There is a Story afoot . . .

A story has attacked me . . . not sure where it's from, but I have been posting chapters as they come out of my fingers. Yes, I am still posting on firearms training and my new topic of basic prepping - all links are to the right of the blog, newest posts first on the lists. Feel free to ignore the story posts - they usually start with a chapter number. But, feel free to read the story as well and comment on it - I like how it's turning out so far! Links to the various chapters are at the right under . . .

The Story


Monday, October 24, 2016

Range Trip 10-24-2016  Defensive Carbine Lessons

Well, it seems we were blessed with yet another gorgeous day!  I killed off my Monday morning customer alligators so I figured “why not?”  Since I’d spent some time evaluating the Glock 19, reminding myself about utilizing a more rapid sight picture on my Glock 17 . . . I figured I’d round out the process by hitting the range with my defensive carbine.  For me that means a DMPS Oracle .223 with fold up backup sights and an EOTECH 517.   I’ve done a couple courses with this particular carbine and other it being just plain heavy, I have nothing really bad to say about it.  I last zeroed the backup sights the weekend of November 8th, 2008.  I purchased in on Wednesday, November 5th, 2008.  I will let you draw your own conclusions.   The Back-Up Sights have remained rock solid since then.  I have enjoyed the same stability with the EOTECH as well.  I have not replaced it, nor have I experienced any drift.

A while back I found a zero technique to zero a .223 AR shooting a 55 grain bullet that would zero it for both 50 and 200 yards.  You can find the post here.  About a year ago while taking a CFS carbine class, I confirmed this zero and made no adjustments.  As I said, it’s held just fine so the trip today required no tweaking what so ever.

I followed a course of fire very similar to the one that I used for the Glocks with the exception that I expanded the distances.  Again, I used the LEtargets SEB target.  The first round was 15 rounds at 10Y, 5 rounds on the “1”, 5 rounds on the “3” and 5 rounds on the “5”.  The second round was 15 rounds at 15Y, 5 rounds on the 2, 5 rounds on the 4, 5 rounds on the 6.  Round three was the “failure drill”, 2 rounds high center mass and one to the ocular cavity, a total of 15 rounds.  The fourth and final round was at 50 yards, 15 rounds to the pelvic girdle.

The idea here is to simulate an immediate need – grab the carbine from behind my rear seat, go to the proper spot on the range and shoot the course of fire.  In real life, should things go sideways in a really big way for you, you will have no time for tweaking . . . simply responding.  Your defensive carbine (if that is part of your defensive weapon systems) simply must be ready to go out of the box, just as your defensive sidearm is, in its holster, on your side as you read this.  (It’s there . . . right?)

So I slide through the sling, insert a mag, mount the carbine and yank the charging handle to the rear, then let it go.  Next I click on the 517 . . . . next I click on the 517 . . . and . . . it’s dead.  Think about this particular instant if you were to be actually engaged with a threat on a two-way range.  Can you smoothly transition to your backup irons?  Are you confident of their zero?  Can you shoot with your backup irons?  The reality is you have no time to decide any of this – if the world is sliding out of control you better engage and you better hit what you are aiming at.

So, off I go and I engage the “1” from 10 yards, 3 of the 5 rounds hitting a couple inches low.  Pro tip . . . a 55grain .223 round will hit approximately 2 inches low at 10 yards if you’ve established a 50y – 200y zero.  You need to remember this!  While you would still be hammering rounds into your threat, your precision sucks . . . just sayin’.  If you don’t visit the range, if you don’t run the guns you are going to depend on to defend yourself, your family or those in your charge . . . surprises will happen at the most inopportune times.

On to “3” . . . 5 rounds, down only 1.  I remembered the 2 inch drop, kicked myself in the butt and kept on shooting.

On to “5” . . . 5 rounds, down only 1.  I hate these damn little triangles . . . just sayin’.

Round two begins at 15 yards on “2”, drop is ever so slightly less . . . 5 rounds, down zero.  Hey, “nudges” count!

On to “4”, heavy sigh . . . all to the right, down 3.  And finishing up on “6” (did I say something about hating the little triangles???) again to the right, down 3.

Round 3 moves me up to 7 yards.  This is the failure drill.  Two rounds high center mass and one to the ocular cavity.  15 rounds total, down zero on high center mass, down 4 on the ocular cavity.

I move back to 50 yards, I am down 8 for 15.  So let’s do the math . . . for 60 rounds I am down 3,1,1,0,4,3,4,and 8 for a total of down 24 out of 60  . . . or I shot a “60%”. 

My worst target was at 50 yards.  All shooting was unsupported, so using some kind of cover as a brace may well have snugged up those 8 misses.  Next, if you get lazy and don’t shoot your iron sights, your performance suffers.  It is part of the skill set you simply must practice on.  If you are a LEO, and shoot a qual course once or twice a year with a carbine, I’d strongly suggest you shoot it with iron sights.  If you refine that skill should things go sideways in a really big way you will have a much better chance of going home standing rather than in a ZipLoc.   Obviously this holds true for me as well and I will find time to put more work in with iron sights in the very near future.

