My video series – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – is now available on YouTube.
I learned the value of cold drills from Rangemaster’s Tom Givens: when the flag flies, you’ll be cold – what can you do then? Understanding one’s cold performance has merit towards knowing and application of your real-world skill.
It’s Cold Drill Time Again aims to demonstrate the value of cold drills, and provide ideas on cold drills one can do.
Season 1 is about starting. It’s about me building the habit to shoot cold drills – and video and post them – as a regular thing. It is as much about the performance work as it is the video production: going from Instagram stories with no idea what I was doing to do, no preproduction, to IGTV with some idea of a script and a smidge of editing. It was a good place to start, and while I love Instagram, YouTube is the place to be. I am bringing Season 1 of It’s Cold Drill Time Again to YouTube.
To celebrate the YouTube debut, here are the first 5 episodes of It’s Cold Drill Time Again (which I guess I now refer to as Season 1).
Yes, I’m a fan of the hottest band in the world, KISS!
One day at the range as I was motivating myself to shoot a cold drill I said in my head… “Welp… it’s cold drill time… again.” Instantly the song “Cold Gin” by KISS popped into my head.
It’s cold gin time again
You know it’ll always win!
Cold gin time again
You know it’s the only thing that keeps us together.
Hear in your head, Gene Simmons growling that out.
Yesterday was a Defensive Pistol Skills 2 day at KR Training. I was assisting Karl with class. After class, a few students reshot the Three Seconds or Less test, and I joined them on the line.
I shot with the Sig P365XL Holosun from my Enigma/JMCK. I finally picked up a Sport Belt (where have you been all my life you sweet thing!). I also chose to rotate my carry ammo, so throughout the day I shot up my Gold Dot 124 grain +P.
First thing I noticed was I was going back into the holster by the time students were just breaking their first shot. Getting out of the holster quickly has merit.
Second, I way failed the test.
Where was the fucking dot?
That’s all that kept going through my head.
Where’s the fucking dot?
I tried playing with some things like slide/window indexing. But still… where’s the fucking dot?
During class, I was running the shoothouse. Afterwards I cranked off some 25+ yard rounds to the 3-D reactive targets – behold the power of the dot.
If you can fucking find it. 🤪
I’ve not been dry practicing for a couple weeks. I’ve been massively burned out due to sleep issues. If I can’t increase my reserves I have to cut expenditures. It’s why I took the last week off from the gym, and why I’m readjusting my gym work with regards to fatigue management. In fact, I’m writing this on a late Sunday afternoon, where I’ve napped most of the day and am starting to regain myself. I rewatched this from Rob Leatham:
and I’m feeling a rise within to want to get back to work.
That’s a good sign.
Oh another thing. It’s ok to suck in public. A couple students stayed after and spectated the shooting. I – the instructor – failed and sucked in front of students/clients. On the one hand, I get the ego involvement and protection. On the other, as Jake the Dog said:
Dude, suckin’ at something is the first step to being sorta good at something.
On June 1, 2022 I was a student in the Rangemaster Practical Tactical Course presented by Tom Givens, hosted by Karl Rehn at the KR Training facility. I took this class not only because I appreciate a refresh on Tom’s doctrine, but it’s also part of my journey of the red dot pistol.
The Rangemaster Practical Tactical Course is 8 hours of intensive training in defensive marksmanship, proper gun-handling, and personal tactics. The class started in the classroom with Tom speaking on the importance of mindset. Tom dove into the 1986 FBI Miami shootout and the lessons it holds. Home security matters were addressed (tl;dr “lock your damn doors”). Staying safe in public. Who is around me? What are they doing? Active shooter realities. This classroom portion is the money of the class (or really, any class with Tom Givens) – the mechanical skill of shooting is, relatively, easy. But to have what? 5+ decades of direct knowledge, professionalism, and experience laying it down for you? People… that’s where it’s at.
I get the feeling the design of the class is half-classroom half-range. I say “feeling” because we experienced sudden, unpredicted downpours throughout the day and were confined to the classroom for a fair portion of the day. Tom of course being a wellspring of knowledge there was no shortage of things for him to teach, and so he did. Eventually the rain stopped and we went out. It’s a pleasure watching Tom run a range – I got reminded of a few places I need to tighten up.
Range work was strong on fundamentals. Note: Tom had the following prerequisite for the class:
Registration is strictly limited to students who have had any prior Rangemaster handgun course, such as Combative Pistol, Intensive Pistol, or Instructor Development. This assures that everyone is on the same page on Safety and Basic Marksmanship procedures, so we don’t have to use time in this class to cover those topics. This assures everyone of a better learning experience in this course.
