The importance of being honest with yourself (and setting ego aside)

Had a long weekend at KR Training: July 16 was a Basic Pistol 2 and Defensive Pistol 1, and July 17 was a Basic Pistol 2… yes again. Classes have been selling pretty well.

I want to depart from my usual “class AAR”. I mean, what we see out of these classes from a skills perspective tends to be the same thing every time. So if you were in one of these classes and are curious about skills, just hit the Search field and read what you find.

What I want to talk about is – self-assessment.

It is vital in life to be (brutally) honestly aware of yourself, your skills, your abilities, your level, your capabilities, your limits, your strengths, your weaknesses. It’s the only way to truly achieve your goals.

We had a couple people in the BP2 class that were scheduled to stay for the DPS1 class. As BP2 progressed, it was evident that DPS1 was not going to happen for them: just too much to handle. We gave them feedback, but they also took a step back and looked at themselves and opted to skip DPS1 and come back later. I’m not sure what they will do exactly (maybe take BP2 again, maybe take some private lessons), but I am proud of them for making an honest self-assessment and doing the right thing. They set ego aside and made an honest and wise choice. In the long run, this is going to pay dividends.

There’s another gentleman that’s been around for some time. He’s taken many classes with us, and BP2/DPS1 are “below him”. But he still takes them (again) because he knows he has things to work on, skills to learn, and that he can improve – and that these classes will help him get there. His honesty, his humility, that serves him well towards progress and improvement.

Don’t feel you need to always move on to the next class, just because you’re supposed to, or especially because you just want to. If you take a class before you’re ready, you’ll just be frustrated and won’t learn. There is nothing wrong with taking the same class again; in fact, now that you’ll know the material, you’ll be able to focus on other aspects of the class, including putting more effort into the drills and really letting the material sink in. Remember the maxim: redundancy fosters learning. Taking a class multiple times, that’s redundancy, and it will lead to (improved) learning.

After you finish a class, let things digest. Take a step back. Self-assess where you are. See where you are now relative to where you were: both where you really were and where you thought you were. Now look where you want to go. Will taking the next class be the way to get there? or could taking 1-2 steps back serve you better in the long run towards achieving your goal? It all depends upon your goals, of course. But the more honest you are in your self-assessment, the willingness to put ego aside, THAT is what will help you achieve your goals in the long run.

Train hard, train smart.

If you think education is expensive…

Seth Godin wrote about Training and the infinite return on investment

Imagine a customer service rep. Fully costed out, it might cost $5 for this person to service a single customer by phone. An untrained rep doesn’t understand the product, or how to engage, or hasn’t been brought up to speed on your systems. As a result, the value delivered in the call is precisely zero (in fact it’s negative, because you’ve disappointed your customer).

On the other hand, the trained rep easily delivers $30 of brand value to the customer, at a cost, as stated, of $5. So, instead of zero value, there’s a profit to the brand of $25. A comparative ROI of infinity.

And of course, the untrained person doesn’t fall into this trap once. Instead, it happens over and over, many times a day.

The short-sighted organization decides it’s ‘saving money’ by cutting back training. After all, the short-term thinking goes, what’s the point of training people if they’re only going to leave. (I’d point out the converse of this–what’s the danger of not training the people who stay?)

Granted, Seth speaks in the context of marketing, sales, and business – his “lane”. But really, training – education – is relevant to any and every facet of life.

The more training you have, the more education you have, the more knowledge you have, the more it pays off.

Because to Seth’s last point: you stay in your life, so what’s the danger of going through life untrained and  ignorant?

Seth concludes:

What’s not so easy is to take responsibility for our own training.

We’ve long passed the point where society and our organization are taking responsibility for what we know and how we approach problems. We need to own it for ourselves.

If I apply this to one of my “lanes” – self defense – I actually am pretty astounded at how much people don’t take on responsibility for what they know and how they approach problems, which is odd because these are the same people that espouse how they have/carry a gun because they accept responsibility for their own personal safety. Often times there’s belief they are “good enough” and will be able to handle themselves if the flag flies, yet they’re unable to quantify what “good enough” should be – but whatever it is, I’m it (apparently).

Grant Cunningham writes about “shooting well”:

Any shooting you do — whether in competition, for hunting, or in self defense — is a balance of speed (how quickly you shoot) and precision (the size of the area into which you can shoot)….