This particular part of the range trip is host to a couple lessons.  Failures happen at inopportune times.  And, if you have a battery powered optic, the batteries will fail when you need them.  And, you will look in your range bag, your pockets, your callout bag, your weapon case . . . and discover that there are no batteries to be found, your battery powered optic is useless.  Got batteries?????

So I finished up this short trip, grabbed some lunch, went back to the office to see if anyone needed a hand.  I handled a few calls, dotted a few “i’s”, crossed a few “Ts” and wondered if I had any batteries in my desk drawer.  Imagine that . . . there were a half dozen or so.  And so my work day ended and off to the range I went to repeat the same course of fire but with my EOTECH optic operational.  (the “crap” all across the target face is splatter from a steel plate that was just to the left of the target.  After I finished up the 50-yard course of fire I shot up the remaining 15 rounds on the steel.  I do kinda love that “PING” sound.  But the splatter really messed with the target).

So, did the EOTECH make all that much difference?
15 rounds at 10Y.

Down 1 on “1”, down zero on “3” and down 1 on “6”.   I could call this much improved.

Second 15 rounds at 15Y.

Down 0 on “2”, down 2 on “4” and down 2 on “6”.

Third 15 rounds at 7 yards, the failure drill.  Down 0 on high center mass, down 1 on the ocular cavity.

Fourth and final 15 rounds at 50 yards, down 3. 

So the final tally . . . down 1,0,1,0,2,2,3 and 2 for a total of down 11.  Or . . . I shot an “82%”.

So what should the take-away be for you?  First, if a carbine is part of your defensive weapons array . . . have you been to the range lately?  Have you shot any type of qualification course – your own or some other one?  (Try the OLD FBI course of fire for starters.)  Do you trust it’s “zero”?  Do the optics work?  Do you have backup irons “just in case”?  Can you shoot them?  Can you move easily from one to the other?  Do you know the different ballistic response at different distances?  Where is the point of impact for your defensive rounds at 7Y, 10Y, 15Y, 50Y, 100Y, 200Y?  Can your “run your gun”, clear failures, change magazines quickly and easily?

You will not do a single realistic evaluation of any of these questions . . . if you don’t hit the range.  It’s not “ammunition intensive”, this was only 60 rounds, yet it will wring out your skillset reasonably well.  Oh . . . have you taken a carbine course lately?  Ever?  I have found for many shooters the way the “gun runs” in their head varies radically from the way it runs in a reasonably strenuous range course.  If a defensive carbine is part of your mix, take a frickin’ course . . . just sayin’.

So there ya go.  A rather quick range trip to flesh things out turned into a rather nice learning/reminder/butt kicking trip.  I shall endeavor to do better.

Get outta the recliner folks . . . and hit the range!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review - AAR NAPSI FDP Course 10-9-2016

On October 9th I conducted a NAPSI Foundations of Defensive Pistol (FDP) course for a class of 4, 3 women and one guy.  The average time for this course is 9 hours including both SIRT and live fire range time.  It was a good group!  So let’s chat about how it went.

The FDP course is designed to do two primary things.  First, to begin to move the student’s mindset into the defensive use of a firearm world.  And second, to cover a wide range of foundational material from holsters to shooting from cover.  There is no holster work, all shooting is done from a firing line from the High Compressed Ready.  But the drills are comprehensive and designed to provide a solid starting point to move forward in their defensive pistol skill set.

There are 10 primary lessons that the students covered . . .
  • Introduction to Revolver
  • Introduction to Semi-Automatic Pistols, their malfunctions and remedies
  • Firearms Safety and Safe Gun Handling
  • Introduction to holsters, belts and off-body carry
  • Introduction to Ammunition
  • Range Safety Protocols and Care and Cleaning of Handguns
  • Defensive Shooting Fundamentals, Mindset and Selecting a Defensive Handgun
  • Live Fire: Introduction to Defensive Shooting
  • Live Fire:  Using Cover and Concealment
  • Skills Application, Written Exam, Final Thoughts and Debrief

As you can see, it was a busy day that started at 8 AM and finished just after 5 PM.  Everyone went home appropriately tired.

It has been my experience that the majority of students come to a first level course with the intent to fill the square to get their carry permit.  This obviously varies from state to state and is a very simple task to accomplish in Iowa.  Next, most truly want to learn something.  And finally, those who want to learn want range time as well.  The FDP course filled those items for these folks.

It began with a review of the handguns they would typically choose to defend themselves.  Each type was covered in full so as they went “out into the world” they could make better choices for a firearm that would work for them.

Then we talked about safe gun handling.  We have adopted Cooper’s 4 rules simply because we believe they are more applicable in the defensive use of a handgun world.  We talked at length about each and how they are relevant to the save use of a firearm.

Next came an introduction to holsters, belts and different types of off body carry.  It is my opinion that this is an area that is all too often neglected yet is probably one of the most important things the students need to get right in the real world.

