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 sixty 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!

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(Featured Photo Credit: Lynn Givens)

Course Review: SIG SAUER Academy Bullets and Vehicles; October 23rd, 2017, Epping, New Hampshire.

After spending a couple absolutely beautiful fall days in Green Bay, Wisconsin teaching my Handgun Essentials course, it was back to SIG SAUER Academy for my third trip this year. (I previously attended the Master Pistol Instructor course in June and the P320 and M400/M-16/M4/AR-15 Rifle armorer’s course along with the Low-Light Pistol Instructor course in August)

Upon my arrival at Manchester airport, I was immediately embraced by all the fall colors that New Hampshire has to offer, and for someone who has not seen a change of seasons in seventeen years, this was certainly a welcome sight.

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(Some of the fall colors found on property at SIG SAUER Academy)

Our training day started promptly at 0830hrs in classroom #6 with ten students with various backgrounds in firearms training. Both of our Instructors, Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro were excellent and spent a lot of time coaching us all throughout the day and as with all SIG SAUER Academy courses, the lead instructor explained and demonstrated all the drills before having students run them dry-fire and live-fire.

Once we got our “chow plan” figured out and completed all of the Academy paperwork, we got into introductions and then on to the range. Before we started any range exercises our Primary Instructor Dylan Kenneson outlined our Emergency Procedures, this was also reiterated after lunch.

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(Our Course Emergency Plan)

Once on the range, our first exercise was a modified version of David Blinder’s Dot Torture drill that was made famous by the late Todd Louis Green of Pistol-Training.

After being dot tortured (Pardon the pun) we got into some dry-fire exercises from seated positions on the range. We practiced all of the exercises dry-fire with a strict emphasis on safety and then moved on to live-fire once both Dylan and Chris were confident that we had the proper technique down.

Once we got in the first vehicle it was all about getting solid hits on the SSA-BM1 “Brett Target” named after Brett Martin, a former SIG SAUER Academy employee. Each student got the opportunity to be in the driver and passenger seat, engaging targets from two different distances. You couldn’t just point and shoot in this drill, you needed to take well-aimed precise shots especially from the passenger side of the truck as the target was about fifteen yards away.

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(SIG SAUER Academy Instructors Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro watching closely over our live-fire exercises. Coolest license plate ever … “-SIG-” New Hampshire, “Live Free or Die”)

After a short break, a vehicle was delivered on a flatbed truck with major front-end damage, yet it had all its glass still intact to give us the chance to see how certain projectiles fared through windshields and of course side the window glass. In the course description, we were asked to bring some duty/carry ammunition and this proved educational as to what projectiles do when traveling through windshields.

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(On this target you may be able to see some of the markings as to what brand and the specific load that was used. We shot from the driver’s seat and the target was placed at a distance of five (5) yards away with the majority of shots taken with the muzzle positioned back from the glass. Our point of aim was to be the square box underneath the eight-inch center chest area circle. Look closely at the hole at the very top of the target, that shot was taken with the muzzle directly on the windshield using the Hornady Critical Duty 135gr +P load. The high deflection was due to the design of that particular projectile with its “Flex-Tip” design. The second shot with that load from back about six inches away from the windshield hit the target just to the right of the zipper, in the neck/collar-bone area)

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Important Note: When presented with a threat like this, your best option might be to mash the accelerator and run them over. If they have a weapon such as a handgun you would more than likely be justified in doing so as long as you can articulate and authenticate the presence of a threat of death or great bodily harm.

The course also included a block of instruction on escaping a vehicle in an emergency using many different tools to help with extraction. This block of instruction also included some innovative solutions to gaining access to a vehicle from outside as well. Personally, I carry a Benchmade Houdini Pro in the console of my vehicle and I also purchased a ResqMe in the SIG SAUER Academy Proshop to carry on my keyring as a backup. (See photo below)

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(In the photo above Victor from Sierra Element is engaging a threat through the rear window with Instructor Chris “Cav” Cavallaro coaching during the SIG SAUER Academy Bullets and Vehicles course October 23rd, 2017 in Epping, New Hampshire)

After lunch, it was on to some debussing drills and using cover to engage threats outside the vehicle. Our scenarios led by both Instructors and were all done with the utmost concern for the safety of the students and of course to ensure that learning was taking place while offering feedback on our techniques and more importantly keeping us focused on our performance.

(Just a couple guys out for a drive on a nice fall day in New Hampshire and then we start taking gunfire)

Teachable Moment: Getting out of the driver’s side seat and over the console of this Jeep Grand Cherokee proved difficult for a big dude like me. In this scenario, I was to engage our threats and provide cover for Victor to exit the vehicle. Once he was in position, he did the same for me as I exited the vehicle. This drill was very educational in the fact that if you’ve got to de-buss you need to do it quickly from any position inside the vehicle even if it is climbing out over the console. I also found that my Comp-Tac holster needs a little tightening down on the retention screws so it will hold my SIG SAUER P320 X-Carry a little more securely.

Lastly, several of us were given the opportunity to shoot through the Saturn in specific locations with several different calibers from .22LR to .45ACP in pistols and then a variety of long guns including a suppressed SIG SAUER MCX, M400 (AR-15), a Century Arms AK-47, a 7.62×51 sniper rifle, a 12 gauge Mossberg pump gun loaded with birdshot, buckshot, and rifled slugs. Then lastly, there was the behemoth below that Cav is point shooting without a scope, the .338 Lapua.

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In summary, the Bullets and Vehicles course does an excellent job in establishing some foundational skills for fighting in and around vehicles. Once again, SIG SAUER Academy does not disappoint and their Instructor Cadre, both Dylan Kenneson and Chris “Cav” Cavallaro proved themselves as two of the top trainers in this industry with their excellent instruction and positive coaching every step of the way. I also owe a big thank you as well to SIG SAUER Academy Training Coordinator Kathleen Randolph for getting me a seat in the course when it was already sold out. I wish that my schedule would have allowed me to stay for a few more courses before returning home to teach this past weekend.

Another benefit this trip gave me was the ability to reconnect with my friend Victor from Sierra Element. We took a little side trip to Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine and had a couple good dinners together at places like The Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub. I can see Victor and I attending many more courses together in the future, he is a high-quality individual whom I will not hesitate to recommend as a trainer. If you live in Southern California, you can find a list of his courses by clicking here.

Lastly, this will probably come as no surprise; however, I am already looking forward to returning in 2018 in order to work some more on my skills and learn a lot more things that I can bring back to my students.

SIG SAUER Academy is a world-class training facility with world-class people that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. So, what are you waiting for?

 

Until next time …

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

Join in the discussion with my over 5,800+ fans on Facebook at

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Fourth Quarter 2017; Trigger Control Dot Org Training Schedule!

Hello Everyone! Because many of the courses that I teach are closed enrollment they are never announced anywhere. Regardless, many people have been asking for a listing of courses available for the responsibly armed citizen instructor and student and the ones I am attending as a student as well. This is a complete list of my upcoming training schedule for the months of October-November-December 2017. I foresee no changes to this schedule at the present time, plane tickets have been purchased, and both hotel and rental car reservations have been made as well.

October 4th (Wednesday) – Defensive Tactics Handgun Retention/Disarming Techniques (Closed Enrollment, LEO Only): Orlando, Florida.

October 7th & 8th (Saturday/Sunday)Ken Hackathorn (Aztec Training Services) Two-Day Advanced Pistol Course: Burro Canyon Shooting Park; Azusa, California.

October 10th thru 13th (Tuesday thru Friday) – 9th Annual High Liability Instructor Training Seminar: Tallahassee Community College; Havana, Florida.

October 14th (Saturday) – NRA Instructor Basics of Personal Protection In the Home Course: Clearwater, Florida.

October 15th (Sunday) – NRA Refuse to be a Victim Instructor Development Workshop: Clearwater, Florida.

October 16th & 17th (Monday/Tuesday) – Simunitions Reality-Based Scenario Training for Law Enforcement (Closed Enrollment, LEO Only): South Florida.

October 21st (Saturday) – Handgun Essentials & Defensive Tactics for the Responsibly Armed Citizen Course: Nicolet Rifle Club; Suamico, Wisconsin.

