Course Review: Dave Spaulding – Handgun Combatives – Adaptive Combat Pistol Course; April 21 & 22, 2018 – Watkinsville, Georgia.

I hate to start off by apologizing; however, it is easy to see that this course review is long overdue. The reason, my trusty write in the rain notebook has been missing in action ever since attending this course. All was right with the world when it was found yesterday afternoon under the rear seat in my vehicle, no idea how it got there, but sure am glad it was only temporarily misplaced as there were a lot of good notes from a few recently attended courses in there that would have been a shame to lose.

Ever since attending the Handgun CombativesVehicle Combatives course in Coffeyville, Kansas last September it has been a priority for me to try and take as many courses with Dave as my schedule will permit. Call it a thirst for knowledge if you will; however, Dave’s teaching style and his self-admitted warped sense of humor suits me well. I leave with better skills and also with some excellent information that I am able to transfer to the students and instructor candidates that I train in the process.

The day before the course I made the eight-hour drive to Athens, stopping to have a late lunch with a friend of mine just outside Atlanta. I arrived at the Comfort Inn & Suites on Atlanta Highway about 5:30pm and after grabbing dinner and making a stop Franklin Gun Shop I filled magazines and made sure all my gear was ready to go for the morning.

On TD1 of Handgun Combatives Adaptive Combat Pistol, we met at the range and Dave started with a brief introduction and presentation on his training methodology as most of the class had never taken a course with him before. If you follow Dave on social media you will see him with his trusty Webster’s dictionary by his side every so often on “Thoughts from the deck with Crown Royal” his definitions of the following are key to the program of instruction in this course.

Adapt = Change as required by circumstances.

Adaptive = The ability to change as required by circumstances.

To be Adaptive = To be able to change as required by circumstances.

Combative = Be ready and willing to fight.

After explaining these definitions and why he uses the words he does Dave went into Fundamentals vs. Essentials. Fundamentals are needed to form a foundation. Essentials are what is absolutely necessary and you should have a mastery of the essential skills.

Developing a combative mindset is first, followed by a list of things we all understand, e.g., grip, stance, presentation of the pistol on target the same way each time, etc… Dave went on to emphasize that in order to develop your essential skills, you need consistent, significant practice that is directed at fighting, also having an imagery of real-world threats and understand what violent encounters really are, not what you see in movies or the stages of a USPSA match.

On the range both days we started out with a three-round fade-back drill. Personally, I feel that I had a few too many “yips” on TD1 as you can see by my target below. In case you have never fired Dave’s fade-back drill it’s pretty easy, all you need is a 3×5 card target like the one pictured below, some ammunition and a range that allows you to shoot out to 25 yards. Start at 3 yards and fade back to 25, things get a little tough hitting that 3×5 card back at 20 and 25 yards. The course host, Chief Lee Weems shot a clean target on TD1, he was the only student to do so.

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The rest of TD1 was chalk full of one-handed shooting drills and the one-handed gun manipulations that go with them. The drills presented were excellent for establishing that foundation of skills Dave talked about prior to the range portion of the course. (Yeah, his program of instruction is well thought out) I liked the bucket drill and let’s face it, I like drills that help me identify things that I need to work on and those that I can share with others to make them better practitioners/students of pistolcraft.

Ever the coach, Dave keeps a watchful eye on his students offering some well-placed tips on how to get better with what you are working with. He also splits the class into two relays allowing himself time to give some individual coaching on the range, leave no doubt he gives his students 110% during the entire course.

Once we adjourned for the day the majority of us had a little BBQ at a local restaurant in Watkinsville and then a touch of Crown Royal at Chops & Hops.

On TD2 we did a lot of work behind simulated cover and some distance shooting. For the simulated cover drills, we used both plastic 55-gallon drums and a VTAC barricade working through the latter using many unconventional shooting positions. the distance shooting went out to 25 yards and culminated with the 5 in 5 drill, 5 rounds from 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25 yards in 5 seconds from the holster. You can see an explanation and demonstration of the drill by the man himself in the video linked here.

The very last thing in the course of fire was to shoot Dave’s 2x2x2 drill. 2 rounds in 2 seconds from 20 feet from the holster on a 3×5 card target. Current LEO’s are allowed to use their duty gear, responsibly armed citizens all must start from a concealment holster. Those who are skilled enough to get two solid hits on target in the time allotted earn a Handgun Combatives engraved belt buckle and belt made by Ares Gear.

