It’s Cold Drill Time Again comes to YouTube

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).

I gotta start somewhere… – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E1
Three Seconds or Less – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E2
TacCon21 Tie Breaker – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E3
The Wizard and the P365 – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E4
Taking a Ruger LCP II through 5^5 – It’s Cold Drill Time Again – S1E5

The Name

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.

And so #ItsColdDrillTimeAgain became a thing.

#YouKnowItsTheOnlyThingThatHelpsMeShootBetter

(not really, but just roll with it for the gag)

Where’s the fucking dot?

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.

Jake the Dog, from the TV show “Adventure Time”

Rangemaster Practical Tactical 2022-06

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.

I was planning to make a video to post to my YouTube Series on Exploring the Red Dot Pistol, but the day job’s been stressful and I just wanted to be a student (no pressures of producing a video). So, you get a blog post. 😄

Practical Tactical

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

Red Dot

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.

Tom Givens & John Daub (me)

Exploring the Red Dot – Minimum Competency

Minimum Competency

In this May 14, 2022 live fire session I continue my exploration of the red dot pistol by shooting my Minimum Competency Assessment.

A month ago I went to the A-Zone Range and shot a number of drills to determine my baseline of performance with a red dot pistol. That session provided me with good feedback on what I needed to work on: primarily, dot acquisition. So I spent the past month in dry fire primarily focused upon dot acquisition.

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.
    • This works:
      • Dot acquisition
      • 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).
  • Pinky-driven grip
    • 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.

Updated: “Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests” – including the Minimum Competency Assessment

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 hope this may be useful to you in your journey.

Be strong. 🤘

Exploring the Red Dot

Baselines

I finally have a long enough stretch of schedule, at least the rest of 2022 if not longer, so now’s the time to dedicate to exploring the Red Dot Pistol (RDS). It’s a bit of work to switch from iron sights to the RDS, but with my 100 Day Challenge going on, I have the means to work on it. I don’t expect proficiency  overnight; in fact, accepting it may take me a year is a load off because now I can just focus on the work, the process, and knowing the result will come (thank you, Jim Wendler).

Since TacCon22 ended, I’ve been doing dry work. It’s mostly been focused around simply looking at the sight picture. The dot-circle red reticle is a different sight picture for my brain to process – it’s novel, and I need to remove that novelty. I also need to change where my eyes focus: from front sight to target; as well, I don’t need to close one eye any more. Consequently, most of the dry work hasn’t been any sort of skills or movement, merely acclimation. I’m still not acclimated to it, but it’s no longer truly novel. And so, it’s time to do some exploration in life fire.

April 15, 2022 I went to the A-Zone Range (KR Training’s home). I took my gun, which is Sig P365-based. I’ve been carrying, working, and shot the TacCon22 match with a P365-based gun: P365 slide and factory irons, curved trigger, Wilson Combat XL grip module. Why this? I prefer the XL length, and it was the only solution I had with irons; buying an XL slide JUST for irons didn’t make financial sense. I do have an XL with a Holosun 507K X2 and a Boresights grip module. I used that for dry work, now I’m swapping the slide/dot onto the WC-grip-curved-trigger 365 assembly. 

For live work, I did the following:

  • Warmed up with my irons setup (since it’s what I’m familiar with)
    • Minimum Competency Assessment (v3)
    • The Wizard
    • Three Seconds or Less
    • Rangemaster Core Skills (hit factor scoring)
  • Swap to XL slide and dot
  • Zero at 10 yards
  • Just shoot a bunch
    • Fiddle with sight picture, grip, presentation, trigger, etc you name it. Change reticle.
  • Shoot the 4 drills again

Shoot on a shootsteel.com target, which Karl’s been using a lot more lately – it’s a good, target, well-designed, tougher than IPDA/IPSC/Q if you restrict to A & B zones (which I did; Core Skills opened to C zone). Shot about 400 rounds in 2 hours. I will say, my hands felt a little shredded from the WC grip. As expected, performance degraded. Not horrible, but let’s be real. If I shot 119 on Core Skills with the P365-irons and 78 with the dot, I need to be able to consistently pull 120 if the dot hype is to be believed. So, I’ve got work ahead of me.

