AAR Tap-Rack Tactical Tactical Handgun - 2018-07-14/15 - Nunn, CO


I apologize ahead of time for any vagueness, omissions, or mistakes in the AAR, as my notes are a bit incomplete, due to the fast pace of the course, and I am writing this much later than usual, due to other time constraints, which has clouded my memory a bit.

This course will teach you how to be more effective with your pistol during engagements and training. We cover all the basics, then focus on decreasing inefficiencies and increasing skill in all areas.

This is my thirteenth formal pistol-oriented course, including those that were more oriented toward low-light, vehicles, and combatives. I have also had some coursework in edged weapons, long gun, and medical, and participated as OPFOR for local LE SWAT units. Almost all the courses I have attended have been taught by nationally reputable instructors.

I used my practice H&K P30LS with the Grayguns Reduced Reset Carry Perfection Package carried in condition 1, with a SureFire X400UH-A-GN mounted with the DG-11 and zeroed for 25 yards using Speer Gold Dot 124 gr. +P. Sight used was a Trijicon RMR RM06 Type 1 mounted by L&M Precision, also zeroed for 25 yards, with a Dawson Precision suppressor height tritium front sights and Ameriglo suppressor height rear sight mounted behind the RMR. Installed on the OEM H&K threaded barrel was an HKParts Micro Comp. Lube was ALG Go Juice, an HKParts EDC Magwell was installed, magazines were modified with Taylor Freelance Border Special +5 magazine extensions (latest generation) with the included Wolff springs, carried using a Kytex Shooting Gear open top magazine carrier and two KYWI pistol mag carriers. Holster used was a SureFire Masterfire with a homemade shroud. Round count at the start of the class was at 12078, with it last being serviced by Lazy Wolf Guns at 10903.

I ran the course basically in my competition outfit, though there was the addition of inclement weather gear for TD2 to account for rain. The gun was open carried, mounted to a Safariland UBL using the MLS system, riding on an Ares Ranger belt. Both days I wore an Outdoor Research Astroman polo as my top; for bottoms, I wore Outdoor Research Ferrosi pants on TD1, and Beyond A5 Rig ULT on TD2. I wore Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 GTX for both days. Ear pro used was the MSA Sordin Supreme Pro-X with gel earpads and OC Tactical headband, eye pro was Oakley M-Frames 3.0. On TD2, due to the wind, I threw on a Beyond A5 Action Shirt, and later added an Arc’teryx LEAF Alpha jacket when the rain started. Notes were taken on a Rite in the Rain № 946-T, written with a Fisher TLP or Fisher AG7.

I had originally hoped to run the class from concealment, carrying AIWB, or at least for part of the class, but TD1 proved to be too hot to make that a practical choice, while TD2 was too wet. While I could have ran AIWB with my competition/hiking attire, the vast difference in how the gun carried compared to my typical EDC (form-fitting t-shirts and skinny jeans) that I did not think it very worthwhile. Thus, I opted to run it from my competition rig, which is still mildly ridiculous, given that I was running a retention holster for competition for no other reason than my obstinance. That being said, since much of the class was more focused on the pure mechanics of shooting, I didn’t think it was a huge loss on my part. I was, however, mildly upset that I had forgotten my SureFire EP7s in my car back at my home airport, as I typically doubled up, even on outdoor ranges with just handguns.

Bill Blowers was the primary instructor. There were 13 students total, including several LEOs, at least one National Guardsman, and several veterans. Student firearm choices were mostly Glocks, with a couple of M&Ps, a CZ Shadow 2, and my H&K. A fair number of students had red dots, including a DPP on the Shadow 2, but mine was the only one with a laser and comp. Most students were carrying strong side OWB, including several LEOs with duty belts. Bill ran an RMR’d Glock 34, carried in a Safariland 6354DO using a DFA on a single strap shroud.

Class started at 0815 on TD1. Weather started fairly mild at about 70 °F, with minimal cloud cover and wind, and reaching the mid-90s °F with high humidity as the day progressed.

Class started out with Bill giving a bio of himself, which started with 6 years in the Army, during which the Berlin Wall fell. After DS/DS, Bill left the Army, and joined a small PD, where he stayed for 18 months before being hired on by Kent PD in 1994, where he stayed for the rest of his career until his retirement earlier this year in February. During his time in the department, he was on the SWAT team for most of it, starting in 1995, and with just a few gaps in service. While he had taught some things in the military, none were from being a position of an SME, but rather simply as an NCO.

Bill also noted that for the first 15 years as a LEO, he had no real plan for self-improvement, besides simply shooting often. Eventually, Bill started to actually practice with a purpose and plan, and found far more improvement in a much shorter amount of time. As an example, Bill brought up the idea of running 1.5 miles in 9 minutes. To achieve that goal, one needed to first find a benchmark, where one was running 1.5 miles at this juncture. After figuring that out, one could then search for weaknesses in one’s running, start setting goals, and hopefully get professional coaching. For practice, one could do sprints, long-slow distance, general leg workouts, etc., and then over time check the metric of how long it took one to run the 1.5 miles, hopefully seeing continual improvement until the goal of 1.5 miles in 9 minutes was met. The key here is to simply recognize that shooting, like the running example, has no magic bullet, that one simply must put the work into practicing in order to achieve high performance.

Bill then stressed that one should not compare one’s performance to another person’s, but simply to one’s past self, as the goal should be self-improvement. Being a poor shooter at the class is not something to be ashamed of, as like the scrawny guy at the plate rack or the fat guy at the track, these folks are actively seeking improvement; instead, they should be lauded for trying to put in the work.

Ultimately, Bill created this class not to improve a person’s shooting ability dramatically, but to give them the ability to create their own game plan and ability to generate meaningful metrics, in order to self-improve. He also argued that pistol-shooting is ultimately just pistol-shooting, and thus he teaches only this one student pistol class (the other is merely instructor oriented). He also stated that throughout the course, he will miss his shots or flub a drill, as he is only human, and shit happens.

We then went over the four basic firearms safety rules. The first one was to always treat the gun as if it were loaded; it doesn’t matter if we know if it’s empty, one should still be wary. Bill noted that he could clear his gun, show us clear, and most of us would still be upset if he deliberately muzzled us with it.

Next was the rule of finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. This does not mean there must be a sight picture before the finger can be on the trigger; shooting from retention is an obvious example where there is no sight picture, but it is considered acceptable to pull the trigger anyway.

After that, we covered knowing one’s backstop/background. While not a huge issue on the range, where the berm should be the only backstop, the real world can be much more complex. If there is an issue with the backstop, there are only three ways to mitigate this issue: change one’s elevation, change one’s lateral positioning in relation to the target, or else simply make sure that one gets their hits in with no misses.

Lastly, there was the rule of not muzzling anything one did not wish to shoot.

