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Old August 4, 2002, 10:18 PM   #1
KSFreeman
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Ken Hackathorn--Building the More Perfect Beast

STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I have never been a member of any Dreaded Demon of Darkness Ninja Assault Team, not even the Royal Luxembourg Mounted House Guard. I have no desire to jump out of black helicopters with a knife in my teeth and do not tell people in the gun shop that I do. I have never written for a gun rag, unless you count the "wish list" in Shooting Times in `92 where I wrote that Glock should make a compact .45 and a single stack .45 with a thinner grip than Glockzilla. I'm waiting by the mailbox for all those checks from the G30, 36 & 37! (Maybe Glock has lost my EIN or SSN for the 1099)?

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to attend Ken Hackathorn's "Mastering the Handgun" in Bloomington, Illinois hosted by the Midwest Training Group. The class was geared to persons who had at least several other shooting skuls under their belts. It was for the experienced individual (I cannot bring myself to say "Advanced" because what the heck is an advanced gunfight?).

The class was somewhat unusual in that the average age for the class was higher than I would have thought for a class of this type. I personally prefer to shoot with older shooters as: 1. they usually know what they are doing, 2. the default settings of their computers are usually programmed to do the right things, 3. they are less likely to panic and do something stupid to me, 4. they are a great source of knowledge of the "gun culture." As well, there were several state and federal LEOs out of 20.

After quick introductions in the parking lot at Darnall's (the name of the range in Bloomington, Illinois), Hackathorn made it abundantly clear what the class would be about--"I'm all about fighting with a handgun." The "gun nut" and the hobbyist part of us all would have to be put on hold. (Hackathorn could not help himself and several times started, no, he did, not me, the gun chatter at breaks on the range).

Hackathorn stressed that while everyone there may dearly love guns that they are secondary to the mind. Guns are just a means by which the will of the mind is expressed.

To express one's will, the mind must be pre-programmed to perform the correct response as when the fight is on, loss of fine motor skills, tunnel vision, hearing loss and the mind's self-limitations under stress, your subconscious will be capable of reflexive actions as your conscious mind handles other matters.

Hackathorn acknowledged that he could not help us become championship shooters but no one there was much interested in that anyway. The purpose of the class was to "open a chapter" in the story of our education. Telling us that there were many paths to Nirvana, Hackathorn showed us a way that perhaps we had not considered (he kept using that awful phrase "thinking outside the box"; I kept thinking of that telephone commerical).

Under brutual Midwestern saunaesque conditions, Hackathorn mixed in standard gun skul drills (some he devised), the Bill, box, forward, reverse and lat, El Prez, the corner, the Gunsite 25, and the Hackathorn 3 along with others that he brought from the SpecOps community. The theme being several things going on at once thus the subconscious via reflexive shooting must come to the fore.

The shooting was close in, from movement and with purpose. Hackathorn stated that he realized that our shooting had plateaued and only intense, continual training would improve us (well, my shooting had plateaued long ago at the horrific level) and could not help us over one weekend. However, he did give reminders when necessary, especially to some long lanky guy on the end who was unlocking his wrist on the retention drills.

The night shoot was very insightful. Hackathorn stressed movement after the use of the light and that the light was only used to identify potential threats, not in a continual bullet magnet way.

At the end of the night shoot, we all shot our ammo off at a half Prez. It was most interesting to see how the various "wonder loads" performed. They were miserable. Huge muzzle flashes are cool to GSCs who babble about "flamethrowers" and gun rags with glossy pictures to show, but horrific if you have to fight with a pistol.

Too often ammo is selected with only the consideration of what it will do to the jello monsters that attack gun rag writers. However, one must consider what the ammo does to the shooters as well as the threat. What good are you if you have to "see" via The Force after your ammo or ammo and the silly gun rag holes you put in the top of your barrel?

While the Federal Hydrashok in .45 gave the most largest, most blinding fireball, the Golden Sabre gave the prettiest (it was a jet out to about 6", then a ball of orange fire). Doesn't the FBI test this stuff? Geez, let's hope the fed po-pos never get into a fight at night.

My carry load, Black Hills in .45, does great, but the surprise of the lot was that cheap Czech stuff, S&B. It performs wonderfully at night with an incredibly low signature in all calibers. Impressive, American ammo manufacturers should call for the powder recipe. Ken gave the class the economics reasons about why American ammo manufacturers do not care about blinding fireballs.

