17-Nov-15 – 02:36 by ToddG


All easily concealable on the belt and in pockets of a pair of jeans and an untucked polo shirt. What’s in your wallet?

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Basic Holster Development 101

16-Nov-15 – 07:19 by ToddG


Almost ubiquitously taught: get a complete grip on the gun before you draw it. So why do people still develop holsters with sweat guards that block you from getting as high a grip as you can? I see something like this and I don’t even need to try the holster. It was obviously crafted by folks who have a different set of priorities than I do.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


11-Nov-15 – 21:45 by ToddG

13Congratulations to Sergeant Ward Smith of the Kansas City Police Department for earning F.A.S.T. Challenge Coin #13 during a gathering of some pistol-training.com alumni under the watchful eye of SLG who was given permission by Ernest Langdon to put Sgt. Smith through the test.

Sgt. Smith shot the test using his issued Glock 22 pistol, duty ammunition, and his issued Safariland 295 holster.

The drill was shot three times, completely cold (no previous shooting that day). His scores were 4.68, 4.73, and 4.89 seconds all clean. The current rules require the first and at least one other run be clean under 5 seconds, but Ward did all three just to make it look easy.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

FBI Procurement Bias

2-Nov-15 – 09:39 by ToddG

Screen capture from Blue Sheepdog.

Read this blog post on Blue Sheepdog.

Even when the writing is on the wall, it shouldn’t be this obvious. The FBI procurement specification for its new 9mm pistol(s) is so specific that only one company’s product is even eligible. The staff at Quanitco knows what it wants, and it is bending a whole lot of procurement regulations to make sure the fix is in.

Many of the companies being affected are probably in the midst of planning for the (possible) big Army procurement, so making some changes to their designs probably isn’t the end of the world. For example, Glock could probably make frames without finger grooves (now, according to FBI, finger grooves of any size or shape are intolerable) with just a minor mold change. It wouldn’t cost HK a million dollars to make a VP9 with a button mag release. But why should they have to? Why does the FBI want to prevent the guns as-is from getting a chance to prove themselves in a fair and open competition?

fbiheirI’ve got absolutely nothing against the SIG P320. I know quite a few squared away shooters who really like it. What bothers me is a procurement that doesn’t need to go past the go/no-go stage for testing because only one gun, no matter whether it’s the most reliable or shootable or best choice for thousands of agents, has a chance of winning. Not only is that bad procurement, it’s bad officer safety. If the P320 is the best gun, let it prove itself in fair & open competition.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG


27-Oct-15 – 16:44 by ToddG

We have all heard the saying: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” While attending classes that focus on handgun skills are both helpful and enjoyable, it sometimes leads to people thinking every problem can be solved with a hammer (pistol).

gregTwo well known instructors, Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training (Ohio police officer with 20 years of experience) and Dr. William Aprill (Doctor of Psychology with extensive experience in criminal & juvenile psychology) have banded together to offer a class called Unthinkable that could easily be thought of as “everything but the nail.” The class is two days of facing things that — fantasy aside — you won’t be able to solve with a pistol and a bad attitude.

The class focusses on all sorts of things we know could happen but often ignore because they don’t involve our favorite hobby. For example, Greg gives an extensive lecture on understanding and identifying improvised explosives and bombers. William offers ample experience regarding VCAs (Violent Criminal Actors) such as offenders with antisocial personality disorder, sociopathy, and psychopathy — including ways to identify and distinguish among the three, and understanding the differences and dangers of each.

aprill2Other covered issues were the psychology of being a hostage or kidnap victim; Greg’s extensive lessons on escaping from bonds ranging from duct tape to handcuffs (some of which were much easier than most of the students expected); disarming a criminal who has you at gunpoint; self-aid in the event of a gunshot wound or similar serious injury; and William’s excellent “5 W’s of Risk.

Both instructors also recommended extensive libraries of worthwhile books and websites for further study.

While it’s fun to pretend that your response to five AK-wielding men invading your home by surprise is to gun them down heroically, it’s worthwhile to understand what they’re thinking, how your own brain is likely to react, and what you can & should do, including how to break out of the industrial zip-ties they use to bind your wrists and ankles. One of the most interesting parts of the class (for me) was William’s extensive discussion of pre-determined “GO” signals — conditions under which you will immediately and ruthlessly respond a threat. Many people have vague ideas about when or why they would react, like “someone tries to hurt my kid.” But are you really going to draw your gun and start shooting because an older kid at the park punches your daughter in the arm? Really? If the answer is “no” it may be time to think about more specific lines in the sand. You don’t want to be making those decisions in the middle of a catastrophic event.

