A couple weeks after attending the Defensive Pistol Skills 1 (DPS-1) at KR Training, I returned to attend the second course in KR Training’s Defensive Pistol Skills Program, Defensive Pistol Skills 2 (DPS-2), under the instruction of John Daub. Predictably, it didn’t disappoint. DPS-2 builds on DPS-1 and introduces additional concepts such as reloading, dealing with malfunctions, and shooting from cover. There is quite a bit of information packed into this four hour 200 round course which I’ll attempt to summarize in this report.
I won’t spend time talking about John Daub in this report since I already did that in the DPS-1 after action report and my opinion hasn’t really changed since then. In short, he’s a great instructor and I’d be happy to receive further instruction from him in the future.
Weather wise, it was another hot Texas summer day. Thankfully, this course took place in the morning and the morning heat is slightly easier to deal with than the afternoon heat. Nevertheless, the importance of reloading, hydrating, and reapplying sunblock when one’s drill relay isn’t shooting becomes abundantly apparent in conditions like these.
Gear wise, I didn’t make any changes. It was the exact same set up I used for the DPS-1 course:
- Gun: Heckler & Koch VP9 with a Trijicon RMR
- Holster: G-Code Incog Eclipse IWB holster on my strong side
- Mag pouches: Concealment Solutions Venom Single Magazine Carrier x2
- Belt: Concealment Solutions 1.5″ Python Gun Belt (Horsehide)
- Ammo: Blazer Brass 9mm Luger 124 gr FMJ
With the preamble out of the way, let’s get into the course details.
As expected from KR Training courses, the course began in the classroom where the administrative bits concerning safety and expectations were covered. The students were supplied with a one page handout which contained the curriculum and performance standards of the Defensive Pistol Skills Program on one side and the details of the Three Seconds Or Less drill, which is used as graduation test at the end of the course, on the other side.
Before heading out to the range, we spent a little bit of time reviewing how to safely holster a firearm and were provided with a demonstration of how to perform a 360º scan which would be one of the first things we worked on at the range. The key thing I took away from that demonstration was how to angle the gun in the retention position to hold the firearm securely in a manner that prevents pointing the muzzle at folks who do not need a muzzle pointed at them.
Out on the range after two relays were assigned to the students, we started with a baseline drill where we drew the pistol from concealment, engaged a target until we determined it didn’t need any more shooting, scanned the area, and returned the pistol to the holster once we determined the scene was safe. We also performed a quick accuracy drill where we drew the pistol from concealment and fired a shot to the head. I recall the student to my left asking if I intentionally put a smile on my target because he noticed four bullet holes which were evenly spaced horizontally giving my target the appearance of a smile. I should have taken a picture of it, but I didn’t. These drills are essentially the same as the last drills covered in the DPS-1 course which makes sense given this class picks up where DPS-1 ends and builds on it.
After the baseline drills were complete, we covered the 360º scan. I got to say that it was very awkward turning away from facing down range without first returning the pistol to the holster. As I rotated to my left, my first concern was not flagging the student next to me with the muzzle (which didn’t happen given the technique we were employing to keep the muzzle angle down which the pistol was held in the retention position). My second concern was being flagged with the muzzle by either of the students on either side of me even though I knew their firearms were unloaded just like mine was. I was very much expecting to hear the instructor and the assistant instructors yelling “muzzle”, but that didn’t happen.
The remainder of the drills before the intermission break dealt with:
- Picking up a pistol from a flat surface efficiently,
- shooting around cover,
- performing a tap, rack, and assess,
- clearing a stove pipe (failure to eject),
- and clearing a double feed.
As those drills were happening, individually each student got a turn to work through a shoot house scenario. This was a fun and interesting exercise. I found it to be very much like attempting an IDPA stage riddled with barriers without having first performed a stage walk through. It was difficult because I was unfamiliar with the layout and the position of the targets (including no shoot targets) were unknown. Each target was different and the indicators of a no shoot versus a shoot target were inconsistent, which added to the difficulty as the student had to process the information as it was discovered in order to discriminate targets before deciding to point the pistol at a target and shoot. This experience got me thinking a lot about all of the different variables that could come into play in various home defense situations. I suspect that will be a topic I will revisit a bit in future posts as I personally spend more time thinking and learning about it.
