Defensive Pistol $160
November 17, 2019​

Instructor: Ben DeWalt
Location: Maynard Rod & Gun Club, Maynard, MA
Weather: COLD! Morning temp 15° afternoon maybe 33° with light snow & wind. Cloudy & really cold & raw.
Clothing: Heavy base layer tops & bottoms, LL Bean wool insulated guide pants, extra heavy Carhatt hoodie & down jacket. KEEN Summit County Winter hiking boots.
Round Count: 600 +/- Blazer brass 9mm 115gr
Class size: 12 students: 9 men, 3 women. Ages: 14-65

Took my 14-year-old daughter Kate to this class with me, this was her second pistol class ever, her first class was in Aug, three-plus months ago. She is a skinny 5’7” 90-pound girl that gets cold in our home when the temp. is 68-70. When we left our home the outside temperature was 18°. I was concerned about how today’s class was going to go for her. As her Dad, I did not want her mind to wander off the importance of safe gun handling because she was so focused on the cold. I found some XS mechanics gloves that I trimmed the index fingers & thumbs off so she could kind of have a thin layer between the cold gun & her hands. Gloves can be a major issue with pistols, even the XS size was not as skin tight as I would have liked but it was the best I could find. She was running a Glock 19 g5 in a Raven Concealment OWB (her choice of pistol. She like shooting it better than the G48 I had suggested.)

I have taken many training classes with many different instructors & Ben is one of only two that I would trust instructing my daughter. He is one of the best instructors that I have come in to contact with. He knows how to teach very well. He is patient & clear with his instructions. He has the knowledge, experience & shooting skills to back up his words, he is funny & extremely likable. He is a good dude & Kate likes Ben a lot.

This was the fourth time I have taken Defensive Pistol from OnSight Firearms & each time I take it the class is taught slightly different. We are taught all the same core fundamental skills & do some of the same drills in the morning, but the afternoon has always been different. His classes are always evolving with new drills & a better way to transfer the knowledge to his students. I like that a lot. He says he is an instructor, but always a lifelong student. You see that in his always progressing class curriculum. If Ben comes across a better way to do something or to teach the skill he will modify the class. I have seen this in more than one of his classes over several years I have been taken classes taught by him.


We did our introductions, had our safety briefing, medical briefing & were given instructions on what to do if there was a training accident. Students & instructors were given certain responsibilities. We started off with cold guns, going over the holster draw, how to clear all the layers we all had on to keep us warm. Did some dryfire & some partner dryfire drills. The partner dryfire drills were new to me. Your partner watched your front sight as you pulled the trigger & instead of racking your own slide after the hammer was released your partner would run the slide & watch your body for movement. Good drill!

We loaded our guns walked back to 25yds did a couple of strings in a B8 target. Ben would say we were only as good as our first cold shot, in a real-world encounter their would be no warmups. It made sense to me, this was a humbling way to start off the class on a freezing cold morning. We moved closer to & ran the same drill from 5, 7 & 10 yards working on our grip, front sight concentration, & trigger press with reset. Before each drill, Ben would explain it, demo the entire drill & explain it again. I like that teaching approach. There was NO ego. We analyzed our target misses as possibly killed good guys by accident. Ben made you really think about what happened on each shot, the real world has consequences. Don’t be a good guy active shooter!

We incorporated movement into our draw (getting off the X) shooting heart & face shots. Ben gave us specific areas in the head where to shoot & why other areas in the head are not as good for immediate incapacitation. Ben held each student just a little higher than current their individual skill. We had a wide range of skills in the class Ben found the right way to get each student to push their skill a little past their comfort zone so each of us was learning. He did it in a professional, kind, patient way treating each student with respect & no one was made to feel embarrassed or humiliated on the line. Not all instructors are like that. Ben is a professional teacher he has the experience, confidence & competence to know how to get more out of you than you think. Good job Ben!