We then covered the medical plan. If one suffered a minor, non-GSW injury, such as a scrape or cut, simply pull one’s self of the line and fix one’s self as needed. If it is a GSW injury, a ceasefire will be called, regardless of the severity, while an assessment takes place. Many students were carrying TQs, while a few were also carrying full-blown IFAKs. Bill’s rental Jeep was designated as the CASEVAC vehicle, with one of the locals who knew the local hospitals would be in charge of transport or RVing with EMS. Given the weather, it was up to us to stay on top of our hydration.

Bill stated that he would run the class as two lines, with one line going right after the first one finished, to minimize having to repeat himself. The class would be run as a hot range.

We then started out shooting B8s at 25 yards, 10 rounds untimed. After both lines went, it was repeated again.

I shot a 95 the first time, with 5 in the 9 ring; I got a 96 the second time, with 4 in the 9 ring.

Bill then went over grip, which he saw as the foundation of pistol shooting. He noted that over the years, folks have gotten better in general about grip, as the high, thumbs forward grip has come to dominate the scene. He noted that often, when simply looking at someone’s grip, it can be difficult to figure out if it was an actual proper grip or not, as one cannot easily see the pressure being applied, so ultimately one has to look at a target to figure out what might be wrong.

For stance, Bill argues that it should not be some super-specific technique, but just a natural, intuitive fighting stance, with a bit of weight on the balls of the feet and a slight blade.

Switching back to grip, Bill noted that in his many years training with many different high-level shooters, he was often told different things by different instructors. This told Bill two things: first, many high-level shooters may not actually do what they say they do, as the grip may become so intuitive to them that they are unable to actually properly explain it. Second, grip can be a deeply personal thing, due to differences in physiology and selected handgun.

Ultimately, the goal is to minimize muzzle flip. With the strong hand, one should attempt to grip it as tight as possible without the hand starting to shake, as at that point, the trigger finger loses speed and dexterity. To illustrate, Bill had us try to form as strong a crush grip as possible while point at something, and then trying to emulate pulling the trigger. One should also try to get the hand as high up the gun as possible, in order to minimize the amount of leverage the slide would have. Something personal to Bill that he recommended we try was that he liked to put downward, inward pressure with his strong thumb on to the back, fleshy part of the weak thumb, to help mitigate the recoil and also keeps him from riding the slide stop.

With the weak hand, roll the thumb forward, grip as high as possible, with the maximum amount of strength. Bill likes to also put his weak index finger forward on the trigger guard and put pressure into the frame that way. The weak thumb can also be used as a gas pedal. Bill notes that one’s grip can change over time without one noticing, so it is important to periodically check to see if one is maintaining the same grip, to the same performance level.

Bill then had us put up these targets:

We then tried different grips. Bill had us shoot a mag at 3 yards at the circle with our normal grip as fast as possible, aiming for the large dot at the bottom fall offline and let our partner go, then adjust our grip in one way, and then try shooting the target again, seeing if there was any noticeable change that we’d want to incorporate. This was to be repeated until both us and our partner had gone through three mags.

I had an FTE at this point, which I attribute to excessive inward force from my strong side thumb impinging on the slide. I also saw that if I put in conscious effort to utilize as much pinky pressure as possible, particularly on my strong hand, I would get less muzzle flip, which was something that an earlier instructor, Kenan Flasowski, had preached.

Bill then explained that the gun started to unlock around when the bullet left the barrel. Thus, anticipation was useful only in a very small window; too early, and the shooter throws the bullet off target, while too late, the compensation for the muzzle flip becomes less and less effective. He also noted that after a mag dump, one’s grip should be the same as before the mag dump; otherwise, one’s hands were shifting under fire, which indicates not enough grip.

Bill then had us experiment with trigger finger placement, both on the horizontal and the vertical axis, using the same procedure as the grip experimentation. As he noted, the less finger used, the more finesse one would have, but at the expense of power. For him, just having the bare minimum amount of trigger leads to the shots drifting a bit to the left, while as much trigger finger as possible led to the shots landing slightly high, which may be a symptom of heeling for Bill.

For me, too little finger tended to throw the shots slightly high, while any other changes did not seem to have any noticeable change, which may be due to the fact that shooting in single action would be more forgiving.

Bill once again stressed that one’s grip and trigger finger may naturally drift over time, and that one should regularly check to see if one’s performance degrades, and if so, was a shift in either one to blame.

We then did a series of walkbacks with the following target:

The purpose of this was to teach POA/POI shifts over distance, as we moved back in equal increments, to allow the size of the targets to appear to be the same in relation to our sights.

There were a few folks, mostly the ones that were new to RDSes on handguns, that were a bit surprised at just how much offset there could be with an RDS at the 3 yard or 5 yard line.

Bill then went over the importance of the draw, as he believed that the first shot is often of extreme importance. To have a good draw, one must establish a good grip, possibly break retention, then find the front sight while extending the gun. Ideally, an L-shaped draw would allow the maximum amount of visibility for tracking of the sights, though some rounding of the draw is perfectly acceptable. Bill also found that keeping the weak hand on the strong-side chest during the draw not only keeps it out of the way and from being inadvertently muzzled, it also speeds up the draw overall, as it allows it to meet the gun that much faster.

We then attempted to draw for raw speed, using shot timers to generate data on how fast each shooter could simply draw and shoot the target backer at point blank, and then calculated an average. This was recorded on a sheet that each shooter kept through the entirety of the class, and recorded various other times.

I again had an FTE, which I believe was again me being too aggressive with my thumb pressure. Alas, I did not keep my sheet, as rain had ruined it the second day; however, I believe that I averaged at about ~1.2 seconds in terms of raw mechanical speed, coming from a classic USPSA surrender position.

Bill explained that performance tracking is paramount to any kind of structured improvement, and that once one hits a certain performance level, even small, almost imperceptible improvements take a large amount of effort. As an analogy, folks who start lifting weights will often see massive improvements in the beginning, but these gains will level off; the amount of effort and training it would take to improve one’s bench press by 30 lb in the beginning could very much be far less than the effort needed to improve one’s bench press by 5 lb when one is near the limit of one’s peak possible performance. Without performance tracking, it becomes very difficult to notice any performance gain, and potentially difficult to notice any drop in performance, too.

Bill then had us try the same drawing exercise, except this time we were required to hit an 8” circle (using a B-8 center repair type target). The time was to be recorded only if a hit was accomplished.

I was able to average around a ~1.4 second draw.

Bill had noticed in the past that when he competed heavily, he would sometimes find himself accepting a lower accuracy standard when shooting, which can sometimes be a liability in the LE/military/self-defense world, sometimes being the operative word; depending on one’s mission, there are differing levels of acceptable miss rates. He also stated that when pushing for raw speed in training, it is perfectly acceptable, perhaps even desired, to have some percentage of dropped shots, as this means that the shooter is pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.

The competition aspect was definitely something I had found myself struggling with. I had only started competing more heavily starting last year, and I found myself trading accuracy for speed in many of the drills through the day. When I first started competing, the scores would show me with an extremely high percentage of A-zone hits, but poor speed; these days, I still have a higher accuracy than many, but my speed has also improved. That being said, as Bill had noted, the A-zone on an IPSC target is still a very generously sized target.

