Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – What we don’t need

I asked Tom Givens, of his 60 students that were involved in self-defense incidents, did any need to reload? Further clarifying, if so, did any reload as a part of the fight? Or was it administrative after the fight was over?

Tom’s response to this question:


None of ours had to reload and continue shooting.

I can think of four off the top of my head that went to slide lock, however, further shooting was not required at that point.


Think about reloads. If typical private citizen gunfights are 3-5 shots, that’s not even enough to warrant reloading a snub revolver. Of course, that’s average. With Tom’s students, I think the range was 1 to 11 shots fired, but again, no reloads (tho apparently some came close). So do we need reloading as a minimal skill? It would seem not.

For that matter, how about malfunction clearing, be it simple failure to eject, stovepipe, double-feed, whatever type. Do malfunctions occur enough that we need to consider them a minimal skill? Again, data would point towards no. This isn’t to say it’s not useful and good to know, but remember we’re looking at minimal competency.

So if you start to look at tests like the FBI Qualification or Rangemaster Level 5, are these reasonable “minimal” tests? Nope. I would say there are somewhere above the minimum. They cover shots out to 25 yards, which doesn’t fit the bill of a typical gunfight. They cover reloads. They cover malfunctions. They also cover things like changing positions (e.g. going to kneeling). Again, all good skills to have, but beyond minimum.

Look at the FASTestthe Farnam DrillIDPA ClassifierGunsite StandardHackathorn Standards, the list goes on. At this point, what new skills or techniques are being added? Shooting from kneeling, from prone, around barriers, turn and shoot, multiple targets, transition to a backup gun, disability (e.g. loss of one hand so must do everything with the “other” hand, including reloads), using a light (weapon-mounted or held in the other hand), and the list goes on. Are these skills that are involved in the typical gunfight? Well, maybe one here or there but the exception does not prove the rule. All in all, these sorts of things just aren’t being done in the typical incident. Thus, it’s hard to argue they are part of “minimum competency”.

So have I been able to define “minimum competency” required for defensive handgun use?

(This post is part of a multi-part series. For now, you can find other published parts of the series by looking at the “minimum competency” tag or category).

One thought on “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – What we don’t need

  1. Pingback: Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol | Stuff From Hsoi

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