For the first half of the 20th century, exhibition and trick shooting was a common and popular form of entertainment. Famous shooters from Annie Oakley, Ad and Plinky Topperwein, Ed McGivern and Bill Jordan put on shooting demonstrations as part of Wild West shows, circuses, county fairs, and later, on TV shows.
In the second half of the 20th century, Herb Parsons, Tom Knapp, Bob Munden, Jerry Miculek and others kept the tradition alive.
Exhibition and trick shooting has made a bit of a comeback, with many 21st century trick shooters like 22plinkster, Gould Brothers, Howard Darby and Chris Cheng still putting on shows, making online and TV appearances.
Latest news is that Chris Cheng will be one of the performers on a new “talent show” to be televised on TBS. More about his involvement in that show in this Ammoman article.
This episode of the Time Suck podcast tells the life history of Annie Oakley, who the most famous of the early exhibition shooters. (Warning: host Dan Cummins drops a lot of f-bombs. Spoiler: George the Poodle does not get shot.)
Bob Hanna provided some better quality copies of some of the essential articles Chuck Taylor used as class handouts. The full PDF file is here for free download. Selected pages are shown below. This material is all from the early 1980’s.
When we have power and internet service, these give us monitoring and control of important building infrastructure. Overall, all of these systems worked very well — particularly at the A-Zone property, because Bluebonnet power and Zochnet internet outages were typically of short durations (a few hours) as opposed to the long outages we experienced in Bryan. The AT&T cell phone network stayed up even when power went off in Bryan, giving us connectivity back to the remote sensors.
During the first wave of the storm, we learned that the heat pump on the house on the A-Zone property froze up. I ended up texting with our AC guy, who talked me through rewiring and configuring the Nest thermostat out there to switch on the electric heat strips and shut off the exterior heat pump. We haven’t seen our electric bill yet, but even with the thermostat set to 63, the electric heat was running at least 50% of the time for more than a week. We learned that the Nest thermostat we have isn’t “smart” enough to switch to the emergency heat. We were able to figure out that the heat pump had failed when the temperature inside the house kept dropping and the heater kept running, so the remote sensing did provide essential information.
Similarly, the exterior rain/freeze sensor worked to stop the sprinkler system from running (and we manually stopped the sprinklers remotely just to make sure no sensor error would cause them to run.)
Deciding where to ride out the storm
As the forecast worsened we had to make a decision as to where we were going to ride out the storm. At the A-Zone we had a generator and a wood burning fireplace with plenty of wood, but poor cell service (regardless of weather), with gas and food vendors 15+ minutes away. In Bryan, we had natural gas appliances (including a gas fireplace), and are within walking distance of a Walmart and multiple gas stations. We had food and bottled water at both locations.
We mistakenly assumed that utilities would be more reliable in the larger urban area. (This turned out to be wrong, as we had a 19 hour and a later 8 hour power outage in Bryan.)
Things that worked well
In my vehicle I always have a Streamlight Siege lantern, a Goal Zero solar panel and an AA battery power box that could be recharged by solar panel or USB, and could be used to charge devices connected to it via USB. During the period we went without power, I was able to use the solar panel to recharge AA batteries. The Panasonic Eneloop Pro AA batteries that I had been carrying around in my car for over a year had held their charge: other brands of rechargeable AA batteries did not, and the Goal Zero-branded AA batteries drained fastest. I will be buying more Eneloop Pro AA’s. It would have been useful to have more of them.
Natural gas appliances allowed us to cook and provided some warmth during the power outage. When power returned after the first 19 hour outage, we charged up every rechargeable thing we had, particularly all the little USB power packs and flashlights.
On the Saturday before the storm hit we went to the A-Zone and wrapped and insulated every pipe we could find. I tracked down some low-toxicity antifreeze and we poured that into the PVC water pipes in the barn to try to protect them against bursting and freezing (this worked). On Tuesday after the first big cold snap and snow and ice, we made an emergency run from Bryan to the A-Zone to check on everything. It took 90 minutes vs. the usual 60, due to road conditions and slower speeds but we were glad we made the run as it gave us peace of mind that the winterizing we had done was working (and weather conditions got worse preventing us from getting out there for another 5 days).
The batteries in the UPS’s attached to our computers were additional power storage that were used to charge USB devices and laptops. (UPS makers need to provide an option to run the UPS without the alarm sounding. Neither of ours had that option.)
The TempStick freezer/fridge sensors are expensive, so we don’t have them on the patio fridges that are only used for sodas and beer, or on the small freezers on the kitchen fridges at either location. We did have Accurite wireless sensors on those, giving local alarms if the temperatures inside the fridge or freezer got out of bounds. They allowed us to locally monitor temps without opening the door. Having those sensors let us know when we needed to relocate frozen or refrigerated items outside (into the ice and snow) to keep them from spoiling.
The only food we lost was some frozen meals in the freezer of the patio fridge at the A-Zone house. We unplugged the patio fridges at both locations out of concern that the old fridges would fail trying to keep the fridge area heated to a non-freezing temp, and expected that the sodas inside them might freeze. As it turned out, the patio location and insulated cabinets kept the sodas from freezing, and we did not have to deal with frozen/exploded soda cans.
Improvements to make
Things we are going to do to be better prepared for future power outages:
Generators at both locations. Propane heaters (we had propane at both locations but no heater to connect to the bottles). Look at replacing/modifying the gas fireplace in the Bryan house to something capable of producing heat. We needed heat far more than a decorative fire.
NOTE – some decorative fireplaces may not be built to withstand the kind of heat a useful gas heater or wood fire might produce. Inspect your fireplace area or have a professional inspect it before you make that sort of change.
Learn more about how the plumbing is run in both locations, particularly pipes that run into the attics that may need additional insulation.
Find the main power connections to the AC/heat units in the attics and put in extension cords long enough to get from the attic down to a generator. We had gas heat in Bryan, and if we had been able to run the attic unit blower from a generator, we might have been able to heat the house during the outage.
The next most likely crisis will be summer power outages. Making sure we have generators at both locations capable of powering the freezers, and maybe even a small AC unit capable of cooling a room, will go on the spring to-do list.
