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Thread: Contextual Handgun: the Armed Parent and Guardian. June 24, 2018.

  1. #1

    Contextual Handgun: the Armed Parent and Guardian. June 24, 2018.

    I have been writing this AAR piecemeal for the past two months. Enjoy!

    2018-06-24_Contextual Handgun. The Armed Parent Guardian
    Instructors: Melody Lauer (ML) and John Johnston (JJ)
    Setting: KR TRAINING. Located in Lincoln, Texas. Outdoor range.
    Cost: $450 for two days

    Other AARs that I read prior to taking this class

    Background: I began shooting in early 2013 and obtained my CHL in 2014. I have attended 14 training classes (9 pistol, 2 rifle, 1 tactical medicine, and 2 combatives course) before this one. I rarely make it to the range (last live fire was 7 months ago) but I dry fire almost daily.

    Class Equipment:
    • Day 1: M&P 2.0 Compact with Ameriglo I-dot iron sights and Apex trigger. JM Custom kydex AIWB holster.
    • Day 2: Modified Glock 19, Gen4: Trijicon RMR 07 Type 1, Gabe Suarez suppressor height sights, TBRCI compensator on a Blacklist barrel, grip stippling by MAC Defense, and a JM Custom kydex AIWB holster.
    • Ammunition for both days was Federal 124 grain FMJ

    Weather: 93F both days, with heat index 105-110.
    Class demographics:
    • Day One: 14 students.
    • Day Two: 13 students (one student was registered for only the first day).
    • Four women, Nine men.
    • Skill Level: From my observation, four were beginners (one student had just purchased her gun). Five were intermediate, and four were advanced.

    Veritas (Truth) and Gravitas (Seriousness, in conduct or speech) are two words that perfectly describe this class. I learned many truths from this class. Foremost is my lack of preparedness should an attack occur with my family present. Yes, I have plans for home invasion and I believe that I am reasonably prepared for a personal assault. However, with my wife and kids around? What would I do? What should I do? The seriousness of the topic and the evil that befalls children is incomprehensible. Seeing the CCTV videos of assaults on children were shocking, and gut wrenching. This is especially relevant as here in Houston, we are a major hub for human trafficking. The average age of a human trafficking victim is 13 (12-14 years old). ML and JJ presented the truth and seriousness of family safety effectively and varied their methods to drive the point home.

    My 19-year-old nephew from San Diego was visiting me at the time and I asked permission for him to audit the class. The instructors were very gracious and agreed. They could have easily asked for a reduced fee, which I would have been glad to cover but they did not. This speaks highly of their commitment to teaching and making our community safer, one person at a time. For my nephew, it was like having cataract surgery and seeing the world as it is for the first time. What was important for him to witness was how serious but safe we all took firearm safety and personal safety. I know a lot of California influenced stereotypes were dispelled for him regarding guns in general, and Texans in particular. The instructors were very kind to him and involved him in the discussion whenever possible. Mr Rehn of KR Training (the host of the range) even took him aside to teach him some pistol fundamentals. I am including some thoughts from my nephew regarding the class.

    Perspective from a Southern California Resident
    Living in the suburbs of San Diego, I was raised under the presumption that I would be safe as long as I followed the rules of society. I recognize that this is a false concept as “we cannot opt out of someone’s reality”. Unfortunately, criminals will attack when it becomes advantageous to do so, and if my family was attacked in our home, all of us would be unprepared. Not only do all my family members live in separate rooms, but we also lack a plan or weapon that can get us out safely. Fleeing or resisting would be difficult as my mother is unable to run due to a physical handicap, and everyone in my family is of below average height. The reason for this is that my family is strongly opposed to violence. As my grandfather was killed during the Vietnam War, my father does not allow us to own firearms in the house. Thus, he is relying on the police to save us after an attacker barges in through our basic house lock. This misplaced reliance is true even when we are outside of the home.
    This class has been valuable in breaking free of my delusions. I recognize that there is no safe place in the world, and that the first step towards reality is to accept this. I also anticipate that my family will be bewildered and skeptical when I try to explain to them why we have been living haphazardly. Regardless, thank you for allowing me to audit your class, and I will make sure that my family is safe.