October 23rd & 24th (Monday/Tuesday)SIG SAUER Academy; Epping, New Hampshire.

October 27th, 28th & 29th (Friday thru Sunday) – NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home Student and Instructor Courses: Clearwater & Lakeland, Florida.

October 30th & 31st (Monday/Tuesday) – Vehicle Dynamics Course Days 3 & 4 (Closed Enrollment, LEO Only): North Central Florida.

November 4th & 5th (Saturday/Sunday) – NRA Basics of Pistol Shooting – Instructor Led Training and NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting Course: Clearwater, Florida.

November 7th & 8th (Tuesday/Wednesday) – Two-Day Vehicle Dynamics Course (Closed Enrollment, LEO Only): Tampa Bay Area, Florida.

November 11th & 12th (Saturday/Sunday)Rangemaster – Instructor Reunion Conference: BDC Gun Room; Shawnee, Oklahoma.

November 14th thru 20th (Tuesday thru Monday) – Closed Enrollment Course(s): Kentucky & Ohio.

December 1st & 2nd (Friday/Saturday) – USCCA Instructor Development Workshop: Clearwater, Florida.

December 4th thru 6th (Monday thru Wednesday) – NRA Practical Pistol Coach School: National Rifle Association Headquarters; Fairfax, Virginia.

December 9th & 10th (Saturday/Sunday) – NRA Rifle & Shotgun Instructor Course(s): Lakeland, Florida.

December 16th & 17th (Saturday/Sunday) – Pat McNamara TMACS, INC T.A.P.S. Sentinal Course: Panteao Productions Studios Facility; Swansea, South Carolina.

December 18th thru January 4th – Holiday vacation, no courses scheduled.

Please message me via www.facebook.com/triggercontrol for more information if you are interested in attending any of the open enrollment courses offered.

 

Until next time …

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

Join in the discussion with my over 5,700+ fans on Facebook at

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“On My Soapbox” – Open Carry while at Gun School.

Something new to Trigger Control Dot Org is an “On My Soapbox” blog. Hey, whenever I feel that I have something to say of importance about the firearms training industry in general and or some of the Gun Pretenders/Keyboard Operators who are in the industry I’ll press something, so stay tuned…

Open Carry while at Gun School:

As many of you know I go to Gun School a lot, and mostly as a student, not an instructor candidate. Candidly, I have all of the Instructor ratings that I need or want, but if one interests me in the future, I might take the course; however, it must fit with my long-term training goals and it cannot be an “In name only Instructor course.”

Edited to Add: One of the readers reminded me that many people have the attention span of a gnat and that they can only read and comprehend 140 characters at a time before losing interest. (Sorry Twitterville, it was his comment, not mine.) Regardless, he suggested that I drop some sort of hint that this is not about the competitive shooting sports and I said that I would make a slight emendation to the post. Here goes:

“This blog posting is not directed toward the Competitive Shooting Sports.”

If given a choice, I will always run a course as a student with my handgun in a concealment holster. Sometimes that is not an option based upon the policies of the instructor, the range or the academy that I am attending, so we make adjustments for those policies and get in the training.

One of my mentors, Tom Givens from Rangemaster Firearms Training Services has all of his students and instructor candidates work exclusively from concealment unless they are a sworn law enforcement officer or possibly a licensed armed security guard and normally carry their handgun in a security holster. I follow this same methodology and have for a long time because it is the responsible way to train the armed citizen.

Let’s face it, a significant majority of Americans carry their handguns concealed. How do I know this you ask? Just travel to one or a couple of the forty-five (45) states that allow some form of open carry, sit down with your latte and do some “people watching” at the food court in the local shopping mall, or go to a Walmart for a cultural experience (There’s always a lot of good people watching at Walmart) and look around at the waistbands of all the people that you see. I’m betting that you won’t see many handguns being openly carried. In fact, in the last several years I have traveled the country extensively (Eighteen different States) attending and also teaching courses, and I can count on one hand how many handguns I have seen attached to the waistband of people in those states.

FYI: I was just in three open carry states weekend before last and saw absolutely NOBODY open carrying except the people in Gun School while on the range.

So, what is the point for a responsibly armed citizen to pay all the money to attend Gun School and then run their handgun from open carry when they never carry that way? Again, let’s be real, and if your argument is I live in an open carry state, I have pretty much rendered that argument invalid. There are very few folks who practice open carry walking among us, most people carry concealed and that is just a stone-cold fact proven by my research that I continue to do each time I travel to an open carry state.

Seriously, if you go to Gun School and don’t run your handgun from concealment you are only cheating yourself out of all the repetitions that you would get from concealment. These are repetitions in the fundamentals that go a long way in building a level of automaticity into your motor cortex. (Psst, that means inside your brain because there is no such thing as muscle memory. I still shake my head each time I hear a Gun Pretender say these words or a Keyboard Operator write the words, muscle memory.)

OK, now to Mr. or Ms. Big-Time Firearms Instructor/Keyboard Operator I hit a nerve underneath your paper-thin skin didn’t I? Yeah, I meant to do just that, you can believe it. You say that running from concealment is not “Tacticool” enough for you and it doesn’t make for a good photo to add to your Facebook or Instagram account, right? You must be the type of Instructor/Keyboard Operator who trains students for photo opportunities and you offer little to no real hands-on training. Sadly I have seen it too many times at Gun School with the Instructor taking photos and uploading to his Facebook page not paying attention to his students. Oh, by the way, you Instructors/Keyboard Operators who don’t carry a gun all the time, John Farnam one of the top trainers in the whole shootin’ match from Defense Training International refers to you as “Gun Pretenders” and so do I, it kinda fits, now doesn’t it? (I just love that description, Gun Pretenders.)

It is your responsibility Mr. or Ms. Big-Time Firearms Instructor/Keyboard Operator to make your students do the hard stuff while in training so it will be easier for them to become adaptive to the situation when the fight is on, and believe me they will need to adapt very quickly or their loved ones might just be planning a funeral.

I cannot be any more clear than this, open carry on the range at Gun School is just a bunch of “Tacticool” asshattery and those who perpetuate it are typically the ones that have a bunch of paid followers on Facebook, Instagram, and various other social media outlets or better yet, an Internet Radio Show. The crap that some of these people teach has unfortunately been codified in the training community for years by those who probably shouldn’t be instructors in the first place. Yeah, I just said that and I can feel your anger, I am very easy to find if you want to talk about the butt-hurt that statement has caused you.

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Oh boy, I bet this wins me some friends among the Keyboard Operators in the community, not! This just in, I don’t care.

By the way, I will continue to call B.S. on the asshattery I see on social media and at Gun School each and every time I see it, and that you can bank on.

 

Until next time …

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

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Course Review: Dave Spaulding – Handgun Combatives – Vehicle Combatives Course; September 9th & 10th, 2017 – Coffeyville, Kansas (Host: Deputy Jones, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office)

On Friday, September 8th with Hurricane Irma bearing down on the Sunshine State I boarded a Southwest Airlines jet headed for Tulsa, Oklahoma by way of Houston, Texas and rented a vehicle to get to Coffeyville, Kansas for the course obviously not knowing what I would find when I got back home. Thank goodness for hurricane shutters and good friends because I fared well; however, many of my friends in the Fort Myers and Naples area were not so lucky.

When I arrived in Coffeyville I called the host, and let him know I was in town and to check dinner plans. He let me know that he was on his way to get Dave and to standby.

Let me tell you, Deputy Jones is an excellent host, he accepted my ammunition shipment and made everything easy for the students, some who came from as far away as Colorado, Texas, and both Leavenworth and Wichita, Kansas. With such a large course, he was an invaluable asset to Dave on Sunday afternoon running us through the scenarios from inside the vehicles.

He also gave me some great tips about touring the local area to learn about one of the greatest shootouts in American history. That is the shootout between some armed citizens, one law enforcement officer and the Dalton gang who rode into town on horseback to rob two banks at the same time in Coffeyville back on October 5th, 1892.

I cannot say enough good things about Deputy Jones, well-done sir!

