1980 Chuck Taylor course notes

KR Training student Bob Hanna recently gave me his copies of class notes from training he attended with the late Chuck Taylor. Taylor was one of the early traveling trainers who spun off from Jeff Cooper’s American Pistol Institute (Gunsite), bringing that curriculum to a national (and international) audience. In 1980, Taylor had just started offering classes under his own American Small Arms Academy business name.

I’m sharing them here as part of my work exploring the history of pistol training. The full package of scanned notes can be downloaded here as a PDF. Many of the handouts were copies of copies, and are still relatively poor quality after scanning and cleanup. Taylor’s pistol shooting book, published in 1982, is a better place to find much of this material in more readable format.

The majority of the notes are copies of magazines articles Chuck wrote for various publications. They provide a snapshot of what the topics of concern were for combat pistol trainers in the early 1980’s.

The first article discusses the purpose of the handgun, ending with advocacy for the .45 ACP caliber and its “stopping power” (a major concern and favorite topic of gun writers and trainers in that era).

The next articles focus on gun modifications. The late 1970’s and 80’s were the era of the custom 1911 – days in which someone would purchase a stock pistol and have a gunsmith replace most of the parts in it with aftermarket upgrades.

In 2020 language this would be called a “build”, with the only difference between 1980 and 2020 being that the end users are doing most of the work themselves, as pistol designs and manufacturing have made it easier to install drop-in parts.

“Stopping power” and Taylor’s short form version of the Hatcher calculation gets many pages of charts and tables. The FBI’s decision to switch back to 9mm and general acceptance of that change throughout the private sector and law enforcement training community basically ended much of the stopping power debate.

Malfunctions – which were more common in the days of customized 1911’s and mil surplus magazines – was a popular topic for discussion in the 1980’s also. The “sweep across the top of the slide” technique works well with the tall .45 ACP case, but not as well with the short 9mm case, in my experience, which is one reason why that technique is not widely taught any more.

And of course, being “killed on the street” is an evergreen topic as popular on internet gun forums today as it was in the 1980s.

Interestingly enough this article calls stopping power a myth (despite Taylor’s focus on it elsewhere in the class notes). His thoughts on reloads show up in a section called “The Myth of Cover”

This article shows state of the art techniques and gear for low light shooting circa 1980.

The full package of scanned notes can be downloaded here as a PDF.

Here’s a full length interview with Chuck, recorded in 2018. It includes a summary of his history (why and how he became a trainer) along with a lot of other great insights.