Annual Maintenance Tasks

Each year I like to do some annual maintenance tasks on my guns and gear to start the season off with everything ready to go.


Replace batteries in optics, flashlights, smoke detectors, and anything else that uses batteries. It’s easier to do all of them in one pass instead of being surprised by a dead or dying battery later. That includes emergency gear that uses batteries in the car get-home bag, and batteries in other devices like outdoor security cameras, motion activated lights, weather stations and other sensors.

Full Pistol Cleaning and Inspection

Take the gun as far down as you know how, or spend some time learning how to take it down beyond simple field cleaning. Extractors and strikers need particular attention. If you don’t have a spare striker string or whole spare striker assembly and a spare extractor on hand, this is a good time to order them to have in your range bag. Also shown in the pic is a magazine cleaning brush and a squib rod – two more items that should be in every shooter’s range bag.

Magazine Maintenance

Find all the magazines you have for that particular handgun. Take them apart. Inspect the followers for wear. Followers are plastic and the features of the follower, for example the shelf that causes the slide lock lever to work properly, can wear out from use. In some cases, the manufacturer may make modifications to the spring and follower design to solve problems in older version of that model. What’s shown below is the difference between an older M&P spring and a newer one. Note one variant of the spring has an additional hook at the top that engages with the new follower design. Last year I ended up replacing all the springs and followers in all of my M&P magazines to bring them up to current specs.

I mark and number all my pistol magazines so I can tell them apart. Otherwise, if you start having malfunctions, particularly with feeding and slide locking and magazines ejecting properly, it’s difficult to troubleshoot whether the problem is gun or magazine related. What I did for the picture above is check all 6 magazines, looking for springs that were short (3 coils should be sticking out).

If you run +1 or +2 base pads on your magazines (for example, to give your magazines the maximum length allowed for a particular competition division), the factory springs may not be long enough or strong enough for the additional capacity.

Magazines springs do wear out, not from being compressed for an extended period (if the mag is left loaded) but from being cycled as rounds are loaded and unloaded during normal use. If you have mag springs that have fewer than 3 coils sticking out, those should probably be replaced.

I prefer to load magazines that hold more than 10 rounds down 1 from the factory “marketed” capacity. When mags are loaded to maximum capacity, that last round often causes the magazine to have no “give” at the top. The rounds don’t push down easily from the top. This can lead to feeding problems, and most commonly, difficulty getting the mag to insert and lock in. This can catastrophic when doing a speed reload, changing magazines with a round chambered (gun not at slide lock). I’ve seen people at matches and in classes insert the mag, using the same force they would for a slide-lock reload, fail to get the mag fully seated, and have the mag fall out of the gun under the recoil of firing the first shot after the reload. And I’ve seen guns fail to feed the first round out of the ‘overloaded’ magazine.

Particularly when new magazine springs are used, I’ve seen far fewer problems running a 17 round mag with 16, or a 15 round mag with 14, and I lose no sleep over trading one less round in the gun for better reliability and reduced risk of the problems that I’ve seen occur with overfull magazines. Very specifically, everyone that I’ve heard malign the Shield Arms S15 Glock 48 magazines as ‘unreliable’ has admitted to running them jammed full with 15, and no one that has taken my advice to run them with 14 has reported any feeding or reliability issues with them.

Checking Zero After Reassembly

After the gun is cleaned and resassembled, particularly if optic screws are tightened, it’s a good idea to reverify the gun’s zero, with carry ammo or match ammo or whatever ammo is going to be used for the gun’s most important application. Most people attempt to “zero” their pistol from a two handed standing position, which introduces every possible user-induced error. I prefer to use an MTM pistol perch that supports the muzzle end of the gun. This provides the most stable platform and eliminates almost all user errors from the zeroing process. Resting the butt of the gun or your arms or hands on sandbags is not as good, if the muzzle end is left free to dip and move.

I prefer to use targets with lines or other features that give me a way to very precisely aim the gun at the same spot for each shot. The 5.5″ black blob of the B8 bullseye target works fine for red dot zeroing, for for irons, it’s easier to align vertical and horizontal edges of rear and front sights with a big plus sign, like we designed into the KRT-3 target (print on 11×17 paper)

The group below was shot with the dot covering the letter “A”. I find it helps to turn dot intensity down when shooting groups. For this group, the dot was turned down so the “A” was visible through the dot. In this case the group showed that the gun was zeroed low and right after it was resassembled and tested with carry ammo.

This was the final verification at 25 yards, using the small circle on the KRT-3. I prefer to zero my guns at 25 yards, using 10 shot groups, rather than the 10 yard zero favored by some red dot trainers. The 10 yard zero is easier and faster to run for a large firing line (or multiple relay class), and hides user errors from two handed standing better than a 25 yard zero. 10 yards is a good place to start but a high-confidence zero comes from properly benchresting the gun and shooting 10 shots from 25 yards.

Those that want more math and science related to group shooting should read this article.

Replace Your Carry Ammo

Using the ammo that’s been in your carry magazines for zeroing not only verifies that the gun is dialed in with that load, it also verifies that your gun runs reliably with it. After you shoot up the old carry ammo, it needs to be replaced with the same brand and exact load, otherwise anything you learned from shooting the old ammo and zeroing with it is no longer relevant. There are non credentialed “experts” online and a gun shops that will recommend bad ideas like mixing brands and bullet weights, and ball and hollowpoint rounds in your carry magazines for a variety of unproven, untested reasons. What professional gun carriers have done for decades is use one load in all their magazines.

Before the zeroing process is complete, another group or two should be fired using the practice load you intend to use most often. Because I carry 124 gr carry ammo, I prefer to run 124 gr practice ammo.

Matching your practice ammo to your carry ammo (or match ammo) gives you the best odds of actually hitting what you aim at, for longer distance or higher precision shots.

Digital Maintenance

Backups matter. Annual maintenance for your digital devices should include full backups of hard drives and phone contents. Do these before you run any updates for apps or operating systems that might fail and corrupt your data or ability to back the device up. Laptop batteries and phone batteries also need replacement from time to time.


Most serious shooters keep a range notebook where they log changes to gear. In the digital world, that may be as simple as taking pictures as you do the tasks, since the pictures will be tagged with time and date in your phone. These can serve as documentation of when you zeroed and when you did the other tasks. Luck favors the well prepared.

1960 Hipshooting Target Design

Another article rediscovered by my Historical Handgun research team. This one, from Guns magazine in 1960, discusses a new target design developed specifically to aid shooters in improving their hipshooting skills. It discusses one- and two-handed hip shooting techniques. While most ranges don’t allow this type of practice, those with laser dry fire gear (SIRT pistol, laser “bullet”, or similar) might find it fun to try some hipshooting. Those with private ranges could give the live fire version of this a try. Keep your target close to the backstop and start any live fire hipshooting drills close to the target (3-5 yards).

You can use a KRT-3 target (print on 11×17 paper) as your “cross target”, or make one using duct tape on any cardboard backer.

I used the KRT-3 for some SIRT pistol laser dryfire hipshooting practice, and then went to the range to do some live fire hipshooting. My intention was to paint a big black stripe down the pepper popper I was going to use as my hipshooting target, to simulate the design of the 1960 target, but the black paint can I grabbed only had a little. So you’ll see the start of a black stripe at the top of the steel target.

Hip shooting was still a part of traditional handgun training up to the 1980’s. This pic shows trainer and world champion shooter John Shaw demonstrating his hip shooting technique in one of his books from that decade.

KR Training December 2023 Newsletter


November and early December was busier than expected, with weekday & weekend classes training armed teachers from 5 different school districts. 2023 was a busy one for KR Training, with more than 1000 student registrations for courses, 140+ days on the range for staff, teaching classes at the A-Zone and host ranges in Nebraska and Louisiana. I managed to earn multiple new instructor certifications, including First Responder Instructor (DPS), Red Dot Instructor (Modern Samurai Project), Texas Law Enforcement Firearms instructor (TCOLE/Cornerstone Performance), Sure Fire Surgical Speed Shooting instructor (SureFire/Andy Stanford).

Even though January is not the best for live fire training, we have schedule a few live fire classes and many other indoor, weatherproof training opportunities. We still have some weekends open in March-May, so more classes will be added to the calendar. Waiting for a particular class? Let us know and we’ll try to find a date for it in the spring when shooting weather is perfect!


I am available for private weekday training. Doug Greig is also available for private weekday and some weekend sessions. Contact us for details.


Re-take any class you’ve taken before for half price! Contact me to get the alumni discount code. Firearms skills deteriorate without practice. Most ranges don’t allow drawing from a holster, shooting quickly, moving or shooting from cover. If you don’t practice the skills you learned in class, they won’t be there when you need them.


Upcoming Texas classes with space available:





Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin.
Prices and registration links are at

Click HERE to register for any class.

Home Defense Shooting Skills / Personal Tactics Skills – Jan 13

On Jan 13 we are offering a pair of courses that are the essentials for the armed citizen that has a firearm at home or in their vehicle for personal defense. Home Defense Shooting Skills is a 3 hour short course (100 rounds pistol, 20 rounds optional long gun) teaching skills for retrieving a gun from a lockbox or table, moving to cover and getting effective hits at home defense distances. It will include one run in the shoot house.

Personal Tactics Skills teaches situational decision making, pepper spray and tactics for specific common personal defense situations. There is more to successful defense than “have a gun”. This indoor lecture course includes interactive scenarios with inert pepper sprays and non-firing replica guns. The Personal Tactics Skills class is a required class for those wanting to earn their KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin. Students often ignore this valuable course until it’s the last one they need to finish the program: it’s actually designed to be one of the first courses students should take, since good decision making under stress may prevent the need to use a firearm or give the student an important tactical advantage should use of force or deadly force be required.

Who Wins, Who Loses (John Hearne) – Jan 19

Federal law enforcement officer John Hearne of Rangemaster and Two Pillars Training will be visiting Jan 19-21 to offer his one day indoor lecture course on “Who Wins, Who Loses…” on Friday and his two day Cognitive Pistol (sold out with a wait list) course on Jan 20-21. John’s lecture course is an information-rich presentation full of knowledge and insight into what training level and psychological characteristics are typical of those that succeed and survive in armed encounters. Suitable for armed citizens and law enforcement. John was a guest on the American Warrior Society podcast discussing this course.

Skip the Line – Franklin’s BBQ (Paul Martin) Jan 25

Every year Paul Martin organizes a “Skip the Line” event at Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, and KR Training donates books and class certificates to this event. All money raised goes to the Capital Area Food Bank, feeding hungry Central Texas residents. For these events, Franklins closes to the general public and ticket holders get to “skip the line”, getting a generous BBQ plate sampler without the typical 4+ hour wait to get in at Franklin’s BBQ.

Tickets are $300 and are available here.

Armed Citizen Carbine Fundamentals – Jan 27

Doug Greig will offer a full day Armed Citizen Carbine Fundamentals course suitable for students at all levels. Focus will be on application of the defensive carbine in realistic situations. This is the ideal class for new AR-15 owners that need instruction in basics of use, zeroing, maintenance and advice on upgrades.

First Aid CPR AED Bleeding Control – Jan 28

Doug Greig will offer a Red Cross First Aid, CPR, AED and Bleeding Control course, indoors, on Jan 28th. Those that don’t need the Red Cross official certification can attend for $50. Official documentation from Red Cross adds another $45 to the class price. This meets workplace requirements for bi-annual CPR/AED recertification.


I have collected up all the discount codes we have set up with vendors we recommend. Alumni of KR Training classes will find them in the monthly e-news email. You’ll have to actually open the email and scroll to the bottom to find them. It’s a reward for actually opening and reading the email!

Glock 48 backstrap

After Sandstorm Tactical stopped making their Glock 43X/48 backstrap, nothing was available until recently. To get one of the new ones email wahrergriff at gmail. $25. I’ve found it makes a big difference for me in changing the way the gun points, which makes finding the dot on the presentation from ready or holster much easier.

Grip Keeper

I recently learned about a new grip product called the Grip Keeper. It’s a great tool for developing grip strength and finger independence. Tim Herron made a great Instagram video explaining how use it. KR Training’s discount code is “KRT” from the Grip Keeper Store


All the articles you missed if you don’t follow the KR Training Facebook page and Instagram feed.


I recently took a private video lesson with Rhett Neumayer of Demonstrated Concepts. He specializes in teaching how to do “deep carry” using the PHLster Enigma, where the gun sits below the belt line. Rhett is extremely fast from this position, but the real benefit of it is being able to minimize printing and carry with a tucked in shirt. Rhett’s online coaching was excellent and I recommend an online session with him for anyone wanting to explore deep carry skills.


Each November and December, one of the bands I’m in (The Texas T-Birds), puts on our holiday costume of Doc Tictock and the Mistletoe Medicine Show, and performs multiple shows each week at Santa’s Wonderland, the largest Christmas theme park in the US, located on 150 acres south of College Station, Texas. Last year the facility had more than 300,000 visitors, and since our stage is located by the entrance everyone passes through, a lot of people heard our music. Our cover of Alabama’s “Christmas in Dixie” is the song we use to close our show, and it features our 3 part vocal harmonies. The audio for the video was recorded to multitrack during one of our live shows. As with all the videos I share in this section of the newsletter, I do all the audio and video production. Give this great holiday song a listen!

