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.

AAA Spencer Keepers

(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)

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!

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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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My 2017-2018 Personal Training Calendar

As we move solidly into the third quarter of 2017, I thought that it would be good to take a moment to reflect on where I have been, and where I am going throughout the rest of the 2017 and into the first quarter of 2018.

My 2017 training year started after the passing of my Great Aunt Doris, she was one of the strongest human beings that I have ever known. I took care of her as Trustee, Healthcare Surrogate, and Personal Representative watching out for her well-being for over six years, and it was very difficult to lose her because she taught me so much about life, unconditional love and the true meaning of family. Just before she was called home, and while she was in a very advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease she had a moment of clarity while we were talking and said, “go out and get it.” (I am paraphrasing slightly because the context of our conversation was about something a little different than firearms and self-defense training) When she passed away in the early hours of St. Patrick’s Day I was by her side and held her hand as she took her final breath. In the days following I thought that the best thing I can do to honor her memory is to follow her advice to “go out and get it.” So, I have embarked on a training schedule that many people would envy.

A significant percentage of these training courses are skill builder type courses and not instructor courses. I use these type of courses to identify gaps in my skills that lead me back to the range to diligently practice. Every once in a while, we all get into a training rut and work on drills that we perceive ourselves to be good at. I try to work on a different skill set each week when I visit the range. Oh by the way, I typically visit the range twice a week and shoot 150-250 rounds per session. This schedule works well for me and keeps me sharp, if I didn’t do it, all I would be able to do is shoot demos in the courses that I teach. Typically I find things that can always be improved upon, and that is why I use a lot of dry-fire in between my range sessions.

When I started my personal training year it was with Tom and Lynn Givens from Rangemaster Firearms Training Services in their two-day Combative Pistol course on April 1st & 2nd in Okeechobee, Florida at the OK Corral Gun Club. Tom and Lynn are excellent trainers and even better people. I chose this particular course because I knew that it would allow me to get back in the groove so to speak. Their two-day Combative Pistol course is an absolute must take for the responsibly armed citizen, and I will be hosting this course at Tall Palm Ranch, a private range facility in Lakeland, Florida on April 7th & 8th, 2018. I have posted a course review on this course here in this blog for you to read.

A couple weeks later, on the day before Easter I attended Assault Counter Tactics – Vehicle Counter Ambush course at the American Police Hall of Fame in Titusville, Florida. Paul Pawela, Director of Law Enforcement Training at the hall of fame was the chief instructor, and he held this course as a tribute to United States Army Colonel (R) Danny R. McKnight, former Commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion and the Commander on the ground in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 during operation Gothic Serpent. There is a full course review in this blog for you to read.

At the end of April, I attended the NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta and volunteered some time as a firearms examiner on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. My good friend Dave flew down Minnesota to hang out with me for the weekend, the trip was great, I always enjoy attending the NRAAM. I also got to spend a little time with my friend Santi from South Florida who was in town on business, I took him to the airport when I picked up Dave from Minnesota. Thankfully I was also able to spend a little time with friends Marty and Gila Hayes from Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network and Firearms Academy of Seattle. I always enjoy learning from Marty, he and Gila are titans in the firearms training industry, and if you have a chance you should go out and train with them in beautiful Onalaska, Washington. Again, there is a blog posting of my experiences at the #NRAAM right here for you to read.

On May 9th & 10th I attended the first ever open enrollment GLOCK Operator Course given at GLOCK Sport Shooting Foundation Headquarters in Smyrna, Georgia. The course and the instructor is not one that I would recommend to anyone, and as of this writing they still have not reached out to invite me back. (Not Surprising) Seriously, the course was absolutely horrible and I have no reservations about saying so. Maybe they are working on fixing things with the course of fire and the instructor has hopefully checked his ego, who knows, but this course and this instructor is not one I would ever recommend. I do know that about two weeks ago GLOCK invited a group of people to the course, one of which I know is a writer so maybe they are making an attempt to right the ship; however, that does not make up for all the money and time I spent traveling to and taking a course that was advertised as 1,000 round CoF when I only shot 375 rounds and missed out on a significant portion of the curriculum because of the instructor and his huge ego. I would hope one day that GLOCK – GSSF would step-up and invite me back at no expense to see the course again and if they have made the necessary improvements because myself and the others who actually came out of pocket for the course I attended did not get full value. You guessed it, there is a course review of my experiences at the GLOCK Operator Course here in this blog.

