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.

Summertime Safety Prep

Here in Texas, it’s officially summer.

It’s hot.

It’s sunny.

If you’re going to do some training or practice in self-defense, there’s a couple things of utmost importance for preserving your life and well-being:

  1. Sunscreen
  2. Hydration


It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if it’s taking a day-long class at an outdoor gun range or just spending the day outside enjoying the sun.

Wear sunscreen. This can be a spray/lotion/cream product, or just wearing covering (but cool) clothing, brimmed hats, etc. Protect your skin.

I’d like to think most people understand the need for sunscreen (if you don’t, Google is your friend). But I see it time and time again in classes, where people don’t somehow protect themselves from the sun and by mid-day are turning red, and are nice and burned by the end of the day. If you’ve got a 2-day class, day 2 is going to be miserable.

At KR Training we’ve got sunscreen in the bathroom. Use it, please!

I used to wear my short-sleeve shirt and shorts, which is my normal summertime choice. But all day out on the range, with no shade? It just got to be too much for me, even with sunscreen.

Now I keep myself fairly covered. I wear long pants (and recently picked up a pair of Vertx Phantom Ops AirFlow upon recommendation from Caleb Causey; we’ll see how they go). I used to wear an Under Armour long-sleeve shirt underneath my KR Training shirt, but that got too hot. Now I just wear the KRT shirt with a set of Under Armour “sleeves”; I used to think these looked silly, and I still do, but they are a godsend. They keep me covered, and actually help with cooling. The only exposed skin I have are my hands, face, and neck, and I do put a high-SPF, waterproof (sweat) sunscreen on them. My days on the range are much happier this way. Yes I’m covered, but it’s with cool(ing) cover.


As Caleb Causey is famous for saying: Drink water!

But really, it’s more than that.

Eat well. Make sure your body is well-nourished. This nourishment should be every day, but sometimes life gets to us. If you know you’re going to be having a day or two of heavy physical activity out in the heat, make the effort to get your body well-nourished starting a couple days before. Like if it’s a weekend class? Start at least come Thursday morning, all day Thursday, all day Friday – and then all day through the classes. Keep your body well-fed.

If you don’t have a specific medical condition that prevents you, you should also not be afraid of taking in some extra salt, both before and during the activity. You will lose a lot of electrolytes through sweat. One thing I like to do? That “Lite Salt”? It’s actually a mix of sodium and potassium. I put about 1/4 tsp. into drinks; not enough that I truly notice a salty flavor, but enough that I get a little extra electrolyte in me — and it’s cheaper than sports drinks.

Drink more than you need. If you’re used to just taking a few gulps? Take a few more. Drink 8 oz? Drink 16. Just drink more, because you are generally fighting a losing battle.

Pay attention to your pee. It should be pretty close to clear (tho truly clear can actually be over-hydration and be diluting electrolytes). A faint yellow or straw color is good. If it’s darker yellow, if it’s brown, drink (more) water. If you’re seeing other colors, you may need medical attention (seriously).

Take care of yourself

You’re coming to the gun range to learn how to protect and preserve your life.

Preserving your life starts with your health.

Protect yourself from the sun. Protect yourself from dehydration. Protect yourself from heat exhaustion and other heat-related injuries. They are common and pretty easily preventable.

You’ll have a much more enjoyable and productive day on the range if you do.


ACLDN responds to the NRA

You’ve probably heard the noise about the NRA’s new Carry Guard program.

The roll-out of this program has been controversial, starting a couple months ago when USCCA was suddenly uninvited from the NRA Annual Meeting.

In fact, it’s rather odd when you consider the NRA has long had a training division (see here and here) but that division is sorely absent from their new product. In fact, it appears their new product is a direct competitor with their long-standing product. Huh???

Strange things are afoot at the Circle K.

Marty Hayes of the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network has written an Open Letter to the NRA about this incident.

I agree with Marty.

