KR Training November 2021 Newsletter


Sold out classes and a busy schedule kept us from putting out September and October newsletters. We have added a lot of classes and special events to the late winter and early 2022 schedule, as listed below.

Here are the classes we have coming up in Texas with space available. 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.

Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.

Prices and registration links are at



John Hearne is a longtime Rangemaster Instructor known for his deep thinking and insightful lectures. He’s been a frequent guest on some of the best firearms related podcasts and an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference. These courses are material he’s presented at TacCon multiple times. Because TacCon sells out so quickly, he’s bringing these one day courses to KR Training in January:

Who Wins, Who Loses and Why is a broad survey of the most current research into human performance during interpersonal conflict. A strong emphasis is placed on understanding how the human mind works in order to optimize performance and increase one’s chance of dominating a violent encounter. A preview is here in this Ballistic Radio episode

John Hearne Ballistic Radio episode 1

Great American Gunfights (Newhall and Miami) – This course examines two of the most significant law enforcement gunfights of the twentieth century – the Newhall Massacre and the FBI-Miami Firefight. Featuring a Powerpoint presentation with original crime scene photos, lengthy Powerpoint animations, video clips, forensic psychological analysis, and an extensive tactical analysis, the students will develop a comprehensive understanding of these events. The training implication of these lessons will also be addressed.

Newhall episode – John Hearne on Ballistic Radio
Miami episode – John Hearne on Ballistic Radio

These lecture courses are rarely offered, and are great material full of useful information. The Ballistic Radio episodes are just a preview of the course material.


links to interesting articles you would have seen if you followed our Facebook feed…


Here’s a video of me singing Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey” with the Black Cat Choir band, from our afternoon set at the Fayette County Fair back in September.


Trainer Mike Ox has a new book out: Real World Gunfight Training. He sent me a review copy and I gave him a quote to use on the book cover. It’s a very science-heavy book explaining the difference between institutional & group class training and the focused individual training top tier performers do. Classes are great for learning how to practice property, but real progress happens during that time spent after class reinforcing and improving on what you learned during the course.

The digital version of the book is available for 99c on pre-order from Amazon through Cyber Monday.


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

Marksmanship, Stress and Force on Force Training

KR Training graduate, researcher and psychology professor Dr. Glenn Meyer pointed me at this excellent paper in Nature magazine.
Perception during use of force and the likelihood of firing upon an unarmed person


Biggs AT, Hamilton JA, Jensen AE, Huffman GH, Suss J, Dunn TL, Sherwood S, Hirsch DA, Rhoton J, Kelly KR, Markwald RR. Sci. Rep. 2021; 11(1): 13313.

Here’s the abstract:

Stress can impact perception, especially during use-of-force. Research efforts can thus advance both theory and practice by examining how perception during use-of-force might drive behavior. The current study explored the relationship between perceptual judgments and performance during novel close-combat training. Analyses included perceptual judgments from close-combat assessments conducted pre-training and post-training that required realistic use-of-force decisions in addition to an artificially construed stress-inoculation event used as a training exercise. Participants demonstrated significant reductions in situational awareness while under direct fire, which correlated to increased physiological stress. The initial likelihood of firing upon an unarmed person predicted the perceptual shortcomings of later stress-inoculation training. Subsequently, likelihood of firing upon an unarmed person was reduced following the stress-inoculation training. These preliminary findings have several implications for low or zero-cost solutions that might help trainers identify individuals who are under-prepared for field responsibilities.

Thoughts on the paper

The paper is a short read (14 pages), describing a well designed study looking into what the firearms training community calls ‘stress inoculation’. The concept is simple: prior experience performing under stress helps to reduce stress in future situations. NYPD’s Jim Cirillo, in his book Guns, Bullets and Gunfights, identified characteristics that he and others on the Stakeout Squad believed were indicators that a person would perform well under fire:

  • Are you a competitive shooter?
  • Have you competed in major matches, placed and won awards?
  • Can you perform well under pressure or fear?
  • Are you a hunter? Have you shot big game?
  • Do you like outdoor physical sports?
  • Do you collect firearms? Do you reload ammo?
  • If you are over 28, are you married? Do you have children?
  • Do you like people? Do you attend civic affairs?

Four of the 8 ask related questions: does the person have a serious interest in firearms, have they sought out situations where their ability with a firearm is tested, and did they perform well?

The other 4 are more general measures of character. Does the person like being in situations where physical exertion and contact with others, with potential for injury, are likely to occur? Does the person have empathy for others? Close relationships with other people outside of work?

This study evaluated similar characteristics, by considering marksmanship skill and behavior when confronting 3 different individuals; one armed and hostile, one unarmed and moderately hostile, and one unarmed and compliant.

As video of police use of force incidents has become more common, more attention has been paid to questionable use of deadly force decisions, and interest in methods to improve that decision making has grown. As a result, this study’s specific focus was on the value of force on force training to decrease the likelihood of unjustified shootings. To accomplish that, they used three different roleplayers, presenting different levels of aggression toward the test subject. Physical and psychological stress were measured and correlated with performance. Marksmanship skill was also evaluated, with a live fire pre-test. They also collected data on how long the participant thought the event lasted, how many shots they fired, and how many times they were hit.

At this point you should click the link and go read the actual article.


Unsurprising Results

From the paper: Marksmanship abilities did significantly predict the stress level of the training event with marksmanship as the sole predictor. The force-on-force stress-inoculation training event was less stressful overall for more proficient marksmen.

Cirillo’s list included both competition shooting and hunting as predictors of gunfight performance. My own observations from 25+ years running force on force scenarios has been that those with well developed gun skills were often able to wait longer (to confirm an actual need to use deadly force) before acting, which made them less likely to make a bad decision. Having those skills learned to the automatic level freed up attention and brain cells to focus on the situation itself rather than the mechanics of getting the gun out from concealment and into the fight.

Also from the paper: those tested in use of force decision making after participation in the training were less likely to make a bad decision to fire. I’ve seen student performance improve after a 4 hour block of scenarios where they participated in some and observed others.

The paper’s authors make this recommendation: These results could suggest a low-cost solution to identifying
individuals who may not be ready for field operations by identifying people likely to fire on unarmed citizens
before those trainees are certified ready for duty. Specifically, trainers could track quantifiable elements of training scenarios and see how well the trainee can maintain situational awareness.

Scenario based training and testing has been part of most police academies for decades, going back to use of primer-driven wax bullets and blanks in the 1970’s (and earlier, and video based training systems before non-lethal training projectile systems came into common use. “Low cost” is a relative term, since a rough estimate of minimum gear necessary to equip a test subject and a single roleplayer with a training gun, marking rounds and appropriate safety gear (conversion kit, head gear, chest/neck/throat protector) could require $2K or more, not counting the cost of a facility where marking rounds can be used. However, compared to the costs associated with a bad use of force decision, the cost for the equipment required is small.

KR Training Force on Force class AARs and mentions

There aren’t a lot of traveling trainers offering force on force courses. A lot more equipment has to be shipped or hauled to class. Demand for this type of training is far less than for high round count square range training, and it’s far easier for traveling trainers to run the square range courses. They can also be conducted at almost any range, while FOF often requires temporary shoot houses to be built, either out of props used for matches at the host range, or built on site, as we had to do for the FOF class I ran at the FPF facility earlier this year.

Lee Weems of First Person Safety and the “That Weems Guy” podcast said some nice things about my FOF classes in this recent Evolution Security podcast episode.

Frequent KR Training student Uncle Zo wrote an after-action class report about our recent Advanced Training 2 scenario course held at the A-Zone Range

One of the students in the FPF full day scenarios course wrote up his experiences in that class

Back in September, the Civilian Gunfighter blog wrote about force on force training and mentioning my courses.

Why Don’t You Share Videos of Student Scenarios?

In the current era, everyone wants to share everything, particularly when marketing is involved. I don’t record videos of the scenarios that I run, and don’t allow students to record and share them either. The reason is this: should a student get involved in an defensive incident, those publicly shared (or privately saved) videos could be used as evidence. I do have this short clip from a 2005 episode of Shooting Gallery showing a scenario I ran at one of the early Polite Society (Rangemaster Tactical) Conferences.

The Stoeger Bandit Target

Retired police trainer Bob Givan shares my interest in the history of target development. He recently sent me some pictures from the Stoeger catalog from the 1930’s-1950’s. During that era, Stoeger’s catalog was the Sears Roebuck wish book for shooters. I purchased a few of these catalogs myself to add to my collection.

In the late 1930’s, Stoeger began selling their “bandit” target.

The target was the same size as Fitzgerald’s “Colt Silhouette Target”.

Another variant had ID numbers, which could be used to track hit locations.

The Stoeger target showed an attacker with gun raised to the eye target line, later in the attack process than the Colt Silhouette, which showed someone reaching in their pocket. The 5 point zone in the head and other scoring areas on the Stoeger target are more anatomically correct, with lower scores for the legs and lower torso.

Scoring on the target changed between 1941 and 1942. The bullseye style scoring on the target was the 1941 variant, which influenced the International Rapid Fire and later, the Prehle and B-27 targets.

Stoeger also advertised an armored vest in their 1939 catalog.

Like Richard Davis did with his Second Chance vests many decades later, the company demonstrated their vests with live fire tests while visiting police departments.

Stoeger also included some ‘Ten Ring Tips’ in a 1945 catalog.

Remembering Ronnie Jones (1955-2021)

Austin-area competition shooter and gunsmith Ronnie Jones passed away June 27, 2021, from fast-growing cancer. In the early to mid 1990’s, Ronnie and I shot matches every weekend, trained together multiple days a week, and traveled all over the US shooting major matches.

The picture above was taken by Rob Leatham’s dad Nyle Leatham, with a remote camera at one of the Ernie Hill sponsored major matches in Phoenix in the mid 1990’s. Nyle had a set up with the Ernie Hill banner at a spot that every shooter in the match had to fire from, and he sold prints of the pics at the match.

Ronnie loved machines and going fast, and came to pistol and 3-gun competition from the world of stock car racing. He lived near the Hill Country Rifle Range where (at that time) all the USPSA, Steel Challenge and 3 gun matches were held, and dived into the sport quickly after discovering the matches. A highly motivated, competitive person, Ronnie sought out the best instruction, got pro-grade gear and began working hard to win local events, which he was doing within a year of entering the sport.

In 1993-1994 we shot over 50,000 rounds apiece, putting in long practice sessions, setting up stages and racing to see who could get to USPSA “Master” class first (Ronnie did, I got there about 6 months later). He sought out sponsorships and was picked up by the Nowlin barrel company, representing them at major events for several years. His aptitude for mechanical things led him to working on his own guns, then working on my guns, then to jobs with Nowlin, STI, and SVI at various times in the 1990’s and 2000’s.