This was followed by an introduction to ammunition with a focus to the two primary types a defensive shooter is exposed to – ball ammunition for range work and expanding ammunition for defensive carry. 

We worked our way through the range commands we would be using and then talked about the care and cleaning of typical types of handguns.  This brought us to lunch – I think everyone was approaching overload so the timing worked well.

After lunch we began with defensive shooting fundamentals, defensive mindset and worked through the primary concerns when choosing a defensive handgun.  Here, one specific item fell out when we talked about defensive mindset.  I’m working on a more extensive post but, in a nutshell we chatted a bit about the 2nd Amendment, it’s importance and what it means to us as Americans.  In under all the politics, all the jockeying for position, all the solid information and the disinformation that floats around out there . . . there is one fundamental truth at the end of the day . . .

You have the natural right to live . . . and no one has the right to take that away from you. 

That, to me, is the foundation of the 2nd Amendment . . . I have the right to life . . . period.  More on this at some future date in a separate post.

From here I move to a SIRT range.  I worked the students through the use of a semiautomatic pistol, the loading and “racking” of the slide (yes, I know they don’t move).  Then we worked on stance, grip, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger press.  We worked through a number of drills starting with the Drive-Touch-Press drill up through accelerated pairs.  Honestly, this SIRT range time is golden!  If you have not tried it, get yourself a SIRT and see for yourself.  For instructors, SIRT range time make the live fire more valuable and safer IMNSHO.

Next was the move to the range and working through the course range drills.  Again from the Drive-Touch-Press drill through Accelerated Pairs.  This moved to use of cover and concealment, a challenge drill and finally a qualification shoot. 

Off the range . . . back to the classroom and on to the written exam, a few final thoughts and then a course debrief.  It was a good day!

So, congrats to Ann, Leah, Sue and TJ – great job folks!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Range Trip - 10-22-2016 - Sight Alignment - Sight Picture - Trigger Press – It matters . . .

The opportunity for short range trips pop up every now and then.  Take advantage of them.  I had about an hour block of time unexpectedly appear this morning, so I headed to the range.  What to do . . . what to do . . .  As I hammer on, have a plan – don’t just send lead down range.

I’m still betting acquainted with my new Glock 19 so I thought spending some time at distance – today it was 15 yards, would help round out my understanding of the G19.  I posted two targets, one for my carry G17 and one for the new G19.  The first target seen below was the result of 15 rounds of slow fire, taking “careful” aim.  Heavy sigh, a pretty sad effort and not I’m too pleased to post it.  But, there are lessons in everything so let’s chat a bit.

When I was taking the Gunsite 150 class this summer there was one particular drill at 30 feet that came to mind.  It was very similar to what I was trying to do here.  Aimed fire and a group around 6” in diameter.  All went well until the very last string and I simply blew things low.  One of the instructors came up and asked . . . “What the hell happened Bill?  You just went from “hero” to “Zero”!”  I kinda thought about things and answered that I honestly had no idea why that particular string went low.  “I can tell you . . . too much time aiming.  You were on target way too long.  Drive to the threat, gather a clear sight picture along the way, and press the trigger when you have completed your drive.  You gain nothing by staying on target too long.”  I thought about it and then worked on that throughout the rest of the coursework.  I was genuinely surprised had how much his advice improved my shooting.  Back to today . . .

The second target, physically posted just below the one shown above, was shot with the Glock19 – also at 15 yards.  Note the improvement.

Ignore the single round high and center, it’s one of the dropped shots from the G17 rounds on target 1.  On this target I focused on the advice I had been given – drive to the threat, pick up the front sight, acquire a solid sight alignment and sight picture, take up the slack in the trigger and then simply press the trigger when full extension is reached.  Hold this sight picture and press off an accelerated shot as soon as the sight picture is reacquired.  This would be the result of these controlled pairs.  While the first target was 10/15 . . . the Glock 19 was 15/15 within a 6”x6” group.  A solid difference.

So, one more time with the G17, at 15 yards using the same technique.  Drive to the threat while gaining a solid sight alignment, sight picture with a smooth trigger press when full extension is reached and executing a controlled pair.

 Now I’m back to 12/15 – 80% (my minimum acceptable score) with the G17 at 15m.

So what’s the point here.  A couple things.  Set a standard and demand it of yourself.  If you are not meeting it – work out why.  Don’t leave the range until you’ve repaired whatever has been broken.  Take coursework from other instructors – someone will say something to you that will have a positive effect on your shooting.  Document your range trips.  Evaluate every target, evaluate your failures and determine what mistakes you have made – then fix them.  And, share your experience with other instructors and shooters.  We all learn from each other . . . unless we simply remain quiet and share nothing.  I see little value in that.

One last target.  I drew a ½’ square and loaded a magazine with 5 rounds (finishing off the box), stepped to 3 yards and shot 5 rounds of slow fire with the G19.  The point was a single hole.  The result was 3 touching, one high and a flinch low.  I like this drill because it was another one I learned at Gunsite though this was abbreviated.  The actual drill is . . . fire a single shot at a very small target . . . then dry fire for 5 rounds . . . and repeat 5 times.  You’d be surprised how much this simple drill can improve the precision of your shooting.

