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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, as I sit here typing away with my swollen desk hands, I thought you folks would like the report about the Dallas gig I attended this past weekend with Tom Givens, Dane Burns and Jim Higginbotham's road show called "Range Master".
Bottom line is that it was a very enjoyable time, learned quite a bit and got to brush up on a lot as well. There were some high points and some areas I would recommend improving. But nothing dampened the good time had by all. So that's the Cliff Notes version...anyone who wants the detail, read on:

Friday Night--Hooked up with my buddy Darren from Thunder Ranch Handgun 1 who drove down from Kansas City to attend with me. Had dinner and met for the first time El Roto. It was a nice way to relax, shoot (no pun intended) the bull, reminisce about TR and get mentally prepared for the next two days. We filled in El Roto on what TR is like and just gabbed. I will say that, and I hope I'm not speaking out of school here, for anyone who's never met El Roto, he has several physical disabilities that make it challenging to do range shooting and unarmed combat techniques. But he gets himself out there and does everything--a true example of a fellow who doesn't take his body's "no" for an answer. Makes my swollen desk hands feel like just a little bump in the road. A true inspiration for us here in the forum.

Saturday, Day One--Commencing at 8:30am sharp, Tom Givens introduces himself to us in a classroom setting. Must have been about 30 guys (and one girl--and she was a genuine distraction boys, eat your hearts out). I met AndrewT from Michigan who brought his friend Eric (18 years old, just started shooting a few months ago, and a excellent marksman!), Legalhack (another excellent marksman and very good guy) along with a few other guys--missed you, Double Naught! Anyhow, Tom started things out by saying that the class was really a basics class--everyone always needs to master the basics continually. While I do agree, it threw a curveball to us when the class we thought was going to be "advanced" was immediately identified as "basics". Hmmm...we'll see how this progresses. He proceeded with about one hour of introductory lecture. It was good to loosen up the brain, and Tom's a very dynamic guy when he's up in front, live.

We split into two teams and ours went to the range after the initial lecture, the other remained for Dane Burns' CQB lecture in the classroom. The range work with Jim Higginbotham was really to loosen up and take a pre-course accuracy test. We shot from various distances, all timed, along with some move and shoot drills. Ah, this was good stuff--range work is what most of us was there for. And Jim is a very low-key yet knowledgeable instructor. A real minimal-ego, self-effacing guy who makes his points and shares knowledge very effectively. This was a great way to shake out the spider webs and start getting into putting bullets down-range. The only critique I had for our range work was twofold: There wasn't as much of it as I would have liked (how many guys here really prefer LESS rangework in their classes, eh?) and that even with Jim and Tom there just wasn't the ability to give us any personal guidance. It was general instruction, which was very good, and implementation of the drills. Since I have more of my experience with Thunder Ranch, I'll use it as a comparison (and understanding my classes at TR were week-long and this was just two days, with a lot crammed in, to be fair). At TR, there were more instructors on the range, moving up and down the line and working with individuals to improve technique, etc. There was little or none of that--for me at least, and a few of the fellows I spoke with during the weekend. I came into the weekend needing improvement in my marksmanship (which I proved during the weekend, unfortunately) and didn't get any "personal touch" to help. At TR, even Clint gets into helping individuals when he's on the range with you. I'd suggest that Range Master add at least one or two more Range Instructors--I would have paid more just to have the extra coverage and get more personalized input. Anyhow, I did well with the drills. My physical coordination and tactical shooting technique has far improved over the years from TR and KR Training here in Austin. It's just that my marksmanship needs to catch up somehow. But the range was good that morning.

Next, was the CQB lecture in the classroom from Dane Burns. Now, here I must make some comments about Dane so you get a feel for who's instructing us in a major portion of the weekend--unarmed defensive combat. I have to preface my remarks about Dane by admitting that I consider him a friend through this forum and the 1911 Forum, we've had ongoing conversations about gunsmithing and issues. I've always found Dane to be one of the more knowledgeable gunsmiths and a very astute communicator. He's a smart guy. But he always found himself somewhat involved in some flame wars here, and I won't be surprising anyone by saying Dane's always been opinionated. But, hey--anyone who reads the legal & political topics on the 1911 Forum will say the same about me--and worse! (Sometimes much worse.) Well, it was great to finally meet Dane in person, and I'll admit I was surprised by his personality. The guy is very laid back, very low key, and just as natural and down to earth as you could get. And he's a real character as well, a funny, low-ego guy. (Of course, seeing first hand his knowlege in self defense and guns, I also now know that there's a python under that relaxed demeanor--don't ever take him for granted, that guy knows his shit!)

After Dane's talk, Tom gave a one hour lecture on Mindset for Defensive Tactics. Unfortunately, the classroom was getting warm, we were on our second hour of classroom lecture, and everyone was getting antsy.

