Category: Instructor

Karl will be your instructor today…

Karl has been a firearms enthusiast all his life, and he brings over 20 years of combined military and federal law enforcement experience to his instruction. Karl was trained for security and executive protection operations and has served on details for the Secretary of Defense and other high level dignitaries both domestically and abroad. Since 2010, Karl has served as the firearms and tactics instructor for Federal Law Enforcement agents. Karl has trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and has attended other advanced tactical pistol training. Karl is an active member of the Washington State Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Association. Karl is a certified Glock Armorer and has training as a Tactical/Trauma First Aid Responder, and is also an NRA Certified Range Safety Officer. Karl volunteers as a Range Safety Officer at the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club and as a member of the Vashon Sportsmen’s Club team of NRA Certified trainers.

Current Training Certifications:

  • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Certified Firearms Instructor: Training techniques for handgun, tactical shotgun, carbine/patrol rifle, and sub-machine gun.
  • National Rifle Association (NRA) Certified Instructor for the following disciplines:
      • Pistol
      • Rifle
      • Shotgun
      • Home Firearm Safety
      • Personal Protection in the Home
      • Personal Protection Outside the Home

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Facebook page for Make Ready!

I was urged by a student to create a Facebook page for Make Ready!. I will admit, Facebook is not really my thing, but it does seem like a good idea. I have been playing around with it for a while and it will be a bit easier to update than the website, so maybe I can get information and updates out a little quicker. You can search Facebook for “makereadynw”.

Check it out:

www.facebook.com\makereadynw

 

 

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Focus on the [proper] Fundamentals

I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to teach both beginners and veteran shooters. When I am teaching a group of new shooters there are always in-depth lessons on the fundamentals of pistol shooting. Fundamentals are the core rules and principles that your overall technique is based on. There are gun handling fundamentals and shooting fundamentals. Safe handling requires the shooter to have intimate knowledge of the particular gun’s controls and how the firearm loads, fires, and unloads. Safely and effectively putting the gun into operation requires an additional knowledge base of the shooting fundamentals. Identifying the shooting fundamentals and explaining them does not stop with the first trip to the range of the beginner, nor does it exempt a veteran from having to revisit those same fundamentals. As I continue to further my own training, I am reminded why those principles are called “fundamental” in the first place. Every shot is made (or missed) from there. I have learned that the importance of each fundamental depends on your shooting situation. Take a few minutes to look at the shooting fundamentals once again and I will discuss how their emphasis and application might vary based on your situation.

There are many actions, considerations, and intentions that go into making your shot, enough to fill entire books on the subject of pistol shooting. That may be overwhelming to a beginning student, so I try to make it more digestible and easier to remember by putting it into bite sized chunks. As a starting point, I cover what I refer to as the Four Food Groups: Stance, Grip, Sights, and Trigger. I explain them this way not in order of importance, but in the order they appear to the shooter as they set up and make their shot. The first two are the building blocks of fast and accurate follow on shots, while the last two ensure you get your rounds down range where you intend them to be on the target.

Four Food Groups:

  • STANCE
    When your shot breaks, your position is what it is. Regardless of what your stance is at that instant, the shot has been sent. The key is to have a stable and consistent stance so you can be ready for the next shot, not just for the one shot you are taking. You build that from the ground up. Set your feet shoulder width apart and your body square to the target. Bend your knees slightly, and shift your weight forward on the balls of your feet. It should feel as though you can lunge or move rapidly from this position and your center of gravity should be lower than when you are standing upright. Lean slightly forward at the waist and when you push the gun out your shoulders will also be forward. Contrary to what some folks will say, go ahead and lock your elbows. The result is a solid platform to steady the gun. With semi-autos this is critical so the gun has a solid platform to operate from. This is the classic insoles position.
  • GRIP
    A two handed grip is preferable if it is available to you. Start by placing the web of your firing hand as high up on the pistol’s backstrap as possible with your trigger finger indexed. The middle finger should be in contact with the trigger guard as you wrap three fingers around the grip of the gun. Your support hand fills the empty space on the other side of the grip and your index finger of your non-firing hand should also be in contact with the trigger guard when you wrap around your other fingers. Both thumbs should point straight toward the target along the frame of the gun, with the thumb of your firing hand above the other. This is the “thumbs forward” grip. There should be more than just grip pressure to the rear. It should feel reminiscent of wringing a rag. As your support hand rolls into position you should be applying side pressure as well.
  • SIGHTS
    Bring the gun to your line of sight, don’t send your face to the gun. This is easily achieved with the process of the stance I outlined previously. Most handguns utilize some form of post and notch sighting system. Proper sight alignment is achieved when the front post is centered in the rear notch and the post and notch being level across the top: equal height, equal light. Sight picture is the act of putting your properly aligned sights into relation with your intended target area. Everyone talks about front sight focus. The deal is, most people cannot focus on three planes at once; rear sight, front sight, and target. If you have to focus on one plane, it should be the front sight. The reason for that is, the shot will follow the front sight. If you think about that a moment it makes sense, where the front sight moves is where the gun is pointing.
  • TRIGGER
    Proper trigger engagement allows the gun to be fired without disturbing the sight alignment and sight picture. Squeeze, press, or pull? Whatever you call it, your job is to move the trigger directly to the rear smoothly as to not move your sights out of alignment. You may activate the trigger faster or slower based on your shooting situation but being smooth is the key. You should not start and stop or hesitate during the motion of moving the trigger. Even a subtle misalignment of the sights while pulling the trigger can send your shot off target at distance because of the short sight radius (distance between the front and rear sight) of the gun.