Ronnie loved Open division and going as fast as he could go, once saying (after USPSA introduced the Limited division for iron-sighted guns) “I’ve never thought of myself as ‘limited'”. As the 90’s progressed he got into 3-gun matches. As cross training for 3 gun we shot skeet every week for about 4 months, using our 3-gun shotguns instead of traditional skeet guns (to the concern of some of the old time skeet shooters at the range in Marble Falls where we trained.)

I ended up buying Ronnie’s USPSA racegun to have as a backup gun for major matches. The gun had a custom serial number of “Franker 1” (in tribute to Frank Zappa & Ronnie’s habit of asking people to “let me be Frank”). He put at least 100K rounds through it and built himself a pair of new guns after retiring this one.

We had many adventures on the road, including a famous incident in Midland, Texas, where Ronnie (a connoisseur of fine cocktails) ordered a margarita on the rocks with specific ingredients, made a certain way, and sent it back (twice) when it wasn’t made correctly. He gave up and ordered the individual ingredients and mixed his own drink at the table. The manager came over to see what the problem was. Ronnie adjusted the manager’s tie, and then handed the manager the drink his bar had made, and said “taste that”, then gave the manager the one he made, had him taste it and asked the manager which one was better. The manager liked Ronnie’s more. In Ronnie’s own words:

If you are talking margarita, it would contain Herradura Anejo and Grand Marnier.
Currently that has been updated to Gran Gala instead of Grand Marnier but either will work.

About two shots of each and then fresh squeezed limes to taste. Mixes are sort of hard to judge and I really don’t have one that I like. I would suggest that you stay away from anything but fresh limes. When you squeeze them some of the oil from the skin gets mixed in and it makes a difference. If you don’t want to do that, then you could try something like Minute Maid concentrate but I don’t think you would like it as much.

Some people add a splash of orange juice and that’s ok if you like that. If you think it’s too tart you could add a little sugar. That is going to depend on how tart the limes are. When the oils are really high they will make you pucker, well unless you just add more alcohol. 🙂 Or water 🙁

Starting with a pint glass full of ice, pour it in, shake it, pour it into your glass with the salted rim and add ice to fill if necessary. Don’t chill the liquor. It melts the ice and soothes it out.

On another trip, Ronnie decided to teach/demonstrate “Rockford Files J turns” for me using our rental car in a mostly-empty shopping mall parking lot one night. The next morning we had to go back to the lot to find one of the rental car hubcaps, which had flown off at some point.

Ronnie’s drive to be a national level competition shooter pushed me to a level of skill I would not have achieved on my own, and those experiences beyond the club match level gave me confidence (and credentials) to do more with KR Training. He was absolutely an important part of the early days.

When Penny and I started dating, we spent many weekends on the road as I introduced her to matches around the state and country, much as Ronnie and I had done.  She thought it was a little strange, at first, that I had an interesting “Ronnie story” every place we went, until she met Ronnie for the first time at Hill Country Rifle Range.  He greeted her with his characteristic bear hug, and they soon became fast friends.  He helped diagnose a intermittent problem that turned out to be an issue with Winchester powder, and soon discovered that they shared an interest in the meticulous detail necessary for making a race gun run flawlessly, and made a pact to never let me near any of their firearms with a file.  He also gave me a really hard time for letting her start out competing in limited class with a well worn 2011 chambered in .45ACP, but was always available to help fix all the broken parts. Eventually by the end of the 1990’s, demand for classes overtook shooting local matches and training for major matches, and Ronnie’s work in the gun industry took away from his time to train and compete as well.

Between the growth of KR Training, the development of the A-Zone and later, a move to Bryan away from Austin, we didn’t get to see each other as often, but we stayed in contact online, and at concerts. Ronnie and his wife Karin loved to go to concerts, and we would come to Austin for special events.

Ronnie loved animals more than people, and their house was always home to multiple dogs and cats. Their cat “Tubby” was a long haired fuzzball that I was terribly allergic to, but when Ronnie asked me to play Pink Floyd songs on their piano, Tubby would always jump into my lap and purr. (Tubby had good taste in music.)

Ronnie was a huge Frank Zappa fan, and on our many road trips to matches, we listened to a lot of Zappa songs. When Dweezil Zappa formed the “Zappa Plays Zappa” band after Frank’s death, Ronnie didn’t miss a single Texas show, traveling to Houston and Dallas and Austin. The last time I saw him (outside of a hospital) was the “Hot Rats live” show Dweezil did at the Paramount Theater in Austin in 2019.

Ronnie and his wife Karin at the show that night.

“Watermelon in Easter Hay” was Ronnie’s favorite Frank Zappa song.

After Ronnie passed, John Daub and I made a special range trip to shoot some guns in honor of Ronnie. A few years prior to his death, Ronnie had sold off a lot of his guns, including his suppressed Mac-10 and the STI “Legend” .40 that he built to use in Limited division but never ended up competing with. I actually used the Legend to earn my Grand Master ratings in USPSA Limited and Limited 10 divisions back before USPSA raised the GM standards.

Remembering Mary Ann Sanborn (1936-2021)

On September 18, 2021, KR Training graduate, friend, course host and supporter Mary Ann Sanborn passed away after a long bout with cancer. She is survived by her husband, Dave Rosenfield and other relatives listed in her official obituary.  While Mary Ann was certainly well-known around the area because of her Sanborn Travel business,  I first met Mary Ann and Dave in March 1995, when they attended an NRA Pistol Instructor class that I taught that year. Interest in becoming a certified pistol instructor surged when it became clear that the state legislature was going to pass a concealed carry permit bill, and there would be demand for pistol classes as soon as DPS began certifying instructors. Dave and Mary Ann also connected us with their many shooting friends and helped me fill several instructor courses that year as a result of their referrals. Penny met them soon after!

Mary Ann and Dave – firearms dealers specializing in sales of suppressors and machine guns – had a small outdoor range at their Sanborn Shooters facility in Smithville, Texas. They graciously offered their facility as a location where we could teach courses, and converted a garage into a classroom. We used their facility and several others from 1996-2002 as our course offerings expanded from Texas License to Carry (LTC) courses to more advanced pistol classes, competition training, and force on force scenarios. The video below shows student scenarios from a 1998 class run at Sanborn Shooters.

When Penny and I got married in May 1998,  we held a fun shoot at Sanborn Shooters for our friends and family, as part of the event.  As always, Mary Ann and Dave were wonderful hosts. Here’s a pic of Dave demonstrating a full auto Sten Gun at that event.   Incidentally, long-time KR Training colleagues, Kelli and John Kochan first met at a KR Training course held at Sanborn Shooters as well.

From 1997-2006 while Penny worked at M.D. Anderson’s Science Park Research Division in Smithville, she made many lunchtime visits to Sanborn Shooters, to visit and get in short mid-day practice sessions – the original KR Training 100-round drill! On weekends in 2001 when we were not teaching, Penny and I used the Sanborn Shooters facility to train for the Steel Challenge World Championship match, where I made the top 32 shootoff and Penny was 2nd woman (rimfire) and 5th woman (centerfire). Pictures from that match are on the archive site.  Our success that year would not have been possible without the support of Mary Ann and Dave.  Dinners at Rob’s and lunches at Charlie’s and Pockets were also memorable.  Charlie’s BBQ will be forever part of KR Training Scenario lore, thanks to the guidance of Mary Ann and Dave.

As the 21st century began, Dave and Mary Ann encouraged us to build our own permanent training facility, giving us advice on land selection and facility construction. After more than a year of looking at various properties, we purchased the original A-Zone property, spent the fall and winter doing construction, and fired the first official rounds on the range into a ribbon of exploding targets from Sanborn Shooters on 02-02-02, at 2:02 pm.

Photos from the Grand Opening are on the KR Training archive site.  Mary Ann and Dave’s support was critical for KR Training branching out into its own location.  They even provided a cabin for Penny’s parents for a time after they decided to relocate from Indiana to build a home near the A-Zone.

After we moved KR Training operations to the A-Zone, we stayed in contact with Dave and Mary Ann, attending New Year’s Eve and birthday events held at Sanborn Shooters featuring fireworks manufactured by Dave, Mary Ann and their pyrotechnician friends, and kept up with their exploits as assistants working major fireworks shows around Central Texas. Especially notable events were incredible fireworks displays for Mary Ann’s 65th birthday, and of course a big event to usher in the turn of the century on 12/31/1999.

Mary Ann’s last visit to the A-Zone was October 11, 2020. A lover of dogs and cats, she liked visiting her “grand-dogs” Scudder and Rye. We brought them over to Sanborn Shooters several times during her final year.

A special remembrance celebration is planned for May 2022 at Sanborn Shooters. Mary Ann was an important member of the KR Training family, and she will forever be in our hearts. Penny, Karl, Ribo, Grand Dogs Scudder & Rye, and KR Training are incredibly grateful for Mary Ann’s kindness, generosity, sense of humor, and beautiful smile. She will be greatly missed.

Remembering Sean Hoffman (1973-2021)

On August 19, 2021, KR Training instructor Sean Hoffman passed away from a still undetermined medical cause. When we met Sean, he had relocated to Austin after retiring from a 20+ year in law enforcement in Southern California, serving as patrol officer, SWAT team member, and K9 handler. He attended many classes with us in 2018 and 2019, earning his Defensive Pistol Skills Program Challenge Coin.

During that time Sean also got certified as an NRA instructor, Texas law enforcement and private security firearms trainer, and Texas License to Carry (LTC) instructor, and began offering courses under his “Carry the Day” business name. Sean also began assisting with KR Training classes. and was quickly promoted to teaching classes for us a lead instructor.

The first course that he taught for us was a long gun class in August 2019.

Sean became interested in red dot sights, and took multiple classes from Modern Samurai Project, Sage Dynamics, Centrifuge and the SIG Academy – their student courses and instructor certification courses as well. Sean and I traveled to Gunsite for the SIG Academy red dot instructor class in June 2020.

Sean began teaching his own red dot pistol class for KR Training, and we will continue offering that course using his lesson plan and class notes. Sean, Tracy, Dave and I had a fun photo shoot one day creating the KR Training image pack (Pack S) for the new Image Based Decisional Drills program.

As a passionate student of training, Sean shared my goal of seeking out 100 or more hours of training each year. He attended the classes we hosted with traveling trainers, and joined other KR Training staff on the road taking classes at other facilities. He also served as a mentor to some of our assistant instructors, guiding them to improve as instructors and as shooters.

As a Marine Corps veteran, Sean was laid to rest, with military honors at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, in Killeen Texas, on September 21, 2021. Most of the KR Training instructor team attended the service.

Sean’s time as a part of the KR Training family was too short, but his contributions were large. We will miss him, and we will keep his memory alive by continuing the programs he created for us, and adding him to our honor wall at the A-Zone Range.