As serious as the class topics were, the students had fun. The class is very interactive, and students cheered each other on to succeed against new challenges.

The typical student came to Unthinkable with a similar attitude: “I’ve taken a class on how to shoot someone who is trying to rape me; I’ve taken a class on how to stab someone who is trying to rape me; now I’m taking a class on how to remain sane and escape if someone kidnaps me and probably intends to rape me.” It’s far from the typical class popular among shooters. But it’s about facing the reality of things that might happen that most shooters don’t want to think about.

Unthinkable was hosted by John Murphy of FPF Training and help at Elite Shooting Sports in Manassas, Virginia.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Honesty: How Good Am I?

18-Oct-15 – 17:02 by ToddG

bestalone.jpgI’ve said for years, 95% of shooters think they’re in the top 5%. They’re not honest with themselves and fall into a spiral of self-congratulatory behavior for being mediocre while pretending it’s excellence.

I’ve realized recently that I fall into that same category. I’ve spent much of the past year telling myself that I was “starting from scratch” but repeatedly saw myself going too fast, whether we’re talking about a single drill or improving in general. And things felt like they were flying along smoothly. Then a couple weeks ago I took a pistol class from Ernest Langdon. This was a class I’d spent a lot of time preparing for. But it proved for naught because I was hands down the most horriblest shooter on this entire planet of Earth. And that’s no exaggeration. I was by far the worst shooter in the class. Embarrassingly so. Like, slowest one shot draw in the class (and I missed the target when we shot for score). It wasn’t just that I was worse than before: I was bad.

After some weeks of soul searching, what I’ve realized is that I’m not ready for the kind of practice I’ve been doing. I still don’t really have my grip automatic on the draw. Heck, I foul my concealment garment on the draw sometimes. These are things that shouldn’t be happening to someone who has over 10,000 rounds of practice under his belt over the past six months.

But it happened. Why? Because I wasn’t being honest with myself about where I needed to be practicing. My reload speed didn’t need improvement. My grip on the gun did. My trigger press did. I was so desperately trying to be better than I am that I flat out ignored something I know very well as an instructor: too many people try to run before they crawl.  There is only one person who can fix that.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Saying and Understanding Are Not the Same

13-Sep-15 – 22:52 by ToddG

2Over the past few days, it has been all the rage for people who know absolutely nothing about chemistry to discuss the chemical composition of FireClean, a popular firearms lubricant/cleaner. Specifically, there are people who claim that it is nothing but a simple common vegetable oil.

As evidence, these people have provided videos showing it burning away at the same rate as vegetable oil or showing an alleged “infrared spectroscopy” comparison between a particular vegetable oil and FireClean.

Raise your hand if you’d ever heard of infrared spectroscopy before this.

Keep it raised only if you actually know how infrared spectroscopy is performed.

Keep it raised only if you know what infrared spectroscopy does and doesn’t show you viz-a-vis the complete chemical makeup of a mixture.

Keep it raised only if you think that infrared spectroscopy can prove that there is nothing whatsoever different between vegetable oil and whatever chemical mixture makes up FireClean.

Right now, no one honest has his hand raised anymore. The point being that just because someone uses a scientific sounding phrase like “infrared spectroscopy” doesn’t mean it’s telling us what that person assumes or alleges it is telling us.

Ask yourself this: Is the infrared spectroscopy of canola oil changed if you add food coloring to it? If you don’t know the answer without Googling it, then why are you assuming it has any relevance as far as a gun lubricant is concerned? In other words, if you don’t know what does and doesn’t affect the outcome of such a test, then why would you assume that the outcome of the test in this case tells you anything worthwhile?

A few things I’d like to be specific about:

  • One of the guys behind FireClean is a buddy of mine.
  • I personally don’t use (and have never even tried) FireClean because I have been a very satisfied user of Viking Tactics/Rand CLP.
  • I am not accusing the folks involved in this “FireClean is Crisco” claim to be dishonest or malicious.

Like other types of knowledge, a little science is a dangerous thing. The shooting community has been dragged down so many rabbit holes by other scientific-sounding terms like “gross motor skills” or “MIM” or “hydrostatic shock” … leading to conclusions that are often misunderstood and sometimes completely wrong. It’s no different than all of the uniformed anti-gun people who vapidly nod their heads when a politician talks about how a teflon coated cop-killer bullet will slip its way through a “bullet-proof” vest.

