Combative Pistol 2 – Practice

I spent October 23-24, 2010 with Tom Givens of Rangemaster taking his Combative Pistol 2 course, hosted at KR Training. While my general AAR is here, there were some things that came up in class that I wanted to speak about in greater detail. What follows is inspired by something Tom said or we did in class, but is ultimately my take on things and how thoughts gelled in my head. I would encourage you to train with Tom Givens, if you ever have the chance. Reading my blather is no substitute.

Ballistic Masturbation

That’s what a lot of people do, and call it “practice”. You’ve seen it, and you’ve probably done it too. You go to the range, throw some lead downrange with no particular goal or purpose. You might feel good afterwards, but you’ve accomplished nothing.

When you go to the range, you need to practice with a goal and purpose. One drill we did in the CP2 weekend involved a target with 3 sections: 8″ circle, 6″ circle, business-card-sized rectangle. The intent of the drill? To teach cadence. When the target is smaller you have to shoot slower, but cadence should still be good. This target taught us transitions and changing up cadence. For instance, start on the 8″ circle and fire 2 shots, move to the rectangle and fire 2 shots, move to the 6″ circle and fire 2 shots. Those first two shots should be fast, the second two slow, and the third two in between.

The final drill of the class involved 9 rounds. Actually 8 live rounds and 1 dummy. It had a par time of 15 seconds. It’s a fairly simple drill:

  • Setup: Take 5 live rounds and 1 dummy and put them into a magazine, with the dummy mixed in somewhere (not the top round, not the bottom round). Have one reload on your belt, at least 3 rounds in it. Target is whatever you want, but we used a typical “man-like silhouette” target (you could use something like an IPSC or IDPA target) and I believe we were at 7 or 10 yards… I honestly can’t recall right now.
  • Draw and shoot the target. Eventually you’ll hit the dummy, so fix the malfunction and resume shooting. Once you hit slide-lock, reload, shoot 3 more.

That’s all there is to it. It’s a very simple drill. Once you can clean it consistently in 15 seconds (or if you establish your own par average), then try to do it faster. The first time I ran the drill I had one shot just outside the target zone (went too fast) and had to run it a second time. On that second time I did it in 10.7 seconds (Givens did it in about 8.5). So I need to get it down to a consistent 10.0, then 9.5, and so on. The thing is, to accomplish that drill correctly requires a great many number of things, and was the culmination of all we learned that weekend:

  • Draw
  • Present
  • Grip
  • Trigger
  • Sights
  • Movement
  • Malfunction clearing
  • Reloading
  • Not blowing the first shot (because you have 3 first shots in this drill)
  • Accuracy
  • Speed

So much, packed into one little drill. Really only 8 rounds. Take a box of 50, you can practice this drill 6 times, and it’ll probably take you 5 minutes to run it those 6 times including setup time. So in 5 minutes you’ll get more done than going to the range for an hour and casually throwing lead downrange. Which is more worth your time?

When something unexpected occurs during practice, roll with it. A great example was in the CP2 class, Tom was demonstrating a weak-hand-only shooting drill. He didn’t know how many rounds were in his gun so he got one shot off, slide locked back, and he immediately performed a one-handed weak-hand reload and got back into action. That the demo didn’t go off as planned was fine, because it presented an opportunity to demonstrate an important mental skill: being aware of what’s going on and immediately addressing it.

Do you have magazines that hold a lot of ammo? Instead of loading your mags all the way full, load them somewhere less than full and to random amounts. You do that, you’ll get a lot more practice on your reloads.

Do you have something you hate? Something you suck at (e.g. weak-hand-only shooting)? Spend an entire session working on it. So what if the guy in the stall next to you looks at your target and thinks you suck. What does his opinion matter? Work on what you hate until you love it… that when other people would groan about shooting WHO, you grin and revel in it.

When you go to the range to practice, have a goal in mind. Have a purpose. Have skills and drills to work on. Don’t just waste time and money throwing lead downrange. Work with a purpose, always improve.

7 thoughts on “Combative Pistol 2 – Practice

  1. Practice what you hate and really suck at!

    misbeHaven had issues with off hand shooting so she practiced the heck out of it. Now she shoots one handed better with her off hand than she does with her strong hand.

  2. What do you use to simulate a dud round?

    Why would you shoot all the way to slide lock? Stop one short then swap mags and save yourself the step of releasing the slide. Or is that just a practice thing?

    • To simulate a dud round? Use a dummy round. Snap cap, etc.

      Those are some of the better ones.

      Why shoot to slide lock? To practice the emergency reload (which is that you’ve run the gun dry, now you need a new mag). Because while you might be aware of how many shots you’ve fired when you’re on the range, it’s unlikely you’ll remember it when you’re in a gunfight. So, to be able to practice that skill is important.

      Givens tends to promote two styles of reloads: 1. emergency reload, 2. speed reload. Emergency is, again, that the gun has run dry, slide is locked back (hopefully, tho sometimes it won’t like if you were riding the slide lock), you need to get the gun running again. 2. gun isn’t dry so you drop the mag and immediately insert another… don’t drop the mag until you’ve got the reload in your hand and up to the gun, then drop the gun’s mag on the ground and slam home another… gun should be out of commision a second or so… so what if the half-full mag hit the ground… in a fight it’s not important, you can pick it up AFTER the gun is full and ready to go again.

      • I’ll further qualify that to say, Givens is teaching from a context of civilian self-defense. Those styles of reloads may not be appropriate for all contexts, but they are for that context.

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