Rangemaster Master Instructor Course AAR

In late May 2020, Karl Rehn, Dave Reichek, and Tracy Thronburg of KR Training attended the Rangemaster Master Instructor certification course, held at the Boondocks Firearms Training Academy facility in Clinton, MS.

John Daub and Jeff Edwards had attended a previous session of this relatively new course. John’s AAR is here. In order to attend this course, trainees had to have completed 40 hours of instructor training from Tom Givens: both the Instructor and Advanced Instructor courses in the Rangemaster program. With each level of instructor course, the shooting standards increase in difficulty, and the complexity of the topics covered increases as well. Those attending any level of Rangemaster instructor course are not guaranteed to pass. One student attending the Master instructor course had failed the previous session, and passed on his second time through the course, after making major changes in gear and techniques (and practicing a lot).

With no classes running during lockdown, Dave, Tracy and I practiced several days a week, working on the qualification courses listed in John’s AAR, particularly the Rangemaster Bullseye course of fire. Right before the class, Rangemaster put out their June newsletter. The drill of the month was the Rangemaster Advanced Bullseye course, which cut the time for the 25 yard shots in half, and added strong hand and weak hand strings. We practiced that a few times in our last sessions before heading to Mississippi.

The gear required for the course included: daily carry gun (semiauto), mags, mag pouches, holster. Mirror image holster for that gun (left hip). Medium sized double action revolver, with holster and at least one speedloader and speed strip. Snub revolver with holster and speedloader and speed strip.

Gear for revolver day

The gear I used for class:

  • Glock 48 w/ Holosun 507C
  • Shield Arms 15 round G48 magazines
  • JM Custom Kydex AIWB holster
  • Comp-Tac mag pouches
  • Uncle Mike’s rigid plastic left handed Glock holster
  • S&W K-38 Combat Masterpiece revolver (made in 1953, originally purchased to use in teaching the Historical Handgun course)
  • Bill Jordan style 1970’s police duty holster
  • 1970’s vintage police duty speedloader carriers w/ flaps
  • Tom loaned me a G.D. Myers handtooled Tom Threepersons style holster to use with my K-38, instead of the Jordan duty holster
  • Colt Agent snub .38 (a gun I had won in a drawing at a Rangemaster Tactical Conference years ago – a gun from Tom’s personal collection that he said had been tuned up with action work and custom grips)
  • BobMac holster for the Colt Agent (also won in the prize drawing)
  • 5StarFirearms speed loaders for both the Colt Agent and K-38
  • Tuff Products 6 round speed strips
  • Federal American Eagle 130 gr JRN .38 special ammo (for tests shot for score)
  • Armscor 130 gr JRN .38 special ammo (for drills)
  • Federal American Eagle 124 gr JRN 9mm ammo (for drills)
  • Atlanta Arms Elite 124 gr JHP 9mm ammo (for tests shot for score)

Why two different kinds of ammo? Because for the tests to be shot for score, I wanted to do as well as I possibly could, and accuracy was important, particularly on the bullseye courses. The difference between ammo grouping 4″ at 25 yards and ammo grouping 2″ could mean as much as 5-10 points out of 300 on the bullseye course, as I learned during our practice sessions.

I decided to run a red dot from appendix carry for this class, both to gain more experience running a slide mounted red dot and with appendix carry. And, to be honest, to pick up the small increases in draw time and accuracy appendix carry and the red dot would provide. Sean Hoffman and I are headed to Gunsite in a few weeks to attend the SIG Red Dot Instructor course, and I’ll be using the same setup for that class.

Because we spent so much time running the qual courses we expected to be shooting for score, I have a very good baseline of performance using appendix carry and the red dot. That means I could re-run those courses using strong side carry and iron sights to measure performance there, and assess how much I really gained from those gear choices.

The Boondocks facility was excellent. Multiple ranges, including a big square range with a metal range cover constructed without any center posts – something I would love to have at the A Zone. We were told that the range cover on that range cost $80K to construct, which is sadly far outside my annual (or 10-year) range improvement budget. The bay also had two giant fans mounted to the cover supports, and LED lights.

Range cover on the area we used for class

Day 1

Tom started class with a lecture on the history of handgun training, going through a dozen or more influential figures and identifying their contributions. (I’m still working on my book on this topic, and Tom’s talk reminded me of several people and books that I need to dig further into.) The picture shows the Colt’s 1920 Police Revolver qual course designed by Fitzgerald, using the B-21 target (these are still available and in use by some agencies today)

1920’s Colt Revolver qual course
B-21 with X ring

Shooting this qual course with my K-38 (and blogging about it) is on my June to-do list.

