Tom Givens and Mas Ayoob

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From Mas Ayoob

I didn’t keep count of mine over the years. Success rate has been the same. One was wounded by a guy who ambushed him on the street and shot him in the leg; when the gunman saw my grad drawing his .357 he fled into a crowd, and my guy didn’t shoot for fear of hitting a bystander. I think my folks may have had a higher percentage of home invasion shootings vis-a-vis street incidents.

Here is Tom Givens‘ reply:

“I am on the road teaching, so this will have to be fairly brief.

First, to the best of my knowledge, one student of mine was robbed at gunpoint while armed and elected not to draw his weapon. He was caught unaware and when he first saw the robber the suspect had a gun pointed at my student. The student elected to comply and the robber took off running as soon as he had the wallet. The student was unharmed, but by sheer luck. His situational awareness sucked. Since neither side fired any shots, this event is not included in our stat’s.

“I never said my students were pumping gas in a majority of their incidents. I said the majority of the incidents occurred on parking lots. We have had students engaged on the parking lots of gas stations and convenience stores, but also the parking lots of banks, grocery stores, large malls, restaurants, strip shopping centers, and office buildings. They have also been engaged in driveways, garages, front yards, and a few in their homes.

“Parking lots in this country are not dark, with rare exceptions. Commercial locations, especially, tend to be very well lighted. I have seen my sights better on a convenience store parking lot at 3:00am than on an overcast day at 3:00pm.

“I hope this helps.” — Tom Givens

Minimum Defensive Shooting Skills


Tactical Reload

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Magazines and reliability
by Tim aka TCinVA

Dropping magazines, especially partially loaded ones, on the ground is often very hard on the magazine. Apart from dirt, mud, and other detritus that gets inside the magazine, baseplates and feed lips will sometimes crack, and tubes will sometimes bend or dent. This fact is, believe it or not, where the so called “tactical reload” came from.

I actually discussed this with Tom Givens in his Intensive Pistol Skills class a few weeks ago. In the early days of Gunsite the gun that 99.99% of people showed up with was a 1911. In those days there was no Wilson/Rogers 47D magazine and folks didn’t show up to classes with massive piles of magazines for training. Everyone was using GI or factory Colt magazines in their guns. Dropping these magazines on the crushed granite of the range ended up destroying them to the point of students almost put out of commission because they didn’t have any functional magazines left. If the magazines never hit the granite, then you never have that problem, right? VIOLA!! The “tactical reload” as we know it was born.

Just think: All that arguing about reloads you see on the internet dates back to a practice adopted to get around the fact that 1911 magazines circa 1977 sucked out loud. Stew on that one for a bit without getting depressed. I dare ya.

Guns April 1964
See page 18

Tactical Light Use


“I worry less about it as the need for a light in the CCW fight paradigm is damn near zero. I note that in exactly none of the 62+ CCW shootings that Tom Givens students were involved in was a light used, or needed. When you have an armed robber in your face the need to PID the target is greatly reduced. CCW folks don’t, or shouldn’t, be chasing people into dark holes.”

-Chuck Haggard

“I’ve never encountered a civilian CCW holder with a weapon-mounted light that had a clear idea of when to use it or how to use it. Handheld I strongly recommend as a tool for life. WML… get training before you throw on one, then decide. To get them thinking, I ask them how they will feel pointing the gun at their family to identify them.”

-Ken Nelson

Metrics vs Mediocrity


Tom Givens and Rangemaster is a renowned instructor and training facility. Givens has had over 60 students involved in documented fights and his experience is one of the best track records of personal defense students in the United States.

Every student trained by Tom Givens at Rangemaster that was forced into a fight that had a gun available won their fight.

Givens is also a successful competitive shooter and trains his students in a competition-compatible approach. Givens’ advice for being successful in a self defense encounter includes preparing in a manner nearly identical to that taken to do well in a shooting match.

Here are words of wisdom from one the most successful and proven defensive shooting instructors in the United States.

Observations From 5,000 Gunfights


From John P Correia

I’ve watched about 5,000 gunfights at this point, and the patterns that emerge are pretty clear. Some thoughts you might want to consider that I don’t think that the training community really wants to hear:

Competition vs. Street Training


Competition vs. street training — again, and why my opinion has wiggled around

by Ralph Mroz

Over the years I’ve written a few articles on the difference between training for match competitions and training for the street. I have found that my opinion has changed over the last few years in that I find more value in competitive-orientated shooting that I used to. In no particular order, here’s the things – pro and con – that have influenced my current state of mind on the matter:

  • There is a lot more to street self defense than shooting, but shooting is a critical and central component of it.
  • Competitive shooters are the best pure shooters, so if you want to learn to shoot, competitive training is how you’ll get good at it.
  • Competitive shooting can train some bad habits into you. For example, you can shoot too fast (that is, faster than you can assess the situation), cover is treated as an inconvenience rather than a life-saving opportunity, you shoot without vocalization, penalties for misses are not life-destroying, among others. [Editor’s note: All of these can – and are – mitigated by course design if that is the goal.]
  • You can mitigate the disadvantages of competitive training by doing it only as a sideline compared to street training or by shooting competitions with street gear and using street tactics. You can also modify competitive training drills to be more realistic while retaining their shooting improvement quality.  [Editor’s note: A significant portion of all effective training, for competition or otherwise, is developing fundamental skills. Concerning firearm use, there is no difference in fundamental skills with street training or competition.]
  • Now that so many men have retired out of our top-tier special forces (Delta, whatever 6 is called this week, and so on) and are teaching serious members of the public and LE, we have more insight into their training methods, which, and this is important, have been validated in copious close-quarter combat engagements since 2003. One thing that strikes me is just how much a good deal of their training seems to resemble competitive training, which is no real surprise in that every SF unit has a top competitive shooter that they regularly get instruction from.
  • Competitive shooters, in order to get an edge, slick up their guns with a too-light trigger. Yes, Rule Three is the ultimate safety, but on the street you have to expect to get startled, bumped, trip and fall, as well as get into physical struggles. During these events your finger can involuntarily come onto the trigger, and a trigger weight less than 5 pounds — and ideally more — is just too light.  [Editor’s note: All military and many civilian venues (notably Production/Stock/Standard divisions) mandate equipment and modifications suitable for issue and/or field/street use.]
  • Tom Givens’ record of all of his 60+ (armed) students winning their gunfights is impressive, and Tom trains in traditional, competition-compatible, technique.
  • Things like acquiring a sight picture and resetting the trigger — both foundational competitive techniques — do seem to have value under stress. The trigger reset seems to become subconscious programmed, and whether or not you can actually acquire a sight picture under stress (I believe it depends on the amount of stress you are under compared to what you have become accustomed to), you are certainly building kinesthetic memory which seems to hold up sufficiently well.

Some additional points:

Competitive shooting need not encourage bad habits. Things like shooting too fast and cover use can be addressed with course of fire design based on the goals.

A significant portion of all effective training, for competition or otherwise, is developing fundamental skills. Contrary to popular myth, competitive shooters do not conduct training or practice by shooting full competitive courses repeatedly. Instead, they drill fundamental skills, the same base skills that apply to all firearm use. Let’s ask a top competitive shooter about this:

When I shoot a match, I break down a stage into basic shooting functions. I then practice those functions as a drill until I perfect my performance. I only train using drills… Stages are too complicated and don’t allow you to properly improve a specific area.

Rob Leatham

If a long time, top shooter like Mr. Leatham trains by breaking everything down into a drill to train functions/fundamentals, then so do the rest of us. And training functions is the same for every task we need to train for.

Concerns with equipment, such as slicked up guns with a too-light triggers, can be addressed in equipment divisions forbidding such modifications. Military matches require as-issue gear and ammo, for example.

This “problem” is overstated anyway.

Rangemaster Dry Practice Routine



Tom Givens of Rangemaster Firearms Training Services has a history of instructing and training effective shooting and self defense. His students have been involved in several dozens of shootings over the years and have been highly successful.

One of his best bits of advice is maintaining regular practice. Here is his approach to keeping this up.

Rangemaster Dry Practice
by Tom Givens

When the flag flies, the amount of practice you’ve done may not be nearly as important as how recent your last practice was. The easiest way to ensure you’ve had RECENT practice is to engage in dry fire exercises at home on a frequent basis. Here is a suggested dry fire practice regimen that takes only a few minutes to complete. We suggest this routine two or three times per week.

Drill #1
Draw to the ready. Draw like you mean business! Remember that the gun should be low enough for you to see the hands and waistline of an assailant, your trigger finger straight. Do this 10 times.

Drill #2
Draw to the ready, once. From the ready, bring the gun up to the eye/target line, get a quick sight picture, and get the slack out of the trigger, but do not press. Do this 10 times.

Drill #3
Draw to the ready, once. From the ready, present to the target and press off a good hit, quickly. Do this 10 times.

Drill #4
From the holster, present to the target, get a quick sight picture, and get the slack out of the trigger, but do not press. Do this 10 times.

Drill #5
From the holster, present to the target and press off a good hit. Do this 10 times.

Drill #6
From the ready, gun in dominant hand only. Present to the target and press off a good hit. Do this 10 times.

Drill #7
Same as Drill #6 above, but with the non-dominant hand only. Do this 10 times.

Drill #8
Start at ready, slide locked open on empty magazine. Have a magazine in your pouch, with at least one dummy round in it. Do an emergency reload. Do this 5 times.

Clear the gun, put your dry practice target away. Out loud, say to yourself, “This session is over.” Leave the dry fire area. Clear the gun again. Some minutes later, in a different room, load the gun and say to yourself out loud, “this gun is now loaded.”

Then holster the gun on your person or put it in its proper storage location. Be serious about safety. When a session is over, IT IS OVER. Put the gear away and be done, period.

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