In just a few words: this was the best defensive handgun course I’ve attended so far!
What I learned – insights:
- Two absolute rules: 1) Muzzle discipline, and 2) Trigger finger discipline – 97 percent of all success is trigger discipline
- “Press the trigger! Don’t pull or squeeze on the trigger! Press it like you’d press a button!”
- Main causes of problems: Ignorance and Carelessness
- You have to drive the gun – not ride the gun!
- The sites are there as a reference point to where the barrel is pointed
- Learn to move the index finger independently (if you try to flex the index finger and keep the other fingers straight you will find out that the other fingers want to flex along with the index finger – learn to flex the index finger without flexing the other fingers. It helps with pressing the trigger – not squeezing or pulling)
- From 3 yd all you have to have in the target is the front sights. You can’t miss!
- Sidestepping only works (and should be done) within the length of a car – but 92 percent of all confrontations happen at this length (so, train holster draw with sidestepping)
- 86 percent of all shootings happen at 3-7 yd distance
- Confrontation and communication distances are the same in our culture
- The person who starts the fight wins!
- Hesitation and confusion will kill you faster than anything else!
- Handgun – reactive; long gun – proactive (You only carry a handgun because you don’t know for a fact if you are going to need a long gun that day! Handguns are more convenient to carry every day.)
Other gems of defensive skills wisdom by Tom Givens:
Hit the target! Don't shoot at the target! Shooting AT THE TARGET implies that you are simply shooting in that direction.
Unprepared victims (read sheep) are in denial loop when they get victimized. Their last thoughts (before they pass out... and later get resurrected so they can tell us) are, I can't believe this is happening to me! or Why would somebody want to hurt me??
We don't have misses - we have unintended hits!
On the range we trained extensively:
- 4-stroke holster draw
- 4-stroke holster draw and side-step
- Draw to low ready
- Shoot with one hand – only dominant or only support
- Tap-and-Rack – the most common two-step process for malfunction clearing (not including Double Feed)
- defensive shooting under stress: Casino Drill, 9-round drill and more – all including 1) the need to use cognitive power along with operating the gun; 2) several skills into one drill; 3) dummy round/malfunction clearing; 4) speed re-load and tactical reload
- Trigger finger discipline drills
The emphasis was on hitting the target every time! And, by target I don’t mean the human silhouette – I mean the vital zone 6×8 inches between the diaphragm, the line that runs from both armpits and between both nipples. Everyone who missed had to take the “walk of shame” and patch up the holes outside the vital zone while everyone else watched and waited!
In the classroom we studied extensively:
- Firearms safety rules
- Proper handgun grip
- Shot cycle
- Steps of Draw Stroke presentation
- Shooting incidents over the years – common factors
- Case study: “Deputy Dinkeller and Lance Thomas” (google it – it’s important to study what happens if you are not prepared to use your firearm.. but, be warned – it’s not easy to watch)
- Case study: “The Miami Massacre”
Mr. Givens recommended only one book – “The Deadliest Men” by Paul Kirchner and said, “Read it!”. I just started reading it and I’m fascinated to be able to study remarkable people of almost inhuman courage – from years, centuries and even millennia back.
The entire Combative Pistol 1 course was taught in two days – Saturday and Sunday. It lasted about 16 hours in total.. or a bit more.
For the live fire lessons I used my new Walther PPQ M2. I fired more than 700 rounds and didn’t have a single malfunction!
The most important thing about the Combative Pistol 1 course was that Mr. Givens taught only what works in most situations and nothing more! He knows very well that 1) stuffing a lot of less useful skills into a shot time will only confuse his students, and 2) there is no real need to study skills that may be needed in only a few percent of all possible scenarios. I totally agree with this approach.
In summary: I am very happy and highly satisfied by this course. If you asked me what I learned, I’d say 1) I picked some new skills (mainly the skill to function under pressure. I’d already studied a lot of the mechanical skills in defensive pistol classes before this class), and 2) I found out where my weak points are so I can go back home and work on them to improve. This last one is of the highest importance, IMO, provided there is willingness to work on weak links in the skill set.
By the way, earlier today I registered for his 2016 Tactical Conference in March next year – and I truly can’t wait!
So, this was my experience so far as a student of Mr. Tom Givens. How about you? Have you studied under him? If yes, what is your experience? If not, would you like to study under him? Let me know in the comments below.
Oh, and by the way, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow I’m attending 20-hour course taught by another legend in the self-defense world – Massad Ayoob. I’m taking his MAG-20 classroom..
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