While the shoot house exercise was valuable, it also resulted in missing an opportunity to participate in one of the drills that were happening concurrently. Specifically, I missed participating in the picking up a pistol from a flat surface drill. Have to admit I was a bit bummed about it as it’s not a topic that’s been covered in other courses I’ve attended. I did, however, have the opportunity to see John demonstrate it and it’s something I can practice on my own. While I was a bit bummed, I’m okay with missing the drill for a couple of reasons. The first reason is there is a ton of value in the shoot house exercise and it was also something I hadn’t been exposed to previously. Additionally, the drills in the course build on each other. As such, not participating in one drill means missing the chance to focus on a singular aspect of the core skills covered by the course. So the trade off is specific focus on an aspect of the skills covered in the class for an experience that puts the spotlight on the importance and value of tactics in defensive scenarios. In my opinion, that trade off is well worth it.
This was the first time I heard the “tap, rack, bang” technique referred to as “tap, rack, assess”. As I understand it, the name change is intended to highlight that a possibility exists that no additional shooting is needed after clearing a malfunction. That makes sense to me since in a defensive encounter the defender should stop shooting when the threats are no longer present. This means a defender should constantly be assessing the information available in order to determine when it’s time to stop shooting. While I think I understand the name change, I have to say “tap, rack, assess” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well as “tap, rack, bang” does.
Break time consisted of watching a couple defensive encounter videos and talking about them while enjoying the wonders of air conditioning. One video consisted of an attempted jewelry store robbery and the other was an altercation at a gas station. There was quite a bit to discuss regarding the encounters primarily around tactics. Not just tactics during the fight, but tactics that could have been employed before and after the fight. The value of personal tactics can’t be overstated especially since a defender is always working from a deficit at a time and place not of their own choosing.
The second half of the day included several more drills that dealt with shooting around cover and reloading. This was followed by the three seconds or less drill as a graduation test. I was a bit nervous about the test given my performance on the drill at the end of the DPS-1 course which I thought would not be sufficient to meet the DPS-2 standards. However, I took that performance to heart and made it a point to get a bit of live fire and dry fire trigger time before attending the DPS-1 course. The result was a passing grade that met the standards of the DPS-3 course. I was very pleased with my performance.
Let me clarify one thing. I had previously thought my performance on the test at the end of the DPS-1 class would not be enough to meet the standards required to pass DPS-2. That’s not entirely correct. It is correct when using the the older scoring rubric (that might still be available on the KR Training website) which requires a score of 80 or better and at least 1 hit in the head to pass (for DPS-3 the requirement is 90 or better and at least 2 hits in the head to pass) on a traditional IDPA target. Based on that rubric shots in the white A-zones are worth 5 points and shots in the gray C-zones are worth 3 points, unless I’m mistaken. If I’m not mistaken, my DPS-1 test score is 70 points and my DPS-2 test score was 82. Using this rubric, my DPS-2 test score is not quite enough to pass DPS-3. It should be noted that the white and gray zones of the KRT-2 target used in the test don’t line up perfectly over the A and C zones of the IDPA target so my score calculations could be a bit off.
However, the updated scoring rubric provided in the class handout (intended to be used in conjunction with the KRT-2 targets we actually used) indicates a DPS-1 requirement of 14 hits (white or gray areas) and at least 1 hit in the head, a DPS-2 requirement of 16 hits and at least 2 hits in the head, and a DPS-3 requirement of 18 hits and at least 3 hits in the head in order to pass. Using this rubric my DPS-2 test score would be sufficient to pass DPS-3.
Either way, there is still room for improvement and further improvement is what I am after. As such, I have registered for the DPS-3 course scheduled for October. Hopefully with a little luck the weather will be a bit more forgiving. I’m looking forward to it.