(I think a KRT DPS1 grad would be minimal for this course)
In range work, Tom went over the 4-count drawstroke, refining technique. We did a lot of drawstroke, dry work, present from low ready, DTFAH, multiple hits, Parrot Drill. Good stuff. Very fundamentals, very much ensuring people have (minimum) competency.
For me, the range work wasn’t anything I couldn’t already do… but I had the dot. More on that in a moment.
I’ve taken around 150 hours of training from Tom – I’m familiar with what he teaches. I think this “Practical/Tactical” class makes a fantastic entry into the world of “The Gospel of Givens”. It is solid and well-considerate of topics for a 1-day class offering – it is rich in appropriate and relevant skills and information. I am happy people were introduced to Quickly, Carefully, Precisely. And again, the real money is the classroom material. Folks… THIS IS THE SHIT YOU NEED. And I’ll be real for a moment: I dunno how much longer Tom’s gonna keep doing this, so get your ass into one of his classes.
If you are more on the experienced side, this is still a valuable class. You can ALWAYS stand to hear the classroom stuff again – plus the way Tom tells it, well… you can tell he’s an articulate motherfucker who knows his shit. And the range time is excellent work on fundamentals – you will learn something new, that will help you along.
People go to classes because they want fun: a class has to be fun. It is a bit of an escape for most of us (e.g. I came home refreshed, actually! a day outside away from the computer…). Practical Tactical provides fun – you’ll get “pew-pew time”. But this is one of those classes where your satisfaction comes later, after class, when you realize how richer you’ve become for the experience.
Bottom line: a solid 1-day offering beneficial to those who wish to become richer in their knowledge of defensive handgun
I shot my Sig P365XL, curved trigger, Wilson Combat grip module, Holosun 507K (circle-dot), PHLster Enigma & JMCK Enigma Shell (recently adjusted).
My biggest problem was eye focus: I’m heavily myelinated on front-sight focus, so I wound up doing dot-sight focus. I’m also learning how to acquire (hunt for) the dot. I’ve been mostly working on the press-out, which implies ready positions like “high-compressed ready” (which is what is done at KRT). Tom works from the low ready – I haven’t worked that with the dot. The “on press-out” techniques to help you find/acquire the dot like starting slightly muzzle-up waving/dropping the muzzle as you get to extension to allow the dot to “drop in” – you can’t do that from low ready. So how the F do you manage low ready? What’s the trick there? Seriously, I’m asking – comment below.
I just have to continue to (un)learn it. I think I need more live-fire at this point, because recoil, sun, etc. It’s just going to take work – I need to get my eyes/brain seeing what needs to be seen here. I was thankful Doug Greig was AI’ing, as he was a solid resource for dot-specific tips.
To that… remember. The old man is 70, still uses irons, and outshoots all of us. Take that to the bank.
I was better in my grip… almost too good:
Blood blister, I reckon from a bottom-corner on the mag well. I’ll be taking some sandpaper to round off edges. I like the WC module, but it’s a trade-off for the part vs. something like a Boresight module. I have an off-the-shelf BS module, but I think to work in my hands I need a custom job, which is time and money so… yeah.
After adjusting the Enigma/JMCK setup, it’s working better. I need to get a sport belt…
It was an informative time. Things I see I could stand to do:
Do more dry work “at speed”
Think about that DTFAH skill.
Drive the gun, especially during dry work.
Small gun issues…
Continue to work on eye focus
Live work – use Gabe’s 4 technical skills, perhaps.
It was good to see Tom. I’m privileged to know and learn from him.
As you can see in the video, my ability to pick up the dot did improve – but no question I still have a long way to go. A few high points for my focus:
Focus on the Draw To First Acceptable Hit(s) skill
Start from the holster and work on that draw to first acceptable hit.
Grip acquisition (primarily dialing in new gear, or going back to old gear and adjusting more)
Make sure I’m being target focused (establishing that as a new habit, instead of well-habituated front-sight focus).
Make sure that pinky is engaged, especially on this P365XL
My 10 yard and 3 yard shooting were fairly similar. I’m working to find the dot every time because that’s my current skill focus. What I need to do next is learn what it looks like with the RDS to “see what I need to see”. Because I’m new to this, every bit of shooting is me trying to find the dot and shoot with that “perfect sight picture” – because that’s my skill focus. But of course, what sight picture I need at 3 yards vs. what I need at 25 yards are different things. This is something I’ll need to set aside a live fire session for, especially at 7 yards.