    This class was unique in many respects.
    1. Having TWO instructors: This was awesome. In fact, I am surprised the class fee was so reasonable. Having two highly qualified teachers (that worked well together) made the class more fun, safe, interactive, and educational. Both had different ways of teaching and this was great. It is a fact that if you are exposed to a concept in multiple different ways, then the learning and memory is better. ML and JJ had a lesson plan and worked together seamlessly to impart the salient points.
    2. Having a female instructor: This was awesome. I have never had firearms training by a woman and it was great. Women think differently and are often more thoughtful than men. Being a mother and an EMT, ML had unique perspectives on the “armed guardian/parent” and this was evident in how she taught us. She is a good shooter and clearly skilled.
    3. Having female students: there were four women students, more than I have ever seen in any class previously. Their presence made the class better. There was almost NO profanity, which was a welcomed change.
    4. CONSISTENT, strong emphasis on SAFETY. “Never point your gun at anything that you do not intend to shoot” …we all know this. But I have never thought of it in the context of having small children around. ML brought that home through videos and demos how children in the area change everything. As you draw your gun, you must be hyper-aware of a child that may be in front or to the side of you depending on your holster position. A fifth rule was added to the traditional four; never allow unauthorized access to your firearms, ever. Too many injuries, deaths, and crimes are due to unauthorized access.

    What was unique is their consistent safety reminders throughout the two days. In many of my previous classes, safety was heavily stressed at the beginning of each day and more casually during the day if at all (unless there was a safety violation). For ML and JJ, they strongly reminded us after every break, after lunch (transitional moments when our focus waned), and before drills. Melody really struck a cord with me when she said to the class (paraphrasing), “You are learning how to defend your family in this class from real world dangers. But there are real dangers right here right now in this class. Your actions in this class can kill or seriously injure your fellow students if you are not 100% safe.” Reminders like these helped us to look out for one another and be focused on safety.

    They also introduced the “STOP” rule. Anyone who sees anything that is potentially unsafe can yell “STOP!” If “Stop” is heard, then everyone should FREEZE immediately and also yell “STOP!” This class participation in echoing the command allows everyone to hear, freeze, and prevent injury. They emphasized that if you heard that command, don’t look around to see who it is. You should just assume that it is you and just freeze. They actually had every student individually yell STOP in our loudest voice for practice. There were two incidents when we did use that command for safety reasons. The first was trigger finger discipline and the second was a pistol that dropped to the ground from the holster. The command worked as planned. Everyone repeated the STOP command and froze until the instructors could identify the problem.

    There were two infractions that ML and JJ had zero tolerance for; muzzling your gun at anybody and unauthorized gun handling. Committing these errors would end any live fire participation for that student. They stressed these rules in the briefing, and after almost every break. They had us all repeat these rules so that we all verbally acknowledged the understanding and our commitment.
    Another practice that optimized safety was “hands up, don’t shoot.” After the completion of every drill, and especially when the instructor needed to move forward of the firing line, we safely holstered and raised both hands until instructed to lower. This was an effective visual cue down the line that everyone was safe.

    5. Accountability: Being responsible for every shot has been emphasized in every class I have taken. However, ML and JJ elevated this to another level. In one drill, a student missed her silhouette target completely (@7-10 yds). JJ asked the student if he can make this a teaching point, stressing to her to not take it personally. He then gathered everyone around the target and pointed to the errant round. Paraphrasing JJ, “Picture in your mind someone you love, a wife, husband, your child. Today is her birthday. You and she are walking to her favorite restaurant, anticipating a wonderful celebration of her life. Suddenly, you hear a loud bang and your daughter jerks, falling to the ground. Crouching over her, you see that she has been shot. She lies there, lifeless. As the paramedics come and try their best, you learn that there has been a shooting nearby and a stray bullet somehow found its stopping point in your daughter. Now look at your target. Look at that hole that missed your target. Imagine what it would be like if your missed shot hit someone’s daughter and killed her. Imagine your world and that of the stranger. This is as serious as it gets guys. Think of the responsibility you have every time you pull that trigger. Don’t be paralyzed by it but train seriously.” This imagery, and the manner in which it was painted, impacted me much more profoundly than any other instructor regarding shot accountability. I think everyone focused harder after that to get on target.