Most people evaluate their shooting skill level under only one of those two factors. Either they focus on how precisely they can shoot, or they focus on how quickly they’re shooting. Either one in isolation gives an incomplete view, and the same is true when evaluating a gun; if you shoot slowly enough, so that each shot is a completely separate event unaffected by what came before or what will come after, then most guns can be shot “well”.

In other words, just about anyone can shoot just about any handgun (or rifle) “well” for one shot. It’s when you need to fire more than one shot, or when time becomes a factor, do you discover how things like recoil, weight, hand fit, and more affect your ability to shoot well. It’s not just about tight groups!

Granted, Grant’s writing was alluding to issues of caliber and recoil, but the whole of his article touches on the fact that most people believe they can “shoot well”, yet aren’t fully considering the complete context under which they may have to shoot.

That complete context, in terms of self-defense, is likely to go beyond these issues of caliber, recoil, and marksmanship. If you are in a self-defense incident, there’s going to be chaos, adrenaline, and intense high-pressure split-second decision making. Can you “shoot well” in that context? Remember: doing “well” in that context may actually require you to not shoot at all.

Some people are proud to seek out the least amount of training possible. They want the cheapest, least-hassle solution. As few dollars spent, as few hours in the classroom or on the range. It’s as if they are proudly seeking ignorance. I grant, if you can spend $50 or $500 and get precisely the same results, I’d go for the $50 option as well. But like most things in life, you do get what you pay for – and you get more spending $500 on a weekend training with Tom Givens or Massad Ayoob.

Especially if you contrast that $500 against the potential $50,000 or $500,000 or more you could wind up spending on a lawyer. Because ignorance of the law can be mighty costly.

You may not be training to be a customer service rep answering phone calls about a product. But aren’t you trying to bring value into your own life? You’re going to be staying in your life, hopefully for a long time, so take the time to invest in yourself. Don’t expect the state or others to provide “adequate” training, because it usually is not. Take the time, the money, the responsibility to invest in yourself. The education will pay dividends.

2016 Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference

Have you registered yet for the 2016 Paul T. Martin Preparedness Conference?

It’s almost here: Saturday, January 9, 2016 at the Cabela’s in Buda, TX.

There’s a Mega door prize – a weekend getaway to a beach house in Port Aransas!

Alas, while I’ll be at the Conference, I won’t be qualified to win the door prize. Why? Because I’m one of the Conference presenters!

John Daub of Hsoi Enterprises on Preparing for the Aftermath of a Self Defense Incident. Self-defense incidents involve far more than just the moment of the incident itself; there’s an aftermath of legal, social, and emotional issues. John Daub will be discussing these issues and how to prepare yourself to handle the aftermath of a self-defense incident.

There’s a lot of other great topics being discussed, including the fresh Open Carry laws (that will have been in effect in Texas just 9 days as of the Conference) and one I’m especially interested in: Allen Codding, DVM on Pet Preparedness Strategies.

There’s a lot of great topics on the schedule at this 4th annual conference.

Hope to see you there!

Prepping for a shooting class

Over at LooseRounds.com, Howard wrote up a short article: “Getting ready for a shooting class”.

I thought the list was a good start, and wanted to expand on it. Over my 7 years with KR Training, as well as all the classes I’ve taken myself, I’ve picked up a few things.

I agree with Howard on #1 – look at the class’ required equipment list. Whatever it is the instructor/school is telling you to bring, bring it! If you’re unsure or have questions, contact the instructor/school and ask. For example, when I recently attended CSAT’s Rifle class I wasn’t sure about mag pouches or chest rigs, so I contacted Paul and he told me what I did and didn’t need. Saved me a lot of trouble and money.

Howard’s #2 was water/electrolyte drinks. I’d expand upon that to include some food. What food? Depends. All-day class? You’ll probably want to bring a meal or two (depending upon class timing and your dietary needs). Just a few hours? At least some sort of snack (granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, etc.). One of my favorites is Blue Diamond Smokehouse Almonds, because: they taste good, protein and fat goes a long way for sustained energy, and the salt and other goodness within the nut is a good replenisher when you’re on the range and sweating all day. It can also be worthwhile to check with the instructor/range about off-campus meal options; CSAT? many restaurants within minutes of the range. KR Training? maybe after-class supper, but you won’t be able to make a lunch run anywhere nearby. Besides, bringing food and eating on-campus can be useful for casual socializing with instructors and other students, and there’s often gems of information you get to pick up.