So there ya have it . . . an unexpected range trip, only about an hour, 50 rounds and some good lessons revisited and reinforced. 

Ya gotta hit the range folks – with purpose – and then evaluate your performance.  So, grab a box and hit the door!  What are you waiting for?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Just the Basics – Firing First Shots

It was the last “gun” of the night.  I’m at our annual Ikes fundraising banquet.  One of the draws for this banquet is that we give away – this year – 19 guns, ranging from a Glock 19 to an AXIS .240 with scope.  We also have both a live auction and a silent auction as well as a meal provided by a state champion preparing a couple different smoked meats.  It was a great night.

One of the games was a 12x12 board . . . 1 thru 12 for the rows . . . and A thru L for the columns.  12 Red poker chips held the letters while 12 white chips held the numbers.  In each square was the attendee’s “number”.  We sell 130 tickets to the banquet – each attendee receives a unique number to use during the night for all bids.  (As a side note, I have the distinct pleasure of holding the office of president of our chapter – so the final management of this evening was on me.)  Up until now we had held a live auction for 21 items, a silent auction for another 17 items, held 2 other games, given away a ton of gift certificates, miscellaneous prizes and a total of 18 guns . . . one left, a Glock 19.  It’s always feels a bit dicey when a board member or officer wins a prize.  That said, we all buy tickets, bid on auctions and take our chances.  But, we all worry about appearances as well. 

One of the officer’s daughter was the “Drawing Professional” for the entire evening.  So we lifted the bucket containing the Red chips . . . “I!” called our vice president.  Lizzie dips her hand into the buckets containing the White chips next . . . “10!” calls the VP.  “The winning number is 2 . . . 7 . . . 3!”  And I pause . . . it’s my number.  I look at him and say – ‘That’s my number!”  I had one the last gun of the night . . . a brand new, outta the box Glock 19, Gen 4 with three magazines.  I have won two things in the past . . . a koozie . . . and a dish to keep food cold in a lunch box.  And now a new Glock - - - COOL!!!!!

The night wrapped up, I took some gentle ribbing abut the win, we cleaned up and we were all home by 11PM – a fine time was had by all.

At the banquet you actually win a “gift certificate” which you need to take to the local gun dealer, fill out all the appropriate paperwork and pick up your firearm.  Today was Monday with a broad assortment of customer driven “alligators” waiting at the office.  But by mid-ish afternoon enough were slain that I could head to the dealer . . . and then to the range to “Fire First Shots!” with my brand new Glock 19.

I carry a Glock 17 and have used my carry gun for virtually every course I’ve ever taken.  I like Glocks and feel I shoot them well.  I’ve never shot a Glock 19 so I was more than a little anxious to hit the range to see what I could do with it.

I’d like you to pause right here . . . at this point . . . and consider that the next time you are about to fire first shots . . . you will never have that opportunity again with that particular firearm.  So a little pre-range thought and prep may well provide you with some good information before you plunge ahead and just make holes in paper.  I keep hammering on the idea of “practice with purpose” . . . this is one other instance where you first shots should be deliberate and have purpose.

I set about the trip with 4 sets of criteria.  I wanted to familiarize myself with the G19 and its capabilities, I wanted to get a feel for how it shot, I wanted to evaluate its accuracy at various distances and I wanted to evaluate it during a “failure drill”.  All totaled that process took 55 rounds. (pay no attention to the number or rounds listed on the target . . . I fired 55 rounds, NOT 65.  My final score was 80%)   I expect to shoot well . . . every time I go to the range.  I have a “floor” I will accept in my performance.  If I drop below that, I will pick up my amount of range time to stay above it.  The hit percentage I’ve chosen is 80%.  80% of my rounds must hit within the “box”.  For this evaluation I used – as I typically do – the LETargets SEB target.  You can see it below.

I loaded three magazines with 15 rounds and went through two rounds of aimed fire.  Round 1 was from 15 feet, top to bottom along the left of the silhouette, numbers 1,3 and 5 in that order.  No misses on 1 and 3, dropped 3 on number 5.  Second round was from 21 feet, numbers 2,4 and 6 in that order.  Dropped one on 2 and 5 and 3 on number 5.  Third round was the “Failure Drill” or the “Mozambique” drill.  At a distance of 9 feet fire two rounds high center mass and one to the ocular cavity.  I repeated this 5 times – down zero.  Finally, I stepped back to 15 yards and fired 10 rounds . . . down three. 

Total round count – 55 rounds.  Total hits, 44 . . . for a “score” of 80%. 