Unfortunately nobody earned a belt and buckle from this course; however, several students came very close. My effort produced two hits on target; however, I was overtime by .12 seconds. My mistake, letting the front sight settle a little too much looking for that perfect sight picture instead of just getting an acceptable sight picture and pressing the trigger. Maybe next time…

In summary, this is a course that tests your cognitive thinking abilities through the entire course of fire, Dave presents you a problem and you have to solve it, period. Same as a gunfight, your assailant will present you a problem and you will need to solve it or possibly die during the process. I mentioned it above, Dave’s course content and interactive personality (That will probably make him laugh) are what I enjoy about attending Handgun Combatives courses. Would I recommend this course? You bet I would and I think there are several Adaptive Combat Pistol courses on his remaining 2018 schedule that have a seat or two left in them.

Speaking of the Handgun Combatives training schedule, 2019 is published on his website and has only half of what 2018 had on it, Dave has been very public about teaching a more compact schedule in 2019 and beyond, so if you want to train with him I suggest you look at his schedule and make it happen, you can thank me later.

 

Gear used in the course is listed below:

Sig Sauer P320 X-Carry

Henry Holsters AIWB with V-Development Group AIWB Large Wedge

JMCK AIWB Mag Pouche(s)

5.11 Operator Belt

Surefire E2D Defender Ultra

My training ammunition was Federal American Eagle 147gr Flat Nose FMJ purchased from Target Sports USA.

 

(Featured Image Credit to Dave Spaulding and Handgun Combatives)

 

Until next time, be vigilant, be the best…

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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2018 NRA Instructor Immersion Weeks (Florida)

On July 1st, 2018 one of the many changes in the most recent update to the NRA Training Counselor Guide will take effect. In pertinent point, the NRA’s Education and Training Department has changed its policies and procedures requiring all Instructor Candidates to attend and pass the corresponding basic level course prior to attending an Instructor course in any discipline. Currently, only Pistol Instructor and Personal Protection Outside the Home require this, I am unsure about the Muzzleloading and both Reloading disciplines because I am not certified to teach those courses and there have been a lot of changes since I became a Training Counselor to the Muzzleloading disciplines.

So, the 2018 version of Instructor Immersion Weeks here in Florida will be the last of its kind and I see 2019 being Instructor Immersion Month, and in fact, I have already scheduled it on my long-range planning calendar for June 2019.

This mandate by the NRA Education and Training Department has been greeted with mixed feelings by the Training Counselor and Instructor community. Personally, I feel it is a change that has been needed for a long time. It allows the Training Counselor the opportunity to evaluate each individual Instructor Candidate in two classes over two full days of training on their knowledge, skills, and most importantly, their attitude.

The detractors say it is a money grab by the NRA, yeah right, because they make so much money on selling materials priced between $10 to $25 dollars, not even close. The NRA Education and Training Department has always had a policy that Training Counselors were to provide the corresponding Student package to all Instructor candidates, so that dog won’t hunt. They finally made this change because they were getting feedback from the Training Counselors that it was needed to create better Instructors, quality over quantity and the NRA listened.

Sadly, we will still have Training Counselors and Instructors not teaching according to the lesson plans, in fact recently one of my Instructors told me his Range Safety Officer course had only two guns for use by the students. Hint: The lesson plan calls for six different long gun action types, both revolver action types and a semi-automatic pistol, muzzleloading firearms, air guns and a BB gun. If you count that up that is twelve at a minimum. His Chief Range Safety Officer who is also a Training Counselor was ten shy of a dozen, a clear violation of policies and procedures, but I digress.

The schedule for 2018 Instructor Immersion Weeks will be as follows.

I am offering Basic Instructor Training or BIT three times prior to the start and once during the weeks so people can get their BIT updated as that is a requirement if you have not taken BIT in the previous twenty-four (24) months. There is no charge for BIT, it comes with your paid tuition to a discipline-specific Instructor course.

Discipline Specific Training Schedule:

NRA Basic Range Safety Officer Course
Monday, June 11th

NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting Instructor -Led Training Course
Friday, June 15th

NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting Course
Saturday, June 16th

NRA Chief Range Safety Officer Course
Monday, June 18th

NRA Instructor Personal Protection In the Home Course
Tuesday, June 19th

NRA Instructor Home Firearm Safety Course
Thursday, June 21st

NRA Instructor Rifle Shooting Course
Saturday, June 23rd

NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home Basic and Instructor Course
Wednesday-Thursday-Friday, June 27th, 28th, 29th

NRA Instructor Shotgun Shooting Course
Saturday, June 30th

NRA Refuse to be a Victim Instructor Development Workshop
Saturday, July 7th

Registrations began the week before last and have been brisk with my current base of Instructors getting in first before the masses. If you are wanting to get in and add some disciplines I’d suggest you make your plans now because seating is limited. Previous student discounts do apply, and multiple course discounts for new students will also apply.