Fundamentals are fundamental, right? Well, as I stated in the outset the answer is yes and no depending on your shooting situation. Learning the fundamentals is how you learn to shoot and all of your technique will build from there. However, I have also learned your shooting situation dictates your focus on the particular fundamentals for the task at hand. Target or bullseye shooting is a different situation than a self-defense incident. Knowing the difference in shooting styles and training appropriately is the key.

For example, if you are most interested in consistent 10-ring hits in a bullseye competition, then by all means sights and trigger are the key, and you may even choose a different stance and grip than I outlined. Imagine Annie Oakley making a trick shot at a target behind her while looking through a mirror. She could make that accurate single shot without the benefit of a solid position or even a proper grip as long as those sights were properly aligned and the trigger press did not disturb them. Put yourself in a defensive mindset however, and it is an entirely different game. Although shooting well is the best defense, absolute bullseye type accuracy is not your goal because it will take too much time. In a defensive situation you need to be “accurate enough”, that is you need to hit the target effectively, but you also need speed. Somehow you need to shave every 10th of a second off of your response time and get multiple shots on target in the shortest possible time. As you can see, this is an entirely different shooting problem than target shooting or the trick shot scenario.

I will submit that trigger control is still of paramount importance, but what about sight alignment and sight picture? Maybe not so much, but a solid stance and grip will be critical for follow-on shots. Let’s examine that claim a little bit. The typical distance involved in a defensive encounter is relatively close. I say 15 feet or less based on a common sense examination. I can explain that without citing statistics. Imagine a location or situation where you might need to use your handgun for self-defense. A typical room in your home. At the ATM. Around your car at a gas station or in a parking lot. A robbery at a convenience store while you are buying beef jerky. The list goes on of where trouble breaks out or comes looking for you. I hope you get the idea from just a few examples that normally your defensive use of a handgun will be at a relatively short distance. Note, I am not addressing every possible scenario, just the most likely ones, and they all fall within a relatively short distance.

You should substantially train for the most likely scenario because you cannot effectively train for every possible situation. I submit to you that the fundamentals of pistol shooting in their entirety make sense for target or bullseye practice and those fundamentals are the building blocks for more advanced techniques. I will also say that those fundamentals are exactly where a new shooter needs to start in order to get familiar with the gun and the process of shooting. When you start looking at alternate needs or requirements for your shooting situation is when you should pick and choose which of those fundamentals you should emphasize.

Making the proper training choices is important. If defensive shooting is what you are training for you will need lots of repetition. When it comes to shaving 10ths of a second off of your response time you need to concentrate on your draw and presentation. In the self-defense situations I outlined where distances are close, good muscle memory in your stance and grip will be key to getting appropriate shots on target without actually using your sights. Perhaps the biggest variable is the draw and presentation of your firearm. That needs to be consistent and efficient. I will discuss that further in future articles.

When you are ready to advance your shooting skills seek out a qualified instructor and get some training. Train safe, but realistically.

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Effective pistol training alternatives.