The afternoon was spent shooting a variety of courses, including the Advanced Bullseye course, and the Rangemaster Master Instructor qualification course – all shot using our semiauto guns from our normal carry gear (from concealment, except for a few LEOs that were wearing duty gear and retention holsters.

Day 2

The second day was all about revolvers. Some lecture material, then back to the range for a long day. We shot the medium sized revolvers first, working reloads using both speed strips and speedloaders, right handed and left handed (shooting and reloads), and finished up the revolver work shooting snub revolvers. The Rangemaster Revolver qualification course was shot for score.

Colt Agent in BobMac holster

The last part of day 2 was spent doing everything mirror image – draws, reloads, malfunctions, etc. two handed left hand dominant. Several years ago I took the entire Kathy Jackson “Cornered Cat” instructor class mirror image, and Tracy Thronburg had attended multiple Massad Ayoob Group classes where mirror image work was required.

Tracy is happy about her revolver qualification

Day 3

The morning of day 3 included shooting the Rangemaster Master Instructor qualification course of fire for score twice (best score out of two counted), and a new Skills Assessment course of fire, shot on a new cardboard target from ShootSteel.com, turned around backward so no scoring rings were visible. The intent was to assess how well you could figure out where vital organs were without any guidance other than the outline of the target itself.

New target

Tom explained that he liked this particular target because it had a neck (USPSA and IDPA targets do not), and ears on the head which help with understanding where to aim with no other guidance. It uses scoring areas very similar in size and shape to our own KRT-2 target. I liked these so much I ordered 300 of them for use in classes this fall and beyond.

ShootSteel.com target compared to IDPA target
ShootSteel.com target compared to KRT-2

We also shot Tom’s Casino Drill in several different variations: magazines loaded to different capacities (not the normal 7-7-7) and shooting the shapes in reverse order (6-5-4-3-2-1) instead of the normal 1-2-3-4-5-6.

Tom explains the Casino drill

Several courses of fire were not part of the pass/fail score for the class, but were separate challenge coin events. The top shooter on the Casino in this class ran it in the mid 11’s with no misses. (The par time for the drill is 21 seconds.)

Half of the 3rd day was spent having each instructor-student in class present and run a relay of shooters through a drill of their own design or selection. Each student in class got a copy of every other student’s drill, so we came home with a pack of 27 drills from our classmates. Some people used well known drills, others invented their own. The limit was 5-15 rounds, no movement, one target stand (could have multiple shapes on the target). Most in class were brief and chose drills that didn’t take too long to run. A few chose drills that were overly complex and slow to run (one shooter at a time or too many administrative steps to set up malfunctions or specially loaded magazines). Day 3 was particularly hot and by 4 pm, the “4 o clock stupids” as Kathy Jackson used to call them, were setting in.

In the course intro and in other materials Tom had mentioned that vehicle tactics and low light skills might be covered. Those topics did not end up being part of the class, so there’s leftover material for a future instructor reunion or instructor refresher course. While he didn’t discuss it specifically, something I’ve learned in nearly 30 years of teaching is that it’s always good to split the course content into the “must cover” and “extra” material, because weather, facilities and student behavior sometimes allow you to include lots of bonus content, and sometimes you have to run long to get through the “must cover” core material.

There was no written test for the Master Instructor course (there is for the 1st level instructor class), so the final classroom wrap up was mostly giving Tom feedback about the topics and amount of time spent on them. The consensus was that aside from perhaps putting more restrictions on the complexity and running of the instructor-student drills, the rest of the course was the right blend of topics and activities.

Tracy graduates
Dave graduates
Karl graduates

Tom sent these comments to the graduates:

I wanted to thank you again for attending our course this past weekend and for performing so well. In terms of student ability, this was the best Master class we have done. We had 27 students, from 14 different states. Thirteen candidates used an optic, while fourteen used iron sights. There were 18 Glocks, 4 M&P’s and a few other handguns (SIG 320, STI Trojan 1911, and CZ) used. Of the top three scoring students, two used optics and one had iron sights. Class averages: Master Instructor Qualification Course 96.7% Skill Assessment Course 98% Revolver Qualification Course 96.1%

I’m very proud of my team. Other than Rangemaster (aka “the mother ship”), KR Training now has more Rangemaster Master level instructors than any other school in the US: 5 out of the 65 certified so far (4 staff, one long time student), with 1-2 more planning on attending the next course in 2021.