After lunch we went outside (thank God) to attend our first working class with Dane on unarmed combat. This is where Dane was at his best. Classroom lecture seemed kind of boring for him--he seemed to enjoy doing more than talking about it. Who can blame him? We had a very enjoyable--and educational--hour of both technique and Dane's stories. There are some very lethal things you can do with your thumb....

Then more range work with Jim, more moving drills. These were the best times of the day, Dane's class and being on the range.

After the action, we went back to the classroom for an hour viewing the video on the Miami FBI incident, then had discussion about it led by Tom.

Things wound up the day with a low light lecture, introduction to the new flashlight drill and low light shooting drills with the torch. It was a full day, not ending until after dark.

One of the funnier moments passed without a picture being taken. I joked with my compadres that they missed a perfect photo op for the NRA magazine. In mid afternoon, I was one of several who picked up a broom and swept the brass from the black-top range. Can you imagine the caption under the photo of the only Liberal Democrat in class, sweeping up brass after a range session? Poetic justice or what?

That night we had a great small dinner with Dane, Jim and Tom and five other students, myself included. The stories and gunsmith info shared by Dane and Jim's little comments were worth the price of admission. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity to speak with Tom during dinner, he was at the other end of the table. By the end of the weekend, I wish I had. More unfortunately was that the Yankees got their clocks cleaned by Arizona that night in the World Series! I was in mourning.

Sunday, Day Two: Arising at 6:30am, hands swollen but ready for more. First hour, moving and shooting drills on the range with Jim and Tom. Then one hour Unarmed Combat with Dane focusing on weapons retention and weappon removal techniques. I got to point a plastic gun at Darren, look him in the eye and say, "I'm your worst nightmare....a liberal Jew with a gun!" Sort of like a Dem's version of "Make my day."

After the action of the morning, we had an hour video of Tom on color codes, states of awareness. I have to say by this time that I could have done without about two hours of classroom--one the day before on defensive mindset, and the other today on color codes, etc. My previous basic classes covered this stuff, and I could have used more range time. This, I think, would be a true advanced class--further drilling on the basics, as Tom emphasized, yet more on the details to improve marksmanship and instinct. Most of the fellows I spoke with were in agreement, that we could have done with less classroom in those two chunks and substituted with range time. I'll even add that Dane's stuff was so good, I would have been glad to drill more with him as well.

After lunch, we went back to the range for cover drills with Jim, then more weapon retention from Dane. When we had range followed with unarmed combat, that was a great combination. The last segment was a classroom lecture with Tom (or at least his video if not in person) on the legal issues of use of force. I don't know, I just didn't enjoy sitting in the classroom watching a video of Tom giving a lecture to us. It's challenging enough sitting still in the class, let alone in front of a TV. This I would recommend changing. No disrespect intended, but I can rent a tape and watch it at home.

To wrap things up, we had a full post class test on the range to compare scores from the beginning. This is where I really sucked, to be frank. There were some long distance moving drills I didn't recall having during the weekend that I really failed with. At least I started getting my head shots in. But I am mortified to admit that I was one of only two among the whole class who actually failed the test scoring. Once I got back beyond ten yards or so, my site picture went to blazes. It was a very deflating experience. I was so dissappointed with myself that I announced I would be there shooting on the range until midnight for detention. I will say that AndrewT was shooting some amazing groups the whole weekend. That boy can shoot! When we hung around afterward, some of us were shooting Dane's pistols and I gave Andrew the opportunity to shoot my Novak Hi Power Spec Ops. It didn't matter what gun or caliber, he was shooting the eye out of a fly. I need to ask him how he got so good. That, coupled with my end of class range failure, told me I need to do something to improve. Legalhack was a shooter as well, great groups. I had no trouble getting my shots to the A Zone, center mass, but I just couldn't control
where I wanted them to go--couldn't create consistant groupings.

The three new techniques I can say I learned were--all of Dane's unarmed defense (I'll lump those in together); something we learned from Dane called "indoor ready", which is a very cool, very practical way to hold your pistol while clearing your home or any building--ask him to show you sometime, it really beats the constant isometric tension of holding both arms out in low ready; flashlight technique (holding the torch at eye or just below eye level in the weak hand while holding your gun in "indoor ready" against-but not on-your chest).

I mentioned some of us stuck around to shoot some nice guns. Terry Peters showed up, it was good to see him again. We swapped stories and I let Terry shoot my Brown. Oh, BTW, for that weekend, I shot my TRS hard chrome on Saturday with my Del Fatti OWB, on Sunday shot TRS blued in the AM with my new Allesi OWB and in the afternoon, my Brown Commander Bobtail. Dane did advise me that the discoloration I've had trouble removing from my hard chrome on the front of the slide by the gun barrel could indicate it was not hard chromed well or at all. I'll have to send it to Baer to have them take a look.