Bill then went over his idea of trigger prep. While some folks have a blazing fast draw, they often end up pausing at the end of the draw in order to refine their sights and trigger press, and thus ultimately end up not being that fast on the timer. Bill will start prepping the trigger once the pistol is level, and continue prepping as the gun is extended, reaching the very edge of the breakpoint as one reaches full extension, allowing the shooter the opportunity to clean up the sight picture as needed, while also needing minimal effort to break the shot.

Trigger control is nothing more than pulling the trigger back without disturbing the sights. To Bill, it should not be a surprise break at all, but something that each shooter should be intimately familiar with.

Bill had us try this dry, first, for us to try and figure out exactly where our trigger broke, before trying it live.

Running a gun in single action, this was something that I couldn’t quite get down very well. It was also somewhat reminiscent of Todd Louis Green’s press-out technique, except instead of breaking at full extension, one was merely at the edge of breaking; I did not have a great go of using that in the past, either, also due to the single action. I could definitely see the utility for some trigger types, though, such as strike, double action, LEM, DAK, etc. The trigger simply is light and crisp enough that trying to get that tiny bit of wall before the break, but after the slack, just isn’t viable under any real type of stress, at least with my level of training.

Bill stated that for most skilled folks, a sub-second raw draw is more than doable; however, for a draw and hit on an 8” circle at 7 yards, a more reasonable time standard would be around 1.5 seconds. Bill attributes this to the fact that far more processing is needed for a draw that requires a hit. It is generally accepted that a simple OODA loop takes about a quarter second to complete, and actually needing a hit requires both a refined trigger press and a sight picture, both of which will require an OODA loop generally. While one might be able to train to process things in the mind faster, this is not a surefire way to gain speed, as some folks are simply already at the limits of their mental processing speed for these types of actions.

There are also folks who are slower simply due to an inability to shift gears, and properly scale target size with shooting speed. To help with that, Bill had us shoot the Bill Drill at 7 yards, which is simply hitting an 8” circle 6 times as fast as possible from the draw. We were to record our draws and the splits, making sure that our draws did not decrease from the previously recorded draws.

I do not recall my draws being significantly slower, while I was able to average 0.28 splits, though it took me a few tries before I started running the drill clean.

Bill said that to him, the Bill drill not only showed raw processing speed of the sight picture, but also the speed at which one reset the trigger. That being said, due to how short the recoil cycle actually is in comparison to actual human hand speed, one is almost certainly never going to be able to actually reset purely during recoil. Bill argues that really, the only sin of trigger reset is pinning the trigger; any other method can be made to work fairly well; Bill himself does not ride the reset, but actually goes a bit beyond the reset, but does not come totally off the trigger either. Bill stressed that this was a fairly personal thing about shooting, and that the most important thing is to find consistency in how resets.

Related to consistency in general, he also stressed that personal bests, while exciting, are not indicative of performance on demand, and that the far more important thing to keep track of is one’s average performance. For him personally, whenever collecting data, Bill would try and take 12 samples, and throw out the top and bottom samples, to try and reduce how much outliers impacted the average. It is extremely important to also put work into maintenance; simply reaching a goal is not enough if one cannot maintain that level of performance.

At this point, 1145, we broke for lunch.

Lunch was provided by one of the hosts of the class, who cooked burgers and hot dogs for us on the grill, which greatly simplified logistics, and allowed us to socialize with the rest of the class in a more relaxed setting.

We resumed class at 1255 and started the TNT drill, for Tim Nelson-Tap-Rack, using the same target with the five circles; the TNT is a modification of the Get-a-Grip drill that Tim Nelson of Steadfast Applications created, which in turn was based on Bill’s set of drills termed The Circle Jerk, allowing the drills to come full circle back to Bill. At five yards, one needed to put 5 rounds into the 5” circle, 4 rounds into the 4” circle, etc., down to 1 round in the 1” circle, with a par time of 8 seconds (the original Get-a-Grip is shot at 3 yards). This particular drill tests a variety of things, such as the draw, trigger control, processing speed, knowing one’s POA/POI, the ability to throttle speed as necessary for differing target sizes, etc. Bill also noted that the stress of this drill can cause a shooter to forget about the changes in grip and/or trigger finger placement that the shooter committed to during the morning.

This was definitely a fairly challenging drill, for almost all shooters on the line; I consistently did not make time, though I was able to at least shoot it clean around half the time.

Bill then spoke to us about how Corporal Mark Coates of the South Carolina Highway Patrol was killed in the line of duty. Coates had pulled over a motorist, and eventually ended up in a gunfight with the motorist. After hitting the motorist several times (and being hit himself, although his vest catches those bullets), Coates radios dispatch without taking cover, and thus ends up taking a .22 round under the armpit, where it fatally wounds Coates. Bill uses this story to stress the importance of the post-shoot situation. Often range restrictions means that the scan-and-assess is done in place, but in real life, one should be moving with speed and purpose while doing the scan-and-assess. Bill also notes that he is not aware of any real-world situation in which a LEO was ambushed by someone that was not part of the original shooting, but that plenty of folks have had to fight the person that they had shot and had thought incapacitated.

For LEOs, Bill also spoke of being very careful with one’s report, as after calling a shots fired, it will almost certainly be impossible to have clear comms again, due to the large amount of traffic that is liable to follow, so the initial report should be clear and comprehensive. For a civilian in a defensive shooting, if one directs a third party to contact LE, one should stress to the caller to remember to state that this was a defensive shooting, as merely stating that it was a shooting can lead to confusion and miscommunication with the responding LEOs. Also, Bill recommends taking a more and more passive position as LE closes in; one does not want to be seen holding someone at gun point as LE shows up.

For LEOs, be smart about the contact officer and the cover officer, depending on the state of the officer in the OIS. Visualization and practice of the post-shooting procedures can help better prepare an officer for the immediate aftermath of an OIS. Bill also noted that most CONUS shootings are relatively low round count, so a reload may not be a particularly high priority. While most officers would be hard pressed to remember the exact number of rounds shot, they can usually at least give a good guess as to if the magazine was at least half full or not. If over half, there may be many other higher priorities, such as engaging in comms. If less than half a magazine is suspected to be in the gun, then one should probably consider a reload with retention.

A typical reload with retention starts similarly to a standard speed reload, except one should try to grab the magazine furthest back (assuming multiple magazines being carried). Bill prefers the full magazine be held between the thumb and the index, while the partial would be retained between the index finger and the middle finger, though he notes that there are many viable ways to hold the two magazines, so long as they are stable and firm. He stresses that the partial should not be stowed in a pocket or other non-typical position, but should be placed back into a magazine pouch; the reasoning is that the shooter is retaining the magazine specifically for possible future use, but stowing it in a non-typical position means the shooter now must retrieve the partial from a place that they will have very little practice doing so.

For the drill to practice reloading with retention, Bill had us draw, take 2 shots, visualize what we were going to do (since due to having multiple people on the line, it would be unrealistic to have everyone try and move and seek better terrain), reload with retention, and then take 2 more shots.