 

Be vigilant, be the best!

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Course Review: SIG SAUER Academy Dynamic Performance Pistol; April 9th & 10th, 2018, Epping, New Hampshire.

Earlier this month I was at SIG SAUER Academy to attend “Gun School” for the fourth time in nine months, and so to say that I might be familiar with the Southwest Airlines nonstop between Tampa and Manchester would be an understatement. As with my three previous trips I stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Exeter using the SIG SAUER Academy discounted rate.

Since my visit in October, the student check-in process has changed slightly. All students now report to the Academy Pro Shop on TD1 of the course that they are attending to sign in and receive their course book. I would suspect that this is a welcome change to the staff as the students can select and pay for lunch from Hammersmith Sandwich Company in the morning and then pick up their lunch in the Indoor Range without interrupting the staff of the Pro Shop while they serve customers and of course Kathleen, the Academy Training Coordinator to pick up their lunches.

The course started for the eight of us inside classroom #7 out in Area 51 along with Academy Senior Instructor, Steven Gilcreast. We went over some basic safety rules and of course the differences between performance-based training objectives and outcome-based training objectives.

Dynamic Performance Pistol is an Intermediate level course and everything is geared to the student being focused on shooting each drill a minimum of three times, and having a goal to set a time and beat our time on the two subsequent runs or if it was a scored course of fire we were trying to beat our score with a higher point value. Sometimes the drill was a combination of both, scored for points and time adding in any penalties. I tend to like this method of training as it allows me to focus on what I can improve on to make each run better than the last. The difference between outcome-based and performance-based training objectives.

Once on the range, all of us were subject to 28° temperature and even though it warmed up to 40° later in the day, the windchill factor never rose above freezing. Personally, I have not experienced cold weather like that in nearly twenty years and candidly, I don’t see myself going back to the Academy for an outdoor course unless it is in June, July, August or September.

Our first few drills were designed to work on fundamentals mostly with respect to pressing the trigger properly using different cadences from 1s per shot to .50s per shot and even down to .25s per shot. Steve noticed I was pinning the trigger on my P320 X-Carry and not resetting and prepping for the next shot under recoil, and honestly, this is a problem that I struggled with off an on during the day. I fixed it later and yet I was still having some accuracy issues at distance. The good thing is I was able to identify these issues in training and since arriving back home I have gone back to shooting more bullseyes.

At the end of TD1, we had shot right at about 400 rounds running more than a half dozen drills three times each. At the end of TD1, I think all of us were looking forward to getting inside out of the cold.

After dinner at Telly’s Restaurant in Epping, I went back to my hotel and work on some dry practice and also to work on movement and footwork in the small gym that was located across from my first-floor room.

TD2 started on the range with a quick warm-up exercise and then we were right back into the drills. On this day we worked mostly on drills that involved a lot of movement and how to shoot accurately while on the move; however, one TD2 drill, Steve’s “Dirty Thirty” on an IPSC target didn’t involve movement, it involved shooting 30 rounds from 30 yards, trying to complete the drill in under 30 seconds. We practiced this drill from a couple shorter distances before venturing out to 30 yards, by doing this it helped work on technique and accuracy. I believe this is an excellent drill and the only one that I will give you the course of fire for in this review.

The Dirty Thirty: Starting with three 10 round magazines on the command, draw and fire 10 rounds in a two-handed standing position, reload and fire 5 rounds using strong hand only, then 5 using opposite hand only, reload and fire 5 rounds kneeling and finish with 5 rounds in the prone position as mentioned on an IPSC target.

If you are considering attending this course it is important for you to know that Steve is excellent at adapting the Dynamic Performance Pistol course of fire to fit the abilities of the students; however, this course is an Intermediate level course. Additionally, Steve teaches by the SIG SAUER Academy training methodology of “EDIP” or Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice. After explaining the drills he demonstrated several different ways to progress through the drill, even physically walking some of them and doing it faster than most of us as we ran it.

Just so you know, two students ended up ringing the gong on TD1, for not knowing the status of their guns. It was a sound we heard a couple times in the distance from other the ranges located on the property. Thankfully nobody from our course had to ring the gong on TD2.

My Gear and Equipment:

Gun(s): SIG SAUER P320 X-Carry and P320 full-size RX with Romeo 1.

Holster: Comp-Tac International strong-side OWB. (SIG SAUER Academy requires you use a strong-side hip holster in this particular course)

Ammunition: Federal American Eagle 147gr Flat Nose FMJ, this has been my preferred practice ammunition for the last two years, it is very accurate and I have had no ammunition related stoppages in the cycle of operations of my handguns while using it, so I’ll stick with what works.

