots are fired. Timed from command FIRE to last shot. K zone to count.

From the book: “This course teaches quick draw with favorite gun hand and placing the first shot accurately.” In the video I am shooting one handed and shooting with pure target focus, not really trying to get a traditional sight picture, as was advocated during that era.

Video of course 3:

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Part two 1920s cop qual

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Course IV: 6 shots single and double action, 25 yards distance. 2 Colt Silhouette targets (Tom’s version uses one target.) Stand on 25-yard line, revolver in holster, hands at side. At command FIRE, draw and fire 1 shot, single action, at each silhouette target. Run to 12 yards (carrying revolver safely while running, finger out of the trigger guard, arm at side) and, holding revolver in both hands (place gun hand in palm of the other hand, closing fingers around gun hand), fire 1 shot at each target. Drop to mat and holding revolver with both hands fire 1 shot at each target. Timed from command FIRE to last shot. K zone to count.

From the book: “This course teaches twenty-five yard shooting, how to carry a revolver when running, to stop when firing, to steady a revolver with both hands after a run, and to drop to the ground when fired upon (making a target one-sixth the size of a standing man), and to fire accurately from a prone position.”

Video of course 4:

Course V: 6 shots double action, 10 feet distance. 2 Colt Silhouette targets (Tom’s version uses one target). Position: Revolver in holster, hands at side. At command FIRE, draw and fire 1 shot at the center zone of each target; return revolver to holster, hand to side. At command FIRE, draw and fire 1 shot at each head; return revolver to holster, hand to side. At command FIRE, draw and fire 1 shot at each right arm (bent arm). Each 2 shots are timed.

No hits to count except those in part of silhouette target stated in command. Body hit from bottom of center zone to separating line in neck. Head hit from separating line in neck to top of head. Arm hit from white line at shoulder to body at side. Sleeve zone marked 0 does not count. All hits count 5.

From the book: “This course teaches the quick, accurate placing of shots at short range and they are considered the six most important shots that any officer can perfect himself in. Two targets are used in the above courses to teach the officer the accurate placing of shots in two targets without loss of time or accuracy.”

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Part 3 1920s cop qual

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When I posted the instagram videos I was working from Tom’s version of the course so the part numbers are ordered differently from Fitz’ original version. And if you watch carefully in the video where I run from 25 to 12 yards, I’m not running with my gun in the exact position they require, which probably would have been slower.

While Fitz’ book does not include the scoring system used, Tom’s research uncovered it. For this course of fire, it’s 30 rounds, 150 points possible. (Not truly possible since two shots are mandated to hit the right arm, where no 5 point K-zones are available.) Record all times and add them up. Subtract 1/3 of the total time from the point total for a score. Final score 70 or higher passes. My times for the video runs:

  • 3 rounds dom hand only: 2.97
  • 3 rounds non dom hand only: 3.62
  • 6 one-shot draw/holster reps: 11.61 (buzzer to 6th shot)
  • 25 yard, run to 12, standing/prone: 14.11
  • 10 feet, draw and shoot 2 (body): 1.91
  • 10 feet, draw and shoot 2 (head): 2.35
  • 10 feet, draw and shoot 2 (arm): 2.10

Total time: 38.67. My total points for the video runs were 140/150. I pulled shot #2 from single action at 25 yards high/right over the shoulder and dropped a few points by hitting the right arm. By my assessment the actual highest possible point total is 146.

The scoring system is a rudimentary pre-Comstock approach that uses individual times, instead of fixed par times. One-third of my total time, rounded to nearest integer, was 13. 140-13 gives me a score of 127, far above the 70 required to pass. If I had shot 146 points in 30 seconds, that would have scored me 146-(30/3) = 136, which could probably be treated as the “high hit factor” (in USPSA language) for the course of fire.

Had I only scored 100 of the 150 points possible, and done so in 90 seconds (nearly triple my actual time), that would have been a passing score of 70. That means the standards were not particularly high, but keep in mind they were shooting 1920’s guns with rudimentary sights (not the target sights on my 1953 K-38), and shooting without hearing protection.

If you don’t have vintage gear or the B-21X target available, just try shooting the course of fire using modern gear and a USPSA or IDPA or FBI-Q target. You can use one handed ‘vintage’ techniques or modern techniques.

For safety reasons I suggest changing the six 1-shot draws into six separate timed drills, instead of trying to reholster on the clock, particularly with a modern striker fired gun.