Bakersfield Target

I first learned of the Bakersfield Qual from an article written by Greg Ellifritz.

Ken Hackathorn did the following video on the qual:

A viewer of the video sent the actual target dimensions to Mr. Hackathorn who shared them with me.

Here is a picture of the actual target:

I shared the information with John Hearne who created a file for printing on standard legal sized paper.

The course of fire is available on page 102 in Karl Rehn’s and John Daub’s book: Drills, Qualifications, Standards, & Tests.

Let’s Dispense with Some Nonsense About the Weaver Stance

You’ve probably heard many things about the Weaver Stance. Most of them are wrong.

The truth is that Jack Weaver simply put two hands on the pistol and brought it to the eye/target line. That’s it.

Here’s a quote from Weaver himself in a 2010 article:

“No thought was given to foot position, recoil control or pushing with one hand and pulling with the other,” Weaver wrote. “I found out all kinds of things about myself that I didn’t know until I read them in gun magazines. I had to go out and fire a few rounds to see if I really did push the right and pull the left arm–sure enough!”

Here’s a video interview with him:

Did you note that when Weaver demonstrated the Weaver that he didn’t do many of the things often wrongly attributed to him?

Did he make any mention of an injury forcing him to adopt a certain arm position?

I had the opptortunity to interview Jeff Cooper’s daughter, Lindy, shortly after writing this piece. I asked her about the injury myth as it is sometimes applied to him.

Here are her exact words as she wrote them,

“He smashed his right elbow in a fall on the ice while holding my sister when she was a baby. He went through some very painful rehab and had a dent in his right arm where the elbow bone normally resides.

This had NOTHING to do with the Weaver Stance. The Weaver Stance is what Jack Weaver used and he kept winning so Dad and John Plahn analyzed why this was so and came to the conclusion that an isometric balance is achieved when the strong hand pushes outward and the weak hand pulls inward…………….and this push-pull effect enables a shooter to better control recoil and regain his sight picture more quickly. That is it.”.

The bent support side elbow had nothing to do with an injury as is often interjected. The bent elbow didn’t come from Weaver. It came from Jeff Cooper and John Plahn as they codified the Modern Technique and added isometric tension as a means of recoil control. The bladed stance was an adaption by law enforcement agencies to integrate a popular interview stance.

Go to the 41:30 mark in this interview that I did with Jerry McCown who began a formal affiliation with Gunsite and Jeff Cooper in 1983 and who is a legitimate subject matter expert and a primary source:

When I trained with Larry Mudgett, he told me that “Jeff and Jack” got tired of trying to correct everyone about all of the Weaver misconceptions, and they just quit trying.

I probably should too.


After I wrote this piece, a video popped up in my YouTube suggested videos. It’s of Cooper explaining his version of the Weaver Stance. Please take note that he states that one should be square to the target. He also states a preference an unlocked stongside elbow,

FPS-3 Target

The large circle is 5.5″, which is the same as a the black on a B8 target. Inside the circle are 3×5 and 3×3 blocks (think Post-it note on an index card). This design was inspired by hearing Ken Hackathorn explaining that one method of scoring The Test requires all of the shots to be “in the black” and Dave Spaulding’s modified version of The Test. This target allows you to test yourself by either standard.

The dots on the bottom are so that you can also shoot Dave Spaulding’s Orange Dot Drill; the dots will just be gray instead of orange.

No-Loader Test

Click No-Loader Test to download the test in pdf format.

No-Loader Test

Philosophy:  The problem doesn’t change because you only have a five-round firearm to solve it.  This course is designed to evaluate basic revolver marksmanship regardless of whether the shooter is using a revolver as a primary or backup option.  There are no timed reloads using speedloaders, but they may be used to administratively load the revolver.

Start Position:  Those working from a pocket may begin each holstered string with their hand in the pocket and gripping the revolver.  If working from an ankle rig, the shooter may begin holstered strings in a kneeling position.  Otherwise, it is suggested that the shooter vary their hand positions between holstered strings (hands by side, hands defensively in front, etc).  Concealment is strongly suggested unless using duty gear as applicable.

Unless otherwise specified, the standard, administrative load for this course of fire is (at least) five rounds.  This will be specified simply as “load”. 

