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. 🤘

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. 🤘

Are you sufficiently self-confident?

What is Confidence?

The feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust. A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

Confidence is something we all want to have, especially in areas important to us. When we are confident, we have the ability to perform under pressure – instead of crumbling. It doesn’t mean we won’t be nervous or scared, but it does mean we know we can and will perform.

There are numerous ways to achieve (a higher level of) confidence. One is to ensure a solid grasp upon and ability to apply fundamentals – the necessary base or core.

“You can practice shooting eight hours a day, but if your technique is wrong, then all you become is very good at shooting the wrong way. Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise.”

– Michael Jordan

There’s really no super-secret ninja tricks. The best out there are just the best at applying the fundamentals – and they are supremely confident in their ability to do so.

Note this requires not only having the skill, but KNOWING you have the skill AND knowing that you can apply those skills, on demand, under pressure.

When it comes to defensive pistol skills and concealed carry, there is without question a need – a requirement – to have confidence in one’s abilities. You carry because you acknowledge the possibility you may have to defend your life or the life of someone else, so this is a realm where you must have a strong self-confidence. Anything else could put your life – or the life of someone else – at risk.

Step back and think about it for a moment.

You probably think you can handle these things just fine. And maybe you can.

But do you know this for certain?

In December 2017, Karl Rehn and I were on the Handgun World Podcast and discussed 10 drills we think make a good baseline set of drills handgun shooters can use to maintain and develop skills. It’s part of our ongoing study on minimum competency.

Can you shoot and pass these drills?

Or let’s make it simpler.

Going back to my 2013 article that started the minimum competency exploration I concluded:

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

Maybe, maybe not – I’m sure there will be folks who take issue with what I’ve written. It seems when we look at what unfolds in a typical incident and what needs to be done to handle that typical incident, you get:

  • drawing from concealment
    • And perhaps moving on that draw (like a side-step then stop; not shoot-and-move)
  • getting multiple hits
  • in a small area
    • 5″ circle? 6″ circle? 8″ circle? consider human anatomy
  • from close range
    • Within a car length, so say 0-5 yards
  • quickly
    • 3 seconds or less
  • using both hands, or maybe one hand (or the other)

That’s what you need to be able to do – at a minimum.

So let’s just look at the “Bill Drill” (#4 on our list) because it’s a short and simple drill that basically covers the above 6 points.

If I walked up to you and asked you to shoot a Bill Drill, right now, in front of me, could you do it? How does the thought of that make you feel? Does it make you uncomfortable? Do you feel butterflies in your stomach? Do you know for a solid fact you could shoot that cold, on-demand, and rock it – or are you not certain?

If the thought of this makes you feel even one iota of uncertainty, then you do not have the confidence you need.

If you feel confident, then shoot it. Can you shoot it to an acceptable level? And can you do it again?

Or maybe you don’t feel anything, and you just admit you don’t know. Then well, you need to know.

If you don’t have the confidence you need to work to gain it. If you don’t have the knowledge, then you need to shoot it and gain that knowledge. And once you’ve acquired that knowledge, now you have measured and quantified knowledge of your performance, which not only gives you an articulable and tangible expression of your ability, but also the confidence in knowing your level of performance.

This is one reason why we at KR Training have our Basic Pistol 2 and Defensive Pistol Skills 1 classes. These classes are not just core curriculum, but are the two most important classes we teach, as they provide the student with the necessary fundamentals for defensive pistol use. We provide you with the knowledge you need, help you establish your skills, and provide you with a quantified measure of your skills (via the “3 Seconds or Less” test).

I’ll state again: if you don’t have the self-confidence to shoot and pass “3 Seconds or Less” right now, you have work to do and knowledge to gain. This is not a time for believing you’re “good enough” with no factual basis to back it up – do not let your ego get you killed; this is not a space where you can “fake it ’til you make it”. Your life, and the lives of those you love are on the line. You need a true, honest assessment and knowledge of your skills and abilities – and the confidence that knowledge brings.

Have that confidence. For when the flag flies is not the time to wonder if you can – you must already know you can.

Discussing Minimum Competency Drills

Karl Rehn is guest hosting the Handgun World Podcast, and in Episode 443, he and I discuss a topic near to our hearts: Minimum Competency, and drills for them. You can listen to the episode here, or anywhere you can get podcasts (like iTunes).

Karl came up with a list of 10 drills, arranged by scale. I added a couple more. It’s a good corpus of drills you can use to assess your level of defensive handgun competency, as well as use to maintain and improve skill level.

If you don’t have time to listen to the episode, you can read Karl’s write-up where he lists the 10+2 drills.

On my phone, I keep a PDF of drills that I like to run. Doesn’t mean I’m a master at all the drills, just they are ones I consider to be important to my skill and practice. In there I have drills like the 5×5, 3 Seconds or Less, 3M Test, various Rangemaster tests (Instructor, Core Skills, Bullseye), FBI qual, BAFTE qual, The Test, Super Test, Walk-Back, Gunsite 250 & 350. I also keep some in there for metrics and reference, like Gabe White’s Standards, MAG-40/LFI, and the TX LTC test.