One other thing that I’m not sure what to do with. I realized the act of producing the video is a novel stress. I’m thinking about the shot, staying in frame, am I generating a cohesive narrative, word choice, minimizing ums and ahs, ensuring I look at the iPhone’s camera not screen, etc. Lots of little things while I’m trying to just shoot. I wonder how much the novel stress impacts my performance – not as an excuse, but literally as a measure and assessment of my performance. We want automaticity in performance so that we can have the brain cycles available to focus on the novel stress of the event so…
Anyways, a good session. Told me a lot. Work ahead.
That is my “vision statement”: I don’t want to be decrepit.
Why do I go to the gym? Sure being bigger and stronger is cool, but it’s because I don’t want to be decrepit.
I made noises getting up and down from the ground to cuddle and play with my then-infant son – I was in my mid-20s? Not right. I was a smoker and got winded walking 2 flights of stairs to the office. Not right. I saw people, middle-aged-and-up, struggling to negotiate a “flight” of 3 steps. Not right.
I made up my mind: I don’t want to be(come) decrepit.
I don’t know when I will die, and I have so little control over it. I’m not rushing headlong into death, but I’m not out to avoid the unavoidable either. What I am doing is enabling myself to live this life while I have it. I don’t need to be wicked strong, but I need to be strong. I don’t need to have wicked endurance, but I need endurance. Being leaner is better. I need to be able to move and used my body in its entirety – picking up something that fell on the floor shouldn’t be an ordeal.
And yes, sometimes my definition of living life includes doing some stupid things and getting hurt (e.g. my pec strains), and understanding that while lifting is generally good for me it does wear on me too – but I enjoy it and I’m ok with the trade-off. And yes I know that despite my best efforts, I will still age, I will still fail, I will still fall apart, and I may become decrepit.
Graduation ceremonies always lift my spirits, so after a tough weekend confronting the reality of white supremacist hate in America, I was glad to be able to set that aside and recognize the achievements of over 1,000 Wake Forest University undergraduates (including my youngest son) who completed their final two years of college under extraordinary circumstances.
As I told my own students on the final day of class this semester, I hope that the challenges they face make them stronger, more resilient, more creative, and more compassionate people.
If you enjoy reading about my lifting weights, read on.
I’ve completed 2 microcycles (3 micros in a meso-block) of my “move away from 5/3/1”. I wanted to capture my current state of things.
Summing up the microcycle
3 days a week, 4 sessions per micro (micro thus is 9-10 days long; gym 3x/week is a good balance between stimulus and recovery for me).
Fundamentally upper/lower A/B split
Squat (lower A)
Bench (upper A)
Deadlift (lower B)
Press (upper B)
Each session starts with a main lift: squat, bench press, deadlift, press.
This will be worked for strength. Work up to a crisp single.
Might do 1 backoff set for AMRAP; maybe.
Shifting supplemental and accessory work to more bodybuilding style, with increasing intensity per micro, and changing up every meso-block.
Some accessory upper worked on lower day: accumulate volume over the micro (vs. within the session); helps manage time-in-gym-vs-i-gotta-get-to-work-but-want-to-ensure-I-give-some-bodyparts-the-attention-they-need-over-the-micro. 🙂
I adopted a few conventions
Be conservative. I have goals, and I can’t meet them if I’m injured. Slow progress is still progress.
For a lot of accessory (and some supplemental) work, do 3 sets driving each set to failure. Over the “3 weeks” (3 micros of the meso), it’ll be like this (do you even conjugate, bro?):
Week 1: start dialing in weight and reps, each set to failure. Won’t be a killer 3 sets but it’ll be novel stimulus.
Week 2: weight and reps should be fairly dialed in, so just hit it again the same as week 1, just kinda “straight set pushing it” aiming to get a few more reps/work than week 1, still to failure.
Week 3: weight and reps are dialed in. Hit it hard for 3 sets all to failure, then finish with some sort of intensity technique: drop sets, iso-holds, rest-pause, partials, etc. Whatever is appropriate for the movement, e.g. selectorized machines easily support drop sets, John Meadows loved iso-holds and partials at the end of lying leg curls).
If I work a body part additionally on “a different day”, try to find some alternative approach. For example, if on same day you went heavy weight low reps, different day might be medium-weight moderate reps or light weight higher reps. A little variety just for interest.