What’s in FireClean? I don’t know. What I do know is that infrared spectrometry can’t answer that question.

Also, look for my upcoming article, “The Application of Vectored Kinesthetic Force to Increase Friction as a Means to Obviate The Radians of Sine Partially As Experienced by a Handgun Front Sight Due to Single Dimension Positional Change as Caused by Sudden Internal Ballistic Energy Expulsion,” also known as gripping a handgun.*

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

 * That may not even make sense, because it’s just another example of a gun guy assuming he knows something about science when he really doesn’t. If it does make sense, I rock.

Last Man Out

7-Sep-15 – 20:00 by ToddG

Students benefit from being put under pressure when shooting. One very common approach is the “man on man” exercise in which two shooters compete against one another. Here’s an example of Ernest Langdon and me shooting a drill I call “Action vs Reaction” in West Virginia a couple years ago. Each of us is trying to knock down the three plates on our respective side of the plate rack.

YouTube Preview Image

There are some negatives to running man on man drills, however. They often rely on reactive targets and are designed primarily around just two shooters. In a class with 10-20 students, there is a lot of down time while waiting for your turn.

One outstanding idea comes from Tom Givens of Rangemaster. It doesn’t add time or complexity to running students through a drill, but it makes every rep count. It puts pressure on every student every time he engages the targets. Fail on accuracy or speed and you’re done; succeed and move on to the next run. You can think of it as Last Man Out. For simplicity’s sake, let’s suppose the exercise is to draw and hit an 8″ target at seven yards.

  1. Instructor gives the start signal.
  2. Students draw and fire.
  3. Anyone who doesn’t hit the target is out for the rest of the drill.
  4. The last person to fire a shot is out for the rest of the drill.

So every run at least one person (the guy who fires the last shot) is out. Anyone who didn’t score a hit is out, too. That means there is pressure to succeed on every run of the drill. Go too fast and miss, you’re out. Go too slow and hit last, you’re out. As the playing field gets smaller, the fastest and most accurate shooters rise to the top. The competition keeps getting harder.

It’s an excellent way to add student-vs-student pressure to drills without any special equipment or slowing down the class.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Negative Taping

1-Sep-15 – 18:38 by ToddG




I want to be accountable for my hits when I’m practicing. That means every time I pull the trigger, I want to know whether I hit, missed by a little bit, or missed by a lot. But from both a time and target/paster resource standpoint I don’t want to be putting up fresh targets for each drill or pasting every single bullet hole.

So I use a pretty simple technique called negative taping. If I got a hit, I got a hit. I’m not worried about whether it was dead center or off toward one side. After all, if I needed to hit a smaller target zone, I’d use a smaller target. It’s the same concept as using steel targets but without any distance, size, or shape limitations.

It’s not adequate simply to “try and remember” which misses were there already. I watched two guys at the range yesterday doing exactly that because they were the typical I will shoot 200 rounds but only pay for one little target types. They eventually ended up debating whose shots were going where, etc. There was no way for them to account for their shots.

This is the same approach I used when teaching. We’d tape up misses and start with an essentially “clean” target after each exercise. Sure, there were bullet holes in the targets but they were all hits. What mattered most was knowing whether future shots were also hits, or were they misses?

Obviously, negative taping doesn’t work as well if you’re using a target with graudated scoring zones like an NRA B-8 where you consider all of the zones “hits,” just with different values. But for your typical yes/no, hit/miss kind of target (or when that’s all you’re worried about, regardless of the target design itself), negative taping is a fast, economical, and easy way to make sure you’re able to assess each performance.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

The Q-PT and 30 Drills

21-Aug-15 – 15:02 by ToddG

q-pt2-finalThe pistol-training.com Q-PT target sold by National Target Company was obviously designed with Aim Fast Hit Fast and Aim Fast Hit Small classes in mind. My goal was to have a single target that could accommodate all the different drills that would be used in class.

The target has a number of different aiming points with targets zones of varying shape and size:

  • The bottle is similar to the FBI “Q” target and if you only count the part of the bottle above the thin line at the bottom (between the 1-3 and 4-6 dots) it’s similar to the QIT.
  • The large center circle is 6″ diameter (white) and 8″ diameter (grey).
  • The rectangle in the head is 3×5 (grey) with a 1″ thick T.
  • The A, B, and 1-6 grey circles are 2″ in diameter.
  • The two squares are 1″ high & wide.

