Self Defense

KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills Program

This was my journey through the KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills Program, a flexible 40+ hour training program designed to equip a responsible armed defender with the tools and knowledge needed to be prepared for a defensive encounter.

Any reader who has been following me even for a short while has most likely seen at least one after action report from me attending one of the many courses offered by KR Training. In each of those posts, I’ve mentioned the KR Defensive Pistol Skills Program at least once. It’s taken me a good while, but I’m proud to finally say that I have officially completed the program. As such, this is as good of a time as any to say a little more about the program and recount my journey.

The program consists of a set of core required courses and one or more elective courses totaling at least 40 hours of instruction and requires a student to meet a set of pistol shooting performance standards in order to successfully complete the program. The combination of courses and qualification ensures the student meets a minimum level of competency with skills an armed citizen should achieve in order to be adequately equipped to either avoid or survive a self defense encounter. This program is designed to be equivalent to other national firearms training schools covering similar material, such as the Gunsite 250 or MAG-40 programs. A basic understanding of safe gun handling is a prerequisite for the program.

Technically speaking, my program journey began even before I was aware that KR Training existed by having obtained and maintained a Texas License to Carry. The Texas LTC requirement for this program ensures students have knowledge of state laws and can pass both the written and shooting LTC tests. Credit towards this core component is granted to existing Texas LTC holders. While I’m not completely certain, I suspect out of state license or permit holders might receive the same credit (best to check with Karl Rehn to be sure). Either way, this was something I did years ago which was the beginning of a journey I didn’t know I was on.

I learned about KR Training from Sean Hoffman while attending his Tactical Pistol/Rifle Class back in December or 2019. During that course, Sean had me shoot his pistol to help me understand the gun fitment issues I had with the Sig Sauer P229 I used in the class. His pistol, a magnificent Staccato P Duo with a reduced grip, was outfitted with a Trijicon SRO. This was the first time I fired a pistol with a mounted red dot sight (RDS) which sparked my interest in pistol mounted RDS. After the class, Sean and I got to talking about his gun and the RDS and that is when I learned Sean was an assistant instructor at KR Training and he would be teaching an RDS class at KR Training in the not so distant future.

Sean Hoffman teaching the Red Dot Pistol Essentials class

In July of 2020, I attended the Red Dot Pistol Essentials class at KR Training which happens to count as an elective course in the Defensive Pistol Skills program. Mind you, I still wasn’t aware the program existed. In fact, it wasn’t until after a handful of completed core courses that I learned this class counted as an elective. However, I was exceedingly impressed by the quality of the course, instruction, and facilities provided by KR Training. While I had previously only been drawn to KR Training by this course and by Sean Hoffman, I headed home with a strong interest in learning more about KR Training’s course offerings. Be that as it may, I didn’t look into it right away since I wasn’t in a position to book additional training in 2020.

It was at some point in early 2021 that I learned about the Defensive Pistol Skills and decided to “begin” the program which started with attending Defensive Pistol Skills 1 (DPS-1) in June of 2021. DPS-1 is a core class that focuses on learning how to draw a pistol from a holster and respond to a threat. It introduces students to shooting under time pressure. It also exposes students to the Three Seconds or Less shooting test which is used in later courses to ensure a student meets the minimum shooting competency level required to complete the program.

Two weeks later, I returned to KR Training to attend two more core classes in one day. The first was Defensive Pistol Skill 2 (DPS-2) which builds on DPS-1 by introducing the use of cover, how to clear malfunctions, reloading, and moving while shooting. DPS-2 students are also required to pass the Three Seconds or Less shooting test by meeting a minimum standard needed in order to enroll and participate in the third and final installment of the defensive pistol skill series. The second course that day was Personal Tactics Skills which is a classroom lecture that covers various topics including, but not limited to, situational awareness, the force continuum, managing unknown contacts, and the legal aftermath following a defensive encounter.

A few months later during October of 2021, I returned once again to attend two more additional core classes: Advanced Training 2 Force on Force Scenarios, and Low Light Shooting. The force on force class is an incredibly unique experience where students get to simulate defensive scenarios using simunitions (specialized cartridges loaded with chalk filled projectiles). The stress levels experienced in these scenarios are about as high as one can get without actually being in a gun fight and it leads to some eye opening realizations about how we function (or fail to function) under a lot of stress.

The Low Light Shooting class is another superb experience, especially for students who don’t have access to a shooting range where they can shoot in low light conditions regularly. There is a lot covered in the low light class that boils down to a lot of one handed shooting while using a flash light with the other hand. Okay, that is a vast oversimplification of the course contents, but it is a significant component. Nonetheless, low light shooting is not something I see typically covered in other armed self defense curricula and something a well rounded armed citizen should have exposure to.

A week later and still in October of 2021, I returned yet again to take Defensive Pistol Skills 3 (DPS-3.) DPS-3 builds on top of the skills taught in DPS-1 and DPS-2 and places an emphasis on things like movement, one handed shooting, transitioning between multiple threats, and getting the pistol out of the holster faster. This course also introduces students to shooting from “unconventional” positions such as from a seated position or from within a vehicle. Like DPS-2, students are required to pass the Three Seconds or Less shooting test again. However, this time students are required to meet a higher standard in order to be eligible to graduate from the Defensive Pistol Skills Program. It was this day I learned that successful completion of the Texas LTC program and the red dot class I attended counted towards the completion of the program and left me with one final core course in order to graduate.

The final course I needed to meet the Defensive Pistol Skills Program graduation requirements was Handgun Beyond Basics which I completed in January of 2022. This class focuses on developing skills needed in order to engage efficiently and effectively at distances from five to fifteen yards. These distances are longer than the three to sever yard distances the other courses in the program focus on which are more typical for most defensive encounters where deadly force is justified. As a result, the course material concentrates on developing speed and accuracy with a pistol.

Upon successful completion of the Defensive Pistol Skills Program, the student is awarded a challenge coin. A challenge coin I am now a proud holder of.

While my journey was long, it doesn’t have to be. KR Training offers the core courses and sufficient elective courses every year that it is possible for a sufficiently motivated student to complete the Defensive Pistol Skills Program in less than a calendar year. In fact, there are open seats available in all of the core courses and in several elective courses on the KR Training class schedule as I’m writing this that a new student can start and complete the program before summer ends this year.

In my opinion, this program is worth the time and investment for every single person who carries a pistol for self defense. The program, while it isn’t a walk in the park, is designed in such a way that any person with a basic understanding of safe pistol handling can complete it if they follow through and put in the work. That means practicing and internalizing the skills taught in each class using the drills and materials provided. Furthermore, KR Training does a magnificent job at creating an extremely safe and welcoming environment where students of all levels can learn and improve comfortably and respectfully. This program will make students better shooters and will make responsible armed folks better prepared for a defensive encounter should they ever find themselves in one.

As for me, I’m not done. Even though I’m the proud holder of a KR Training Defensive Pistol Skills Program challenge coin holder, I feel as though I have a good firm understanding of the fundamentals and I am now ready to learn more and continue improving. As such, I will be attending additional courses offered by KR Training such as the Advanced Handgun I’ve already registered for later this year in addition to other classes taught by guest instructors hosted by KR Training. It certainly has been a fantastic journey so far, but I’ve only just begun.

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