The photo below is of the outside of the Dalton Defenders Museum in downtown Coffeyville, this building is literally steps from where the entire gunfight took place. I walked the areas where the twelve (12) minute gunfight happened. That’s right, I said twelve (12) minutes. I also toured the cemetery where two or three of the defenders and three of the Dalton gang members are buried. If you find yourself in Coffeyville, Kansas you should take in some of this history.

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The Defenders; Charles T. Connelly, Charles Brown, George B. Cubine, and Lucius M. Baldwin. These plaques are placed exactly where these brave men fell on October 5th, 1892, may they rest in peace.

The photo below is the grave site of Bob Dalton, Grat Dalton, and Bill Power in Elmwood Cemetery. For many years the only marker that these criminals had was the original hitching post that they tied their horses up to near the old jail in what is now known as Death Alley. By the way, as historians put it, that was their first mistake.

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It wasn’t until Emmett Dalton’s sentence was commuted by the Governor some fifteen years later that the headstone that you see now was placed. Emmett Dalton survived the gunfight with twenty-three (23) pieces of lead in him from the Defenders, he never fired a shot, but he was obviously an accessory to the robbery and murders of four brave men. After his release, Emmett went on to be a real estate investor and actor in California.

Former Deputy United States Marshal, Frank Dalton who was killed in the line of duty many years before is buried in the same cemetery, you can see the base of his headstone at the top of the photo. He is buried only 100 or so paces from his more famous brothers who were laid out in the jail for all the townspeople to see.

OK, let’s get to Handgun Combatives

“The Out of Towners” that came in for the course met Dave and our host for dinner on Friday night at a Mexican restaurant across the street from our hotels. Dave had us laughing and also captivated with his knowledge of the application and adaptation of skills in using the handgun to be an active participant in our own rescue. Make no mistake, Dave’s methodology follows the adult learning theorem and his program of instruction is time-tested by his thirty-five plus years’ experience as a sworn Law Enforcement Officer in Montgomery County, (Dayton) Ohio.

Yeah, Dave has been doing this stuff a while and when he speaks, it might be a wise idea to use those ears you have and listen intently.

Fair Warning, Dave does not sugar coat much of anything and that might mean he uses some colorful language in explaining the realities of gunfights, and how does he know this? Well, because he has actually been in a few gunfights and has interviewed 100’s of people who have prevailed in gunfights as well. I’d say that Dave Spaulding is about as solid a subject matter expert as you will find in the firearms training industry.

One thing he is not is a “YouTube/Live Leak Ninja” who breaks down gunfights on video sometimes from only one angle without ever interviewing any of the active participants. I’ll defer to the subject matter experts like Dave, before the YouTube/Live Leak Ninjas.

Showtime, TD1 started on Saturday morning bright and early inside a courtroom in the municipal building located in downtown Coffeyville. This building also houses the Police Department and other city offices. Dave started with a brief background on himself and the course curriculum along with an overview of his complete program of instruction including his foundational courses.

His opening statement was telling us that his job is to train students to read the situation and be adaptive to the problem, then solve that problem.

From the Handgun Combatives website:

“Our Objective: To prepare you for the most dangerous moments of your life!”

Dave also explained that this course was developed out of necessity for the sworn law enforcement officer working in and around vehicles as part of covert narcotics operations and that he has evolved the course curriculum to meet the ever-changing training needs of not only the sworn law enforcement officer but the responsibly armed citizen as well.

Let me back up a little, Dave also mentioned that this was a tactics-based course and yet still a foundational level course for those who had never trained in and around vehicles. When I tell you that this course could have easily been a week long I am not kidding.

Dave also emphasized that this is not a marksmanship development course, and those who are attending this course should already have some marksmanship fundamentals that are solidly anchored.

I took a total of six pages of notes, front and back during the little more than hour-long presentation and I can tell you that Dave is well prepared and very well spoken; however, as I said before, he does not sugar coat much of anything.

Dave then explained how tactics, techniques, and procedures developed for the sworn law enforcement officer translates to the responsibly armed citizen. He also presented statistics that showed the types of attacks commonly occurring today. These statistics include assaults, carjackings, and overall violence in and around vehicles. Before I took this course, I did not know that the first documented carjacking happened in Detroit back in the 1980’s, go figure, Detroit of all cities. I was under the incorrect impression that the first carjacking happened to a couple German tourists while they were leaving Miami International Airport in a rental car, now I know better.

The statistics that he presented and the subsequent conversation has done nothing but reinforced my commitment to regular training. By the way, I still have Ken Hackathorn on my schedule next month in Los Angeles, two closed LEO only courses that I have been invited to attend and one, possibly two Pat McNamara courses along with the Rangemaster Instructor Reunion Conference in Shawnee, Oklahoma, somewhere in there I also have one more course that I am trying to fit in as well.

Everything with Dave Spaulding is contextual and how it applies to life-threatening situations, but he is also very careful to say that everything in this arena is situational dependent, and thus nothing has a “one-size fits all” type solution. Dave explained and demonstrated and then we practiced skill-sets that are proven to work in these type of high-stress situations that may have life and death implications. By the way, this is teaching to the adult learning theorems of hear, see and do.

Dave is also very careful not to use words like “defensive” which he defines as “losing slowly.” The book he wrote and his company name, “Handgun Combatives” was born from the word “Combative” which Webster’s Dictionary defines as, “having or showing a willingness to fight.”

Unless you have a propensity to bury your head in the sand like an ostrich you know that violence exists in your everyday life and around every corner. Dave showed us a few videos of real incidents, one involving a sworn law enforcement officer and student of his that were outright attacks. Some criminals go willingly and some end up with a toe tag and in cold storage at the morgue waiting to be claimed.

What was reinforced to me through these videos was the fact that the society we live in today is full of threats of violence that most people are completely unaware of, mostly due to a lack of training in situational awareness. We must remember that these threats exist in and around our vehicles especially considering that we spend so much time inside them, be it commuting to and from work, taking vacations, business trips, or just running errands around the cities and towns we live in, we are more vulnerable to an attack in and around our vehicles than we think.

In case you didn’t know, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) charts every act of violence in around the world; however, you and I will never see the data that they collect on these incidents because it is all “classified.” That to me is sad because they probably have the most extensive database of crimes committed on people and property in the world and that would be quite useful to all of us.

They, the CIA also developed a philosophy of “Avoid-Evade-Counter” for their operatives stationed around the world. Using that philosophy should one encounter a threat, the first option would be to avoid the threat. OK, that sounds simple enough; however sometimes we cannot avoid a dangerous situation so we must find a way to evade it, e.g., if someone is road-raging you, all you need to do to evade them is to make a series of four right-hand turns at your earliest opportunity. You will put yourself back on the road that you were traveling albeit quite a distance behind the person that was road-raging you. If you are on the highway, slow down and get off at the next exit. Simple enough to do, now make sure you go out a practice that the next time you are being road-raged by another driver.

Finally, you must be prepared to counter any attack on your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, you can’t always get away from your attacker and thus if you are presented with a threat of violence by someone known or unknown to you that is when you need to decide to counter the threat with quick and decisive actions that get you into a position of advantage. Remember, the criminal does not give you fair warning that he or she is about to attack you and cause a significant emotional experience in your life.

Here is where I remember the teachings of “Old Brother” Massad Ayoob, and Ayoob’s Law number #1: “Be able to predict where the attack will come, and have a proven counter-attack already in place and poised for launch.” – Massad Ayoob

Dave’s teachings reinforced a philosophy that I strongly believe in which is when you counter violence, you must take an aggressive approach and seek to win the fight immediately and not just survive. He also described mindset as the most essential of essentials, I agree 100%, every fight is fought in the mind.

Mindset is, “a previous decision based on reason and intellect, to take action.” – Dave Spaulding

We MUST prevail, and we MUST have the will to win at all costs, this is crucial because the alternative could be our loved ones planning our funeral.

Webster’s Dictionary defines these words as …

Prevail (Verb): To gain ascendancy through strength or superiority; triumph.

Survive (Verb): To remain alive or in existence; live on.

Question: What would you rather do, prevail or just survive?