Upon completion of a “First Shots” evaluation along these lines you have wrung out your gun for precision from 15 feet, 21 feet and 45 feet and evaluated your ability to get quick combat effective hits at a close distance and a single round requiring more than a little precision mixed in.  For me . . . I believe this is a reasonably solid evaluation course of fire for a new handgun.  While I held on by the skin of my teeth . . . I got my minimum 80% hit rate.  This provides me a starting point, a benchmark for this new addition to my defensive firearms.  I’m looking forward to some more work with the Glock 19.  While there is some thought to moving to it for a carry weapon . . . that’s quite a way down the road, if it happens at all.  But, for a first trip, for “Firing First Shots” . . . I gotta admit I’m pleased.

Been to the range lagtely??  Winter’s comin’ . . . going to be much tougher to drag your butt through the snow and cold to get good work done (it still needs to be done, don’t get me wrong) . . . so pick up a couple hundred rounds this week and get some range time this coming weekend . . . you don’t hone and refine your skills sitting in your recliner . . . just sayin’!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Review - AAR NAPSI Instructor Development Course 9-22-25-2016

Thursday . . . September 22 was “the day”!  The day that years of development, testing, tweaking and just plain old hard work reached its conclusion.  NAPSI conducted it’s very first – of many to come – “Instructional Methods and Procedures” and “Foundations of Defensive Pistol Instructor Development” courses.  It was a very good four days.

The purpose of this AAR is to fully describe the NAPSI coursework, the requirements to become a NAPSI instructor and then to lay out a full AAR of the four days of instruction.  As Kirk would say . . . Buckle Up!

First – why even bother developing a new set of coursework.  Well . . . to be perfectly honest . . . the answer is simple – Need!  The harsh reality in today’s training world is that the majority of folks looking for a carry permit are interested in taking a single solitary course, period!  In our (the founding members of NAPSI) opinion there are few courses out there that provide a solid foundation of defensive shooting to their students.  There are very solid “shooting sports” courses, some “out there” tacti-cool courses, some very good shooting only courses . . . but not many that cover things from parts of a SA Revolver to the foundations of defensive shooting.  That was missing in our opinion and that was our focus as we developed our coursework.

Next, and equally important, is actual instructor development.  Teaching an instructor how to actually teach solid coursework.  Providing them the training to effectively present our material to their students.

Finally, to develop a “product”.  In this case the “Foundations of Defensive Pistol” and the associated “Foundations of Defensive Pistol Instructor Development” coursework to teach the instructor candidate how to teach the actual course.  It’s easy to see how developing this coursework spanned years.  We wrote it, taught it to peers, rewrote parts, taught it to peers, had our own development conferences with the founding members to work on and polish it, taught it to beta groups, tweaked again, more development conferences . . . all to get to September 22nd.  It’s been a good journey.  It’s been a challenging journey.  And, it’s been a worthwhile journey.  We are proud of what we have, what we have done and on Sunday afternoon, September 25th . . . we were very proud of our first four new instructors – Jim, Kenny, Sean and Jim.  So let’s talk about the process.

Before any instructor candidate was considered, they had to actually attend a “Foundations of Defensive Pistol” course.  We’ve held a number of them in the Midwest in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.  Why?  At the lowest level – how can you teach what you haven’t taken?  And at the opposite end – what better way to decide if you want to teach a course than to take it first to see if you and it are a fit.  From the corporate side – it’s a “qualifier” . . . if you’re not serious enough to take the course, you probably aren’t serious enough to actually teach it.  It is NOT our intent to find out how many instructors we can create.  It IS our intent to create solid, focused and skilled instructors to teach our coursework.  Taking the course seems like a minimal effort.

Next we expect an instructor candidate to be actively learning.  We expect them to be taking coursework annually.  As part of the instructor application each individual was expected to list their existing teaching certifications as well as list what coursework they had taken with us paying special attention to annual training.  Our belief is that if instructors are not taking coursework . . . they are not growing, not learning and will probably not be a good fit for NAPSI.

Personal references are also a must – we require three.  These are folks who will be able to vouch for the candidate and hopefully be able to vouch as to their teaching and shooting ability. 

An individual resume is also expected.  Who is the candidate, what are their skills, their level of training, their goals?

The instructor candidate must have a current certification in some level of first aid – from a Red Cross First Aid cert to an EMT – some level of training is required and must be kept current.

All of this is followed by an individual interview by two of the founding members of NAPSI.  These averaged an hour or so with a list of about 20 questions that we asked and listened to.  It was our opportunity to get a “feel” for the candidate, see how they responded when put on the spot and allowed us one more level of evaluation.  Both interviewers were required to approve the candidate for them to move forward.

And finally, a shooting test.  30 rounds, 15 feet on a LETargets SEB target with passing score of 80% being required. 

Get past all of this . . . and the person became a member of our very first Instructor Development course.  We had a dozen-ish inquiries where applications were sent out.  Four followed through.  And we were happy with that.

Our first Instructor Development Course was hosted by Pistol Prep Academy in Atlanta, IL under the ownership of Annette Chapman.  She has a great training facility and has hosted the majority of our development conferences.  We began promptly at 8AM on Wednesday the 22nd . . . and finished 7PM-ish.  Let’s call it a “solid” day.