Flashlight: Surefire Dual Fuel Fury Tactical 1,500 Lumens

In summary, this is an excellent course that will test your skills in both gun handling and shooting. From the strict focus on accuracy and the use of a shot timer on nearly every drill to moving with unholstered firearms. The course of fire is true to the advertised 1,000 rounds and I highly recommend it for the Intermediate to the Advanced Practitioner.

I look forward to my next visit to SIG SAUER Academy this summer.

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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“The Gospel of the Gauge” – Patterning your Shotgun for Professional/Duty and or Home or Self-Defense use.

One of my mentors, Tom Givens from Rangemaster Firearms Training Services refers to Shotgun Training as “The Gospel of the Gauge” especially when it is done on a Sunday. (Don’t lie, you laughed) Tom also says that “Patterning your shotgun is critical, but an often overlooked aspect of being prepared to use that gun in self-defense.”

I have patterned a few shotguns before and understand that many people do not because they are living in some type of an alternate reality believing that a shotgun doesn’t need to be aimed and that somehow their payload will magically find their intended target. The hard reality is you must practice sound fundamentals and have both a steady aim and good trigger control in order to hit your target, even with a shotgun.

Before I get started, I’d like to ask all of the Gun Pretenders, YouTube, and Instagram Instructors and of course those famous Keyboard Operators out there, please stop recommending birdshot for professional/duty and or home or self-defense. Birdshot offers less than adequate penetration and besides, birdshot is for shooting what … the correct answer would be, you guessed it, birds.

OK, let’s talk about how to pattern your shotgun.

In order to establish a control group, I recommend placing three (3) shots on a target with a variety of payloads, each from the exact same distance, 15yds or 45ft. The POA or Point of Aim I chose with my Beretta 1301 Tactical was the center of the “A” Zone on an I.P.S.C. (International Practical Shooting Confederation) target. (Yes, I patterned the gun with some birdshot and I used a distance of 10yds or 30ft for those payloads)

Sure you could use five shots and most often in zeroing my rifle I will use a five shot group because I want to make sure that I minimize the outliers or as Pat McNamara calls them, “Junebugs.” However, I feel that three shot groups are sufficient to get an accurate feel of the payload and what it will do when launched from your shoulder-fired shotgun.

The reason I specifically mention shoulder-fired shotgun is that there are a couple new kids on the block, the Remington TAC-14, and the Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave. These shotguns have been available for over a year now and maybe close to two; however, they are basically hand cannons and are difficult to shoot with much accuracy using full-power payloads even for the most experienced of shooters. One man, “Brobee223” on YouTube has perfected the art and was very successful using his Mossberg 590A1 Shockwave to bag a couple deer late last year. I have linked his video below, give it a look. Fair warning, it is rather lengthy.

Back on track with patterning my Beretta 1301 Tactical. The first load I chose to shoot was by far the best and it really comes as no surprise. The Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK, 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) is the choice of many an experienced shotgunner. As you can see in the photo below, all twenty-four (24) pellets from my three shot group landed within a 3″ group with the three (3) larger holes being the wads.

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Below are photos of my other targets, using different loads, showing their patterns.

Federal 2 3/4″ 000BK, 8 Pellet, Maximum. (F127000)

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Olin Corporation 2 3/4″ 00BK, 9 Pellet Military Grade. (Brown Box)

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Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 1BK, 15 Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad. (LE132 1B) This was the second best pattern; however, I find that the 1BK is not as consistent as the 8 Pellet 00BK patterned in the first photo.

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Federal 2 3/4″ 4BK, 27 Pellet, Maximum. (F127 4B) Just to big of a spread for me at this range and not something I would recommend for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

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As I mentioned above, I wanted to put some birdshot on target and here are the results. Birdshot Federal #4 Shot “Heavy Field Load” – 2 3/4″ – 1 1/8oz – 10yds (Take note, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) This sure appears to be a tight pattern, it’s the lack of penetration that makes birdshot suboptimal in its effectiveness for professional/duty or home or self-defense use.

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Winchester Super Target #8 Shot 2 3/4″ 1oz – 10yds (Once again, the larger holes were made by the wad, not the shot) Same result, fairly tight pattern; however, penetration with this payload would also be an issue.

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So, once you have established a control group and your desired starting distance (Mine was 15yds) and you have selected the payload that you feel works best in your shotgun, it’s time to find out what the maximum effective range of your shotgun is with that particular load. In order to determine that, you will want to run your shotgun out to a distance and stop when you find the point at which you can keep all of your pellets from your chosen payload inside an 8″ to no more than 12″ pattern. I’d also recommend not only shooting cardboard or paper targets alone, make sure to shoot some steel as well. I happen to use 12″ AR500 discs that are 3/8″ thick, they work well with 00BK at this range.