I will also editorialize in another area. Tom was a hard-nosed, knowledgable pro. However, he did seem like an "angry man". His demeanor made him fairly unapproachable. I mean no disrespect from this observation, a few others mentioned this to me as well. Anyone who knows Clint Smith, knows him as a tough, no-nonsense guy as well. But Clint just seemed to be more aggressively intersted in your individual improvment. He made it a point to give each student some personal input and guidance. I didn't get that from Tom, unfortunately. I know it may not be politic to compare the two, but Clint's my largest point of reference. I'd recommend, if it's possible, more personal interaction from Tom. You can be a tough SOB, as many are who run these classes, but still let down your hair (sorry Tom, no pun intended there!) a bit and encourage students to approach you for input. A guy who has the experience and street-savvy like Tom needs to get it to his students in a student-teacher friendly format. It is not as effective if that expertise is veiled behind an angry demeanor and classroom videotapes. Again, no disrespect intended--quite the contrary, Tom has a great deal of very valuable knowledge and experience to share.

Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Again, I'd highly recommend the class. It's worth the coin, and the Three Amigos are knowledgeable, sharp guys. (And I got to handle one of Dane's Kimbers in person--his posted photos don't do him justice, his work is very good.) If anyone wants more detail, let me know. Just thought some of you would want to hear this report, editorials and all....

PS--Thanks for being gentle with us during the CQB drills, Dane. I know you could have caused much pain. And you showed quite a bit of patience with some of the boys who just wanted to play on the grass...



_________________
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." --Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Paladin on 2001-10-30 00:11 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Paladin on 2001-10-30 00:13 ]</font>
 

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Paladin, I was the guy in the light red baseball cap, aluminum foil hanging out of the back (day II) along with the post-it notes I learned to use in Tom's video, the first one saying "Bad guys by front door" and the second saying "Remember to get milk and eggs."

I was very disappointed overall although I liked a lot of Burns' instruction. Higginbotham was cool, but too subdued. I wish he would have been able to teach more. I never heard Givens tell anyone they had done anything right and he was often quick to criticize when we had done things wrong, only we had done what was instructed, but what was instructed is not what Givens had wanted us to do.
 

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I also enjoyed the class, especially the time with Dane, and the dynamic session with Jim.

The class was too big, IMHO, especially for the size of the range.

I would've liked more time on the range practicing movement and firing behind cover and less time watching the vids. I've read Tom's book(and several others like it) and so I didn't get much from the lectures.

More time with Dane, and a place to practice searches would've been nice, too.

I took an "advanced" course so that I wouldn't have to sit through the basic "You've gotta carry a gun all the time" and "Color codes" speeches. I know what I should and shouldn't do, and when to do them, I just needed someone to teach me how to do it effectively. Make sense?

Dane was an amazingly nice(badass)guy, which for some reason surprised me. Many guys teaching tactics, etc. have a real ego and attitude problem. Not Dane.

Jim surprised me, as did Dane, in that if you saw the guy on the street, you wouldn't realize you were looking at a real pro. Jim did real well for the time alotted.

I also noticed Tom's attitude during the course. He just isn't an approachable guy, IMHO. I've spent time in the Army, and so I've been talked down to and yelled at. That's fine when they're paying your wages and you're in their world, but when I pay to attend a class, I don't need a drill instructor. Don't get me wrong, now. If a guy is on the range and he fucks up, yell at him-no problems there.

There was a defenite lack of personal instruction due to the size of the class, around 28 people, I think, for only three instructors.

Cold range-YUCK! Tom should've called ahead and found out the rules and condition of the range.

Still enjoyed the course, and all the nice folks, though :smile: .

Dallas sucks, however, and I was glad to be back in my small town here in Arkansas :grin: .




<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Clay on 2001-10-30 10:42 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Clay on 2001-10-30 11:08 ]</font>
 

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"Cold range-YUCK! Tom should've called ahead and found out the rules and condition of the range".
FWIW we have been hosted by SDSI before and take an extra effort to physically scout every facility and the rules of each range. The range we used this time in Dallas was new to our hosts, SDSI, and to us.

