Defensive Pistol Skills 1 @ KR Training is about the most difficult and intensive course. Why? Because it represents a big paradigm shift.
Most people come to class with an understanding of how to stand on a square range, in a lane, in a stall, and punch holes in paper at a leisurely pace. The vast majority of students also come with a TX CHL, but the shooting test there isn’t much more than the same “plinking” (more or less). DPS1 introduces concepts like drawing from a holster, from concealment, moving, and having to shoot fast — and accurately — under pressure. It’s a big shift, a lot of information, and an eye opener to folks.
That said, this past sold-out class was a pretty good one. A lot of eager students. Again, a lot of couples in this class too, both husband-wife and father-son types of things. Very good stuff.
Instead of talking about the class, I want to talk TO the class. That is, if you were in this class, here’s some things I want you to take home in addition to whatever you personally took from the class.
Yes, ultimately it’s the person operating the gun and not the gun, but the right gun and accessory gear makes a big difference. If nothing else, the wrong gear is certainly going to hinder you.
Most students had good holsters, but y’all could use some improvement on belts. Gun belts are wider, thicker, more sturdy. Remember what we said about getting the initial grip on the gun in the drawstroke? A good belt is going to support you against that initial grip. As well, all the weight on your belt from the gun itself to the spare mag pouches on the opposite side? that belt is going to support and distribute that weight better. There are lots of good belt makers out there. I’ve got some leather belts from TheBeltMan, but these days I’ve been wearing a “The Wilderness Original Instructor Belt“. While I really don’t find nylon and velcro all that fashionable, I cannot deny the practicality of the belt, especially since I can get precisely the fit and tightness I need since it’s “infinitely adjustable” vs. 1″ spaced holes.
And guns? Your small guns suck. Sorry to be blunt. Small guns have their place, but most people don’t need small guns. You think you need a small gun for concealed carry — I sure did (Karl cured me of that). But most people do not need a small gun. And even people that might have gun fit issues can likely still get a gun that’s larger than they think. You’ll be able to shoot it better, manipulate it better, and so on.
We had numerous people shooting 1911-style guns. It was complicated. Lots of dohickies to work. The smaller 1911’s were tough to get your hands on to manipulate. Everyone had trouble locking the slide open because they just couldn’t reach the slide stop lever (gotta flip/twist the gun in your hand). All sorts of issues. Switched folks to one of the various polymer-framed guns (Glock, XD, M&P) and all their problems went away. Simple point-and-click interface. Better fit. Larger size. All good things.
Don’t think the gun will make you an expert shooter, but do realize the wrong gear will make you a poorer shooter. Don’t be married to your gear. This is an excuse to go shopping. This is an excuse to buy another gun. Why are you complaining? 😉
In a fight, yes speed matters, but accuracy matters more.
Yes, we worked to make the point that in the 0-5 yard range you don’t need a perfect sight picture, but you at least need to get the front sight in the target area. You cannot blaze away. You cannot shoot faster than you can see, nor faster than you can get acceptable hits.
You must get acceptable hits.
You cannot get unacceptable hits.
Read this. Yes… go read it now. Burn the phrase “unacceptable hits” into your mind. Work to only get acceptable hits.
How to do that?
How to get acceptable hits?
Well, while everyone passed the “3 Seconds or Less” test, it was passing for DPS1. Just about everyone in class will need more work to pass the same test at the DPS3 level (tighter scoring area, higher minimum score). The biggest thing is getting those acceptable hits. Just about everyone can get the speed, but what you need is the accuracy.
Regarding speed, you don’t need to go any faster. You need to use your time more efficiently.
When you hear the timer’s start beep, MOVE! Move quickly and get the gun out of the holster quickly. This is not time to mosey. If you have a 3 second par time and use 2.5 of it to get out of the holster, you don’t have much time left to shoot. What also happens is you mentally realize you’ve wasted all your time, so you then rush the shot and everything goes to shit and you blow the shot. Instead, get the gun out of the holster quickly. If you move and get things out in say 1.5 seconds, now you have 1.5 seconds to make the shot — which is more than enough time, and you will know it, and you won’t rush, and you can make the shot. Clear leather/kydex quickly.
But once you get the gun quickly out of the holster, you must change gears and slow down. Throwing the gun out there isn’t going to help you. Your eyes need to find that front sight. This is why the 4-count drawstroke needs to move in an L-shape, up the body, out from the body; not bowling, not fishing. While yes, to go from point A at your hip to point C at extension is shorter distance, it’s visually slower since your eye still needs to find the front sight. If instead you pass through point B at your chin/neck/upper-chest, that whole press-out from B to C lets your eyes have time to find the front sight. And as soon as they pick it up and have enough sight picture, you can fire (even if not at full arm extension). So there’s much speed gained here not from moving fast, but from moving efficiently.
This efficiency comes because things are happening in parallel instead of serially. Another example of that is pressing the trigger in as you press the gun out. For the sake of discussion, if it takes you 1 second to press the gun out and 1 second to press the trigger in, do this serially and you’ve taken 2 seconds to make the shot. If instead you do this in parallel (simultaneously) it’s now taken you 1 second to make the shot — and you didn’t move any faster. In fact, you could actually move a hair slower and still make the shot in less overall time!
Remember what I said above about how DPS1 is a big paradigm shift? This effort to do things simultaneously is probably the biggest and most difficult paradigm shift for people to make. But work on this. Going faster doesn’t necessarily mean going faster.
To get this way, you don’t have to throw lead. You can and should dry practice.
Use a timer.
Work on the skills you need to improve. Everything we did in class? Do it dry. The drills, the strings, the skills, just work on them dry.
With a timer.
And be patient. Improvement will come with time and practice.
Start eating better and hydrating yourself a few days before class. It takes time to build things up in your system. You want to do well and stay focused in class, and with the Texas summer setting in and temps getting up near 100 degrees now, you need to be prepared and take care of yourself.