2018 Rangemaster Tactical Conference AAR part 3

From March 16-18, 2018, several of us from the KR Training team (myself, Dave Reichek, and Tracy Becker) attended the 20th annual Rangemaster Tactical Conference, held at the Direct Action Resource Center near Little Rock, Arkansas.  This is part 3 of a series of posts about sessions I attended and taught, the match and products I evaluated as part of the conference.

Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.


I gave a 2 hour lecture on my Historical Handgun material Saturday morning and again Saturday afternoon.  I was honored that many of the trainers that I mentioned in my talk, and many that were there for the major events and matches of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s attended, sharing their own experiences. I took a lot of notes, and received many generous offers to share their own archival material for my book.

The late trainer Paul Gomez was a serious student of the history of handgun training and technique.  An example of his depth of knowledge is this video on muzzle aversion techniques.

For years I had encouraged Paul to write a book compiling the histories of the different techniques for grip, draw, reloads, muzzle aversion, etc. The last conversation I had with him before he passed was about us collaborating on that book.  In 2017 I got serious about moving that project forward, developing a course available in 1/2, 1, and 2 day formats and working on a book.  For my talk at TacCon, I went decade by decade, discussing the important trainers, books, events, and equipment from each era.

Prior to 1930 was the Wild West era, Wyatt Earp, World War I, and the introduction of semi-auto pistols and double action revolvers.

The 1930’s was the gangster era – machine guns, the FBI, the 1934 National Firearms Act, and hip shooters: Jelly Bryce with the FBI, Ed McGivern as well as a multitude of cowboys in films and pulp magazines that dominated pop culture of that decade.

The 1940’s was World War 2.  Millions of US citizens went through the largest firearms training program in US history (military boot camp), and a few books, from Fairbairn, Sykes and Applegate, would introduce concepts that would influence trainers in the 60’s and 70’s.

I’ve written a lot about the FBI qualification course of fire from 1945, which included both hip shooting and bullseye shooting. It set the standard for handgun training until the late 1960’s.

The 1950’s was all about six guns: cowboy sixguns in fast draw competition, TV shows, movies and books, and double action sixguns carried by law enforcement and discussed in books by Elmer Keith, Charles Askins, and a young Jeff Cooper.

The 1960’s was really the start of the modern semi-auto era, as the Southwest Pistol League (Ray Chapman, Thell Reed, Jeff Cooper, Jack Weaver, Elden Carl) took cowboy fast draw and turned it into what we know now as Practical Shooting.  The era of hip shooting and bullseye faded, as techniques for aimed, two handed rapid fire were tested and refined.

The 1970s saw the creation of Gunsite, the Chapman Academy, the International Practical Shooting Confederation – the foundations for all the private sector shooting schools and pistol competitions of the present day. During this decade the officer survival movement in law enforcement training began, as police training adapted to a changing culture and increasing crime rate.

In the 1980’s more training schools began: Bill Rogers, John Shaw, Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, and many other traveling trainers.  Competition diversified: US Practical Shooting Association, Steel Challenge, Second Chance, Bianchi Cup, and other matches.  Shooting timers, progressive reloading presses and custom 1911’s grew in popularity. The Glock was introduced in 1982.

The story of the 1990’s was dramatic expansion in shall issue concealed carry, in reaction to increasing crime and mass shootings.  The other reaction to these trends was the 1994 assault weapon and magazine ban.  During this decade many more trainers and schools became active, including schools that began to integrate gun, unarmed, tactics and medical training (InSights, Tactical Defense Institute, Modern Warrior).  The rise of video sales and rentals created a path for training and competition video to reach gun owners nationwide, and by the end of the decade, Gun Culture 2.0 began to rise, as adults in urban areas, raised outside traditional gun culture attended training, got carry permits, took classes, and competed in the new pistol sport of IDPA with their carry gear.

The 2000’s began with 9/11 – an incident that affected the entire country, causing many that had been complacent about their own personal safety to buy guns and attend training. Tom Givens turned his IDPA Winter Nationals into the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.  The trainers associated with the conference shared ideas and influenced the direction of firearms training all over the US.  The number of firearms training schools dramatically increased, particularly at the end of the decade, as combat veterans transitioning to civilian life brought their experience and drive to the marketplace. The internet, particularly youTube, became the primary source for gun owners to learn about trainers, training, gear, gun laws, and everything else.

In the 2010’s, gun sales and concealed carry permits increased, and gun rights activists scored many wins, from the Supreme Court down to local levels.  The number of people carrying daily in public increased as violent crime dropped, even as mass shootings and increased polarization between coastal urban areas and the rest of the country over gun rights occurred.

If you want more Historical Handgun, I’m offering the full 2 day course at my range near Austin the Tuesday and Wednesday after the NRA Annual Meeting in Dallas, a 1 day version in Oklahoma City in June, and another 1 day session in Culpepper, VA in October.  I’ll be doing a 4 hour live fire block of Historical Handgun at the NW Tac Con coming up in July 2018 at the Firearms Academy of Seattle, and presenting this 2 hour block and the 4 hour live fire block at the 2019 Paul-E-Palooza.

Much more to follow in upcoming posts over the next few days!