From this test, it’s easy to see that my 1301T likes the Federal Premium 2 3/4″ 00BK 8-Pellet, Low Recoil Flite Control® Wad (LE13300) best at 15 yards. From previous experience with this payload, I can move back as far as 30yds and still keep the pattern inside an 8″ to 12″ group and that is precisely the reason I choose this particular load for my shotgun.

When I can find some time in between the courses that I am teaching and the ones I am attending as a student this spring and summer I will pattern my Vang Comp Systems Remington 870P to find out exactly what it likes best. Candidly, I suspect that there will be some similarities; however, one never knows until we put in the work.

If you need assistance in patterning your shotgun for professional/duty or home or self-defense use please consult a reputable Instructor/Coach who is familiar with the nuances of patterning a shotgun and can give you proper advice on the appropriate payload for your intended use as well.

Winding up I would be remiss if I didn’t give you an opportunity to train with Mr. Givens as he preaches “The Gospel of the Gauge” later this year in Lakeland, Florida. If you are an Instructor or aspire to be one I’d highly recommend that you train with Tom and Lynn Givens. For more information on the Rangemaster Shotgun Instructor Development course, please see below.

Rangemaster Defensive Shotgun Instructor Development Course
Chief Instructor: Tom Givens
November 16-18, 2018
Firearms Training Club of America, Inc
Lakeland, Florida (Private Range)
Tuition: $595.00

Register Here:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/defensive-shotgun-instructor-course-3-day-tickets-39454107297

 

Until next time …

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Gun Pretenders a/k/a the Grass Eaters of the Firearms Training Industry courtesy of industry giant, John Farnam.

Many people ask where did I come up with the term, “Gun Pretenders” or “Grass Eaters” when referring to some in the firearms training industry. I respond with, it’s not original to me, all credit goes to industry giant John Farnam. I’ll let him explain as he says it best in this Quip from August 2013… There is a funny story about this quip, I was having dinner with John and Vicki in Ohio last November and mentioned this as being my very favorite quip and asked why it was not in the archives. When I returned to my hotel room after doing a little grocery shopping for lunch an email arrived from John with the quip attached. If you are not subscribed to John’s blog you should be. Find him at Defense Training International.

22 Aug 13

Gun Pretenders

Recently, a gun “safety instructor” in OH accidentally shot a student in a classroom during a “gun-safety course.” The injury was serious, but not life-threatening.

Now, we learn this was not the first such “accident” on the part of this particular “safety instructor.” Years ago, he “accidentally” injured yet another person during a similar, foolish gun stunt. I wonder how many other “accidents” with guns (that were never reported) this person has had between these two.

I don’t know this person personally, so I’m just using the foregoing as an example of what I see all too often hanging around ranges, on range “committees,” and purporting to be “instructors.”

We call them “Gun Pretenders.”

Most don’t even carry a gun. When they do, it is not the same gun, nor carry-option, they use for demonstration purposes on the range (on those rare occasions when they actually perform in front of students). For many, their only involvement with guns is some form of sterile, non-serious recreation.

When supposedly “instructing” students on a live range, many don’t carry a gun, even then! When asked why they invariably bleat that they don’t want to be embarrassed when asked to personally demonstrate something they’re teaching! “It might damage my credibility,” I’ve repeatedly heard them say. I don’t know what they’re worried about!

And, they dearly love to shower themselves with pious “titles,” invariably ending in “… master” or “…wizard,” and we never get to know where all these dubious “titles” came from. For one, I’m always suspicious when someone purporting to be an “instructor” finds it necessary to endlessly recite his entire resume, in boring detail, sometimes for twenty minutes or so, before finally getting to the point. When we all don’t already know whom he is, it strikes me as a strategy of desperation!

When sitting down with these people at a restaurant, away from the range, assuming I can get a word in edgewise, I often ask, “… yes, but are you personally carrying a gun right now?” You can probably guess the answer, “… well, of course not.” I generally have no further questions!

Competent instructors are well-trained, humble, accessible, eager to learn, eager to teach, have lots of personal experience, and actually “live” the Art. We don’t live piously withdrawn from it. We are driven to spread the sunshine, and we measure our success by that of our students.

Pretenders are mouthy, shallow, self-centered, self-righteous, vain, pseudo-sanctimonious, and constantly afraid. They spend their time, not worried about students, nor our Art, but desperately trying to maintain the myth of competence. As noted above, on those rare occasions when they do actually carry a gun, it and its “holster,” are unfailingly phony, glistening monstrosities, built strictly for irrelevant competition. These pretentious toys spend all the rest of their time in a padded, mahogany box in a dresser-drawer, gathering dust.