(Disclosure: I am a member of ACLDN, and have made use of their services; but I am not on their payroll, I receive no compensation or anything from ACLDN other than the services I get by being a paying member).

Marty has also updated his comparison guide, that compares various post-incident suport plans, to include Carry Guard. While the guide certainly promotes ACLDN, I do think it’s a fair and even assessment of the various programs out there because he’s just presenting the simple facts of the programs in a side-by-side comparison article. I think the promotion of ACLDN comes from the fact it’s a top-notch program (which is why I’m a member).

The point here is not to stir up more drama than the NRA has already created, but rather to point out the odd nature of what the NRA is doing. Give Marty’s open letter a read.

Thinking about putting a red dot scope on your carry gun?

To put a red dot scope on a handgun used for personal protection and/or concealed carry is growing in popularity. But is it really an improvement? Is there something to be gained, beyond Instagram likes and “cool-kids points”?

In 2015 & 2016 KR Training partnered with the Texas A&M Huffines Institute to jointly fund and conduct an academic study comparing shooter performance using iron sights, green lasers, and slide mounted red dot sights (with and without backup iron sights).

Karl is finishing up publication of the complete study, but he’s been freely talking about  the key points from the study. He just wrote up an article summarizing the key points, and it’s well worth a read if you’re considering a red dot.

I was one of the participants in the study. I’m not a red dot shooter, and for sure it was a different beast to shoot with the red dot than irons. I spoke with other participants and they all echoed similar sentiments. One thing that truly surprised many of us was how well we all shot with the laser. I had poo-pooed lasers in the past, but after going through this I feel a laser is going to wind up on my gun one of these days.

Me personally? I don’t see myself getting a red dot any time soon (tho again a laser is a different story). However, don’t just go off my preferences. Give Karl’s study a read, take in the data, and seriously consider his final 5 advice points. And if you don’t like what you read, replicate the study perhaps adjusting for variables you have a contention point with. That’s what science is all about: one study isn’t the final word, merely a starting point.

Life worth protecting? Get medical skills!

‘Blood was coming out of her mouth and down her shoulder. …

‘I grabbed her and she was a puppet. I was walking to her towards the door and got her through the foyer and she collapsed in her arms.

‘I put her down and blood was coming out of her mouth and I thought she would have choked. Her eyes were staring up and I lifted her up and her little arms were broken. She had shrapnel in both her legs, her shoulder and her face.

May 22, 2017. Manchester. Almost 2 dozen dead and 10x as many injured at the end of an Ariana Grande concert. Many were children.

‘She lost pints and pints of blood in the time I was there. ‘We made makeshift compressions to press on her wounds on her legs and shoulder. I was holding her up and talked to her, asking her name.

A sick, evil creature inflicted this.

‘We stopped the bleeding but I couldn’t move as she screamed if I did,’ she said.

‘It took so long for help to come. I was holding her all the time crying we need help we need help. Every time i moved a little bit she screamed she was in that much pain.

‘The armed police swarmed in and sit seemed to take forever to check the place. I was sat there so long and all I could see was the bodies and the blood. I saw a body in half, there was so much blood. Peoples clothes had been blown off them and people crying in agony.

(Full story. h/t Greg Ellifritz)

It’s maddening.

People go on and on about wanting to carry a gun to protect their lives. I totally get that.

But let me ask you this.

How many times in the past year have you needed a gun?

How many times in the past year have you needed medical skills? Even so little as having to clean a cut and put on a band-aid.

Which do you think is going to go further in terms of your ability to preserve your life and the lives of others? Carrying a gun? Or having medical skills? First-aid. Field trauma. You don’t have to be an EMT, but there are critical life-saving skills you can possess.

What drives me (and many of my colleagues) crazy? That people will plunk down hundreds or thousands of dollars for a weekend shooting class, but when presented with the ability to take a medical class, they go out of their way to make excuses to NOT take the class. I shit you not, I’ve seen it first-hand.