I was quite familiar with reloading from retention, simply due to competition. Unlike Bill, I tended to swap the order of the magazines, with the partial going between my index and thumb, while the full magazine ends up between the index finger and middle finger. Either way, the use of the +5 extensions makes this a fairly easy affair.

After observing some of us, Bill cautioned against ejecting the partial and catching it in mid-air, as while it may work well on the flat range, it is inherently less foolproof, and if one is actually moving around, it is far more likely to result in a lost partial. For folks that simply don’t have the hand size or other issue with holding two magazines in a single hand, Bill suggests ejecting the partial, stowing it in a non-typical place (e.g., pocket), reloading with a full, then placing the partial into the mag pouch that the full magazine came from.

To Bill, the possibility of a slidelock reload is remote one; CONUS shootings simply don’t have that high of a round count for the most part, while in competition one should be planning out reloads anyway. That being said, if one were simply playing the odds, there would be little reason to carry gun to begin with. While going to slidelock is very unlikely, if one does end up in such a situation, it is almost certainly paramount to get the gun back up and running as soon as possible.

As Bill has somewhat small hands, he will use the weak hand to torque the gun to allow the strong thumb better access to the magazine release, as the weak hand goes for the magazine. He also notes that if manual racking is needed, consider the economy of motion with slingshotting, versus power stroking, as the former allows one to get the weak hand back onto the gun faster. If one is trying to hit the slide stop with the weak hand after magazine insertion, it has some similarities to the hitting of a bolt release on an AR, but lack some of the tactile references that the AR has.

Bill finds auto-forwarding to be anathema, as he has seen too many folks pause and waste time when their gun doesn’t auto-forward, with many trying to tap the magazine again in order to induce auto-forwarding, rather than simply using the slide release. He has also seen some folks that will try to make their pistol reliably auto-forward by slamming the magazines in extremely hard, which sometimes ends up taking them longer to do, due to the extra finesse needed; even worse, sometimes the rounds may not be picked up, due to inertia bouncing the round back down the magazine tube as the slide closes.

With a strong side thumb, one can either manually try and hit the slide stop after magazine insertion, or one can preload it with the strong side thumb, so that the act of insert the magazine will naturally force the gun up, and thus the strong side thumb will automatically engage the slide stop once the magazine is seated. This latter technique requires a fair bit of practice to get right, as too much pressure will result in the slide being dropped early, while too little will mean it doesn’t get dropped at all. That being said, if the slide gets dropped to early, then in theory, one is simply as slow as a manual rack, which can still be done at a high speed.

Often, one can see shooters with magazine partially stuck in the gun, which end with the shooter having to shake the magazine out, wasting valuable time. While this is sometimes due to bulged magazines, more often then not it is due to shooter error, whether it be failing to fully depress the release or hitting the release too late and thus having the gun too tilted for gravity to take full effect.

When Bill reloads, he points the magwell toward where the mag will be coming from. He also will sometimes put a mark inside the magwell to help give a visual indicator of the inside of the magwell, to help create consistency of the positioning of the gun. When grabbing the new magazine, Bill doesn’t place his index finger on the exposed bullet, but below it, so that he doesn’t end up sticking his finger into the magwell and impeding the reload. Bill stressed the importance of having consistent body index points for both arms during the reload, in order to create consistency, which would promote speed and less flubbed reloads in general.

Bill demoed all the different types of reloads on the clock, noting the time difference between the manual racking of the slide (the slowest method) and the preloaded strong-hand thumb on the slide stop, which was more than enough for an extra split for most shooters. He also noted that for some shooters with some guns, they will have to choose to prioritize recoil control or the ability to have the gun lock back on empty. He also noted that extended baseplates in this scenario not only allows one more rounds before needing to do a reload, but also makes reloads easier, due to the increase in surface to manipulate.

We then ran a reloading drill, recording draw times, reload times, and splits on our sheet to generate more data. At 7 yards, we were to do a draw, shoot once, got to slide-lock, then shoot two; all hits have to be within the 8” circle on the B-8 center repair for a time to be recorded.

I do not remember my times, but the main issue was consistency; I was tending to have my support hand sit higher than normal, along with more downward force with my strong thumb, due to my push for recoil control, which meant that my slide was not locking back half the time. Unlike Bill, I have never had an issue with auto-forwarding on my personal guns, though I have also seen it fail at other classes for other shooters, so I do understand that it is not a foolproof technique. I also do not rely on it exclusively, and as best I can tell, do not pause when the auto-forward does not happen, but merely use the strong-side thumb to drop the slide as the weak hand comes together and the gun presses out.

Bill then stressed that we needed to compare out times here with our 1 shot draw hit time and our Bill drill split times and work out any inefficiencies that might cause differences in these metrics between the standalone skill drills and the comprehensive drills that covered multiple skills. Bill notes that one can easily split the different components of a comprehensive drill out, and practice them individually, in order to maximize performance of such a drill. Even seemingly discrete manipulations can be broken down further; e.g., reloads can be broken down to dropping the mag and grabbing the reload, the insertion of the reload, and the reacquiring of the targets.

One-handed shooting was then covered. While this may occur due to injury to an arm or hand, more often than not it is simply due to needing to use the hand for something else, whether it be carrying a child, shielding a loved one, etc.

Bill then relayed several real life events that emphasized the possibility of SHO/WHO in a professional capacity by LE, both due to circumstances of the situation and due to injury to the shooter. Either way, Bill argues that if one is to be considered a professional with a gun, one must master one-handed shooting, both SHO and WHO, as it has much practical application. As for the technique itself, Bill prefers to stand in his normal freestyle position; while there are some folks that will blade much more when shooting one-handed, usually with the leg forward matching the shooting arm, Bill argues that one’s body is less used to that shooting position, given that most folks practice standard freestyle much more. For LEOs, it also introduces the problem of exposing holes in armor.

He also notes that when an arm or hand is injured, most people will automatically try to immobilize the injured limb anyway, by bringing it close and high to the chest. If one lets the arm hang, this can cause instability overall, as the mass of the arm can induce sway, particularly during movement.

When shooting one-handed, Bill finds the thumb to be of particular use, due to it being the only real piece of resistance on whatever side that doesn’t have a supporting hand to try to keep the recoil down. Here, he strongly advocates using the thumb to press the gun in.

Bill then had us try various grips SHO, shooting at the recoil management target with the dot at the bottom and horizontal bars going up.

For me, pinky pressure was again key; thumb pressure was of some use, too, particularly as I had a manual safety to press down against. Bill also noted that I had a tendency to leave my arm dangling, and illustrated to me how much a swaying arm could throw off one’s shots.

When asked about canting, Bill argued that if canting gave that much of an advantage in mechanical leverage, then we’d probably be doing it even when shooting freestyle, yet that certainly isn’t the case. Beyond that, again, the concept Bill advanced is trying to keep some measure of biomechanical consistency, and having the gun straight up and down as typical is what most folks will be practicing the most.