A few more observations from KR Training staff and alumni:
A lot of people discovered (the hard way) that heat pump systems don’t operate well in temperatures below freezing. Before the storm hit, electric and propane heaters disappeared from store shelves. We loaned an electric heater to a friend with a retail store in College Station. When he asked for the loan he said “there are no heating devices in stock anywhere within 100 miles of here”. I found the same situation with external hose covers. Our dogs decided that the styrofoam ones they could access in the backyard were fun dog toys for shredding, so we ended up using old T-shirts and tie wraps to protect the hose connections.
After the storm had passed, demand for plumbing parts soared. One KR staffer described the plumbing aisle as “looking like a tornado had hit it. Parts scattered all over the floor, boxes ripped open.” The most popular sizes of fittings were the first to go. One staffer drove 50 miles out to the A-Zone to get one of the small propane cans we use for gassing up Airsoft guns, so he could use it as a torch to work on copper fittings that had burst in his garage.
One lesson here: part of prepping is to have a network of other prepared people, in case maybe they have something you need and are willing to share. That includes your geographic neighbors.
Early during the storm, one of the A-Zone neighbors posted on Facebook that a stray dog had showed up at their property. They took it in, gave it shelter and food and water but didn’t want to keep it forever. Meanwhile, another neighbor posted on Nextdoor about a dog that had been lost within a few miles of use. Penny saw both posts, wondered if the stray dog and the lost dog were the same. We contacted the neighbor with the dog, pointed her at the Nextdoor posting…and dog and owner were reunited before the storm made things too dangerous to be driving.
A few days ago I asked all 12 of the KR Training staff to send me their lessons learned. The lists below are the highlights from their responses.
Items we needed:
Flashlights, batteries, glow sticks, head lamps
Canned or other storable food
Water valve wrench
Things we did right:
Having a mix of gas and electric appliances
Having fuel (gas, propane) on hand
Topped off vehicles early
Things we would do different next time
Shut off water sooner and flush the lines
Fill up bathtubs and other available containers
More firewood pre split
Tow rope in vehicle
Inspect trees – look for branches that might ice over and fall causing damage
Have a better plan for “things to do” when stuck in the house sitting around with no power and no heat. (Cards, games, books, crafts, dry fire drills, etc.)
Have a propane fired high BTU turkey fryer or lobster boiler for heating water
Have an assortment of copper and PVC fittings & soldering torch
More fire extinguishers
Have a better quality camping toilet
Know where water cutoff is and clear access to it
Indoor-safe propane fueled camping stove
Make a To-Do and To-Buy List and Follow through
The supply chain for many of the “wish we had” items listed above is strained right now. The best plan is to make the to-do and to-buy lists and follow up on them, even if that means ordering and waiting weeks for items to come in. As many people learned in the week before the storm, expecting big box retailers and shipping services to be able to supply everyone in the days before a major crisis is unrealistic. The challenge now is not to let the preparedness tasks get forgotten post-crisis.
The BP2 course is the class we recommend for people that know how to shoot, but have never had a formal handgun course where fundamentals were taught in depth, and/or have never shot on a structured firing line running timed drills. Many years ago we came up with a list of questions students could ask themselves to determine whether they would benefit from attending the course:
Can you score 90% on the Texas LTC shooting test?
Do you understand how your pistol works? (For example understanding cocked and locked carry for a 1911, or using the decocker and firing DA for the first shot with a DA/SA style pistol).
Do you do any “dry fire” practice with your pistol at home?
Have you practiced starting at a ready position, finger off trigger, and getting the gun quickly to the target and firing?
Are your grip and gunhandling skills up to date?
Do you really know what your trigger finger is doing before, during and after each shot?
Do you follow through after the shot is fired?
The vast majority of carry permit holders answer “no” to several (or all) of these questions. A well trained armed citizen should be able to answer “yes” to all of them. The primary objectives of the course are to teach those skills.
Online LTC Completion
Texas now allows carry permit applicants to do their classroom training online, needing only a short in person course (minimum of 1 hour classroom, minimum of 50 round shooting test on the range, with range test time NOT counting as part of the 1 hour classroom training).
In the two-hour version of the course, we spend one hour covering the required classroom material, and the second hour is 100 rounds of shooting: 50 rounds of drills to practice and develop skills necessary to perform well on the LTC test, and then the LTC test itself. By adding an extra 30 minutes to the state minimum, we provide significantly more instruction and improve student skill. The full 100 round program includes the first 4 drills from our Top 10.
LTC Refresher / Annual Tune Up
The two hour course can also be used as an annual tune up for students at any level. For those that have gone beyond the state minimum and had formal training in how to draw from concealment or open carry, by changing the state mandated B-27 target for our KRT-2 target, and having the shooter run the LTC starting each string drawing from concealment, making two of the 5-shot strings mandatory head shots, they can join lower level students on the firing line as they run the state test, but get much more training value from the more challenging version of the course.
I recently shot the Texas LTC test this way using our KRT-2 target. It’s considerably smaller than the B-27. The videos below show the KRT-2 pasted on top of a B-27 for scale. Only the grey and white parts of the KRT-2 count as hits. Anything in or outside the black border is considered a miss. The white section is the “X ring” with the grey area counted as an “acceptable” hit.
Firearms training is not a “one and done” thing, although many carry permit holders treat it that way. Taking a short course to verify that your skills are maintained at a reasonable level is a good thing to do each year, whether you do that by taking our 2 hour course, shoot an IDPA, USPSA or Steel Challenge match, or run some structured, timed drills in your own practice time.
In the coming weeks I will be collecting up lessons learned from all who want to contribute their thoughts, to provide a group after action report on what measures we took to prepare for the current crisis worked, what did not, and what we need to do to be better prepared for the next crisis, which could be spring flash floods or a summer heatwave once again taxing our electric grid.
We have reduced the number of rounds required for most classes, and will continue to offer many no-live-fire defensive skills courses. Taking classes with .22 caliber guns will be allowed, and dry firing is always a good way to maintain and develop skills. COVID restrictions are still in effect, limiting class sizes and mandating masks indoors.
Here are the classes we have scheduled with space available through end of April. Some classes are already sold out. We will announce May-June classes in the March newsletter.