Santa’s will be open through Dec 30. Austin’s Trail of Lights is small time compared to the 4.5 million lights in Santa’s hayride trail, plus it has a real snow hill for sledding, ice skating, walking trails, Santa, 4 stages of live entertainment, 7 restaurants, movie theater, fire pits for cooking smores and hotdogs, shops, wine and beer, and other activities. Truly a unique holiday experience worth the drive. (Our band plays Tues-Thursdays and I’ll be performing solo on the evening of Christmas Day.)


Keep up with the interesting articles, links, and stories we share in real time. Follow KR Training on Facebook, Instagram 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

How Far To Extend Your Arms?

The social media/youTube era has given the average shooter many benefits – specifically free access to thousands (millions?) of videos and pictures of top shooters using match- and gunfight-winning technique. It’s also led to some odd artifacts: behaviors that weren’t common before youTube became the most influential firearms training source.

For the past 100 years, top shooters and trainers extended one or both arms to full extension. John Shaw in the 1980’s, for example.

Eldon Carl in the 1960’s:

The NRA in the 1950’s:

UK military trainer/combat veteran C.D. Tracy in 1917:

During the 1980’s, the locked elbows Isoceles technique was widely taught (and adopted by former Weaver-technique shooters who discovered that they shot better and faster that way). By the start of the 1990’s, top shooters in USPSA had transitioned to fully extended arms with unlocked elbows, which remains the dominant technique used by top shooters.

From 1970 to the 2020’s, there’s been a steady migration of shooters from .45 ACP to, to .40 S&W to 9mm pistols. Full power .45 ACP ammo has a USPSA “power factor” of 190+ (230 grain bullet at 800 fps = 184,000 = 184 PF). Full power .40 S&W ammo has a 180+ power factor (180 grain bullet at 1000 fps = 180,000 = 180 PF). Full power 9mm ammo is typically 140-150 power factor (147 grain bullet at 1000 fps = 147,000 = 147 PF). The full power .45 and .40 ammo were blamed for causing tennis elbow in locked-elbow shooters, typically those that fired a lot of rounds training for USPSA matches where major/minor scoring motivated most to shoot the major power factor ammo. Particularly for major power ammo, holding the frame securely, so the slide can cycle properly, is critical. The problem was commonly called “limp-wristing”, even when the cause might not have anything to do with wrist muscles.

In modern USPSA, 9mm ammo is the most popular, as most competitors are in the Production, Carry Optics, Pistol Caliber Carbine and Limited Optics division. The demand for speed, both in competition and for show-off videos for Instagram and youTube, has led to some shooters trying to speed up their draw (typically on close targets, since you get better video by having the target and shooter in frame), by shooting before full extension of the arms is reached. Less grip strength is required to hold the frame of a 9mm pistol securely enough to prevent “limp-wristing” malfunctions, so those pushing for speed by not extending can get away with it, if the targets are close enough and their grip is strong enough.

As a result, this seems to have led some internet-trained shooters (typically those under 40) to hear trainers say “don’t lock your elbows”, and see online gun celebrities shooting from partially extended arms, and thinking that shooting from 75% of full extension is the ideal technique. I don’t think it is.

The context is missing for many that have embraced that idea, though. In some cases, those shooting that way have significant upper body strength and grip. Those two factors minimize the importance of technique. Some that spend a lot of time in the gym trying to get “swole” end up with limited flexibility in their arms, particularly after a workout. Older shooters, and those with a variety of neck, back and shoulder problems (also common in veterans), find it painful to fully extend. Vision issues related to focal length (a problem for older shooters and those wearing progressive or bifocal lenses) and getting the front sight in sharp focus may affect where the ‘sweet spot’ for arm extension is. And for those shooting the ultra-heavy-frame-plus-weapon-mounted-light pistols currently popular in USPSA (particularly those that don’t have a lot of upper body strength), holding a big heavy pistol at full arm extension can be fatiguing. In all those cases, the presentation of not-fully-extended arms may not what is desired, but all that is possible.

Awhile back the USPSA magazine “Front Sight” (no relation to the now-closed training institute) ran a lot of pictures of top shooters in action from various national championships. There are not people who only shoot 5 yard targets for social media clickbait videos. They are folks that shoot tens of thousands of rounds annually, trying to maximize speed and accuracy to win major matches where the margins of victory are often very small. Thus I think it’s valuable to observe their technique, and note that their arms are fully extended, likely with unlocked elbows. I share a gallery of those pictures here to encourage those that are capable of, but choose not to, fully extend their arms when shooting a pistol to explore that issue more deeply — not just by shooting 7 yard Bill Drills for clickbait content, but by shooting a wide variety of drills, from 3-25 yards, with target transitions, movement and other tasks incorporated.

The New and Improved New Jersey Carry Permit Shooting Test (2023)

Back in August 2023 I shot the New Jersey carry permit shooting test (aka the “Civilian Carry Assessment and Range Evaluation”, or CCARE), and documented it with video and in this blog post.

The test was complicated and poorly designed, including many skills that were essentially irrelevant to concealed carry, with time limits that were inconsistent in difficulty level from one string to the next.

In September 2023, New Jersey revised the shooting test (click here for the official document) to a much simpler process that only tests 4 skills:

  • Demonstrate the safe handling of weapon.
  • Demonstrate proper loading and unloading techniques.
  • Demonstrate the techniques of a proper concealed carry draw.
  • Demonstrate the techniques of good marksmanship.

It uses the FBI Q target. Revolver shooters have to fire double action for all 50 shots of the test. Semiautos are to be fired “in the manner in which the individual weapon functions normally and are to be decocked, if applicable, when changing positions or hands”. (This should have included “when holstering or reloading” but the general idea is that every string would start with the DA/SA style gun decocked, in the holster, with a live round chambered, as it would be carried.)

To pass, 40 of the 50 shots must hit inside the bottle, and the participant must demonstrate safe handling, including safe loading, unloading, drawing and reholstering.

The test is 10 strings of 5 rounds each. For each string, from a secured and concealed holster position, draw and fire 5 rounds (untimed). Holster a safe (decocked if applicable) weapon.

2 strings of 5 are shot from 3 yards, then 5, 7, 10 and 15 yards.

My video of the 3 and 5 yard strings

Video of me shooting the 7 and 10 yard strings

Video of the 15 yard string and final target


For the videos, I used my box stock Taurus G3 drawn from a JM Custom Kydex holster carried in the appendix position. When I did the videos, I wasn’t thinking about New Jersey’s 10 round mag limit, and loaded the Taurus mags to “more than 10”. Because each string was untimed, I chose to let the gun run dry mid string and do reloads as needed to complete the strings, to add some additional training value to the exercise. Done properly with NJ-approved 10 round mags, the reloads would occur at the end of every other string, or each time the target distance changed.

As with most of my videos, what you see is a completely cold run. No dry or live warm up. Wade and I were out at the range doing maintenance. We took a break, I grabbed a box of 9mm practice ammo, 2 mags, the G3, a KR Training logo shirt, a holster and a Q target and handed the phone to Wade to record my runs. He’s the one giving me start commands in the videos.

Because the test was untimed, I just shot at the pace I felt allowed me to keep my shots in a 6-8″ circle. I could have shot it at B-8 bullseye speed (slower) to show off and shoot a smaller group. But the goal of the videos and my evaluation of the updated qual was to shoot it like a more typical carry permit holder would. My observation of people running the Texas carry permit test is that basically everyone shoots faster than the time limits, except for (maybe) the “1 shot in 2 seconds at 3 yards” string. Most have not internalized the concept of adjusting shooting speed as target distance changes, so they shoot the “5 shots in 10-15 seconds” strings at 3, 7 and 15 at pretty much the same speed (getting progressively worse hits as the distance increases. So that’s sort of what I did for the 7, 10 and 15 yard strings – shot at roughly the same pace each time. That resulted in one round from the 15 yard line not hitting inside the bottle, ruining my perfect score.

Comparing this test to the Texas LTC qualification

In 2018, I modified the Texas LTC qualification to include more skills (drawing from concealment & movement) and suggested using an IDPA target instead of the too-large and anatomically-wrong B-27.

The history of why the B-27 exists and why it’s awful is here

In our book Strategies and Standards for Defensive Pistol Skills, John Daub and I write about Minimum Competency and qualification standards. The updated New Jersey test is very simple in design, and defines a very reasonable minimum performance standard, answering the question “what skills and abilities should someone have to be competent enough to safely carry a pistol concealed in public and use is effectively for self defense?”

Capabilities, competence and rights are different things. Many in this country have the right to vote, but would not be able to pass the 10 question citizenship test drawn from this pool of 100 questions. Similarly, one can have the right to carry and still not meet practical minimum standards. Our discussion of minimum standards is intended to aid gun owners and trainers in identifying a baseline that benefits those that aspire to it, not in defining a minimum that would be used to restrict the rights of those not yet at that performance level.

The FBI Q target offers a smaller scoring area than the B-27, but larger than the 0-ring of the IDPA target. It’s narrow bottle is slightly better, as a defensive target, than the A/C zone of a USPSA target or 0 and -1 zone of an IDPA target. The 80% hits to pass standard is the same one used for FBI agents, who also have to draw from concealment, in a more complex test with timed strings.

The Texas test is strings at 3, 7 and 15 yards, of varying lengths (1, 2, 3 or 5 rounds), but doesn’t include drawing from concealment. From an instructor perspective, the test is complicated to run. The trainer has to change par times frequently, and remember how many times they have run the 1 and 2 shot strings.

This sounds easy but when your brain cells are busy watching a firing line and making sure everyone is ready before starting the next string, it’s easy to lose your place and get into Dirty Harry mode, asking yourself “did they fire 5 strings or only 4?”.

5 shot strings evaluate the shooter’s consistent grip on the pistol, recoil recovery and concentration. The test includes 10 concealment draws and 4 reloads, all untimed. Removing the time pressure makes the test safer to run, as the primary safety concern related to drawing from concealment is risk of negligent discharge caused by the shooter going too fast. The NRA takes a similar approach in their CCW course, with an untimed shooting test using a similar scoring area that includes drawing from concealment, slide lock reloads and one handed shooting.

Including the skill of drawing from concealment in the shooting test also raises the standard for instructors, who will have to teach that skill (and be certified to teach it). This could potentially make the NRA CCW instructor certification, not the NRA Basic Pistol certification (for example), the minimum standard for instructors in New Jersey. While I’m sure it’s an unpopular view with 2nd amendment absolutists (and instructors who aren’t certified beyond the NRA Basic Pistol minimum level), carry permit students would get better training from instructors capable of meeting that higher standard (and passing the NJ test at 90% or higher level, or better yet, passing the full FBI agent shooting test at the 90% level.)

I’ve been using untimed, points-only tests in several classes recently, as a bridge between teaching the skills and testing the skills under time pressure, and I think this approach has great value — particularly as a guide to practice for those limited to indoor-range-only practice, where a shooting timer’s buzzer may be a distraction to others in adjacent lanes, or not heard over the gunfire from other shooters. It aligns with a basic training philosophy:

  • Understand correct technique
  • Perform correct technique with no time pressure
  • Perform correct technique within acceptable minimum time standards
  • Perform correct technique within time standards indicating automaticity

This article discusses what those time standards are for automaticity.

It’s a good test

The new New Jersey qualification course is a good one, possibly better than the Texas LTC test, because it uses a better target and requires drawing from concealment. As a simple, easy to remember course of fire, it makes better use of 50 rounds of ammunition than the typical gun owner’s “shoot with no plan until the ammo I brought is gone” practice regimen. Given the strongly anti-gun policies of New Jersey’s state government, the test is a nice surprise – better than Hawaii’s updated test or the earlier New Jersey requirements.

My suggestion to readers is to give the NJ test a try next time to get to the range. If you are a higher skill level shooter, leave the timer off, but push to get acceptable hits as fast as your sights and the gun allow. Removing the timer will help you focus on process, rather than outcome, which is useful in skill development, particularly in calling shots…even when you make the occasional bad shot.

1957 Robot Target Article

My historical research team (Craig, Gaston and Jay) recently sent me a scan of a 1957 Guns magazine article about a robot quick draw target that could shoot blank firing sixguns at the human opponent. Spell check tells me that “Dueller” should be “Dueler” but I have used the author’s original spelling and use of hyphens and quotes from the original article in the transcription below. – KR

The Target That Shoots Back (Arthur C. Ross)

A lot of people talk about quick-draw combat shooting, but only a few men ever really match their draw-and-fire speed against a shooting-back target. Now you can do just that-without risking anything more important than some personal embarrassment. You can do it by shooting it out with the Robot Dueller, the mechanical man who matches your reflex time and your gun speed and accuracy against bis electrical impulses-and shoots back if you fail to beat him.