So it has looked something like this:
Squat. 5-4-3-2-1 rep workup to a crisp single. Backoff: 1×60%
Leg press. 1 warm-up, then 3×20. On 3rd micro, finish with -30% drop set
(I’d add Leg extensions if I needed it, but so far this has been a lot of quad stimulus).
Calves on (selectorized) leg press. 3×8-12, pyramiding up. 3rd mirco, finish with drop set.
Rope-handle cable hammer curls. 350 Method. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
Benched barbell wrist extensions. 3×20
Bench press. I started this “move away” on 5/3/1 3s week so: micro 1, 3s week; micro 2, 1s week + 1 Joker rep; micro 3, 54321 workup plus a Joker single.
Incline DB flies. Slight incline a la John Meadows. 3×15, 3rd micro finish with 2 rest-pause sets. Get that stretch.
Seated DB Press. 4×6-10. 3rd micro finish with drop set
Incline DB Y raise. 3×10-15, 3rd micro finish with partial swings
PJR Pullovers. 3×12-15, 3rd micro finish with 2 rest-pause sets
Cable Row. 4×8-15, pyramiding up in weight. 3rd micro finish with 2 drop sets
Deadlift. 54321 workup.
Seated leg curl. 4×8-10. 3rd micro finish with drop set
Seated calf raises. 350 method. 3rd micro finish with partials/bounce
EZ-Bar pushdowns. 3×8-15. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
Benched barbell wrist extensions. 3×20
Press. Executed same as bench.
Dips. 3×5+. Easing my shoulder/body back into these, so start with 3×5 and 1+ each week.
Barbell row. 4×5-8, pyramid up in weight. 3rd micro finish with 135xAMRAP
Dante row. 3×8-15 pyramid up in weight. 3rd micro finish with drop set.
Face pulls. 3×12-15. 3rd micro finish with drop set
Wide grip EZ bar curls. 4×6-8, 3rd micro finish with partials
Spider curls. 3×12-25 – just rep the fuck out. 3rd micro finish with iso-hold
Results so far
Again, I just finished micro 2.
Gut response: I like it. I’m getting strength work in, and the hypertrophy work is really cranking the shit out of my muscles – I am SORE! I am glad to see hypertrophy happening, because I’m aiming to use this programming to support my cut.
Another big thing for me here is the meso supplemental/accessory progression and rotation. Where week over week it ups the intensity, then next meso you switch to a similar movement. Oh the DOMS! Good pumps have been had too. I think this approach will support where I want to go. We shall see.
Where I want to go
I need to focus on dropping my body fat once and for all. I reckon I could drop 40# of flab and be happy. I really love strength training, and I need to find a way to keep that around during the cut, minimizing (or at least tracking) its state and progress or loss. I need to retain as much muscle as possible, and the best way to do that is to work to build muscle. I need to have a gym program that will support this dietary and lifestyle shift I need to undertake.
I will move the strength work to being a more “54321 workup” sort of thing, maybe with 1 backoff for some reps. I want the 1 to be crisp (I love Paul Carter for that term; it’s razor accurate). If it’s not crisp, I stay there micro over micro until it is. Which direction things move (even if it takes a few weeks) will be informative. I would adore progression, even if slow. So I will attempt a fairly slow progression. Like week over week just increase by maybe 5#. Then step back and do it again. To illustrate, let’s take squat:
Week/micro 1: squat 325
Week 2: squat 330
Week 3: 335
Week 4/meso 2: 330 (hopefully crisper than week 2)
Week 5: 335 (hopefully crisper than week 3)
Week 6: 340 (cool)
Week 7/meso 3: 335, etc.
Again, illustration. Subsequent weeks depend how preceding weeks go. But generally some sort of periodized undulation.
Point tho is strength work is just kinda this sort of thing. As well, I have thought about adopting an RPE-based and/or kinda sorta that Simmons/Tate “max effort” shit; that sort of approach got me to my strongest ever. 🤔 And there’s a part of me that wants to squat 405 again…
Accessory work is hypertrophy oriented. I’m working to ensure stimulus is constantly novel. Can you get it done in 3 sets? You betcha, if you push that shit hard. First week you basically know what you can do, so crank that. Because of novelty, it’ll be good stimulus. Week 2, you have the weight and reps more dialed in, so simply due to that you’ll be able to push a little harder with an appropriate weight. That will be sufficient stimulus. But if you keep just “doing straight sets”, you adapt. So to prevent that, week 3 you again can push a little harder, and then we finish with some sort of intensity technique. Week 1 is novel, week 2 is adapting, week 3 pushes beyond. Always pushing towards failure, increasing intensity each micro. THEN, in the next micro you switch to a new movement and start over again. So maybe you did barbell curls, now you do ez-bar curls; wide then narrow, narrow then wide, cable curls, whatever… just pick a variation (conjugate bro). Lather, rinse, repeat over the mesos.