Don’t see the class you want here? Let us know. Many classes can be taught as weekday private lessons, or we can add it to the schedule if there’s enough interest.
We are bringing national trainer John Murphy to KR Training in March, for his two day Street Encounters Skills and Tactics course. He has lowered the round count for this course to 250 rounds, and he has limited ammo available to sell to students. Slots are still open.
REFRESHER SLOTS ARE HALF PRICE
Want to take a class you’ve taken before to keep your skills sharp? Refresher slots for most courses are half price!
Back in 2008 I released a CD of original music called “Respectable” (link goes to amazon Mp3 version, physical copies of the CD are available from me at the A-Zone). Penny and I collaborated on this song, all about her experiences surviving a terrible winter storm when she was attending Purdue University. This week’s weather inspired us to make a video for it, featuring Penny’s photos of current and older Texas ice and snow.
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With the recent trend in Facebook and Twitter deplatforming and shadow banning firearms-related content, I strongly encourage you to subscribe to this blog, as direct email and blogging remain the best ways to get un-filtered, un-suppressed information. The link to subscribe is on the right hand side of every page of the blog, including this newsletter.
This controversial work of fiction was written in the late 1990’s, after the assault weapon and magazine capacity bans were signed into law by Bill Clinton: after the Waco/Koresh standoff, the Ruby Ridge standoff, and the Oklahoma City bombing. Anti-government sentiment within the gun culture and the right was strong, and the militia movement was the focus of law enforcement attention. Also during this period, many states passed shall-issue concealed carry laws. This period of US history can be considered the transition from Gun Culture 1.0 (hunters and target shooters) to Gun Culture 2.0 (urban concealed carriers). It’s an artifact of that era, published independently and largely sold through gun shows and other non-traditional channels. I don’t recall ever seeing a copy on a shelf at Borders or Barnes and Noble or any other bookstore when it first came out.
Depending on your perspective, Unintended Consequences either tells the fictional story of patriots who rise up to force the Federal government to restrain an out of control bureaucracy, or the story of terrorists that succeed in forcing the President to bow to their demands through political violence. The protagonists are a small group of wealthy, highly skilled, lifelong “gun guys” who prevent a Waco/Ruby Ridge style raid on one of their properties, and then using news releases and recordings, combined with targeted assassinations of government agents, ignite a national rebellion and widespread targeted violence against Federal employees working for regulatory agencies. This puts so much pressure on the Executive Branch that the President gives in to the gun guys, enacting a set of policies that reads like the standard wish list for anyone in the gun culture:
“…a Presidential pardon to all persons currently serving time fo or how have been convicted of violations of the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Gun Control Act of 1968, the McClure-Volkmer Act of 1986, the firearms and magazine provisions of the Crime Law of 1994, and all other Federal, state and local anti-gun laws, including any and all anti-concealed carry laws.”
Like many books from that era, from Tom Clancy military novels, Stephen Hunter action-mysteries, and men’s adventure paperbacks, Unintended Consequences is full of “gun and gear nerd” content: African safaris, long discussions about guns, loads, long range shooting, and plots that are structured around technical nuances. Taken purely as another book somewhere in that genre of “action thriller”, it’s a well written, long (863 pages), entertaining read with an ending written to please its intended audience.
Today is the 3rd anniversary of the Parkland school shooting, and President Biden has chosen to use this day to attempt to turn the clock back to 1994, with a policy goal of putting the semiautomatic long gun and magazine capacity bans back in place, along with other restrictions that go beyond what was passed in 1994. The policies in the executive orders he has signed since taking power are implementing progressive, not centrist policies that will further divide the nation and outrage those now in the political minority.
During the past year, anti-government rioters and mobs have attacked government buildings in Portland, Seattle, Washington DC and other cities. Gun sales have hit unprecedented levels. Ammo is scarce and selling for 500% of pre COVID prices, when it can be found. The country is sharply divided, with more public figures calling for acts of revenge, cancellation, re-education, and other Orwellian measures against their political opponents. Government regulation of many aspects of our lives has increased because of the pandemic, with no specific end in sight. The positions and policies of the extreme Left are now the default for Big Tech, colleges, public schools, entertainment media, “mainstream” news, professional sports, Fortune 500 corporations, the Executive branch and the House of Representatives. Trust in government is at record low levels, and outrage builds as scandal after scandal results in no significant penalties for elites and high ranking government officials, regardless of political affiliation. Lower tier elites and other expendables are ruthlessly cancelled for WrongThink or WrongSpeak, with careers ruined, but those at the top face no consequences for any offense, from simple lies to corrupt acts for financial gain to decisions and statements that result in significant property losses and deaths (of property and lives of the non-elites).
In many ways the situation is far worse than what existed in the mid 1990’s, when John Ross wrote this, in the introduction to his book:
Today in America, honest, successful, talented, productive, motivated people are once again being stripped of their freedom and dignity and having their noses rubbed in it. The conflict has been building for over half a century, and once again warning flags are frantically waving while the instigators rush headlong toward the abyss, and their doom.
Should you read the book? It’s entertaining as clever escapist fantasy. It’s educational, teaching about the history of gun laws and technical details about many different rifles and machine guns. And I think that it’s also relevant to current events, as political discussion about gun rights may soon sound like a repeat of 1994.
Law enforcement response was terrible. Slow and ineffective, with officers remaining outside the school, not entering to stop the shooter, who stopped the attack on his own, attempting to escape the school by blending in with those fleeing the building. This article from the Miami Herald details all the failures.
I’m certified by the state of Texas to teach the School Safety class – the course developed by the Department of Public Safety to train armed teachers for active shooter response in schools. In the past I’ve reviewed other books on other active shooter incidents. They all tell the same story: warning signs ignored by bureaucrats and law enforcement, slow, ineffective response by law enforcement, refusal of those same administrators and cops to consider or support the idea of allowing teachers, staff or school visitors with carry permits to carry on school property, and the usual demands for new gun restrictions from elites, the media and the professional gun control lobbyists. Most often the requested law changes would have had no impact on the outcome of the incident, since the type of gun used or the capacity of the gun really doesn’t matter when the victims are unarmed and have limited capacity to fight back. In the past, I’ve written about the “reloading fallacy” – the myth that reducing magazine capacity can produce any change in outcome in an active shooter incident.