Bill also put forth his theory on trigger control and recoil management. Essentially, Bill felt that poor recoil management leads to more dramatic muzzle rise, which then forces the shooter to compensate more during post-ignition management. He also believes that a hard muzzle rise creates a more pronounced timing issue, so that any errors made by the shooter in the post-ignition management are compounded, compared to having a smaller muzzle rise.

Bill then considered what happens if one is shot in the strong hand and loses the firearm; in some situations, retreat may be the best option in such a scenario, but in others, one may need to press the attack anyway, as one may be part of a team, need to protect a loved one, etc. A BUG may also be very useful in such a situation. However, if a BUG is not an option, Bill strongly advises picking the gun up in a very deliberate manner, rolling the gun along the ground as needed and using the ground to provide leverage to get a good master grip with the remaining hand.

If needing to switch hands, Bill notes that the standard competition way of ducking the thumb out the way and just holding on with the four main fingers is probably the fastest; however, in a moment of stress, he feels that not using the thumb, if operable, is a mistake, given that the thumb is the strongest digit on the hand. Instead, he prefers to let the web of the hand go down on the grip and slide the web of the other hand above it, and grasp the gun that way, so that the thumb on both hands is involved during the switch. Such a method also insures that the new hand is also fairly high up on the grip. For one-handed shooting, particularly WHO, having a good grip is paramount, due to the limited recoil control afforded by one-handed shooting. Also, Bill argues that one should not switch one’s feet position when switching hands, again nodding toward keeping everything as consistent as possible.

For some folks, they may end up canting the gun while shooting WHO in order to get the gun in front of their dominant eye, which has the same issues as canting in general. Bill also notes that folks will often utilize a hammer grip when shooting WHO, due to the better grip on the grip of the gun; however, this would mean not using the thumb for recoil control, and can contribute to poorer shooting performance. Bill will also roll the shoulder into his chin if he can, as this gives a point of consistency, while also possibly giving some measure of recoil control. Beyond that, Bill also recommends sinking the trigger finger deeper into the trigger, in order to get more leverage, due to the weak hand trigger finger getting much less practice, and probably less power, compared to the strong hand trigger finger. Finally, one needs to accept some amount of wobble in the sight picture, or else they might end up refining their sight picture endlessly and never get a shot off.

We then shot the 5-5-5 drill, where at 5 yards, one shoots 5 rounds into a B-8 center repair from the draw, free style, reloads, shoots 5 rounds SHO, reloads, then shoots 5 rounds WHO. To pass, one must score 145 or better under 15 seconds.

I tried using more finger on my WHO, and found it to feel better, though I’d have to play with it more on the timer to see if it actually imparted any performance gains. For the drill itself, while I made it under time, I threw a number of shots slightly low. For folks that were having issues finding the dot on an RDS under recoil, a trick that Bill uses is to turn the brightness up; this allows the bloom of the overly bright LED to give positional feedback on the lens of the RDS, even if the dot itself is not in view.

Bill then talked a little about how many of his drills could be made more and more difficult as one progressed in skill; for example, one can lower the time allowed on the 5-5-5 drill, or increase the accuracy standard to demand a full 150, or even all hits must be X-ring. For expectations on speed, Bill suggests doubling one’s freehand splits for a reasonable SHO/WHO split.

We then shot the 5-5-5 drill again.

I was both overtime, at 15.51 seconds, and underscore, reaching a 144 score, with 3 shots in the 8 ring. However, this was arguably a better performance, given that both speed and accuracy were fairly close to the standard Bill put out, rather than having one skewed at the expense of the other.

Bill then decided to go over malfunctions, which he saved for last due to the fact that his take on stoppage clearance is a somewhat controversial. Essentially, the main difference where Bill differs from the orthodoxy is that he does not see the tap in tap-rack-bang as being strictly necessary, but rather, would prefer to simply just rack for most attempts to clear a simple stoppage. He argued that for most modern double-stack pistols, the magazine being unseated during a string of fire, while still being retained in the magwell, is extremely uncommon, unlike the 1911, where the metal single stack magazine with a minimalistic baseplate could be difficult to seat, and may not fall out of the magwell even when unseated.

Thus, while a tap may be warranted and executed if the shooter has a stoppage very early after a magazine change, if one has already successfully fired several shots, the tap is almost certainly an extraneous action, as the magazine was clearly seated correctly in order to have fired multiple shots. On the other hand, if the magazine had somehow indeed somehow come unseated, it would almost certainly have totally fallen out, which again renders the tap useless.

Bill notes that he came up with this idea after trying to teach a fresh recruit the tap-rack-bang, and the recruit kept clearing the induced stoppages with simply a rack; while Bill initially was extremely frustrated, after some pondering, he decided that the recruit had a point when she pointed out that the racking was indeed working just fine to clear these stoppages. Yet, due to all these years of training the tap-rack-bang, Bill will still occasionally catch himself doing a tap inadvertently. He also notes that if one is uncomfortable with abandoning the tap, it’s no skin off his back, and that he would not enforce folks to use it, but merely asked the students to give it a shot during class.

Still, Bill argues that if one gets a stoppage during an actual gunfight, getting the gun back into action will be paramount, as is the speed in which it can be brought back to bear, and for the vast majority of common stoppages, a simple rack will suffice. To illustrate the time different, Bill tried both a tap-rack-bang, and a simple rack, and came away with a time of 1.06 seconds versus 0.68, which is between one to two extra shots, going off his typical splits.

While doing the rack, Bill also prefers to rack up front, rather than doing the slower overhand rack, as the front rack keeps the support hand much closer to where it will need to grip again. When he racks, he puts his hand as far forward as possible, using the front sight as a hand stop of sorts. Bill also notes that during this time, the gun is being racked specifically because it is empty, so the safety factor is something to be considered. Bill also notes that he is not pinching the slide at all with his fingers; rather, he is driving the webbing of his hand into the top of the slide and using friction to rack the slide. He also notes that it is important not to let the support hand fly all the way back, as this is wasted motion, nor to let it ride forward with slide, as this may impede the slide going all the way back into battery.

This kind of motion is also creates a bit more leverage for when trying to mortar a pistol, as one can drive the strong hand better with the weak hand up front, rather than in the back with an overhand grip. Beyond that, racking from the front can easily be done in a manner that would have the ejection port facing up, which could then eject any stuck rounds or casing into the shooter’s face, giving direct feedback into the clearance if under low-light.

Bill had us try this technique, first dry, then with dummy rounds.

I have never been too big on the tapping, either, and have frequently cleared malfunctions with a rack. On the racking itself, I have been using the front more and more, mostly influenced by Frank Proctor’s video on this and the speed advantage imparted, though I will sometimes still do a full overhand rack. I had a tendency to pinch the front of my slide rather than using raw friction from the webbing, though, and it’s burned me a few times where my hand would get bitten by the slide closing in on it in the ejection port. Bill's technique certainly worked well, particularly coupled with the grip tape I put on the top of my slide; the only real issue is that the practice session left my off-hand a rubbed raw from the combination of the pressure and the grip tape.