Book Review: Concealed Carry Revolution (Yamane, 2021)

Sociologist Dr. David Yamane‘s most recent book, Concealed Carry Revolution, tells the history of concealed carry laws, particularly their expansion over the past 30+ years. The book is a standalone volume that will eventually be part of a larger book on “Gun Culture 2.0“, which differs from traditional gun culture in that it emphasizes concealed carry and personal protection much more than hunting as the core focus of an individual’s right to keep and bear arms.

Many Gun Culture 2.0 types are reasonably familiar with the changes that have occurred since Florida passed “shall issue” carry legislation in the late 1980’s. The book provides a great summary of the wave of shall issue laws and court cases since then, but in my opinion the book’s biggest strength is its discussion of open and concealed carry in the preceding 100 years.

Yamane opens the book with a discussion of gun laws in Tombstone, AZ from 1881, and then steps back even earlier, to British and colonial laws from the 1600’s and 1700’s. Gun control laws passed in Kentucky (1813), Louisiana (1813), Indiana (1820), Georgia (1837), Arkansas (1837-8), Tennessee (1838), Virginia (1838) and Alabama (1839). According to historian Clayton Cramer, these laws were intended to limit carry of concealed weapons to combat the “honor culture” violence that was occurring in rural areas of those Southern states. Yamane includes a great quote from trainer Tom Givens:

Reflecting on his time as a police officer in Tennessee in the 1970’s, Tom Givens says it was common for people to carry guns in their cars that when he pulled someone over he did not ask “Do you have a gun in your car?”, but instead asked “Where is the gun in your car?”.

Concealed Carry Revolution pg 21.

During my childhood in Texas, guns in cars, including rifles carried openly in gun racks, were common. Our state laws allowed open carry of long guns, but limited carry of handguns to situations in which someone was ‘traveling’ (a poorly defined term that gave law enforcement officers great discretion in choosing when or if to enforce laws regarding handgun carry.)

Other books on handgun training history and gun laws indicate that pocket guns were commonly carried by both urban dwellers and rural travelers.

Relevant to current events, Yamane discusses the history of New York City’s “may issue” licensing system, which is being challenged in a Supreme Court case that will start hearings in October. The SCOTUS ruling on this case, if the NYC program is struck down, could lead to the final states that give police and bureaucrats the discretion to deny permits for any reason being forced to implement “shall issue” systems like more than 40 other states. One amicus brief from defense attorneys points out that the NYC system is inherently racist. This should come as no surprise to gun law scholars, who have written at length about the many gun restrictions that were passed to disarm non-whites after the Civil War into the modern era. In 2021, Texas just passed permitless carry, eliminating the requirement for training and paying state fees to get permission to carry a concealed handgun. One of the strongest arguments in favor of permitless carry was economic: the hurdles imposed by state fees and mandatory training affected low income Texans most, and those citizens were often the most likely to be victims of violent crime. As was the case in NYC, lower income individuals with no other criminal record were far more likely to prosecuted for carrying without a license.

Yamane’s book provides plenty of details of abuses of the ‘may issue’ system, in Democrat run states and megacities, both in the form of denials to the poorly connected and the granting of permits to political cronies, celebrities and others, including many of questionable character. In 2017, the officers trusted with running the NYC gun permit program were caught taking bribes and engaging in other corrupt acts.

The book includes a helpful chart showing the spread of shall issue laws, starting with Washington State in 1961, Indiana in 1980, and then the wave starting in 1985 with Maine, North and South Dakota, continuing through the present day with 41 states now having similar shall issue systems in place.

Chapter Four of the book dives into the variances in different state’s training requirements – an issue John Daub and I explore in our own book, Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training. State training and proficiency requirements answer the question “what is the lowest possible requirement we can have to guarantee someone is safe and responsible enough to carry in public?” They do not answer the question “what level of skill and proficiency is desirable for someone seeking to be well prepared to use a handgun in self-defense?’ As we note in our book, this has created a widespread mindset among gun owners (and the general public) that state carry permit training is of some actual value, and is a meaningful credential. The Texas License to Carry shooting test is so easy that a skilled shooter can pass it blindfolded, as John Johnston does in this Lucky Gunner video.

Shooting a Carry Permit Test Blindfolded – Lucky Gunner Lounge

What occurred in Texas during the early days of our state’s carry permit program was duplicated in many other shall issue states. In order to ensure that the mandatory state training was inexpensive and widely available, states set their requirements for instructor certification to the lowest possible standard: NRA Basic Pistol instructor (a program that teaches instructors nothing about defensive shooting skills, nor carry methods, nor how to safely draw from a holster). This created an ‘industry’ where poorly qualified trainers meeting state minimums were able to profit from teaching overly large, low quality classes to customers only interested in the cheapest, shortest, most convenient course. While this approach did make the training inexpensive and easy to complete for permit applicants, it often resulted in very low quality courses full of questionable advice on defensive shooting, gun selection, and even deadly force law.

When permitless carry was proposed in Texas, some instructors protested, complaining that their businesses could not survive the loss of the state forcing people to attend their courses. Gun owners, gun rights advocates and trainers with the ability and expertise to teach more than the state minimum training class were unsympathetic.

Texas, as it was for shall issue carry, was relatively late in the wave of states passing permitless carry. Even as Yamane was finishing up the current version of this book, more states were passing “constitutional” or permitless carry programs, making the final section of the book out of date before the ink had dried on its printing.

UPDATE: Yamane has issued an updated edition of the book, now available as an ebook, addressing permitless carry and the upcoming New York carry permit Supreme Court case.

Despite that minor flaw, the book is excellent primer on the history of carry permit laws, particularly recommended to new gun owners and new carry permit holders in any state.

An interview with Yamane, with John Johnston on Ballistic Radio is here

Book Review: Jelly Bryce: FBI Odyssey/The Man in the Mirror (Conti, 2015/2016)

Firearms trainer Mike Conti has written a three-book fictionalized history of the life of famous FBI agent and gunfighter Jelly Bryce. “The Legend Begins” was book 1 of that series (reviewed previously), which continues in FBI Odyssey (book 2) and The Man In the Mirror (book 3)

Bryce was an influential figure in the history of shooting training. His techniques became the core of FBI firearms training, which were taught to law enforcement officers for more than 40 years. I wrote about the 1940’s FBI firearms qualification course of fire in this Historical Handgun class after action report.

Bryce had exceptional vision and dry fired constantly, giving him the ability to hip shoot and point shoot with accuracy and speed far better than an average-sighted person less motivated to practice and dry fire as much as Bryce did.

Book 2 (FBI Odyssey) focuses on Bryce’s time in the FBI. Book 3 (The Man in the Mirror) follows FBI Special Agent Delf “Jelly” Bryce through the tumultuous war years from 1941 until his death in 1974.

Like book 1, books 2 and 3 tell the story of Bryce’s life as a fictionalized story, written like a novel. J. Edgar Hoover and many other famous FBI figures, as well as Hoover’s rival “Wild Bill” Donovan have their own stories and life histories woven into the plot.

Author Conti, a law enforcement officer and firearms trainer, gets the details right, painting a vivid picture of the sights, sounds and smells of Bryce’s era. The gun fights and physical violence are described realistically, putting the reader in the middle of the action. The books are a great mix of history and character and action and drama, much like the historical action novels written by “gun guy” Stephen Hunter.

Highly recommended for students of firearms training history, FBI history, US history of the 40’s and 50’s, and anybody that likes a well written tale.

Book Review: The Snubby Chronicles (various, 2021)

Earlier this year Tom Givens sent me a signed copy of a book published by the Snub Gun Study Group – a group of trainers and shooters interested in the history and modern use of the short barreled revolver.

More about this group can be found here. They also have a downloads page, including a link where a digital version of the Snubby Chronicles book can be downloaded for free in PDF form.

Who wrote the book? Article authors include: Mike Boyle, Andy Stanford, William Bell, Stephen P. Wenger, David Elderton, Tom Givens, Denver Burris, Peter A. Anderson, C.E. Harris, Mitchell Burke, John Russell, Grant Cunningham, Jim Finnerty, Daniel Congiolosi, William G. Hanley, Steve Collins, Mike Pipes and Frank Groth.

Article topics include:

  • The Super Snub
  • The Colt Pocket Positive
  • Snub Practice and Self-Assessment (The Snubby Standards)
  • The .38/32 Terrier: S&W’s First Hand-Ejector Snub Revolver
  • Ankle Holsters
  • .38 Shot Loads
  • Aussie Snubs
  • All Boot Grips are Not Created Equal
  • Kimber K6S Speedloader Review
  • The Colt Detective Special
  • How Many Times Can You Reload a .38 Special Case?
  • The S&W 940, a 9mm Parabellum/.38 S&W pocket revolver
  • Taurus Teardown
  • Shooting the S&W Model 12 .38 Special
  • Tactical Reloads
  • The Bryce Drill

If you like revolvers, particularly snub revolvers, get a copy of this book. It’s full of interesting articles and essays from people smart about all things snub in the 21st century. The book has a nice mix of articles discussing guns, accessories and skills. I learned that you can reload a .38 special case, firing standard pressure loads, about 30 times before it splits. There’s an interesting article comparing several different brands of speed strips in reload tests, drop tests and other practical use tests. Two skills tests were included in the book, so I went out and shot them to make some videos to spruce up this book review.

Snubby Standards

Here’s the “snubby standards” from the book, shot with this Colt snub out of a Bobby Mac holster.

Objective: This drill is designed to measure practical marksmanship potential with a snubnose revolver.

Target: Any humanoid target with a realistic size high value scoring area may be used (IPSC, IDPA etc.) Paper plates may be affixed to any target to create a realistic size, high value scoring area. Steel reactive targets may be used with frangible ammunition. Only hits in high value area count!

Distance: 5 yards except where noted.
Phase One Condition Check: Is it loaded? If not, make it so and holster.

Phase Two Ready Position: On signal, fire 1 shot, starting from the ready position.
Par time = 0.75 second, Superior = 0.55 seconds.

Phase Three Quick Draw: On signal, draw & fire 2 shots in 2.25 seconds. Superior performance = 2 seconds. (all draws from concealment).

Phase Four Two Threats: On signal, draw & fire 1 shot each on two different targets (spaced 3 feet apart). Par time = 2.5 seconds. Superior performance = 2.25 seconds.

Phase Five Reload: Starting in the ready position, fire 1 shot on the signal, RELOAD and fire 2 shots. Par time = 10 seconds. Superior performance= 8 seconds.

Phase Six Long Distance (10 yards): On signal, draw & fire 2 shots standing, drop down to kneeling and fire 2 additional shots. Par time = 7 seconds. Superior performance = 6 seconds or less.

target 1
target 2

The Bryce Drill

This course of fire was based on one of Jelly Bryce’s most famous gunfights (or technically, it was a ‘shooting’ because the threat was shot so quickly that he never had a chance to return fire.)

Course of Fire:
Shooter will start on one side or the other of the simulated doorway, shooter’s choice.
Stand facing 45 degrees away from target.