The first two days of the course focused on the “Instructional Methods and Procedures”.  There are two primary goals of this set of coursework – to teach the instructor how to teach according to NAPSI guidelines.  And, to essentially introduce the candidate to the corporate culture of NAPSI.  Both are important.  Both are necessary to develop a cadre of dedicated, educated, focused and mutually supportive instructors.  If we all aren’t on exactly the same page, if we aren’t all headed in the same direction . . . we will fail.  It is not our intention to fail, so we are investing two days up front to develop our instructor candidates into fellow team mates.

“Instructional Methods and Procedures” consists of four chapters, each with specific areas of focus as well as a number of Appendices meant to round out the coursework.

Chapter 1 – Ethics

We’ve all seen far too many “instructors” put speed and dollars ahead of solid instruction.  It is our expectation that a NAPSI instructor follow our general list of ethical guidelines, that they adhere to our Code of Ethics, that they interact with students in a respectful way as well as with fellow instructors.  And finally, that conflicts with either students or fellow instructors are resolved “peaceably”. 

Chapter 2 – Standards of Cirriculum

We have developed seven tenets of a Defensive Shooting Program.  They get us on the “same page”.  We expect candidates to follow them as well as maintaining high standards of training, high individual standards, high levels of proficiency and that courses be reported and documented in a timely fashion.  It’s hard to expect adherence to corporate expectations if we don’t teach them – hence Chapter 2.

Chapter 3 – Policies and Procedures

We are a corporation, with a well-defined corporate culture.  This is where that culture is taught.  From the use of the NAPSI name and images to training material, roles and responsibilities, corporate hierarchy, the use of training teams, instructor fees and range operation.  It’s a busy chapter meant to more fully define the culture that is contained within NAPSI.

This is about where day one ended.  Well . . . kinda ended in “Chubbies” over a couple adult beverages and some great burgers.  On the NAPSI side, we all walked away from the day pretty happy with how it went . . . from the candidate side we drained them pretty dry but they all left with their head still in the game and looking forward to day two.

Chapter 4 – Methods of Instruction

This is a huge chunk of information . . . big, enormous, lots and lots of data.  General topics covered the function of training, plausibility principle (H/T to Rob Pincus), principals of adult learning, types of learners, variables that affect learning, skill development, other theories of teaching, being confident and competent, types of communication, keys to teaching a new skill, instructional aids, evaluating student performance and working with students with disabilities.  An action packed day!  We wrapped up talking about course check lists, how to organized your course, marketing and promotion, running a successful business and various course templates.  We ended the day heading back to our B&B and to a home cooked meal courtesy of Tracie.  Honestly, I cannot thank her enough for taking care of us – home cooked breakfasts, home cooked meals in the evening . . . MMMMMMmmmmmmmm!!

And so ended our “Introduction to Methods and Procedures”.  One thing to keep in mind here . . . not only did we need to develop this portion of the coursework, we had to develop the coursework to actually teach “Introduction to Methods and Procedures”.  That is the only way we are able to ensure that the next time we teach this course (after the first of the year), it will be taught in a consistent fashion.  At the end of the two days as the NAPSI SITs gathered in the living room of our B&B, we had a chance to assess of first two days.  Bottom line we were more than pleased.  We found a few areas that we will tweak – but we all agreed that things had gone well and we were looking forward  to the candidates teaching the “Foundations of Defensive Pistol” the following day and we were all looking forward to the range work on Sunday.

Day 3 – Foundations of Defensive Pistol

Again, remember that to present this material to candidates two pieces of coursework are required.  First is the coursework the candidate will use to teach this to their students.  The second is the coursework that allows NAPSI to teach this coursework to instructor candidates in a consistent manner.  It’s simply not a matter of throwing together a power point or a handful of drills – it takes real effort to put “meat on the bones”.

This day is entirely in the hands of the candidates.  There are seven classroom lessons.  These were distributed in bits and pieces to the candidates and they were given time to prepare and then then were required to do a “teach back” to those in the classroom.  There was a lot of material . . .  an introduction to revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, firearm safety and safe gun handling, an introduction to holsters, belts and off body carry.  This was followed by an introduction ao ammunition, range safety, care and cleaning of handguns, the fundamentals of defensive shooting, mindset and selecting a defensive firearm.

This was a full day with hours of candidate taught lessons and immediate feedback provided by follow candidates and the SITs.    This is the rubber/road interface where an instructor candidate must simply step up and show what they’re made of.  Again, we were pleased with the results.  This ended the classroom portion of the coursework – Sunday, the 25th would be the range day.

Day 4 – Range Work

First out of the chute was the instructor candidate qualification shoot.  30 rounds, 15 feet with a score of 80%, they could “drop 6”.  We allowed about a 50-round warmup.  I loaded three magazines with a total of 40 rounds and shot my own personal qual target.  Honestly, this is one of my expectations of every instructor I teach.  You need to shoot the qual course first . . . and you need to pass – period.  I shot an extra 10 rounds since we didn’t want to give away the actual course of fire but I was happy with the result – I dropped 4 out of 40 for a 90%.  Not bad shooting it cold.