Next up was my third trip in four weeks to North Georgia. This time it was for another course with Tom and Lynn Givens, I took the Rangemaster Firearms Training Services three-day Combative Pistol/Vehicle Defense course. This course was hosted by Chief Deputy Lee Weems with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in Watkinsville, Georgia. “The Chief” is a top notch lawman, highly accomplished shooter and an excellent instructor. On day two of the course we were joined by Claude Werner, The Tactical Professor, I was honored to meet Claude and had him in one of my courses over Father’s Day weekend here in Florida. Follow his blog by clicking on this link, tactical professor. The Rangemaster Combative Pistol/Vehicle Defense Course was excellent! Tom teaches to the adult learning theorems of hear, see, do and test, that works for a lot of people, especially me. As mentioned above, I will be hosting Tom, Lynn and hopefully their “Chinrens” (Skeeter, Dexter and Stub) in 2018. Once for the two-day Combative Pistol Course in April and then for the Three-Day Defensive Shotgun Instructor Development Course in November at Tall Palm Ranch, in Lakeland, Florida. Make sure to keep an eye on the events page at Trigger Control Dot Org. As for a course review on this course, it is on it’s way. I have not posted one yet because I wrote an article about this course for a publication, unfortunately I don’t believe that the article is going to be published, so look for a full course review very soon on this blog.

In mid June I traveled to Titusville, Florida for three days to train with General Dynamics Simunitions in their Instructor and Safety Certification Course. Which reminds me to email them and ask for the new Instructor manual that they promised us. The course was excellent, and the instructors did a great job moving over thirty of us through several reality based training scenarios and then they coached us as we ran our own reality based training scenarios in an abandoned office building just up the street from the the host agency, the Titusville Police Department. I highly recommend the course, and once again I will post a full course review as the article I was writing for this course looks like it has been quashed as well.

Personal Note: I am right now working on a contract with a publisher, there will be an announcement about this soon here and on my other social media venues.

In late June I made a trip to SIG SAUER Academy in Epping, New Hampshire. The SIG SAUER Master Pistol Instructor course was great, and my Instructor Steven Gilcreast was excellent. I enjoyed my time in New Hampshire so much that I am heading back this coming Sunday in order to take three more courses next week. I can give no more positive endorsement than signing up and paying for more courses at SIG SAUER Academy. A full course review for the SIG SAUER Academy Master Pistol Instructor course was posted in this blog.

July is usually my vacation month to get things together for the courses I will instruct and also attend, along with the goals I want to accomplish throughout the rest of the year. At this time I also plan my training schedule for the following calendar year and make sure I have things on the books with range facilities and local hosts. However, during the month of July I did teach a couple courses and ended up taking the Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course given by On Point Safety & Defense at my home club, the Wyoming Antelope Club in Clearwater, Florida. Franklin did a great job with the POI for this course, it is one that I highly recommend for both the firearms instructor and the responsibly armed citizen. I will be hosting this as a closed enrollment course on Saturday October 14th at the Wyoming Antelope Club for my cadre with Trigger Control Dot Org, we may open up the enrollment in a couple weeks as I want to make sure to fill the course for Franklin because he is an excellent trainer.

Which brings us up to present day. Currently I am packing for my return trip to SIG SAUER Academy this Sunday. Once again I am looking forward to the time I will spend in the greater Epping/Exeter metropolitan area. Additionally I may find the time to drive down to Boston to take in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, a bucket list item that you can be sure I will check off. Stay tuned for course reviews on the three courses that I will attend next week.

The last weekend in August I will be in Culpeper, Virginia attending a third course with Rangemaster Firearms Training Services, I will be attending the Advanced Instructor Development Course for a second time. I first graduated from this course back in March 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, and candidly, I am looking forward to seeing how Tom has evolved the curriculum of this course. I posted a course review on the original course in 2015 as the first entry in this blog, a new course review will be posted once I complete this course later this month, so please stay tuned!