When safe to do so, load to capacity and safely holster.
On command, or start signal, step forward into the
doorway and turn to face target.
When threat is perceived, draw and fire five shots to target head using strong hand only.
Do not draw until facing the target.
Unload, show clear, safely reholster.
Score target, record time.

When we recorded this video, we didn’t realize the phone was not recording sound. My time for the drill was 3.22 seconds.

The videos are the first take. I made the par times and got acceptable hits on most of the strings. When I did the 2 round reload using my speed strip, I closed the cylinder one position off from where it should have been, so you can see me do bang-click-click-click bang after the load. I did make the 10 sec par time on that one, probably would have made the 8 second time without the extra 3 dryfire shots.

KR Training August 2021 Newsletter


Many of the classes coming up this fall are already full or close to full. If you are interested in any of the fall classes I suggest registering soon!

Here are the classes we have coming up in Texas with space available. 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.

Courses marked with *** are core classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.


Due to high demand and COVID risk we have opened up both days of the upcoming Paul Martin Preparedness Summer School events for Zoom livestreaming. Price to attend online is the same as in-person cost. Register here.


KR Training assistant instructor Sean Hoffman passed away in his sleep Thursday, August 19 from an apparent heart attack. Prior to working with us, Sean had been a Marine and a law enforcement officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. Sean’s role with KR Training had expanded over the past few years, as he had been lead instructor for our red dot pistol and rifle courses. His family is still working on final arrangements for him, so there will be a full blog post with more memories of Sean and information about services and memories when that information is available. Sean was a good friend to all of us, and we mourn his loss.


Massad Ayoob will be returning to KR Training to teach his MAG-20 twenty hour classroom course on October 2-3. This class is an essential class anyone serious about armed self-defense should take. We have plenty of slots open in this upcoming course.


Each year we take a break from live fire classes during November and December. If there are non-shooting courses (scenarios, medical, legal, unarmed, pepper spray, or knife) that you are interested in, let us know and we will consider adding it to our late fall schedule.


Click here for information about any of these courses.

Sept 4 am – Basic Handgun
Sept 4 pm – Intermediate Handgun
Sept 12 am – Defensive Rifle 1
Sept 12 pm – Defensive Rifle 2
Sept 18 am – Handgun Accuracy
Sept 18 pm – Intro To Red Dot Handgun
Sept 25 am – Defensive Handgun I
Sept 25 pm – Defensive Handgun 2



Another video from my January 2021 trio show at the Third Floor Cantina. This track was written by Navasota, TX bluesman Geater Davis in the 1970’s, and was a minor national hit for him.


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

Book Review: Handguns for Self Defence: A South African Guide (Gore, 1981)

This book was recently gifted to me from Gary G – a shooter who has been around the competition and training world since the mid 1970’s. This book, written and published in South Africa by trainer and IPSC competitor Gerry Gore, is a great time capsule of the state of the Gunsite/Jeff Cooper training circa 1981. Cooper wrote the foreword for the book.

This particular book was written as a general purpose guide to the new gun owner and defensive pistol student living in South Africa.

This particular copy has multiple autographs: from the author, 1981 IPSC World Champion Ross Seyfriend, and the captain of the Republic of South Africa’s IPSC team (his signature is as bad as mine).


Much of the book is the content you’d expect from any defensive pistol manual: definitions of firearms terms, how to choose a defensive handgun (.38/357 revolver or 1911 .45 are recommended), gun care, basic shooting skills, stopping power (.45 ACP of course), psychology of defense (Cooper’s Color Codes), parts and operation, and other familiar topics.

South African Law

One chapter focuses on South African self defence law. At that time, these were the requirements for use of deadly force:

  1. The attack on you must be illegal.
  2. At the time, you must reasonably believe that the attack will otherwise result in death, serious bodily harm or grave loss of property, either to yourself or to anyone whom you chose to place under your protection.
  3. There must be no reasonable way of avoiding the threat.
  4. Your response to the threat must be immediate.
  5. You must use no more force or counter-violence than is necessary to stop the threat.

These elements are in line with deadly force laws in many US states, with the biggest difference being the clause allowing use of deadly force to protect against ‘grave loss’ of property.

The other situation in which South Africans of that era were allowed to use their guns was if they were making an arrest (as a citizen). One section of the book teaches how to hold someone at gunpoint. This was allowed for a wide range of offenses:

  1. Treason
  2. Sedition
  3. Murder
  4. Culpable Homicide
  5. Rape.
  6. Indecent Assault.
  7. Sodomy.
  8. Bestiality
  9. Robbery
  10. Assault in which a dangerous wound is inflicted
  11. Arson
  12. Breaking and entering with criminal intent
  13. Receiving stolen goods, knowing them to be stolen.
  14. Fraud
  15. Knowingly forging and uttering.
  16. Offences related to the coinage.
  17. Conspiring to commit any of the above offences.
  18. Escaping from custody, whilst being held for committing a Schedule One offence.

From the book:

There is no statutory law which requires you to fire a warning shot, but legal precedence requires that you must give oral warning and then fire a warning shot…before you may even think of firing directly at a fleeing miscreant, and requires you specifically to shoot to disable not to kill. Just bear in mind that the onus will be on you to prove that there was no other way that you could effect the arrest, that you were physically unable to catch the felon and that opening fire was your last resort.

Handguns for Self Defence, Gerry Gore, pg 27

Gun Manners

One chapter of the book deals with “Gun Manners”. Surprisingly this chapter does not repeat Cooper’s 4 rules in their standard form. Each rule gets several paragraphs of description, explaining how far bullets can travel, and providing anecdotes about negative outcomes associated with inattention to muzzle direction. Guns and children gets its own subheading. The chapter ends with this short statement

(The shooter) must know:
How it works.
Whether it’s loaded.
Where it’s pointing.
Where his target is.
What is target is.
Where the bullet will go.
Where the bullet will stop.
You have a full-time job.

Gun Handling

The section on gun handling includes this vintage advice on press checking a 1911, including a picture of this questionable technique in which the thumb is placed in the trigger guard (usually of a loaded gun), and the index finger placed just under the muzzle, so that a pinching movement can be used to open the slide enough to see if there is a round chambered. This technique only works if your 1911 has the short guide rod (does not work for full length guide rod). In my opinion it also violates two gun safety rules regarding the trigger and the muzzle.

This section also includes instructions on how to manually lower the hammer to carry a 1911 in Condition Two. Gerry explains: “..the whole process is fraught with danger and is not recommended under any conditions”.

At the time, the author was Senior Instructor number 001 in the South African Institute of Range Officers. By 1981 standards, it was (apparently) OK to reload with the trigger finger in the trigger guard.

He also teaches “drag the knife edge of the hand across the top of the slide” technique for clearing a stovepipe…with finger in the trigger guard. The .45 ACP case is taller than a 9mm case, and in my experience, that technique does not work well when 9mm cases are involved. There’s not enough case sticking up to grab with the hand edge, so what happens is not only does the case stay in the gun, but the mouth of the case can rip a “slot” along the hand’s edge, leaving the user with a stovepipe and a hand injury.


As expected, the section on stance is all Weaver, all the time.

More interesting (to me) is the author’s recommendation of the grip technique where the index finger of the support hand wraps around the trigger guard. The brief popularity of this technique led to a squared, checkered trigger guard being incorporated into many 1980 gun designs, most notably the Glock and STI frames.

He also recommends riding the thumb underneath the thumb safety, which isn’t shown in the pic.


In the section on holsters, the shoulder holster, cross draw holster, and clip holster are all discussed briefly, with the strong side leather hip holster being his primary recommendation.

On the topic of low light shooting, this picture of the Harries technique, with its beautifully phrased caption, is included.

Shooting Standards

The author offers these standard exercises and drills, to be shot on the IPSC Option target (discussed in a previous blog post)

Basic drills:

  1. 1 shot standing in 1.5 seconds, 7 m (6x)
  2. 1 shot standing in 2.5 seconds, 25 m (6x)
  3. 1 shot kneeling in 4.0 seconds, 35 m (6x)
  4. 1 shot lying (prone) in 5.5 seconds from 50 m (6x)
  5. 2 shots, starting strongside (turning draw) , in 3 secs from 10m (3x)
  6. 2 shots, starting weakside (turning draw), in 3 secs from 10m (3x)
  7. El Presidente once
  8. Cirillo’s Hostage Shoot once

Most “modern” shooters that have focused on 3-10 m shooting would likely fail the 25, 35 and 50m parts of this test, as those skills have faded from popularity in most defensive pistol programs…and likely with good reason, as shots past 10 m are extremely rare. Similarly, emphasis on kneeling and prone shooting has all but disappeared from modern handgun curriculum, because analysis of actual incidents keeps showing that those skills aren’t used.

The book also includes some written descriptions of early IPSC courses of fire, mostly shot at 10 m, variations on El Presidente, using a steel target as the stop plate.

If you want more info about what IPSC competition was like in South Africa, this old American Handgunner Article about the 1979 World Shoot (article “Notes on the IPSC World Meet”) has some pictures and info.

Disabling the Browning High Power’s magazine disconnect safety

In the back of the book, there’s a detailed section, with photos, showing how to remove parts from the Browning High Power to eliminate its magazine disconnect safety. The mag safety makes dry firing much more difficult, as an empty mag in the gun causes it to lock back each time the slide is cycled, and dummy rounds in the magazine have to be manually ejected for each dry fire shot. The mag safety protects against negligent discharge this way: if someone ejects the magazine, thinking the gun is “unloaded” and then does something stupid and unsafe with it, it prevents the gun from firing. In a weapon retention situation, if the gun’s defender is able to eject the magazine during the struggle, if the attacker gets the gun, he is unable to shoot the defender with it.

Most professional gunsmiths in the US, at least the ones I dealt with in the 1980s and 1990s, would not disable the mag safety on the High Power out of liability / lawsuit concerns. However, the author provides instructions for those that choose to do this, and observes that removing the parts improves the trigger feel of the gun considerably. For liability reasons I am not including those pictures here.


For someone living in South Africa in the early 1980’s, this book would have been a very useful resource, showing the best practices of the day. Reading it from my perspective, it’s an interesting time capsule of that place and time, giving more perspective on where training the 1980’s began, as part of a broader understanding of how much it changed in that decade.

2021 Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship

KR Training was a sponsor of the 2021 Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship, held July 23-25 at the CCC Shooting Complex south of College Station, Texas. Karl Rehn and Roy Stedman represented KR Training, competing in multiple divisions in the match. Karl finished 2nd in the Single Stack division (1911 9mm) and was Top Senior out of all centerfire pistol shooters. Roy was 2nd in both Open and Limited divisions, third overall out of all centerfire pistol divisions.

What is Steel Challenge competition? Here’s the official USPSA promo video. Even if you are an experienced competitor, it’s worth watching for the cool camera angles and great runs.