Grieving father Andrew Pollack encountered all the problems and standard roadblocks common to every school shooting, and he documents all of them in depth in his book. The book provides insight into the life history of the shooter, the numerous institutional failures, the ignored warning signs, and the bureaucratic CYA mentality more concerned with protecting careers and protecting the myth that partisan policies were “working” than with protecting the students in the school.
The Broward county situation, as explained in the book, is particularly awful, with those at the top eager to make their county a nationally recognized poster child for ending the “school to prison pipeline”, even if it means manipulating the numbers, ignoring crimes, and “mainstreaming” students that would have received better attention at special schools instead of being pushed back in to the general population at a public high school. Their approach certainly advanced their own careers but did nothing to help the at-risk students in need of extra attention, nor to protect the regular students from school violence.
As with the life history of every other school shooter or mass killer, the murderer had a long history of bad behavior, obsession with violence, abuse of animals, threats and injuries to those around him, bitterness, hate and a total lack of empathy for others. His family, other students and teachers that had to deal with him were all scared of him, and many predicted that he would eventually become a school shooter. Somewhere between 25-49 law enforcement interactions with him — early warnings – were ignored or deliberately hidden.
The third part of the book details the attempt of the Parkland parents to mount a political challenge to replace many of the school board members and other county officials responsible for all levels of the policies that failed to protect the students. Broward residents in a strongly Democratic county, cared more for maintaining partisan control than improving public safety, and all the candidates the Parkland parents organized and supported were defeated.
Reading this book will probably make you depressed and/or angry, as it tells the same story that is repeated over and over again in school districts all over the US. The names change but the behaviors remain the same.
Why should you read it? As a cautionary tale, to understand how these situations develop. It can motivate you to pay attention to local school board elections and sheriff elections, not just state and national politics. As of this writing, most Texas school districts do not allow graduates of the state-police designed School Safety (armed teacher) program to carry on school property, even though they have been trained to a higher standard defined by our state’s experts on firearms and deadly force. In that regard, most of Texas, certainly the major metro areas, are no better than Broward County. There’s still work to be done, and what happened in Parkland is a grim reminder of why that work needs to be done at the local, county and state level to do more to protect students.
I recently had a student contact me with details about an incident he was involved in. He agreed to share his account of it, with name and location removed. It’s an excellent reminder of why awareness and “managing unknown contacts” (a skill we discuss in our Personal Tactics Skills course) are so important to avoiding situations that might deteriorate into more serious actions.
I recently had an experience that confirmed why I carry a firearm for defense and why I train physically and mentally to respond to a bad situation that I hope never happens.
I was taking my usual workday lunchtime walk, and noticed a guy walking my direction that pinged my possible threat radar. The items that caught my attention were: big unzipped black hoodie, generally sloppy looking, and something about his walking gait that I just did not like. So, I gave him the sidewalk as he went by and nodded politely when he made eye contact. He continued his way, as did I. I thought it was over and a non-event. I was wrong.
On my return leg back to the office, I noticed the same guy ahead of me again, this time traveling the same direction I was. I slowed my roll a little to re-assess and he stopped and looked over his shoulder at me. At this point I realized I really did not like what was happening. The sidewalk we were on was on a busy street. On the other side of the sidewalk was a construction site. He then walked on a few more feet and sat down on a piece of construction equipment that was just off the sidewalk and took another look at me. At this point my only route was past this guy. So, I slowed up until I had a bit of a space in traffic to my left (in case I got forced into the street), I dropped my hand into my pocket and took a light grip in my little S&W 642, which is what I carry most days. I then began to move past with purpose.
The moment I passed him I saw his body tense up and start to move, so I took a big step off his axis and spun to meet the threat. He had tried to lunge; my best guess was to push me into the street/traffic. I put my non-dominant hand up close to my body in a conciliatory gesture and said “have a nice day man” as I backed away to create space. At this point he started moving toward me yelling “Are you ready for Hell? I’m gonna send you to Hell! Heaven is waiting for me! Hell is about to take you! etc.” All the while, he was moving toward me making lunging moves, and gesturing with his hands like he wanted to attack. I kept creating space and just shook my head at him without saying anything and watching his hands closely. In that moment if he had reached in his hoodie or made any other indication of bringing a weapon into play, I would have fully drawn my gun (which by now I had a firm grip on and was nearly clear of the pocket holster). This went on for about 10 seconds before he seemed to stop for a second and he suddenly took off to a tattoo shop that was just close by. At this point, I got out of the area quickly. I was back in my office parking lot within another 10 seconds and had reached for my phone to dial 911. I checked my 6 again and noticed that he was running back again, yelling and shooting the finger at me, so I got inside behind a locked door and made my 911 call. I did let the 911 operator know that I was a licensed carrier and was armed but had not drawn or used my weapon. I told her that prior to speaking with the officers, I would secure my weapon and it would not be on my person when I they arrived. She communicated this with the officers in the responding unit. When they arrived, I went out and we had the conversation. I had my license ready for their inspection and offered it. The whole conversation went smoothly, and they were quite supportive, even complimenting me for my self- control. The adrenaline dump started to hit right around that time, and once the I was done talking to the police I went home for the day, and a badly needed whiskey drink!
Since the incident I have seen the offender hanging around the area of my office quite frequently. He appears to be staying with someone in the area and may be with us for a while. I no longer take walks, and we always watch out for each other when we leave the office to go to our cars. The incident has caused out company to review safety protocols and improve surveillance camera coverage around our building. I am grateful for the training I have received from some amazing coaches who helped me be better prepared for what happened. These folks are Karl Rehn of KR Training, John Correia of Active Self Protection and my shooting coach, Joe French. Karl has provided me with outstanding training on how to use my firearm in a defensive situation. Karl also turned me on to John’s YouTube channel, which has been invaluable in helping me improve situational awareness, adopt a serious attitude as a self-defender and to better understand the dynamics of defensive incidents. I look forward to one day being able to train with him in person. Joe has helped me improve my shooting skills tremendously, particularly with the little snubbie I carry. It takes a lot of work to get competent with these little tools and having the confidence of knowing I could take care of business with the little thing made a huge difference in my mindset that day. Most of all, I thank my Lord Jesus Christ for being my Rock and for being so good to me despite me.