In September I will be instructing and attending a couple closed enrollment courses for Law Enforcement and one NRA Instructor Pistol Shooting course, then I will be attending a course with Dave Spaulding from Handgun Combatives. I have been chasing Dave for a few years now and the opportunity presented itself, so I jumped on it. By the way, I am very glad that I took action when I did, when I paid my course tuition he only had six registrations, four days later the course was completely sold out. In fact it is oversold to the point that he had to bring in another instructor. Let that be a lesson to those who procrastinate in signing up for courses. Again, a full course review will be posted in this blog.

At the end of September I have been invited to attend a closed enrollment course with a training group that is offering a Combat Shotgun and Advanced Pistol course. Unfortunately this course is being held in one of those states that do not welcome me and my gun, fortunately I will be training with a bunch of operators who can protect me. (Wink-Wink) These two courses will allow me some more flexibility in offering closed enrollment curriculum for both Law Enforcement and Military units.

In early October I will be traveling to Los Angeles to do some consulting with a major television network at one of their studios. The contract is in hand, the money is in the bank, now I just have to work with some actors and actresses on gun handling and some self-defense skills. I know, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right? Oh and yet again, I am traveling somewhere that I am not typically welcome with my handgun; however, it pays to have friends in high places.

At the end of my trip to California I will attend Ken Hackathorn‘s two-day Advanced Pistol course at Burro Canyon Shooting Park in the San Gabriel Mountains, high above the smog of Los Angeles. I am really looking forward to training with Ken, he has been training Law Enforcement Officers, the United States Military and Responsibly Armed Americans in the responsible and ethical use of firearms for somewhere close to 50 years. You can bet that I will be taking copious notes. When I met Ken at the NRA Annual Meetings in Atlanta he told me that he will retire from actively teaching this year and that trainers like Larry Vickers and Daryl Holland both with Aztec Training Services will be taking over a lot of his training. As you might suspect, a full course review will be published in this blog.

The third weekend in October I will be in Green Bay, Wisconsin being hosted by The Well Armed Woman’s oldest chapter. The ladies and their local gun club have been very accommodating and I can’t tell you how excited I am to bring a one-day handgun and personal tactics course for the responsibly armed citizen to “Cheeseville.” I will have a few friends of mine helping me with the course and I am sure that my host and some of the students will be posting course reviews, I will share them as they are published.

The month of November will be very busy as well. During the first three weekends I will be driving to North Carolina, flying to Oklahoma and then flying to the Midwest to take courses in between several course commitments of my own as a trainer. One of these trips includes the first Rangemaster Instructor Reunion Conference to be held at the BDC Gun Room in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Tom and Lynn Givens scheduled this gathering for their alumni and it sold out very quickly, then Tom asked for a larger meeting space in the facility to accommodate more folks and now it is nearly sold out again. This will be a great trip, and one that I am sure will be memorable.

In December I will be headed to South Carolina to conduct a closed enrollment course and to attend a weekend course near Columbia. I am excited to take a drive around Fort Jackson where tomorrow (August 11th) it will be 35 years since I set foot on the soil, err sand there, more appropriately I pushed sand in the front lean and rest position doing push-ups while getting eaten by gnats on Tank Hill, “Bravo Four One” B-4-1, 4th Platoon, “Keep up the Fire!”

In January 2018 I will be headed back to Oklahoma to train with Tom Givens, William Aprill and Craig “Southnarc” Douglas in Establishing a Dominance Paradigm, and then on to the NSSF SHOT Show in Las Vegas. I will be hosting Patrick McNamara here in Florida for his T.A.P.S. Carbine course at the end of the month, I believe this will be his first course in the “GunShine” state. (That’s Florida for all you Yankees) I am excited about hosting Mac, he is one of the very best trainers across all firearms disciplines and a high quality individual as well. Trigger Control Dot Org will be handling the pre-registration for this course, so please stay tuned to the events page on Trigger Control Dot Org for a course announcement soon!