My buddy Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics is coming to KR Training June 3-4, 2017 to teach his Med-X EDC course. And you know what? Last I checked, the class is at risk of not making. Not enough students interested. Back in February when Caleb was down for his Dynamic First Aid class? Class was able to make because 4 of the students were my family members.

I’m appalled.

No, I’m not trying to advertise and drum up enrollment; I was pissed about this before the Manchester tragedy. It’s manifestation of the fact people do NOT put emphasis on medical training, when it’s pretty damn obvious such knowledge could do more to save lives than carrying a gun ever will.

Carrying a tourniquet and whatever other things you can? Is there any reason not to?

Next time I go into a concert venue, when questioned about why I’d bring a tourniquet into a concert my response is pretty much:

  • Ask Dimebag Darrell
  • Ask the Eagles of Death Metal and their fans at the Bataclan
  • Ask the people at the Pulse nightclub
  • And now, ask Ariana Grande

Folks, if you believe in carrying or owning a gun to protect your life, if you believe that life is that precious that it should be preserved “at all costs”, then damnit – get some medical training.


Finally found a solution for carrying a tourniquet!

It’s difficult to argue against carrying a tourniquet with you every day. But for sure, to carry one isn’t the easiest thing as good tourniquets (read: SOFTT-W or C-A-T) are bulky; the windlass is inescapable and forces particular constraints and realities.

Over the years I’ve tried numerous solutions and they just have not worked FOR ME. I want to stress the FOR ME part. There are solutions out there that work for TQ EDC, like my buddy Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics uses an ankle wrap. But in the summer I like shorts and sandals, and in the winter I like boots – none of these are conducive to an ankle wrap. So solutions here are very much a “for me” situation.

About a year ago I picked up a PHLstr Flatpack Tourniquet Carrier as it looked to have potential as a solution. You can click through to read my impressions at the time, but the bottom line was simple: nice solution, but didn’t work FOR ME. The quest continued.

But some months ago it dawned on me: I don’t need a carrier, I already have one in my cargo pants pockets. I had tried it in the past but the bulk factor was a problem. The game changer? Flat-packing.

Here’s a video explaining how to flat-pack a SOFTT-W:


I started by NOT using any sort of carrier/restraint at all, just sticking it into my pocket. The cargos I tend to wear have some inner pockets and the TQ fit perfectly. Huzzah! I’ve been able to carry a TQ on my person everywhere I go, without much problem nor notice.

Of course, an unrestrained TQ was a bit a problem because it would come unfolded. I was using a rubber-band, but Caleb cured me of that (good luck trying to apply that one-handed). So how to solve this? The problem has been with me.

The PHLster Flatpack Carrier. 🙂

I removed the belt loops from the carrier. It’s now just the backing and the shock-cord. Since the backing is cut to precisely the same size as the flatpacked TQ, no real footprint issues. It still fits in my cargo pockets like a charm. It’s bound so it doesn’t become a mess, and it’s able to be deployed quickly.


ProArms Podcast – Episode 099 – John Daub

In early April 2017, Massad Ayoob came to KR Training to teach his MAG-40 class.

Mas had asked me if I would be willing to speak to the class about my January 2015 incident. Gail Peppin asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed for The ProArms Podcast. Of course I was happy to do both. In the end, we settled on Gail recording my talk to the class, as the podcast content.

Episode 099 of The ProArms Podcast contains my talk to the class.

photo credit: Gail Peppin

I want to reiterate why I share this story.

First, in a way it helps me cope and deal with the incident. It’s a part of my life history, I will never escape it, so I own it. Sometimes when I talk about the incident, because of listener reactions or questions I find something new or different to think about. It helps me deepen my perspective on the event, on myself.

Second, and more importantly, I share it because I want something good to come from this incident. It is a tragic incident, and I hope through sharing my experience somehow good can come from it. Since the day of the incident, I’ve maintained this stance, and will always proceed with this goal. When I made my first public comment about the story I said:

I never wanted such a thing to happen, but it did and I can’t undo it – my actions, the actions of the others involved that lead up to and enabled this situation to happen. The best I can do is try to find something positive from it. To try to find some way to make the world better from it. One hope is that it brought the problems with the group home into the public eye; perhaps the lives of others will be improved because of this event, if it means bringing better protections, better oversight, better living conditions. Time will tell. But I will not sit by and just let time pass; I fully intend to be active in making good come from this event.

Sharing my story is part of my effort to make good come from this event.

And if this is your first time hearing this story then I ask you – and if this is not the first time, I ask you again – please pray for the repose of the soul of Jared James, and please pray for his family, that they will be able to find peace.

Thank you.

Which matters more? Capacity or…

My esteemed colleague, Claude Werner, penned an excellent analysis: Revolvers will get you killed – Or will they?

You see, Claude likes data. He likes to collect it, analyze it, interpret results, and in presenting his data he often rocks the boat. It’s one thing I love about Claude.

In this particular article, Claude discusses a recent article that posited armed citizen encounters rarely need more ammunition than what’s in a concealed-carry revolver (5-6 rounds).

Of course, in today’s world where increased magazine capacity is a huge marketing/selling point, only carrying 5-6 rounds tends to be scoffed at. So of course, Claude presents data.

Claude’s data shows the number of shots fired ranging from 0 to 2.

We can also look at Tom Givens’ student incident data, where the average was 3-4 rounds.

Thus, it’s reasonable to conclude that “seldom” does one need more than 5.

In my own incident, I fired 5 rounds.

But here’s where perhaps Claude and I differ.

Because you see, statistics are of little comfort when you are the anomaly.

Looking at the Givens data set, the range of shots fired ranges from 1 to 12 (last I saw the data summary it was 11, but I think recently it went up to 12). That 5-shot snub ran empty long ago. I think about my own incident, and while it was unfolding I was expecting there to be “friends”; if I had only a 5-shot revolver and if my situation was different, I’m not sure how things might have gone.

So this isn’t to say that there isn’t a place and a role for smaller, lower-capacity guns. I have them, and sometimes I carry them because they are what’s contextually appropriate. But for me, if I’m in a situation where I can carry something bigger with greater capacity, I will. Because why not? If all other things are equal, why choose 5 when I can choose 15? Because one thing I can NOT choose is how my self-defense incident is going to be and what I’m going to face.

But I didn’t come here to beat the dead horse of “capacity”.

Because if you read Claude’s article (and I can tell by my website analytics that you haven’t clicked through to read it… which is a shame, and your loss), you’ll come to see what matters MUCH MUCH more in terms of a self-defense incident.

For you see, while the hard-skills of shooting are certainly important, there are skills involved in private citizen self-defense incidents that matter so much more.

You’re just going to have to read Claude’s article to learn.

KR Training 2017-04-22 – BP2/DPS1 Quick Hits

Saturday April 22, 2017 was another fantastic day at KR Training. On tap: Basic Pistol 2 (our Defensive Pistol Skills Essentials) and Defensive Pistol Skills 1. These are two of the core – and arguably most important – classes we teach. It’s here that students go from casual plinking at the range to starting to acquire the skills and understand the realities involved in using a handgun for self-defense.

We had a good turnout, with over a dozen students in the morning, and over half staying for the afternoon class. For those all-day students it’s a long day, but one packed with learning and growth.

A bit of an interesting day too, as the weather took a “pleasant” turn. Instead of the warm weather we’ve been having, a cold front blew through just as class was starting. Sure 60º–ish all day isn’t that cold, but the wind was strong and bitterly cold; not all students were prepared for it. I can’t totally blame folks, but now instead of my usual “wear sunscreen” I’m going to have to start suggesting to people to ensure to always bring clothing/gear to mind the weather – even if it doesn’t make logical sense, because days like today apparently do happen. 😉

As well, I was the Lead Instructor for this day. Karl was off at the annual A Girl and A Gun Conference, so I held down the fort. I had capable assistants in Larry, Brett, and Justin. We had a mix of students: young and old, male and female – we ran the gamut. Again, I always like to point out demographics because there are people who think they know who and what gun owners are, but really have no clue.