Many factors enter into the actual man-to-man shoot-out of the type made famous by old time western gunfighters, of the type experienced all too frequently today by law enforcement officers and sometimes by combat soldiers. Success in such an encounter – and in this instance success means survival – means far more than mere speed in getting a gun out of its holster, pocket, or any carrying position selected, and blasting a shot through the barrel. It means (a) how long does it take you lo get into effective action after you are warned of danger, (b) how fast can your muscles perform the !unctions of the draw-and-fire. and (c) how accurately can you place that first shot on a target. No one of these tests – nor even any two of them is enough if you are pitted against a man who will kill you unless you kill him first.

There is another factor in this equation-the most important factor of all, perhaps in the business of combat shooting. That factor has been called “the will (or willingness) to kill.” The Robot Dueller is willing, his nerves are cold metal, and there is no emotion in him. Your willingness to ‘kill’ is not really tested when you shoot against him, because you know that he is a man of metal and gadgets, not flesh and blood. But it is odd how real he seems when you face him. Particularly when you have faced him before
and know that he will shoot back if you fail to beat him.

Mechanical Gunman Offers Next Best Thing to Real Duelling Conditions as Test of Quick-Draw

The Robot Dueller was built to simulate as nearly as possible the conditions a shooter would face in an encounter with a fairly fast gunman. It was and is the belief of the robot’s inventor that shooting against this kind of competitive target would be not only interesting and fun, but that it would be of very real value in the training of low enforcement officers and military personnel. This belief is borne out by enthusiastic testimonials from every such shooter who has tried, or been tried by, the robot. And it is fun. It is the most fascinating form of shooting competition I have experienced and I have tried them all.

The specifications we set up for ourselves in building the Dueller were these: he would be a target of man size and appearance, electrically operated so as to give out a starting signal and then time the interval between the starting signal and the completion of the test. He must be so designed that he would actually draw and shoot if not stopped, and so that he would stop if hit by a bullet within specified time
limits. He must have a timing device that would show expired lime in terms of hundredths of a second, and a bell that would ring when a killing hit is scored on the robot. Killing hit means a hit that would make a live gunman harmless to his opponent.

The Robot Dueller fills all of these specifications, and fills them in a manner true to the code of the old West. He stands facing you at a distance of ten, twenty, thirty or more feet; it’s your option. When you are set, a button is pressed and the robot’s eyes light up. You don’t know exactly when this is going to happen, any more than you would know exactly when a gunman might make up his mind to kill you. The lighted eyes are your cue to “go for your gun.” You draw, fire. The robot’s timer is set to touch off his shots exactly 1.3 seconds after the starting button is pressed to light his ‘eyes. ll you hit him inside the killing area in less than 1.3 seconds, a gong sounds, the robot cuts off, you’ve won your battle. If you’re too slow, or if your shots miss the killing area, he fires. And since he is Mr. Dead-Eye Dick, you’re dead.

A lot or people who have read the current claims of various quick-draw shooters – and some who have been practicing quick-draw at home, timed by a friend with a stopwatch-are due !or a rude awakening when they face the Robot Dueller. They start out by saying. “‘One and three-tenths seconds? Why, that’s slow. A good man can do it in a quarter or a second, or less. Why, only yesterday, Jim held a stopwatch on me and I drew, fired, and busted a half gallon jug at twenty paces in just two-tenths of a second!”

Okay, so Mr. Robot will be a cinch for you. But don’t be surprised if be beats you, even at the “slow” time of 1.3 seconds. Because the times he gives you are true times, starting from the warning and running to the impact of the bullet. He includes the time you require to react to his warning — just as a living gunman would do. That plus your draw-fire-and-hit time is what the clock shows against you. And you have to kill him to stop him.

The Electrical Robot Dueller consists of a series of pipes and springs supporting a bullet shield which resembles the vital area of the human body. He has a control mechanism and a time-indicating device. The legs and backbone are of two inch galvanized pipe, using two 90-degree elbows and two close nipples as hips. These are centrally connected to a two inch T for the backbone support. The movable relay contact points are on the spring-mounted bullet shield, while the stationary contact points are on the stationary backbone. The bullet strikes the spring-mounted bullet shield, forces it back, closes the relay points, and causes other control circuits to be disconnected, stopping the Robot’s action and indicating victory for the contestant.

If these bullet-shield relay points are not closed after the signal and before 1.3 seconds have elapsed, the machinery will operator which will cause the dueller to throw up his guns and fire. From the instant the push button is pressed, all circuits and actions are completed automatically.

The contestant checks his gun and makes ready for the contest with the dueller. He presses the push button and stands by for the signal. Two, three or more seconds may pass before the Robot’s eyes light up as the ‘go’ signal. On the signal, the contestant draws and fires as quickly as accurately as possible. Win or lose, the dueller’s control mechanism returns to the ready position for the next contest.

If the contestant gets over anxious and fires before the signal and his bullet strikes true, there will be no signal, no time indication, no victory bell and no firing by the dueller. This makes a cheating contestant feel like a true bushwhacker. However, should the contestant’s premature bullet fail to strike the vital area, the dueller will draw his guns and fire as scheduled. The dueller is fool-proof. He cannot be cheated.

The cost of construction of this operating model is about $500 (estimated cost $5500 in 2023, due to inflation/devaluation of US currency since then – KR). The right utilization of scrap pipes and other metals should bring mass production of these robots into the approximate price range of $600 or $700 retail. (For reference, handguns in the 1950’s cost roughly $40-50 – KR)

The control circuits are actuated by slight modifications of existing standard electrical equipment, which includes two fractional horsepower motors, speed reduction gears, and a few standard Allen-Bradley magnetic relays. The control circuit is somewhat complicated, but does not constitute any staggering new discoveries.

The feeling of a contestant who duels with this training instruments is one of strong compulsion to be first with a bullet. There is a very real sense of competition, similar to that which would be felt in an actual duel. Here, there is a double incentive: to beat the dueller, and to break previous time records. A policeman is likely to see the dueller as an armed robber that he has caught red-handed. He knows he must shoot fast or be killed. A sportsman might feel the keenness of the contest and try over and over again, merely for a new time record. The gun enthusiast will shoot time after time, for it is the type of target he has always wondered about and wanted to try. He enjoys handling that old favorite pistol and the dramatic violence of the explosion when she bucks to life in his hand.

To the thrill-seeking adventurers, the Robot Dueller is a substitute for the spine-chilling thrill of a death duel. Even to the novice the Electrical Robot Dueller is a fascination. I have had people who hardly knew the dangerous end of a gun insist upon testing the Dueller. The people are especially interesting, because they are a picture of confusion and hopelessness when the duel ends and they are defeated.

Under careful safety regulations, this instrument could be adapted to multiple use for combat training of military personnel. It requires nobody behind the targets in the butts, and no scoring of targets, thus offering a saving of personnel. The robot could be made to appear from behind a tree, from a foxhole, or the windows of a house, pause for a brief time, then fire a gun and disappear. If a combat trainee is alert and fast and can shoot straight, he can kill the robot. If he fails to see the robot or fires and misses, the trainee would be considered a casualty.

It is the opinion of this author that this device could improve the present training methods, save time in combat training, reduce instructor personnel, and provide a much more certain method for screening and eliminating undesirable combat people.

The general opinion of police officials is that this Electrical Robot Dueller should NOT be displayed at amusement centers for the general public. This is certainly a point for consideration. Quick draw can be dangerous to the contestant and is not for children in amusement parks.

(By the 1960’s, a version of this idea became a “light gun” game in amusement parks, and in the 1980’s, an updated version was on the market. – KR)

More about the 1961 Taylor arcade game here.

This next one is the Mr. Quick Draw game made in 1961.

“To survive, the badman needed something besides a quick draw and accuracy. Some would call it nerve, others the psychological edge over the opponent …” Men stood before mirrors practicing the draw for hours at a time and yet found themselves greatly inferior to another untrained man with the mental edge. Again a Wild Bill or Billy the Kid was born, not made. Another thing – a post or tin can will not “sass-back” but an angry, desperate man with a sixgun will. So it is partly a question of mind over mind. Indeed, the victor of many a gunfight was the inferior pistol-artist, but the superior duelist merely by force of his nerve or personality.”

George D. Hendrick writes in “The Bad Men of the West”

Hendrick also cites the two instances when Wyatt Earp advised Cockeyed Frank Loving and Bob Cahill who stood challenged by different aggressors, “You take your time, aim and hit.”

It is obvious to any student of Wyatt Earp’s career that he did not mean that a dueller should calmly day-dream while an aggressor spewed hot lead at him from a six shooter. He meant “go for your gun in a hurry, get a firm grip upon it, bring it to bear with all possible speed, aim for certain death, then pull the trigger.” Earp may or may not have been the greatest gunfighter of them all, but he survived to die in bed at a ripe age, which a lot of them didn’t. Was he lucky? Perhaps. But it is my personal opinion that his success and his survival were due to to his superior intelligence and his most unusual reflexes.

What are reflexes or reflex actions? How do they figure into a gunfight? And how can they be tested and improved? To determine the answer to those questions, the author turned to mechanics and science. The Robot Dueller is his answer. With it, it is easy enough to determine the part human reflexes play in shoot-outs of this description.

The shooter’s problem in the draw-and-fire duel is about as follows: (a) recognize the starting signal (b) grab the gun, (c) draw (d) cock (e) aim, (f) fire. Let’s say your best time through those steps is 0.7 of a second. (Keep in mind that the “aiming” the author refers to here is hip shooting, and the drawing was being done from a low slung open carry cowboy holster. Fast draw to first hit times from this type of set up, in modern competition, are down in the 0.3’s.- KR)

Tests with the electrically timed robot prove to our satisfaction that a man this fast can perform the physical movements of the draw-and-fire in about 0.2 seconds, and that the remaining 0.5 seconds is the time that he takes to grasp the situation and direct his actions to meet it – in other words – his reflex time. No quick-draw claim which fails to account for this reflex-time factor can possibly be credited as a fair appraisal of a man’s true gun-fighting ability.

It is possible, however, for a man to capitalize on this very factor that hampers his own gun-speed. He can do this by increasing the reflex time of his opponent – and this can be done by complicating the situation. For example, a gunfighter who steps or jumps to one side as he draws forces his opponent to add new steps to his reaction problem. The opponent must identify the movement, decide how far it will carry and how fast, and move his own gun to cover the new position of the target. (In modern terms, the author is describing the Observe Orient Decide Act loop and what some call “Getting off the X” – KR) The moving shooter, having his movement figured out in advance, gains an advantage. If he can still shoot accurately during or after his movement, he should win. Providing, of course, that he is facing a human opponent. The Robot Dueller is not affected by such tactics.

Nevertheless, to face this machine is to come as close as anyone will ever come to the fighting or a pistol duel without gambling life on the outcome. Here is the man of steel facing you, a gun in each hand. His intentions are to kill you. You know that he is a dead shot and lightning fast. You know that there is only one way in which he can be stopped, and that is to shoot first and strike true. You strain every nerve and muscle as you watch for that death signal. It comes, and you explode into action. Then you look at the clock and read – bad news. It shows 1.3 seconds, the maximum time setting for the dueller. You either missed or were too slow. You picture yourself being carried off toward Boot Hill, and you can’t understand how the hell it happened. You’re fast with a gun, surely faster than 1.3 seconds!. Something must have gone wrong.

(The author’s choice of 1.3 seconds as an acceptable minimum draw to first hit time is interesting. By current standards for strong side and/or appendix concealed or retention holster duty carry, 1.3 seconds at 20 feet is a very reasonable par time goal for a shooter that has developed enough skill to reach “automaticity”, as John Hearne calls it. More about performance goals and automaticity can be found in this earlier blog article – KR)

Fortunately, with the dueller you can try again, and after about a hundred attempts you begin to get the idea. You relax and watch for the signal. You are hardly aware of the signal when you see it. You are almost complete unaware of your actions. Chances are you will hear a loud gong and your time reading will be around 0.9 seconds. You have won. Now you can expect to win occasionally against this man of steel.

There are a few notorious gunfighters today, but the gun-toting criminal is still with us. Armed robbers, escaped convicts, kidnappers, dope peddlers, impulse killers, sex fiends, protection peddlers, extortionists are all potential killers. A glance at the casualty list of any police department will give conclusive evidence that the American badman is an even greater menace to our policemen than was the killer of yester-year. He is sneaky, lives and fights by no code, and is likely to shoot without warning.

Against this hoodlum is pitted the police officer. What sort of man is he? He is usually a level-headed man, a good family man, with no “killer instinct”. He is marked as a target by his uniform, his badge and obvious display of his gun. His ability with the gun is often neglected because he may have no convenient place to practice, and in most cases he must purchase his own gun and ammunition. We further handicap him by teaching him that he must warn before he shoots, or even give the criminal the first shot. The results are all too often fatal – not to the crook but to the policeman.

With practice against the Electrical Robot Dueller, the police officer can so improve his skill with the pistol that he can meet even this one sided challenge. Through the courtesy of Police Chief G. B. Douglas of the Port Arthur, Texas, Police Department, the Robot Dueller was demonstrated on that department’s very fine pistol range, and the patrolmen and police officials who tried it were obsessed with the desire to try it again, until they were able to gain a victory over the robot.