Shooting is freestyle unless otherwise specified.  Ready is defined as the revolver being in the shooter’s hands with the shooter being prepared to fire but with the muzzle not covering any part of the target or the human it represents (no muzzle covering meat).  The shooter may vary ready positions.

Target:  8-inch circle with a 3×5 vertical box in it,  FPS-1 body, or Handgun Combatives Chest Cavity Target.  The 3×5 box is the primary scoring zone.

Scoring:  This is a 100% accountability course of fire.  Any shot outside of the primary or secondary target zone is a failure for the entire course.  To pass with distinction, 20 rounds (80%) must be in the primary scoring area.  Any string over time is a failure.  The course of fire is shot individually on a timer.

Round Count:  25

+P Version:  If/when your skills are to a point that you are consistently shooting the course to a “pass with distinction” level, add a 3×3” Post-it to represent a headbox and shoot the third shot of all three-shot strings to the head (failure drill).  The shot(s) must hit within the 3×3” box.

Three Yards (10 rounds)

1: Draw and fire 3-rounds in 3-seconds.  Go to ready.
2: From ready, fire 2-rounds in 1.5 seconds.  Load and holster.
3:  Strong hand only, draw and fire 3-rounds in 3-seconds.

Transfer revolver to support hand.

4: From ready, support hand only, fire 2-rounds in 2-seconds.  Load and holster.

Five Yards  (Five rounds, 15 aggregate)

5: Draw and fire 3-rounds in 3-seconds.  Go to ready.
6: From ready, fire 2-rounds in  1.5 seconds.  Load and holster.

Seven Yards  (Seven rounds, 22 aggregate)

7: On command, draw to ready and give a verbal command.
On the beep, fire 3-rounds in 3-seconds.  Go to ready.

8: From ready, fire 2-rounds, manually reload with only 2-rounds, and fire 

2-rounds in 15-seconds.  Load with three rounds and holster.

A speedstrip may be used for the manual reload.

10 Yards (Three rounds, 25 aggregate)

9: Draw and fire 3-rounds in 5-seconds.

Do We Taste Like Chicken?

According to numerous reports, firearms sales are at an all-time high due to the pandemic. My friends in the firearms sales industry tell me that many of the current buyers are first-timers. Unfortunately, the current situation also greatly reduces the training opportunities for these new gun owners. They have the tools, but they don’t know how to use them.

Chris Baker is among those who have stepped up to provide digital content in an effort to help such people as much as possible given the limitations of the format. I applaud Chris for his efforts.

I know Chris personally. We’ve crossed paths on the training circuit numerous times. He is extremely well trained, and he puts out very good content.   Here is a video that he put together for new shotgun owners:

I posted the video in a few places where it would be seen by supposedly experienced gun folk so that they would have a readily available resource to provide to friends, family, colleagues, etc, who may reach out to them for help.

What followed is all my fault as I should have known better than to post anything to the internet and expect it to be received as intended..,

For example, one individual who possesses not one iota of Chris’ training and experience seized on one minute portion of the video and has embarked on a crusade against it. A few of the other responses have been complete misinterpretations of Chris’ content. Yet another opined, “I sure would hate to admit that I learned to shoot from a video.” I hope that his actual accuracy is better than his point-getting.

I will further accept responsibility in that I should have known better than to try to converse on the topic with such people. Apparently, it is wrong to seek to ascertain the training and experience of those commenting so as to judge the credibility of their assertions.

For the record, Chris has roughly 100 hours of formal shotgun training from names such as Tom Givens, Randy Cain, Rob Haught, Tim Chandler & Ashton Ray, and Daryl Bolke. I’ll be blunt: if one does not know who the aforementioned people are and/or one has not trained with them or their peers, one simply is not qualified to form an opinion on the topic of defensive shotgun usage much less offer it with any credence.

I shall now climb atop my soapbox and begin the sermon portion of this particular pontification:

Circumstances have resulted in large numbers of gun owners who may never have been gun owners otherwise. We, as a so-called community, and we, those of us in the business of training, should be embracing these first-timers. Unfortunately, the nitwittery that may confront them as they search for information is likely to be a turnoff.

I mentioned the above to long time friend who happens to know his way around a shootin’ iron, and his response was, “We eat our own.”.

I wonder, do we taste like chicken?