And, if you’re wondering if there is a point lurking in all this, here it is: A gun-owner, and particularly a gun-carrier, has the individual responsibility to acquire and maintain personal competence. History and fate will not accept lame excuses, nor will the court!

When you voluntarily take-on the personal responsibility to have the ability to protect yourself with gunfire, then you must be able to perform adequately, on demand. This has nothing to do with recreation nor competition. It is an individual, ethical responsibility, a matter of personal integrity and character. Bottom line: learn to be competent with your weapon(s) and yourself.

Become one of us, or go back to eating grass!

“How the hell did you know I didn’t have the king or the ace?”

“I recollect a young man putting that same question to Eddie the Dude. ‘Son,’ Eddie told him, ‘all you paid was the lookin’ price. Lessons are extra!’”

Lecture, caustically delivered by Lancey “The Man” Howard (played by Edward G Robinson) to a hapless “Slade” (played by Elmore “Rip” Torn) in the 1965 feature film, “The Cincinnati Kid.”

John Farnam

 

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Course Review: Defense Training International Advanced Defensive Handgun & Instructor Courses; November 17th – 19th, 2017 – New Plymouth, Ohio

“The time to prepare for your next shooting is now.” – John Farnam

Recently I attended the Defense Training International (John & Vicki Farnam) Advanced Defensive Handgun and the DTI Instructor Course in New Plymouth, Ohio.

Many of you probably know that John Farnam and Ken Hackathorn were two of the very first Instructors to take their Program of Instruction (POI) on the road and train Law Enforcement Officers, Active Duty Servicemembers and Responsibly Armed Citizens back in the 1970’s and if you didn’t, you do now. John and his wife Vicki, who have been training together as husband and wife for the past thirty-one (31) years are “Industry Giants” and if you have not trained with them yet, you really need to make that happen.

In case you didn’t know, John is also a long time advisory board member of Marty and Gila Hayes’ Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network along with other industry giants like Massad Ayoob, Jim Fleming, Tom Givens, Emanuel Kapelsohn, and Dennis Tueller. (In full disclosure I am a member of the network as well)

Let’s get to the course information. Friday morning, bright and early my friend Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC and I met the Farnam’s for breakfast and then we took the thirty-minute drive to the range so we could get started promptly at 9:00am. The weekend schedule was as follows, DTI Advanced Defensive Handgun Course on Friday and the DTI Instructor Course on Saturday and Sunday.

We started all three days in the classroom and on Friday John began discussing the art and science of defensive shooting and his “Four D’s of Fighting.”

  1. Divide his focus.
  2. Disrupt his plan.
  3. Disable his body.
  4. Destroy his will to fight.

During the classroom lecture, John talked a lot about the immediate aftermath of a self-defense shooting. His background as a law enforcement officer and a top industry trainer for somewhere north of forty (40) years gives him the credibility of a subject matter expert in this area. Folks, we’re talking about how to handle the 9-1-1 call, and how to answer questions from responding officers at the scene without talking yourself into a pair of handcuffs. (Never once was the words, “I was in fear for my life” spoken, I say this just to prove how infantile that expression has become)

While inside the classroom we also worked on some handgun retention and disarming techniques. John believes that it is more likely that you might have to disarm someone rather than shoot them, especially when you are within arms reach of your assailant. This is an area of Defensive Tactics that I wish more responsibly armed citizens would spend some time in training and not in the Dojo. In the law enforcement community, there are plenty of hours spent training these skills.

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(Photo: John demonstrating handgun disarms with Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC)

Once on the range, we were introduced to the Ravelin Group Rotator® Rotary Action Targets. These targets are absolutely diabolical, and shooting at them around simulated friendlies and or cover is not easy at all especially from distance. John and Vicki’s POI is all about moving off the line of force so you won’t be standing with your feet in cement while you present your handgun, and they get you moving after each four-round burst. Move and re-engage the threat/target from your new position and move while reloading as well. There is absolutely no need to stay stationary in a gunfight, that is unless you want to get shot.

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(Photo: Ravelin Group Rotator® Rotary Action Target)

The Ravelin Group Rotator® Rotary Action Targets have 8″ square paddles on them and in order to get them to rotate you must get your hits precisely in the right place and at precisely the right time so you can keep the inertia going. This can be both mentally and physically challenging as you’ve got to make every shot count, a missed shot breaks the inertia you’ve built up and next thing you know you have missed several times in a row because you get frustrated. All of us pitched our share shots during the course, it’s how we followed up those misses that counts.