The weekend after the Super Bowl is going to be absolutely epic! I am hosting Gabe White for his very first course in the GunShine State. Gabe is the only man to ever score a perfect 125/125 on “The Test” at the elite Rogers Shooting School in Elijay, Georgia, and get this, he did it from concealment (AIWB) with his GLOCK 34. Both Tom and Lynn Givens and myself sold out Gabe’s course in short order with folks that we knew and have trained with before, so to be fair to everyone who missed out, I am bringing Gabe back in late September 2018 for another course at Tall Palm Ranch in Lakeland, Florida. Registration is open for the September 29th & 30th, 2018 course on Gabe’s Eventbrite page.

In March I will attend the 20th annual Rangemaster Firearms Training Services Tactical Conference at the Direct Action Resource Center in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The Tactical Conference has trainers from all across the country, people like John Farnam, Massad Ayoob, Marty Hayes, Chick Haggard, Claude Werner, of course Tom Givens and many more nationally known trainers. TACCON sells out way ahead of time and if you have not already registered you’ve got maybe a few weeks until it will be sold out. Register and pay your event fee now on Eventbrite or by mail by downloading the form in this link.

As mentioned several times above, on April 7th & 8th, 2018 I will be hosting Tom and Lynn Givens for their Rangemaster two-day Combative Pistol course. This will be a “Home Course” for them teaching at Tall Palm Ranch, in Lakeland, Florida. This course should fill up very quickly with my instructor cadre and students here in the Tampa Bay area, that is why I am hosting it, all for their benefit. You can register on Eventbrite or by sending your check or money order to; Rangemaster Firearms Training Services, 1808 James L. Redman Parkway, Plant City, Florida 33563.

There will be more courses to teach and more to attend in 2018; however, this is what I have going through the first quarter of 2018, how about you? Do you run your gun, or just run your mouth through your keyboard on social media about how you supposedly run your gun? (Sadly a lot of people do just that and they think they are experts in firearms training and the justifiable use of force)

I’ll leave you with this last thought … There are people in the world who watch things happen, then there are the people who make things happen and lastly there are people who wonder what happened. Get off your butt, schedule some training and make things happen!

 

Until next time …

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

Course Review: Rangemaster Combative Pistol Course April 1-2, 2017 Okeechobee, Florida

AAA Combative Pistol Okeechobee April 1-2, 2017

“If gunfire is called for, then hits are called for.” – Tom Givens

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend Tom & Lynn Givens’ Rangemaster Combative Pistol Course at the OK Corral Gun Cub in Okeechobee, Florida.

Tom Givens is a subject matter expert in firearms and firearms training who has been training sworn law enforcement officers, security guards, military personnel and responsibly armed citizens for well over forty years. He is a court appointed expert witness in cases involving firearms and firearms training and also serves on the board of directors for the Armed Citizens Legal Defense Network. (ACLDN) Tom understands and can explain physiology, psychology and bio-mechanics better than most PhD’s in the field. His course of fire focuses the student on efficiency, speed and precision. His classroom presentations are well thought out and put together in a manner that gets the students attention. (More on that later) Lynn Givens is a subject matter expert on firearms and firearms training as well, with over 2,000 hours of professional firearms training to her credit, if she tells you to do something while you are in class, it would be a good idea to just do it. Lynn served as an Assistant Instructor this weekend, both she and Tom make a great training team.

TD1 began in the Ranch House at the OK Corral Gun Club with Colonel Jeff Cooper’s four basic rules of gun safety. Muzzle discipline and trigger finger discipline are absolutes in a Rangemaster course, Tom and Lynn run a “Hot Range” with all guns being always loaded. The emphasis is on safety and is non-negotiable with only three places a gun should be while on the range; In the holster, at the ready or on target.

After a short break Tom asked a question that he has been asked many times, “Why do you carry a gun?” he told us the correct answer, “Because I may have to shoot somebody.” As a responsibly armed citizen you never know when or where you may need to use your self-defense firearm to save your life or the life of your loved one. Unfortunately someone else decides that for you and they do not give you any advance warning. Understand that a handgun is a life saving piece of equipment, it does you absolutely no good if it is not on your person when you need it. So, carry your damn gun! (These are nearly verbatim quotes from other courses I have taken with Tom over the past several years)

After another short break we got into the defensive mindset and Tom used several real incidents as examples. These included an actual 9-1-1 recording of a woman and her toddler being brutally murdered over an open phone line; next was a dash cam video of a Sheriff’s Deputy in Georgia who took thirty-three shots at his killer missing him each time from about a car length away just to be murdered in cold blood; finally an interview with a jewelry store owner in Los Angeles who in his own words, “refused to be a victim of a violent crime.” These short audio and video presentations definitely got the attention of the course participants, and even though I had heard and seen them before, they served as a grim reminder to me of the evil that exists in our world, and how I must be prepared to deal with it when it comes calling. I apologize; however, you will need to take the course to fully understand the gravity of these presentations, they are something that cannot be illustrated to the student in the written word, nor should they be.

