KR Training’s DPS1: A Review

DPS1 = Defensive Pistol Skills 1

Yes, yes, yes, after a long wait, I finally managed to get out to KR Training and take a class. And wow, it was interesting!

I left the house, leaving about 30 minutes earlier to plan for the uncertainties (i.e. getting lost) and to try to get there a head of everyone else so I could get situated before the class start. Well, I made 2 side stops, one at Wally World for some ear plugs, and another at John’s Guns in Bastrop (excellent hole-in-the-wall shop, highly recommended), which I failed to account for in my travel time. Instead of getting there 30 minutes early, I got there about 10 minutes early. I was one of the last ones to show up. I got situated, and class begin.

We started inside, Karl gave us a brief lecture, after which we went right into practicing drawing and did some dry firing. It started off with open carry drawing to get it down, then it went to concealed carry drawing, which I had never done before in my life. And honestly, I felt like a total badass.

 After everyone was comfortable with that, we went outside. There were 14 of us, divided into 2 groups, 8 and 6. I was in the smaller group. There were 3 instructors, and by dividing us up into groups like that, it made the student to teacher ratio a lot better and allowed us to cycle on and off the range. One group could reload while the other one was being taught, and vice versa.

Anyway, we started with just basic drawing and shooting from about 5 yards. Nothing rushed, just nice and laid back. For me, my target ended up looking horrible. They were all roughly group somewhat in the center, and had 3 or 4 in the groin area. Mr. Tom was quick to point that out to me as well. I could say in my defense I did just get the pistol yesterday and I’m not overly familiar with it yet, but in the end, he is right. My accuracy just wasn’t there yet.

One thing they harped on, was scanning after shooting (search and assess) and not allowing yourself to get tunnel vision. Shoot shoot shoot, then scan. I mean, I watched and studied the Magpul video, and thought, that can’t be too hard to forget, but under pressure, with your gun going bang in your hand, it is very easy to not search and assess. I mean, to show you how bad you can get tunnel vision, there were multiple times I saw guns go to slide lock on an empty magazine, and the shooter didn’t even know it. They’d shoot, scan and assess, the instructor would yell the command to shoot, and when they extended their pistol to shoot…oops!

To reinforce the concept of search and assess, they had a really cool trick I’d never think about doing. I won’t say what it is, just you need to get out there and see it. It’s so simple, but works very well. Karl told me he thought they were the only ones to do it, and if so, wow, it’s amazing at how something so simple can really help training.

Anyway, then to spice things up, they added in another command, which was challenge. He’d yell challenge, and the response was “Stop! Don’t move!”. Everyone grasped this pretty quickly.

But, we didn’t do so hot after that, as they added in movement to the mix as well. However, you could only move on the “gun” command. They tell us a direction, yell a command, then we had to go from there. If the command was gun, we’d side step in the given direction then shoot. If it was challenge, we’d have to follow that command. There were quite a few people who moved on the challenge command. To make things worse, there were quite a few of us who would get tunnel vision after all of that, myself included. After the first time we did a run through of moving then shooting, everyone in my group (including me), didn’t search. Karl called us on it. After that, I always made sure I was searching.

After that, we split and did respective things. My group started off with “Shooting off the X”, which is drawing, running and gunning whilst engaging a stationary target. Again, I didn’t do so hot on this one. I moved quick, got a ton of shots off, but it wasn’t aimed accurate fire. It was just blasting in a general direction. The target showed it too. I had a number of misses and blew the guy’s arm off, but that was about it.

We did a quick reload/hydrate, then got to do a little match. There were 2 big targets on the end, then a plate, followed by a reactive, which there was another plate behind that, then another plate next to that, then there was a hostage scenario, a big green “don’t shoot me” target, with a small plate exposed on the target’s upper left shoulder. This was all in a line about 7 yards away, except for the hostage scenario, which was about 20 yards away. The match was this, the shooters would stand in line with their reactive, hands up. On the gun command, each shooter would start on their end and work their way towards the middle. A shooter won if they engaged all their targets, and was first to successfully complete the hostage scenario. Since we had a small group, we each got to run it several times. Again, I didn’t do so hot. I kept having problems with the reactive. I simply wasn’t getting my hits.

After that, we got to do the up close and personal shooting, which would be like if you were carrying, and someone started to beat you up. Needless to say, point-blank range (0 to 5 feet) was the distance here. You’d start off touching the targets shoulder, go into the defensive position, shoot 2 rounds into the target’s groin, take a step back, shoot 2 in the chest, then take another step back and put 2 more in the head. It destroyed the targets, was grossly violent, and especially at the 0 foot range, you’d get a nice muzzle blast from your pistol. It was an excellent way to end the class.

The class flowed really well, from one thing right into the next, building upon and reinforcing a skill we had just learned. There never seemed to be a time when we were all just standing around doing nothing. The only down time we had was to reload our mags and get some water.