    6. Qualifications: On the first day, all students took the FBI qualification test ( ) this was a course of fire from 25 yds, 15 yds, 7 yds, 5 yds, and 3 yds. 60 rounds total and 80% to pass. I scored 88% with the M&P 2.0 Iron sights. On the second day, we took a modified QUAL involving the same yardage, but tested the skills we learned shooting while holding a child, controlling another person, etc. This was actually harder than the FBI test. I scored 98% with a G19 and RMR. The instructors recorded our scores and actually put them on our training certificate pdf. Not only was it a nice touch but it also serves as a documentation of your skills and training.
    7. The Range: KR training is a nice outdoor training facility in the middle of almost nowhere (perspective of a city boy from Houston) in Texas. It was very relaxing with good facilities. The classroom is air conditioned and no shortage of ice water (heat index for both days broke 100). The line at 5, 10 (maybe 15 yd line also) were carpeted so that it was easy to manage brass and not a lot of dust. We had an audience of a dozen cattle observing us. Karl Rehn is a gracious host and a gentleman in all respects. He is apparently an accomplished piano player and plays shows around the Austin area.
    8. WHY: The emphasis on “why” and reasoning rather than doctrine or tradition. The instructors presented their drills and lessons from an evidenced based approach. Furthermore, recommendations for gear were prefaced with disclosure of any potential industrial/financial relationship. Disclosure of “conflict of interest” should be standard for every professional. The “Why” we were taught skills was especially emphasized throughout the class. In fact, during debriefing each student was asked whether the “why” was adequately explained.
    9. Anatomy: ML actually brought a human anatomy model (size of a small adult torso) to teach us how the vital organs were located anatomically. She took apart the lungs, showed us the heart, the aorta, and revealed how well protected the tiny hypothalamus and brain stem are from a head shot. This extra effort to teach us combat relevant anatomy is above and beyond. Bravo Melody.
    10. Ballistics Gel Test: JJ brought to class a ballistic gel. He demonstrated us the penetration and cavity from different calibers in FMJ and JHP. Both pistols and rifles were shot and even a shotgun and a 50 caliber was tested. The outcome of the test demonstrated that among pistol rounds 9, 40, and 45 calibers were indistinguishable from one another. Therefore, choose the caliber that you can handle most easily and carry the most rounds (9mm). I have to emphasize how unique and extraordinary # 7 and 8 are. These two instructors drove from multiple states away lugging not only their gear, but extra props like the anatomy model, the ballistics gel, and the multiple firearms to demonstrate and educate. DEDICATION, folks. Dedication.

    Equipment lessons:
    The reason I switched the M&P to the Glock on the second day was because of the grip. The M&P 2.0 grip is very, very aggressive. It is fantastic for securing your hold on the pistol and I prefer it over my Glock in terms of grip texture, ergonomics, grip angle, metal magazines, trigger, etc. However, after several hundred rounds on the first day, I was beginning to have friction blisters. My RMR on the Glock certainly helped my 25-yard shot placement on the qualification tests. Equipment problems that I saw for other students revolved around gun and magazine holster choices (poor retention).

    Performance lessons:
    Overall, I was satisfied with my performance, especially since I had not done live fire training for many moons before this class. I dry fire almost every day, however, and I was pleasantly surprised how effective this was in maintaining skills. It was uncomfortably hot (heat index above 100 both days) and hydrating constantly was key. The instructors were excellent at ordering everyone to drink water and applying sunscreen.