Bill then explained that there is a fairly large difference between an FTE, which many misidentify as a double feed, and an actual double feed. For Bill, a double feed needs to be a case where there are actually two rounds trying to be fed into a chamber at the same time, which is extremely rare for most pistols, as almost all modern pistols have a single stack feed point, unlike rifle magazines. A handgun magazine would have to have been severely compromised at the feed lips to have a true double feed. Thus, the typical scenario of where one casing is still in the chamber, and a second round is being pushed into the rear of the first round, is not a true double feed, and descriptions to the contrary are simply misusing the term.

To clear an FTE, one can eject/forcefully remove the magazine while retaining it in the hand with a cigar hold, letting the slide go forward by itself, reinserting the magazine, and then racking. This technique does suffer if there is a ripped rim or a bad extractor, but then again, such a stoppage would need a cleaning rod to punch out the casing or perhaps a knife to catch the edge of the casing. Either way, it is not something that can be cleared out under stress with simple manipulations. An alternative method is to remove the magazine, again retaining it, lock the slide back, inspect the chamber to make sure that the round is clear, then reload the gun. This method will give a clearer indication of the problem, albeit with slightly slower speed. A third option is to remove the magazine, rack, reload, and then rack the slide again.

Bill then quickly summarized the day’s training

Class ended at this point, at 1700.


Class started at 0810 on TD2. Weather was quite a bit cooler, starting at about 70 °F, with overcast skies and some wind, and staying roughly that temperature throughout, with the wind being replaced by some rain in the afternoon.

We started out reiterating the four basic firearms safety rules. Bill also then also stated his ND policy, which he had forgotten to mention the day before: if one NDs in a class, he will not remove the NDing shooter from the class, and they can stay and listen for the rest of the day, but they are done shooting for the day. After this cool-off period, where the NDing shooter will have plenty of time to ruminate on their mistakes, they can return and shoot on any remaining days.

We then shot B-8s at 25 yards, untimed; 10 rounds freestyle, 10 rounds SHO, 10 rounds WHO, with the standard being 250 point minimum.

Despite it being untimed, I did not perform as well as I liked, ending up with a 224. Yesterday’s class had worn my hands out a fair bit, and I simply could not stabilize my gun well enough with my compromised grip, particularly on the SHO/WHO. This poor performance due to fatigue would plague me for the rest of the day, to my chagrin.

We then paired up, and handed our partners 2 mags, 1 dummy round, and 10 rounds. Each person would randomly load the magazines, taking care to not have the dummy round be the first or last round, and then insert the magazines into the owner’s mag pouch and gun. At 7 yards, engage a B-8 from the draw, scoring 95 or better, within 10 seconds. Termed the Jill Drill by Bill, this drill can be used to measure the time it takes for a shooter to go through an OODA loop, as the shooter will need to recognize both a simulated stoppage and a slide-lock reload, and can compare the splits in the Jill drill versus known stoppage clearances and reloads.

I really like the concept behind this drill, using it as a comparison to your known clearances/reloads.

Bill also observed that some folks, himself included, will default to using a tap with stoppage clearances, despite not intending to, during the Jill drill, due to the stress. This issue of trying to apply new grips, trigger finger placement, etc., also applies, as stress will often cause a shooter to revert what they have the most practice with. Bill also states that it is perfectly normal to see a performance decrease whenever a shooter tries out a new technique, as it is often not optimized nor well-practiced, even if the new technique has a higher skill ceiling involved than the old technique.

We then shot the Hateful 8 drill. At 8 yards, draw and fire 4 rounds at a B-8 center repair, slide lock reload, fire 2 rounds, slide lock reload, fire 2 rounds. The par time is 8 seconds, with a minimum score of 64 to pass, all hits inside the 8 ring. Bill noted that this drill can easily be modified to push a shooter to greater accuracy or speed; for example, once a shooter regularly passes the normal standard, they can change it so that they must shoot a 72; once that occurs, the shooter can try for all 10 ring hits. Or, the time can always be shrunk down. Or, perhaps randomly load the order of the magazines to achieve the 8 rounds.

I recall my splits being too slow to be competitive, with inconsistent manipulations. While each of the individual steps were not too much issue, stringing them together while fatigued proved very frustrating when trying to make time and accuracy. For the most part, my scores were in the mid-9s, usually making the accuracy standard.

Bill then relayed a story in which he was shooting with a world champion competitive shooter. Bill was curious to see as to how fast the champion could shoot at smaller targets, as generally the smallest target that the champion would be shooting at would be an IPSC A-zone, which, all things considered, is a fairly generous target. Bill challenged the champion to make hits at the same speed with a reduced target size, halving the size of the A-zone. The champion initially failed to make agreed upon accuracy standard, but after a few mags of practice, was able to maintain speed, yet up his accuracy. Bill then halved the target once again, and once again, the champion took several mags to acclimate, but was ultimately able to reach that accuracy standard, too, with minimal change in speed. When asked why he didn’t try to stick with such an accuracy standard, given that he could clearly shoot it, the champion replied that it simply wasn’t something he needed to do for his competition shooting.

Bill told this story to illustrate that speed and accuracy standards are heavily influenced by the end goal of the shooter, and that one must be cognizant of the limited resources that each person has for practice. Ideally, Bill said that he would like to, on demand, draw, and score 10 x-ring hits in under 10 seconds at 1000 yards, but given that he does not have unlimited time, ammo, or youth, he would have to settle for something less, with that something being dictated by his goals/missions.

Bill then started going over one-handed malfunction clearances. For those of us that still wanted to keep the tap, Bill advised tapping against the leg. For the rack, Bill would simply rack by pressing the top of the slide into the side of his thigh, and using friction, rack. He found this to be far less gear dependent than trying to hook the rear sight on a holster, boot, belt, etc., and could be done both SHO and WHO. With enough vigor, Bill could use this technique with almost any gun, including a 1911 with the hammer down, even against his bare flesh (as might be the situation if one was sleeping at night, and had been woken up). While an RDS makes this technique far easier, Bill has been able to execute this technique even on guns that have no sights.

He did caution us to be wary of our placement of the slide, to make sure that the ejection port is not blocked in any way, as that could induce an FTE, exacerbating any stoppage. We were also instructed to be wary of the placement of our trigger finger during such a clearance. A common problem he also saw would be people trying to lock their arms, and then bending at the waist, almost stooping, in order to try to rack the slide; this inhibits mobility, which is one of the key advantages of the technique, as it can be done even during movement without much issue.

We then tried it dry, with no rounds, then eventually incorporated dummy rounds later to guarantee that we were getting a full rack, with Bill stressing that we be very cognizant of where the muzzle was pointed during this time.

I was quite used to racking the slide right off my leg as part of my one-handed malfunction clearance, and had been doing it for a long time, even before the RMR days, which is why I originally had put grip tape on the top of my slide. That being said, I had a nasty habit of raising my leg to create a surface parallel to the ground, something of a bad habit created by my wish to minimize muzzling behind myself, as I would rack from the perpendicular to my leg, rather than parallel. Bill pointed out that by raising my leg, I was severely limiting my mobility, along with reducing my overall stability. Also, this technique is definitely a very physical one, and I ended up with some serious bruises on my thighs afterwards.