From how it went down, first thing I need to work on is grip acquisition. I need to do some holster adjusting, and while I love the Enigma I am thinking about going back to a belt holster, at least for a cross-check. But I need to ensure I get the best grip on the gun, because I’m not doing it. And I have to balance this with how the gun needs to conceal since the Holosun adds more things that jut out. So, it’s holster fiddling, to ultimately ensure best grip acquisition. I need to get on the gun and get it out of the holster quickly.

Then I need to work on getting it out of the holster and onto target efficiently, acquiring the dot while doing so.

Then, on pressing the trigger and not messing up the sight picture. Keeping mind of consistently applied grip pressure throughout the firing cycle.

Repeat until I suck less. Improving the above will do wonders.

In related news… as I think about my first “season” of #ItsColdDrillTimeAgain (a small video series I did about cold drills), I thought about fiddling with a little more production. We’ll see where this goes.

Thank you for journeying with me.

Be strong. 🤘

TacCon22

TacCon22 is in the books. A fine time was had.

I taught 4 blocks: 2 AIWB Skills (live fire), 1 panel with Lee Weems & Erick Gelhaus, and my presentation on Minimum Competency. I participated in 1 live fire class, and observed a few presentations. I stunk up the match. Of course, being able to hang with “the family” for a few days is what makes this awesome. So many hugs given and received – my heart is full.

I first presented at TacCon21. Tom asked me to step in for brother Spencer Keepers (Spencer had some medical issues to tend to; all good). I was quite surprised yet honored to be asked. My imposter syndrome skyrocketed to 11. I was honored to be asked back for TacCon22. 

Scott, me.
photo: Tamara Keel

AIWB Skills went over well. Saturday lunch, Scott Jedlinski asked me if I had any open slots in my Sunday class – I did, and Scott joined. Imposter syndrome 12. It was cool tho. My first time really hanging with Scott – my fellow large Asian mammal – and it was good. He gave me some excellent feedback, and taught me the meaning of “cheater”. 😉

“I once caught a fish this big…”
photo: Ed Vinyard

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol is something I’ve been researching since 2013. I presented my original work, along with my recent thinking. I also presented my “Minimum Competency Assessment” and thinking behind it. My present thinking is to write this up in long form and update my “Drills, Standards, Qualifications, & Tests” eBook. Matter of time and priorities. Stay tuned.

Lee, Erick, me
photo: my camera taken by (I can’t remember…)

The Aftermath, my panel presentation with Lee & Erick. This was… special. I spoke about my 2015 home invasion. Erick about his incident. Lee about 2 incidents his deputies were involved in. Funny thing about this is we did barely any planning/organization work prior to TacCon: each made a few slides, Lee collated, Lee projected them… and then the 3 of us stood in front of the audience figuring out how we wanted to do this presentation. 😂 I went first, then Erick, finally Lee, each giving a short account of our incident focusing heavily on issues of the aftermath. Erick turned to me and asked if he could reference one of my slides (of course!). Before today, Erick and I were strangers to each other. Our stories are different, yet our aftermaths are similar. We didn’t plan our presentation, and I think the organic nature of it all made for a special and emotional session. Erick and I (and those deputies) are in a club, for better or worse. I’m fortunate to have found a new brother. Love you, Erick.

Shot the match with my franken-P365: WC XL grip, curved trigger, P365 slide with irons. Scored paper: 245/250, tie: 35/50 4.49 sec: 252.795. Finished 76/174. On paper, dropped the first WHO shot to just outside the box; tie had 3 just outside 6 o’clock. With that gun, basically cold, after the emotional drain I just went through? If this is where my skill degrades to, I can accept that.

Took class from Wayne Dobbs (HiTS) channeling Larry Mudgett; most excellent stuff, giving me new tools to diagnose problems and help students improve. The excellent learning resources Jon & Sarah Hauptman (PHLster) are producing through their Concealment Workshop will become industry reference. I finally got to partake of John Holschen’s wisdom. I listened to Erick present research. Greg Ellifritz had an informative session on medicine under austere circumstances. Good learning being had.

And of course, seeing old friends, making so many new ones. Eating good food. Having to eat Whataburger. Many many selfies. Endless hugs. More selfies. Hot AF tents (Meadhall Range cookies!). Going to bed late and getting up early. Big thanks to the Dallas Pistol Club for the facility and contribution. Thanks to Tiffany Johnson, Martin Hoffert, Aqil Qadir, the RSOs, the crew. And of course, Tom & Lynn Givens of Rangemaster. What a special event; I am truly blessed to be a part of it. ❤️

See you at TacCon23!