I was very fortunate that day. I went home and got to hug on my kids and kiss my wife. That is what matters. I have a long way to go on this journey of learning to protect myself and my family. I hope nothing like this happens again, but I now know even more clearly that I absolutely must continue to grow my skills, attitude, and spiritual fitness. You never know what is going to happen or how it’s going to go. You cannot be over-prepared to defend your life or those you love.
After discussing the incident with the student, I encouraged him to carry pepper spray in addition to his firearm, as it could be a very useful intermediate tool in dealing with a potentially mentally unstable person such as the one he encountered.
Also, when carrying a snub revolver, having a “speed strip” with additional rounds with you is a good idea. Reloading the revolver this way is significantly slower than changing the magazine on a semiauto or using a revolver speedloader, but the strip carries very flat and small in the pocket and provides some capability to reload the gun if needed. This excellent article from Lucky Gunner explains the correct procedure for using this type of loader with a revolver.
Special thanks to the student for taking the time to write this up and share it.
Ammunition has become very expensive and scarce. We have reduced the number of rounds required for most classes, and will continue to offer many no-live-fire defensive skills courses. Taking classes with .22 caliber guns will be allowed, and dry firing is always a good way to maintain and develop skills. COVID restrictions are still in effect, limiting class sizes and mandating masks indoors.
Here are the classes we have scheduled with space available through end of March. Some weekends were left open to add more courses as students request them or to reschedule in case of weather-related cancellations.
Don’t see the class you want here? Let us know. Many classes can be taught as weekday private lessons, or we can add it to the schedule if there’s enough interest.
I’m offering the full NRA Basic Pistol instructor class Feb 1-3. This certifies you to teach the NRA Basic Pistol class, which is a pre-req for both the DPS License To Carry instructor course and the NRA’s CCW instructor class. A limited number of slots are still open in this course.
JOHN MURPHY CLASS IN MARCH
We are bringing national trainer John Murphy to KR Training in March, for his two day Street Encounters Skills and Tactics course. He has lowered the round count for this course to 250 rounds. Slots are still open.
REFRESHER SLOTS ARE HALF PRICE
Want to take a class you’ve taken before to keep your skills sharp? Refresher slots for most courses are half price!
DOUG GREIG CLASSES IN CONROE
Doug Greig will be offering classes on Saturdays at Thunder Gun Range in Conroe. Topics include Basic Rifle/Pistol, Intermediate Rifle/Pistol, Red Dot Pistol and more! His full schedule is here.
In early January I had the opportunity to play with national touring drummer Tom Brechtlein, who has recorded and toured with Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, and Chick Corea. Tom joined me and bassist Brian Lippman for a special show at the Third Floor Cantina in downtown Bryan (a venue where Tom and Robben Ford performed in the early 1990’s . We recorded the entire show live to multitrack, and Midnight Express lead singer Greg Patterson recorded a few video clips. I used the soundboard audio and Greg’s clips to make this video.
FOLLOW US ONLINE!
With the recent trend in Facebook and Twitter deplatforming and shadow banning firearms-related content, I strongly encourage you to subscribe to this blog, as direct email and blogging remain the best ways to get unfiltered, unsuppressed information. The link to subscribe is on the right hand side of every page of the blog, including this newsletter.
During the 1990’s, several schools, including InSights Training, Tactical Defense Institute (Ohio) and Modern Warrior (New York), began offering classes that integrated gun and unarmed skills. In 1998, KR Training hosted the 40 hour Close Quarters Confrontations class taught by InSights Training. It included sessions on groundfighting, standup defense, live fire drills, and several days of integrated work using the big padded suit. By the final day, drills involved one student wearing the suit (the trainer role) and one working the defender role. Here’s some vintage video and photos from that week in KR Training history:
Some of the techniques and drills shown in these pics may look familiar to graduates of Shivworks’ ECQC courses. Both Paul Gomez and Craig Douglas (who co-developed the original ECQC classes in the early 2000’s) credited the InSights curriculum as an influence on their own curriculum, and KR Training hosted several of the early ECQC courses taught by Craig and Paul.
Each year at the start of summer I offer a small gun oriented defensive pistol class. The intent of the course is to provide an opportunity for people to practice with the smaller gun that is more convenient to carry in the hot weather. Use of pocket holsters, purses, fanny packs, and any other mode of carry that’s not a traditional belt holster is allowed and encouraged, since practice drawing from those methods is typically not allowed at commercial ranges and discouraged in other defensive pistol classes due to range safety concerns and the additional time/complexity associated with reholstering.
Part of the course includes shooting our 3 seconds or Less test (3SL) with both the small gun and a full size gun drawn from a belt holster, to measure the performance change (usually a loss) that occurs when switching from the larger gun to the smaller one.
Data from the 2019 and 2020 sessions
Small Guns: 2 DA/SA, 3 snub revolvers, and the rest were all striker fired polymer guns. The typical “small gun” was a single stack 9mm striker fired gun.
Large Guns: 4 single action (1911, CZ75 or Wilson EDCX9), one SIG 226, one CZ P01 fired DA/SA, one S&W Model 10-8, and a lot of striker fired polymer 9mm handguns.
Scoring: 5 points for each acceptable hit (20 hits possible, 100 pts possible). Earlier versions of the 3SL test shot on USPSA and IDPA targets awarded points for hits outside the 5 point zone. Current version is scored on a 5 or 0 basis.
Average small gun score: 69.17 out of 100 possible Average large gun score: 79.63 out of 100 possible
Performance loss from shooting the smaller gun: -10.4%
The best shooters in the classes dropped 5% or shot the same with their small guns; the worst dropped 30-50% more points with the smaller gun.
Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their small gun: 19 of 31 (61% passed). Students passing the 3SL test with 70% or higher score using their primary gun: 24 of 31 (77% passed).
Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level (desired) using their small gun: 3 of 31 (9.8% passed). Students passing the 3SL test at the 90% level using their primary gun: 12 of 31 (38.7% passed)
Historical average of the entire data set of 91 shooters:
Small Gun score: 74.9/100 Larger gun score: 83.5/100
The 2019-2020 classes included 11 shooters assessed as “low” skill level based on their primary gun scores, 11 assessed as “medium”, and 9 ranked “high”. All had Texas carry permits, carrying one or both of the guns they used for the course at various times during a typical year.
Looking at the historical data set, those in the “low” skill level (unable to pass the 3SL test with the primary gun), dropped an average of 3 points switching to the smaller gun, indicating a general lack of shooting skill regardless of which gun was used. The spread of points dropped ranged from +15 to -30, as a few shooters shot significantly better with their small gun than with their primary.
Those in the “medium” skill level (70-89 points on the 3SL test shot with their primary gun), dropped an average of 6.5 points switching to the smaller gun, with the spread ranging from +12 to -38.
Those in the high skill level (90+ points with primary gun) dropped an average of 7.8 points with differences ranging from +17 to -48.
The Three Seconds or Less (3SL) test was designed to define an acceptable minimum performance standard for concealed carry pistol shooters. I describe as a simple go/no-go assessment. If you can pass at 70% with a particular combination of gear, that configuration is probably OK to carry in public. Being able to shoot 90% means you are well prepared and not just “OK”. 90% on the 3SL test is roughly equal to IDPA Expert or USPSA B class skill.
64 of the 91 shooters using their small guns could pass at the 70% level. Only 16 of the 91 could pass at the 90% level.
79 of the 91 shooters using their primary guns could pass at the 70% level, with 37 of 91 passing at the 90% level.
The data shows what we already knew: smaller guns are harder to shoot. Those with lower skill level shoot poorly regardless of gear. Those at higher skill levels shoot higher overall scores, but drop more points on average when switching to the smaller gun. That’s a result different from what was observed in years past, with a smaller data set. More than half the shooters capable of shooting 90% with their primary gun couldn’t do it with the smaller gun (19 of 37).
It’s convenient to have a large and a small gun, used as weather and type of wardrobe dictates. It’s good to be able to shoot at least 70% on the 3SL test with both, better to be able to shoot 90% with both. Being able to shoot a 70% or a 90+% score with the primary gun and gear configuration does NOT guarantee that you’ll be able to do it with the small gun.
Small guns are harder to shoot fast and accurate, deep concealment carry methods slow down draw times — but violent attackers are not going to attack more slowly to compensate for the difficulties imposed by the gear you’ve chosen.
Shoot the 3SL test from open carry with your primary gun.
Shoot the 3SL test from concealed carry with your primary gun. Assess the difference in score. More than likely draw time will be the problem, which means dry fire practice, changes to holster, cover garment and/or draw technique may be needed.
Shoot the 3SL test from open carry with your small gun. Identify which parts of the test need improvement, and work on those skills with the small gun.
Shoot the 3SL test from concealed carry with your small gun. Assess whether the concealment method and draw technique you are using needs changing. Or in some cases, accept that the wardrobe or other restrictions forcing you to carry in a way that has to be compensated for in other ways than changing carry method: being more cautious, reaching in your pocket to grip a pocket pistol earlier in a potential situation than you had in the past, giving yourself more space and time.
If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it, as the saying goes.
From Bob Hanna about central Texas firearms training history:
In 1975 I bought 49% of the Marksman indoor Range in South Houston, TX. That’s when I really became involved with the Houston gun scene and folks like: Fred Rexer – Wikipedia, machine gun dealer, screenwriter, movie consultant (Apocalypse Now, Red Dawn etc.). https://www.joebowman.net/ Joe was an exhibition shooter and trainer, taught movie stars (Sammy Davis, Jr, Robert Duvall etc.) and law enforcement. Herman Mueschke, who designed the ambi safety used by Colt. Several deceased gun writers whose names I no longer remember unless they are mentioned. Col. Cannon, former OSS, inventor of the Glaser Safety Slug, several very interesting conversations over coffee in his kitchen.
Became involved in “Combat Shooting” matches about this time with The Brazos Practical Shooters, a sub group of the Sugarland Sportsmans Club, a long gone competition club. I was Competition Director in 1978 when Jeff Cooper sent me “…the First Draft of the IPSC rules for practical pistol competition.”
In 1977 and 1978 I was Co-Manager for Collectors Firearms, probably the nicest gun store in Houston. Founded by Mike Clark, Jerry Fountain, Gary Green and a guy I can’t remember, they started with $20K. Two of them dropped out and it left only Mike and Jerry. They split up shortly after I left Houston in the early 1980s, Jerry took his half and opened Fountain Firearms.
Around this time I was an assistant for a Police Defensive Tactics course at San Jacinto College. Primarily, I knew how to do break falls and the students practiced Judo throws on me until they learned how to be thrown without being hurt.
Jeff Cooper and my Uncle, Mike Ryan were stationed at Quantico together and Mike, Jeff and their wives, Marjorie and Janelle played cards weekly, Pinochle if I remember correctly. Jeff Cooper came to Houston to teach what he called an extension course in 1979, I scored Expert.
Then in 1980 I went to Gunsite for the 499 Advanced Class, I believe I have given you some paperwork on that. This was I believe the first class after Chuck Taylor left, he had been the Operations Manager and Lead Instructor. He and Jeff had a serious disagreement and parted ways abruptly. Chuck ran things and Jeff would teach some things, but also ferried people around from range to range where the different instructors were teaching. The class, in my opinion, did not seem well organized and were not worked near as hard as in the 250 and I blamed that on Chuck’s abrupt departure. I was not the only one in the class who thought so. I mentioned it to Jeff in private and he took exception to it. This and some inappropriate actions to the wife/girlfriend of a student by two students in the class, Presidential Bodyguards from Guatemala, that was just ignored sort of turned me off to Jeff/Gunsite at the time. I guess Jeff and I parted ways as did Chuck. I had told my uncle about my discussion with Jeff and his response. My Uncle said “Jeff is very opinionated.” When my uncle died, Jeff wrote a nice comment in Guns & Ammo and his Commentaries, article attached, and twenty years had passed, I mellowed on my opinion of Jeff/Gunsite.
Around 1981, the Harris County DA’s Office asked my assistance as a Professional Witness on a couple of cases, though none actually went to trial.