During our range exercises, John emphasized his checklist that includes scanning and movement, reloading, creating distance from the threat, finding cover, checking yourself for injuries, accounting for everyone who might be hurt and finally calling 9-1-1. We practiced these things on the range after each drill and John would ask us key questions to prepare our “tape loop” for the immediate aftermath when law enforcement arrives on the scene.

It is worthwhile to note that John and Vicki run a hot range and will not allow a student or instructor candidate to ever holster an empty gun. An empty gun in a holster is useless and furthermore, it is dangerous because it adds to the administrative handling of the gun and most “accidents” happen during the administrative handling of guns. (Holstering) John’s range instructions are purposely vague, you have to be a thinker in his course and apply the instructions given into a plan to solve the problem.

The Farnam’s are also big on demonstrations as well. They believe as I do, a firearms instructor/teacher must be able to step up cold on demand and demonstrate drills to standard for their students. One has to be able to explain, demonstrate, and coach their students through drills, they must also give the “why” in training, most instructors can’t because they only regurgitate what they heard some instructor say or worse, what they read on the internet. If you heard it from John, he probably coined the phrase or developed the POI being taught.

During the Instructor course, John quoted these words many times as a way to emphasize the need to teach to the adult learning theorem, “What I hear, I forget; What I see, I remember; What I do, I understand.” He also made us keenly aware that feelings may be hurt during the course, it’s normal and part of the learning process. (My friend Steve mentioned that many sacred cows were slaughtered over the weekend)

On TD2 of the Instructor course, we got an excellent presentation from Vicki on teaching women. Her POI is based on her book, “Teaching Women to Shoot.” John and Vicki’s books can be purchased through the DTI Bookshelf at http://defense-training.com/

Additionally, the DTI Instructor course comes with a comprehensive Instructor Manual; however, you can find the POI well outlined in John’s book, “The Farnam Method of Defensive Handgunning.” I would highly suggest that you buy this book (And read it) before attending any DTI Handgun course, especially the Advanced Defensive Handgun course or the DTI Instructor course, you will thank me for that advice and you will be well prepared if you act on it.

Make sure that you prepare for some presentations as well, you will need to give them in front of your classmates cold on demand and with no preparation time. John and Vicki put pressure on their Instructors to perform. Thus you are assigned a subject and you must give a five-minute presentation and answer questions from the students and of course be prepared for Mabel to show up. (That’s Vicki’s alter ego)

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(Photo: My closing presentation last Sunday during the DTI Instructors Course)

In summary, I mentioned earlier that these two courses pushed me both mentally and physically and the qualification is not particularly easy. I was able to pass in seven (7) shots and some thirteen (13) seconds and change after a little warm-up and time to work out some frustration. My friend Steve from Trailhead Defense, LLC stepped up and passed in six shots, cold on demand. That is pretty darn good shooting on those targets. The classroom presentations including developing a plan to deal with the immediate aftermath and the handgun retention/disarming techniques are a key piece of John’s POI and I am glad he had time to fit them into our course.

I strongly recommend that you attend a DTI course when John and Vicki are in your area, and if you are shooting 9mm, make sure to bring 147gr FMJ or some +P, they spin those diabolical Ravelin Group Rotators® quite well.

You can find the Defense Training International course schedule located in the hyperlink below.

http://defense-training.com/schedule/

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(Photo: DTI Staff Instructors and Students – Advanced Defensive Handgun Course/DTI Instructor Course; November 17th – 19th, 2017)

 

Until next time…

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

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Rangemaster Instructor Reunion and Conference; November 11-12, 2017 – Shawnee, Oklahoma (Host: Jack Barrett/BDC Gun Room)

In this the twentieth year of the Rangemaster Firearms Instructor Development Program, Tom and Lynn Givens held their first Instructor Reunion and Conference. The event was attended by fifty plus Rangemaster Certified Instructors and Staff. Forty-nine of whom participated in the range exercises and scored qualifications.

My weekend started by flying to Will Rogers, Oklahoma City Airport on Southwest via Houston Hobby Airport and once I got acclimated to the 45° weather (That’s cold for a Florida boy) I was on my way to the Oklahoma National Memorial & Museum in downtown Oklahoma City. My experience there in a word was, emotional. To see the site for the very first time where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building once stood gave me cause to reflect on the 168 lives that were lost that day in and just outside the building. Of the 168 lives lost, 19 were children and seeing the smaller chairs in the memorial dedicated to them was difficult. Additionally, many chairs had flags next to them, those Americans were either active duty Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines or they were Veterans. If you are ever in the Oklahoma City area, you need to go, this is a part of American history that needs to be remembered.