Dave paid homage to “The Duke” showing him in his last role in the movie, “The Shootist.” (I always liked that movie) The quote from John Wayne’s character that Dave wanted us to embrace with both arms was this;

“It isn’t always being fast or even accurate that counts. It’s being willing. I found out early that most men, regardless of cause or need, aren’t willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger, I won’t. – Actor John Wayne in his last role as John Bernard Books in “The Shootist.”

We then dove into some of the more technical aspects of the course, namely unconventional shooting positions and problems associated with shooting into and out of a vehicle, not to mention and the fact that vehicles are not as safe as you might think from gunfire.

Remember, a vehicle is designed to protect you in case of an impact from another vehicle or a hardened object, not gunfire. Dave gave us an overview of the federal guidelines for vehicle safety to include a list of vehicles that have side windows that are rated as well as most windshields. I found this to be interesting information and something I needed to know.

We talked about engine blocks and how they may stop the incoming fire from a handgun, but you’ve got to get real low to be considered behind the engine block on most passenger cars and trucks. Obviously getting away from the vehicle and to better cover offers you an advantage.

 

When we transitioned to the range we started with the three-shot fade back drill from a ready position of our choice shooting a vertically placed 3×5 card starting at 3 yards and going back to 25 yards.

(FYI: The range in Coffeyville is so close to downtown that if people sat outside the McDonalds or Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant eating their meals they would be able to hear gunfire coming from the range. Only in Kansas…)

After each firing order was finished with the drill Dave evaluated the target with the student and then did some individual coaching, giving some tips for them to work on, see the photo below.

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After a short break, we got immersed into Dave’s “Arc of Ready” methodology with him explaining and demonstrating a variety of ready positions that use an arc, hence the name. Dave can explain the methodology a lot better than I can, so take a few minutes when you are finished reading this and click on the embedded video in the link above. You can also see some of this in the photos I have posted below.

Once again, this course is all about working in and around vehicles, thus the high-ready position (Far right photo above) has a substantial upside to it. We did discuss Position SUL and Traditional Guard or Low-Ready; however, those two ready positions are not ideal for vehicle tactics.

The benefits and risks associated with the “Tacticool” Temple Index were covered as well, and oddly enough nobody tried it except one guy from Wichita on TD2. This was immediately caught by Dave’s keen eye and he asked the student to explain why he would try something that he had not done before during the previous twelve (12) hours of course instruction.

Tacticool Temple Index has some context in use with Executive Protection as well as working inside a tight-knit team of operators who trust your muzzle and more importantly your trigger finger discipline; however, there are significant drawbacks to it like how it limits your field of view, and that’s kind of important don’t you think?

After a short break, we then practiced moving through ready positions with Dave coaching both firing orders through the dry-fire techniques and the live-fire exercises encouraging everyone to keep focused on the task at hand. We all heard these words routinely over the two-day course:

“OK Team, stay focused. Let’s make this one a good one!”

An example of Dave’s coaching: In the photo below he is coaching me on a proper “high-ready” position as initially I had my handgun too far away from my body and it was also little too high. Oh yeah, I was also improperly indexing my eyes just over my front sight; however, Dave never once said, “you’re doing it all wrong” he just said, let me help you and then briefly explained why his way is the proper position. (Photo courtesy of the course host)

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We then got in some live-fire work from the “high-ready” position and we were made to paste up our bad memories of any hits that were outside of the scoring lines on the Handgun Combatives Chest Cavity Target.

The “walk of shame” is never fun for anyone with misses, I was pressing the trigger well last weekend thanks to a little coaching from my friend Mike Green from Green Ops a few weeks ago.

Next, we worked on presentations from the holster. Dave believes that the presentation should be efficient and cause you to be no wider than the width of your body. There should be no wasted movement, why? Because added movement wastes time. This is a philosophy I agree with and also teach myself.

Here’s a thought without Dave having the benefit of being in his backyard on his deck or with a Crown Royal in his hand;

“It’s a really good idea to know what you are capable of before getting into a gunfight.” – Dave Spaulding

Personal Note: I was the only student to run the entire course of fire from a concealment holster. Granted there were fourteen sworn LEO’s in the course and they ran from their normal duty rigs, but none of the other five responsibly armed citizen students ran from concealment. I ran both my GLOCK 34 and GLOCK 19C from AIWB in a V-Development Group, Seraph holster. My ammunition choice was CCI/Speer Blazer Brass 124gr FMJ that I purchased from www.targetsportsusa.com

After lunch, we worked some more on presenting our handguns while standing with our hands at 10:00 & 2:00 like we had them placed on an imaginary steering wheel and then negotiating our handguns around that imaginary steering wheel and indexing them on the target.

We also did this while in a seated position in a folding chair facing the target and then we rotated the chairs 90° right and left to simulate shooting outside the passenger side and driver’s side window. There were a lot of dry-fire repetitions done in this block of instruction and that was to be expected because of the positions that we were in require extra safety precautions.

In the photo below you will see Dave holding a 1x2x8 target stake at or near steering wheel height to make sure students were clearing it properly while presenting their handgun to the target.

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After another short break, we then worked on some vehicle debussing techniques setting up the range with the chairs and barrels simulating the average length of a passenger vehicle. We did a lot of dry-fire work on this and then transitioned to live-fire for the rest of the day. See the photo below.

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Dave recognized when some of us were getting tired on TD1 as some students started launching shots at the target instead of placing them. When you are tired during training is the time when you must dig deep down inside and “gut check” yourself, making sure that you get those good repetitions in and placing your shots on target exactly where you need the hits. There are no second chances in a gunfight, and you should think that way while in training.

My TD1 round count was exactly 350 rounds.

On Saturday evening “the out of towners” had dinner with Dave and our host at Lanning’s Downtown Grille in Coffeyville. The meal was very good, our server was excellent, and the conversation was even better. Yes, there were a few Crown Royals sent the big guy’s way. Afterwards, it was off to Walmart to get lunch and a few extra bottles of water for TD2.

OK on to TD2. It all started at the range on Sunday morning at 8:30 am sharp with an overview of what we accomplished on TD1. Afterwards, we got right to the three-shot fade back drill, this time from the holster. Once again, Dave offered some individual coaching after each firing order finished and then we moved back into the chairs and worked some more on building the foundation of fundamentals that we would need later in the day when we got inside the vehicles.

He kept us working throughout the morning on the vehicle debussing drills that we had started on TD1 and we worked until Dave felt we were ready to move on to unconventional shooting positions.

Once we were at the level of competence Dave was looking for with the vehicle debussing drills, we took a break for lunch.

Afterward, Dave had us work through the unconventional shooting positions dry-fire over and over. They were all relatively easy to assume and move in and out of, I have done them before; however, my large frame body has a little trouble getting into the fetal position. My joints do not bend like they used to, this is where us old guys show the young “Flexible like Gumby” guys what they have to look forward to when they get in their 50’s. I believe that it might just be time to make a commitment to move from four Crossfit WOD’s per week to five or six.

Personal Note: Dave made mention many times about making sure that we get in our own vehicles with an unloaded gun or a training gun and work through these drills. He also mentioned that we need to be aware that when we rent a vehicle that we should not only spend the time to get the mirrors, seats and other creature comforts set to our liking, but we need to work the seat belts etc… Just so you know that when I travel my first consideration is to rent from a company who has Ford products, namely the Ford Escape in their rental fleet as that is my personal vehicle. As you may guess, I rented “my vehicle” in Tulsa and again on Monday in Atlanta to get home after Hurricane Irma.

Now, before we got in the vehicles Dave demonstrated shooting through windshield glass from inside the vehicle and how the bullet will react in those situations. I posted some videos on my Facebook page at Trigger Control Dot Org of me doing this and will do so on my Instagram account as well in the next couple days.

Dave also showed how a bullet will skip across the hood of a vehicle if shot at less than a 45° angle and how it will also skip under a vehicle when fired at a hard surface.

See this video below of Dave shooting through the windshield glass of a Ford Crown Victoria.

Additionally, during the course, I was given the opportunity to shoot through the rear passenger side window glass of a pickup truck that was covered with window tint. When I took my first shot I wasn’t expecting glass shards to penetrate my pant leg and lodge in my thigh; however, that is a small price to pay in the name of training.

