KR Training AT Weekend Review

I have been a Texas CHL holder for several years, but other than some informal IDPA-style match shooting, and various reading on self-defense issues, I've never had any structured personal defense training. I changed that by attending KR Training's ( Advanced Training Weekend.

The AT Weekend incorporates three separate training blocks into a two day seminar covering the following topics: fundamentals of speed shooting at 'combat distances', defensive gun handling and retention, reloading, malfunction drills, low/no light shooting, movement, cover and concealment, situational awareness, mental, physiological, psychological and legal implications of lethal-force encounters, as well as basic knife and unarmed defense techniques.

After reading this far, you're saying: 'That's too much for one weekend!' You're right. The coverage of these issues is not definitive or comprehensive. That isn't the intent of the course. From the website's course description: 'The AT weekend was developed to answer the question: 'if you knew someone was going to be attacked away from home on Monday, what would you teach them on Saturday and Sunday that would give them the best odds of surviving that attack?''

Karl Rehn, Penny Riggs and the staff have a very no-nonsense approach, relating basic techniques, which can later be practiced independently by the student. The instructors are open-minded, and their recommendations are based on what they have found to work, without a 'my way or the highway' mindset. (If his name sounds familiar, Karl authored the article on Airsoft guns as training tools in a recent SWAT Magazine).

Day 1 of the course includes a classroom orientation followed by live-fire exercises stressing close range marksmanship, movement, reloading, and malfunction drills. We began the day shooting into an IDPA/IPSC target marked with a high center mass triangle. As the day progressed, the triangles disappeared, and our groups widened accordingly. I am now a convert from a sort-of Weaver stance to isosceles. I also observed during malfunction-clearing drills that my trigger finger tends to rest on the slide stop pin of the H&K USP40c I was shooting, causing the lever to dangle with the slide partially retracted by a jam. A habit I need to break.

The unarmed and knife skills components involved a range of basic, instinctive movements intended supplement weapon retention, create distance to escape, or incapacitate an attacker. For me, this was one of the most informative elements of the course. While I have carried a knife for years, I had no real sense of how to employ it in defense. I still want to learn more, but I found a starting point. I feel better knowing what my carry knife will do against a denim-covered cutting stick.

Low/no-light shooting was literally an eye-opener. After observing various pistol/flashlight manipulation techniques, students experimented. Does your flashlight have a lanyard attached? I learned that this is a good idea while trying to clear a malfunction and hold a light in the dark (three hands, anyone?). Are tritium night sights worth the cost? I have concluded that they aren't strictly necessary to make solid hits, but they are beneficial enough that all my carry pistols will eventually have them. Does your pistol cycle reliably while shooting one-handed? If your other hand is occupied with a flashlight, this can become critical (witness the malfunctions I just mentioned).

The highlight of the course, and what really engaged students, was the scenario training on Day 2. Using live fire drills, as well as dummy and Airsoft guns, students are run through a spectrum of scenarios which allow practice of the techniques learned in a 'real-time' environment. The most interesting aspect of the scenario training is the emphasis on situational awareness and time-critical decision-making. Knowing how to shoot is important. Knowing when to shoot is vastly more important. Engaging a live opponent who can shoot back reinforces the lessons learned.

I can't make a comparison to much of the other personal defense training available, but I will highly recommend KR Training's offerings based on my experience. I am much more aware of my limitations, and simultaneously more confident in my skills. Besides, it was a really fun way to spend a weekend.

- Scott Dudek