I just got back from attending and speaking at the Texas Handgun Association‘s 2022 conference, held at the YO Ranch hotel in Kerrville, Texas May 13-15.
The Texas Handgun Association was originally the Texas Concealed Handgun Instructor Association, and I was one of the organization officers (vice president) in 1997-1998. Growth of my business caused me to step away from that organization (as well as shooting competition and being a match director for local USPSA and Steel Challenge matches). Since 1997, the organization expanded its focus to all carry permit holders, and more recently expanded its mission to represent and serve all handgun owners.
The full conference was a 3 day event that included range training, hands on medical training, active shooter training, instructor-focused sessions on marketing and social media, advice and information from criminal defense attorneys that have worked Texas deadly force cases, and my own presentations on realistic standards and the history of handgun training. I was able to attend several sessions on Saturday and the panel discussion Sunday morning.
On Saturday afternoon I talked about realistic standards for handgun training, which was of interest to both instructors and armed Texans at the meeting. In the new permitless carry era, many Texans that choose to carry may not choose to take the state carry permit course or shoot the classic LTC test. That leaves them with no answer to the question: how good should I aspire to be with my pistol to be well prepared for a defensive shooting incident?
Using material excerpted from John Daub’s recent “Minimum Competency” writing and his presentation at the 2022 Rangemaster Tactical Conference, I discussed the failings of the Texas carry permit test (target selection, time limits, lack of requirement to draw from a holster) and referenced the standards used by Tom Givens in his program, which has produced 67+ successful defensive gun uses with a 96% hit ratio when shots were fired.
I concluded my one hour presentation with three recommendations for higher standards:
- Draw from concealment and hit the 5.5″ center of an NRA B-8 in two seconds or less (3-7 yards)
99% of carry permit holders get no training in proper draw technique and never practice this skill under time pressure, yet it’s one of the most critical defensive skills. I explained during the talk that even though many ranges do not allow live fire draw practice, that dry fire practice was free, and simple, free shooting timer phone apps can be used to provide the time pressure. Even for those uninterested/unwilling to attend training beyond the state minimum, there are dozens (hundreds?) of videos from qualified trainers on youTube teaching draw technique. There are no barriers other than low motivation preventing any handgun owner from developing this essential skill. Start at 3 yards and increase the target distance until a 2 second first shot at 7 yards can be accomplished 10 times out of 10 tries.
- Gila Hayes’ 5x5x5 drill. Five shots, five seconds, 5 inches, five yards.
Again the B-8 target can be used, with its 5.5″ center, and the difficulty of the drill can be adjusted for shooter skill. Practice the drill starting aimed at the target, then from ready, then from a partial draw (firing hand gripping gun, support hand lifting garment or high on chest), then from a true hands at sides concealment draw. With each change in start position the available time to make the shots decreases.
- The no-reload F.A.S.T. Two shots to the 3×5″ area, 4 shots to the 8″ circle, using the F.A.S.T. target at 3-7 yards. Can be started from ready, partial draw or full concealment draw. Eliminating the reload makes the drill simpler and puts the focus on learning two shooting speeds: carefully (two head shots) and quickly (4 body shots). Many permit holders and armed citizens don’t carry a spare magazine, and both John Correia’s and Tom Givens’ data set indicate that the need to reload an empty gun during defensive incidents is extremely rare (odds of less than 0.1%). Eliminating the reload removes the requirement to have two magazines, to have a magazine carrier on the belt, to have a magazine loaded to a specific capacity (one round) for each rep of the drill, to drop magazines on the ground (many gun owners with no experience in defensive firearms training are reluctant to do this, particularly at ranges with hard concrete floors), and no need bend over every 6 rounds to pick up a dropped magazine.
Dry Fire Gear
I discussed the importance of frequent dry practice, and dispelled the gun shop myth that dry firing centerfire pistols will damage them. Often gun owners will make their dry fire practice unnecessarily complex by trying to use dummy rounds or snap caps, which have to be hand cycled for every shot. I explained about modern dry fire gadgets such as the DryFireMag, SIRT pistol and Coolfire Trainer, each that allow dryfire practice for multiple trigger presses without developing the training scar of racking the slide between each dry shot.
History of Handgun Training
My Sunday morning talk was a 90 minute version of the 4 hour lecture presented in the Historical Handgun one day course. I started with events in 1880’s and progressed decade by decade, identifying important events and individuals that produced changes in handgun training and technique.
Joining Texas Handgun Association
I recommend a membership in THA to any Texas handgunner, carry permit, instructor, or not. At $30/year it’s a great value. They put out a weekly email newsletter with links to the best articles from blogs and other sources each week. They plan to expand their efforts in 2023 to offer some regional meetings and will offer the multi day conference again in May 2023. I’ve been invited to present again next year.