Below is a photo of the window and my hits on the target, a little high from my point of aim, but that is to be expected shooting through auto glass.

 

I have a video of this to post on Trigger Control Dot Org just as soon as I edit out the expletive that I used when the glass shards penetrated my pant leg. By the way, you can clearly see the window tint peeled back from the muzzle blast of my GLOCK 19C, and also how my visibility was nearly lost when the window shattered.

We finished up the course with Dave’s signature 2x2x20 drill. (I’m taking creative liberty with the name to explain the drill to those who do not already know about it.) This drill is two rounds from the holster in two seconds from twenty feet on a vertically placed 3×5 card. Watch the embedded video linked above for an explanation from Dave as to the genesis of this drill.

For what it’s worth, nobody won the custom engraved Ares Belt Buckle and Belt this time, but there were a few close calls. Myself, well I screwed up the presentation by never getting a good grip on the gun, better luck next time for me. Oh, and there will be a next time, I already have my eye on the next two Handgun Combatives courses that I will attend in 2018.

Candidly, this is the sixth or seventh course that I have taken dealing with fighting in and around vehicles and I have learned something new each time because I keep my eyes and ears open and my notebook and pen at the ready.

It always amazes me to see all the folks who don’t take any notes at Gun School. I am the one with the notebook and pen out when not shooting and to be quite candid, I am still transcribing the notes I took last weekend right now even as I type this course review. Oh yeah, and my mind is still thinking of some contextual applications of the skills taught in this course. Ever the learner…

Because I had never trained with Dave before, I was able to learn some subtle nuances in teaching /coaching methodology that I see as invaluable to me as a full-time trainer and whenever possible during the course I would fill my magazines from the loose cartridges that I kept in my pockets, thus I was able to listen intently as Dave coached the second firing order through the drills that I had just completed.

Running up to get a bottle of water was the only break I took most of the time, call it a thirst for knowledge that keeps me training. As I said above, ever the learner. Sure, I took breaks to get out of the sun, (It was a little toasty in Kansas, Toto) but not each and every time in between drills because I felt that this was too good a course to miss anything.

In summary: The program of instruction was easy to follow and Dave gave all twenty of us a lot of repetitions both using dry-fire techniques and then on through the live-fire exercises. Mr. Spaulding is a very skilled coach and he uses his skills to get students through the fundamentals to build a solid foundation of these essential skills for the student to take home and then master to a level of automaticity that will anchor the skill. This will only happen if the student has a commitment and more importantly, the self-discipline to diligently practice them. Sadly, most do not keep their skills sharp, and it is a reoccurring theme when I talk to my students and ask what they have done in between the courses they take with me and others.

So, I ask you, what good is training if you do not go out and apply it by practicing what you learned after you get home from Gun School? As I say on a regular basis to both my students and instructor candidates, education without implementation is worthless.

My two-day total round count was just under the six hundred (600) rounds advertised, the dry-fire made up for any shortcoming. I assure you that all twenty of us got the repetitions we came for at this course.

To find out more about Dave’s program of instruction and his schedule of courses visit the Handgun Combatives website or follow Handgun Combatives on Facebook by clicking here.

 

Until next time …

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

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Course Review: Rangemaster Advanced Firearms Instructor Development Course; August 26th & 27th, 2017 – Culpeper, Virginia (Host: FPF Training)

Last Friday morning I boarded a Southwest Airlines jet in Tampa, and after a plane change in Atlanta, I arrived at Dulles slightly before noon. I picked up my rental car and I sped off to the National Rifle Association Headquarters in Fairfax for two reasons; First, I wanted to see the twelve Thompson’s that were donated for display at the museum on the first day that they were put out on display. I am a big fan of the “Tommy Gun” and to see twelve of them in one location, even if they were under-glass was spectacular.

The second reason was that I wanted to get some lunch. They have a darn good cafeteria at NRA Headquarters and I thought what the heck, let me get some vittles before making the drive down to Culpeper.

The photo below says it all, just look at them beauties.

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OK, after getting my “Tommy Gun” fix and filling my belly I headed out to Culpeper. Upon my arrival, I checked in for a two-night stay at the Holiday Inn Express using my IHG reward points and then I was off to Walmart to get a few essentials for the weekend.

Friday evening, I met Tom, Tim, Ashton, and a couple other Rangemaster Graduates at Foti’s Restaurant in downtown Culpeper. Foti’s is an American, Mediterranean/Greek style restaurant and is highly rated on Trip Advisor. I enjoyed the meal and more importantly the conversation.

After dinner, it was time to get some rest; however, truth be told, I was like a kid on Christmas Eve. I just love to train with good people, so I really did not sleep all that well on Friday night.

Saturday morning (TD1) started promptly at 0900hrs with Tom welcoming us and setting our level of expectation for the weekend. Many of you have asked via email and private message why I would take this course a second time so soon after graduating from it in March 2015. Well, I can tell you that there are two very good reasons. The first is because I somehow lost my workbook and certificate of completion from the course back in 2015, and the second is because I know Tom to be progressive in evolving his curriculum. I saw this right away in the comprehensive student/instructor candidate manual that he provided us. By the way, you can find my original course review here.

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Let’s talk prerequisites, to be invited to this particular course you must have graduated from one of the three-day Rangemaster Firearms Instructor Development Courses that Tom & Lynn hold around the United States.

Assisting Tom over the weekend was Skip Gochenour. Skip is a licensed private detective and founder of S. R. Gochenour & Associates in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Skip has consulted on hundreds of civil and criminal cases involving firearms and use of force, and he has appeared as himself on documentary television shows such as Forensic Files, Autopsy, and Murder by the Book. Skip also founded and serves as the Director of the American Tactical Shooting Association (ATSA) and the National Tactical Invitational (NTI).

When Tom introduced Skip he said, “if Skip tells you to do something, it would be a good idea to just go on and do it.” That is good advice, Skip gave me several tips over the weekend that I am very grateful for. By the way, Skip wears a darn cool hat and knows a fine cigar as well.

On to our agenda for the weekend. Tom covered all of the classroom information on Saturday and that allowed us to go to the range in the afternoon, and then stay at the range for the remainder of the course.

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Let’s talk prerequisites, to be invited to this particular course you must have graduated from one of the three-day Rangemaster Firearms Instructor Development Courses that Tom & Lynn hold around the United States.

Tom had us stand up and do a little public speaking, introducing ourselves and giving our names, our training companies/where we were from, where and when we took the three-day Rangemaster Firearms Instructor Development Course. Lastly, we were asked to describe what was our biggest takeaway from that course.

What I learned from the introductions was, we had eighteen very diverse students/instructor candidates (seventeen men and one woman) many from the Northern Virginia area and several of the original thirteen colonies; however, one man made the trip all the way from Oregon, now I call that dedication to training and professional development.

I should add that one of the instructor candidates, Adam Gochenour, a very modest young man, and son of Skip is the youngest person to ever attend and graduate from the Gunsite Academy, Pistol 250 Course at the age of 10 or 11, I do not remember which. (The adult class, not the Gunsite Youth 250) What an amazing accomplishment at such a young age and one you will never see again at Gunsite. Adam is a heck of a good shooter and makes some very fine leather holsters as well. Check out his company website at Panolpy Holsters and Equipment.

After a short break, we got started with the curriculum. Tom suggested that we answer when he asked questions during the presentation, and if you have never trained with him before, think of Tom like a father figure when he suggests you do something, it’s not really a suggestion. Active participation in the learning process helps you and everyone else around you learn more from each other and adds to the overall experience.

As we discussed human anatomy as it relates to dangerous people, we all have an understanding that good hits must be made in the upper thoracic cavity on the human who is threatening your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These hits must be in the area marked from nipple to nipple up to the collar bones. We also discussed “the vault” as it applies to the facial targeting area, and how the target stays the same when the threat turns sideways to us.