That spirit of competition is, in itself, the best possible stimulation to shooting practice. Given that incentive and the very practical combat experience of facing a “shoot back” target, the effectiveness of law enforcement officers against armed enemies could be improved tremendously — to the benefit of police for protection, and to the benefit of all in the saving of police lives.

(The Lee Weems podcast linked below features discussion from Dustin Salomon, John Hearne and John Holschen – three trainers using new equipment with visual start signals and shot timing in their courses, the modern extension of the training principles the inventor of the Electrical Robot Dueller was pursuing in his work. KR Training hosted John Holschen’s class last year, and John Hearne’s Cognitive Pistol course, scheduled for January 2024 at our facility is sold out with a wait list. John’s “Who Wins, Who Loses…” lecture coming up January 2024 still has slots open for registration. – KR)

1941 Pistol Combat Course

My historical research team sent me this article from a 1941 issue of American Rifleman magazine. It details a “pistol combat course” shot using a silhouette target w/ center bullseye and a scoring system that is a distant cousin to the Time Plus scoring using in IDPA and the Comstock scoring used in USPSA. The stage design is very similar to the Steel Challenge stage “Five To Go”.

I went to the range to shoot the course of fire. Step 1 was figuring out what target to use. Here is a military L bullseye target that was in common use in the 1940’s.

It has a 4″ center, roughly 8″ 9 ring and roughly 12″ 8 ring…very similar to the modern NRA D-1 tombstone target used in the Bianchi Cup and the Glock Shooting Sports Foundation matches.

The D1 looked closer to the targets drawn in the article, so I used some previously-used targets for the video. Some of the D1s have little stickers in the X ring, others do not.

I got out my classic 1911 in .45 ACP, loaded it up with full power .45 ball ammo and ran the course of fire using the vintage one handed technique described in the article. After the first couple of shots, the fiber in my front sight came out (apparently I didn’t cut the fiber long enough and when I melted the ends there wasn’t enough to hold it in place under recoil). Since they didn’t have fiber optic front sights back in 1941, I left the fiber out and shot the course without the fiber insert.

Vintage 1911 on the 1941 Pistol Combat Course.

As the video shows, my score was 27+26+28+29+28 = 138 out of possible 150 points

String times were 4.68, 3.66, and 3.61 for a total of 11.95, 3.05 under par of 15.

Using the scoring method from the article, I got 138 pts plus 30 pts time bonus for being faster than 15 seconds, for a total of 168 points.

For comparison I reshot the course of fire, using modern technique and gear (my Glock 48 with Holosun 507C green dot optic).

For that run I shot 30 + 29 + 28 + 29+ 29 = 145 points

Times were 3.51, 3.14, and 2.82 for a total of 9.50, 5.50 under par of 15.

Total score was 145 plus 55 points time bonus = 200 points

All the drills you see on video were my first runs not only on this drill but cold runs with no dry fire or live fire warmup. The targets had been used for other drills in the past, thus the pasters and stickers. I have no doubt that if I had done multiple runs, faster times and better hits were likely.

The difference in score was not surprising. Switching from .45 major to 9mm minor ammo, and using two hands vs one made a big change in speed, and switching from irons to a dot improved accuracy.

The historical significance of this course is that it introduced multiple ideas that became commonplace in handgun training during the Modern Technique (Jeff Cooper) era.

It simulates a threat moving toward you, requiring you to fire one round per target at a pace roughly equal to the time it would take for someone to run that distance. It requires consistency (3 runs), similar to the “best 4 out of 5” approach taken in the Steel Challenge decades later. It uses a scoring system that rewards those that shoot with both speed and accuracy, not just a static par time (as was used in bullseye and later, PPC matches). It rewards the use of double action firing for revolvers, in an era where almost all revolver shooting was done single action at a much slower pace. The change in par time for .22 vs .45 is a precursor to major/minor scoring in IPSC & USPSA. It even introduces the concept of a minimum acceptable time standard (5 sec par) and could have easily been expanded to include a minimum acceptable score, if hits outside the 8 ring were counted as misses and passing score of 150 points was used.

My run times in the 3.0-3.5 sec range align with the article’s discussion of what “most shooters” could do, although from the example published my points were quite a bit better than the author’s, even one handed with iron sights. Given that the article was for a general interest magazine (American Rifleman), it’s possible that a low score was used as an example for editorial reasons.

The author’s final comment: “it’s just what the draft army needs, instead of puttering months away trying to hit a little black spot with a gun that was never intended for anything but to hit a big, nearby target, and to hit it quick” was exactly correct, although the military and law enforcement training world, and gun culture generally, didn’t actually put it into mainstream use until wasting decades with close range hip shooting and long range slow fire. The author’s concept of using quickly aimed fire, incorporating target transitions, a more relevant target and a scoring system rewarding speedy accuracy was visionary for its day.

IPSC World Shoot 1983 Match

Lloyd Harper, who was the assistant match director for the 1983 World Shoot, recently scanned the 1983 IPSC World Shoot match booklet and shared it with others. The match was held at the Lafayette Gun Club near Yorktown, Virginia. The scanned copy is missing a few pages. What I have posted here is what I have and the pages are presented in the order they were organized in the original match booklet. The sections in italics are my observations about the stage designs and how they compare to stages at current major USPSA events.

There’s also an article about the match in a 1984 issue of American Handgunner, still available online

Click here to download the American Handgunner issue about the 1983 World Shoot (

The Stages

When I started shooting USPSA in 1988, it was common to have stages that required shooting at distances beyond 25 yards in every major event. This standards exercise includes shooting at 40 meters, and one handed shooting at 20 meters. It also includes turning draws – something that was very common in defensive pistol classes in the 70’s and 80’s but is no longer popular (likely because of potential safety issues with shooters on adjacent targets muzzling each other during the turning draw.) Since most shooters were running single stack 1911’s in .45 ACP, 8 round strings were common. The Milpark target had a 10″ circular A Zone inside a (roughly) 13″ x 18″ C zone.

Back in the 1980’s, an impact sensor attached to a “stop plate” was often used to record the total time for a stage.

This tradition still exists in the Steel Challenge stages, but impact sensors are no longer used. Awhile back I wrote an article about shooting timers from the 1980’s. You can find it here.

Moving target systems were another popular stage design trend in the 1980’s. The best known mover is the one that is part of the Bianchi Cup each year.

Other stage design features that faded away as USPSA evolved from its early days were shooting over walls and swinging out from a wall holding a rope to shoot one handed – both included in this stage.

This stage included climbing some stairs to shoot from a platform. That sort of thing was common in major matches (and regional matches in Texas) in the 1990’s, but as with climbing walls and other obstacle course challenges, seems to have faded away as the sport focuses on ability to shoot quickly while on level ground. I suspect that the “retirement” of the more physically demanding elements of stages coincided with the growth of the sport and safety risks associated with those more challenging movement.

This stage required the shooter to open several doors. Knowing how to properly open a door with pistol in one hand and doorknob in the other was one of those skills anyone planning on shooting major matches had to learn, as there were always some safety related disqualifications at the big matches when people either hadn’t practiced (or considered) muzzle direction and techniques for door manipulation and quick target acquisition. Doors were also an easy way to activate mechanical movers and other reactive targets, so they were common at big matches.

This stage included a different obstacle course-style challenge: a fence that had to be climbed or crawled under. Twine, rather than barbed wire, was used for part of the fence, and penalties were assessed for breaking strands as noted in the stage description.

Surprise stages are great fun to shoot, but difficult to manage, particularly at a major match. In the early days of the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, the entire match was surprise, shot in low/dim light, with no stage description other than “do what you would do” against an array of reactive shoot and no-shoot targets. This worked because the event was small, access to the stages was tightly controlled (through the airlock of the indoor range bay), and people generally didn’t share any details about the stages with others. That match format also let one shooter into the bay at a time, so there was no way to stand around before your shoot time ogling the stages. When the event changed venues and some stages moved to an outdoor bay, it was difficult (aka impossible) to keep people from seeing the stage in advance. The last year any attempt at including a surprise stage was when TacCon was held in Tulsa, OK, and the shoot house was used for one of the match stages, with the rest being published in advance, much like what occurred at this World Shoot.

lso an article about the match in a 1984 issue of American Handgunner, still available online

Click here to download the American Handgunner issue about the 1983 World Shoot, or read the article in the images below. Thanks to American Handgunner for having their entire magazine archive online. (Subscribe to their magazine here. Great photos, great articles.)

1918 Pistol Shooting Article

Fellow handgun historians Craig, Gaston and Jay have been going through old issues of “Arms and the Man” and American Rifleman looking for historically interesting articles to share. This one, from 1918, details the failures of pistol shooters using “point shooting” techniques to hit targets. The author of the article was the secretary of the Shanghai Rifle and Revolver Club.

KR Training October 2023 Newsletter


We have finalized our schedule for the rest of 2023. All the classes we plan to offer through the end of 2023 are listed below. We are already working on winter/spring 2024 plans!


I am available for private weekday training. Doug Greig is also available for private weekday and some weekend sessions. Contact us for details.


Re-take any class you’ve taken before for half price! Contact me to get the alumni discount code. Firearms skills deteriorate without practice. Most ranges don’t allow drawing from a holster, shooting quickly, moving or shooting from cover. If you don’t practice the skills you learned in class, they won’t be there when you need them. Fall classes will have cooler weather – but they often sell out, so don’t wait until the last minute to register!


In 1st half 2024 we have multiple trainers scheduled: John Hearne (January), Ben Stoeger (February), Greg Ellifritz (February), Ed Monk (March), Tom Givens (May). Some of the registration links for classes are available here. Others will be posted in the next few weeks.

Upcoming Texas classes with space available:




Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin.
Prices and registration links are at

Click HERE to register for any class.

Advanced Handgun – Oct 21

Advanced Handgun is a challenging class full of scored drills and shooting tests, to give the student a full evaluation of their shooting skill, and identify the areas where they need to improve. This is the same course I offer on the road. The level of this course is appropriate for graduates of our DPS-3 course, USPSA and IDPA competitors, and graduates of any higher level shooting program.

Low Light Shooting Level 2 – Oct 22 (evening)

We only offer this course once a year (and we didn’t get enough interest to teach it last year). LL2 goes beyond what is taught in Low Light 1. More building search, more challenging drills. This is a pistol-only course but skills taught can be applied to long gun as well.

Comprehensive Defensive Carbine – Oct 29

Doug Greig will offer a full day AR-15 course suitable for students at all levels. Focus will be on application of the defensive carbine in realistic situations.

Active Shooter / School and Church Safety – Nov 18-19

Due to the recent change in state law, more school districts are training armed teachers under the Guardian program. This two day session was scheduled at the request of a school district, but a limited number of slots are available for open enrollment. This is the DPS-designed course intended to teach anyone fundamental skills for protecting themselves and others (mainly in a school, church or office environment) from an active shooter. This will include 300 rounds of live fire in the afternoons each day. (We got the OK from neighbors to violate our deer season quiet time for this course.)


I have collected up all the discount codes we have set up with vendors we recommend. Alumni of KR Training classes will find them in the monthly e-news email.


All the articles you missed if you don’t follow the KR Training Facebook page and Instagram feed.


In October, the Black Cat Choir plays a lot of shows during Round Top’s Antique Week. Lead singer Johnny Holmes teaches the audience how to have moves like Jagger in our version of “Miss You”, from a recent Stone Cellar show.


Keep up with the interesting articles, links, and stories we share in real time. Follow KR Training on Facebook, Instagram 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

Texas Parks and Wildlife Youth Outdoors Day 2023

On October 11-12 I assisted Texas Parks and Wildlife with their mostly-annual Youth Outdoors program. It’s held at Nails Creek Park on Lake Somerville, and it provides high school students an opportunity to learn about shooting, hunting, archery and the outdoors. Day 1 had about 60 students from Lee County, and Day 2 had a similar number from Washington County.

Pictures of my target setup and other stations are here in my Instagram post.

Official TPWD pictures from each station are below.









This is a mobile version of the old Parks and Wildlife Expo that used to be held each fall at TPWD headquarters outside Austin. It was a much bigger event, but the mobile version reaches people farther from Austin all over the state.

The Ed Head Modified Cooper Cup Gunsite Standards

One of my regular students, Randy W., is also a graduate of multiple classes from Gunsite, the legendary firearms training school in Arizona founded by Jeff Cooper. He took several private lessons from me to get tuned up for the Gunsite Alumni Shoot, being held on October 7, 2023.

One stage of the match is the Cooper Cup, a set of shooting standards originally developed by Cooper himself. Gunsite trainer Ed Head describes a modified version of the course of fire in detail in this NRA article.

The videos below show me shooting the drill “cold” at the start of our lesson, to familiarize myself with the course of fire. I used my Taurus G3 with the Swampfox green dot sight. The G3 is my go-to gun for class demos, because it’s a midpriced gun, with a stock barrel, stock trigger and a midpriced optic. I put 1200 rounds through it before I cleaned it, and I only cleaned it because I replaced the original slide (iron sights) with the TORO slide I bought from Taurus and the Swampfox optic. It’s had another 500+ rounds through it since then.