Next up was Tom’s Elements of Defensive Shooting.

  1. Marksmanship
  2. Firing “Fighting” Platform (Stance)
  3. Grip
  4. Sight Alignment and Sight Picture
  5. Trigger Press
  6. Breathing
  7. Follow-Through

After explanations and presentations on each area and their importance to defensive shooting, we broke for lunch.

A buffet style lunch was graciously sponsored both days by one of the students. The OK Corral has a large dining room and full kitchen. The choices on Saturday included a variety of items like, Chicken Marsala and Beef Pepper Steak, some really good red skin mashed potatoes and on Sunday it was more of a brunch buffet with 1/2 breakfast and lunch items.

After lunch we started the course of fire. Before each exercise Tom explained and demonstrated them for us, and then coached us through the exercise as all of the great instructors do. He knows that following this simple teaching principle is the key to connecting with his students and unlocking the adult learning theory.

We started with dry fire presentations using Tom’s four step method of presenting a pistol from a concealment holster. One is access the pistol and make sure you get a firing grip on it. Two is pulling the pistol out of the holster to your pectoral muscle (If you are carrying strong side hip) and rotating the pistol to the target by dropping your elbow. Three is joining your hands together to get a two handed firing grip. Four is pushing the the pistol straight out toward the target.

While we were in the middle of this dry fire exercise Tom and Lynn were observing and evaluating each individual student for their safety awareness (Muzzle and Trigger Finger Discipline) our skills and equipment choices, and they were quick to make suggestions that led to improvements in everybody where it was appropriate.

Once the line went hot, we ran exercises from the low ready, firing single shots, then moving on to pairs and then multiple shot engagements all on either a verbal command or the sound of a whistle that Tom keeps attached to his stopwatch. For this class Tom uses the Federal Way Washington Police Department Vital Impact Area Target because its scoring zones are well suited for defensive shooting instruction.

img_6476.jpg

Tom then explained and demonstrated a sight deviation drill further dispelling the myth put out there by the gun pretenders on the interwebz that you don’t need or will not have time to use your sights in a gunfight. The one thing you don’t have time to do is miss your intended target in a gunfight, so it is important to position the “bumpy things” on top your slide to get a hit on the person that is threatening your life.

Speed reloads and going back to the low ready position before holstering is common place in a Rangemaster course, this way all students can keep a full gun and get in the habit of reloading their gun quickly and efficiently. Important Note: If you ever attend any Rangemaster course, make sure you keep a pocket full of ammunition so you can keep the magazines that are on your belt topped off as well.

By this time it was getting later in the afternoon and we were on to the importance of using the correct cadence while shooting. Tom first explained and then demonstrated many different cadences explaining that as your distance increases so must the time in between shots. After he felt that we had an understanding of cadence we then progressed to strong hand and weak hand only shooting exercises. the last exercise of the day was to present our pistols from concealment and fire three shots within three seconds from three yards on the stopwatch, we did this drill several times and many people got faster as the drill progressed. TD1 ended with a round count a little over two hundred fifty rounds in total.

TD2 once again started in a classroom environment inside the clubhouse at OK Corral. Tom started out with some facts and figures on the percentage of hardcore criminals incarcerated based upon USDOJ statistics and then we watched the FBI’s own AAR on the April 11th, 1986 shootout in the Pinecrest neighborhood of Miami-Dade County that ended with the deaths of special agents, Jerry Dove and Ben Grogan along with their killers, Michael Platt and William Matix. Tom is very respectful of the agents involved; however, he points out all of the mistakes that were made and the lessons learned from this incident and how we can apply them to our every day life as responsibly armed citizens.