    What could be better:
    We spent a lot (A LOT!) of time the first day practicing holster draws and dry firing on the line. I think this was good considering 30% of the class was inexperienced. For myself, however, I could have done less.
    Some students had suboptimal equipment that affected their performance and even safety. We were all given guidelines before class on what constituted good gear but clearly interpretation was different. This may not be practical, but I suggested to the instructors that each student should send them a brief video before class (with smart phones these days it should not be difficult). The video would show them wearing their gear and doing some holster draws and dry fire. It may preemptively troubleshoot gear issues for that student.

    This was an amazing class. The range is awesome and Karl is a great host. Two days of quality instruction with two instructors for $450 is a steal. The emphasis on safety, accountability, and qualification tests are distinctive and welcoming. The methods of instruction were highly effective, and the dedication of the instructors is unequivocal. Their commitment to making a difference is evident. They have carefully and meticulously thought out their lesson plans and it shows. Bravo and thank you ML and JJ for sharing with us veritas and gravitas.

  2. #2
    Goes Full Guerrero's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2017
    Great AAR. I'm really interested in this class.

  3. #3
    Very Pro Dentist Chuck Haggard's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Down the road from Quantrill's big raid.
    I attended the dress rehearsal class that John and Melody did, and met up with them early on to help work out their class material. I was very excited by the idea for this class and encouraged them heavily to pursue teaching it. I think it's a terribly important topic of study and horrible under appreciated in the gun carrying world. John and Melody take this topic very seriously, and they train hard in order to be able to deliver the best class possible.
    I am the owner of Agile/Training and Consulting

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Haggard View Post
    I attended the dress rehearsal class that John and Melody did, and met up with them early on to help work out their class material. I was very excited by the idea for this class and encouraged them heavily to pursue teaching it. I think it's a terribly important topic of study and horrible under appreciated in the gun carrying world. John and Melody take this topic very seriously, and they train hard in order to be able to deliver the best class possible.
    I failed to mention, that at the end of their classroom presentation, they had an attribution slide. This slide listed everyone who had a major contribution to not only their own training but also the lesson plans. They said (paraphrase) "These are the people that we have learned from and who have helped us. If you want good training, then train with them." Classy move.

  5. #5

    thanks for the review!

    The June 2018 was the second time I hosted the Armed Parent class. The focus of the training I offer is on the armed citizen and their course fits very well with all my in-house classes. We offered three ways to take the course - 1/2 day, 1 day and 2 day, so that people that were limited on time and funds could attend part of the course. While I know traveling trainers prefer to have students take the entire course both for curriculum and monetary reasons, I think it's a pricing structure that can fill empty slots and provide access to training to a wider audience. The target audience for this course is parents, who are often more limited on funds and time than those without children. We only picked up one student from this option for this particular course, but that's one person that would not have been able to attend otherwise.

    My range is not "in the middle of nowhere". It's "nowhere" and "in the middle" though.

    It's in the middle of the most populated area of Texas, with about 5 million people within 100 miles - a radius that includes the entire Austin metro area, the I-35 and I-10 corridors, all the way north to Waco, south to San Antonio, and east to Houston. My place is only 1 hour from central Austin, same as every other public or private outdoor range that hosts training in that area, in a county that hasn't yet been had all the family farms chopped up into subdivisions... which is why we are still open, unlike all the other outdoor ranges that used to be open 20-30 years ago in the Austin metro area.

    And for those that care about such things, when I'm not on the range I perform as a solo act and with a bunch of different bands. Played 132 shows last year, on track to play over 150 in 2018. Almost none of them in the Austin area though. The oversupply of musicians in Austin, which touts itself as the "live music capital of the world", has kept musician pay rates at about the lowest level in the state for decades. Mostly I play venues in and around Texas A&M University in College Station with more dates in the Houston metro area than the Austin metro.

    Karl from KR Training

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