After the warmup Chris called the course of fire.  Two passed out of the box . . . and two required a reshoot.  Not unusual, it is amazing what shooting on demand in front of peers can do to one’s accuracy.  At the end of the day everyone had “met spec”.

Next came the teaching of the live fire drills.  There are three primary lessons – an Introduction of Defensive shooting, Use of Cover and Concealment and finally a final shooting qualification course of fire.  There are 18 live fire exercises.  One builds on the other until the final qualification course of fire.  Each candidate was assigned a specific drill, or portion of a drill.  They were evaluated on their teaching ability with live fire, they were corrected, encouraged and expected to be able to demonstrate their ability to safely and correctly teach the assigned shooting drill.  Again, we were very pleased with what we saw.

Once the range work was complete there was the 1-hour final.  Ten essay questions that demanded that the candidates be able to articulate what they had been learning over the past 4 days.  Honestly, I had my doubts of making this an essay test – but I was personally pleasantly surprised.  The answers were clear, well thought out and definitely showed that we had four candidates deserving of receiving their NAPSI Defensive Pistol Shooting Coach certificate.

Passing out their certificates, final pictures and a heck of a wind/rain storm ended our first Instructor Development Course.

Looking back . . . the work has been worth it.  The hours and hours writing, testing, peer review, development conferences, the hundreds of hours and probably thousands of dollars of personal investment by the founding members has delivered exactly what we had hoped, a Foundations of Defensive Pistol course we are all proud of, and an Instructor Development set of course work that will insure that those who wish to teach this coursework to their own students will provide simply the best to their student.

Jim, Sean, Kenny and Jesse – congrats on your completion of the very first Instructor Development Course.  Thank you for all your hard work!

For those interested in following in their footsteps – we will be posting a 2017 schedule soon, keep an eye out.  In the meantime, you are welcome to contact us any time.  We will do our best to answer your questions.  Contact information can be found at 

Training - The "Drive, Touch, Press" Drill

A video for you consideration . . . Isn't that "snappy" . . . a video no less!! :) One of the things I do as an instructor is to try to help a shooter fix their "foundational" issues . . . stance, grip, where they touch the trigger, how well they hold their grip through the firing sequence, how they drive their firearm to the threat . . . the foundations of their shooting. The drill I use for that is the "Drive, Touch, Press" drill. And this is what that looks like . . . see what you think . . .

Here's a closer look at the "Drive, Touch, Press" drill . . .

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Training – “What we have here is a failure to kamooooon-icate . . . “

Communicate:    to convey knowledge of or information about

to transmit information, thought, or feeling so that it is satisfactorily received or understood

So I’m leaving my client’s offices and headed to Ernie’s store to see if he has any SKS Stripper Clips.  He’s outside suckin’ on a cigarette and sees me coming across the parking lot.

“Damnit Bill . . . you missed the whole point!  Rob gave us a call and chewed my butt!!”  and so began the conversation about my Facebook post about two specific drills I shot for the Combat Focused Shooting course I took a few weekends ago.  The conversation with Ernie showed an interesting and disjointed process of . . . the purpose of the drill . . . how it was explained . . . what the goals were . . . what my goals were . . . my mental purpose while shooting the drills . . . and what I chose to write about.

“What we have here is a failure to kamoooooon-icate . . .”

First – let me allow you all to read the post that started this all . . .


OK . . . just a bit of braggin'. . . I spent this past Sunday training with our local PD. They had brought in the Combat Focused Shooting course from Rob Pincus with local instructors Ernie and Mike. Both are LEOs. These photos are two different drills. The first (one with drawings on it) was intended to show your accuracy as your speed increased. First target was the Red "1" circle. The drill was 5 rounds spaced 1 second apart at a distance of 9 feet. (The one flyer off to the left was from an earlier drill) Got all 5 within the circle.

Next drill was 5 rounds, 1/2 second apart on the Green "3" circle. Again, the shooting gods were on my side.

Finally the last drill was 5 rounds on the Blue "5" circle as fast as you could press the trigger. Gotta say I was pretty happy with the results.

Next drill - "Around the world". 6 rounds - one per circle. We did this 4 times. You drew once while moving to the side, drove to the target and fired the round. You did a complete scan for other bad guys, stepped sideways in the opposite direction, drove out and fired again . . . repeat until you missed or completed all 2 targets. Got'em all. smile emoticon:) Next drill, same as above but you could use as many rounds as you needed to put 1 round in each circle. Again, got them all with the first shot. Third drill, same as the last . . . and once again I shot it clean. The final drill, again same as above - but we were to push out time and do it as fast as we could and still get the hit. Again, the gods were favorable - and it was a clean round.

 4 drills, 24 rounds . . . and zero misses! I'll take it!! smile emoticon:)

It was a long, hot and very rewarding day! Thanks to Mike and Ernie for their time, it was a great course!