I was also surprised at the Winchester +P+ in 9mm. I have been considering this load for my bug, but was worried about the flash as with recent Corboom ammo. It worked well, low flash, out of a Colt 635 and pistols. I'll have to test the Black Hills and this stuff. I'll wear my white lab coat and carry a clip board. Point being: test your ammo and pistol at night.

[Edited because I was dragging last night, but had to stay up to do laundry] I had an equipment malfunction that my fellow TFLers should be aware of. During one of the drills, one threw his "wallet" at the threat, then retreated while executing a Bill. Since I left my wallet in my SUV in the parking lot, I used a loaded magazine.

I threw the loaded mag at the threat and performed the drill. When I went back to tape and retrieve my mag, I discovered that the follower and spring were stuck at the bottom of the mag and the ammo fell out. The magazine had apparently stuck at the exact angle on the floorplate causing this mal.

The magazine was a 1911 7 round Metalform without a "bump pad." Could have been a freak, but check your mags if you carry these. It is more than foreseeable that you will be on the ground in a fight (or your pistol) and would be a VBT if your mag maled like it did to me. I only use Metalform for training as they withstand the continual load and unload that skuls subject them to better than anything else I have found.

My carry mags, Les Baer 7 rounders, do not have this problem (that I have discovered by smashing them against my reloading table and dropping them). [End of edit].

The course was very challenging in a sneaky, mind game way (like a delayed-action computer virus of some sort). It forced one to reexamine just what exactly was at stake each and every time one goes armed out into the world. It was extremely effective in knocking the hobbyist/gun shop commando rubbish off even me.

The class was not for everyone. Talk to someone before you attend; call before you go. If you are looking for a "how to shoot class", this is not it. If you are looking for another chapter of your training novel, "The Road to Enlightenment", with the self-awareness to follow "Big Boy Rules" this class is highly recommended.
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Last edited by KSFreeman; August 5, 2002 at 10:56 AM.
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Old August 4, 2002, 10:58 PM   #2
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Excellent report and enjoyable read, KSF!

I was especially interested in your muzzle flash anecdotes.

Thanks!
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Old August 5, 2002, 09:12 AM   #3
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Nice Review!

So Hackathorn didn't mention anything about the "World's Finest Close Quarters Combat Weapon"?

Thinking outside the box is not a shooter's box, right? Time to change the para-dig'm (phone commercial).
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Old August 5, 2002, 10:58 AM   #4
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00, yes, of course, and the cherry and grape Kool-Aid stuff, but only AFTER he told us to stop being "gun nuts" for the class.
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Old August 5, 2002, 01:22 PM   #5
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Could you describe the drills that you mention. I know some of them, but a description of drills would be useful for everyone:

the Bill
box
forward
reverse
lat
El Prez
the corner
the Gunsite 25
the Hackathorn 3
...and anything you, or any other members, care to add.
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Old August 5, 2002, 06:17 PM   #6
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Mikul, wow, I was really tired last night (no coffee here at the Fashionable Bachelor Pad, no time to get to the bodega). I babbled on as if everyone were on the same page. Sorry, the weather and the drive took it out of me (I was so tired, I didn't even want coffee).

Bill Drill--shooting 6 rounds within a time limit, used to reinforce the practice of "driving" the pistol to the target;
Forward, reverse, lateral movement--shooting while moving in these directions as if to cover or away from threat;
Box drill--place 4 objects (ammo boxes, extra mags, traffic cones) in form of box, 5 yards deep, corners at 10 yards, front edge at 5 yards and 10 yards long. 3 targets. Start at a corner, shoot each target once while moving to next corner.
El Presidente--developed by Uncle Jeff when teaching the bodyguard detail of a Central American nation. 3 targets, 10 yards away, targets spaced 9 feet apart. Start with 6 rounds in pistol, 2 shots on each target, reload, then 2 shots again on each shot. "Par" is ten seconds with time added if shots outside the "vital" zone;
Corner Drill--3 targets (usually in corner of 2 berms). Targets at 0, 90 and 180. You stand in middle. Shoot one in front and then either 90 or 180;
Gunsite 25--10 shots at 25 yards, draw and shoot within time limit (usually 2.5 seconds);
Hackathorn 3--at 3 yards shoot 3 targets, each with head shot.

Each drill is designed to reinforce several points. There are many variations like Awerbuck's "team box drill."

