Rangemaster Professional Pistolcraft Instructor Course May 2024

In late May 2024 I attended a 3 day Professional Pistolcraft Instructor course taught by Tom Givens of Rangemaster. This was Tom’s 4th level instructor course, intended for those that had passed his Master Instructor class in the past. After 50 years as a trainer, and a student of the history of handgun instruction, Tom has a lot of knowledge to pass down – thus his development of this 4th level class.

He provided each student copies of these 3 books. The “Complete Book of Shooting” is noteworthy because the entire pistol section was written by Jeff Cooper in 1965. It represents the first in depth discussion of what became known as the Modern Technique: gripping the pistol with two hands, using the sights with the pistol at the eye-target line. 5 years earlier, Cooper and everyone else in the pistol shooting community only thought in terms of one handed bullseye shooting at 25 and 50 yards, and what was essentially cowboy fast draw hip shooting even if it was done with more modern handguns.

Half the class was range work, with the other half dedicated to a variety of topics, mostly taught by Tom. The final block on day 3 was discussion of “Tactical Anatomy”, taught by two ER doctors and high level shooting instructors (Andy Anderson and Troy Miller). The focus of that material was on educating firearms trainers to really understand the size and placement of internal organs from all possible threat orientations. Most shooting drills are done using targets that have scoring zones based on the size and geometry of vital organs of a threat facing the shooter head on. That sometimes misleads shooters into thinking that accuracy within an 8″ circle (IDPA) or 6″x10″ box (USPSA) or worse, the scoring rings of an FBI Q target or B-27, is acceptable. In reality the vital zones of a target turned sideways, or moving, or both, may be a much smaller area.

Those are just a sample of the pics and drawings that were used in that block, which was material rarely covered in other courses, aside from the Tactical Anatomy classes offered by Dr. Williams and more recently by other trainers with medical backgrounds.

For those that want more details about the entire class, KR Training assistant instructor Uncle Zo did a long article about the course:

In this follow up article, Zo uses the formulas from our Strategies and Standards book to estimate the drill difficulty of the Professional Pistolcraft Instructor test.

While his analysis is correct for the formulas we presented in the book, my experience shooting the test was that it seemed more difficult than what the numbers indicated. Part of that was that we were drawing from concealment (not the typical USPSA gamer rig our numbers were based on), it was boiling hot on the range (sweaty clothes make drawing from concealment harder) and there was the added psychological pressure of being on the line with a lot of great shooters with Tom watching and scoring.

Professional Pistolcraft Instructor Qualification (original Rangemaster version)

Fired on RFTS-Q4, scored 2/1. RFTS-Q4 target

5 yards: Draw and fire 3 rounds with both hands, 3 rounds dominant hand only, and 3 rounds non-dominant hand only all in 9 seconds.

5 yards: repeat as above

5 yards: Draw and fire 3 rounds to the body and 1 to the head, all in 4 seconds, 4x

7 yards: start gun in hand, loaded with 4 rounds only. On signal, fire 4 rounds, reload, and fire 4 more rounds, all in 8 seconds.

15 yards: draw and fire 2 rounds in 5 seconds. From ready, 3 rounds in 5 seconds

25 yards: draw and fire 3 rounds in 8 seconds

50 rounds total, 100 points possible, 95+ to pass

I did have a bunch of great runs during class, managing to eke out the Top Gun award by a tiny margin, with 3 others tied for 2nd place 1 point behind me.

After reading Zo’s article I decided to take advantage of all the M/GM level shooters that come to my summer weekday USPSA matches at the A-Zone. I made a modified version of Tom’s test using USPSA targets (some with hard cover to simulate the higher scoring accuracy required for his test), eliminated the multiple strings to get the test down to 25 rounds, and ran it as a Comstock scored stage in the match, so shooters could go as fast as they wanted.


Virginia Count, 25 rounds, Hands at sides

T1 (5 yards), T2 (7 yds), T3 (10 yards), T4 (15 yards)

T1 has D zone as hard cover, T2, T3 have C/D zone as hard cover, T4 is full target

Shoot on T1 — 5 yards

STRING 1:  Draw and fire 3 rounds with both hands, then 3 rounds dominant hand only, transfer and fire 3 rounds non-dominant hand only.
Shoot on T2 – 7 yards

STRING 2:  Draw and fire 3 to the “body”, 1 to the “head”

Shoot on T3 – 10 yards

STRING 3: Draw and fire 3, mandatory reload, fire 3 more

Shoot on T4 – 15 yards

STRING 4: Draw and fire 3 body shots

STRING 5: Draw and fire 3 head shots

Here is video (shot the morning after the match) of me shooting the test using my USPSA Carry Optics setup. The gun is the same one I used for the Rangemaster class, but instead of drawing from concealment, I’m using the gear I used for the match: a outside waistband holster with no concealment. This was to get a better calibration of the par times. I’m not really shooting “Grand Master” speeds in the video, but those times are probably respectable low Master runs, as I was being careful to shoot as clean as I did during the class.

Relative Speed Evaluation

My video time for 3 with both hands, 3 with dominant hand and 3 with non dominant hand was 4.22 seconds, roughly 50% of Tom’s 9 second par time. Zo’s estimate using my formulas was 4.53 seconds.

For the 5 yards 3 body, 1 head string, my time was 2.13 and Tom’s par was 4 seconds. Zo’s estimate was 1.88 seconds.

For the 3rd string, which we shot at 10 yards vs. Tom’s version at 7, mainly to increase the accuracy requirement, my run was 5.11 seconds, and Tom’s par was 8 seconds. Zo’s estimate was 3.92 seconds.

For the 15 yard string, my time was 2.08 seconds, vs Tom’s part of 5 seconds, and Zo’s estimate of 1.9 seconds. The 3 rounds from ready at 15 yards from the original test was not included in the USPSA version, and to simulate the 25 yard body shots, I substituted 15 yard head shots to work within the limitations of the bay that stage was being run on.

My time for the 3 head shots was 4.05, Tom’s par was 8 seconds, and Zo’s estimate was 2.8 seconds. As several shooters at the match pointed out, the 15 yard head shots were actually harder (more accuracy required) than 25 yard body shots, particularly since we were using USPSA targets with the small A zone in the head.

Using Tom’s par times, the total par would be 34 seconds, and my total time was 17.59 seconds, or roughly 52%.

Here are the scores from the actual USPSA match


Most of the M/GM shooters ran total times between 19-21 seconds on match day, with 22-division GM Cory K running it in 12.07 with his pistol caliber carbine. Adding another 0.5 seconds for each draw, adjusting for concealment vs gamer rig moves those times to 21-23 seconds, 23 being 67% of Tom’s original 34 second par time. Just based on the way it felt to me shooting both the official version in class and the USPSA version during and after the match, a 65-70% difficulty rating for the Professional Pistolcraft Instructor course of fire seems more correct.

As the researchers always say, more data and investigation is needed to refine the formulas from the Strategies and Standards book to align them with real world performance.