On Friday, Karl taught a junior shooter clinic.

working dry fire with some junior shooters
Karl shooting his Open gun (Briley Platemaster)
Karl shooting his single stack 1911 9mm
Roy at the prize table.
Top Geezer award

Steel Challenge has 13 different divisions. For centerfire pistol (9mm) you can shoot in the standard USPSA divisions of Open, Limited (LTD), Single Stack (SS), Production, and Carry Optics (CO). Centerfire pistol caliber carbines have both iron sight and optic divisions (PCCI, PCCO). Rimfire pistols have iron and optic divisions (RFPI, RFPO). Revolvers have iron and optic divisions (ISR, OSR). Rimfire rifles have iron and optic divisions (RFRI, RFRO).

Open, PCCO, RFPO, RFRI, RFRO Grant “Super Human” Kunkel
– Grant is the current World Champion in Steel Challenge, and won five of the 13 divisions in the Area 4 match. Learn more about Grant in this Shooting Sports USA article.
CO – Cameron Templin
SS – Anthony Veith
PCCI – Bridget Cunningham
RFPI – Trinity Lambiase
Production – Jason Tielke
LTD – Jason Tielke
ISR – Mike Dines
OSR – Mike Dines

Title Sponsor: CCI Ammunition
Youth Aggregate Team Award – Scholastic Shooting Sports Foundation
RO Prize Table and CO-Match Director – Axl Adv / Matt Hawes
Youth Clinic Instructors – Travis Gibson and KR Training / Karl Rehn

Stage Sponsors:
Showdown – SureFire, LLC
Outer Limits – Hunters HD Gold
Pendulum – JP Enterprises
Accelerator – Ben Stoeger Pro Shop
Smoke and Hope – MGM Targets
Speed Option – Hodgdon Powder
Roundabout – Tandemkross
5 to Go – CZ-USA

Division Sponsors
Carry Optics – Vortex Optics
RFPO – Vortex Optics
ISR – Ruger OSR – Ruger RFPI – Ruger RFRI – Ruger PCCI – JP Enterprises
PCCO – JP Enterprises Open – The Blue Bullets
RFRO – Volquartsen Custom Production – Hoppe’s
Limited – Hoppes
Single Stack – EGW Inc.
Match Sponsors: Steel Target Paint, Starline Brass,

Full match results can be viewed on Practiscore here


The Steel Challenge format was created in 1981 by Mike Fichman and Mike Dalton. The match was intended to push shooters’ speed with centerfire pistols to the limits of human performance, in a format that could attract more mainstream sponsors and TV coverage, since it used round and square steel targets instead of humanoid paper targets. The clanging of the steel had more spectator appeal, and the big match ended with a top 32 shootoff on falling steel. The match had one of the biggest prize tables and cash payouts of any pistol event.

I got started shooting pistols in competition in 1988 – the same year local top shooter Chip McCormick won the Steel Challenge World Championships for the second time. (Chip was the first to win the match more than once.) Chip had a full set of regulation targets at the range where our USPSA club ran its matches, and by 1991 I was running local steel matches and training with Chip for the 1991 World Championship match. During the 1990’s the popularity of the Steel Challenge format grew, with many local Texas clubs running steel matches.

In 2004, the last (for awhile) Area 4 Steel Challenge championship was held. Team KR Training (Roy, Karl, Penny and a few others) were there. Roy won the match. Karl finished top Open, and Penny was top B class.

Roy’s Top overall plaque from 2004

In 2004, a bunch of shooters from Texas made the trip to Piru to shoot the World Championship match. Some pics and video from that trip are still online in the KR Training Archive.

The Brazosland Pistoleros is one of the oldest USPSA clubs in Texas, going back to the late 1970s and the earliest days of IPSC as an organized pistol sport. The club has grown considerably in the past decade, expanding from one USPSA match per month to running Steel Challenge and .22 matches, and hosting special events like the regional Scholastic Action Shooting Program matches. The Texas A&M Corps of Cadets supported the creation of an action pistol team (Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Marksmanship Unit) that has won multiple SASP national titles and continues to be one of the nation’s top collegiate teams.

There hadn’t been an Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship since 2004. Since then, Steel Challenge was purchased by USPSA and the sport expanded to include more than centerfire pistols. As a result, the 2021 match looked a lot different than the 2004 match, with only 67 centerfire pistol entries out of a total of 286 total guns in the match. Over 160 of the entries shot rimfire guns (pistols and rifles).

The rimfire guns and PCC’s can be shot faster. The first centerfire gun (an Open pistol shot by the current World Champion) shows up in 67th place, behind 66 rimfire and pistol caliber carbines. Grant shot a total time of 53.83 with a rimfire rifle with optic, but shot a time of 89.81 with an open-class centerfire pistol.

After that, the next centerfire pistol shows up at 103rd place (single stack winner Anthony Veith at 98.79) and then Roy Stedman at 117th overall with another open gun with 103.01.

The game has changed a lot in 17 years. More juniors, more different guns, much faster shooting times. Change is good. With simple scoring (time only) and many divisions and categories (pre-teen and junior, senior, super senior, military and law), it’s a match format that’s accessible to a very wide range of shooters that’s fast and fun.

KR Training will be back supporting the 2022 Area 4 Steel Challenge, already scheduled for the first weekend of April. If you’ve never shot a steel match, there are matches every month all over the Central Texas corridor (for my local readers) and all over the US.

Book Review: Practical Shooting Training (Stoeger & Park, 2021)

Back in February 2021 I hosted Ben Stoeger at the KR Training A-Zone Range for three 2-day classes, each focused on a different level of student. Ben was using his new book Practical Shooting Training as the student manual for the courses.

Practical Shooting Training cover

Ben has written a lot of books and revised some of them as his training program has changed. I frequently recommend his Dryfire Reloaded and Breakthrough Marksmanship books to my students. What’s in this book that’s different from his other books?

The rest of the table of contents repeats the same four sections for levels 3 and 4. Separation of the material by level is one of the new things about this book. Ben and Joel use these definitions for the four levels:

  1. Complete a club match without a penalty
  2. Get to USPSA B class
  3. Get to Master/Grand Master
  4. Achieve competitive excellence

Many of the competitors at local club matches never reach the level 1 goal of having no misses and no no-shoots for the match, including those shooting a B or higher level. It’s fairly common for shooters to be so focused on getting their stage times down that they minimize the impact of misses and no-shoot hits on their score. The nature of USPSA hit factor scoring, particularly for those shooting major power factor, rewards speed and moderate accuracy more than careful precision. Achieving that goal requires safe gun handling, marksmanship, stage planning and ability to execute a stage plan without errors. From there to their next goal (USPSA B class) is a fairly big step.

USPSA B class is roughly equivalent to IDPA Expert. Someone at the top of B class is likely at the IDPA Master level. In our book Strategies and Standards for Defensive Pistol Shooting, we reference John Hearne’s chart relating skill level to the mental skill called “automaticity”. It’s possible to be a USPSA D class shooter and meet the book’s level 1 goal, simply by being slow and deliberate. To get to B class requires automating skills like the draw and reload, and being able to program and execute a stage plan without stopping to decide which target to engage next, which position to move to, or whether to reload or not.

Classification in IDPA is based on as few as 25 rounds fired; getting to B class in USPSA requires that the average of 4-6 classifier stages (usually shot by attending 4-6 different matches) exceed the B class threshold of 60% of the 100% Grand Master standard. It requires some consistency in performance, across a wider variety of skills than the IDPA rating does. For those that aren’t USPSA competitors, especially those focused on pure defensive shooting, B class level equates to the skill level many in the tactical, military and law enforcement training world consider as their “minimum acceptable” standard. Anyone that gets to the B class level and can maintain their skills at that level has put in quite a bit of work.

In their book, Stoeger and Park recommend training 5 days a week for a month, to progress from level 1 to level 2 (B class). All those days do not have to be live fire (and progress will likely be faster if dry and live fire are mixed). The key to this plan is frequency of training. Spreading out the 20 days of training over a longer period is unlikely to produce the same result. Several decades ago, the professional shooter J. Michael Plaxco told me, “if you aren’t training 3-4 days a week, all you can do is maintain your skills, but you won’t improve.”. Over the 30 years I’ve been a USPSA competitor, I have found that to be true.

Level 3 is to reach the USPSA Master/Grand Master level. They recommend that someone train “five days a week for several years” to make the jump from B to GM. My own experience was that I made the jump from B to M during a year when I shot 50,000 rounds and trained 4-5 days a week, and stalled out at the M level for more than a decade when my commitment to improvement was only enough to maintain my skills at the low Master level. It took a serious, multi-year effort to push from M to GM – and the past few years’ failure to keep that pace up resulted in backsliding down to A class scores.

Level 4 is what they call “competitive excellence”. This requires the motivation and training focus of an Olympic or pro-level athlete. Ben once told me that it took him 9 months to go from U to GM, in his early days of USPSA competition, firing less than 5000 rounds of live fire but doing hours of daily dry fire using the methods he’s shared in his previous books. He also said that after reaching the GM level, it took him another 5 years of work to win a National title.

The book is laid out in 4 sections, each with the same structure, but with different focus and goals for the 4 levels. Even if you never progress beyond level 2, it’s valuable information as it shows the path forward and what is required to get to those higher levels. The sections include drills with performance goals and plenty of guidance as to what and how to practice.


The first part of the book is a series of essays on topics common to all levels, including the “Why You Suck’ chapter.

Some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from this section include:

“Think about what you are willing to put in over time. Pick a goal that works for you. None of this comes for free. There will be varying costs based on what you choose, but the greatest price you are going to pay is in the form of your time. The reason that practical shooting has built up its own subculture is because this thing does not lend itself to casual participation. It is not easy to be half in.”

“Par times…should not be considered a pass/fail test. If the par time is 5 seconds, shooting the drill in 5.2, 4.8, 5.1, 4.7, 5.4 means you are pretty much in the range you want to be in. Shooting the drill once under 5 seconds does not mean you pass.”

During my push to get to GM, I learned that the only way to be sure I could shoot a GM score on a classifier stage was to work until I could shoot the required score cold, as the first drill of a practice session, which meant my “warmed up” average score had to be higher.

“Training is where instead of focusing on the score you shoot, you focus on the process by which you produce the score. Instead of focusing on the hit factor, focus on specific pieces of technique.”

My own experience was a hybrid of this approach. If the time goal was 2.4 seconds, and I was stuck at 2.8, I had to break the drill down (draw, splits, reload, transition, etc.) and look at the timing of each part of the drill, to identify which skill needed the most improvement. Then I had to work on that specific thing to get it to the speed needed to make the overall time goal. One trick I learned from Ben, that I didn’t see in the book, was to move closer to the targets until I could make the goal time, then start backing up, one yard at a time, not slowing down. The point to this approach was to learn how to execute the skills at the required speed (and see at that speed) and become comfortable running the gun at that speed.