In 1981, I was looking for more training and contacted Chuck and we came to an agreement that I would bring him to Houston to teach classes. I partnered with a friend, Wally Gorman, owner of Alexander’s Guns, we put on several classes a year through about 1985 or so. I moved to Wimberley in late 1982 and we put on classes in Houston and Austin. I had assisted Chuck in his classes since 1981 and in 1984 I was invited to an Instructor Course, certificate attached. Teaching Scuba full time at Southwest Texas State and teaching gun classes on the side was keeping me pretty busy and so we ended our promotion of Chuck Taylor classes at the end of 1985 I think.
Took a class from Ross Seyfried just after he won the 1981 IPSC World Championship. I don’t recall any handouts, Ross suggested some things Chuck did not agree with.
Around 1984 I was a guest Instructor for a SWAT Class at San Antonio College with officers from small departments, The class was so they would be familiar with operations if they interacted with SWAT teams , I taught most of the firearms section. The 1991 IPSC World Champion, John Dixon, put on bowling pin matches at the Marksman Indoor Range one night a week while I was part owner.
I made a few upgrades to the Glock 48 I carry daily.
I replaced the Trijicon RMR with the new Holosun 507C-Gr-X2. The sight is the latest design from Holosun. Same footprint as the RMR, with a smaller green dot and the new X2 features. The X2 has a better auto adjust, with the ability to lock out the side intensity controls to prevent them from being accidentally bumped, if the sight is left in manual adjust mode. Like the older 507C and 507C-v2 it has the option to run a dot or the circle-dot reticle, which I find a little faster on close targets.
Johnny Glock G48 trigger
On the recommendation of John Holschen of West Coast Armory North (Everett, WA), I purchased a drop in carry grade trigger assembly from JohnnyGlocks. I had trained a lot with John when he was teaching for InSights Training (Seattle), and hosted him in Texas for many classes over the past 30 years. The JohnnyGlocks trigger is put together as a full assembly that’s super easy to drop in. It comes with a variety of springs so you can do some tuning on it. I didn’t change any springs, just installed it in my gun, and it gave a nice 4.5 lb carry grade trigger, with nice takeup and excellent break. I’ve tried replacing connectors and other parts in other Glocks in the past, but never got a trigger that felt as good to me as the full drop in assembly.
With ammo in short supply, I’ve cut way back on the amount of live fire practice that I’m doing, and being super busy playing music this month, I’ve done very little dry fire.
The December 2020 Rangemaster December 2020 Drill of the Month is the Baseline Skills Assessment Drill. Use a B-8 repair center, FBI-IP-1 bullseye, or the bullseye on an LTT-1 target, scored as printed. This drill is intended to be shot cold, from concealed carry.
5 yards Draw and fire 5 rounds in 5 seconds, using both hands.
5 yards Start gun in hand, at Ready, in dominant hand only. Fire 3 rounds in 3 seconds.
5 yards Start gun in hand, at Ready, in non-dominant hand only. Fire 2 rounds in 3 seconds.
7 yards Start gun in hand, loaded with 3 rounds only. Fire 3 rounds, conduct an empty gun reload, and fire 3 more rounds, all in 10 seconds.
10 yards Start gun in hand, at Ready. Fire 4 rounds in 4 seconds.
20 rounds total. Possible score = 200
Using the new sight and new trigger, I shot a 199, with the one 9-ring shot occurring on the first strong hand only shot at 5 yards.
I had shot the same drill in early December, only scoring 195. Given my lack of practice I’m going to credit the improvement to the better trigger and smaller dot on the Holosun sight.
I had purchased a set of these to repair a set of loaner Howard Leight “Impact” muffs, and started using that headset for some of my practice. I liked them enough to choose them instead of the ProEars factory replacement for the ear pads. As someone that wears hearing protection 120+ days a year on the range, often for 8-10 hours at a time, comfort is important.
Rudy Project RX lenses
Back in 2017 I spent a lot of time picking out new shooting glasses, and chose the Rudy Project Rydon frames with their photochromic lenses. I wrote a long blog post about it here. Over the last 4 years those lenses saw daily use, and this summer a hot .45 ACP case coming out of student’s gun smacked into one of the lenses hard enough to scratch it. My eyes are also 4 years older and my prescription changed. So I have new lenses coming for those frames, due to arrive early January. I dug out my old Oakley prescription glasses and have been wearing them, waiting on the Rudy lenses to arrive. All the glasses were set up for monovision, with dominant (left eye) corrected for front sight distance, and right eye corrected for driving. I have regular glasses set up that way also. This article from the Truth About Guns website, including information about an eye doctor in the Austin area who understands how to set up glasses for monovision, is a good read. (Like the author of that article, I use over the counter reading glasses for anything requiring focus closer than front sight distance.)
I have one more “new” item coming in: custom grips for my Uberti .45 Colt sixgun, in #12 Curly Walnut from Joe Perkins of Classic Single Action grips. I’ve been on his wait list since October 2019, and I shipped my gun to him in early November for the grips to be hand fit to it. It’s also due to arrive in early January.
I cheated and used a target overlay to help me do my drawing. Topperwein would “freehand” his Indian head image. This 1936 San Diego cop used a full auto Thompson to write initials (start the video at 1:29 to see the demo.)
Here’s another historical document from the early days of practical shooting. This is a scanned copy of the original design document for the “Pepper popper” – the most commonly used falling steel target in USPSA, IDPA and other practical shooting matches. The target’s name came from designer John Pepper, who was active in the founding years of IPSC and USPSA on the East Coast. Gary Greco shared this document with me as part of a collection of John Pepper and early practical shooting memorabilia.
Pepper’s design skills were not limited to steel: the document itself is an information-rich layout with many elements. I’ve broken each element out into a separate image for easier viewing.
Timers from the Bob Hanna collection: two early electronic shooting timers.
The first one is a simple par timer with a headphone output.
Controls are simple but complicated: start button, headphone jack, and a row of DIP switches you use to set the par time. To get a 1.0 second par time, for example, you would set the 0.2 and 0.8 switches to “ON”.