I will say, I wish they offered an all-inclusive DPS class. Instead of DPS1 now and DPS2 later, just combine both and have a DPS day. There were some things I wished we had covered (i.e. malfunction drills, ‘tactical’ reloads, etc), however, that really can’t be held against them since that is covered in a different class (DPS2).

I guess that should say something, my own real complaint is I wish I had more training. :-P

Overall, I was quite impressed. Since Karl and John knew me, I wasn’t quite sure if they’d either be easy or hard on me, but I can say they were very fair. If I messed up, they were quick to point it out and offer tips and suggestions to fix my mistakes.

More importantly, I learned several things I need to improve on, which are all things I can practice at home or on my range, such as slowing down when I shoot. I can’t just draw and start blasting away; I need to make each shot count. Something else I need to work on, is my slide lock reloads. As Tom said, my first couple were nasty looking. I did get better, but I need more practice.

All in all, I can’t wait to go out there and do it again! I will try to make my next class either Beyond on the Basics: Pistol or DPS2, since those are both areas I need work in. The first will help me become a better fundamental shooter with my issued Beretta, while the second will complement and further advance today’s DPS1 class.

As per the FCC regulations, I must state my entry into the class was payed for by John. I used my own duty Beretta and provided my own ammunition.

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6 Responses to “KR Training’s DPS1: A Review”

  1. You are most welcome. :-) It was all about finally getting you out there.

    In my opinion, you’ve got good foundations. It’s now about honing it. DPS1 takes the approach of “self-defense shooting skills” and we put a bit of pressure on you. As you could tell, that causes a lot of people to fumble because well… it’s the first time for really getting put into that position. Shooting at the range yourself, you just don’t get the sort of pressure put on you. We all revert to “monkey brain” (ugh! smash with rock!) and what we truly know and have ingrained in ourselves… and that comes out in how people perform in DPS1. But then, we have given you a new set of skills that you should now practice and work to ingrain to become your new “monkey brain” behavior. It will just take practice. For instance, that EVERY time before you reholster (range, dry fire, whatever) you scan — and consciously think to yourself to do so.

    Reloads are good to practice too. Since you’ll have mag pouches on your belt for your duty gear, work that. That is, when you’re taking a break during practice to reload, make sure to reload your spare mags and put full mags on your belt. Then do your practice and don’t necessarily worry about reloading in a casual way… you will eventually run dry then do a reload off your belt and keep going. Just keep your gun running. Reloads are good to practice dry as well.

    The final bit is slowing down. We all like to go fast (fast blasting is fun!). Plus when pressure is put on you, your brain says “go faster”. Trouble is, going faster often leads to misses (I know this all too well). Gunning isn’t always the same speed. If it’s smaller and further away, you have to slow down. Like on that steel match we had you guys do, Tom and I intentionally set up the course to allow you guys to start fast (the big 18×24 plate that you draw on) but immediately you had to change gears because the next plate was at the same distance but now a 6″ or 8″ circle (I forget which size we did, but it was a small plate). Then the stop plate was that little hostage target at 15-20 yards and you HAD to slow down, use your sights, and have good trigger press. It was all about forcing you to change gears if you wanted to get the hits… but putting pressure on you because you don’t want to come in second. :-)

    Anyway, glad you enjoyed the class and got a lot out of it!

  2. Sorry I missed out. Just got back form vacation and we’ve been trying to get setttled in and caught up on things around the geek ranch.

    Sounds like you had a good time and learned a bunch as well. Glad you made it out and got good information out of it.

  3. Originally DPS 1 and DPS 2 were two parts of AT-1, which we used to run as part of a 2 day Advanced Training weekend. What I have found is that there are more people with $60, 3 hours, and 200 rounds of ammo than there are people with 16 hours, or even 8 hours, and the associated money and ammo for a longer class. The approach I take now lets me run 2 classes per day, to offer something for beginner, intermediate and advanced students pretty much every month, and leaves Sunday open for rest and/or the Sunday afternoon gigs with the Leannasaurus Rex band at Yankees Tavern.

    I’ve also found that breaking the material into smaller chunks is good for the students, since they come learn some things to work on, then go work on them for 4-8 weeks (or longer) and then they come back and are ready for the next chunk. Those that have applied themselves and trained in this incremental way really “own” the material because they have put the time in outside of class. Those that expect to get all the practicing that they need to do during class often find out that they are behind when they come back for DPS-2 or AT-4 after doing no practicing after the last class.

  4. […] The DPS1 class was kinda cool for me, because my buddy Charles came out for it (finally got him to a class!). As well, local gunblogger Jay was finally out for a class. You can read Jay’s AAR here. […]

  5. […] At first, I wasn’t too fond of the idea. However, after putting 300 rounds through it and going through DPS1, my opinion is starting to […]

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