We departed for the range just after 10:00am and started with some warm up drills shooting multiples from the holster then transitioned to cadence drills.

We then shot the Rangemaster Combative Pistol Course Qualification, everyone scored over the 80% and got to stay in the class. (That was a joke, I’m sure had someone not passed they would have been coached more and given another opportunity to qualify) Myself and Bryce Bishop only dropped one point scoring a 249/250 on the qualification which made us first up on the dueling tree. Bryce cleaned my clock with his Glock 34, scoring the three hits needed to end the fight just as I got my first hit. Not taking anything away from Bryce, but I really broke the cardinal rule in a gunfight, I was the one who missed the most and he or she who misses the most usually ends up dead.

After having a little friendly competition on the dueling tree we started on basic command drills using the Discretionary Command Training Target DT-2A. There are three versions of this target, and I like to use all three in my courses to keep my students guessing, and so they don’t get complacent on memorizing where they are needing to get their hits.

AAA DT-2A

After running several of the command exercises we ran another fun competition to find the last person standing in each relay, by having people drop off after misses and whomever shot last, then we moved to the Casino Drill. Twenty-one shots in under twenty-one seconds with no misses, shooting each target in order and preforming two emergency reloads. We ran the drill several times and pasted our misses by doing the walk of shame after each exercise. Then we ran it for time, with the lowest time in each relay winning a Rangemaster pocket knife. Just so you know the record for this drill is 12.09 seconds, it was not in jeopardy this weekend.

Total round count for two days was just under the expected 800 rounds.

I ran my Generation 3 Glock 19C outfitted with Ameriglo I-Dot Pro sights from a Safariland ALS holster. I used a mixture of FMJ ammunition, mostly Winchester white box 115gr FMJ purchased at Walmart and the rest was Federal American Eagle 115gr FMJ. I had one ammunition induced stoppage (Failure to Fire) with the Winchester white box.

The course concluded at just about five o’clock with certificate presentations and the three questions Tom and Lynn always ask of their students at the end of every course. No, I’m not telling the questions, you will just have to attend one of their courses to find out for yourself.

A few final thoughts: Over the two days of training I identified two weaknesses that I must get better at, and I have already developed a plan to turn theses weaknesses into strengths. This course is one that will help get you refocused on basic fundamentals and will sharpen your strengths; however, as I said above it will also expose your weaknesses as well.

Lastly, it is my goal to convert back to a more conventional thumbs up style grip with my support hand wrist locked, the same grip that Tom teaches. It won’t be easy due to being habituated to the thumbs forward grip for so long; however, I am going to be working very hard to retrain my brain before the 3-day Rangemaster Advanced Combative Pistol Course next month outside Atlanta.

You can find Rangemaster on the worldwide web at:

http://rangemaster.com

On Facebook you can join their closed group at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/234643425923/

 

Until next time …

Stay Safe & Train Hard!

Do you have specific goals when at the range? Think S.M.A.R.T.

Yesterday evening Tom Givens posted this to the graduates of his Rangemaster Instructor courses and I thought it was way too good not to share. For those of you who follow the Trigger Control Dot Org Facebook page, you know that we share a lot of content to help make you a better defensive shooter along with many other things focused on the responsible armed citizen.

When I am at the range, I am there with a plan in mind to work on a specific skill set that is important to me. Sure sometimes I am there to “shake out” a gun that I might be using for training or a new concealed carry gun that I bought, but let’s face it, these days with the cost and availability of ammunition, range memberships, gas to get there etc… we all need a plan with some goals to work toward in improving our defensive shooting skill sets.

I give the “floor” to Mr. Givens.

What are S.M.A.R.T. Goals?

A critical step in increasing your defensive shooting skill is to be able to set up S.M.A.R.T. training goals. Think of it as driving your vehicle from your home to some other destination. You could drive around aimlessly and hope you eventually arrive at the address you seek. A better solution would be to get directions, plot them on a map, and follow those directions directly to your destination. That is our goal in S.M.A.R.T. training.