The Gunsite option target has a small triangular-ish head box and a gumdrop-shaped torso zone that’s smaller than the 8″ circle on the IDPA target, particularly at the top where it narrows. The way the Cooper Cup is scored is that hits outside those two zones are misses. Only hits inside the two zones count for score. The complete test is 45 rounds.

In talking with Erick Gelhaus, a Gunsite trainer that was going to be one of the range officers and match officials for the Gunsite Alumni Shoot (GAS), I learned that the Cooper Cup would be shot on turning targets that were precise on their timing. Randy observed that he had seen quite a few edge hits and tears on targets at a previous GAS, so we knocked 0.5 second off each par time in practice to ensure that we were working at a pace fast enough to guarantee a full target exposure.

As the video shows, I dropped one point (from the 25 yard string), basically by not being disciplined enough about where the dot was relative to the entire target. At 25 yards, the outline of the body torso, and even the shapes of the blobs on the target, are difficult to discern, so you really have to have a good feel for where the center of the torso zone is just using the target edges and head box.

Randy said that it was common for everyone in the match to shoot from open carry, so that’s how we practiced it – and historical pictures at Gunsite do tend to show people working from open carry most of the time.

Although Gunsite’s history is linked to the 1911 and .45 ACP caliber, Gunsite recently began selling their Gunsite Glock Service Pistol – a Glock 45 with a red dot, in 9mm.

Randy was going to shoot the match with a Glock 48 with Holosun optic. We started the lesson with him shooting 25 yard 10 shot groups, first from a rest, and then from two handed standing, making small corrections to the zero on his pistol with the ammo he was going to use for the match. Much like the standards at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, a perfect or near-perfect score would be required to be competitive in the overall standings, and having a perfect 25 yard zero could make a difference on the 25 yard strings.

In the recent TCOLE firearms instructor class, trainer Eric Wise referenced articles written by Brian Litz about statistics related to group shooting and zeroing. Litz makes a strong case for 10 shot groups providing better statistical data for zeroing than 3 or 5 shot groups. I’ve typically been a 3-5 shot group shooter for rough zeroing, but we did 10 shot groups for the final grooming, and in many cases it did make a difference, as 1-3 shots of the 10 might be thrown out for “shooter error” reasons, leaving us with enough holes to still assess overall zero.

The other two areas we worked were the 3 yard head shots, and first shot after a reload, because it’s a commonly missed shot. That proved to be an area Randy could improve on. His reload speeds were plenty fast to make the par times, giving him more time than he realized to take that extra tenth of a second to guarantee that first post-reload shot was a good hit.

Match Report

The course of fire in the Ed Head NRA article is not the actual Cooper Cup. The actual course of fire is harder and is this:

  • 3 yards, one head shot, 1 second, 5x
  • 7 yards, one head shot, 1.5 second, 5x
  • 10 yards, two body shots, 2.0 second, 5x
  • 15 yards, two body shots to two different targets, 6.0 seconds, 3x
  • 25 yards, two body shots, 4.0 seconds, 4x

40 rounds, 200 points, scored 5 or 0, cuts must be inside the line (no line breaking edge hits counted).

How did Randy do? 22nd out of 267 shooters, which is top 10% – a very respectable finish against a bunch of excellent shooters and challenging courses of fire. He placed 30th (tie) out of 161 that shot the Cup.

I will give the “real” Cooper Cup course of fire a try in my next range session.

TCOLE Firearms Instructor Course

I recently hosted and attended a Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor Course taught by Eric Wise of Cornerstone Performance. Eric is a full time law enforcement instructor with a major Texas city’s police department, and a competition shooter with Master and Grand Master ratings in IDPA, USPSA and Steel Challenge.

Eric Lamberson from Sensible Self Defense attended the course and posted a very comprehensive after-action report. I encourage you to go read his before reading the remainder of my post.

The TCOLE firearms instructor certification is a 40 hour course, and completion of a separate 40 hour TCOLE Basic Instructor Course is required. The Basic Instructor course teaches you how to teach, how to write lesson plans, how to do classroom presentations, how to write exams, and other skills applicable to teaching any topic. The firearms instructor course is intended to train someone that is a good (or preferably, better than good) shooter to teach the handgun and shotgun skills typically taught in a standard police academy to cadets, or provide in service training.

TCOLE has a list of requirements that the course has to include, including a course of fire that applicants have to pass. We ended up with 8 students in the class, including active duty officers from Austin, Bryan, and Bandera, a retired Federal agent and two private sector trainers (Eric L. and me.) Technically I was the only never-commissioned person in the course, as Eric L had been an law enforcement officer for a short period before his military service. TCOLE does have a provision that allows non-sworn personnel to become certified as firearms trainers, if they have been active firearms instructors for 3 or more years and can provide proof, and they take the 40 hour Basic Instructor Training. I had taken the TCOLE basic course more than a decade ago prior to going to work for TEEX as a training manager on their DHS contract.

Day 1

On day 1, Eric gave us a binder that had 10 different drills in it. The drills are taught in sequence, and each focuses on a different aspect of shooting, from basic untimed marksmanship to detailed understanding of trigger control and in depth understanding of how sight picture and shooting speed relate to targets at varying distances or sizes. He taught us each drill, shooting demos to show us how he expected the drill to be shown (and at what speed), and we were students for the first day.

The Sight Deviation Drill

The NRA includes a version of this drill in their pistol curriculum, but I like Eric’s modified version of it better. Before class he used some color copies of his sight picture training aid (which he provided to us) to make three demo targets, each showing the sight picture he would use to shoot 3 shot groups at 3, 5 and 7 yards. He explained that his rule for “acceptable accuracy” was to keep all shots inside the 8″ circle of the IDPA target. Then he demoed the drill, placing groups of 3 shots very close together at each distance and for each sight picture, for a total of 3 shots * 3 distances * 3 sight pictures = 27 rounds fired.

You have to be a very good shooter capable of shooting quarter sized groups at 7 yards to demo this drill effectively.

Here’s some video of Eric explaining the results to students in a May 2023 class he taught at KR Training.

Day 2

On Day 2 instructor trainees were required to come with two drills: one they invented and one they got from another trainer, and be prepared to explain the drills, demonstrate the drill, and run a firing line through the drill. All the drills had to low round count with very few strings. For my “got it elsewhere” drill I used the live/empty shot pairs exercise I learned in a SIG Academy class (which was identical to the live/dummy drill I learned at the Rogers school years prior, but was easier to run without dummy rounds), and for my “created it yourself” drill, I used our 16x16x16 drill.

Everyone in class was a very proficient shooter, with class scores and times on the different drills very close. This was great to see, as cops often get maligned by gun hobbyists and private sector training junkies and competition shooters as not being good at shooting. As this quick video shows, Eric would set the standard on his demos, and we all tried to match his speed and accuracy.

Another common complaint is that the techniques and ideas taught inside the law enforcement bubble often lag behind what is considered best and most up to date within the private sector training community. As a USPSA competitor and a graduate of many private sector courses, Eric’s material was very solid. He did a great job explaining his thoughts on technique issues such as muzzle angle for a ready position, slide and slide lock manipulation on reloads, and plenty of other topics. The goal was to share his insights from teaching thousands of officers of varying sizes, experience levels (particularly in the academy) and physical abilities.

Days 3 and 4

Another drill we shot on day 3 was the “dirty-target shot-calling” exercise. I hadn’t seen this drill before. The idea is this: you take a shot up target and put it in front of a clean target. Then from a distance far enough back that you can’t really see new holes appearing on the target (we shot this from 15 and 25 yards), you shoot a 5 shot group, making notes and calling each shot as you fire it.

To see what you actually did, you have to go to the back of the two target stack which will show you only the holes from your shots. The motivation for this drill is that if you start with a clean target, particularly for dot shooters using pure target focus, the temptation to ‘call’ based on new holes, vs. what you saw from the sights or dot when the shot broke, is reduced.

Day 3 completed all the trainees running drills, the shotgun instruction (which was mostly shooting buckshot and slugs from 5-15 yards), and some of the TCOLE-mandated lecture content. The most interesting part of that, to me, was the rules for what was had to be included when developing a qualification course of fire for a department or agency. Some flexibility is given, but certain common factors have to be included, such as total round count (50 rounds) and sections from 3-25 yards and at least one timed reload.

Day 4 included Eric’s presentation of the red dot pistol curriculum currently being taught by his agency. Under previous chief, every officer was issued a S&W M&P in 9mm. Under current leadership, all those guns are being updated to have an Aimpoint ACRO 2.0 (closed emitter) red dot sight, so 100% of officers will be using red dot sights. While he could not release specific data, he indicated that qualification scores had improved with the change to red dot sights. Because every officer was attending a transition class, where the drills we had shot on Monday were included, it’s very likely that some of the improvement was a result of what was learned from the drills, not just the red dot sight itself.

Day 4 ended with teaching assignments. Each of the instructor trainees were assigned a drill, from the 10 drills we shot on Monday, to present, demo and run during the class the next day.

Day 5 – Real Students

Day 5 was a Saturday, and because the course content of Eric’s 10 drills paralleled the material KR Training presents in our Handgun Beyond Basics class, I advertised the open enrollment course as a session of our “Beyond Basics” (required to earn our Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin), offered free slots to Lee County law enforcement, and offered discounted slots to previous Beyond Basics graduates to attract a good crowd of real students for the instructors-in-training to teach.

We ended up with a full class of 16 students, being trained by 8 instructors-in-training, all supervised by Eric. To make it easy to tell student from teacher, the instructors wore the reflective vests. Most drills were run with a relay of 8, so each student had their own individual coach for every drill, and got coached by each of the trainees.

Because we had more drills (10) than instructors in training (8), students also got instruction from Eric for the last drills of the day.

We saw lots of improvement from the students that attended, particularly those that had just completed our Basic Pistol 1 and Basic Pistol 2 classes within the last month, who got introduced to many higher level concepts and more challenging drills past the state carry permit level.

I really enjoyed the course. It’s always fun to be a student in the classes I host. We shot 1200 rounds during the first 4 days, and being with a group of very good shooters that all pushed each other to do well was the best kind of performance pressure. During the red dot training day one of the last drills we did was a walkback starting at 25 yards, shooting a Pepper Popper I had locked in the upright position. We moved back to 50 yards, then 75 yards, and finally 100, where everyone in class was able to hit it at least 3 out of 5 times.

KR Training will be hosting other classes offered by Cornerstone Performance in 2024.

Nebraska Training Classes Sept 2023

The nice folks that run Nebraska Shooters invited me to come teach three classes at their facility in September 2023. I taught my Force on Force Instructor course, a full day of Tactical Scenarios, and a full day of Advanced Handgun. Nebraska Shooters is run by Justin and Dorothy Grusing, supported by a large crew of assistants, offering everything from beginner classes and carry permit courses to NRA instructor training and all kinds of defensive firearms training. Justin and Dorothy were terrific course hosts and I really enjoyed my time training with them. I was busy teaching during the training days, but I did take some pictures and a few videos of the facility and some of the cool range props they had.

Justin and I spent most of my first day there building an outdoor shoothouse suitable for my Tactical Scenarios class. Here’s a video of the nearly-completed structure.

On their main range they had a whiteboard specifically designated to provide all the emergency response information. We are going to install something similar on our main range.

Every range needs at least one range dog. Hank attended most of the training with the humans.

This is their main square range, with a nice covered firing line. I should have taken a picture of the ceiling fans and rope lights they have mounted underneath their range cover.

At their range they are set up for all kinds of steel target and pin shooting and cowboy action fun. I took a few pics of their metal pin table to add to my to-do file.

The banner for their cowboy action club.

They have a very clever indoor-outdoor range setup. The tan conex box is open on the other side, providing a handful of covered firing points. Other conex boxes connected to the tan one run at right angles, and when the back doors of those Conex boxes are opened, they allow rounds fired through the conex boxes to impact in a berm. With the doors closed it can be used for airgun shooting in colder weather.

They have a very cleverly designed sixgun themed smoker, complete with iron sights on the top.

Lots of carnival style steel target range toys, including a few designed for shotgun use that throw clays after the steel activator is hit.

A beautiful view of the land around the range, from the back of their house. When I left Texas, it was over 100 degrees, and it was in the 70’s for my entire visit to Nebraska, giving me a nice break from the most brutal summer heat we’ve had in a long time, and a terrible drought.

They have invited me to return to teach more classes in 2024 and I look forward to my next trip to visit them!

Shooting the Stephenville PD Qualification Course

A KR Training student recently sent me the qualification course of fire used by the Stephenville, TX, police department. It uses the CSAT (Paul Howe) target, which is basically a USPSA target with a 6″x10″ A zone.

Officers are not given a specific load out to force a reload during a specific string of fire. Officers show up with mags loaded to capacity, but because a variety of handguns and calibers are authorized, there will be variation in how many rounds are fired before the gun goes empty and a reload is required. When a reload occurs, officers get a 3 second grace period on the string in question. The other difference is on Stage 6 at 3 yards. Officers using a red dot are required to shut the dot off to “simulate” a failed optic.