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(Photo: Oklahoma City Memorial viewing from East to West. There are nine rows of chairs designating the floors on which the deceased were on at 9:02am April 19th, 1995)

TD1 (Saturday) of the conference started at 8:00am sharp with Tom welcoming us and outlining our agenda. We then geared up and headed to the range. The BDC Gun Room has two separate bays for shooting, one bay was led by Tom and Cecil Burch, the other by Lee Weems and John Murphy. We shot some bulls-eyes, casino drills, and an abbreviated Rangemaster Instructor Qualification. (If I gave you the entire course of fire then you wouldn’t have a reason to attend next years conference in Athens, Georgia)

Once we were back in the classroom we got an excellent presentation from Warren Wilson of Defensive Training Services on Gangs and the Armed Citizen. Warren is a subject matter expert being assigned to a Gang Task Force with a Law Enforcement Agency in the state of Oklahoma and is very familiar with Gangs and the feral humans who are members and prospects in this sub-human culture. The information Warren presented is proprietary to his company and none of the attendees were given a release to share specifics outside of the conference. Again, you snooze, you lose… I suggest that you contact Warren in the link I placed above and schedule him for training, it will be well worth it.

This brought us up to lunch. Tom gave us long lunches both days so we could network and catch up with friends we have made in the courses we’ve previously attended. After lunch, we got back after it with Tom and Lynn introducing the Rangemaster Staff Instructors.

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(Photo Credit: Lee Weems. The Rangemaster Staff Instructors. Left to Right, Tiffany Johnson, Lee Weems, Tom Givens, Lynn Givens and John Hearne. Lynn is holding a photo of John Murphy so he was included)

For the balance of the afternoon, Tiffany, Lee, John, and John presented “The Legacy of the Rangemaster Instructor Training Program” and “The Ten Principles of Teaching Rangemaster Doctrine.” Once again, we were not given a release by Tom and Lynn to share this information outside the conference, don’t you wish you would have attended it now? As attendees, we were given access to the powerpoint presentations, and if you attend next year in Athens, you will have access to this information yourself.

We adjourned TD1 just before 6:00pm local time.

TD2 (Sunday) of the conference started again at 8:00am sharp with Tom answering any questions from the previous days’ presentations and then we were off to the range for a short warm-up and to shoot a scored Rangemaster Instructor Qualification and the Casino Drill. It’s important to note that nobody came close to James Hale’s record Casino Drill time set earlier this year in Watkinsville, Georgia.

The B.A.D.A.S.S. (Benevolent And Didactic Association of Surviving Shootists) of the weekend was none other than Spencer Keepers of Keepers Concealment in Moore, Oklahoma. The man with “AIWB 1” on his license plate topped the list of the forty-nine shooters using his Langdon Tactical Beretta 92A1 to score a combined 384.75.

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(Photo Credit: Spencer Keepers, Keepers Concealment)

I used my Sig Sauer P320 X-Carry with Federal Premium American Eagle Syntech 115gr TSJ. My chosen holster was the Henry Holsters AIWB/IWB. Other gear I carried was a Sig Sauer Magazine Pouch, Surefire Y-300 flashlight, Fury Pepper Spray in a Griffin Pepper Strike, Benchmade Reflex (Automatic) and my Medkit with CAT Tourniquet. (These are EDC items for me)

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(Photo Credit: Tom Givens, Rangemaster Firearms Training Services)

Now, I don’t mean to rub it in; however, if you had attended the conference you would have had the chance to win a few door prizes. Jody Box from Arkansas won the grand prize of a new Smith & Wesson Shield M2.0, pretty cool door prize huh?

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent job that Jack, Rachel and their staff at the BDC Gun Room did for us over the weekend. My friend Steve and I are looking forward to returning in January to train with Dr. William Aprill, Craig Douglas (Southnarc) and Mr. Givens, et. al. in Establishing a Dominance Paradigm. Oh yeah, in January, I will be renting some of Jack’s Class III weapons, I can’t let Spencer Keepers have all the fun…

The Rangemaster Instructor Development Program has less than eight hundred graduates, compare that to the National Rifle Association with 125,000+ Certified Instructors, and the USCCA with 2,000+ Certified Instructors. This is not a “gimmie” certification, a prospective Instructor candidate must pass two shooting qualifications and an eighty-two question closed book test at 90% or better to graduate from the Firearms Instructor Development Course, not everyone makes it.

So, when is the next Rangemaster Instructor Reunion and Conference you ask, the weekend of June 9th and 10th, 2018 in Athens, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta. You can lock in your seat now by clicking on the link below, but remember, you must be a graduate.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/rangemaster-certified-instructor-conferencereunion-tickets-39451499497

 

Until next time…

As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!

Join the discussion on Trigger Control Dot Org by following me on Facebook at

www.facebook.com/triggercontrol

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(Featured Photo Credit: Lynn Givens)