I’ve been teaching people professionally for over 35 years, for 18 years I owned a range where people often came to practice, and I teach almost every weekend somewhere in the US. On my range, I frequently saw people come and practice with no plan, no goal, and little or no organization. When they left they were not one bit better than when they arrived, and they could have accomplished every bit as much with dry practice at home. In our classes, no matter what part of the country we are in I see the same errors by shooters who have had a fair bit of prior training. The problem is, after the training their practice is unorganized, haphazard, and without real goals. Since they practiced so inefficiently they come to class shooting no better than when they came to the last class. We basically start over with these folks every time we get them in class. For your practice regimen to be of any real value you have to set goals and attain them. You can’t just say your goal is to be a better shot or to be “really good”. That is so vague as to be meaningless. We need a standard to achieve and road map to get there.

For a goal to be effective and useful to you, it should be S.M.A.R.T…. S (specific), M (measurable), A (attainable), R (realistic), and T (timely). Broadly general goals, generally speaking, will not be achieved. So, let’s look at each of these criteria and see how they apply to the defensive shooter.

Specific– each range trip or dry practice session should be planned around working on and improving one or two specific skills. The skill should be identified in advance so that you can have the correct supplies, targets, and any other equipment you need to work on those specific skill sets. Trying to work on everything at once leads to improving nothing significantly. It is far better to concentrate your attention on one or two skills in each session. In advance of your range trip or dry practice session identify the skill set you want to work on and then identify the drills that would help polish those particular skills. For instance, if you want to work on accuracy, a bulls-eye course of fire may be in order, or perhaps one of the small dot drills.

Measurable– a time and accuracy standard gives you a metric for seeing if you are actually getting better or not. Never just blow rounds down range. Every drill fired and practice string should be critiqued and or scored and targets taped or replaced so that you can see exactly where hits are going. Never rely on your subjective idea of how fast you’re working, you will just about always be wrong. You can have a training partner with a stopwatch, or if you practice alone you can use an electronic timer to verify your progress. Many smartphones now have timer apps available, so there’s really no excuse for not using a timing device in your range trips. To accurately measure your progress you can use standardized drills, exercises, and courses of fire. By scoring your targets and noting your time it’s pretty easy to track progress or the lack of it. There are a lot of standardized drills that emphasize discrete skills with well-known time/ accuracy requirements. The FAST drill devised by Todd Green is just one example. You either get your hits into the 3 x 5 card and the 8-inch circle or you don’t, and you either make the time specified or you don’t. It’s a great idea to use a small notebook as a log and note the date and time of practice, the individual drills worked on, and your scores/times. Tracking your progress in this manner gives you an accurate idea of how you are progressing.

Attainable– be realistic when setting your goals to avoid frustration and burnout. If you’re just starting out as a defensive shooter, a 1.2-second draw from concealment to a hit at 7 yards is probably beyond your reach. Find your current baseline shooting scored drills, record your score or time and set a reasonable goal for improvement. For instance, if a slide lock reloads currently takes you four seconds, make your goal cutting your time to three seconds. Once you achieve that goal, make your next goal cutting the time to 2 1/2 seconds. Each time you have a major improvement, it is going to be harder to make it to the next level, so work in increments that you can manage. Trying to go from that four second reload to a two second reload in one jump is a lot to ask. If you shot the current FBI pistol qualification course at 75% today, make your next goal shooting 85%, rather than 100%. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Realistic– when setting goals, take into account your physical attributes, your training resources (time, ammunition, and money), your equipment limitations, and the context for which you are training. For instance, it is counterproductive to set goals built around what Grand Master USPSA shooters do with match gear worn openly if you are wearing a compact pistol concealed under clothing in an IWB holster. If you are older or have physical limitations take those into account realistically in your training plan.

Timely– set a real-time goal for your desired improvement. This helps you stay on track and put in the work. If you want to improve one specific skill such as the slide lock reload mentioned above, you might set a goal of shaving the time from four seconds to three seconds in three months of combined range work and dry practice. If your goal is to reach a certain score on a broad course of fire that covers a lot of different skills, you might set a time limit of say, six months. As mentioned before, use a logbook to record your efforts and your achievements as you work toward your goal.

Using the S.M.A.R.T. approach you can make the most of your training resources and I assure you, you will progress faster and get a lot more out of your limited training time.

Tom

 

Stay Safe and Train not just Hard, train S.M.A.R.T.!!!