Stage One

25-yard line, standing outside, left side of cover, on command officers will aggressively move behind cover while drawing and engage their target with 1 round in 6 seconds, repeat once


25-yard line, standing outside, right side of cover, on command officers will aggressively move behind cover while drawing and engage their target with 1 round in 6 seconds, repeat once


Stage Two

15-yard line, officer stands outside strong side of cover, facing target weapon holstered & snapped in.

On command officer will draw their weapon while moving to cover. Once behind cover, they will engage their target with 8 rounds in 12 seconds


Stage Three

10-yard line, no cover, facing target, weapon holstered and snapped in.

On command officer will step left while drawing and fire 4 rounds in 10 seconds.


On command, officer will step right while drawing and fire 4 rounds in 10 seconds.


Here is video of me shooting stages 1-3. To keep the video short enough for instagram, I trimmed all the “transition, scan and holster” parts out, except for the first few segments.

Stage Four

On command officer will draw with dominant hand and transition to their support hand and stand by. On command, fire 6 rounds in 9 seconds, support hand only.

Transition and holster as you normally would.

On command, draw with dominant hand only and fire 6 rounds in 9 seconds, dominant hand only.


Stage Five

One Shot Drill – Facing target, weapon holstered and snapped in. On command officers will draw and fire one round. After firing, they will reluctantly transition, scan and holster. This will be repeated 5 times, for a total of 6 rounds. Each round fired in 3.5 seconds.

If using a RDS, at this stage officers will be required to shut off their dot.

Stage 6

3-yard line (Controlled Pair) 

On command, officer draws while moving left or right (officers’ choice) and fire 2 rounds in 3 seconds. (6 if reload is needed at this stage)


Reset and repeat drill 5 times for a total of 12 rounds.

Here is video of me shooting stages 4-6. I did the strong hand/weak hand segments out of order. I assumed that it was OK to use both hands for reloading during the one handed strings, because a 3 second addition for reload time is appropriate for a two handed reload, but not for a one handed reload.

My Performance

I didn’t have an actual CSAT target handy, but I did have some of Dave Spaulding’s center chest overlays printed on 8.5×11 paper. Click the link below to download your own copy of this handy target.

I shot this course of fire as a cold drill (first drill of the day) during two separate practice sessions. The first time I shot, I couldn’t remember what the correct target was, and used a TQ-19, shooting the drill with the Taurus G3 (with iron sights) during my 1000 round torture test of that gun.

If the entire light colored section was 5 points, then I had only one shot outside it…but a lot of my hits were lower (below the heart), a few strayed up to the top of the shoulder and there’s that one low right flyer. When I went back and looked at that video, I also realized that I didn’t shoot all the strings exactly the way they were described. I topped off the gun between stages and never had a slide lock reload during any string. So my “perfect score” was probably down 7-10 points (or more) and the video wasn’t a fair representation of what the course of fire intended.

A couple weeks later, I shot the course of fire again, using my Glock 48 with Holosun 507C green dot, this time using the Spaulding overlay on a USPSA target to approximate the CSAT target more closely. I paid more attention to stage procedure and used more of the available time to get better hits.

The white center on the brown target, plus the dot optic, definitely made it easier for me to focus on putting all my hits in the 6″x10″ box. That run was a 50/50 (250 points).


The 25 yard stage is good, with movement to cover and emphasis on getting a first shot hit, moving to cover from each side. This might be difficult for people shooting this drill at an indoor range using a single lane. If you eliminate the movement and cover requirement, dial the par time down to 4 seconds.

The 15 yard string also requires moving to cover, and 8 rounds in 12 seconds is really closer to one shot per second after you factor in the draw and movement to cover for a typical shooter. Those running this drill on a single lane at an indoor range should be able to sidestep, even without cover, to run this one with the 12 second par.

For the 10 yard string, a 10 second par to fire 4 shots seems slow, and off-pace from the one shot per second expectation at 15 yards. The 7 yard string has a 3.5 second par with no movement, so a 4 second draw time “par” and one shot per second should really lead to an 8 second par, not a 10 second par.

The 6 rounds in 9 seconds for one handed shooting is a reasonable par for a cop qual, in my opinion.

The 3.5 second draw time at 7 yards, though, should be 3.0 or even 2.5 seconds. Fast shooters working from open carry retention duty holsters are capable of 1.5 or faster draws, 50% of that is 3.0. It’s not clear why movement for the one shot draws at 7 is omitted when it’s included for all the other strings, all the way back to 25 yards.

Shutting off the dot at the 3 yard line is a reasonable requirement as passing this part of the qual requires using backup irons, using the shell of the dot sight, or simply good body index (back of slide aligned with center of target). The timing for this string is significantly out of sync with the 7 yard par times, though. Someone with a 3.5 second draw time at 7 yards isn’t going to be able to make 2 shots in 3 seconds at 3 yards. 2 shots in 3 sec is fine, but it points back at the need to make that 7 yards one shot draw par time faster so the standards for each string are roughly equal in difficulty.

Overall this is a decent police qual course, testing a variety of skills, including use of cover, limited movement, one handed shooting, true surprise slide lock reloads (not “programmed slide lock reloads” where the shooter knows it is going to happen on round X of the sequence), with reasonable balance in round count vs distance. 12 rounds (24%) at 3 yards, 18 rounds (36%) at 7 yards, 8 rounds (16%) at 10 yards, 8 rounds (16%) at 15 yards, and 4 rounds (8%) at 25 yards. The LAPD on-duty shooting incident data shown below (linked from a longer Lucky Gunner article on this topic you should read) uses different categories and has more longer distance shooting, but the NYPD data is biased toward closer distances. So there’s no universal distribution curve that fits every jurisdiction.

Go Shoot The Drill Yourself

Go shoot the drill yourself. A standard USPSA target with it’s rectangular A zone is the best simulation of a CSAT target, or print out the Dave Spaulding target I linked above and paste it any larger cardboard backer. Don’t have a shooting timer? Just run the drills and try to get all the hits, at any speed. Can’t draw from a holster at your range? Shoot the drills starting from a ready position, and if you are using a timer, take 1 second off the par time for each string where you replaced drawing with starting from ready.

Shooting the LAPD Combat Qualification

I recently read Claude Werner’s excellent book “Real Shootouts of the LAPD, Volume 1”, which is a collection and analysis of shooting incident reports released to the public by the Los Angeles Police Department. One section discusses OIS (Officer Involved Shootings) In and Around the Home, another section discusses animal shootings (in and around the home), and a section on Unintentional discharges is also included. For the Armed Citizen, these reports and the analyses provide valuable information about what really happens before, during, and after the gunfire. Claude also includes his own material on The Decision Process and Proxemics and Personal Protection, which are excellent explanations of critical concepts every armed citizen should understand.

It also includes the LAPD Use of Force policy, including warning shots, LAPD policy on when firearms can be drawn or exhibited, their public safety statement, and their firearm qualification courses.

You can learn more about the book (and purchase it) here:

The section on weapons qualification starts out with these requirements:

LAPD Officers are required to quality 3 times per year with their handgun using practice ammunition, and 1 more time each year using duty ammunition. For the annual duty ammo qualification, the officer shoots up the ammo that has been carried that year and replaces it with new duty ammunition.

That guideline is equally appropriate for the armed citizen. John Daub and I have written extensively on the idea of minimum competency, with discussion of several different standards for reality-based performance not linked to state carry permit requirements. Armed citizens tend to separate into these categories:

  • Competition shooters
  • Self defense training hobbyists
  • Recreational shooters
  • Gun owners

Competition shooters and self-defense training hobbyists shoot more than 3-4 times a year, and they will find this course of fire relatively easy. Recreational shooters are those that may go to the range frequently, but rarely measure their skill against any specific standard. The rest (“gun owners”) really aren’t “shooters” as much as they are people that carry guns around, more often unsecured in their car than on body, that aren’t motivated enough to hold themselves to any specific training schedule or standard beyond the one-and-done state carry permit process.

For those in the last two categories, this course of fire would be a decent place to start as a range drill to shoot for fun but also as a useful standard of performance.

Two Targets, Odd Loading

One thing that makes this course of fire unusual is that it uses two targets, instead of one. This allows for target transitions on both head and body areas to be incorporated into the qualification. Some indoor ranges may not allow this using full size targets, but half scale targets could be used at half the distance if needed. In his book Claude references the BT-55 target, available from Alco Targets, as the standard target used for the test.

I didn’t have any of those on hand, so I substituted the SQT-A1 target, which is similar in shape (particularly the shoulders) and scoring area sizes.

The course of fire also mandates oddly loaded magazines to force reloads. From the course description: For autoloaders, the loading sequence is 7, 5, and 7 rounds in the magazines. The 7 round magazine is in the weapon, the weapon is made ready for live fire then holstered. The 5 round magazine is in the primary pouch. The second 7 round magazine is in the secondary pouch.

I reloaded with a full (more than 10) magazine to finish out the course of fire, after the 19 rounds in the first 3 magazines were used.

Course of Fire

PHASE ONE: 7 yard line, 12 rounds in 25 seconds, 2 right, 2 left, left head, right head, reload and repeat
the sequence. Start with the pistol holstered.
PHASE TWO: 10 yard line, 2 rounds in 2 seconds, 3 times. 2 left, 2 right, 2 left. Start in a Low Ready position.
PHASE THREE: 12 yard line, 6 rounds in 8 seconds. 2 right, 2 left, 2 right. Start in a Low Ready position.
PHASE FOUR: 15 yard line, 1 round in 3 seconds, 3 times. 3 rounds left hand barricade on the left target,
3 rounds right hand barricade on the right target. Start with the sights aligned on target, trigger finger on
the trigger.

Video notes: the camera on my phone flipped the image. I’m not actually left handed. I’m shooting the drill using my Glock 48 w/ Holosun 507C sight, from a JM Custom Kydex holster carried on my right strong side hip.

So, as it turns out, I didn’t follow the instructions properly. According to Claude’s detailed course description, on that first string the reload was supposed to be a speed reload in between the two target sequences, and I ran the gun dry, did a slide lock reload and continued on, which is actually harder than the programmed “speed reload”.

I shot the course of fire as a cold drill and after realizing I had done it wrong, I decided to publish the video anyway, because the time difference between speed and slide lock reload didn’t matter relative to my performance on that string.


From Claude’s book:

The course consists of 30 rounds fired on two silhouette targets, 15 rounds fired on each target. Combat
scoring is used, i.e., 10 points for each round in the body and head, 5 points for each round in the arm(s).
Only two head shots are allowed on each target, additional head shots are 5 points each. The maximum
score on each target is 150 points or 300 total points. The minimum score required to qualify is 70% or
105 points on both targets. Ricochets and rounds entering the back of the target after it has turned will
not be scored.

In the video I claim 300/300 points, but in looking at the other target Claude referenced in his book, I think that the low head shot would have scored a 5, not a 10, and there are probably 3-4 hits in the torso that would have scored 9’s or maybe even an 8, so a fairer estimate of my score would likely be 290/300. Having the bullseye type visual reference scoring rings on Claude’s target would have likely made a difference in my shooting, as I had plenty of time for all the strings and could have used more of it to get better hits.

Buy Claude’s Book

If you want the full detailed course description, buy a copy of Claude’s book, order some of the correct targets, and give this course a fire a try in your next range session. Or just use the simple description and try it with USPSA or IDPA or FAST targets.

KR Training August-September 2023 Newsletter


We have finalized our schedule for the rest of 2023. All the classes we plan to offer through the end of 2023 are listed below. We are already working on winter/spring 2024 plans!


I am available for private weekday training. Doug Greig is also available for private weekday and some weekend sessions. Contact us for details.


Re-take any class you’ve taken before for half price! Contact me to get the alumni discount code. Firearms skills deteriorate without practice. Most ranges don’t allow drawing from a holster, shooting quickly, moving or shooting from cover. If you don’t practice the skills you learned in class, they won’t be there when you need them. Fall classes will have cooler weather – but they often sell out, so don’t wait until the last minute to register!

Upcoming Texas classes with space available:




Courses marked with *** are classes that count toward the Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin.
Prices and registration links are at

Click HERE to register for any class.


Click HERE to register for any class.

Defensive Shotgun 1 – Sept 17

This half day class, Sunday, Sept 17 teaches fundamentals of defensive shotgun, including shotgun patterning, ammunition selection, shooting positions, shooting from behind cover, shooting at multiple targets, use of the shotgun for home defense, shotgun malfunction drills and generally developing proficiency with the shotgun under stress. This is not a bird-hunting, clay shooting shotgun class. The focus is on home defense use of any pump or semiauto shotgun. Shotgun level 2 is coming up in October also.