Tom also said, “If you think you’ve been shot, that’s not a good thing, and a .380ACP is just fine unless you need to shoot someone.” I have read many books on this exact subject and seen plenty of police reports where a .380ACP failed to get the job done. (That means stop the threat from doing what they are doing to you or someone that you love) This does not mean that I want to take a few shots to the upper thoracic region from a .380ACP. Remember, criminals can afford to miss or get lucky with an unintended and un-aimed shot, they do not care about you, or the devastation they cause through their felonious behavior.

You, on the other hand, cannot afford to carry a gun that does not stop “Dude” when you need to stop “Dude.” As “Old Brother” Massad Ayoob says, “Friends don’t let friends carry mouse guns.”

We then transitioned to ready positions and the pros-cons of each. Tom teaches the “Traditional Guard” better known as the “Low-Ready” position. It was popularized by Lt. Col. Cooper at Gunsite and is used by many well-known agencies across the country.

Many other Instructors have their favorites, from the “Air Marshal Ready” and “High Compressed Ready” oh, let’s not forget “Position SUL.” The last is one of the most misused ready positions of all.

“Bootlegger Ready” is a ready position that a lot of Law Enforcement Officers use in many different situations; however, as Tom pointed out, it is much slower than just having your master-hand on a holstered gun. The master-hand on a holstered gun is a popular technique taught in my Defensive Tactics courses for Law Enforcement Officers.

We covered a few other ready positions and then moved on. Remember one thing … If nobody is using the technique outside of the training courses where they are being taught, then you are just being a beta-tester.

After another short break, we jumped into the other agenda items, and cadence was up next. Finding the right cadence to use in defensive marksmanship is easy if you remember that you should only shoot as fast as you can guarantee hits and no faster. It’s quite simple when you think about it; however, teaching newbies about cadence and trigger control can be extremely difficult.

Heck, I had trouble with this new gun I am shooting over the weekend, I wasn’t taking up enough slack in the trigger and I was crashing through the break, causing my sights to deviate. That will earn you a “miss” each time, and what can we ill afford to do in a gunfight?

Creating skill drills versus tactical drills and how they can be used to train the student was one of my favorite subjects, think of the Casino Drill, the 3M Drill, and the El Presidente. With less than a full box of ammunition, you can test yourself in everything you need to be able to do competently as a defensive shooter.

Before lunch, we discussed Firearms Instructor Liability Insurance and how many Firearms Instructors dig themselves a hole by teaching outside their lane, these instructors would do much better to stay in their lane.

[On my Soapbox] In Florida we have a very serious problem with both NRA and USCCA Certified Instructors delving into legal issues as they skirt a fine line in giving legal advice which can be considered as practicing law without a license in this state. Just so you know, that is a third-degree felony, and if convicted it is punishable by five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine. Do you want to be a test case? If you answered, no, then stop teaching the laws associated with concealed carry in Florida and stick to giving a “Firearms Safety Course” as codified in Florida Statute 790.06 2. (h) 7. By the way, many are still are teaching without having the proper certifications and some are teaching without Firearms Instructor Liability Insurance, which I find to be reckless and puts their students in danger. Always check the credentials of your Instructor and ask to see a copy of their Firearms Instructor Liability Insurance as well. [Off my Soapbox]

In this block of instruction, we discussed how the Instructor has a duty to provide a safe learning environment and to oversee training while providing a standard of care that is above the industry standard.

I asked Tom to interject as we discussed Lockton Affinity (NRA Endorsed) Insurance and how it does not indemnify Firearm Instructors when they engage in Simunitions/UTM/Airsoft/Force-On-Force type training.

Instructor Note: If you need to shop for a rider to your policy for Simunitions/UTM/Airsoft/Force-on-Force training, look at Joseph Chiarello & Company, they will give you a rider for $150.00 per year to cover you for this type of training.

After breaking for lunch, we watched and listened to a ninety (90) minute presentation by a well-known police psychologist. This was a riveting presentation that caused me to have my head down typing notes on my phone and writing them down in my notebook just as fast as I could.

The Doctor’s catchphrase was, “do you follow?” Yes, I followed, but there was so much that I missed by trying to take too good of notes. I should have brought my laptop and touch-typed my notes, lesson learned.

After the presentation was over we saddled up and headed to Stone Quarry Range about twenty minutes away.

Once at the range, we did some dry-fire work to ensure safety awareness and to polish out some wasted motion in our presentations.

Instructors Note: Remember the saying that most Gun Pretenders use? “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” – Well, I will tell you that slow is slow! You have got to get the gun out quickly and efficiently with little to no wasted motion. You can do this by dedicating yourself to diligent, deliberate, perfect practice.

Our shooting started with many drills that you would be familiar with if you have trained with Tom and Lynn over the years. We got in work from all distances and my scores improved each time we shot a qualification; however, to be candid my scores were dismal to my standards even with the “informed expectation” I had prior to the course.

Personally, I identified that I need a lot more bulls-eye work during the course. This is something known to me, and thus I see my Pact Club Timer III and a lot of timed bulls-eye target drills in my future.

We ended TD1 with “The Test” by Ken Hackathorn, you can find it by using your Google-Fu. Ending with all hits in a five-and-a-half-inch circle from 10 yards is a good thing.

The TD1 round count was somewhere just under 200 rounds.

After we adjourned, many of us headed to Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant where this happened, the “El Gordo Burrito.” I laughed when I saw this because El Gordo means “The Fat” in Spanish. Guess what? I smashed that Fat Burrito.

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Sunday morning (TD2) Sunday started with the host, Gary Jakl from FPF Training being gracious enough to meet me at the range at 0730hrs to bench-rest my GLOCK 34 Gen 3. This is the second time I have had to push the rear sight on this gun appreciably to the right to bring my grouping over enough to be on center. It’s really getting ridiculous with this gun and I shipped it off to GLOCK for them to address the issue for me.

I forgot to mention my gear considerations for this course. Obviously, the GLOCK 34 Gen 3 was my firearm of choice, I carried it AIWB in a V-Development Group Seraph holster with the large foam wedge. (See the photo below)

The ammunition I chose for the course was CCI/Speer Blazer Brass 124gr FMJ. Because of federal law, I couldn’t fly with thirty (30) pounds worth of ammunition, so once again, our host Gary Jakel came to the rescue and accepted my ammunition shipment from Target Sports USA.

FPF Training is an excellent host, and Stone Quarry Range is also a great place to shoot. We missed you last weekend John Murphy!

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Once we had targets up and were toeing the line Tom made sure we were clear in the holster and we started on dry-fire practice using the coach/pupil method. After all, this is an Instructor Course and Tom had us coaching and instructing our new best friends.

In the photo below Tom is having a little fun with Ashton demonstrating a drill while Tim supervises.

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Here is a good suggestion that you need to commit to memory, “If you line up the bumpy things on top of the slide and press the trigger properly, you will get a hit.” – Tom Givens

After a short break to get some water in and water out, we then started working on more drills from all sorts of distances. As you see below, my target was getting better and that’s what I like to see.

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“The presentation puts the gun on target, the sights are used to verify alignment.” – Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper (No truer words ever spoken)

Next, we shot a few qualifications and afterward we had some fun shooting steel. Shooting a little friendly “mano e mano” competition on steel during a course is a good thing and makes you work for what you get.

Then it was back to more work from various distances, we worked hard on a lot of drills up until time for lunch.

When we reconvened after lunch we worked together in teams using the coach/pupil method with our coach giving us encouragement on our techniques.

See the photo below: Tom is a master at hitting the adult learning theorem and here he is demonstrating a two-handed shooting technique from position #3 of the presentation, also referred to as “high compressed ready.”

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After this we did a few movement drills, presenting our pistols and getting off the “X” so to speak.

We then shot the course qualification. I scored a dismal 239 the first go around and 245 on the second. My 245 score is posted below. Again, not my best effort; however, it is exactly what I had on Sunday afternoon. I have a lot of work to do…

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We had a lot of guns that had problems in this course. A GLOCK trigger spring broke, Winchester White Box hard primers causing a failure to failure to fire repeatedly. Another shooter had a magazine spontaneously disassemble during a load or reload, I cannot remember which, and then there were feeding problems and cycling problems in a variety of guns, it was brutal to watch. As Tim Chandler put it, “The Rangemaster Advanced Firearms Instructor Course eats guns.” [Paraphrasing]

Let this be a “teachable moment” for everyone. Bring a spare gun to #GunSchool, no matter what course you are taking and regardless of the instructor.