Imagine our surprise when you have a class of 30 students booked with deposits and the range facilities available and range rules change days before we arrive.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-10-30 15:08 ]</font>
 

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I just got back in last night after driving back from Dallas with our gear, and was disturbed to see the negative comments on the class from a couple of the attendees. I realize we will never be able to please everybody, but all three of us make a real effort to give everyone a good training experience and some useful information. I would like to add a few specific comments in response to the criticisms.
First, this was NOT a basic class. In my opening remarks I stated that very few people who attend "Advanced" classes are truly ready for them, and that we have to work on basic skills in order to learn more advanced skills in the process. A "Master" is someone who can deliver basic skills, done well, and on demand, which is what I said in the opening remarks.
This was borne out when we did the first shooting on Day 1, which was our Pre-Test. We use a fairly demanding set of skill drills, testing what we consider to be basic defensive skills. Half of the class failed the Pre-Test (80% is required to pass), and Jim and I observed unsafe presentations, bad reloads, etc. This is exactly what I was referring to in the classroom.
On the Post-Test, everyone shot the same drills, but the average score rose from 161 to 180 (200 possible), and only two students missed the 80% cut-off. No one cleaned the Pre-Test, but 2 cleaned the Post-Test. More importantly, during the Post-Test every student displayed far better basic skills, including concealed presentation, reloads, and movement skills.
As for the cold range and the facility, I had NO control over that, and I voiced my displeasure quite strongly. This was the only range available to us in the Dallas area, so it was do it their way or not at all.
As for the videos, I was outside on the range, in a windy environment, with planes flying overhead noisily and an IPSC match going on in the next bay, plus students with ear muffs on. I had to shout to be heard so much that my throat is still raw today. I brought the videos as back-up in case that happened, as I did not want my voice to give out entirely. You got 2 lectures on video that said exactly the same thing I would have said live. That's a bit less than 2 hours out of 21 hours of training.
I know people would rather shoot than listen to classroom work, but this was a combative skills course, and as I said repeatedly, the mental aspects cannot be separated from the shooting skills.
Finally, I have been described as something of a prick. That is a personal call. I answered a lot of questions, both on the range and at dinner both Saturday and Sunday. In fact, I spent one entire break explaining a question to one student. I am sorry if anyone failed to approach me with a question because of my demeanor.
On a positive note, the entire class was composed of talented, enthusiastic students who adapted well to the circumstances and progressed very well through the training. I saw a vast improvement in shooting/gunhandling skills over the course of the weekend, and saw quite a few "light bulbs come on" with some of the tactical information we presented on the range. The biggest improvements in student performance were in safe, effective presentations; one handed shooting; reloading skills; and shooting effectively on the move. I want to sincerely thank everyone who took the time and effort to attend this course.
 

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I took this same class in April. I have met Tom several times. He has always been polite and a complete gentleman and a very knowledgeable instructor. He answered all the questions that were asked. As for the level of instructions, I guess I must be a novice shooter because I thought all the skill tests and drills were useful and just the right amount. But what do I know, for I am just a doofus gunhandler and a mediocre shot at best.
 

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I'll also comment on this as a past participant and sponsor for Rangemaster. These guys put on an awesome program and my best guess is that some people either can't be satisfied or they don't have the skill set needed to properly evaluate instructors. It's a shame but every class has a few smartass's that think they know more than the instructors but guess what? If they know so much, how come they don't hang a shingle out? Bottom line: Tom,Jim and Dane are welcome in my house and on my range anytime.
 

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Let me go back over my post and specify a few things.

I didn't personally think Tom was a prick, just that his personality made it a bit difficult for me to learn from him. Everyone's different, no big deal.

Tom has a vast amount of experience, as do Dane and Jim. The class was only $299, which is nothing compared to some of the better known schools.

I understand the issues with the range rules, and I realize that it's always a hassle using someone else's space, versus your own home facility. No hard feelings here at all. Shit happens, and you could really smell it on the second day :grin: .

I didn't expect the course to be more "advanced", I just personally expected the course to be run a little different is all. Guess I should've asked more specific questions beforehand.

My only two issues were the lack of individual instruction/help/positve critisism, and the low amount of range time.

I fully understand the need for classwork, as mindset is always the key, but people attending a course marked "advanced" shouldn't have to be lectured on things covered in basic courses. I wanted help with dynamic shooting and CQB. That's why I personally attended the course.

Regardless, I learned a lot, I wouldn't ask for a refund, and I would train with Rangemaster again.

Sorry to sound so harsh, Tom, it wasn't my intent.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Clay on 2001-10-30 16:46 ]</font>
 

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I attended a 5 day class a few months go at Rangemaster HQ. I am sure the class is better at HQ where the instructors are in charge of the location as well.
I have been shooting for about 20 years now, 5 of which I was getting professional training.

1- I learned ALOT in 5 days and thought very highly of the level of instruction and Attitude of the instructors. Did they bust my ego a few times? Yeah, but I got over it in a few minutes and went on.

2- don’t expect magic from a 2 day class- it is not going to turn you in to a black belt NINGA or a master shooter. You will need to practice what you learn to get to the point of going to auto pilot under an emergency

3- refunding the Unhappy student is super generous and that shows what kind of people these 3 guys are.