Plus, the fact I change up every 3 weeks means I never really know how much strength I’m losing. LOL. Yes, I’ll probably stop doing SBDP eventually and replace with similar movements (e.g. return to front squat). But, if my strength stalls, that tells me something regarding my diet/loss progress too. So, it’s all good, telling, diagnostic. I may be able to do things like when I see the stall, have diet go maintenance, achieve new set point (perhaps strength increases slightly like my reps start to go back up 1 per micro), then start a new cut. It may be cycles like this… 🤔
I have seen some decent musculature appearing in just 2 weeks – it’s not huge, but there’s a difference. This bodes well for supporting weight/fat loss.
An update to my eBook “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” – including the Minimum Competency Assessment – is available for download!
In 2013 I published my original work on Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol. At TacCon22 I lead a discussion on the topic of Minimum Competency. There I presented my original work along with my recent thinking on the topic. I introduced a Minimum Competency Assessment as an attempt to quantify my evolving thinking. For example, while “multiple hits” remains in the definition, I now believe the draw-to-first-acceptable-hit (DTFAH) skill needs to be emphasized. In this update to DQS&T, I present the Assessment and my thinking behind every bit of it: target selection, par times, distances, equipment, biases, uncertainties, etc. Give it a read and let me know your thoughts here – I don’t have the answer, but I am exploring towards one.
This update contains over 100 pages of content and drills, adding the 3456 Drill, Snub Assessment, Hip to be Square, and The Common Tater Drill. Old favorites like the 2019 FBI Qual, Three Seconds or Less, and a plethora of Rangemaster stuff are included as well.
Copies of the eBook are available for FREE download at the KRTraining.com website.
I joined the License2Kari podcast to discuss “Outcome vs. Process Goals” (listen here). While I may be an outcome and goal-oriented person, I’ve really learned to embrace process-focus as the way to achieve my goals. I’m far from a master at it, but I’ve failed a lot and so I’ve learned a lot. I hope you find something useful in the episode.
Fall 2019 was a pivotal educational moment for me regarding goals, outcomes, and focus.
October 2019 I earned a Light Pin from Gabe White. That was peak shooting – lifetime PR. I got there because I stopped worrying about the outcome and focused on the process. There were some “zen” moments in there. Sunday afternoon, resting at the kitchen table, speaking with another student – he was close to a Light Pin too. I spoke about “being in the moment of this shot now”. The shot you just made? It doesn’t matter if it was a bad shot or a good shot – it’s a past shot, so let it go. Yes, let it wash through you as a shot moves from future to present and into the past as you perform the motions necessary to make it happen. But still, you must let it pass through you and let it go, for a new moment is about to flow in and you must give it your full attention. Both he and I earned Light Pins.
November 2019 I was in the inaugural Rangemaster Master Instructor class. I didn’t want to fuck this up. And there was my focus: Daub, don’t fuck this up. Well… what does your brain hear? “Don’t fuck this up.” So what do you think you’re at risk of doing? Fucking this up. So… I almost did. On revolver day, Michael Labonte, Lee Weems, and myself all scored 100% on the qual; Michael won the shootoff. What happened? How did I perform so well despite the fact I don’t shoot revolvers much? I was very focused on the process of shooting the revolver well, and so I did. When we went back to our normal carry equipment, I also went (fell) back to being outcome focused. Every drill, every qual, every time Tom stood behind me with his clipboard, timer, and whistle… I shot terribly. I mean, I passed, met the standard, but I’m disappointed in my performance. However, it’s not really about the shooting – it’s about the focus. I was SO outcome focused, and it nearly cost me.
These two events really drove home to me the power of where you focus (especially my “failure”). There is power in focusing on the outcome, but I’ve found it difficult to succeed there. Yes, our ultimate goal is to achieve a particular outcome, but it’s how you go about the achieving and upon what you focus that makes the difference. Focus on the process has brought me more success; I still fail, but eventually I do succeed and am better off in the end. And that has made all the difference.