I would bump up Howard’s last comment to #3: sunscreen. Even if the range has a covered shooting area, you’ll likely spend a lot of time uncovered in the sun. Getting sunburned will detract from your ability to learn. In addition to sunscreen, consider covering clothing. Me? I often like to wear long-sleeve, light-colored Under Armour shirts because they cover me fully but remain pretty cool even in the Texas summer heat. Long pants are good too. Brimmed hats can also be good. Note: do not equate sunscreen/sunburns with summertime and heat; just as snow skiers. If it’s an all-day class, reapply at lunchtime.

To that end, clothing should be weather appropriate. If it’s going to be raining, wear a raincoat, boots that can handle water and mud, etc.. If it’s going to be cold, wear layers of clothing and see how gloves will affect your ability to shoot (could be a good time to learn about such options). Be mindful of zippers, drawstrings, and other dangling things that could get caught in holsters and trigger guards – they can lead to bad results, so just take a knife and cut them off (do you ever tighten those drawstrings anyways?).

Final bit on clothing is to have range-appropriate clothing. Close-toed, sturdy shoes. Shirts should be close around the neck (even for you guys, because hot-brass down the shirt is no fun whether you have cleavage or not). If the class works drawing from concealment, clothing appropriate to such a task (how do you or will you normally carry?).

As for guns, ammo, and gear…

Guns. Bring your gun, cleaned and oiled and ready to go. If you don’t know how to do these things, check with the instructor as you may be able to arrange coming early to class so they can help you get set up. If you happen to have a second gun, it may not hurt to bring that second set of gear in case something goes wrong with the first gun. I’d avoid using it as a way to just switch and try different guns during class as that tends to be disruptive to class: pick one gun and set of gear, use it for the whole class. Just have a backup in the off-chance something goes wrong (or ensure the facility has loaner equipment in such an event).

Ammo. Whatever the class requirement is? Bring more. You never know. If the class says 100 rounds, I’d bring 200. If it says 1000, I’d probably bring 1200-1500. You won’t be upset if you go home with ammo, but you will be bummed if you run out.

Magazines. The more the merrier. My habit is any time I am at a store (brick-and-mortar, or online) that sells magazines for my guns, I buy 1 magazine. If I do this every time I shop, over time I build up a nice supply of magazines. Many I keep in the closet for when I need it, but I have 10 M&P9 mags in my range bag ready to go. Yes, load mags before you come to class, so you’re all ready to go (an UpLULA is your friend). I find I typically only use 3-4 mags during the course of class because I’ll use a mag, then break in the action, reload the mag, and keep going throughout class. But having all those other pre-loaded mags? If something causes me to be unable to get a mag reloaded (e.g. I had to run to the bathroom), I can just grab another mag from my bag and stay in the flow of class. Buy more mags, have more mags.

Eye protection and hearing protection. Must-haves. If you don’t know what’s appropriate, talk with the instructor before class. They may even have loaner gear to help you get started. And even if they could have loaners, you really do want your own for your own practice sessions.

Holsters, mag pouches, and belts. This depends upon the nature of the class if you need these or not (again, check with the instructor). But make sure you have them. Should you have them on before arriving in class? That depends upon the class. A competition class is unlikely to be a class you could wear your gear to, so you’ll have to suit up at the range. A self-defense class, especially a higher-level one where you’re expected to have a carry license in order to attend the class? You’ll probably be expected to have your carry rig on when you arrived to class. But do expect the instructors will have a gear check to ensure all is good and quality gear. If the instructors suggest changes to your gear, listen to them. For example, holsters where the mouth collapses are not ideal. But this could be a subject of a multi-part article series. For the purposes here, just be sure you have solid gear and ask if you don’t know what that means.

Other stuff? Depends upon the nature of the class, coupled with your own needs. Bad knees? You may want to consider knee-pads, but there’s no harm in asking the instructor beforehand (there may be no kneeling so it’s irrelevant). How about a folding/camp chair? Maybe; but ask first (facility may have benches so no need to trot out your own). Small first aid kit? the range/instructor should have something, but no harm in bringing your own, especially if you might have special needs. To that end, if you do have special medical needs, be sure to alert the instructor before class so they can be aware and prepared.