In summary, once again Tom Givens knocked it out of the park. He evolved this curriculum from the course I attended in Fort Lauderdale back in March 2015. I enjoy Tom and Lynn’s courses immensely and will continue to challenge myself to be the best shooter and Instructor that I can be.

TD1 & TD2 round count was just under 700, with all the dry-fire practice we got in plus the 100-150 dry-fire presses I did on Saturday night at the hotel I had to be close to 1,000 or more trigger presses.

On a personal note, attending this course allowed me to reconnect with a man I highly respect and look forward to training with again soon, Mike from Green Ops. He was our “Top Gun” last weekend and he also earned a Master Class Rating in the handgun core skills test. Nice job Mike!

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The photo above: Mike with his 250/250 on the course qualification, this man can flat out run his gun.

Finally, I’ll leave you with these nuggets. My remaining 2017 personal training schedule includes courses with:

  1. Dave Spaulding from Handgun Combatives.
  2. Ken Hackathorn Advanced Pistol Course in Los Angeles.
  3. Two courses with Patrick McNamara.
  4. The First Annual Rangemaster Instructor Reunion Conference in Oklahoma.
  5. Two closed enrollment courses for LEO Trainers only in September and October.
  6. The new three-day NRA Practical Pistol Coach School at NRA Headquarters in December.

All of this in between teaching courses throughout the week and on select weekends. Yeah, I’d say that my plate is pretty much full.

 

Until next time …

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

 

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Course Review: SIG SAUER Academy P320 Armorer, M400 Armorer & Low Light Pistol Instructor Course(s), conducted August 14, 15, 17 & 18, 2017

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On Sunday August 13th I flew up to New Hampshire to attend three courses at SIG SAUER Academy in Epping.

All three of my flights on Southwest Airlines, the two going and the non-stop coming home from New Hampshire went off without a hitch. I got upgraded to a Subaru Outback and logistically everything went very well. Once again I stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Exeter. The hotel is very nice, I took advantage of the pool and the Jacuzzi this time and the complimentary buffet style breakfast buffet each morning is very good. The staff, to include the General Manager were all very professional and attentive to a few special requests that I made before and upon arrival. I will stay here each and every time that I visit SIG SAUER Academy.

Dinner at The Holy Grail twice and Telly’s once along with a pizza from New England Pizza kept me full. If you are in the greater Epping/Exeter Metropolitan area, you must experience The Holy Grail. It is a restaurant and pub inside an old church not far from the Academy. Telly’s specializes in pizza and other American fare, and New England Pizza in Exeter has a white pizza that is pretty darn good, especially when you put bacon and some other toppings on it. The Hanaford Supermarket was my other “go to” while I was there, along with the Hammersmith Sandwich Company for lunch while in class.

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Upon my arrival at the SIG SAUER Academy and Pro Shop late Sunday morning I noticed that the P320 X-Carry was on sale and I “attempted” to buy one with my student discount, one of the sales guys told me they had three of them in stock and I was all excited; however, after he came back from the storage room I was crushed because they were out of stock. At least I was able to put a deposit on one and will have it shipped to Florida when they are available. Still no P320 X-VTAC as of yet, Lipsey’s is shipping them out to their dealers, but not the Pro Shop. Had one of those been in stock I would have bought it instead, so I am 0-2 in gun purchases while attending courses at the Academy. On the bright side, I was able to buy a lot of accessories with no state sales tax and at the student discount price, score!

Important Note: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how professional and courteous the Academy Staff and Pro Shop employees are, those folks are always eager to help.

Let’s get to the course reviews …

TD1 for me started Monday morning I started in Classroom #1 in the Indoor Pistol Range Facility with Chris “Cav” Cavallaro for the P320 Armorer Course. “Cav” is the Subject Matter Expert on campus for the Armorer courses, and that means that he is in charge of the Program of Instruction for the Armorer courses. The P320 is a very simple weapon system to work on for both the operator and the certified armorer. Candidly, while attending the course there was no running from the elephant in the room, we talked about the voluntary upgrade announced by Sig Sauer on August 8th, 2017 and our Instructor was open and honest about all the things that the company is doing to remedy the situation. The voluntary upgrade will include a small amount of CNC work on the frame (That is the metal part inside the grip module) and they will be adding a disconnector and also swapping the current trigger to one that is lighter in overall weight and with a balance point that is near the pivot pin. My questions were answered about this issue and I used a P320 in the Low-Light Pistol Instructor Course on Thursday & Friday with no issues whatsoever. Parts for certified armorers are readily available by calling in to customer service and ordering them direct over the phone. I like that versus sending in an order form and waiting for months to get parts shipped to you. (Not mentioning any manufacturers in particular)

Overall, Monday’s course was excellent, and oh by the way, it was attended by several factory people and a couple Academy Instructors that interjected their insider knowledge of the gun and what is going on inside the factory to get ready for the influx of guns coming in for the voluntary upgrade. We were told to not leave with questions unasked and all of us got in our share. By the way, successfully passing the course (There is a test) gives the graduate a three year certification.

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TD2 on Tuesday was all about the M400. You would know this as the AR15 platform rifle. My first exposure to this type of rifle came 35 years ago this month when I joined “The Green Machine.” Many of the things taught came right back like I was in my Unit Armorers course while I was in the Army. We didn’t break the gun all the way down back in the day, but I knew how to and “Cav” showed us some techniques that really helped when disassembling and more importantly reassembling the rifle.

I enjoyed all the repetitions we got in working on the rifle, similar to the P320 course we were not left wanting more and all of our questions were answered. Same as the P320 armorers course, successfully passing this course (There is also a test) gives the graduate a three year certification. One important note, this course is hopefully switching to a two-day format with a one-day re-certification in the not too distant future.

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Photo: My instructor for both Monday and Tuesday’s courses, Chris “Cav” Cavallaro summoning the power of Thor!

Additionally on Monday and Tuesday I had the pleasure of meeting and training with Ofer and Amir from Be’er-Sherva, Israel. These two guys are living the motto, “Live Free Or Die” each and every day of their lives. Think about that, and let it sink in. They are at a constant state of war with all the terrorism in their tiny country, amazing when you spend some time in thought about it.

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On Wednesday morning I got to spend some time with Steve Gilcreast, my Instructor from the Master Pistol Instructor Course I attended in June. Steve put me on the shot timer through his 100 round warm-up exercise, and I must admit that I didn’t do as well as I expect out of myself, and I had to hit the gong in Area 51, but I had a great time. Steve is a thinker and a doer who can translate his points across to students very well, anytime spent with him one-on-one is time well spent because of his knowledge, skills and his attitude. Steve is one of the top firearms instructors that I have ever trained with, period.

Back to the gong issue, in case you don’t know, if you don’t have a round chambered and you press the trigger on your gun and your gun goes click when it was supposed to go bang, (Dead Man’s Gun) you and your partner must run to one of the gongs on campus and you must smash the gong ten (10) times with authority using a hammer and then run back to your training area. (Your training partner goes along with you for moral support) It could also be that your magazine was not seated correctly, or a few other reasons. Yes, I had my moment with the gong while the students in the Master Rifle Instructor Course observed. Oh, and the hammer was missing so I had to make due with a BFR. I posted this photo for accountability in the photo album that I created on my business Facebook page at Trigger Control Dot Org, and I also posted one on my Instagram page @TriggerContolDotOrg – this one below is for accountability here.

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On Wednesday afternoon I got to see the factory from the inside, it was nice of one of the engineers to invite me in for a peek. Nothing to see here, no cameras allowed in the factory.

Lastly on Wednesday afternoon/evening I was able to go to Stratham Hill Park and find the very rock where Robert Todd Lincoln stood and read the Declaration of Independence to the citizens of New Hampshire on July 4th, 1860, just before his father Abraham Lincoln became the 16th President of the United States. Pretty cool stuff to stand on that rock, no kidding , it gave me goose bumps.