A buzz has erupted in the training community about the impact that comes with the recent passage of Initiative 594. Some local training programs have simply been cancelled. Others just don’t know what the impact will be and are consulting with attorneys. As I announced on my home page, I am proceeding with caution and will no longer loan firearms in my classes after 594 takes effect to avoid the background check for every transfer nightmare. My belief is, with time, there will be prosecutorial guidance and/or an update to the legislation relieving this burden. For now, if I cannot loan a lower caliber gun to a student as a training tool to start out with, what can I do to help them out? This is a good time for me to expand on a training method that I have been working with for several years: Airsoft.

Stay with me and let me explain. I am NOT talking about the cheap plastic spring operated “toy” Airsoft guns you see at local retailers. What I am writing about are the 1:1 replicas of actual firearms. The Airsoft I use for training are gas operated full metal guns with removable magazines, working slides (blowback), and functioning operational controls such as safeties, decocking levers, and realistic take down procedures. Many models on the market are licensed reproductions of their bullet firing inspirations. For the remainder of this post, when I use the term Airsoft I am talking about this level of Airsoft pistol for training, not the toys for gaming.

My Airsoft guns fire a plastic BB, powered by compressed gas. Semi-automatic and revolver models are available. The BBs are loaded into the magazine of a semi-auto that also holds the compressed gas. BBs in a revolver model are loaded into casings and inserted into the cylinder and the compressed gas is stored in the handle under the grips of the gun. The result is a realistic replica gun that also fires a projectile to the target. While not technically a gun under the law, it offers a great training opportunity because of the realistic feel and function. Given the fact you are shooting a projectile; you need to practice proper gun safety when using Airsoft just like you would with a bullet firing gun.

At the most basic level, the fundamentals of pistol shooting are stance, grip, sights, and trigger control. You can practice all of these principles effectively with Airsoft. Because of the realistic feel and operation of the Airsoft gun the only thing missing is the sound report and recoil involved with firing real bullets. As far as training goes, especially for a new shooter with first shot anxiety, being without the loud bang and recoil is not necessarily a bad thing. The gun handling characteristics, of inserting/removing magazines, working the slide, etc. are the same as a real gun but with greatly reduced spring pressure making the process much easier. That has also been a great training device for beginning shooters that will translate directly to using their actual firearm. Am I sure it can be effective? Yes, as proven by Tatsuya Sakai who won a national pistol speed shooting competition several years ago. Sakai is from Japan and had only fired Airsoft guns. He worked for about a month in the U.S. learning about recoil management and won the Steel Challenge event.

Hopefully, you can see the direct translation of focused Airsoft training to your shooting skills. If you can see that benefit, let me throw a couple more at you: cost and available training locations. Cost is always a factor. These days, 9mm training ammunition runs about $16 for a box of 50 rounds. I recently bought a bag of 5,000 Airsoft BBs for $8. Yes, that is half the price for 100 times more. You still need gas and that is not as easy to quantify in a concise post, but it should be obvious that you can shoot your Airsoft for a fraction of the cost of conventional ammunition. What about training location? With Airsoft you don’t need a traditional firing range. I have incorporated Airsoft shooting into the classroom portion of my pistol courses. I have also used Airsoft for private instruction. It is great for building repetitions of drawing from a holster and other defensive considerations. I have also used Airsoft in Law Enforcement training circles for force on force scenario based training exercises or to practice in advance complex live fire range drills. It is safe to practice Airsoft indoors and with the proper target configuration the BBs remain contained. Remember eye protection is always recommended.

Like so many things in life, you will get out of training what you put into it. Training with Airsoft can be serious and effective pistol training, but only if you have the proper mindset. You have to make it gun training, NOT toy gun training. Making your session serious and realistic is up to you.

NOTE: This post in no way is intended to prove Airsoft is the end-all beat-all training cure. There are other methods like laser training, or sub-caliber training, dry fire, simunitions, etc. Airsoft and all the others are useful training tools but you never have only one tool in your tool box.

Train for real. There are no lucky shots.

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Check out this new area for blog posts!

The Make Ready! Instructor page now has a blog! That’s kind of a big deal (for me at least). It was beyond my current capabilities in the web design department and once again Gavin J. (who helped set up this version of the website) came to the rescue. Thanks Gavin!

The blog that runs on the Home page will be focused on upcoming classes, schedules, and other events. This blog will be for gun industry related information. I will try to keep the entries informative but concise. I plan to address some common questions from students and offer information based on my experience. It will be informative and give prospective students some insights about me.

At this time all comments must be approved before they are published, so you can bet I will read every one.

Thanks for stopping by. Keep checking back for more updates and information.

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