Start making your own collection. Strive to put in a good variety that covers the depth and breadth of skills relevant to your context. Put in ones that push you, that expose your flaws and weaknesses, and that can be used over time to help you measure progress.

Ed Head’s Practice Drill

A little while ago, Karl and I went out and shot a drill from Gunsite Instructor Ed Head. It’s a good drill in our continued study of Minimum Competency.

Here’s a video of us demonstrating it:

And here’s Karl’s analysis. Karl has a few suggestions to make it a stronger standard, and how you can use the drill in your own practice to improve your skills.

More Perspectives on Minimum Competency

Four years ago I wrote about Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol. Since then, I’ve had additional writings on the topic. I’m not the only one that cares about this topic. A couple of days ago I saw a summary of a presentation from John Corriea of Active Self Protection and was going to write on it, but Mark Luell over at Growing up Guns beat me to it!

In fact, Mark’s write-up is even better, so I’ll just link to his article: Meta: Critical Skills and Goals for Personal Protection.

In his meta-article, Mark examines the findings from various trainers:

What’s good to see is the overlap. People who study and research this area, and what their conclusions are – and while we do different work, how we tend to reach the same conclusions.

As Tom Givens would say, “That’s what we call a clue.”

Much of this data isn’t new to me, but sometimes seeing the same data presented in a new manner helps you view the data in a new light. Mark’s post did that for me.

Reading Claude’s findings really helps to hit home what is and isn’t important in the context of self-defense firearms skills. For example, retrieving the handgun is a pretty important skill, so however you carry/store your firearm, you better be able to retrieve it successfully. Reloading? Not so much (it’s arguable since you have to load, reload, and unload a firearm just to use it, so long as you do that in a disciplined manner that’s all you really need).

I always love watching John’s videos and analysis. It’s one thing the magic of CCTV, security cameras, camera phones, and YouTube (DailyMotion, Worldstar, etc.) has brought to us: real fights, real incidents, and we can see how they work, how they unfold, how brutal they can be, the realities of what happens, and what we can learn from it. I think John’s collection has done a lot to dispel false notions and beliefs about what goes on, and really give people a good dose of reality.

I regret missing an opportunity to train with Darryl and look forward to that opportunity. There’s a lot of good and unique stuff in Darryl’s notes, but one that stood out to me is the split times. I’ve wondered about doing a long block of training forcing myself to shoot to that standard and seeing what it did for me. I think it would be quite insightful.

John Hearne is becoming the E.F. Hutton of the firearms training community: when he talks, you should listen. His examination and study of human performance is a higher-order topic, but a vital one towards really understanding and working to maximize performance. It helps steer training, both as instructors with curriculum and individuals determining what skills to focus on. I especially like the last point about training emotional control.

Give a read to Mark’s meta-post. Seek these people out. Read what they write. Take classes from them if you can. You will be better for it.

As seen in The Tactical Wire

Looks like my series on Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol got featured in the July 25, 2017 issue of The Tactical Wire.

As well, a nice nod to my two primary mentors, Karl Rehn and Tom Givens.

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – Addressing Assumptions

I’d like to revisit my Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol series. And just like my “Revisited Again” was inspired by Claude Werner, so too is this revisiting – Addressing Assumptions. As well, it comes from some recent work we’ve been doing at KR Training with curriculum revision.

The original article series was primarily focused around gun and shooting portion of the equation. That was a reasonable focus, but if you look a little deeper into the conclusion you can see there are precursors/prerequisites that are assumed or taken for granted.

This would be things like basic gun manipulations: how to load a gun, how to unload a gun, how to load and unload a magazine (and that it’s a “magazine”, not a “clip”), basic range etiquette, how to practice effectively, how to seek out good training and instruction.

One thing I admire about Claude is how he often focuses and finds ways to work with people in less than ideal circumstances. For example, many gun ranges do not allow people to draw from a holster, or it may be impossible to use a shot timer due to noise levels. Claude often works and formulates curriculum and drills to work within these constraints.

In a recent discussion on minimum competency, Claude structured a drill with a loose structure like:

  • Load 7 rounds into the magazine
  • Load the gun
  • Shoot 6
  • Unload the gun

While at first glance it seems odd to enumerate the steps of loading the magazine, loading the gun, and unloading the gun – and some may desire to gloss over those steps – they’re actually quite an important part of the drill. They are giving the student practice at loading and unloading, they give the instructor a chance to observe the student performing these operations to ensure they are doing it correctly and safely.

When discussing a topic like “minimum competency”, it’s important we mind our assumptions so we do not overlook the complete set of skills necessary for competency.

Minimums aren’t enough

A permit class isn’t training…a permit class isn’t practice.  A permit class is the bare minimum information that state bureaucrats think you need to be able to safely load, unload and carry a pistol, in legal locations, in the state in which you reside.  If you want to actually LEARN how to use that gun, you’re going to need training.  You don’t have to look far on this site to find great places to train, that will actually prepare you for what you will really encounter on the streets and parking lots of America.  Even if you think you, “know all there is to know,” about defensive pistolcraft, shooting under the supervision of a competent instructor who can see things you cannot, relative to technique, is invaluable.  I highly recommend you seek out competent instruction…getting the, “paper,” is just a legal hoop you have to jump through!

Dr. Sherman House