After multiple requests, here are thirty of the drills found at pistol-training.com and how they can used with the Q-PT target:

  1. The 1-2-R-3 drill by JodyH using the 3×5 in the head and either the A circle and its square and/or the B circle and its square.
  2. 1-Reload-2 using the center circle or any other target zone of your choice. I often fire the first shot at the 3×5 and then the followups at the 6″.
  3. 26662 using the white 6″ center circle and any of the 2″ grey circles (A, B, 1-6).
  4. 3-Two-1 using the 3×5 and either the A and its square or the B and its square. I regularly practice this drill until I’ve obliterated one side (A or B) beyond repair and then switch to the other.
  5. 3 by 3 using the large grey outline circle in the center, the 3×5 in the head, and any 2″ grey circle.
  6. The 3×5 Card Drill developed by Chris Edwards of Glock. You can probably figure this one out on your own.
  7. The 4567 Drill using the white 6″ center circle.
  8. A variation of Bill Wilson‘s 5 by 5 Skill Test where the grey outline 8″ circle is zero points down, the rest of the bottle is 3 points down, and missing the bottle altogether is 5 points down.
  9. Another JodyH drill and one of my personal favorites is the 99 Drill. The 3×5 is an obvious target but if you need more space you can use the part of the bottle that is the head (above of the thin grey line) or choose one of the bigger targets as necessary.
  10. Acceleration using the 8″ center circle.
  11. Ball & Dummy drill using the 3×5 or a 2″ circle of your choice.
  12. Bill Wilson‘s Bill Drill 1 and Bill Drill 2 using the grey outlined 8″ center circle.
  13. Changing Gears using the large center 8″ circle and the 3×5 card in the head.
  14. The Circle Drill by George Harris using the 8″ center circle.
  15. You can even do Dot Torture if you’re a little creative with the 2″ circles, remembering that you have two fewer circles to deal with. I usually do the 5 slow shots and 5 1-shot draws to circle A. I do the 1, transition, 1 to circles 1 & 2. Five shots SHO is done on circle 3. The 2, transition, 2 is done on circles 4 & 5. The five WHO shots are done on circle 6. Then I go back up to the top and do the 1R1 part of the test all on Dot B.
  16. El Presidente is pretty straightforward, you just need three Q-PTs. I use the large grey 8″ circle as my A-zone. Keep in mind that in a genuine traditional El Prez, either you get 12 A-zone hits or you fail.
  17. Mike Seeklander‘s Extend, Prep, and Press is easily done using the large 8″ circle and the 3×5 card.
  18. Of course the Q-PT was built around the F.A.S.T. as its core. The large 8″ circle and 3×5 are right there for you.
  19. Frank Garcia‘s Dot Drill works perfectly using the six 2″ dots at the bottom of the target.
  20. Ken Hackathorn‘s 3-second Head Shot Standards was the driving force between putting the thin grey line through the “throat” of the Q-PT. Anything in the bottle above that line counts as a hit.
  21. Kyle Lamb‘s Half & Half can easily be performed using the large 8″ center circle.
  22. The iHack was created specifically as a way to shoot the above-mentioned Hackathorn 3-second Head Shot Standards on a single Q-PT target. You can use either the 2″ circles numbered 1, 2, 3 or the ones numbered 4, 5, 6.
  23. Ernest Langdon’s 3.5 Second Standards can be done by using the head of the bottle (above the thin grey line) as a smaller version of the IDPA head box.
  24. The same can be done for Ernest‘s 9 Second Standards. Each requires three targets.
  25. Press Six was specifically designed around the 1-6 2″ dots at the bottom of the Q-PT.
  26. With five Q-PT targets you can perform the Federal Air Marshal Triple Nickel. Shots have to land completely inside the bottle and above the grey line between the 1-3 and 4-6 dots.
  27. Max Michel‘s Triple Six can be done by using the 8″ circle as the A-zone, the bottle as the D-zone, and anything outside the bottle is a miss. This does make it tougher because there is no delineated C-zone with its corresponding smaller penalty.
  28. Another drill inspired by the Q-PT rather than the other way around, CCT125US‘s Typewriter obviously works very well with this target using the 1-6 2″ circles at the bottom.
  29. Scott Warren‘s Advanced Three Second Standard can be done using the bottle head (above the thin grey neck line) as the acceptable scoring zone. Requires three Q-PT targets.
  30. With a pair of Q-PTs you can shoot the X-Drill using the 3×5 as the small target and the large 8″ center circle as the large target.

Hopefully you’ll find the Q-PT as flexible as I have. I’ll usually go through a few hundred rounds in practice and in class between needing to change targets as long as I keep a bunch of pasters on hand.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG