KR Training Advanced Training 4: Pistol Skills Development

Yesterday afternoon I drove out to Giddings and took Karl Rehn’s Advanced Training 4: Pistol Skills Development class.

The range is way out in the country making for a beautiful drive. Except it is bluebonnet season, so everyone and their dog, felt the need to go take pictures on the side of the road and for some reason that meant everyone driving had to come to a near halt. I was sure I was going to be late from all the stop and go traffic I had to endure on Highway 290. But I made it with 10 minutes to spare.

This is an advanced course and you have to have had some kind of training before. I was depending on the Four Day Defensive Handgun course I took 4 years ago and I learned how much I have lost. At the end of that course I could draw from concealment and put 2 shots in the center ring in under 1.5 seconds. I couldn’t quite do that some thing from ready at the beginning of this training. I was better by the end, but nothing like as good as I thought I was.

The course was four hours and was almost completely on the range. The two goals were trigger reset and shooting on the move. I think that was suppose to be 50-50, but ended up more like 80-20. Probably because we weren’t as good as Karl expected us to be.

The instructors told us a lot of things we were doing wrong. Which was a good thing and a bad thing. It was a good thing because you just can’t see these things yourself. It was a bad thing because it was a little discouraging and it was hard to be humble and take it. But I did learn lots of stuff I need to work on. Matter of fact so much stuff I need to practice that I’m just going to focus on a couple of things. Mostly trigger reset and proper form is draw and present.

Enhanced hearing. A funny thing I noticed after awhile was the instructors could hear me even when I was talking low enough I thought they couldn’t. I’m sure it was because of their ear protection which, like mine, actually amplifies the sound around you until a loud sudden noise.

Tired. I can’t believe The Mrs and I spend 8 hours a day for 4 days training at Front Sight. I was tired after 4 hours of this course. You were basically on your feet the whole time, except for reloading time. While there was moving, it wasn’t that much of the time. Of course I was a good P90xer and did an hour of Kenpo X that morning, which could have contributed.

Reloading. I need more magazines. Hsoi I take back anything I said about you having too many mags. That is impossible. I’ve got 4 XD mags and that was the minimum you needed if you didn’t want to spend time loading on the range. I also need a better mag holder than the one that comes with the XD.

Compete. Karl said if you want to get good you need to compete. It teaches you to shoot well and teaches you to shoot well under stress. I think I’m going to take that to heart. Now to find locals that compete.

I’m sure I’ll get the inevitable question of comparing KR to FrontSight, so I’ll answer. It isn’t easy to compare because this was an advanced class and my FrontSight class was a beginners class. This was 4 hours and FrontSight was 4 days. FrontSight was more refined. They had everything worked out and down to a science through the whole day. They also had many more instructors. Karl and Tom were as competent as any FS instructor, but FrontSight’s guys were just more polished as teachers.

This is both and good and bad, KR’s training was more relaxed and free form. When I thought I was almost out of ammo I loaded my last but didn’t get into line for another round of shoot and move. When I realized this was the last thing we were going to shoot, I asked to go ahead and shoot it again and Karl said go for it. There was the flexibility to do that. At FrontSight that flexibility probably wouldn’t be there. But I wouldn’t have ended up in a situation where I wasn’t sure what we were doing.


I enjoyed myself and will being going back. It is a bit of a shelp for me from Houston, but not as much as Nevada. I’ve got a lot to learn and KR Training will be a good place to learn it on a regular basis.

I’d also recommend it to any gun owner I know. You learn how true Jeff Cooper’s saying “Having a gun doesn’t mean you are armed.” is. If you can’t hit stuff in a class like this I shudder to thing how much you will miss when your life depends on it.


  1. hsoi says:

    It sounds like a good experience; humbling perhaps, but good. Was this the first bit of serious training you had since Front Sight? I wish I could have been there but I had a prior engagement.

    Responding to a few specific things:

    – Yes, we all wear Pro Ears and can hear EVERYTHING. 😉

    – I wouldn’t be surprised if your P90X beforehand contributed to being tired. You may also have been feeling a little stressed, which probably drained you.

    – Too many mags? Heh heh. And what YOU saw was just the backstore. I keep 10 mags in my range bag. No such thing as too few magazines. What I do is every time I’m at a store that sells mags (and sells at a reasonable price), I just buy one. Just spread out the purchases over time and eventually a store builds up.

    – The XD Gear is ok, but there’s better. Check out BladeTech stuff, or a lot of us like Comp-Tac’s stuff for mag pouches and holster. Plus Comp-Tac is local.

    You might also want to buy an UpLULA. I used to scoff at them, but when you need to load 10 mags prior to a class, or you’re going through a long weekend of classes and have ultimately thousands of rounds to (re)load into mags? your thumb does thank you.

    Anyway, it sounds like it was a good day for you. Let me know in advance for any future class you’ll be taking. I’ll be sure to be there for it. 🙂
    .-= hsoi´s last blog ..Green Ags =-.

  2. Ron says:

    It was my first training since FrontSight.

    I did P90x at 6 am and then went back to sleep for a couple of hours. So I thought I was rested but I’m starting to understand I’m just tired all day after P90x. I was stressed from the drive and just being in a new situation. My shoulders we also sore at the beginning of the class, but loosened up as it went on. You don’t realize how physical shooting is until you really push it.

    I owned a Forbus mag holder for my Walther, but didn’t realize I’d never ordered one for my XD until I was packing to go. So I just used the XD one. It was OK, but I’d prefer a different one. Of course I’m trying to decided if I want a new gun now.

    I own a UpLULA and it was invaluable in getting mags reloaded in a timely manner. Greatest invention for shooting ever.