Tactical Pistol / Beyond Basics – Sept 23

A special session of our Beyond Basics course taught by Eric Wise of Cornerstone Performance. Eric is also a firearms instructor for a major Texas city’s training academy, and a Grand Master level shooting competitor. Highly recommend for intermediate/advanced level shooters and instructors that want to shoot faster and more accurately. Content is similar to material taught by Gabe White, Scott Jedlinski, Ben Stoeger and other “high performance pistol” trainers.

Gunfighting in Crowds – Sept 24

Doug Greig, in association with Palisades Training Group, is offering a session of their Gunfighting in Crowds course Sept 24. Students will participate in exercises and drills that require them to quickly and accurately assess the immediate area around them and then move rapidly into a better position that mitigates the risk to others not only around the attacker but the area around and behind him or her (especially true when they are with family members or friends). Emphasis is placed upon situational awareness, site assessment, movement into a better position if necessary, short-range surgical shot placement, and even exploitation of attacker expectations and control of the vertical plane of shots fired when over-penetration represents a major threat to others in close proximity to the attacker. Also covered in this class are actions that may reduce the chance that the student is mistakenly engaged by other concealed carriers and responding law enforcement.

Challenge Coin Classes – September and October

Trying to complete your classes to earn our Defensive Pistol Skills Program Challenge Coin? All the required courses are being offered in September and October, along with classes that count as electives.


All the articles you missed if you don’t follow the KR Training Facebook page and Instagram feed.


In August, Midnight Express played a sold out show at the Grand Stafford Theatre in downtown Bryan, Texas. Our 9 piece rock band with horns will be headlining the Palace Theatre in Bryan on Friday, November 10th, the night before a Texas A&M home game. This is a video of us performing the Doobie Brothers’ “Long Train Runnin”. I play a synthesizer solo at the end of the song.


Keep up with the interesting articles, links, and stories we share in real time. Follow KR Training on Facebook, Instagram 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

Shooting the New Jersey carry permit qual course

In response to the Bruen decision, the state of New Jersey has revised its carry permit program, including the training and qualification requirements. The official document, titled “Use of Force Interim Training for Concealed Carry” includes an outline of the topics to be covered in classroom lecture, and Appendix B has the details of the shooting test.

One writer on a popular gun blog referred to this course of fire as having “John Wick” level standards, which is a cute, clickbaity phrase to use, but is completely inaccurate. The course of fire is “old cop” standards.

I’m going to set aside the philosophical issues as to whether there should be training or qualification standards at all, and just take a look at the course of fire New Jersey residents will have to pass to get a carry permit under the new regulations. I went out to my range and shot the entire course of fire using the Taurus G3 pistol (with iron sights) that I have been shooting for the past several months. I used a Comp-Tac Q series holster, worn in the appendix position, drawing from concealment, to replicate the gear that a moderately trained applicant might have.

The Q series holster was not optimized for appendix carry. It’s mainly designed for plain IWB, and when I moved it around front, the gun leaned out more than I would like (or would wear in public), which caused my cover garment to snag a few times (as shown in the videos). I did not try to shoot the test at “Grand Master”/Instagram showoff speed. The goal was to shoot at a speed that roughly used up 75% or more of the allowed time for each string.

The test was very obviously lifted from an old police agency qualification, as it assumes shooters will be working from an open carry, likely retention, holster, with easy access to spare magazines. Clearly it was not designed by anyone that was thinking about armed citizens carrying concealed.

The course of fire uses an FBI Q target (I used the old Q with the larger scoring area, not the QIT-99 that cuts off the lower abdominal area. The dimensions of both the old and new Q targets is shown here.

Phase 1: 25 yards

I used a barricade for the 25 yard shooting, which wasn’t specifically required for the 25 yard stages, but the instructions reference staying behind cover, as if it the police qual course this was adapted from required shooting from a barricade. (More likely, it required standing behind a 4×4 post like they do in PPC matches, which simulates, but isn’t really “cover”). References to a ‘secured, holstered’ position imply that shooters are using open carry duty holsters with retention. My interpretation is that ‘secured’ also means concealed.

The instructions include direction to de-cock between strings, which is only relevant for those shooting DA/SA style hammer fired pistols.

  • On command, from a secured holstered position, assume the strong-side kneeling or standing position, fire 4 rounds. (30 seconds)
  • Decock and remain behind cover with visual focus towards the threat area.
  • Reload if needed (revolvers will reload and index the cylinder)
  • On command assume a kneeling or standing position and fire 3 rounds. (25 seconds)
  • Decock and remain behind cover with visual focus towards the threat area. Reload if necessary
  • On command fire 3 rounds, standing or kneeling (25 seconds)
  • Reload if required and holster an uncocked weapon.
  • Reload loading devices.

Phase 2: 15 yards

For this section, the term “point shoulder position” was used, which used to refer extending the gun at arm’s length but not looking at the sights, back when Col. Applegate wrote about it in the 1940’s. I am assuming that what is intended is two handed aimed fire.

  • On command, from a secured holster position, draw and fire 3 rounds in 5 seconds from a point shoulder position.
  • Reholster an uncocked weapon.

This string requires faster shooting than the current FBI agent qual, which gives 6 seconds to draw and fire 3 rounds at 15 yards. In my opinion, the time allotted for this string is too short, relative to the difficulty of the other strings.

Phase 3 (15 yards)

15-Yard Line. Time: 25 seconds. 7 rounds.

  • On command, from a secured holster position, draw and fire 3 rounds from a point shoulder position.
  • Assume a strong-side kneeling position. Reload with 4 rounds, index if required, and fire 4 rounds from a strong-side kneeling position.
  • Reload if required and holster an uncocked weapon.
  • Reload loading devices.

Again using the FBI agent qualification course for comparison, 3 rounds, starting from the holster, should take 6 seconds, and 4 rounds from kneeling (at the 2 seconds per round pace), would take 8 seconds. That leaves 11 seconds to do a reload: an eternity for even the most unskilled semiauto shooter, but possibly difficult for someone trying to qualify using a 5 round snub revolver. (Back in the 1940’s, when FBI agents were reloading their wheelguns from loose rounds, a 20 second reload time was standard.)

The par time for this course was definitely influenced by the slower reloading time for modern revolvers, likely with speedloaders. Should a timed reload be part of an armed citizen qualification course? John Correia of Active Self Protection’s study of over 45,000 gunfights indicates that reloading during a fight is extremely rare, and very few other state carry permit tests include this skill.

My opinion is that this string could be split in the way that the current FBI qual is split, into two separately timed strings, one shot from the holster, and the other shot from the ready, with the kneeling requirement removed. Getting into and out of kneeling with gun in hand, or while drawing, is a more advanced skill – and many indoor ranges don’t allow this type of practice. Requiring the skill at all, and requiring it on the clock, could pose all kinds of difficulties for shooters with physical limitations and those with no experience practicing that skill. Untrained gun owners are likely to have finger on trigger and compromised muzzle direction, particularly if they struggle to get up and down.

Phase 4 (10 yards)

10-Yard Line. Ready Position.
Each drill, Time: 3 seconds. 2 rounds.
(Total 6 rounds).

  • On command, draw weapon and assume a ready position, i.e., muzzle depressed below eye level.
  • On command, bring weapon up to eye level and fire 2 rounds in 3 seconds. Repeat drill twice, firing a total of 6 rounds.
  • Reload if required and holster an uncocked weapon.
  • Reload loading devices.

I shoot this drill at the end of the second embedded video (above).

It requires a 1 sec to target from ready presentation, and 1 shot per second for each shot.

This is roughly in line with FBI agent qual standards. At 15 yards they require 3 rounds in 5 seconds, and at 7 yards it’s 5 rounds in 4 seconds, each starting from ready. Assuming a 1 second ready to target time, that’s 3 rounds in 4 seconds at 15 yards (1.33 per shot), and 5 rounds in 3 seconds at 7 yards (0.6 per shot), so requiring 1 second per shot at 10 yards is consistent with the standards used elsewhere in this course of fire.

Phase 5 (7 yards)

The third video (below) shows all the remaining strings.

7-Yard Line. Time: 4 seconds. 3 rounds.
Standing point shoulder position.

  • On command, from a secured holster position draw and fire 3 rounds in 4 seconds from a standing point shoulder position.
  • Reholster an uncocked weapon.

Three rounds in 4 seconds assumes a 2 second draw and 0.67 seconds per shot, or (more realistically), a 2.5 second draw and 0.5 hurried seconds per shot.

For a police officer with 40+ hours of training on the range working on their draw from an open carry retention holster, this string should not be difficult. For an armed citizen with no formal training in drawing from concealment, likely limited to practicing at indoor ranges that restrict firing to 1 shot per second or slower, this string will be difficult. Those new to gun carrying often start out with suboptimal holsters, cover garments, carry positions and poor (non existent) technique, leading to a variety of shooting errors and late or bad hits. Instructors teaching New Jersey permit applicants will likely have to spent a lot of time teaching all the components needed to perform well on this string.

Phase 6 (7 yards)

7-Yard Line. Time: 15 seconds. 6 rounds.
Standing point shoulder position. Mandatory reload/magazine change

  • On command, from a secured holster position, draw and fire 3 rounds from a standing point shoulder position.
  • Reload and fire 3 more rounds within the 15 second time period.
  • Reholster an uncocked weapon.

Assuming the first 3 rounds are fired in the first 4 seconds (same pace as the previous string), shooters will have 11 seconds to reload and fire 3 more rounds. What that really means is shooters will have 7-8 seconds to do the reload – certainly do-able by an untrained semiauto shooter, but perhaps a challenge for anyone using a revolver without speedloaders and lots of practice in that skill.

Again there’s a strong argument against the need to have reloads “on the clock” in any armed citizen qualification test. Doing the reload off the clock and resuming as a second string starting from the ready would be more appropriate for carry permit level shooters.

Phase 7 (7 yards)

7-Yard Line. Time: 4 seconds. 3 rounds.
Standing point shoulder position.

  • On command, from a secured holster position, draw and fire 3 rounds in 4 seconds from a standing point shoulder position.
  • Reload if required and holster an uncocked weapon.
  • Reload loading devices.

This just repeats Phase 5.

Phase 8 (5 yards)

5-Yard Line. One-handed – Strong hand.
Each drill, Time: 4 seconds. 2 rounds.
(Total 4 rounds).

  • On command, draw and fire 2 rounds using only the strong hand.
  • Reholster an uncocked weapon
  • Repeat once.
  • Reload if required and holster an uncocked weapon.

One handed drawing from open carry is not significantly more difficult than two handed drawing, but one handed drawing from concealment, particularly for those using closed front garments, is harder and slower. The typical carry permit level shooter will likely have never practiced that skill, and even with practice, is going to have a much slower draw. Having carry permit applicants, who won’t be carrying in open carry retention holsters, test the skill of one handed open carry drawing during the test is unnecessary and potentially dangerous, as a fouled, rushed draw could lead to negligent discharge and injury. If one handed, dominant hand shooting is to be tested (and analysis of actual incidents indicates that strong hand only shooting is a relevant skill a reasonably trained armed citizen should have), starting from the ready, allowing any drawing to be done off the clock using two hands, would be safer.

Phase 9 (5 yards)

5-Yard Line. One-handed – Support hand.
Each drill, Time: 3 seconds. 2 rounds. (Total 4 rounds).

  • On command, draw and transfer the weapon to the support hand. Assume a ready position.
  • On command fire 2 rounds using only the support hand. Return to ready (The strong arm should be limp along the body).
  • Repeat once.
  • Reload if required and holster an uncocked weapon

The “need” to test support hand (“weak hand”) only shooting is a holdover from law enforcement qualification courses. One handed support hand shooting, in actual incidents, appears to be even rarer than reloads. Testing this skill at all really should be considered an advanced skill and isn’t necessary for a state level carry permit qualification.

Phase 10 (1 yard line)

1-Yard Line (or as close to 1-yard line as safety dictates).
Weapon Retention Position. (Begin with the support hand across the chest with the hand grasping the collar of the shooter’s shirt.)
Each drill, Time: 2 seconds. 2 rounds. (Total 4 rounds).

  • On command, draw and fire 2 rounds in 2 seconds from the weapon retention position.
  • Reholster an uncocked weapon.
  • Repeat drill once, firing a total of 4 rounds.
  • Clear all weapons. Holster a safe, empty weapon.

If shooters are required to work from concealment, this string once again mandates a one handed draw, which adds many safety concerns. While learning how to shoot from retention is very relevant to armed citizen defensive pistol skills, in my opinion the risks of trying to test that skill, under tight time pressure, are high. Most ranges do not allow this type of practice, making it difficult for permit applicants to learn those skills, and unless New Jersey provides instructors training in how to teach those skills safely and properly, this string should be modified to take the draw off the clock, or just remove it entirely.

My target

100% hits, using the Taurus G3. Even if I replaced the older Q target with the QIT-99, I would still have 100% hits. 80% is required for passing, copying the standards for the FBI test, which appears to have been a big influence on the design of this course of fire. Most other courses of fire I’ve studied have used 70% as passing.

Is this Course of Fire Too Hard?