Six For Maybe, Part 2

Fresh off of the inaugural Rangemaster Master Instructor class and accompanying social media hullabaloo, I wrote Six For Maybe, a discussion on revolver reliability.

Today, I discussed the issue with my boss who will soon have been a lawman for a mere 42 years. He was the top gun in his academy class shooting a Smith & Wesson Model 66, and he worked for an agency that issued Navy surplussed Smith & Wesson Model 10s. He has some time behind a wheelgun.

He told me that he didn’t remember revolvers failing at the rate in which I have seen them fail in various classes. He then went on the tell me about the old 10th Congressional District Pistol Matches (a pistol match open to all of the agencies within the 10th Congressional District of Georgia) and other training events, and he said, “I just don’t remember any real failures that weren’t related to ammo”.

So then I asked, “Did you carry a brush with you to the line?”

What followed was a detailed description of how they all carried brushes and cleaning cloths so that during any shooting event they could clean out under the extractor star or wipe down the breach face and other such sundry tasks.

So then I asked, “How often did you do all of that?”

He described that at least every 100 rounds or so he would go through the above described procedure?

So then I asked, “In the academy, was somebody always yelling at y’all to do all of that?”

The answer was an affirmative, but then he said, “I guess at a certain point we just all knew that we had to do all of that stuff.”

So then I asked, “Would you foresee problems if somebody was told by a buddy or gun shop guy that to use a revolver because it was “six for sure” and who didn’t understand the maintenance needs of a wheelgun?

The answer was in the affirmative.

Going back the original piece and the position that Darryl Bolke expressed, if you are going to seriously run a revolver, you have to be committed to maintaining it constantly while shooting it.

The only way to develop skill is to train, and in order to train, you are going to have to maintain.

That is a vital point that must be driven home to those who are going to use a revolver.

Six For Maybe

The oft-uttered mantra for wheelgun fanciers is “six for sure” referring to the supposed reliability of the revolver. Whether or not such is actually the case is a matter of perspective.

I pinned on a badge at the very end of the revolver era. I attended a regional academy, and only two agencies still mandated revolvers. Those cadets worked in jails, and if they moved to a field division, they transitioned to semi-autos.

Of note, we were required to shoot the “Double Action Course” (GDAC) to graduate from the academy. That course had a stage in it based on the Newhall Incident, which occurred in 1970, requiring those shooting revolvers to fire two rounds, manually load two rounds, and then fire two more rounds all in 15 seconds. Those of us shooting magazine fed guns simply used a two-round magazine. I attended the academy in 1999. The GDAC was replaced circa 2004. Some things are slow to change. The replacement course is “revolver neutral” meaning that six-round magazines are mandated so that those shooting revolvers and semi-automatics all reload at the same time.

A decade or so later, I traded into a Smith & Wesson 586 so that I could shoot in an IDPA revolver match. I won my class and earned a match bump in classification with it. One thing I didn’t include in the original piece on that match was that in the later stages, I had trouble with the cylinder sticking. I brushed the cylinder out and tried to clean it in a safe area, but it took a detailed cleaning after the match to get it running smoothly.

In 2014, I met Tom Givens of Rangemaster and began to train with him on a regular basis. I had the chance to attend his Defensive Revolver class as a student in 2015. In that class, we had three revolvers go down hard, as in done for the day. I assisted him with teaching an iteration of the class earlier this year, and we had revolvers fail in that class as well.

This past weekend (11/15-17/2019), I was part of the inaugural Rangemaster Master Instructor class. The class is only open to those who have already completed the Rangemaster Instructor Development and Advanced Instructor Courses.

We had four revolvers mechanically fail, and we had a fifth revolver get deadlined when the bullet from a squib round lodged between the forcing cone and the cylinder. This was during the revolver qualification course, and the student was forced to continue with his backup gun (a J-frame). This is the second time I have seen this happen. The other time was a first hand experience with one of my own revolvers. While this is an ammo related problem, the firearm is put completely out of action, and the fix involves using a rod and hammer to beat the bullet back into the chamber so that the cylinder can be opened. That’s not going to happen in time to save your life.

One of the failures was due to a small piece of debris binding up an action. This was at the outset of the revolver shooting. The person shooting this revolver was Chuck Haggard.

Another student in the class reported the above on Facebook resulting wheelgun lovers forming crowds with torches and pitchforks because their beloved platform had been impugned. Other responses ranged from “yeah, okay” to “Why would anyone shoot a revolver anyway?” The answer to that last question is that firearms instructors teach students, and sometimes students show up with revolvers…

One response, however, came from Darryl Bolke of Hardwired Tactical Shooting.

I understand the point Daryl’s point. I also think that by making his point he disproves his thesis somewhat.

I fall somewhere in between on the issue. I agree with Daryl in that a well maintained revolver in the hands of someone who knows how to use it can be formidable for the first cylinder full of ammo. I’ve also seen enough revolver failures in training and competition environments to worry about when that failure is due.

I enjoy shooting revolvers and will continue to do so. I very much enjoy teaching revolver skills. I’ll even continue to carry a revolver in Class A uniform for ceremonial functions because I personally think that they have much more class than any “bottom feeder”.

All things considered; however, I simply have much more faith in a quality semi-automatic for social purposes.

I’m not trying to convinced readers anything here. I know that even though I write that, some readers will assign a conclusion to me and then either praise or cuss me for it. Other readers will be mad, but they won’t know why. Such is the case when you put something on the interweb.

I’m not trying to change Darryl’s mind. He is certainly qualified to espouse his conclusion.

As for the Master Instructor class, I shot a perfect score on the qualification course as did two other students. Each of us was shooting a service sized revolver with adjustable sights. Nobody shooting a small frame revolver or one with fixed sights shot a perfect scores. Maybe there is a clue there.

To settle the matter, the three of us participated in a shoot-off. I didn’t win the tiebreaker as I had two failures to fire…


Lifestyles of the Armed and Dangerous: Defensive Pistol Skills and Social Shotgun with Lee Weems of First Person Safety

Here is a review of a pair of classes I taught in Waverly, TN.


img_0319 Chief Weems, with his Benelli M1 Super 90.  Federal Flite Control was emphasized for it’s ability to keep the pattern on an IDPA target (in the, “down zero,” ring) which means that with practical application of accuracy, keeps the shooter accountable for all 8 or 9 (both quantities of buckshot are available in the Flite Control configuration) pellets, and (wait for it…) complies with the Chief’s dictum of full compliance with the 4 FIREARMS LIFESTYLE RULES!

I recently had the pleasure off hosting and attending a weekend of training with Lee Weems.  Lee is a Rangemaster-Certified Instructor, as well as running his own training company, First Person Safety.  Lee is the Chief Deputy for the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia.  And although Lee embodies the archetype of the quiet, Southern Lawman, he has quite a bit to say about the lifestyle adaptations required to be a competent, safe, thoughtful…

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Rehabbing Targets

Don’t throw those cardboard IDPA or IPSC targets away.  You can easily extend their useful life.  All you need is some quality spray adhesive and some paper targets as shown below.


On the left is the San Jose Repair Center from Action Target.  The cost is $0.21 each plus shipping if you order at least 100 of them.  I’ve started using these in my classes.  I like the scoring areas for several of my drills and courses of fire, and a new repair center can be put up quickly.  This also saves a lot space in my truck.

On the right is a paper “Langdon Cut” IDPA target from National Target.  An order of 100 is $37.00.  You have to specify the “Langdon Cut” when ordering.

Claude Werner of The Tactical Professor brought these repair centers from the TargetBarn.com to my attention; so, I am updating this article to include them as an option.

That fine gentleman of the range, The Magnificent Steve, came up with a nifty target stand design.  He was kind enough to make some for me that will work for both 18″ and 24″ width targets.

The plans for the stands are available here:

Steve Stackable Stands



Review: The Complete Combatant (and Sundry Others)

That Weems Guy

I first became aware of The Complete Combatant due to their hosting Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics for one of his medical courses.  Caleb is a a regular presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference, and that is how I met him.  I attended the course, that is how I met Brian and Shelley Hill, the owners of The Complete Combatant.  This introduction resulted in Brian and Shelley hosting two of my Police-Citizen Contacts courses.  They have another class with Caleb coming in September; so, be sure to check their schedule IF you aren’t planning to spend that weekend with me at Social Levergun.  Quality medical training should be a part of your personal safety plan, and Caleb has a solid program.

Another example of the classes that they are bringing in to augment their own offerings, they hosted Andrew Branca’s Law of Self Defense course.  Andrew’s material…

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