The book includes a long discussion of predictive vs. reactive shooting. What they mean by this is how much visual confirmation is used for the 2nd shot of a pair fired at a paper target. “Predictive” means the same thing as what Jeff Cooper called a hammer pair, where the shooter aims once and uses “the strong grip and shooting platform to take care of recoil mitigation so the second shot will still hit in a desirable location”. Reactive shooting takes more time and requires seeing a sight picture for the second shot. Most defensive shooting training emphasizes reactive shooting, with some trainers focused on splits no faster than 0.50, giving time for a shoot/no-shoot decision between shots (for legal and tactical reasons). For USPSA competition, the ability to do predictive shooting on smaller targets and at longer distances is essential.

They make many recommendations to make your training more effective – with the most effective being to do a lot of dry practice, which takes the time spent doing these live fire tasks:

  • driving to the range
  • hanging targets on stands
  • setting up stages
  • loading magazines
  • running drills
  • scoring and pasting targets
  • picking up brass
  • tearing down stages
  • driving home
  • cleaning guns
  • cleaning brass
  • reloading ammunition

and replaces that time with

  • walk to dry fire area already set up at home
  • dry fire drills
  • walk away from dry fire area already set up home

If you add up the total number of hours spent in all the tasks associated with live fire practice, and skip every other live fire session, replacing it with an equal amount of time spent dry firing, you are likely to see more improvement than you would see from the live fire only work. There’s also a significant cost savings in range fees, gas, supplies and ammunition. There’s actually no point to doing a live fire session until your dry fire sessions get you to the point that you are meeting performance goals in dry fire. Since live fire is a lot more fun than dry fire, that provides motivation to dry fire – to get to the point you can reward yourself with a live fire session.


I liked this book. It’s a good companion to the DryFire Reloaded book, particularly for someone motivated to go beyond B class, or anyone interested in understanding what it takes to get to those higher levels, whether they intend to pursue those levels or not.

KR Training July 2021 Newsletter


More classes added to July & August: Basic 1, Basic 2 (LTC completion), Handgun Beyond Basics, Stop the Bleed, and Handgun Coaching now on the schedule.


Here are the classes we have coming up with space available. 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.

Courses marked with *** are core classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course (Red Dot, Competition, Team Tactics, AIWB Skills, Skill Builder, AT-7 Scenarios) taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.


John Daub offered his Appendix Inside the Waistband Carry Skills course as a session at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference. Stick around for the 2 hour Skill Builder course afterward to get even more AIWB practice!

With AIWB’s growth in popularity as a carry method, it’s important to know how to use this mode of carry safely, efficiently, and effectively. Our AIWB Fundamental Skills class provides you with knowledge and skills about AIWB concepts, equipment, and technique to enable you to safely and effectively carry AIWB. This 4-hour, 50-round class will cover: pros and cons of AIWB; equipment design and selection to maximize comfort, concealment, and skill; two-handed concealment drawstroke; one-handed concealment drawstroke; proper holstering technique; working from a seated position; and more!


We are hosting Brian Hill from the Complete Combatant in July for a 1 day Close Quarter Decisions (integrated gun/unarmed) course on Friday, and their 2 day Image-Based Decisional Drills Instructor Certification class July 17-18.


You don’t have to be an experienced competitor to shoot one of our summer USPSA matches. There are 3 matches left this summer: July 8, July 23 and August 5. Show up as late as 7 pm and join the fun! Preregistration is required as spaces are limited.


The Brazosland Pistoleros of College Station will be hosting the Area 4 Steel Challenge Championship July 23-25. Competitors can shoot in any of the Steel Challenge’s divisions: rimfire rifle, rimfire pistol, centerfire pistol, pistol caliber carbine, and revolver (each with separate iron sights and optic categories). KR Training is one of the match sponsors, and I’ll be teaching a clinic for junior shooters on Friday, July 23. Slots are still open. Every competitor gets a free T-shirt. For more information, follow this link.


We are offering two low cost indoor clinics on Saturday August 7. The Hodgdon powder company is sending factory reps to give a seminar on reloading your own ammunition, and our own Levi Nathan will teach a session of Stop The Bleed.


Jul 18 – Concealed Carry Techniques (Conroe)
Jul 18 – One Handed Defensive Handgun (Conroe)
Aug 14 – Intermediate Rifle (Conroe)
Aug 21stDynamic Handgun – Shooting on the Move (Conroe)
Aug 22nd Mid Range Carbine (Caldwell)


The Ninth Annual Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference – aka “The Niner” – has already filled half of the registration slots available for this year’s event, scheduled for August 28-29 at KR Training.  Given what’s transpired over the last 18 months, I asked Paul to fill me in on his vision for this year’s conference.

“Texans in general, and Austin area citizens in particular, are now on notice – your government cannot keep you safe, nor can it get water and electricity to you reliably.  Couple this with the alarming increases in cyber attacks, reports of significant inflation and supply chain disruptions.  While it’s great that America is coming out of the pandemic, there are significant problems on the horizon.  We’re going to focus on these things at the August conference,” he said.
Paul added “We’ll be discussing alternative energy solutions that don’t involve generators, using items you can purchase on Amazon.  Scott Bradford, recently featured in a television interview with CBS Austin on portable power station usage during emergencies, will be presenting during an extended block of time on Saturday on how people can build their own power stations cheaper and better than many of the products available commercially.  I’ll be covering a number of topics as well, such as preparing for a full grid collapse, dealing with rising crime rates and changing gun laws, along with my annual situation report and outlook.”

Sunday’s presentation will be a full-day block with Dr. Ben Weger, an U.S. Army physician in Fort Bragg, North Carolina with Womack Army Medical Center.  Dr. Weger also runs First Do Know Harm, aimed at helping citizens become better prepared for medical emergencies during crises.   He will cover several topics, including:

  • How to secure emergency supplies of prescription medications you rely upon
  • Managing sanitation and hygiene during grid down conditions
  • What over-the-counter medications to keep on hand
  • Managing injuries and illnesses common during prolonged emergencies
  • Best first aid skills for you and your family to know to prepare for emergencies

Click here to get registered.  Students signing up for both days get around 20 percent off the registration fees.



I recently recorded two episodes of Lee Weems’ podcast. Part 1 is online here. Part 2 will be released in a week or two.


Video of Midnight Express, with horn section and backup singers, performing Radar Love at the Wolf Pen Amphitheater, May 8, 2021, College Station, Texas. We were the headliner for a city-funded summer concert, performing to more than 1700 people that evening.


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

Target Evolution: B-21, B-21X, to B-27 and beyond

In the spring 2021 Historical Handgun course Tom Givens and I co-taught, Tom presented some information about the history and evolution of the B-27 target. After that course, a retired Indiana police instructor named Bob Givan found one of my blog posts about the B-21 target and contacted me. Bob shares our interest in the historical evolution of handgun training, and back in the 1980’s he was teaching his own class on the evolution of police training targets (which counts as a part of handgun training history). The information below is a compilation of recent discussions between the three of us on this subject.

Before the B-21

In 1917, British military officer C.D. Tracy published his concept of a design for a realistic humanoid target in his book, “The Service Revolver and How to Use It” (reviewed previously on this blog).

There are no records indicating any of these targets were ever printed in a formal way, but the shape and dimensions of Tracy’s target are very similar to the target used by the US Practical Shooting Association. The normal size for this target is 18″x30″.

Birth of the B-21

J. Henry Fitzgerald, who worked for Colt, published the Police Revolver handbook in 1920. It included instruction in technique, and a police course of fire, using the Colt Silhouette Target, which he probably designed. The standard B-21, as the Colt Silhouette Target became known, is 35″x 45″, wider than the 24″ x 36″ targets in common use today, and much wider than the 18″x30″ targets used in USPSA, IDPA, GSSF, and NRA Action Pistol matches.

The B-21 has “K” (Kill) scoring values, and “D” (Disable) scoring values, from back in the time when police (or perhaps police administrators) considered the idea of using deadly force to disable attackers (this idea faded quickly, and D-values were not used by the time the FBI introduced its classic Practical Pistol course in the 1940’s.

The target remained in use through the early 1960’s. From trainer Bob Givan:

In 1963, we were issued S&W model 10 nickel plated fixed sights. At 7 yards we were instructed to take a step to the left to get off of the line of attack, then shoot one handed from the crouch position. We loaded with 5 rounds and a big deal was made about getting the empty charge hole under the firing pin making sure of the indexing.

The course of fire, originally shot on the B-21 target (later on the B-27) was:

  • 7 yards 10 rounds in 25 seconds with a reload.
  • 25 yards 15 rounds in 90 seconds Left & Right hand barricade and kneeling all double action.
  • 50 yards 20 rounds in 2 minutes and 45 seconds sitting, prone, left and right hand barricade single action.
  • 60 yards 5 rounds in 15 seconds, prone single action.

All stages started in the standing position with the revolver loaded and holstered. I don’t recall what year that we dropped the 60 yard line and went to using the 15 yard line shooting from the point shoulder. The times stayed the same when we went to loading 6 rounds. Sometime in the mid 70s, we dropped the sitting position at the 50 yard line and shot off a shelf on the barricade to represent shooting over the hood or trunk of a car. The sequence went prone, shelf, left, and right hand barricade. Now single or double action was allowed. I think that we followed the NRA’s PPC course times and most of our instructors were trained by the FBI. I think that it wasn’t until the early nineties that the 50 yard line was dropped.

Over time (particularly as hip shooting at 7 yards was replaced with point-shoulder “over the sights” shooting and later, aimed fire), scores began to increase, and a circular X-ring was added to the B-21, making it the B21X.

B-21X target

Later versions of the B-21 that removed the D values were called the B21-E.

In James Mason’s “Combat Pistol Shooting” book from 1976, the B21-X target was still in use, firing the “Advanced Military” course of fire.

I shot that same course of fire using the IDPA target at the 2019 Practical Pistol Reunion, except we used our sights and did not hip shoot.

The Prehle Target

As Tom Givens pointed out during his lecture on target development: when shooters begin shooting perfect scores on timed courses of fire, there are only a few options to make the course of fire more difficult: make the scoring area smaller, or decrease the times. By the end of the 1950’s, the FBI Practical Pistol Course of fire had become a shooting sport known as PPC. According to this history, in 1962 the National Rifle Association formalized PPC and held the first National Police Revolver Championship match.

The International Rapid Fire target actually comes in two parts. It consists of a stylized torso, with a stump of a neck but no head. The second portion is a tapered area that represents the groin and legs. These rings were superimposed on the Colt Silhouette in 1962 and called the “Prehle target”, after the guy whose idea it was.

B-18 and Prehle target

From Bob Givan: I have been trying to find the INTERNATIONAL RAPID FIRE PISTOL TARGET for some time. Well, I have found it with the help of Guy of the National Printing Co. and his research assistants. The National Printing Co. stopped printing this full size target in 1982. It was designated the NRA B-18 at the time.