We then tried the technique live. The drill was to start with the gun on target with a live round in the chamber, then a dummy round, then a live round. On the timer, fire, attempt to fire again, rack, then get a second shot in. Shot at 3 yards, both rounds must be in the black, and under 3 seconds, in order to pass the standard, though Bill stated that for the purposes of this class, it would not be recorded, and the time would merely be a suggestion.

This drill was tricky due to the fact that it was known that the second round was known to be bad; many shooters, myself included, failed to press the trigger a second time, and simply went to rack the gun, defeating the purpose of the drill.

After trying the technique with both hands, Bill then had us attempt to rack dry, then with dummy rounds, while walking, to illustrate that it could be done.

This was definitely a bit trickier, and required a great deal of physicality to make sure that the rack was complete, especially on the WHO.

Bill then covered FTE clearance with one-hand. His technique can be used when there is no holster to use to retain the gun, albeit at the expense of mobility. One goes to the knee, and slams the wrist down against the knee, jarring the magazine out; after the magazine is ejected, get up again, rack the slide and lock it back, then insert the magazine. On the strong side, one can utilize the holster to hold the gun in order to reload; on the weak side, Bill tucks the gun into the arm pit, with the barrel facing downward to prevent muzzling your rear side, though this means that one must be careful when inserting the magazine, to prevent auto-forwarding, which can cause further malfunctions, or cause the shooter great pain when it closes the slide on their flesh in the ejection port.

For extra stubborn magazines, one can also stand, and bring the knee up into the wrist while swinging the gun down, to create extra force, though this sacrifices balance. To lock back a slide WHO on a gun without ambidextrous slide stops, one can use the index finger, which has the benefit of helping keep the trigger finger clear of the trigger.

This was tried dry first, then live with no timer involved, first SHO, then WHO.

This was definitely a more novel version of the standard one-handed FTE clearances. The large ambi slide stops on my P30LS made this part of the class much easier for me than for most of the other users; even some folks with guns with ambi slide stops still had to resort to using the index finger on WHO, such as on the M&Ps.

At this point, 1120, we broke for lunch.

Again, lunch was provided.

Class resumed at 1230, with Bill once again going over the importance of collecting data in order to be able to do performance tracking. This not only allows you to see where you live and where you can improve, but can also tell you when you start to degrade in an area. Again, Bill stressed that the performance that counts is one’s average performance, not one’s PRs.

When doing dry practice, one must be disciplined and honest about the feedback given. It’s easy to get sloppy with dry practice, and end up accepting poor grips or trigger pulls, when all the feedback is just in your own head. Dry times will always be faster than live fire times, due to the lack of recoil. Usually, Bill figures that doing a manipulation dry will shave 0.1 off the time.

For practicing, Bill believes that it is best to have a wide number of diverse drills. This forces the shooter to be competent at the fundamental level, rather than becoming accustomed to just a few drills. The purpose of practicing is to improve the shooter at the fundamental level, not to simply be good at a few drills.

Bill spoke about how in the past, while running his department’s training, after implementing performance tracking, they were able to start figuring out what each shooter’s problem was, and practice to rectify their weaknesses… for the motivated shooters. The point was that focused dry fire was useful only when done regularly by shooters that were actively trying to improve and had an actual plan for how to improve. Those that weren’t motivated simply wouldn’t benefit from having a good plan.

We then shot a series of drills to help establish our cadence when shooting at speed. Starting at the 10 yard line, shooting at a B-8 target, Bill wanted us to score a 95 or higher, under 7 seconds, from the draw, with 10 rounds.

I was able to make the time, coming in at just ~5.5 seconds, but I had several dropped shots, putting me in the low 90s.

The purpose of this drill was to help us understand that cadence needed to change for target size. For Bill, a fast and dirty way to figure out approximate split times was to count out loud without a shot timer. A cadence of roughly “one-one thousand” is about a second; “one and two and…” is roughly a half second; “one two three…” is roughly a quarter second.

Bill then had us shoot at the 7 yard line again, this time with no time constraint, but with shot timers, to see what our times are when we make the hits we needed to make at a consistent cadence.

I got a 97 at 7.33 seconds, going at a very comfortable pace, which meant that I could easily make the 7 second standard, without going crazy. I just needed to be less concerned with trying to be fast, and instead try to balance the speed with the accuracy.

Bill noted how easy it would be to scale this drill up; once one can reliably get >95, shoot for 100 consistently, then all X ring, then start lowering the time.

Bill had us run this a few more times at 10 yards, then pushed us back to 15 yards, with a time limit of 10 seconds to score at least a 95. After that, we went to 25 yards, with 20 seconds to score at least a 90. Throughout this, we were to note our change in cadence.

At 15 yards, I was able to get a 96 in 8.21; I then got sloppy, and ended up with two 94s, at 8.46 and 8.78, when I should have simply used more time up to get the accuracy standard. This was definitely many shooters struggled with, with many having 6 or 7 second failing runs. At 25, I got a 90 in 19.86, barely squeaking by; my second run I got cocky, and ended up with an 81 at 16.73.

Bill then started going over shooting on the move (SotM). When Bill was first learning about SotM, it was in vogue to roll from heel to toe, doing a duck walk, possibly while also trying to keep a wider stance, all in the name of trying to keep the upper body steady. Bill found that this was a reliable way to get decent accuracy during SotM… at least during qualification on the square range. Around 1998, with the introduction of force-on-force options, Bill saw that during FoF training that shooters that would utilize the duck walk with decent effect during training would revert to just normal movement during FoF, while still generally keeping acceptable accuracy.

Bill believes that ultimately, trying to force the duck walk does not work, because under stress, most shooters will revert to moving the normal way, as that is what they have been doing for the vast majority of their lives. The main thing that Bill stresses is that one should not run when shooting, but instead maintain contact at all times with the ground, speeding walking if needed. The speed of one’s movement will dictate one’s stability, which in turn will influence accuracy. Thus, one’s movement speed should be derived from one’s ability to make observations and decisions, so that one is not out running one’s headlights while moving; one must be able to note changing situations, such as a change in background, terrain, etc.

Bill also notes that when a shooter has too much wobble while moving, they tend to try to time their shots, which will actually end up jerking the shots. He also notes that many shooters will compromise their mobility by trying to cheat the movement, by pausing to take a shot, whether it be when both feet hit the ground or when trying to high step (pulling the trigger when one leg as at the apex of its step).

We then ran a series of exercises for moving backwards that worked up to actual SotM. We started out simply moving with the gun in the ready, then moving with the gun aimed, before finally actually putting rounds on target while moving. The target used were IPSCs with the upper thoracic highlighted, that portion being the acceptable target zone. The runs were done in two relays, with each shooter having a partner that would have the shooter slow down or speed up as necessary to keep up with the line. Once the live fire started, Bill would call out how many shots to take, and where, either in the torso or else in the head, though it would be a total of 4 rounds for the first couple of runs. After this was done a few times, we then tried it moving forward.