Course Review – Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Development Course – March 14th & 15th in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Rangemaster Advanced Instructor Development Course

Saturday and Sunday; March 14-15, 2015

Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida at a “Sub-Optimal” Range Facility which will remain nameless…Inside joke between the Instructors and Students.

This course picked up where the three day Rangemaster IDC that I took last August left off. We (Myself and 11 others) started on Saturday morning and got straight to work. The demographics were ten (10) men and two (2) women, all previous graduates of the three day Rangemaster IDC. Students came from as far away as northern Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois and Ohio; however, the majority were southerners from Georgia and Florida.

Day one began with a little review of the three day Rangemaster IDC and then we hit the range for some dry-fire drills to make sure our presentations were sharp because a significant percentage of the course of fire was from a concealment holster, very little work was done from the low-ready position. Once we loaded our firearms we were in warmup mode to get the blood flowing into our trigger fingers. The day one course of fire was mostly bulls-eye drills used to diagnose our misses and get us “back in the black” so to speak. We fired several bulls-eye courses at varying distances out to 25 yards. After that we shot the Rangemaster bulls-eye qualification and BATFE qualifications not knowing if or what might be used as a “record score.” You see, at Rangemaster they put your actual scores on your course certificate.

Once we were done shooting for the day we had some classroom time with a presentation on Active Shooters and the statistics associated with them. Some really interesting stuff in this presentation, all of the data collected was from a study done by the Counter-Terrorism division of the NYPD. They researched 281 active shooter cases and we discussed quite a few of them that many people may not remember or weren’t even old enough to know about. The shootings that were studied all had at least four (4) victims or more and happened in a public place, and within a twenty (20) minute time frame. Excluded were domestic violence murder suicides etc…

Day two was just as fast-paced with us hitting the range immediately in the morning and running drills until lunch time, then back at it later for low-light shooting techniques. One thing about taking a course with Tom Givens, you will know he has specific goals in mind for himself and his students and both he and Lynn give coaching and encouragement to everyone, but when it’s time to get your hits, they tell you. The day two course of fire also included a “Changing Gears” drill, the “Parrot Drill” and the “Parrot Drill +P.” We also ran several variations of the “Casino Drill” as well. These drills all make you think about getting your hits as the targets vary in size, shape and color. The Casino Drill incorporates two slide-lock reloads and we made it even tougher by sticking a dummy round in our magazines and having our shooting partner mix them up so we would not know where it was in the drill. We also varied the magazine size, the drill uses twenty-one rounds and thus we made uneven magazines and mixed them up instead of just filling our three magazines with seven rounds each time.

Getting your timing down and being accurate at distance or on a smaller target is difficult, Tom showed us ways to help the new shooter all the way to the advanced shooter get their hits from various distances and target sizes. We wound up the morning with another BATFE qualification for score. (I had shot 96 on day one and 100 on day two, an improvement that I will take any day of the week) Two classmates tied for “Top Gun” honors 100% both days and thus they split the Top Gun award. Once back in the classroom we were given a presentation on low-light shooting techniques and then fired them in the range, obviously under low-light conditions.

Once we finished the low-light shooting techniques we were back in the classroom to talk about curriculum development and selecting the proper targets to use in training. As Instructors we must create the right mindset in our students where to properly get hits on the target when training.

In summary, I highly recommend both the Rangemaster Instructor Development Course and the Advanced Instructor Development Course, you won’t be disappointed as it is money well spent on your professional development. Additionally in training with Tom Givens you can be sure that his curriculum is well thought out, researched and presented in a manner that you can understand.

Notes: I used a Glock 17L for this course and it preformed as Glock’s always do, flawlessly. The ammunition I used was both Federal American Eagle and Magtech 115gr FMJ. The Federal American Eagle preformed flawlessly, the Magtech not so much. We (My friend who traveled from northern Wisconsin and who relied on me to provide his ammunition) experienced several “failure to fire” malfunctions using the Magtech ammunition, far too many in a 1,000 round lot. I won’t be buying anymore Magtech ammunition unless it is at a serious discount.

Learn more about Rangemaster at www.rangemaster.com

The final thought belongs to the Chief Instructor at Rangemaster…

“Shoot only as fast as you can guarantee hits, but no faster.” – Tom Givens

 

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