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View Full Version : AAR for Tom Givens Combative Pistol Course, 16/17 April, Florence SC


Al Thompson
April 20, 2011, 01:33 PM
Tom Givens Combative Pistol Course, 16/17 April, Florence SC

Bottom line up front, this was an excellent class on fighting with a handgun. Strongly recommend it for anyone wanting to improve their skills with a concealed carry handgun. This review is not meant to and won't give the reader all the drills and skills imparted in the course. Truly, the totality of the course is much greater than the sum of it's parts.

I traveled to Florence on the 16th and linked up with the host and the rest of the students at the Florence County Sheriff's Department range. This is how ranges should look - like a golf course with targets. It was a pleasant start to a very interesting weekend.

Primary instructor was Tom Givens assisted by his talented wife Lynn

Day One had some weather issues, with a thunderstorm cell playing hide and seek with the class. Tom was able to juggle the structure of the course so that when lightening (not rain, LOL) threatened we went back to the classroom. The classroom (great facility) portion of the course was interesting, informative, authoritative and started building the foundation for what he was teaching and why. The time spent on the range the first day was to start putting lumber on the foundation established in the lectures. Tom bases a fair amount of his range work (IMHO) on the infamous Miami Massacre, his students gunfights and FBI statistics, as Tom notes that FBI agents fights tend to mirror civilian shootings due to the agents not having the same duties as street cops. In short, Tom teaches what he perceives to work on the street, not in competition.

Day One notes: Have your gun on you. If you have more target (close target) you have less time. If you have less target, more time (sight alignment) is required to get the hits. Only hits count. Use the muzzle reference indicator (bumpy thing on front of gun, AKA front sight) to get the hits. Only hits above the diaphragm work.

Day Two started out fast and got faster. Virtually all day was spent on the range. Tom runs a hot range and expects everyone to behave accordingly. Uniform of the day was your loaded handgun, cover garment and reloads. Of interest is that keeping your gun up and running and your body hydrated were your responsibility. Spare ammo, drinks and miscellaneous gear were stored behind the firing line. Misses were not acceptable and we fired from 3 yards to 25 yards. Frankly, between drill after drill, hydration, two quick classroom lectures and a quick lunch, my note taking ability tanked. The several specific skills I wanted to get up to speed (firing with one hand, draw from concealment and weak hand shooting) were covered in depth and my skill set improved immensely. There were several quick breaks on the firing line to point-out either variations on Tom's previous lectures, orient us on the upcoming drills or a discussion on weaknesses that we needed to address. Tom also shot every drill, cold and very quickly. We also switched targets (6 different targets IIRC) back and forth to keep from getting locked in on a specific one. At the end of the day, there was a rather difficult test to pass that included a malfunction clearance, a reload and movement by the firer. No misses were tolerated. I'm not going to divulge the standards of the test. If I had known what they were, I might not have signed up. (smile) I passed with out undue difficulty the first time, as did the majority of the class.

Day Two notes: Close encounters of the violent kind (sub 20 feet) moving off the X works. Past 20 feet, can't clear the bad guys visual frame, usually better to deliver a fast accurate shot to keep the bad guy from hurting you or yours. With Tom's method of clearing the cover garment, even my inappropriate shirt was no substantial hindrance. When correctly executed, no serious difference in draw times observed. I did most of my drills from the "interview stance". Not sure if it made a difference, but it's a habit I've ingrained for the last 8 years or so and it works for me.

What worked well, what did not: Active hearing protection is worth the cost. I was able to follow the range commands and several folks who used ear plugs had issues. Glocks, the sole FN and the majority of the 1911s ran well. One SIG 1911 and one H&K P7 had issues, with the P7 finally choking up at the end of Day Two. Having multiple loaded magazines worked very well. I had 24 for my G17 and G19. My total round count was about 900 of the 1,000 suggested to bring. Spare everything was eventually needed (batteries for ear pro, spare set of active ear pro for my line buddy) and certainly easier to get from the truck than suffer. Excess (so I thought) water was greatly appreciated. Due to the temp and humidity, I sucked down a serious amount of Pedialyte and seltzer water.

Class composition: Several civilians, two MDs, one active duty military, rest were LEOs. I may have missed a few as this was a 18 person course. Day Two, the lovely Ms. Lynn set up her own spot at the firing line and shot the drills with us and did very well. About mid-afternoon, the reason was revealed. There was no "that guy" in the group. If it's a good group of folks, Lynn gets to shoot. If not, Lynn acts as the RO. I know, I know, if you can't identify "that guy", it's you. I can assure you that Lynn's position one station down from me was only coincidence... :D

Again, strongly recommend this course and Mr. Givens if you want to get serious about improving your skills with a guy who has been there and done that.