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.

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

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.

View this post on Instagram

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.

Book Review – Basics of Pistol Shooting Pt 4 (NRA, 2020)

The National Rifle Association recently released a major update to the Basics of Pistol Shooting book. This is part 4 of a multi-part review of the book. (Part 1 of the review is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.) Most of the book is excellent, with significantly better graphics and content than previous editions. However, because so many instructors and students will be using this book, I think it’s worthwhile to point out some of my concerns with the content.

This final review section focuses on the Guide to Concealed Carry holsters part of the book. As students check in on the range for classes, I and my assistants always check out their gear, looking for problems with holster selection, holster placement, and other little details that will either be a safety concern or just make drawing and carrying the gun more difficult. Unfortunately, many of the pictures in this section of the NRA book show the things we look for, but they are presented as “typical” or “acceptable”, not illustrations of what NOT to do. They are the sort of errors made daily by gun bloggers, marketing people, photographers with no gun training, and people selling gear at gun stores — all people who don’t have to deal with the problems the bad and wrong things they show or sell generate for trainers trying to teach people actual skills.

The photo below, to the untrained eye, just looks like someone drawing from an inside the waistband (IWB) holster. Look carefully at the way the grip is being established on the gun. The slide is lined up with the first joint of the thumb, not the web of the hand. In a proper drawstroke, there’s no “get the gun partially out, stop and fix your firing hand grip” step. But there will be for this person, unless they follow mistake #1 (bad grip on the gun with the firing hand) with mistake #2 (try to shoot with the gun recoiling over the thumb instead of the web of the hand). The fundamentals of proper alignment of the pistol with the firing hand have been understood since the 1930’s (at least) and are explained in the 1959 NRA basic pistol book.

Adding to the failures in this picture is holster angle. The gun is canted forward so that the barrel is nearly 90 degrees off from the natural angle of the arm bones (a common problem among those that buy holsters intended for behind-the-hip placement who wear them too far forward). That’s going to result in a draw where the wrist is curled under, at a very awkward angle, leading to an awkward draw. It appears the holster being worn by the model is a “sticky” holster that depends on friction, rather than a belt or pants attachment, to keep the holster in place. Many of those holsters don’t keep the gun at a consistent angle.

Here’s another example of wrong holster angle. Guns worn at the 3 o-clock position should be straight up and down, not canted forward. That holster is a duty type holster that would require a trenchcoat to conceal. There are plenty of outside the waistband holsters (most made using a pancake design) that are much better choices for concealed carry.

One problem with a holster like the one shown below for concealed carry is that if the gun is worn with a straight cant, the butt of the gun and grip will stick out behind the shooter, printing badly. But the “solution” to that problem is not to cant the gun forward so it’s awkward to draw. It’s to get a different holster and/or carry the gun in a different position around the hip.

This picture shows the classic “women trying to wear a holster made for male body geometry” problem, where the gun is angled into the body, poking against the rib cage, again making the draw awkward and difficult. And as with the earlier picture, this is a duty/open carry holster poorly suited for concealed carry.

The one piece plastic “easy on/easy off” belt clips work great right up until the gun hangs just a little in the holster, and then you get the gun and the holster coming out when you draw. This happens most often when people wear thin dress belts or the new thinner tactical belts. The plastic one piece clip works best with a double thick leather belt so there is more belt for it to grab. The model’s trigger finger position is excellent, and firing hand grip on the pistol is not too bad. The model is jamming her thumb all the way down on the grip, which isn’t necessary if the modern “thumbs forward” grip is being used. This video from Scott Jedlinski (start at 2:56) shows a better way to place the thumb when drawing. This works for AIWB and IWB.

And speaking of appendix carry, the picture below shows the most common problem (and safety hazard) that people trying to carry in the appendix position have. That holster sits too low relative to the belt. There’s no room between the frontstrap of the pistol and the belt and pants for the shooter to establish a full firing grip on the pistol before lifting it out of the holster. What those carrying in that way end up doing is palming the gun up and closing their fingers to establish grip as the gun rises. That’s inefficient, and worse, the fingers of the hand are closing AFTER the trigger is no longer protected by the trigger guard, dramatically increasing the likelihood that sympathetic movement of the trigger finger, as all other fingers are closing, could fire the gun. And while any negligent discharge resulting in self-inflicted gunshot wound is bad, shooting yourself in the femoral artery is extremely bad. Again as in the other pic, the plastic one piece belt clip riding on a thin dress belt is shown — a guarantee that the gun angle is likely not consistent. While I have no problem with students drawing from appendix carry, and I’ve carried that way (and taken multiple classes carrying that way), I won’t allow students in my classes to work from an AIWB holster riding that low. If they can’t establish a full firing grip on the pistol without lifting the gun up, it’s a no-go. (I have loaner holsters)

Aside: if you have one of those one piece plastic belt clips on your holster, you need the Discrete Carry Concepts monoblock. It replaces the plastic belt clip with something that has as lot of tension and prints less. It holds the gun and holster in place securely. Yes, it’s a little harder to take on and off, but not that much harder. (And you should not be taking your gun off and on all the time anyway. Pants on, gun on, as the saying goes.) The DCC clips can be used with or without a belt. I’ve had female students come to class carrying AIWB in jeans, wearing no belt, using the DCC clips on their holster, and the holster stays in place through hours of training and many draws at realistic speed. That endorsement is not a paid ad, but I like the DCC clips so much that I’ve replaced all the belt clips on every holster I use and several of the loaners in our class supplies with them because they are so much better than any other belt attachment.

This next picture is an absolute NO.