Thank you, Tom.

I’m not freaking out… no…

No… not at all. Not freaking out at all. 🤪

Next week is TacCon22. I am presenting 4 blocks on 3 topics: 2 AIWB Skills live fire blocks, 1 panelist with Erick Gelhaus and Lee Weems on “The Aftermath”, 1 presenter on my pet project: “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol” including presenting new thinking on the topic. I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little stressed. 😬

When Tom Givens asked me to step in for Spencer Keepers at TacCon21, of course I answered “Yes, sir!”. My imposter syndrome spiked to 11. But I presented 3 live fire blocks and I guess I didn’t totally suck because I was asked back for TacCon22. I’m almost finished with my prep (as prepped as I can be). It’s been stressful, but I know the Conference will be good.

Some people are surprised to learn I’m not an extrovert. Sure, I’m good at peopleing, but it consumes a lot of energy, and I need alone/quiet time to recharge (introvert). TacCon is a LOT of peopleing. It’s good, I have a great time, but it’s still a lot of peopleing. Then the added energy of teaching (“being on stage”), and it’s a draining time for me. Doing the math on that right now is building up some anxiety. I know it’ll all be fine and I’ll live, nevertheless I’ve had the stress-tick of bouncing my foot/leg creeping back in.

The Aftermath stresses me minorly. I’ve told this story before, so it’s a matter of ensuring I mind time constraints and ensure topic mindfulness. That’s all that gets me. Plus it’ll be nice to meet Erick.

AWIB Skills stresses me a bit more, but not tons. I developed the curriculum, but I don’t get to run it much so it’s not as “in my head” as say a KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills 1 class. I also made some iterative refinements, and I think it’ll work better this year. One lesson from last year? Print it out, put it on a clipboard – I can do it from my head, but there’s a lot of details to convey so having a reference on-demand is good.

But the presentation about Minimum Competency? That’s got me stressed. It’s not the public speaking part – I’m good at that. It’s the topic – but meta stuff about the topic. The original blog post has been around since 2013 and the reprint in our 2019 book. I reckon if I was totally off base someone might have called my ass out by now? Or maybe no one gives a shit – my brain naturally gravitates towards the latter. Thing is, I termed the session “a discussion” because I want to present but I want to then open the floor. I want to be questioned! The audience is the right one to ask this to, but I’d be lying if I wasn’t a little intimidated by the potential of who may be in the audience and the questions that may be asked. But that’s what I want and why I’m doing it. I want to seek truth, this is how we get there. It’s uncomfortable to go through, but ain’t gonna grow otherwise.

It’ll be a good time. I’ll be thankful for it when it’s over, but right now I’m prepping and managing my stress/anxiety about it. 😄

See you on the other side.

Quickly, Carefully, Precisely

Quickly, Carefully, Precisely.

There’s a video of Tom Givens explaining the Parrot Drill and how the 8″ circle is shot quickly, the 4″ is carefully, the 2″ precisely. His choice of words matters – not just in instruction, but actual cues to use under those conditions.

For a while now, when I administer the Texas LTC Completion and live-fire qualify people for their LTC, when we’re at 3 yards I tell them to shoot quickly. When we step back to 7 yards, I tell them to shoot carefully. When we’re back at 15 yards I tell them to shoot precisely.

I don’t have to explain some new gun-world concept; they know what I mean by those words. Just uttering those cues absolutely changes the mindset about how the students think and approach what’s before them. It’s an effective teaching tool, that leads students to improved performance (outcomes). I SEEN it!

Look up The Complete Combatant’s drill: The Trifecta.

Quickly. Carefully. Precisely.

Be strong. 🤘

Force Science Certification, February 2020

I participated in the Force Science Institute’s Force Science Certification course, February 17-21, 2020 in Austin, Texas.

From their website:

Individuals who successfully complete this program will be certified as Force Science Analysts. This designation attests that the holder has been trained to recognize and articulate important psychological, biological, and physiological factors that can influence human behavior and memory in force encounters and pursuit situations. Like persons trained in accident reconstruction, blood-spatter analysis, and other science-based disciplines, investigators certified in Force Science Analysis will be able to apply their grasp of human dynamics to interpret how and why a force confrontation evolved as it did. Students will also know how to mine the memories of those involved for relevant recollections. This information can be vital to authorities who ultimately must judge the encounter, such as administrators, internal affairs, chiefs, review board members, prosecutors, judges, and jurors.

