I spend about 2 weekends a month at KR Training and like to write up something about the experience. What I saw from students, lessons we can learn, maybe some things to share with those students towards furthering their study and improvement. Whatever ends up striking me as relevant from the class(s). But for whatever reason I can’t think of a good way to title the postings… it’s not really an after-action-report (AAR) tho I guess it is. Oh well, I’ll figure out a good title eventually. 🙂
This past Saturday was Basic Pistol 2 and Defensive Pistol Skills 1. Both classes sold out, weather was awesome, things were looking good. More than half the folks in BP2 were women, and many of them repeats. Looks like a lot of these ladies are going through the program together, which is awesome. I hope to see the same groups back for future classes like Defensive Pistol Skills 1 or Beyond the Basics: Pistol. What was very cool to me was seeing 20% of the DPS1 class was women. For whatever reason, I just don’t see many women taking higher levels of training, which is a shame. Our culture and society puts a lot of emphasis on woman empowerment, on women’s self-defense. Many women desire to have a handgun for personal defense, and they’ll come to get basic training, but that basic training is just that — basic. The realities of gunfighting, of actually using a gun to defend your life, I’m not sure why more women don’t pursue that level of training. So to slowly see more women doing so is wonderful to me. You ladies need to preach the word. 🙂 As for other demographics, men and women, young and old, various ethnic backgrounds, various social strata… folks, you just can’t pigeonhole what a “gun owner” is, no matter how much your prejudice wants to.
For the students of both BP2 and DPS1, I have the same bit of advice: practice putting the gun on target. We may have referred to it as the press-out, the present, presenting the gun, presentation, going from step 3 to step 4 of the draw, it’s known by numerous names. But it’s all the same. It’s going from that (high-compressed) ready position with the gun pointed at the target, finger off the trigger, your eyes looking at the target (that string connecting your eyeball to the target), then on the “go” you simultaneously press the gun out towards the target (and up into your eye-target line) and press the trigger in with the shot breaking when you reach extension. Eyes don’t break the eye-target line, but focus will shift from the target to the front sight as the front sight comes into view.
THAT skill is the one skill that students from both classes should focus on. Sure there were other things to focus as well, and I’ll talk about a few of those below, but if there was only one thing to practice, it would be this.
This skill is used in so many areas of pistol handling, it’s so vital to do and to get right — you use it more than you’re aware. As well, doing this will help with some of those other areas, like trigger control. Practice this skill in dry fire. When the gun goes *click* the front sight shouldn’t move — it shouldn’t dip down. If it dips, you’re smashing the dickens out of the trigger, don’t do that. Lighter press. Remember, when first working on this skill work to get it right, work to get it correct. Take your time, let it be slow. Speed will come.
Dry fire is your friend. It will help you more than blasting away at the range. Use dry fire to develop your skills. Use time at the range to confirm them.
As for some other things…
Defensive Pistol Skills is about that — skills needed to help you defend your life with a pistol. That implies that somehow your life is in the line, that you are in danger. You have to put your training in such perspective, that your life matters and you need to move — now! Things move fast, you must move faster. This isn’t a casual day at the range. Granted, DPS1 is the first exposure to a lot of people so I don’t expect you to walk in with that mentality, but I hope you walk out with that mentality and keep it when you practice these skills and when you come back for future classes like DPS2 and DPS3. You will fight like you train, so train like you’re fighting.
About speed. Don’t worry about it right now. Yes, we will put you under pressure to make a point, because within a 3 hour class we want you to get information and introduction to the skills — it’s up to you to go home and practice those things to retain and get better at them. But don’t try to go at those fast, pressured speeds in your practice. Slow down. Memorization, Precision, Smoothness. For instance, we teach that 4-step draw with each step being discrete. Then we have you go fast and those 4 steps suddenly become this smear from holster to extension… the steps disappeared. Don’t do that. Keep the draw with 4 discrete steps; they will eventually smooth into one motion, but all 4 steps are identifiable and there. So, work on things like the draw, keep all 4 steps in there, be correct, and speed will come.
Finally… hardware. Seeing a growing number of XD’s, especially the XD(M). There were 3 H&K’s in the DPS1 class, which was unusual. I know at least one of those H&K owners considered shopping for a new gun — that long double-action trigger is just way too much trouble to shoot well. Too many fiddly bits (if it’s got a decocker, just say no). If you find yourself at the gun range only wanting to shoot such guns after first manually cocking the hammer? Then you know it’s no fun to shoot it in DA mode, so why bother with the gun at all? We also had 2 students with Kahr’s, which I thought was awesome. First, they ran well. Second, they were the guns these people chose to carry, and they chose to learn with them. Too many people desire to have X gun for carry, but they grant all the issues about X gun and won’t use it in class instead opting for some big easier to shoot gun. Well folks, when the fur flies, it’s going to be pretty hard to perform… if X gun is so undesirable to use when there’s no pressure, how desirable will that gun be under pressure? If you’re going to fight with X, you better know how to fight with X. So train with it. These folks chose the Kahr for carry, and they chose to train with the gun they’ll fight with. Good for them.