4- “Advanced”? Any experienced fighter/shooter knows that going back to the basics once in a while is the best thing to do. A little refresher to get rid of bad habits.

5-Cold range- so what?!

6- I will attend a class again when work schedule permits

Just my opinion.

Regards,
Shay


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Shay on 2001-10-30 17:47 ]</font>
 

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If you didn't attend this course, don't criticise the posts of those who did.

As mentioned, every course is a little different, due to the locations and the moods of the instructors.

Maybe a prerequisite would help? Anyone signing up for an "advanced" class shouldn't have to sit through color code and awareness lectures. I quick review of this should be all that is required.

No ego here. Tom and the crew have forgotton more than I'll ever know. I'm just giving my opinions of the class, as I was there.

Cold Range: Having to constantly load and unload is stupid, as anyone taking an "advanced defensive handgun" course should be able to manage a loaded weapon on and off range. Not Tom's fault provided they changed after the booking, no big deal.




<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Clay on 2001-10-30 17:08 ]</font>
 

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*rant mode on*
oook here goes, I don't recall hearing anyone there man enough to voice opinions about the class within earshot of the three amigos, so why is everyone runnin home to the keyboard to say stuff like this?? Cold range wasn't their fault, they didn't like it either. Tom cleared up the advanced-basic crap already so that's done. The classroom stuff, ok I agree nobody LIKES sitting on their ass in a classroom as opposed to shooting but does that mean it's any less worthwhile. I was just as tired as anyone in the room yet I managed to take away knowledge from it. I enjoyed the class and really enjoyed meeting and talking to the people, too many of them to single out names. Too bad I had to read this horseshit complaining, I hate to say it and sound like an ass but there were some people there that just plain seemed to not want to learn or take it seriously. Damn shame too lots of you could've taken quite a bit away from the class had you wanted to
*rant mode off*

disclaimer- The author of the above has had very little sleep in the past few days, making it hard for him to tolerate ignorance/stupidity :smile:
 

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Hi Andy, I enjoyed talking with you at the course.

Personally, I don't think any student would disagree that the class size was a bit big, and the range a bit small, and the class time DID run a bit too long comparatively.

My opinion is, if you need basic info., buy a book or video, or attend a basic course. No need to occupy space in a course where people need help on the range.

I would've paid an extra $50 bucks to have had fewer people.
 

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No ego here. Tom and the crew have forgotten more than I'll ever know. I'm just giving my opinions of the class, as I was there.
Clay is right. Dallas was a different location and a different student base.

We always have different levels of students in classes. It is extremely difficult to get 30 students with similar skills. In this class we had an 18 year old new shooter who has been working very hard to play catch up and in my opinion handled himself like a pro. We also had very experienced and well trained shooters, an Attorney, an LEO and a Spec Op soldier.

The course content is what Jim, Tom and I think is mandatory for an advanced class. That includes all the tapes, the lectures and even most of my long winded stories. We have a specific amount of H2H, mental skills and gun skills that we deem very important. These are the things we think are important from our little experience. We make a point not to train to the lowest common denominator but we also can't just teach to the very best student in the class.

The lecture and tape series is important to my H2H and search programs. You have to know what the OODA loop is before I get you as a student. You need to understand what level of threat you are in and what level of force to respond with in every encounter, hence you get color codes again.

You can't do everything in 20 hours over a weekend. I can't for example spend a great deal of time on "pieing" when I find that 2 of 30 students have not heard of the concept.

They get left behind because of time constraints. Always happy to bring them up to speed as I can in the breaks. The instructors make a decision on what will be taught in the course outline. If you cna teach more great and good for student and teacher. If you have to slow the program down to keep everyone involved...that is also what you do when required.

Everyone certainly is welcome to their own opinions of the quality of course we teach. I respect honest commenatry and opinion from any student. That is what makes every course and every instructor better if we take the time to listen.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Dane Burns on 2001-10-30 17:38 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I felt I had to come back after my initial post and comment on a couple of things. Firstly, I couldn't by any stretch think that there was anything "fraudulent" about the course whatsoever. And I was there! I think there were some areas in need of improvement, but I was pleased overall with the course, and the Three Amigos were all knowledgeable gentlemen--all three different types of people. But I'd have to take exception with anyone who called the course "fraudulent". That's just overkill here. I'd take a Range Master course again, no question. After all, I need to see more of Dane's stuff--and maybe next time we'll get a few more grass stains on those khakis.

True, I still maintain that Tom didn't seem very approachable, as I mentioned above. But, that could be just me--perhaps if I had been more aggressive in going after input with him, he would have responded. Perhaps not, it's just him. My buddy Darren from KC sat across from him at dinner Saturday night and told me he was one of the funniest guys he's met. I was surprised, but I'm no perfect judge of personality. But one thing all three of these guys have in common is that they're honest, knowledgeable, and talented. I want to know what they know! Not every class of this type goes smoothly, and there were a few bumps--hopefully some of the comments from the attendees will be helpful (because critique with no purpose is just useless venting) to Range Master.

Jim's rangework was just enough to wet the appetite, and I'd like to do more with him. I'd love to get Tom to show me how to improve my marksmanship. So what if he's not the most loveable guy around? Dane makes up for that. But bottom line is they gave us what they thought we needed in the 20 hours they had us, and there was some great stuff there. Just some nips and tucks, and that's all they need. Just like my waistline....

Oh, BTW, my Alessi produced one of the best laughs I had. I used my Del Fatti OWB for Saturday and it worked great. But I switched to my new Alessi on Sunday morning. Had my blued TRS safely tucked in it, ready for our first range drill of the morning. Black shark trim around cordovan--a really sharp-looking holster. Jim calls "present your weapons" and what happens, but nothing. I grasp my gun, and it doesn't come out. Solid, stuck, nothing! Shit! What do I do to keep from looking like a tourist?? I had to use both hands, nothing. Locked in there! Had to get it out before he blows the whistle to commence fire! Pull, pull, tug. Nothing! Finally, I got it to unstick and move, just as the whistle goes off. After the drill was done, I mentioned to the guys around me what happened, and we all had a good laugh--"Best looking holster in the class, Mike! Looks good on a dead man!" I had to work it in as the day progressed. Eventually it worked better. I even had loosened it up a few days before with the trusty baggy 'round the gun. Don't know why it cinched up like that, but no damage. Just to my ego a bit. But that was dwarfed by my miserable scores at the end. Just thought I'd mention the laugh it got. No harm, Luigi! It's a great looking holster. I'll just have to get more range time for presentations....
 

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Now that I think about it I'm surprised anyone really had such a problem with the fact that it was a cold range. We unloaded and made clear before leaving the range but those of you who really wanted to be hot probably did the same as me, heat the damn thing up by your car when you're leaving. What the hell were they gonna do, smack your hand????

disclaimer- still tired but this time I have a few cold ones still working their way through the system, bear with :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I had no problem with the cold range. Having a Texas CHL, I just threw on my vest over my cocked and locked TRS. I unloaded when they asked us to on the range, then reloaded off the range--just popped the mag back in and cycled a round at an appropriate and safe moment. No big deal. Cold range wasn't anyone's fault associated with Range Master. As a matter of fact, I could tell Tom was pretty annoyed, and he made it clear first thing Saturday that it was bullshit.
 

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Prefatory notes:
  1. I didn't mind the cold range. The Rangemaster folks were informed at the last minute that it would be a cold range and that we would be restricted to the one shooting bay. Yes, it sucks, but you make do with what you have (and I suspect most of us were hot as soon as we walked out the gate anyway).
    [/*:m:mxls0ak3]
  2. I found all three Amigos personable, knowledgeable and interesting.
    [/*:m:mxls0ak3]
  3. Tom can be a little brusque on the firing line. I get the impression he doesn't suffer fools gladly. That's a good thing. These are guns we're talking about. One or two of the folks there could have done with some remedial instruction before taking an advanced class (and I'm not excluding myself from that group). On one shoot 'n' move drill I was probably moving too fast and got ahead of the line. I felt a pretty potent muzzle blast over my left shoulder -- way too close for comfort. Two of us had screwed up. Tom's barking only meant that he was paying attention. Didn't bother me a bit. I found him approachable, and at dinner Sunday night discovered he was pretty damn funny, too. He is a dynamic and engaging speaker (even on video), and his lectures on mindset, color codes, etc. were a treat. He breathed new life into familiar topics.
    [/*:m:mxls0ak3]
  4. Jim Higgenbotham is very quiet and self-effacing. And hell on wheels with a pistol. I'm asking for his trigger finger for Christmas. My only complaint about Jim was that I didn't get to spend enough time to get to know him better.
    [/*:m:mxls0ak3]
  5. Dane is a hoot! I had a blast in his hand-to-hand seminar. He's funny, thoughtful and extremely knowledgeable -- even though some of his techniques directly contradict some of my other training. Tactics & H2H is an art, not a science. Picasso's brushstrokes are just as valid as Rembrandt's -- and you gotta figure out for yourself what works in your personal system. But the more you're exposed to the masters, the better your knowledge base. Some of Dane's moves are so cool I may start walking down dark alleys with $100 bills hanging out of my pockets just to try them at full speed :grin:.[/*:m:mxls0ak3]

With that said, I would offer a critique (not a criticism) of the class as there a couple of things that might make it better.

  1. Limit the class size. This class was too large. I realize that it takes quite a few students to make it worthwhile for three top notch instructors to come together, however the class size did limit the amount of personal interaction and instruction. I would have gladly paid $350-400 and had the class limited to 20 participants. That would make restricted range space less of a problem, allow for more personal instruction and eliminate some of the student/instructor barrier.
    [/*:m:mxls0ak3]
  2. Require prerequisites. Tom, Jim & Dane put on a great class. However, there were some folks there who were not ready for an "advanced" class. That put some limits on what we were able to cover. And, again, I do not exclude myself from that group. But proof of basic/intermediate training from DTI, Thunder Ranch, Gunsites, LFI, FR&I, etc., would go a long way toward allowing the instructors to work on the high speed, precision application of the basics (as Tom pointed out) that really makes up advanced training.
    [/*:m:mxls0ak3]
  3. Limit the classroom time, or at least bunch it together in an introductory lesson reinforced on the range and in each seminar. Or limit the scope of the class.

    I know Rangemaster does this class as a five-day. I can only imagine that it's awsome. I'll sign up for it as soon as I'm able. But trying to cover five days worth of information in two days does give short shrift to the topics. It only gives the instructors time to hit the highlights without going into extensive detail and personal instruction. For example, I'd have loved to have spent some time with Jim going over high-speed shooting on the move (something I'm woefully inadequate in). I really wanted to cover house clearing with Dane within real (or as real as range props can get) walls and corridors -- with him playing the bad guy with a Sim gun to forcefully point out any errors in pieing or search techniques. And I really wanted to pick Tom's brain on mindset and personal tactics. I've been involved in a couple of real world problems that I'd have loved to dissect with a pro. But trying to cover so much material in so short a time left little time for the kind of up-close-and-personal interaction that would have elevated this class from a great seminar and refresher (with some neat new stuff to learn) to a mind-blowing series of epiphanies on what I'm doing wrong and how to fix it. The real answer is to spend the $10k or so that it would take to get the three of them to myself for a couple of days :grin:.[/*:m:mxls0ak3]

All in all I enjoyed the class, despite the fact that I shot like hell, well below what I know I'm capable of. But isn't that the real definition of a master, someone who can perform as consistently on his bad days as on his good, hitting on all cylinders or hung out and hung over? Just goes to show that I'm not there yet and need a bunch more schooling :smile:.

I really enjoyed meeting Tom, Jim and Dane in person as well as meeting some of the folks on the Pistolsmith board. Sorry I didn't get to meet more of you. I was the vaguely mailbox-shaped guy (picture one of those large blue things on the street corner and you'll have the idea) with the Browning High Power that wouldn't hit where I was pointing it :smile:.

Tom, Dane, Jim -- I hope you'll take this in the spirit in which it's intended. I got a lot out of the class, but given the "no bullshit" nature of this board thought I'd share some thoughts on how it might be improved in the future. I certainly hope it doesn't come across as hiding behind a keyboard to put this critique up on the board. I got a lot out of the class and wanted to put my thoughts in order before offering suggestions on how it might be improved.

Chad

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Chad Ward on 2001-10-31 00:00 ]</font>
 

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Great post, Chad. You said it better than me :smile: .

I think most of us pretty well agree on the course, we just put it a little differently, and I hope Tom makes some changes.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Clay on 2001-10-31 00:39 ]</font>
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I agree, good post and great suggestions....
 

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First off, I wish to thank everyone for their candid replies and reports. We only learn how things are received by getting some honest feedback. I want to also assure you guys that one thing that always looms large in our program is customer satisfaction and even more important customer improvement. To a large degree if you don’t feel you have improved then we have failed in our mission.

I have a few minor observations about the course which may explain why this is the only course which we have ever given which resulted in any complaints. These are not excuses - there are never any excuses. But they may serve to explain some of the problems. By no means are they to be taken as "passing the buck".

1. The range. While the range itself is an excellent facility, we expected (up until the day before I left the house) to have a classroom, an area for Dane and *2* bays to shoot in. Normally Tom works his magic on getting people "grooved in on the fundamentals" to the level of expert marksmanship and I work on dynamics and gunhandling on another range…were we are able to burn ammo at a prodigious rate. In this class we were forced to combine the two and, in our view that is less than satisfactory. This also lead to us having exactly double the students on the line and while we had double the instructors we automatically each look at the whole line for safety problems first and then for technique problems. While this is a bit out of our control (the class was set up a year ago and the range we were intending to use had been put out of business in that year – as I understand it the range we used will be out of business in the future, things change fast in Dallas) that does not mean that we are exempt from criticism… we just apparently did not shift the program enough to satisfy some folks and for that I apologize.