Before you head to class? Check in with the instructor. Maybe not directly, but check your email or phone or whatever other means the instructor is using for class notifications. It may be possible the class was cancelled (weather suddenly turned and holding class is impossible), so save yourself an unnecessary trip.

And all of these things? Try to prepare as far in advance as possible. If you have to obtain stuff, the more time you have to find it, order it, get it delivered, or otherwise obtain it may take a while. No need to do last-minute scrambles.

Finally…

Be mentally prepared for the class.

You’re taking this class because you want to learn. Be open and receptive to the teaching. Maybe they do something different than you already know, but be willing to try it their way because you came to learn from them so be willing to be taught and try… you don’t know what you might pick up from it. If you have questions, ask. Be mindful to not be disruptive or “that guy” (you can always ask questions later, or during breaks), but don’t be afraid to ask for explanations to help you better understand the material.  Have the right mindset for learning.

And most of all? Have the right mindset of having fun. 🙂

So what did I miss?

KR Training – 2014-07-19 – H:BtB/SB Quick Hits

A fine day at KR Training. Due to that polar vortex, weather was abnormally wonderful: didn’t get higher than the mid-80’s, partially overcast, and tho it was very humid, you couldn’t ask for a better day. Classes on tap ere Beyond the Basics: Pistol and Skill Builder. These are solid intermediate-level classes that help to drive home the fundamentals. Look at any sport, any discipline, and the best in that area know that fundamentals are what everything is based upon. Mastery of fundamentals is key, and here, that’s ultimately about trigger control.

Or at least, that was the order of the day. Yes, trigger control was the biggest issue all day, tho by the end of the day there was marked improvement with very little trigger slapping going on.

Here’s some comments about what I saw.

Trigger Control

Slapping, yanking, jerking, whatever you want to call it… it’s when all your shots wind up low-left, or more generally, they go where you don’t want them.

It comes back to what we kept saying throughout class: slow down, press the trigger. Yes, the feel of the trigger gets heavier as you press, but you don’t need to smack it to then overcome that resistance – just keep pressing.

Work this in dry fire. Start out working slowly, getting the feel, reinforcing that feel. Focus on the front sight, don’t let it be disturbed by your trigger press. But remember that one drill we did? The “ball and dummy” drill? Remember how the first time we’d do it slowly, but later on we did it faster, where you’d press the trigger, round goes off, and as soon as the gun came out of recoil and you had the sight picture we’d have to press again? Work that too. Don’t always make it a slow, deliberate pause between presses, because ultimately you’re trying to get faster so you have to work faster. It will smooth out. Push yourself a little faster, a little faster, until you see things break down; stay there for a bit and keep working it.

Grip

A few people had issues with shots going all over the place. From what I could see, it’s a grip problem.

First, it’s about griping hard enough. Yes, it’s going to make you tired because you need to clamp down as hard as you can on the grip. You’re not used to that, your muscles will fatigue, and you will lighten up your grip to alleviate the discomfort. Don’t do this! Keep clamping down, because you need to build up that strength and endurance. Remember how we were saying just 10 minutes of dry fire every other day? Well, you should be able to work that clamp grip every time you dry practice, and you just watch! Give it two weeks of consistent work and you’ll see your grip improve.

Second, it’s about gripping properly. Remember to get your primary hand up high on the gun, with that cushioned part of your hand between your thumb and index finger smooshed up into the beavertail area. Remember to cant your support hand forward, get it high up on the gun, and clamp hard with this hand. Do this every time. Work to have consistency in your grip.

Third, consistency. Be sure that you grip the same way every time. That you are gripping hard enough every time and that that grip pressure remains as constant as you can make it. Try this. Hold the gun in a proper but very loose grip and line up the sights with your eyes. Now, don’t move anything else and just clamp down your grip on the gun. Did you notice the gun moved? The sights are now off and you do not have a proper sight picture? Try it a few times, and notice how not only things move, but they move differently each time. Often what happens is people start out with a loose grip, then they know the gun is about to go off so they suddenly clamp down their grip and you get what you saw above. That sudden clamping shifts the direction of the muzzle, a different way every time, and so you wind up with almost no consistency nor accuracy in your shots.

.380 ACP

A few yeas ago .380 became the new hotness. All these small guns, the growth of women and people recommending guns chambered in .380 to them. Trouble is, there are problems with .380.