If you compare the relative difficulty of this shooting test to what is used in many states, yes. Very few states require drawing from a holster as part of the test, and many state level carry permit instructors, who have only trained to the NRA Basic Pistol or USCCA entry level standard, aren’t certified to teach that skill. It would take an instructor trained to law enforcement academy instructor level, or NRA CCW, NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home, Rangemaster instructor, or similar level, to have the certifications and experience necessary to even teach all the skills required to complete the test.

I’m a big advocate for higher voluntary standards. People serious about being well prepared to defend themselves should aspire to performance levels far beyond most states’ meager requirements. Teachers and church defenders should be much better at shooting at distances beyond 10 yards than a typical armed citizen, because their “typical” situation may require that skill. This course of fire may be a reasonable minimum for on duty law enforcement officers. It’s likely very similar to, or the same as, New Jersey state on duty police qualification standards. But it’s not a practical standard for the skills an armed citizen needs. Worse, the standards impose a burden on applicants to put in the effort necessary to attend the training and put in the practice necessary to meet them. This burden is highest on law abiding but low income citizens that may not have any of the resources needed (time, money, access to ranges & training).

I’m sure this course of fire met its political objective, which was to create the appearance that New Jersey was meeting the Bruen standard, but also make it as difficult as possible for anyone to meet the new state standards.

We’ve shared our thoughts on what a realistic set of standards for minimum competency are in the past, and in depth, in our book Strategies and Standards for Defensive Pistol. John Daub discusses that idea with Lee Weems in this podcast episode:

Go shoot the test

I encourage readers to go shoot the New Jersey qual course yourself and share your results with me. If you have friends, family, co-workers at the carry permit but not training-junkie/competition shooter/serious shooter level, run them through it next time you are at the range with them. It would be interesting to see how many could pass it.

Student Story #4

Fourth in a series of student-involved incident stories from his time in law enforcement in the 1970s.

The Burglary

6PM to 2AM is a great shift if you don’t mind handling trouble. A lot of bad things happen after 9PM when most people are at home watching the news. I worked 6-2 for several years at HPD and at the time of this incident, we lived in an apartment off Memorial Drive west of Kirkwood. I was headed home from work around 2:30AM in our family car. It was a 1976 Mazda station wagon.

As I approached the “T” intersection of Kirkwood and Memorial, I saw a vehicle backed through the glass storefront at the Kirkwood Pharmacy. There had been about 60 such burglaries in recent months. These burglary crews were in and out before we could respond to the alarm call. This crew was still in the pharmacy.

I shut off my headlights and entered the strip center parking lot from Kirkwood. As I closed on the pharmacy, they were coming out to their vehicle . . . . and they saw me.

Like a fool, I blocked them in with the driver’s side of my vehicle. There just was not enough time to do it any other way. Their engine was running of course and I exited my vehicle as they entered theirs – two in the front seat and one in the back right seat. So there I was standing between the two vehicles with their engine running and their driver entering the vehicle. My 1911 was trained on the driver. We had words.

The passengers were screaming for the driver to run me down. I was fixated on the driver advising against it and his gaze was fixed on my gun. The verbal exchange lasted perhaps 30 seconds when the driver looked at the passengers briefly, moved his head down a bit behind the steering wheel, and then reached for the column shift. When he put it in drive, I fired one round aimed at his forehead.

The driver lurched back into his seat and then forward again to the steering wheel. To my amazement, he put the car in park and slumped in the seat. I turned my gun on the other burglar in the front seat and said, “get out of the car”. He replied, “yes sir” and immediately did so followed by the burglar in the back seat. I used two sets of handcuffs to secure them around one of the pharmacy awning supports. As I was doing this, and again to my amazement, the driver exited the car holding his chest. He clearly was in no condition to fight or run and so I helped him to the ground.

He asked me if he was going to die and I replied, “I think so”. I was not trying to be cruel, but I just finished thinking I was going to die. I did not care about his feelings; I just spoke the blunt truth – I thought he was dying.

There were no cell phones back then and there was no one around to help. It was deserted. I did not want to leave these burglars to find a phone. I knew the night shift would eventually respond to the burglar alarm. Some time passed and no one arrived. I was concerned with the burglar’s wound. I saw headlights on Memorial drive, but it wasn’t a police car. The driver did not slow down despite my frantic attempt to wave him down. I needed to get his attention and did so by firing two rounds into the grass nearby. He slowed but kept going. I found out later that he did call this in to the dispatcher. Finally, help arrived. Again, supervisors, patrol units, and paramedics were all over the scene. The wounded burglar was transported. I went home and got some sleep. My supervisors said I could make my written statements the next day.

These burglars were teens. The driver was very lucky. My bullet was deflected by the windshield and struck the underside of the steering wheel. The bullet went down into his chest entering just to the left of his sternum and between two ribs. It did not exit and was stuck between two ribs in his back. It did not puncture his lung and pushed all of the arteries near his heart aside doing no real damage except trauma. The doctors were able to remove the bullet at his back with a minor incision requiring only a couple of stitches.

This crew of three was just one of several crews hitting pharmacies all over Houston. They were primarily students and former students of Memorial High School. They were spoiled rich kids selling the stolen drugs to their fellow students. I believe the detectives were able to arrest all 17 burglars in the gang.
A detective in the Homicide Division handling this incident told me that the mother of the boy I shot thought he bought his Porsche with the money he saved from his school lunch allowance.

The River Oaks Rotary Club rewarded one officer a month with a plaque and a free lunch. At this lunch, the owner of a River Oaks car dealership approached me with a “brother-in-law” deal on a car if I was interested. Coincidentally, I had priced a used VW at his dealership a week before at $350. This was to be our second car, but I could not quite pull the cash together. Acting on his offer, I went back to the dealership. The owner called a salesman up to his office overlooking the swank showroom and told the salesman to give me a “brother-inlaw” deal. That deal price was $750 for their previous price of $350. I left having confirmed the car salesman stereotype in spades.

I went to the examining trial for this incident at the JP court in Bellaire. The boy’s father was there with his corporate attorney. There is not much to an examining trial, but defense attorneys try to use them for “discovery”. This case was “cut & dried” and so I was off the stand in just a few minutes. My wife was with me that day in court along with my two young boys, 8 and 5. As I was walking my family back to the car, the father and his attorney stopped me on the sidewalk.

The attorney stated they were considering filing a lawsuit against me. I asked why. He said that he heard no testimony regarding a warning shot. I replied; “I did fire a warning shot – it hit him in the chest”.
They never sued.

Student Story #3

Another shooting

We stored gasoline in an elevated tank behind the Station and used gravity to fill our cars. The Chief was always looking for a way to save a dollar, and bulk gasoline delivery did save the City some money. The evening shift conveniently forgot to fill my car and I noticed the gauge around 2:00 AM.

The Station was just a half block south of Interstate 10. I was filling my car and watching the traffic on I-10. It was clear and warm – a typical summer night in Houston. I heard gunfire to the west followed by high ‘revving’ car engines coming my way. It takes a long time to fill a 20-gallon tank, and I was far from finished but decided to get back on the road quickly before the incident, (what ever it was), reached my location. Just then, the dispatcher called out a robbery-in-progress at the Safeway store at Echo Lane and I-10. No time to loose; I dropped the gas hose on the ground and jumped in the car. The gas cap was lost in the moment.

My police car was responsive and nimble. It was a real pleasure to drive. I always liked the big Chrysler products for speed and dependability, but this police package Nova was the most fun in a chase. By the time I made it out of the parking lot and over the short distance to the freeway service road, there they were. A passenger car and a pick-up truck were eastbound on the freeway at very high speed. I heard
more gunfire. As I got onto the freeway and topped Voss Road, I could see them topping Silber Road. I had some catching up to do.

The Nova ‘floated’ at 110, but I was gaining ground. A fellow officer was on the scene at Safeway and advised that three young males had robbed the store and the customers. One of the robbery victims had given chase in his pick-up truck. I was closing with this pick-up truck by the time we reached downtown Houston. As I passed the truck, the driver frantically pointed at the suspect’s car as if I did not know
what was going on. The truck was about 100-yards behind the suspect’s car, and I soon realized why.

As I closed with the suspect’s car, the man in the back seat leaned out the right window and shot at me. I could not hear the shot – my windows were up and the background noise was deafening. The muzzle flash of his pistol was clearly visible. It seemed so innocuous at the time, but I instinctively swerved to the left. I tried to tell the dispatcher that shots were fired, but I was out of radio range already. The man in the back seat went to the left window and tried it again. I decided to return fire.

It is not easy to roll down a window, un-holster a gun with the wrong hand, and maneuver back and forth across the freeway dodging bullets. Somehow it all worked out, but the 100 mph wind made it impossible to hold the gun steady. I wedged my 1911-A1 between the rear-view mirror and the windshield column. Aiming was done with the steering wheel. That worked great – my first shot went into the trunk of their car. It caused quite a commotion among the occupants.

There was no sign of surrender though. We exchanged a few more rounds before they slowed down to about 85 and moved toward an exit. I pulled my pistol inside thinking we were about to leave the freeway – I’d need both hands to drive on city streets. They took the exit ramp and I followed. At the last possible second, the driver cut back onto the freeway. He cut across the shoulder and some grass – it’s a wonder he didn’t loose control. My car was sprayed with gravel and dirt, but I managed to follow him back up on the freeway.

We went back up to 100+ speeds for a bit before he decided to slow down for the Wayside Drive exit. I wasn’t going to let him pull the same stunt again so as he took the exit, I jumped around to his left and pulled alongside. To this day I do not know how the passenger window in my police car was lowered. Perhaps an angel rolled it down but in any case, I found myself looking straight into the driver’s eyes as we took the exit side-by-side. I will never forget the look on the drivers face as I raised my pistol and aimed it at him. I pulled the trigger and his window exploded. He went down in the front seat, and his car lost control. We were only inches apart so I can only assume that same angel guided his car away from me.

The crash was spectacular. Hollywood could not re-create the scene at any price. The car spun wildly through a gas station missing the pumps somehow. Just south of the gas station there was a vacant lot grown over with tall weeds. There was a large pile of new utility poles on the edge of the lot. The suspect’s car hit the pile and actually went up to the top and rolled back down. The car stopped with the front end aimed about 30 degrees up. His headlights were lighting up some treetops and a cloud of dust. I was so close to all of this that his car actually hit my front end as he rolled back down the pile.

To my surprise, the driver was the first one out. He bailed out of that car and jumped about eight feet to the ground and never missed a step. He was gone. Just as I got out of my car, the right-front passenger emerged, jumped onto the hood, and fired at me as he rolled off the hood on the driver’s side. I returned the favor with one shot but he kept going. My buddy in the back seat got out on the right side and followed the other passenger. He also decided to take one last parting shot. I fired once at him and my pistol slide locked back. That was the eighth and last round in the magazine.

This suspect disappeared into the tall weeds just as the first two did so I assumed that I missed all of them. The robbery victim driving the pick-up truck pulled up behind me as I reloaded my pistol. I yelled at him to back away in case there was more shooting. I told him to call 911 and get help. No one knew where we were. Using my police car for cover, I just wanted to watch the vacant lot until back-up arrived. After a minute or so, the victim called out and said that he had no change for the pay phone. I backed up with my pistol trained on the lot and gave him a quarter. It was then that I noticed the bullet holes in the front of his truck.

HPD must have put out an assist-the-officer call because I heard sirens light-off in all directions. The first back-up unit that arrived was my old partner, James B—-. We knew it was highly unlikely any of the suspects stopped to engage us again, so we decided to clear the vacant lot so we could disregard other units and avoid the inevitable fleet accidents usually associated with an “assist”. In the middle of the vacant lot we found him – he was still in a running position. I don’t know which one it was, front seat or back seat, but he was dead. The adrenaline must have carried him that last 75 feet of his life.

The scene became typical; homicide detectives, the medical examiner, the DA’s office, reporters, my supervisors – all were present. No one really asked me much because the robbery victim had a lot to say, and the scene spoke for itself. I didn’t find out until the next day that they could not find the dead suspect’s gun. The tall weeds in the lot had been trampled down by an army of investigators and no one
had a metal detector.

The robbery victim’s actions in this were quite heroic and unorthodox. First, he chased the suspects out of the store. He rammed their car as they were making their get away. He chased them and took several hits in the front of his truck. Even though he was unarmed, he would not let them go. He was ready to back me up at the scene and thought nothing of the danger he was in. When this victim learned the nvestigators had not found the suspect’s gun, he was upset and feared I might be in trouble. He returned to the scene after daybreak and searched the lot himself. He found the gun. Someone had stepped on it and had pushed it down into the soft ground under the trampled weeds. He called the police from the scene and turned over the evidence.

I went on to receive an ‘Officer of the Year’ award from the 100 Club, but the real hero was this un-named, tenacious citizen who would not let this crime stand. I’m sorry that I don’t have his name, but I will never forget him.

Post Script:
It was easy to identify the suspects. The driver borrowed his mother’s car for this robbery. The last I heard, the two surviving suspects fled the country and were living in Jamaica. They were charged but have never been apprehended. Perhaps I will have to go to court and testify on this someday but if not, I sincerely hope these two men have changed and have become productive citizens wherever they are.