Here are some reasons you shouldn’t carry “small of back”. There’s no shortage of data proving that having the gun in front closer to your center line is fastest, and draw speed slows down as the gun is moved farther and farther around the hip. (Clearing the concealment garment gets more difficult as well.) So “small of back” draw is slow and awkward. On a firing line in a defensive pistol class, someone drawing from small of back is likely to muzzle others on the firing line, and possibly the instructor behind the line, as they draw. (Well, actually they won’t, because many instructors won’t let someone carrying that way on the firing line in the first place…) Those that specialize in “gun grappling” and integrated close quarters for concealed carry overwhelmingly prefer appendix carry. Defending a gun parked behind the spine against someone behind you in line at Walmart lifting up your shirt and trying to grab your gun is more complicated than blocking the same attack from the front. And falling backward on a hard surface is going to jam that gun right against bones and discs. Trying to draw the gun from behind your back, while lying on your back, is hard and awkward.

The list of reasons why NOT to carry small of back is what should have been in the NRA book. Whatever company made that holster probably makes holsters for other carry positions that could have been shown instead.

While the text that goes with the picture above is correct…but the mag pouch shown in the example is not the best choice. Most that conceal carry don’t carry a spare magazine at all, and many of those that do only carry one spare. And those that carry one spare choose a lower profile mag pouch or just carry the spare in a pocket, not on the belt at all. The giant, flat outside the waistband double mag pouch is the sort of thing people wear to training classes but take off before they leave the range, because it’s bulky, and doesn’t conform to the body’s curves. Even those that carry two spare mags often use two single mag pouches instead of a rigid double.

In the next few days I’ll be teaching an instructor certification course for the new NRA CCW course. Unlike basic pistol, that course includes specific instruction on holsters and drawing from concealment. The NRA released the CCW course without a textbook to go with it, using the new Basics of Pistol Shooting and the older Personal Protection Outside the Home books (both of them) as the textbooks for the course. The CCW course, with its modular design, is the right path forward for NRA training courses for beginners and carry permit holders. Hopefully some of the issues I’ve raised in my review of the Basics of Pistol Shooting rewrite will be addressed and improved in the CCW book, whenever it is completed and released.

Book Review – Basics of Pistol Shooting Pt 3 (NRA, 2020)

The National Rifle Association recently released a major update to the Basics of Pistol Shooting book. This is part 3 of a multi-part review of the book. (Part 1 of the review is here, and part 2 is here.) Most of the book is excellent, with significantly better graphics and content than previous editions. However, because so many instructors and students will be using this book, I think it’s worthwhile to point out some of the flaws.

On page 103, this example of proper benchrest position is fundamentally wrong. Bracing the hands on sandbags does not eliminate the muzzle dipping or moving as the trigger is pressed.

The right way to benchrest a pistol, particularly when zeroing or making sight adjustments, looks like this:

correct use of a rest for zeroing a pistol

Bracing the frame under the muzzle provides the steadiest platform for shooting, and minimizes the most common shooting errors.

This photo, showing a pistol with a red dot sight mounted, is also the wrong thing to be showing beginners.

red dot pistol with pretend iron sights

What this picture shows is a pistol with a slide set up to accept a red dot sight, but still using the factory sights, instead of iron sights tall enough to co-witness. The use of red dot sights on pistols is becoming much more common – thus the importance of showing a gun properly configured. A beginner looking at this picture would easily get the wrong impression that co-witnessed iron sights are not necessary. (National level trainers specializing in red dot pistol classes recommend the co-witnessed irons, and most factory guns sold with a red dot come with tall sights as a standard option, except for Glock, who ship the gun with their standard sights, as shown in the picture.)

For decades the NRA’s basic pistol program encouraged students in the class to make adjustments to their iron sights, which makes sense if the class is being taught to Boy Scouts using target .22s with adjustable sights, and they are shooting from benchrest. But in the modern era, the typical student is a concealed carry permit applicant shooting a gun with fixed sights. The new book does an excellent job of explaining the differences in point of impact between heavy/slow and light/fast bullets, encouraging shooters to try different ammunition first before making sight adjustments, and it discusses both drifting sights left and right and replacing front sights as the correct method to getting a perfect iron sight zero.

In a section on common pistol shooting errors (a section presented in much more detail than previous editions), this graphic is shown.

This graphic is almost great. Problem #1 is color. The target is black. The rear sight is black. The target center is orange. The front sight is orange. This makes seeing the fine details of what is being presented very difficult. Problem #2 is scaling. If you’ve shot drills using the NRA B8 bullseye target, you probably noticed that the graphic doesn’t look like what you see when you aim. The sights are too small, the bullet holes are too small, even for a .22. The concept for the graphic is a good one, but a beginner reading the book may not understand what is shown.

In Chapter 17, “Selecting Pistols, Ammunition and Accessories”, gun fit is discussed in more detail, including definition of trigger reach…without showing frame-dragging or warning beginners that they should not twist the gun in their grip, out of alignment with their hand or arm, to reach the trigger in the first place. Twisting the gun so that it recoils over the firing hand thumb knuckle (instead of the web of the hand), and laying the trigger finger against the frame are the two most common problems instructors will have to deal with and two critical issues novices should understand when selecting a pistol. A few more pictures would have dramatically improved this important section.

On page 147, under the caption “Function Check your Firearm”, this picture is shown, which doesn’t show dry firing or any other action related to function checking.

The Zen of function checking

In Chapter 19, “Pistol Shooting Activities and Skill Development”, USPSA and IDPA are mentioned in an official NRA book for the first time, along with Cowboy Action Shooting, and the NRA sanctioned matches (Action Pistol, Police Practical Competition and bullseye), but Steel Challenge and it’s junior-friendly offshoot, Scholastic Action Shooting, aren’t mentioned at all, despite both being more beginner friendly than any of the NRA match formats.

The review will conclude with part 4, where I dive into the section on holster selection and use.