First, the shame is that there are few guns that are of decent quality in that chambering. So many of the .380 guns are cheap and of questionable quality and reliability. Usually when we see a .380 in class, there are problems and failures with it. If this is the gun you’re betting your life on, you need to trust your equipment and know it will perform when called upon.

Second, it’s a marginal caliber. I don’t need to say much here, as Greg Ellifritz recently wrote a good article on this very topic.

A .380 is better than nothing, but I would encourage folks that choose a .380 to step back and examine why they chose the .380  and to see if there’s a better alternative that can satisfy your same reasons and requirements.

For the Ladies

The student body was majority female, and just about everyone stayed all day. I forget what chapter they were from, but most were from A Girl and A Gun, and it was great to have them out there.

What I wanted to mention here was the notion of “drop and offset” holsters. This is a holster where the belt loop is of course at the belt line, but then the holster itself is dropped down a bit and offset a bit from the belt, which helps to work with a woman’s body structure (hips). Take a look at the International from Comp-Tac. See that picture? See how the holster is dropped down and offset from the belt loop? That’s what we’re talking about.

Granted, this isn’t the best solution for every day carry, but for classes, for range work, for competing, it’s an option to look into.

Thanx

Thank you all for coming out and choosing to spend your day with us. It was a pleasure to have you, and we look forward to seeing you again on the range.

 

Teach your children these four vital things

Our society puts high value on three things:

  1. Our children
  2. Their education
  3. Their safety

We value our children because we love them, because they are our future (and our legacy), and because they are vulnerable and prone to make mistakes (such is childhood). That’s why we put such high value in their education: they need to not just survive but thrive in their adult life, and education is key towards ensuring a bright future. But since “stuff happens” and “kids can be kids” we value the safety of our children, because want to see grandchildren, because we don’t want to bury our children, because we know that mistakes can be costly, so we’d rather see them be a source for education and growth.

Our children,

Their education.

Their safety.

We value these things so highly.

Because of that, I am dumbfounded when I see people going out of their way to keep their children ignorant. I do not understand why someone would do such a thing. Yes, we homeschool our children, but we refuse to shelter them or only expose them to a single mode of thought. How will that serve our children as they enter the adult world? How will that enable them to seek knowledge and truth? How will that keep them safe?

I keep thinking back to a time when I was putting on the Eddie Eagle GunSafe program. I saw numerous parents make an overt effort to keep their children away and not attend the program.

OK, I do understand why. It’s because it involves “guns” and “the NRA” and is probably just some covert indoctrination into that world of gun-toting, Bible-thumping, Tea Party rednecks, right? People just see trigger-words like “gun” and “NRA” and immediately clam up, putting their fingers in their ears, closing their eyes and refusing to hear what has to be said. OK, I can understand why, but I think it’s doing a grave disservice to your children.

You can hate guns all you want. You can be on the crusade to ban guns and wipe guns and gun-loving-people off the planet. That’s totally fine. But in the meantime, guns are still around, and your children could encounter them.

In July 2008 an Austin Police K-9 unit was at a park. Apparently the dog jumped on his handler, knocking the officer’s gun out of its holster. The gun was found by a mother and her child.

“I know that having a 2-year-old, they’d pick that up without a problem,” Bendt [a frequent park visitor, with her 3 children] said.

In January 2013, a school security guard in Michigan left his handgun in a school bathroom.

Chatfield parent Tris Fritz told mlive.com that the incident was “a big mistake”: “I think that some kid might not think it’s a real gun. They might think it’s a toy. They’re going to be curious, that’s the nature of a child.”

Consider that many who despite and hate guns and want them banned do consider police acceptable people to have guns. But police, like you, are fallible; as you can see, so long as there are guns in this world, there is opportunity for your child to come in contact with one.

So while you crusade for a better tomorrow, you must accept the reality of today: guns exist, and you and/or your child may come in contact with one at some point in their life.

When this contact occurs, will your child know what to do to stay safe?

Are you willing to educate your child on how they can keep themselves and their friends safe?

Or would you rather you and your child remain ignorant, perhaps costing them their life?

It’s your call, but I would hope you’d be willing to swallow your pride and at least teach your child these 4 vital things to do if they ever come in contact with a gun:

  1. STOP!
  2. Don’t touch.
  3. Leave the area.
  4. Tell an adult.

I’m not saying this to shill for the NRA. I’m saying this because I don’t want to see your child become a statistic.

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – Revisited Again

I just re-read an article from Claude Werner on “Practice priorities for the Armed Citizen“. (h/t Greg Ellifritz). As I was reading it, it reminded me of my article series on “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol“. I did revisit the series a few months back, but Claude’s article gave me a few more things to think about, and perhaps revise/refine in my suggestions for practice and skills progression.

Claude speaks about a progression, a “where do I go from here?” sort of thing. Claude offers his own suggestions, like the NRA Defensive Pistol Qualification. But what really got me was pointing out a key problem most people have when it comes to live fire practice:

Most people have to limit their livefire practice to indoor ranges where drawing from the holster is not allowed. This presents an issue to those who carry pistol in holsters. There are solutions, though.

Indeed this is a problem. I’ve gotten quite spoiled at KR Training and with the host of good ranges around Austin where you can do things like practice drawing from a holster. Of course, there are still those people that go to one of the local indoor ranges that have these restrictions, and of course others around the country tend to have these restrictions as well. I overlooked that reality. Claude offers:

Like many of my colleagues, for a long time I said the hard part of the drawstroke is establishing grip. I’ve changed my opinion on that. The hard part of the drawstroke is getting the pistol indexed on the target enough to get a good hit with the first shot. John Shaw, a World Champion shooter, clued me in to this many years ago. Note that I didn’t say a ‘perfect’ hit.

Indexing the pistol to the target (presentation) is easily practiced from a high ready position starting at the pectoral muscle of the body’s dominant side. Starting this way is not generally a problem at an indoor range. And since I recommend practicing one shot per presentation, the ‘no rapid fire’ limitation at many indoor ranges isn’t an issue either.

This is one of those smack your head because you wish you could have had a V-8 sort of moments. What Claude writes is so true. The press-out, the presentation, whatever you want to call it, it’s the hardest part and such a vital skill. When you draw? You then must press-out. After a reload? You must press out. Clear a malfunction? You must press out. The press out is such a vital skill (it’s a key thing stressed in so many of the KR Training courses). And yes, you can practice this at the indoor ranges. You can start from that high, compressed ready position (step 3 of the 4-step drawstroke), and press out and break one shot. While you might end up eventually moving fast in doing this, your single-shots will still be “slow” relative to each other (i.e. you’re not double-tapping) and thus no range rules broken. So so so true, and so important.

Thank you Claude for my “V-8 moment”. Regardless if you take a progression like Claude recommends or I recommend, the underlying issue remains the same: that you’ll use some particular course of fire (e.g. TX CHL test), assess your skills, then focus on improving the areas you identified as weak. For example, my last live-fire practice session I shot numerous drills not so much to shoot the drills (i.e. throw lead in a semi-organized manner), but to exercise the fundamental skills I consider important and identify what I was doing well and what I needed work on. I saw I needed to move faster, and doing a lot of one-shot draws are in my future. So yes, working that press-out is in my future.

Another thing Claude touched on.

…to get a good hit with the first shot…. Note that I didn’t say a ‘perfect’ hit.

Also:

What I like about it most is that it is a 100 percent standard, not 70 or 80 percent like a qualification course. We need to accustom ourselves to the concept that if we shoot at a criminal, ALL the rounds we fire must hit the target. That’s being responsible.

These remind me of my concept of “(un)acceptable hit“. I just prefer that phrasing over “good hit” or “miss”, because like Claude said, it’s not necessarily a “perfect” hit. It’s also understanding that all the rounds must hit what we need it to hit; we must make acceptable hits.

Thanx, Claude!

on instructors

You need an instructor not to instruct, but to guide you on the journey of discovery.

– Gabe Suarez

KR Training – 2014-05-10 – BP2/DPS1 Quick Hits

It’s tough to beat those days when you help people become more able, more confident in themselves, to overcome sticking-points in their lives. It’s really cool to watch it unfold. Student comes to class, starts out rather unsure of themselves, then are rockin’ it and giddy-thrilled after a few hours of hard work.

Had one of those days this past Saturday at KR Training. We had a Basic Pistol 2 (which is being evolved into “Defensive Pistol Essentials”) and a Defensive Pistol Skills 1. People of varying backgrounds and demographics, some came for one class, but many stayed for both. The weather was great, tho certainly we can tell we’re creeping into summertime.

Drink water. Wear sunscreen.

A few points for those in class (and to anyone willing to read this):

  • Marksmanship still matters. Yes, classes like this introduce you to the concept that time matters, speed matters — you don’t have all day to get comfortable and peel off a shot whenever you feel ready and able. But the fastest miss matters not. You must work to get acceptable hits.
    • At this stage if you need to slow down to ensure acceptable hits, then do so. Speed will come.
    • On the same token, some of you are making such tight groups that you can afford to speed up little more. It’s OK to let those groups open up a bit, as long as they remain in the target area (e.g. that 6″ circle). Speed up 10% over what you’re doing now, then work to get the groups back down in size at that increased speed. Repeat until you’re acceptably both fast and accurate.
  • Work on the simultaneous motion: pressing gun out, pressing trigger in. This is how you can “go faster without going faster“.
  • Trigger press (control) is vital. Dry fire practice all the things we did in class. In fact, if any of you were paying attention during DPS1, I went to demo a drill, there wasn’t a round in the chamber, and I watched my front sight dip — yeah, I need more practice too. 🙂

Thank you all for coming out and spending your time with us.

Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol – Revisited

I’d like to revisit a series I wrote some months ago about “Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol“.

After presenting the series at the 2nd Annual SDS Conference, I looked at how I did and coupled that with some feedback I received from an attendee whose opinion I greatly value (thanx, Sam!). His assessment and feedback reinforced my own thoughts on my performance, and with that, I figured it was right to revisit some things.

Presentation

The presentation itself? I thought I could have done better. I realized as I was putting the presentation together that I had organized it well for serialized presentation on the blog, but that didn’t lend so well to a public speaking forum. Alas, I didn’t have time to revise the presentation, so I presented it with only minor adjustment. It went over alright, but I know there was structure I could have improved.

One of the biggest parts? I spent a good deal of time talking about defining minimum standards, but not enough on how one can go about achieving them. Again, this worked well for the serialized blog presentation, but wasn’t as engaging for a listening audience.

I also realized, I never explicitly defined a drill or other test that helps one assess meeting those minimum standards. I implied it to be the “3 Seconds or Less” drill, but as it stands now? Well….

On Minimum Standards

If you haven’t, go back and read the original article so you can be aware of the foundation.

In the end, I think “minimum competency for defensive pistol skills” lies with the ability to:

  • Draw from concealment
    • Perhaps with movement (sidestep) on the draw)
  • Make multiple, acceptable hits
  • In a small area
  • From close range
    • Think “within a car length” (0-5 yards)
  • Quickly
    • 3 seconds or less
  • Using both hands
    • Enables multiple acceptable hits, quickly

Skills beyond that (one-handed shooting, reloading, malfunction remedy) are useful but above minimal. And of course, both safety and etiquette are expected.

Remember: this is about “minimal”. Put it this way. You have a friend whose crazy ex is now stalking them, threatening to do them harm. They have the restraining order, but they know how useful that is so they choose to get a gun. You have an afternoon to get them some basic skills. What is most vital for them to learn how to do? That’s what I’m talking about.

So yes, I was figuring the “3 Seconds or Less” drill was a good answer to this question. But now? Not so much.

Karl has evolved the drill. One change was in the ordering of the course of fire, merely to facilitate running the drill (eased the ammo and reload requirements so you could more easily run it with semi-autos or revolvers). That sort of change doesn’t really matter towards answering the question, and frankly it’s a good revision.

But Karl also changed the content of the drill. For example, in the current version of the drill there’s a reload, some walking backwards while shooting, and a turning draw; none of these were present in the original version of the drill.

This is why I think this drill no longer answers the question: it involves skills that are above minimal. This makes sense for the context in which Karl uses it: as a core test for KR Training’s “Defensive Pistol Skills” course progression. However, it is doing more than minimal, so it’s not strictly the correct answer for “minimum competency”.

That said, I’ve maintained that minimum competency is not good enough. You need to work to a higher standard (that Paul Ford comment about 70% of your worst day). I would say the current “3 Seconds or Less” drill is a good “higher standard” to work towards. Other good “higher standards” would be:

But again, this is higher. We’re talking minimal.

A Possible Minimal Drill?