At lunch break, we started a bonfire it was SO NICE to get warm. The clouds were getting dark, & snow was coming down, the warmth, the smell of the fire was a colossal morale buster. There was hot chocolate, coffee, fire, we were in a class with other likeminded people what more could you ask for? (maybe a sunny warm day? NAH!) It was a great feeling to warm up & recharge our bodies.

After lunch, we ran drills with “HOT WORDS” Ben would give us a few words that if he said them we would shoot into the heart & face of the bad guy. He made us think before we acted. We incorporated a command to have the bad guy stop what he/she was doing & sometimes not to shoot & other times when we were given the HOT WORD…we would shoot the MF’er!

We learned how to safely turn & engage the bad guy from facing sideways or having our backs to the threat. We did one hand shooting both strong hand & weak(er) hand. Another new thing I liked in this class was Ben showed us a few different ways to shoot one-handed He gave us some really good methods & tips that improved my left hand shooting. In all the classes I have taken this was new to me & it worked well for me. Other students used other methods he showed & it worked better for them. Ben’s understanding that each of us is different & certain things work better than others for different people is awesome.

We ended the day with getting our heart rate up while shooting some hostage targets where detailed shots mattered, the light on the range was getting low & the targets were getting harder to see. We would review each target & be held to a high standard of pass-fail. No second chances when a good-guy hostage was nicked.

We cleanup the range packed our gear & debriefed by the fire. I was thankful for not having to pick up brass. Thank you Maynard Gun Club.

Shout out to old friends, Rocco you STUD! Best shooter in the class! Brett, Rachel & Jeff thank you for being so kind to my daughter Kate, she loved you guys. To my new friends Aaron, Will & Kathy, you rocked. You are all so nice & I was really impressed by how dedicated you were in this weather to learn the skills that may save you or a loved one’s life. I hope to see you in another class someday when the weather gets warmer.

This was a great class. I really like Ben. He is super knowledgeable, skillful, funny, humble & sometimes appropriately inappropriate. As the day goes on his jokes go downhill. He is a down to earth dude, that is easy to talk to fun to be around. I like to say I think Ben DeWalt OnSight Firearms Training is one of the best training companies & best-kept secrets within the training community. Absolutely take his class if you have the opportunity.

Lessons learned:
  • I like the “flipper” grip method of weak(er) hand shooting. It made a huge difference.

  • Clearing multiple layers & jackets was an issue when getting my gun out in a quick smooth motion.

  • I had to keep my down jacket unzipped or I was not able to access my gun. PROBLEM IN THE WINTER.

  • When moving with the gun, present gun, align the sights, settle yourself down, confirm the sights are aligned on the target where you want the shot to go & prrrreeeessss the trigger.

  • Earpro & winter hats don’t mix for me. I found with the hat the gel-cups don’t give me a good contact with my ears. Loud. I had to take my winter hat off & use my hood over the earpro for them to work sufficiently.

  • My wool pants & Keene boots worked VERY WELL. Highly recommended for wussies like me.

  • On any cold days on the range bring an EX large thermos of Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate. It was a massive hit & we ran out too soon. (85oz)

  • Bring extra hand warmers to hand out in the class. Other students will be very thankful.

  • Bring extra coats & gloves, inevitably some student(s) will not have the proper clothing & helping them out will change their experience in a major good way.

  • I found the minute my mind wandered to thinking about how my daughter was doing or how she was dealing with the cold my marksmanship suffered. I could see her shivering in my peripheral vision sometimes during the drill & my mind would slip away from my front sight.

  • Have to fight the urge to get involved when my daughter was struggling. Ben had to keep reminding me that she needed to fail & fix the problems on her own… TOUGH AS HER DADDY.

  • If Kate takes any more cold weather classes, the LL Bean wool guide insulated pants are a MUST! I might have her try heated socks as well…

  • Kate could not shoot with the gloves. She had to take them off & suck it up. Handwarmers in her pocket between shooting. I loaded all her mags.