Stop Plate Timer
Instead of using a microphone to detect shots for timing, it was a simple buzzer that only displayed one time: the time when a piezo sensor attached to a stop plate registered a hit on the plate.
It was designed to be plugged into the cigarette lighter of a car (because cars back in the 1980’s had lighters). My portable Goal Zero box worked great for powering it.
I used magnets to attach the sensor to one of my steel targets, powered up the unit, and gave it a quick test.
The display is the classic 7 segment LED.
If you watch carefully in the video, you’ll see the sensor fall off the plate when it was struck. Apparently the magnets were not strong enough to hold it on. Bob explained that it was common to have to re-attach the sensor after each run. This worked OK for USPSA stages, where each shooter only got one run before targets were scored and taped. For Steel Challenge style shooting, with 5 runs per stage, a better solution was needed. Using two screws and a few zip ties I was able to mount the sensor to a 2×4, and it stayed attached. I shot the plate with 10 rounds and then stopped when I realized that a miss passing through the 2×4 could destroy the sensor. I didn’t measure the sensor cable but it looked like I could put the sensor at least 25 yards downrange from the timer box, possibly more.
Ammunition has become very expensive and hard to get. As a result we have reduced the rounds requires for most classes, and will continue to offer many defensive skills courses that have no live fire component. Live fire is fun but not essential for learning or developing skills. Taking classes with .22 caliber guns will be allowed, and dry firing is always a good way to maintain and develop skills.
Here are the classes we have scheduled through end of March. We have reduced round counts and in some cases reduced class hours and prices. Some weekends were left open to add more courses as students request them or to reschedule in case of weather cancellations.
Don’t see the class you want here? Let us know. Many classes can be taught as weekday private lessons, or we can add it to the schedule if there’s enough interest.
LTC REFRESHER & BASIC PISTOL 2 now same as ONLINE LTC COMPLETION
The 2 hour Online LTC Completion class is an hour of indoor lecture and dryfire work, plus 50 rounds of practice drills and one run on the 50 round LTC shooting test. The drills are the same ones we run in our Basic Pistol 2 course, and by using a more challenging target and starting with pistol holstered, the drills are excellent practice for more advanced shooters.
The updated course now fills 3 roles in our program:
Basic Pistol 2. The course includes all the drills from Basic Pistol 2 with a much shorter lecture. Students must pass the LTC shooting test with a score of 90% or higher to earn a Basic Pistol 2 certificate.
LTC / Defensive Pistol refresher. Graduates of Basic Pistol 2 and/or LTC holders can shoot the drills and test on the B-27 or more difficult IDPA or KRT-2 target. Graduates of DPS-1 or higher classes can run the drills and test starting with pistol holstered from open carry or concealed.
This short, $60, 100 round course is a perfect winter tuneup for all levels of students.
HOCK HOCKHEIM VEHICLE GUNFIGHTING COURSE
On January 30-31, international (Texas-based) trainer Hock Hockheim will be visiting us to teach a Vehicle Gunfighting course. This two day, $300, 200 round class will include live fire, Airsoft/Simunition work, and lecture on fighting with firearms in and around vehicles. This is a pistol-only class (no long guns). Space in this course is limited and registration is open.
Thursday, December 10: Your Lifeline – the TLO Website. Learn to navigate the Texas Legislature Online website to find all the TXLege information you need without moving off of your couch.
Thursday, December 17: Talking to Legislators — Learn to advocate for your beliefs through phone calls, emails, meetings, and in testimony at committee hearings – and discover the most effective way to use your time.
NOVEMBER BLOG POSTS
In case you missed it, here’s what we’ve been blogging about in November:
Santa’s is the largest Christmas attraction in the South, more than 100 acres of lights and activities – this year’s expansion includes an ice skating rink, to complement the real snow mountain for tubing and more than 3 million lights on the hay ride trail. If you come on a weeknight (I play Tue-Thu every week through Christmas week) it’s less crowded with shorter lines.
I started shooting USPSA competition back in June 1988, with the Hill Country Practical Pistol Club. Since the early 1980’s they had run a statewide match called the “Texas Challenge”. The 1989 match was the 8th annual, and the club ran the match every year into the mid-1990’s. Unfortunately I don’t have any pics from the match to share.
This was back in the days of single stack 1911 pistols with single port compensators, like this old gun of mine. I had a stainless steel hook welded onto the frame, because during this time, it was popular to shoot with the index finger of the support hand wrapped around the trigger guard – something local shooter (and two time World Speed Shooting Champion) Chip McCormick did.
By modern standards this state level match was pretty small, with only 5 stages, lower round counts, and longer shots. The “Moving Softly” stage was similar to the mover at Bianchi Cup.
Here’s video of John Pride shooting the mover at the Bianchi Cup in 2011. Pride was a top shooter back in the late 1980’s when I got started, and his book “The Pride Method” was one of the earliest books on mental training for pistol shooting.
The “Full House” stage was a shoot house stage. Note that some targets were to be engaged with one round, others with two rounds.
“Eagle Eyes” was the signature stage of the match. Back in the early days of USPSA (and practical shooting generally), every major match had at least one stage that tested 50 yard shooting. Most of those stages were timed fire standards. This course was a stretched-out stand and shoot with some falling steel. The 60 second time limit had to be added to address the problem of some shooters running out of ammo on the firing line after many attempts to hit the 40 yard stop plate. By the end of the 1990’s, major matches rarely included stages with shots past 25 yards.
This was the stage I designed for the match. I had taken the USPSA range officer class in fall 1988, and had been designing and running stages at club matches. Instead of using full targets that had been painted with hard cover, we used actual “partial targets” that had been cut. (If I recall correctly the rulebook was changed in the 1990s to prohibit this, requiring painted hard cover instead.) This was a harder stage than I intended it to be (youth and inexperience) with a lot of 15-25 yard shots.
Alan Tillman was one of the club’s top shooters (and gunsmith for most of the local competitors). His stage was a move and shoot steel stage using a mix of stationary and falling steel. Counting some smaller plates as 10 points (instead of the normal 5) was another common practice from that era that faded away (or was
Here’s video from 1989 USPSA Nationals, to give you more perspective on guns, gear and stages from that era. (I still have one of those yellow RO shirts.)