  3. Karl Rehn says:

    Various comments…
    Range way out in the country: ranges “close to town” tend to get sued and close as growth drives them out. We looked for a year to find a piece of property that split the difference between remote and “close”, with neighbors that would tolerate frequent gunfire. We ended up 1 hr from Austin, 1 hr from Bryan, 2 hrs from San Antonio/Waco/Houston which is accessible to a large chunk of the population of Texas.

    Training decay: handgun skill requires frequent practice – most recommend a minimum of 50 rounds of live fire every month to maintain. Intensive training is good for moving that baseline forward but if you don’t reinforce it with dry fire and live fire practice, the skill you gained in class will go away again. Dry fire practice is essential – if they didn’t explain that at Front Sight they should have. Claude Werner’s dry fire practice CD is an excellent resource.

    AT-4 lesson plan: my program is different from the “big schools” because in my desire to make quality firearms training affordable and accessible, I offer 1/2 day classes rather than 4 day courses. A lot more people have time and money and ammo to attend a 1/2 day course. I have about a dozen different classes in my program, and because KR Training is only one of my 3 jobs, those courses are offered on a rotating basis. That leads to situations like we had in class, where students were at widely differing levels of skill. (I encountered exactly the same problem during a 3 day class at Thunder Ranch, so the big schools are not immune to this problem. 13 of 15 student in that TR class were overqualified for the course, 2 were grossly underqualified.)

    We did indeed scale back the shooting on the move part of the class to add time to remedial drills to get people up to the level necessary to shoot on the move. About a third of the class appeared to have such sloppy draw technique that Tom and I were concerned about safety if we pushed students for speed from the holster: thus the decision to change the way we ran the 100 round standards course. Students’ initial performance on the shoot on the move team tactics (too many misses on the big targets) indicated that our assessment was correct and that our time was best spent on the material we covered.

    Polished: I only offer AT-4 a few times a year so its presentation was not as “canned” as a Basic Pistol 1 class is. The structure of AT-4, as an advanced course, is intended to be much more relaxed than lower level courses.

    Houston competition: Houston is one of the hotbeds of pistol competition in the state, with dozens of clubs shooting matches every month. is a good place to start.

    KR Training Justin Galindo runs weekly training sessions in Houston also:

    Brian Hoffner runs excellent training in Houston. His program is similar to mine.

    A new gun will not fix your trigger control problems. If the XD fits your hand, upgrading it with better sights (Dawson Precision fiber optic narrow front sight, specifically), and a trigger job ( will do more to improve your shooting than buying a different box-stock gun that will also need sights and trigger upgrades.

    Hope to see you in a future class! Defensive Pistol Skills 2 coming up in May would be a good choice.

  4. Ron says:

    Wow, long comment Karl. Here’s my two to three comments.

    FrontSight did emphasize dry fire, and I even bought their manual. I just haven’t done it as much as I need too.

    Thanks for the resources in Houston, I’ll be checking them out.

    My main reason to change guns would be to go to 9mm because the ammo is cheaper. Especially if I’m going to start shooting more. But I like shooting 45 so I’m agonizing over it too much.

    The only other negative to my gun is the shortened handle hurts when reloading because my hand is hanging off the end of the grip. I wonder if I could get a new grip for the gun that would restore it to the standard length?

    FrontSight suggested new sights and I always intended to get them, but put it off. Now I think I will get new sights and a new trigger and maybe a new grip. Guess I need a gun smith in Houston too.

    Karl, you sounded a little defensive and I want you to know I wouldn’t be planning on coming back if I didn’t think you did good work. I enjoyed the class and learned a lot from it.

  5. hsoi says:

    Sounds like P90X is kicking your butt, but in a good way. 🙂

    The UpLULA is great. I’m a believer now.

    New gun? I’ll repeat what Karl said. Upgrade the trigger and sights. You got to see and try them out (dry) on my gun. Makes a world of difference. Best guy for that is Springer Precision, and you will have to ship the gun off for that. But it’s not too horrible really. Only suggestion there is to look at all the work Springer does and get it all done at once, since the round-trip shipping costs are well… costly (and contact Springer beforehand, he can send you a shipping label which saves some cost). I know Springer and other guys can shorten grips, but I am unaware of any way to lengthen.

    If tho the reason you want to change guns it to go from .45 to 9, then at least consider sticking with the XD since that’s what you’ve got and you know it more or less works for you. Thing to consider tho is that even if you buy a new gun, you’re still going to want to upgrade the trigger and sights so factor that into the cost. One thing to think about… you could try contacting Scott Springer prior to any purchase… I know a guy that bought a nicely customized but otherwise brand new XD-9 5″ off him. He may be able to sell you something brand new and customized out. Might be a way to go.

    And yes, consider a full-sized gun. You and I have similar enough builds. If I can carry a full-sized gun, you can too. 🙂
    .-= hsoi´s last blog ..Green Ags =-.

  6. Ron says:

    If I go from 45 to 9 I’m staying with the XD. I like it and the Mrs has a 9mm XD so we could share magazines as well as ammo.

    I just sent Springer an email asking if they could change the grip. If they can, I’ll just get the trigger, sights and grip done by them.

    But I’ll still have to buy a new gun because what will I carry while I’m waiting. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it. 🙂

    I do wonder if I could train with an 9mm XD and carry a 45 XD. If they had the same trigger and size. But obviously there is a difference in recoil.

  7. hsoi says:

    I’d be curious to know if they can do any sort of “grip extension”.

    But hey, if this becomes the excuse to buy more guns, great! Remember, Buy A Gun Day is just 3 days away!
    .-= hsoi´s last blog ..Green Ags =-.

    1. Ron says:

      I didn’t realize that and I feel morally obligated to buy a gun on Wednesday. After I send Uncle Sugar a check for a stupid amount of money.

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