The Prehle target had many problems, from a defensive pistol perspective. It moved the highest valued scoring zone down into “center mass”, from the high chest area where the X-ring on the B-21X was located, and it introduced many smaller scoring zones, bringing the sport of PPC closer to bullseye than to actual combat.

It also treated shots that went low, below the belt line, as hits that were as acceptable as the upper chest hits on the high side of the 10-ring. The arms were removed, the scoring zones in the head and lower torso removed, the target simplified, and the result was called the B-27.

The B-27

For better or worse (mostly worse), from 1962 until the early 1980’s, the B-27 gradually replaced the B-21X as the default police training target. By the 1970’s and 1980’s, the black color of the target was controversial. Green and blue versions, as well as many photographic variations were produced.

Some trainers began mixing existing targets and photographs to provide better and more varied training, as in this example from Bob Givan.

Beyond the B-27

It wasn’t until the mid 1970’s that targets began to change again, with the development of the IPSC Item and Option targets.

The FBI Q, IALEFI Q (International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors) target, and many variations were produced in the 1980’s and beyond.

The IALEFI Q was later modified to add a belt line, and the FBI-QIT target mirrored this change.

In 1995, Texas designed its own target for use in the (new) Concealed Handgun License training course. It was closer in design to the IPSC Option target, with a large circle in the upper chest, than the B-27.

Sadly, in the early 2000’s, Texas DPS abandoned the use of this target and returned to a B-27 derivative for our state carry permit qualification.

The Rangemaster updated B-21

After teaching his material on the evolution of target development, Tom Givens went back to the original B-21 and integrated more modern elements, such as circular head and body zones, and a belt line defining the bottom of the primary target area.

The Rangemaster RFTS-Q2 target

Historical perspective

I’ve spent the past several years diving deep into the history of handgun training. In the 1910’s and 1920’s, ideas like using the sights, realistic humanoid targets, rapid fire drills at close distances, and gripping the pistol with two hands began to evolve, only to be tossed aside for less effective one handed hip shooting techniques and slow fire, long range bullseye drills shot on unrealistic targets (particularly the B-27). It wasn’t until Jeff Cooper and those influenced by his ideas to put training back on the path it has followed since the mid 1970’s. Today’s shooters have a very wide variety of better-designed qualification targets, and courses of fire more relevant to actual defensive pistol use. The RFTS-Q2 B21 variant is a great example of fusing 100 year old ideas and 21st century thinking.

Book Review: The Search for an Effective Police Handgun (Bristow, 1973)

During the recent Historical Handgun class Tom Givens and I co-taught, Tom mentioned a book I hadn’t heard of: “The Search for An Effective Police Handgun”, by Allen Bristow, published in 1973. This book came out prior to his more complete Modern Police Firearms book (previously reviewed on this blog). It’s basically a collection of articles and material from other sources that Bristow compiled together, all related to the topic of handgun and caliber selection. As a result, it’s interesting, particularly as a snapshot of what firearm experts were thinking in the early 70’s.

Who was Allen Bristow? Among other things, he was a Professor of Police Science at a California college, Director of the Police Marksmanship Instructors’ Institute, and a consultant to President Nixon’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration and Justice. From the introduction, in his own words:

This book is both a defensive and parsimonious act on my part. Requests for information arrived in my office at a constantly increasing rate….I decided to collect the research reports, test evaluations, and magazine articles that directly related to the problem and to publish them…I hope the police adminstrator who must make a decision regarding his department’s armament will find herein the information he needs. I regret that I was unable to secure permission to include some materials but am satisfied that all viewpoints are well represented.

Section 1: The Problem

This section begins by explaining that during the 1930’s, the .38 special cartridge became the standard for most US law enforcement officers. This was done to standardize for purposes of economy in ammunition reloading. .38 Special was considered to be the most accurate cartridge., popular with police handgun competitors.

The root problem with .38 special, as Bristow notes, was generally considered to be ineffective. Bristow cites a 1959 study, performed by students at Los Angeles State College, that analyzed 110 cases involving more than 150 officers. The study found that it was common for both officers and criminals shot with .38 special rounds to be capable of continuing the gunfight or retreating. In the book, he provides multiple case studies detailing the failures of .38 special solid bullets (158 grain round nose, typically) to be effective fight stoppers.

Section 2: Early Warning

This section compiles technical and medical studies published by Colonel Louis La Garde in the early 1900’s, Major J.S. Hatcher in the mid 1930’s, and the US Army Surgeon General at the end of World War 2. Each of these reports presents evidence that the ‘accepted police cartridge’ should be re-evaluated in terms of effectiveness. (Many of these studies also included data showing the virtues of the .45 ACP cartridge, and their recommendations were frequently cited by .45 ACP advocates in the 1960’s and later years.) Summaries and articles written by the original researchers are included in this section. Longer works by LaGarde – his “Gunshot Injuries” book and Hatcher (Hatcher’s Notebook) are excellent reads and highly recommended to those interested in the technical and medical aspects of ballistics. The links here go to free downloads of scans of these books. There are also used print copies and republished print editions available online.

Section 3: The Solutions

Bristow shares data from a “Law and Order” magazine survey of 352 police chiefs who provided data in sixteen different categories related to equipment and training. The date of the survey is not provided, but from the way this section is written, my assumption is it was late 1960’s or early 1970’s, near the time of book publication. The data was broken down into five brackets based on size of community served. .38 special 4″ revolvers were by far the most popular, with 80% or more (depending on bracket) carrying that gun. .357 magnum accounted for most of the remaining 20%, with .45 Colt, .45 ACP or other calibers lumped together into one “miscellaneous” category.

The last part of this section includes data from 174 nation-states, surveyed by author James Cramer in his book “Uniforms of the World’s Police” Bristow notes that the semiautomatic pistol is preferred by a more than 2 to 1 ratio, with the popularity of the revolver is highest in the US, Central and South America, and the United Kingdom. European and Asian countries favored semiauto pistols.

Like any good researcher, Bristow devotes part of his book (the end of section 3), defining a potential research project to provide more data about police firearm effectiveness. He even includes the budgeting numbers, perhaps hoping that one or more of the big city police chiefs or gov’t personnel that might read the book would have interest in funding that work.

Section 4: Making the .38 special more effective

This section opens with a 1969 Law and Order article from Jim Cirillo, who would become famous for his 17 on-duty gunfights. The paragraph below is from Cirillo’s article, and the video from an interview.

Lee Jurras developed the Super Vel, higher velocity expanding bullet load for the .38 special, and Bristow includes material written by Jurras, as well as discussion from others about the virtues of this new load. At the time, use of jacketed hollow point ammunition was an unusual and sometimes controversial idea, or as Bristow notes “It was felt that issuing more high-powered weapons would be attacked by certain organized members of the community as an attempt to use repressive and dangerous force against them.”

Bristow shares the full report of a study done by a “major California city police department” (most likely Los Angeles PD given Bristow’s location) evaluating these 5 loads and calibers for police use

  • .45 auto with 230 gr, 800 ft/sec cartridge
  • 9mm auto with 124 gr, 1100 ft/sec cartridge
  • .38 revolver with 158 gr, 800 ft/sec cartridge
  • .38 revolver with 158 gr 1000 ft/sec cartridge
  • .38 revolver with 110 gr 1370 ft/sec cartridge (“half jacketed”)

The testing included evaluation of “hydrostatic shocking power” by shooting the loads into gallon plastic containers, a box of 12 pine boards, gelatin, and a vehicle door. The 110 gr Super Vel cartridge was selected as a result of the testing. Following the selection of the Super Vel, Remington developed two loads, a 125 gr and 158 gr, using the term “jacketed hollow point” to describe them. While not specifically noted as such in Bristow’s book, this was a significant moment in firearms history, as the use of JHP rounds began to become standard issue for law enforcement.

Bristow includes a full article from Major George Nonte on the risk of hot loads (the Super Vel load) blowing up lightweight guns like the S&W Airweight. Nonte used an S&W M38 Airweight Bodyguard and a Colt Agent in his thousand round torture test of those guns with hotter .38 special loads from multiple vendors. Both guns survived the testing with no significant or unusual wear.

Bristow also includes a full 1970 article from The Nation (“Vietnamization on Main Street” by Robert Wells) describing the new ammunition as “dum-dum” bullets, warning that the rounds have “violent expansion…giving the bullet an explosive effect on the victim”. The author does share multiple stories of traditional .38 special rounds passing through criminals and hitting innocent bystanders, and police officer deaths resulting from the failure of multiple hits with .38 special rounds to stop a criminal attacker. However, by the end of the article, the Nation’s author concludes:

With the advent of the dum-dum it may well be time for us to leave our chiefs of police the technical decisions which they have been trained to make, and to begin finding ways of relieving them of responsibility for decisions that ought to be the business of officials who are accountable to public opinion.

Wells continues to write about his opposition to jacketed hollow point bullets in this article on the “Socialist Viewpoint” from 2016.

Section 5: A Change in Revolvers

Section 5 opens with an essay from Elmer Keith on the virtues of the .41 magnum caliber, an opposing viewpoint article from Bob Wallack of Gun Digest from 1965, and a lot of technical data about the .41 as it compared to .38 special and .357 magnum. Bristow includes a report on a 1965 firearms study done by the Amarillo, Texas, police department and their decision to switch to carrying the .41 magnum revolver. Another study report from the Los Angeles Police Department, also from 1965, considering the .41 magnum is also included in this section. A Chicago PD report from 1966 on the same topic, also concluding that the .41 was an excellent choice for duty use, covers much of the same material, with similar tests to the other reports. A 1969 report from the Nevada Highway Patrol, discussing their 1965 switch to the .41 magnum, and 1969 decision to switch back to .357 magnum, includes reasons for the switch: mainly related to lack of ammunition and lack of ability to reload for that caliber. The .41 was described as “virtually unmanageable in rapid, double action firing due to extreme recoil”.

A longer, more detailed test of the .41 magnum was conducted by an officer with the West Covina, CA police department. The tests included velocity tests with a chronograph, explosive effects in soap and clay, sheet metal penetration (straight on and at angle), plywood penetration, and benchrest accuracy. That officer’s analysis concluded the .357 magnum, not the .41 magnum, was a better choice for law enforcement use.

Section 6: A Change to the Semiautomatic Pistol

The final section delves into the pros and cons of the semiautomatic pistol, as an alternative to the revolver. It opens with a letter from San Diego County Sheriff J.C. O’Connor and his range master, Elden Carl, (one of the Southwest Pistol League’s Combat Masters) advocating against the use of the 1911 .45 ACP semiauto pistol for law enforcement use, citing “safety” as the primary concern. George Nonte contributes an 1971 Guns and Ammo article pointing out all the ways in which a revolver can malfunction or fail. Another article from W.G. Wheelright covers the 1966 change of the El Monte, CA police department from the .38 special revolver to the 1911 .45 ACP semiauto pistol – another important inflection point in firearms history. This article references Jeff Cooper, Ray Chapman and others that were influential in changing attitudes about semiauto pistols during the 1960’s.