For the most part, this was not terribly difficult, as I had long adopted the “walk normally” approach. My laser was excellent in helping keep track of my sights, as my RMR’s dot would occasionally leave the window.

Eventually, Bill changed the drill so that we would move forward in pairs, with one shooter as the control, while the other shooter is the follower. Starting at the ready, the pair moves together, with the control starting to shoot whenever, and the follower reacting off the controller; the controller also dictates the pace of movement overall, so the follower must match the controller’s pace.

Bill used this drill to illustrate that the difficulty isn’t necessarily hitting the target, as most of the shooters were able to keep their shots on target. Rather, the issue is trying to keep track of the environment. Bill typically see the cadence of shooters slow down when they are forced to keep track of other shooters that are shooting on the same line.

We then also tried this drill again, but this time also trying to keep track of how many shots our partner took, along with our own number of shots, to further complicate the mental situation.

Needing to keep track of my partner’s shot count definitely took a mental toll. I managed to get the number correct, although that was also because we shot the same number of rounds.

We then considered why one might want to close in on a target during SotM, since distance favors the more skilled shooter. Realistic scenarios include moving toward better cover, working on a team, or needing to get between the attacker and one’s principle or loved one.

This is definitely a very likely issue during singleton clearing, if one must do so, to get from one’s place to a loved one’s location, e.g., from your bedroom to your child’s. While it is understood that singleton clearing is a very dangerous thing to do, depending on the scenario one faces, it might be the only option. Coming home to a booted door, when your wife and children are suppose to be home, is a very different situation compared to having your door booted while you are at home with your family in the same room as you.

Bill also spoke about the 21 foot rule, which is really more of a guideline. In order to maximize the amount of reaction time one has against an assailant with a non-ranged weapon, one can also move backwards to try and buy time for the draw. Bill notes that one should not let one’s heels travel further back than one’s buttocks, in order to minimize the possibility of tripping. If one is too slow to pull this off, simply turning and running is always a viable option, assuming there is room to do so. The important thing to remember is to draw while moving, rather than drawing, then moving.

We then practiced drawing on the move, first dry, then live.

This was pretty normal for me, as I do it quite often in competitive shooting.

Bill then expounded on his ideas on interactions with potential threats. As it is well understood, distance is a friend, and as a LEO, there are variety of ways to keep distance from an unknown contact. As a civilian, it is substantially different, due to a lack of authority and typical social norms when conversating. If the scenario allows, start with a verbal redirection, e.g., “sorry bud, can’t help you”. If the unknown continues to encroach, escalate, first with posture, then profanity. If legal and situation appropriate, one may even consider brandishing, if one is truly committed to the utilization of lethal force if needed; Bill argues that brandishing has become something of a dirty word, when it is a viable way to communicate one’s willingness and ability to defend one’s self with lethal force if need be, and thus potentially deter a would-be assailant.

Obviously, many factors are at play here; the aggression and physical disparity of any unknown contacts will play an important role in what would be an acceptable response, though one must also be very careful to not underestimate an unknown contact.

We then moved on to the final phase of the class, where Bill randomly picks out 4 drills out of 13 possible ones; those who can pass all 4 are considered to have passed Bill’s standards, and earn a special patch; even if no one passed, there was still a prize at the end for the high shooter of the standards. Bill has stated that he passes his own standards about 70% of the time.

To date, no one has earned such a patch in a pistol class, and Bill stated that he felt that this class had a pretty good chance of having one or two folks pass.

The first drill was to simply draw and fire 10 rounds, at 15 yards, within 10 seconds, and score a 95 or better on a B-8 center repair.

I went too fast on this drill; my time was approximately 7 seconds, but I only scored a 93, automatically failing the standards.

The next drill was to draw and fire 10 rounds, at 7 yards, within 7 seconds, and score a 95 or better on a B-8 center repair.

I totally went off the deep end on this one, due to a poor grip that was never corrected, going over time, yet only scoring a 76. Extremely disappointing.

Next, we had the 5-5-5 drill, which, to reiterate, is when a shooter starts at 7 yards, draws, fires 5 rounds free style, reloads, fires 5 rounds SHO, reloads, and fires 5 rounds WHO. The shooter must score 145 or better on a B-8 center repair in less than 15 seconds.

My time was around 16 seconds, with a score of 128.

The last standard was to shoot the TNT drill, which, to reiterate, at five yards, the shooter needs to put 5 rounds into the 5” circle, 4 rounds into the 4” circle, etc., down to 1 round in the 1” circle, with a par time of 8 seconds.

I failed to hit the 1” circle and was over time at 9.08.

At the end, we all added up our overall scores, to get a final accuracy score to determine the top shooter.

I had a score of 437, out of a possible total of 500 points.

In the end, Bill noted that these were his standards, and tailored toward himself; ultimately, it is up to the shooter to make their own set of standards and adhere to them. He also argues that one’s standards should be difficult to pass, as if one is always passing with ease, then they are too easy, and won’t push the shooter. He reiterated the need to change the difficulty of the drills in order to keep improving as a shooter, whether it be longer distances, tighter accuracy standards, or shorter par times. Again, the purpose of the class was to help learn how to establish baselines and then work off those to self-improve.

As a young LEO, Bill would scrounge and save in order to get better training to do a better job. Now that he’s retired, Bill will always get back to any student that has any questions, as he feels that he owes the student that.

Class then ended at around 1700.

This class ended up being one of the most challenging shooting-centric courses I have taken. It had been awhile since I was not immediately obviously in the upper half of the class in terms of performance, so being tested by my fellow students was refreshing; this was also distinctly different from when I first started shooting, because while back then I was self-aware that I was a dilettante, I still had no real frame of reference as to what a high level shooter actually looked like. I was also challenged by Bill’s standards, as seen by the fact that I regularly failed his drills. This class not only reinforced my primary known weakness of poor grip strength, but also hammered in my failures at SHO/WHO shooting at speed. It was also very disappointing, yet also enlightening, to see just how much fatigue could lower my performance.

I only have two very minor quibbles with the class, the first of which pertained to the lack of preparation for being able to put up targets in a timely manner; often, the staple guns did not work correctly or ran out of staples, with the single can of adhesive spray seeming to be the most consistent tool for putting up targets. The other was the fact that we were put in a 100 yard bay, despite never exceeding 25 yards; a 50 yard or 25 yard bay would have been more appropriate and made logistics slightly easier.

Gearwise, the main issues I had with the gun were failures to extract, which were arguably nothing more than a grip issue that I would need to fix, to keep the hand from impinging on the slide. Other than that, I did have a few instances where my draw was flubbed due to the holster being torqued outward as I attempted to draw; I have since rectified this by re-attaching a leg strap to the UBL (it was originally removed to try and go as minimalistic as possible).

Overall, 852 rounds were expended, all of which were Speer Lawman 115 gr. (53615).