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After I stopped at the Lincoln Rock, I climbed the rest of the way up the Lincoln Trail (It’s pretty darn steep) to the top of the hill and found the Forest Fire Service Tower. I had to climb to the top all seventy-seven steps and seven flights to get a look at the surrounding area, and it was quite a sight. I highly recommend you go to Stratham Hill Park when visiting SIG SAUER Academy to experience these things, I can assure you that it is an experience I won’t soon forget. You can find out more information on Stratham Hill Park by clicking on this link to their Facebook page. Stratham Hill Park on Facebook

TD3 for me started in Classroom #9 in the Indoor Pistol Range Facility on campus with New Hampshire native Todd Moriarity and Nick Brazeau from Montreal, Canada in the Low-Light Pistol Instructor Course. We had six students/instructor candidates and that made for a really great course.

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Photo: For this course I ran my Surefire P2ZX Fury Combat Light (500 lumens) with a Surefire V85A holster system. I also brought my Surefire E2D LED Defender Ultra (500/5 lumens) as well. Both worked well and a few of my new best friends wanted to try my bezel down holster. Once I left the course I purchased a Surefire Y300 Ultra High Dual Output LED Flashlight as Todd had one and it looked promising for a back-up flashlight.

By the way, 500 lumens is plenty enough for anyone. These new flashlights with 1,000 lumens, yeah, they get way too hot running courses of fire like this and also they end up giving you a lot of back-splash if you are to close to cover and have poor technique, What happens is you will end up momentarily blinding yourself with the light bouncing back in your eyes. (So yes, there is such a thing as too many lumens)

After a short classroom session on Thursday morning going over some of the different flashlight options out there and of course the safety rules, we all hit the Indoor Pistol Range with our frangible ammunition and got to work. Like all SIG SAUER Academy Instructors, Todd is a master at teaching to the adult learning theorems. Before teaching each technique Todd would explain, and demonstrate the technique and then we would imitate it dry-fire and then practice it live-fire. This goes to the core of the SIG SAUER Academy training methodology of E.D.I.P. or Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate, Practice. (I’ll add in Test for E.D.I.P.T. and call it good)

By the way, I really can’t share the course of fire with you, it’s not something that they give out; however, I take really good notes and have it down on paper, but that is the exception, not a one of my fellow Instructors were taking notes on the range during the exercises, I just don’t have that good of memory to not take notes.

On Thursday, Todd taught us a new technique that was developed by Academy Instructor Jim Meyers. It is referred to as the “Jimmy Meyers Technique.” This technique is similar to the Rogers-Surefire; however, it is different in the fact that you turn the wrist of your support hand 90° so the back of your hand is up, and then you place the thumb of your support hand in contact with the grip of the handgun under the thumb of your master hand. It is an interesting technique, one that I certainly need to practice some more in order to become a whole lot better at.

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Photo: Todd and Nick going to put out a little fire inside the range on Thursday afternoon caused by the powder from the frangible ammunition we were using while shooting steel. It was only a little smoke, nothing major.

The Low-Light Pistol Instructor Course also requires the student/instructor candidate to preform a teach-back to the other students and cadre. On Thursday just before we broke for the day, we were assigned ours and my partner and I were assigned to T.E.A.M. teach the Modified FBI and the Neck Index technique.

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Photo: The Indoor Pistol Range at SIG SAUER Academy in low-light, that is not my camera flash, the lens is picking up light from in back of the range, once the shades were dropped it was pitch black inside that range, a perfect training environment for this course.

TD4 for me started on Friday morning again in the classroom with a review of the the previous days POI, and then were in the Indoor Rifle Range. My partner and I were selected to go first with our presentations. We prepared well and hit E.D.I.P. by explaining the technique and the history behind it, then we talked each other through the demonstration phase of the technique and then we had the other students/instructors candidates imitate and practice the technique. (Personal Note: I love doing teach-backs)

After each presentation we were given actionable feedback on what we did good, what we needed to work on and what we did really well. During the review, we were told that we did a great job by our peers and the cad re. They made a couple comments about how we worked as a T.E.A.M. and that is exactly what T.E.A.M. teaching is all about. (Positive-Improvement-Positive or the “sandwich method” of evaluation is alive and well at SIG SAUER Academy)

Additionally Todd and Nick set up a drill for us to practice all the things that we learned on Thursday in a low-light/no-light environment. We had to start by moving to cover and then find and engage our threat with two to five live rounds. (The SSA-1 Brett Target gets shot a lot at SIG SAUER Academy) During this drill, we were had to move to a new piece of cover and perform a tactical reload when necessary, and then try a different technique, we got to do this twice going one direction and then moving backwards through the course in the other direction. I found this to be very beneficial because it allowed me to try just about all of the techniques from some unorthodox positions, e.g., kneeling, supine and laying on my side, and of course standing.

This brought us to lunch time. Once we had our bellies full of Hammersmith Sandwich Company sandwiches we got suited up for some training in a shoot-house. There are several single family homes on campus that the Academy uses for this purpose, they also have a series of Conex style containers set up for this type of training as well. The house we were in was nicknamed “Red Feathers.” Seriously, it should have been named “Bat Feathers” because there was a bat in the house that we had to eradicate during this evolution.

Each one of us got to clear the house as an individual and then as part of a T.E.A.M., Todd said this was not to grade us on our tactics, but to make sure we were using sound flashlight discipline, both he and Nick gave us excellent feedback on our flashlight use and gave us tips to make us better with our tactics, I found this to be an excellent evolution.

Funny Story: When I was picked to be the “bad guy” students John and Victor, both sworn law enforcement officers entered the house searching for me and Victor called out, “Gordon, are you in here? We got a warrant for you, come on out boy.” I had to do everything I could to keep from laughing. My new best friend Victor said he did it hoping that I would give my position away, that failed, but these two sworn LEO’s cleared this house like a boss using sound flashlight discipline and T.E.A.M. tactics.

One thing I enjoyed about Todd and Nick’s teaching style was this, after each evolution on the range or in the shoot-house we did a short review. Todd asked us what we liked and disliked, making us think about the techniques that we used and how we liked them in that particular situation. We got plenty of repetitions and both Todd and Nick gave us personal coaching to make sure we were preforming the techniques properly and with sounds tactics, with a student-to-instructor ratio of 3:1, that is easy to do.

At the end of the course may of us suggested adding a third day and incorporating the long gun into the POI. That could be in the plans, Todd is responsible for the POI for this course and he said that he has thought about that as a possibility.

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Photo: Sig Sauer Frangible Ammunition. The Course of fire was true to the number at about 500, rounds, we used this is the indoor pistol range; however, on the second day of the course we were able to use FMJ ammunition. SIG SAUER Academy has plenty of ammunition, if you show up they will give you student pricing on the ammunition. We all arrived with a good working knowledge of the techniques, what we did here is refined the techniques and preformed a teach-back as all Instructor level courses should require. Now, it is up to us as Instructors to transfer this knowledge to others. As with the other courses, upon successful completion of this course course, graduates are given a three year certification.

Overall, the Low-Light Pistol Instructor Course conducted at SIG SAUER Academy was excellent, I really enjoyed it and learned a lot of subtle nuances that make the techniques work well in a live fire situation. It tests your gear and your TTP’s under stress and that’s what you must do in training. I would highly recommend this course to an agency instructor or anyone who teaches these techniques to the responsibly armed citizen.

To find out more about taking an Armorer Certification course at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Armorer Certification Courses

To find out more about taking an Instructor Development course at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Instructor Development Courses

To find out more about taking a Shooting Development course at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Shooting Development Courses

To find out more about taking a Competitive Shooting Development course at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Competitive Shooting Development Courses

To find out more about taking a course in a certain specialty at SIG Sauer Academy click on: Specialty Training Courses

To find out more about taking a course from a Guest Instructor, e.g., Mike Pannone or one of the many nationally and internationally known Instructors they bring in to the Academy each year, click on: Guest Instructor Courses

Important Note: Your tuition includes free loan of firearms (In most courses, not all), holsters, safety glasses and hearing protection at the Epping, NH location.

Now, if you guessed that I am planning another trip back to SIG SAUER Academy, you would be correct, stay tuned!

 

Until next time …

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