2. Communication. We play by "big boy rules" as Ken Hackathorn so eloquently put it. I believe Tom has adequately addressed this but I think it bears repeating that this was not a "basic" class… in the first range session we have to cover the fundamentals to see where everyone is. Some people do not bring basic skills to an advanced class. This is not meant as criticism but I was still trying to get people to keep their finger off the trigger *during* reloading on the second day! It is a sad fact but the class proceeds at the pace of the slowest learners. We have found that even graduates of decent programs sometimes have not "internalized" the stuff taught in those programs and we have to start out with some fundamentals. The fact that not one student "cleaned" the pre-test (which is actually a medium speed test (in which we allow a lot of grace on the clock) sort of indicates that we all had a lot to learn.

3. Confusion. I am sort of getting mixed signals from a few of the reviews. While I have heard that more "advanced" techniques are desired (or at least there was an aversion to the use of the term "basic") there seems to be a desire for more hands on coaching. I have been to a lot of "advanced" training and I have never encountered any serious coaching in them. The coaching on grip, "stance" (for lack of a better word), and other fundamentals are done in basic classes not advanced classes. I had a few students ask me if they were doing anything wrong or needed improvement… they were doing the drills correctly. Usually I correct or suggest improvements in what I see going wrong and, in a large class, don’t have too much time to pat folks on the back (something that I like to do since all negatives is not very encouraging). I admit, I am a little confused from this paradox. At the moment I conclude that we had a class of students with a wide array of skill levels and that attempting to address the needs of the more basic students seemed to displease some who expected a higher level – but then I have been wrong before.

4. Videos. None of us actually prefer the video mode of presentations. However training is a serious business and we must be able to document what is taught in order to testify in case someone gets involved in a shooting. One of the easiest ways is to be able to produce exactly what is taught. Of course we can present a lesson plan, and in the case of the shooting techniques, that is what we must do, but in the case of lethal force lectures (which is usually the legal issue) it is much simpler to produce a tape that was actually used than a deposition that simply says these points were covered ( a friend is testifying in a murder trial as we speak and the defendant will be served well by the fact that he can produce a taped lecture that shows he was justified in his use of lethal force). Also some "canned" lectures have videos in them and quite frankly we cram so much into a class that it is easy to forget some of the small points made. In addition tapes never "run long" and we like to shoot as much as possible. This does not mean we like it. Again, not an excuse but just points of discussion. I will say this. I have had the color code lecture from the best there is and I have not seen any that drive the point home better than Tom’s. I am constantly after him to make it a commercial production. Same goes for the use of lethal force (which for our own protection we MUST give – imagine what would happen if a student shot several people without justification!!!)... our simple state sponsored tape here in KY runs close to 4 hours!… and you have to watch it to get a permit (that and fire 20 rounds on the range). Not to be argumentative but I gather all of those who would rather not see the mind-set lecture have never been caught more than arms length from your loaded weapon or have ever gotten a speeding ticket (if you did you were in white). That of course is by no means criticism it is merely a way to illustrate that we all need reminders… the marksmanship problem in a lethal force encounter is seldom demanding. What gets people killed is being surprised (and then master level shooting skill will not help) or making a mistake in gunhandling (such as having an empty gun or a magazine that is not seated) or in perhaps deciding to carry their Kel-tec .32 instead of a real gun because they were not going anywhere “where they might need it”.

5. Rounds Fired. Please do not get sucked in the too common idea that number of rounds fired equals good training. It is easy to load up on rounds fired. But each round fired in repititon (and some repititon is necessary) is time taken away from good instruction. If you want to pay someone to surpervise your practice sessions that is one thing but don't fall for the hype that tells you that this is good training or good use of your training $$$. Use your own time to practice (and let your target be your coach). We could easilly cause you to shoot 1,000 rounds per day (I shot 700 round weakhand only at the FBI academy in one day... I did not learn much). The trick is to learn the way to do it in class and practice it at home and on the range at your speed (no charge :smile: )

Sorry to go overlong. However I am very concerned if anyone thinks they did not get a fair value for their training dollar or, more importantly, their time. I traveled for 4 days to get to train with you for 2 and I can tell you up front that the money is not a large factor for me (nor really is it for Dane or Tom). Could things have been better… I am sure they could have. Much of that was beyond our control but I want to make one thing clear and I know my Amigos agree with this. If you think that we view ourselves as the “pros from Dover” who blow into town to impress you and give you the privilege of training with us you have the wrong impression… it is we who are privileged to train with you.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition,
Jim Higginbotham

PS- Had I found that any of you had serrupticiously loaded his weapon off the range I would be more inclinde to *shake* your hand than slap it :smile:



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Jim Higginbotham on 2001-10-31 11:40 ]</font>
 
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