As much as I hate to say it, I think the Texas CHL test COULD be it.

But it needs work.

Here’s the drill:

  • 3 yards
    • 1 shot, 2 sec., 5x
    • 2 shots, 3 sec., 5x
    • 5 shots, 10 sec., 1x
  • 7 yards
    • 5 shots, 10 sec., 1x
    • 2 shots, 4 sec., 1x
    • 3 shots, 6 sec., 1x
    • 1 shot, 3 sec., 5x
    • 5 shots, 15 sec., 1x
  • 15 yards
    • 2 shots, 6 sec., 1x
    • 3 shots, 9 sec., 1x
    • 5 shots, 15 sec., 1x

Here’s how it could be changed to make it a better test of minimum competency:

  • Needs to be shot from concealment
    • Current test has you working off a bench, and shooting from a ready position. Unrealistic.
    • Must shoot from concealment, whatever your chosen carry and concealment method would be. If that’s from a hip holster under your shirt, fine. Pocket carry, fine. If that’s from a purse, fine.
  • Use a better target
    • The B-27 is like hitting a barn wall. Furthermore, it’s not anatomically correct.
    • Use a target like an IPSC or IDPA target. There are a host of such targets out there. The key is a target that provides a smaller “acceptable hit” zone, and that is anatomically correct.
    • Make scoring more difficult. It’s “hit or miss”, “acceptable or unacceptable”. There is no graduated scoring scale, it either is or is not. If it’s on a line, if it’s questionable, score it unacceptable. 90% minimum score, or better, 100%.
  • Do not adjust the listed par times.
    • Having to shoot from concealment adds enough time to make the published par times more difficult.
    • This could be debated, and probably debated per-string. Like the first string (3 yards, 1 shot, 2 seconds) is probably sufficient, but the last 3 yard string (5 shots, 10 seconds), should that time be lowered? Probably, but this is splitting hairs at this point. Keep it simple and keep the test as written. These other modifications are more important.
  • The 15 yard strings are debatable.
    • That’s a pretty long car…
    • If I was using my above example of needing to get a friend some quick skills in an afternoon, I’d focus on the 3 yards, then on the 7 yards; I’d skip the 15 yards.

Shooting the TX CHL test with these changes (call it “TX-CHL++”, that’s “Texas CHL plus plus”) doesn’t make you any sort of bad-ass gunfighter, but I think it does a fair job at addressing the minimum requirements.

Remember: the intent of trying to establish “minimum competency” is because we, as humans, tend to overestimate our skills and abilities. We tend to think we have the skills, that we’ll handle ourselves just fine when the flag flies. It’s better to test yourself against standards such as these to see if you really do or do not. It’s better to have a dose of reality now, when you can afford it and can then work to remedy any shortcomings.

How to get there

So you’ve shot some tests and determined you need some work. How to get there?

After talking with Sam, I felt like maybe there should be a program to help you out. Like when doing all this weight lifting, a program like Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program is a great way to get going and address a lot of things. Could such a program be devised for shooting? I think so. Look at the books and DVD’s from Mike Seeklander. He takes a bit of a different approach, but that could certainly get you there.

I think in most regards it’s going to come down to the individual. What is your learning style like? Are you self-motivated?  Do you have enough to be able to self-diagnose and improve? In the beginning, we all need good teachers, and there are good schools and instructors out there. Take advantage of those opportunities to have a teacher, a mentor. There’s a lot of DVD product coming out that can be a help for sure, but I’ve found that those tend to be most useful to folks that already have a clue. You don’t have a be a master, but a rank beginner is going to get a lot more from having a real instructor looking over their shoulder, that can see precisely what’s going on and offer ways to correct, improve, and progress.

You have to practice the things you don’t want to practice. You have to be willing to push yourself outside your comfort zone. And I think another key factor is having a tangible goal. You can have a lofty goal, then break it up into smaller milestones. Perhaps it starts with shooting the TX-CHL++ clean with no time limits. Then you work towards the time-limits. Then you pick a harder standard, like the Farnam Drill, with a 15 second par, then 14 second. As you work, you’ll find where your weaknesses are and use dry fire practice to improve those. And so on. Be willing to be patient, but work consistently.

In the end, the desire is improvement. That we understand what “minimum acceptable” is so we can ensure we’re at least that, but then work to exceed it. Set a new level, then rise above it. And so on, and so on.