For years, FSI courses were only available to people directly involved in law enforcement. But about 2 years ago, they opened it up to non-LEO. I’ve been wanting to take this course for a number of years, and am happy I was finally able to.

Basics

The course was held in the Doubletree Hotel conference room on the north side of Austin (hooray! I got to commute up and down I-35 for a week!). 8:30 to 5:30 for 4 days, and 8:30 to about 1:00 on the last day. There were 112 or so people in class. Overwhelmingly most were LEO, but I know at least 4 people were not: myself, my fellow KR Training instructor Tracy Thronburg, Marty Hayes (of Firearms Academy of Seattle, and Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network), and Andrew Branca (Law of Self Defense). I had no idea Marty was going to be there (Marty’s a friend), and no idea Andrew was either (first time meeting and speaking with him). From a quick scan of the room, most LEO were from Texas agencies, but there were others – I believe 1 attendee had flown in from Australia.

We were provided a large, printed/bound book, of all the lecture slides. That was a nice touch, making it easy to take notes as well as having a solid reference on your bookshelf for later. With 40 hours of drinking from the information firehose, there’s no way you can remember everything, so the bound notes book is a welcome touch for memory retention and future reference.

Each day was divided into topics. Some topics would receive a couple hours of treatment, such as how the brain works (to help us understand how memory works, how sensory perception works), how vision works. Some topics would receive multi-day coverage, such as biomechanics, although this was broken up to cover many sub-topics.

And yes, there is a (closed-book) test. We took it just before lunch on the 4th day. It covered all topics presented to that point, and yes it was a requirement for certification (all people in our class passed, but I am to understand there have been failures in prior classes).

Content

I appreciated the content provided. Yes, it was mostly provided from the perspective of law-enforcement, but that stands to reason. But as someone who trains private citizens, how applicable is this to me and my students?

Fairly well, actually.

What’s studied and presented is mostly about human beings. How we work, how we function, our capabilities, our limits. It doesn’t matter if you’re a police officer, a CEO, a farmer, a software developer – humans are human. Our senses, our brains, they only can do so much and work so fast.

You see how a lot of human performance research is based in sports performance. I think that also makes it great for helping people that might not understand (or want to understand) performance in a “use of force” context understand that this isn’t just “research to help cops find excuses to murder people”. No, this is just how people work, and this research is aimed to explain how people function in the context of use-of-force.  Certainly this information and research could be used to keep someone out of jail, or put someone in jail; it’s information, not agenda nor bias.

Some presented material was certainly specific to law enforcement, but it was still welcome to see that information and gain knowledge and insight into those aspects. Because still for my students, if they are involved in a use-of-force incident themselves, they will interact with law enforcement so having such insight is useful.

Filter

For me, I found the information going through two filters.

First, that of an instructor. As of this writing, I have about 850 hours of formal training in this realm and have been teaching at KR Training for about 11 years. A lot of this material isn’t new to me, but that’s fine. I always appreciate hearing such things again, because there’s always some new twist, some new detail, some new angle in the material and how it is presented that provides me with greater reinforcement, clarity, depth, and understanding of the topic. But for sure, a good deal of information was new.

I found myself thinking about our curriculum, what we teach, how we teach it. I think about the questions students tend to ask and the way they are typically answered. I found myself both affirming much of what we already do as sound and good approaches, but also making adjustments to word choice or emphasis. For example, it was frequently stressed the importance of “if you expect to perform at X, you need to train at X”. Let me explain.

Let’s say I wanted to become a top-class swimmer, like Olympic gold medalist. Well, if I want to do that, I don’t think power walking on a treadmill will get me there – I have to swim. Extreme example, but I hope you’re following the reasoning. But I shouldn’t just swim, like the seniors doing “adult swim” laps at the YMCA. I need to swim hard. I need to swim in races against other people (which is implicitly a timer). I need that sort of pressure, to have my training mirror the environment, situation, context, everything of that moment of actual performance (the actual swim meet and race).

So if I expect to be able to perform in a gunfight, I need to have my training mirror the environment, situation, context, everything about that situation that one can safely mirror in training. This means pressure, this means training like scenarios/Force-on-Force. This sort of training will help me be better prepared and improve my chances of performing well.

This isn’t then so much a realization that we need to change what we do – we’re already teaching and promoting this (my boss-man Karl Rehn is one of the modern pioneers of force-on-force training). This is more to those who don’t think you need such training, that do things like poo-poo shot-timers, yet still think they are adequately training people for “that moment”. There’s science that says you’re doing it wrong.

The second filter? I won’t go into too much detail, but my personal incident of January 2015 served as another filter and perspective through the whole week. This is the sort of thing that, if you’re curious for my thoughts here, we can talk in person. It’s not bad, it’s just nuanced and I don’t think I can adequately convey in a blog post.

It’s not all rosy

Overall I was pleased with the course, but there were a few things I didn’t find optimal.

First, it’s just a LOT of information in a short period of time. There’s no way to remember it all. The book is nice, but it’s just the presentation slides and room for notes. And you will take notes, but the note-taking process divides your attention and you miss things. I wish there was a better way to manage the information density.

Second, it is death by PowerPoint. But at least the speakers were all dynamic, engaging, good story-tellers. They certainly captured and held the interest of the audience. But again, I’m not sure there’d be any other practical way to do accomplish the goal of this training.

Third, sometimes I wondered if this was about educating us on the material, or defending the validity of the work FSI does. Many times when Dr. Lewinski was speaking, he kept making a big point about who they did the research with (the researches, the Universities), what scientific journal – and the prestige of that journal – in which the research was published. That the FSI work was accepted by this court and that court and all these things. He would frequently sound like he was trying to convince us his word, his work, was all valid sound defensible science. Now I get it: there are a lot of critics of Dr. Lewinski and FSI’s work, so I’m sure his actions come from somewhere. But it just came across as too much. If you have to get this defensive, is the criticism valid? I mean, you have a room full of paying customers – I don’t expect this is an audience you need to convince. So it was curious and a little distracting. I think the point could have been made in a more subtle way, or by simply not bothering… because if in fact it is invalid, proper science will bear that out.

Should You Take This?

That depends.

FSI says:

This information can be vital to authorities who ultimately must judge the encounter, such as administrators, internal affairs, chiefs, review board members, prosecutors, judges, and jurors.

So if you fall into that category, it’s likely useful to you.

But how about folks in my realm: private citizens?

If you’re “just a private citizen”, I don’t see much need to take this class. If you have the money, the time, the desire, there’s certainly nothing wrong with taking it and I won’t stop you. I just would consider it something like a “grad school level elective” – far from critical to take, and your finite time/money may be better spent elsewhere. More firearms training, first aid training, improving your physical fitness, and things like that may serve you better.

If you’re someone like me, a trainer/instructor, my answer is… maybe.

It depends on what sort of instructor/trainer you would be.

If you’re someone who is content to have their NRA Instructor credentials so you can help teach Boy Scout merit badges, the FSI training doesn’t make a lot of sense. (and note: there’s NOTHING wrong with being an instructor like that). If you just like teaching basic/introductory/familiarization courses to new shooters, you might find some utility here, but again it’s probably not worth your time/trouble/expense. If you’re purely interested in competition/sports, you would probably do well to learn about human performance dynamics, but the context the FSI course presents it in isn’t the correct context for you.

This material is useful for someone like me: someone deeply and earnestly interested in helping people learn how to manage themselves and perform at a high-level in situations of self-defense.

If I extend the above analogy, I’d consider this grad-school level course work. If you don’t have your “undergrad” credentials (e.g. NRA Instructor, higher-level instructor such as Rangemaster certified, MAG certified, CSAT, etc.), that should come first. If you don’t have a few years teaching at least some hundred students, that should come first. The presentation is certainly one expecting you to have some idea and experience in the topic realm. But I also don’t think it’s critical to one’s success to attend… it’s just like getting a Masters degree: not vital, but does take you further, deeper, into topics.

I’m certainly happy to have taken it, and know it will help me be a better teacher.

I want to thank Dr. Lewinski for the work he does, and his team of researchers and lecturers for all that they’re doing to help bring better understanding to the world about this topic. It’s good and important work.