Communication is a complicated thing.  From the instructor’s POV there is what I want to say and then what I actually say.  From a student’s POV there is what I heard and how I interpret it.  The two may not resemble each other in the slightest.  When I have my instructor hat on I am fond of asking the question “does that make sense??”  That allows a student the opportunity to think and respond to what I am asking and it allows me a chance to hear what they understood from what I said. 

In coursework – especially coursework that is taught by multiple instructors – what you should expect is that “the course” should be taught the same each time regardless of the instructor.  In this case I was going through the 1-day Combat Focused Shooting course taught by two local instructors, Ernie and Mike.  I’ve taken the 2-day version from Rob Pincus and the 1-day carbine also from Rob.  Rob’s company has an instructor development process that is very rigorous and it produced what I expected – consistency.  What I heard from Ernie and Mike was exactly what I heard from Rob.  The flow, the drills, the “words” to explain the “whys and how’s” were essentially the same.  THAT is how it should be.  Good coursework that is taught by multiple instructors should come out the same, regardless who teaches it.  THAT is the job of the instructor – and those who taught them.

That said . . . what also plays into the mix is where the student’s head is while they are tking the course.  Here’s what was going on for me.

As is usual for me (and I expect most shooters) – I don’t want to look stupid.  I want to do well and demonstrate that I’m a competent shooter.  On top of that this particular course is being conducted for our local community LEOs – who I help train.  Just a bit more pressure added – I need to demonstrate to them that I’m a solid shooter – otherwise why should they even bother to listen to me?  And finally – I’ve literally spent a couple thousand rounds this year working specifically on my shooting accuracy and trigger control.  All of this is at the front of my brain throughout the entire course.

As you can see – there is a fair amount going on between the instructors teaching and me listening, learning and shooting.  All this affects the ability to “kamooooon-icate”.

So how does all of this relate to the butt chewin’?  First was the expectation that all the drills were to be taught from a very specific POV.  The first drill in questions was firing 5 rounds in 3 different circles.  The first circle the rate of fire was to be 1 round per second.  The next circle was 1 round per ½ second and the final circle was 5 rounds as fast as you could press the trigger.  The purpose was to have the shooter see that as they shot faster the groping typically opens -  all rounds within the 2 inch circle for the first circle and a fist/palm sized group for the last when the rate of fire was as rapid as you could make it is how it usually goes.  And that is how it went for 8 out of 10 of us on the line.  THAT was the lesson – the hits were still effective even though the group opened up.
In my particular case – since I’ve spent so much time and energy increasing my accuracy and controlling my trigger press – what I wanted was to have the speed . . . but I really wanted all the rounds for all three circles to all be within the circle.  That was where my focus was – regardless of what Ernie and Mike communicated.  I was successful at that and I “tooted my own horn” in my post about it.  Which communicated that I missed the whole point of the exercise as far as Rob was concerned (we’ll see if I’m getting this right as far as he’s concerned in this post).  Actually – I do get it, I was just happy I met my goals.

The thing I like about the exchange Ernie had with Rob is that is shows they both care that what they are trying to teach is fully understood.  Good coursework, good instructors hammer on the little stuff.
The second drill that Ernie got tapped on was the “take a lap” drill which I mistakenly called “Around the World”.

There’s a lot happening in this drill.  Single round engagements on 6 circles with movement and a complete scan and assess after each round along with reloads as necessary.  Ernie pointed out I got the sequence out of order.  The first lap you had 6 rounds only and had to stop on the first miss.  Second time you could use as many rounds as you needed to put 1 round in each circle.  Third lap again as many rounds as you needed but you needed to accelerate your pace.  And the last lap was back to a only 6 rounds to complete the lap stopping on the first miss.  (hope I remembered the order right this time)

The question asked at the end was – which lap caused the greatest amount of pressure.  For me it was the very first lap – going back to my desire to perform well.  Typically, it seems the last lap causes more anxiety because the shooter is back to only 6 rounds to complete the lap.  The bottom line for me again goes back to the idea that I’d spent a great deal of time and energy working on both accuracy and trigger press – I expected to complete each lap and I expected to do that with only 6 rounds per lap . . . which I did.

So what does this all mean and why even discuss it.  My point is that everyone comes to the course with their own abilities, their own focus and their own expectations.  The instructors know what they want to teach, hopefully they’ve been trained enough that the coursework flows well and they can clearly articulate each and every drill.
Students also come with their own expectations, skill levels and goals.

How the words are spoken, how things are demonstrated, how the coursework flows are the responsibility of the instructors.  How the words are heard, how the drills are executed and how well the student listens are the responsibility of the student.  What allows these things to mesh is our ability to “kamooooon-icate”.
At some level – we had a failure to kamooooon-icate.  It didn’t affect the effectiveness of the course but it did indicate that my head was elsewhere in a couple of instances . . . and that the instructors cared enough to clear things up.  And THAT is what you expect for a solid training company.

Thanks to Ernie and Mike for your time, I picked up a ton of things to continue to work on.  And thanks to Rob – always good to know you’re watching how things are going.