The Torrance, CA police department also transitioned to the 1911 pistol in 1968, and a lengthy article related to that change is included, along with an article from Mason Williams from Law and Order magazine. Bristow adds his own opinion to this section, defining a training program for those learning the semiauto pistol. The program emphasizes technique halfway between the Jelly Bryce hip shooting approach and true aimed fire as being advocated by Jeff Cooper and others. (At this time in history, many 1911’s still had the WW2 era tiny sights that were virtually useless, which may have influenced the decision not to try to see them at defensive shooting speeds.)

The rest of the training program includes slide lock reloads, firing pairs of shots, and shots fired at distances as far as 20 yards. Compared to the PPC, FBI and bullseye courses used by most departments, this program is considerably more realistic and relevant, even if it discourages sighted fire. (My suspicion is that many shooters of this era, particularly those that performed well, used the sights more than their instructors wanted them to.)

Another subsection of this chapter goes into the usual laundry list of modifications one should and should not make to the 1911 pistol. Bristow does recommend higher visibility combat sights (even as he recommends not using them in his training course…) The section includes with reprint of an article about the military’s use of semiauto pistols, published in 1955.

The Illinois State Police switched to the S&W Model 39 DA/SA semiauto in 9mm, and shared their report on the factors behind that decision with Bristow, which he shares in the book. The most interesting aspect of it, to me, was the data included on relative officer performance on their Marksmanship Qualification course with a .38 revolver (full size), a .38 snub revolver, and a Model 39 9mm.

Note the substantial performance drop (from 78% average to 43% average score) when officers switched to their backup guns. The .38 snub has its fans and advocates in the modern era, but here is yet another example of regular shooters (who are not gun hobbyists who put in far more effort to develop skill than the typical shooter), suffering significant performance loss when using the lightweight frame 2″ barrel .38 snub. Even with the low recoiling .38 target loads, and shooters familiar with double action revolver shooting, the size and weight difference between the large and small revolver has a substantial effect on proficiency.

Section 7: Conclusions

Like every TV special about Bigfoot or UFOs, this book concludes with more questions than answers, and weak recommendations that we need to “keep studying the problem” and hope that better information comes along. At that time, that really was the right answer, as the innovations in load development and handgun design since 1973, as well as testing protocols, training and evaluation have all improved considerably. The book is still an interesting read, since it compiles so many studies and sources that would otherwise be lost or forgotten, had they not been collected and archived by Professor Bristow.

KR Training May 2021 Newsletter


Here are the classes we have scheduled with space available through end of August. 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.

Courses marked with *** are core classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Any pistol course (Red Dot, Competition, Team Tactics, AIWB Skills, Skill Builder, AT-7 Scenarios) taught by in-house staff can count toward your elective hours.



I taught my first for-profit group class, Handgunning Beyond the Basics, in May 1991 at the Hill Country Rifle Range. This month will be my 30th anniversary as a trainer. Many thanks to all the student and staff (and of course, my wonderful wife and KR Training co-owner Penny Riggs!) for being a part of that journey. The first newsletter we put out was in winter of 1996, after the Concealed Handgun License program started. Click here to see that piece of KR Training history.


Caleb Causey returns to the A-Zone June 5 and 6 for two 1-day courses: Medicine X Scenarios (for graduates of Medicine X or similar courses), and Dynamic First Aid (general first aid and trauma training).


John Daub has updated and expanded his “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” e-book (May 2021 edition). Now with 79 pages and over 60 drills and variations, as well as expanded commentary on topics such as “how to start” and the importance of the “draw to first shot” skill.

“Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” will help you achieve your goals of acquiring skills beyond minimum competency. It provide insights into John’s training approach, and commentary on various drills. It also captured bits of history and interesting backstories behind some drills. The drills themselves are presented in a manner to facilitate administration when you’re on the range: setup, execution, scoring.

The e-book will be continually updated, so subscribe to the KR Training mailing list to be notified of release updates

Download your free copy here.


John Daub offered his Appendix Inside the Waistband Carry Skills course as a session at the 2021 Rangemaster Tactical Conference. Stick around for the 2 hour Skill Builder course afterward to get even more AIWB practice!

With AIWB’s growth in popularity as a carry method, it’s important to know how to use this mode of carry safely, efficiently, and effectively. Our AIWB Fundamental Skills class provides you with knowledge and skills about AIWB concepts, equipment, and technique to enable you to safely and effectively carry AIWB. This 4-hour, 50-round class will cover: pros and cons of AIWB; equipment design and selection to maximize comfort, concealment, and skill; two-handed concealment drawstroke; one-handed concealment drawstroke; proper holstering technique; working from a seated position; and more!


We are hosting Brian and Shelley Hill from the Complete Combatant in July for a 1 day Close Quarter Decisions (integrated gun/unarmed) course on Friday, and their 2 day Image-Based Decisional Drills Instructor Certification class July 17-18.


We are starting up our summer USPSA matches May 13. Limited to 18 shooters. No prior match experience required, but you do need to have completed a holster class with us (DPS-1 or higher level). Show up as late as 7 pm, 3-4 quick stages, and the opportunity to shoot the stages again for fun after the match is over. More info and registration links here. In the pic below Dave Reichek demonstrates an IDPA-style stage set up in our shoot house using a SIRT pistol.



New short promo video from one of the bands I play with.


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

Book Review: Jelly Bryce: The Legend Begins (Conti, 2014)

Firearms trainer Mike Conti has written a three-book fictionalized history of the life of famous FBI agent and gunfighter Jelly Bryce. “The Legend Begins” is book 1 of that series.

Bryce was an influential figure in the history of shooting training. His techniques became the core of FBI firearms training, which were taught to law enforcement officers for more than 40 years. I wrote about the 1940’s FBI firearms qualification course of fire in this Historical Handgun class after action report.

Bryce had exceptional vision and dry fired constantly, giving him the ability to hip shoot and point shoot with accuracy and speed far better than an average-sighted person less motivated to practice and dry fire as much as Bryce did.

The first book in this series covers Bryce’s early years: childhood and development as a shooter, joining an Oklahoma police department after winning a cop-only pistol match, his first gunfights, his career as an Oklahoma cop and transfer to J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI.

Conti’s approach was not to recite dry facts, but to write the story like a novel. All the incidents occur as they did in real life, but with his fictionalized dialog and descriptions of the action. It’s a fun read purely as a gangster-era police tale, even more fun as a way to learn Bryce’s history. I just started book 2 of the series, and will write another review when I finish books 2 and 3.

Highly recommended for all students of the gun, and anyone that likes a good pulpy action-filled cops and robbers tale.

Historical Handgun class April 2021 (part 2)

As part of the 6 days of training Tom Givens (Rangemaster) taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range in April 2021, Tom and Karl co-taught a one day session of Karl’s Historical Handgun course. The course consisted of a 4 hour lecture from Tom, and a 4 hour block of live fire drills from the 1910’s-1980’s run by Karl. Part 1 of the class AAR is here.

US Army 1930 Qualification

We shot the US Army’s 1930 pistol qualification, which was all slow fire at 15 and 25 yards, on a giant bullseye.

We shot a version of the standard Gunsite 250 qualification test, using 1911 pistols shot using the Weaver stance.

We also shot some of Chuck Taylor’s drills, from his late 1970’s training program.

The final course of fire we shot was the FBI qualification from the 1980’s. Those striving for historical correctness shot 9mm DA/SA style pistols using the Weaver stance.


The class is not a competition, but I do track scores, to get an idea of the relative difficulty of the different historical qualification courses. For this particular group of shooters:

  • Pollard 1918 test: average 50.4%, high score 77.8%
  • Fitzgerald 1920’s qual: average 82.7%, high score 90.7%
  • Army 1940: average 73.1%, high score 97%
  • FBI 1945, average 79.8%, high score 95.2%
  • Gunsite 1970: average 60.8%, high score 96%
  • Chuck Taylor basic 1970s: average 83%, high score 100%
  • FBI 1980’s: average 88.8%, high score 100%

Different sessions of the course have included a variety of courses of fire. All the data for all the sessions:

  • Pollard 1918 test: 15 shooters, average 50.4%, high score 77.8%
  • Fitz 1920: 15 shooters, average 82.7%, high score 90.7%
  • Army 1940: 42 shooters, average 73.1%, high score 97.0%
  • FBI 1945: 43 shooters, average 70.5%, high score 99.2%
  • Gunsite 1970: 43 shooters, average 68.1%, high score 96.0%
  • Chuck Taylor basic 1970’s: 15 shooters, average 83%, high score 100%
  • FBI 1980’s, 38 shooters, average 83.0%, high score 100%
  • Texas metro PD: 27 shooters, average 95.9%, high score 100%
  • FBI 2000’s: 20 shooters, average 81.1%, high score 96.7%
  • Marine Combat Pistol 2013 qual: 7 shooters, average 78.5%, high score 99%

The dataset is good for a rough estimate. Some shooters had the correct guns for the courses of fire. Some used their modern carry gun for everything. Some made a good faith effort to use the correct techniques. Some reverted back to two handed modern isoceles when the whistle was blown.

My general observation is that modern shooters do well on courses where the shots are 15 yards or less, and have difficulty when the shots are at longer distances and there is plenty of time. The ability to hit targets with a pistol past 15 yards isn’t emphasized in many training programs, and based on data from actual incidents, is rarely needed for self-defense. The classic FBI qualification from 1945 is the hardest of the most widely used standards, requiring proficiency at hip shooting at 7 yards and long range shooting out to 60 yards from prone, sitting and barricade positions, but none of the aimed, rapid fire, close range work modern pistol programs teach. Tom’s data on FBI agent-involved shootings 2012-2016 shows only 9% of shots fired past 15 yards, with no shots fired past 25 yards.

Historical Handgun class April 2021 (part 1)

As part of the 6 days of training Tom Givens (Rangemaster) taught at KR Training’s A-Zone Range in April 2021, Tom and Karl co-taught a one day session of Karl’s Historical Handgun course. The course consisted of a 4 hour lecture from Tom, and a 4 hour block of live fire drills from the 1910’s-1980’s run by Karl.

The oldest course of fire that we shot was the drills from Pollard’s 1917 book on pistol shooting. Details about that course of fire, including video, are here.

We also shot Fitzgerald’s 1920’s police qual.

Tom discussed “point shooting”, including Jelly Bryce, Fairbairn and Applegate.

We shot the 1940’s FBI course of fire, including the hip shooting part at 7 yards.

Older blog posts about this course of fire are here (part 1, part 2, part 3)

More about this course will be in part 2, as we move into the 1950’s-1980’s.