John Daub, instructing students on the range during KR Training’s Basic Pistol 2 class.

As for some quick take-homes:

  • Trigger press. Remember? Prreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss. Apply smooth pressure. Yes the pressure will and must increase, but keep it smooth (not sudden).
  • Grip should be strong (“Homer choking Bart”), and consistent. When you are holding the gun in the ready position, be gripping HARD – don’t tighten up when you get the gun out and in response to pressing the trigger.
  • Going fast is important, but not at the expense of accuracy. At this stage I’d rather you work on good mechanics, establishing good technique, and working to get acceptable hits. Speed will come.

One other thing.

For some, it can be a hard day. Not even so much on the skills and direct learning aspects, but what you go through, what you put yourself through. There can be a lot of emotions, a lot of discomfort. These two classes are filled with novel experiences, and sometimes uncomfortable experiences.

But guess what?

You made it through.

You are more aware.

You are stronger.

You are more capable.

And that smile on your face tells me, it was a good day.

Thank you for coming out and training with us. Thank you for putting your faith and trust in us, to help you learn and grow in such an important aspect of your life.

Practice well. Train hard. We’ll see you out on the range.

“But he was unarmed!” – Maybe so, but he could still kill you

It’s a widely held misconception that an “unarmed” person – someone with only their hands, without tools (gun, knife, baseball bat, hammer, 2×4, etc.) – is not dangerous, is not harmful.

Robert A. Margulies, MD, MPH, FACEP speaks with the ACLDN about blunt force trauma lethality.

A blow to the temple area where the skull is relatively thin can actually cause a fracture in that area and tear the underlying artery. This can produce permanent disability, and can cause death.

A blow to the back of the neck can dislocate the spine and cause paralysis or death. These are things that one does not really have to be a trained martial artist to do. Blows to the nose, to the back of the neck, to the throat are examples of “empty hands” that can produce disability or death.

Head and face trauma has an interesting aspect to it. It is not just that somebody has been hit in the face, but bleeding and swelling of tissues can also lead to airway blockages. Bleeding in the mouth can lead to swallowed blood, which is very irritating and can cause vomiting which puts somebody at a disadvantage, but also leads to the risk of aspiration. That is, the vomit is trying to come up and out, and you’re trying to breath in, and you suck some of this stuff down into your lungs. All of these things can become fatal, even though this was just a broken jaw and a little bleeding.

A blow to the ribs can cause injury to the liver or the spleen, both of which, in the vernacular, bleed like stink. Surgery is extremely difficult because the liver and the spleen are not like muscle where you can isolate a blood vessel and get control, they’re spongy and trying to suture is like trying to sew gelatin—it is difficult! It requires a highly trained team to be able to salvage somebody who has a shattered liver or spleen. Spleens can be removed and the patient can survive. Humans do not do well without a liver.

Dr. Margulies continues:

Unequivocally not. I consider hands and feet, knees, elbows and shoulders, to be deadly weapons. Once that first blow is delivered and once you go to the ground, the kick to the head, the knees in the chest, may produce permanent injuries and fatalities. I’m going to give you a reference to an article in the Journal of Head and Face Medicine, published in October 2005 (see – B10). One of the comments in it is that as of 2005, we in developed countries have a level of facial injuries caused by interpersonal violence exceeding those from motor vehicle crashes. This is not a new concept or a new problem.

I won’t question the fact that tools enable us to do things more efficiently, more effectively – that’s why we humans are tool creators and tool users. However, the lack of tools does not preclude a human from inflicting deadly harm upon another.

Please understand this.