Hope that helped.
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Old August 5, 2002, 09:00 PM   #7
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KSFreeman, thanks for the report and the follow-up drill descriptions.

The 165gr "Personal Defense" Hydra-shoks are tough to beat for ridiculous, blinding muzzle flash. My practice range is dimly lit, and I gave up on that ammo for carry after the first shot. I currently use Golden Sabers, mainly because they're commonly available locally.
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Old August 5, 2002, 09:06 PM   #8
KSFreeman
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Check it! The lot we shot made really cool gun rag fireballs.

If you find a good one, buy a bunch. Quality, because of economic and market forces, can come and go. See, e.g., Corboom. Originally marketed as low flash, they were able to cut overhead by eliminating the flash suppressor qualities because, as we all know, no one, but knuckleheads like KSFreeman, goes out and shoots at night.

If your Yellow Kanifs stink and can't get something else locally, time to hit the Internet.
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Old August 5, 2002, 09:21 PM   #9
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KS...

Sounds like it was a great course. Hackathorn is one of the three instructors I would like to take a class from. He has always impressed me with his knowledge of the subject and his approach to developing shooting skills. Maybe i will get to accomplish this goal one of these days.
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Old August 6, 2002, 08:25 AM   #10
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Thanks for running down the drills. The "Mastering the Handgun" class seems to have covered the same stuff was learned in Hackathorn's Advanced Tactical Pistol. I think the only thing really missing is the increased distance shooting sort of competition where everyone gets two shot to hit a target at a given distance and then everyone moves back a few yards and repeats. We did this out to 50 yards on a propped up 3 ft tall pepper popper target.
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Old August 6, 2002, 08:27 PM   #11
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00, yes, he calls it that as well. However, "Mastering the Handgun" is what Bob and Andy at MTG proclaimed it to be. We did not shoot any steel in the class. It was available at the range.
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Old August 7, 2002, 04:56 PM   #12
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KS, I don't actually have a concealment holster for my .45 yet , so I'm not too concerned. However, the GS (both 185gr and 230gr) did have noticably less flash than the Hydra-Flames. I've been meaning to order some Black Hills for a while (in 9mm too) but haven't had the cash. Good advice, though -- if I ever pick a defense round and stick with it , I'll be sure to stock up.
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Old August 10, 2002, 10:52 PM   #13
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KS,
Great post/review as always. Again, very sorry for having to bail on you, really couldn't be helped. I also really regret missing the course. Sounds like exactly what I am looking for in training these days ya know, the reality based sort. I'll talk to you soon, training in Sept. if you're interested.


P.s. Double Naught Spy, did you take the Hackathorn course in TX in June... If you did you met Freemans and My buddy Gilbert.
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Old August 11, 2002, 10:47 AM   #14
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Lone, good to hear from you again. No need for aplologies; you had more important things to do.

Where are we going in September??? Tell me now--I have motions to file to get ready.

KSFreeman sez: Gilberto, hola, que tal, vato?
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Old August 12, 2002, 02:02 PM   #15
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KSFreeman,
I'm sending you a private message on Glock Talk.


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Old September 10, 2002, 08:52 PM   #16
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The first sentence had me a little jealous. By the end of the post I was so relieved (I didn't have to go).
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Old September 11, 2002, 08:01 PM   #17
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Quote:
Gunsite 25--10 shots at 25 yards, draw and shoot within time limit (usually 2.5 seconds);
All I can say is:

In fact, that applies to most of the drills KSFreeman posted.

Wow. There are just a whole lot of people who can shoot a whole lot better than I can. I need more practice. A LOT more practice.
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Old September 11, 2002, 09:19 PM   #18
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Ah, GSB, I just realized we're about a month late on this post. But I di want to cite you for a good catch. 10 shots at 25 yards in 2.5 seconds would be awesome indeed. The aforementioned Bill Drill is an IPSC/IDPA target at 7 yards. A master type goal is <2.0 seconds (that's a sub one seond draw with five .2 second splits). I've been practicing for IPSC for about a year and I'm at about 2.25. Have also been practicing El Prez's (less than 8 seconds with all A's, and that isn't all that good for a IPSC shooter) and shooitng on the move. Shoot -n-scoot, now that's a challenge! I meant no disrespect to KS Freeman with my previous post, I've read his posts here alot and he's spot on. After I saw the drills, though, I just realized that I've already been practicing most of this stuff and would have been really bored, and probably ticked, if I spent money to attend a class like this.
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Old September 12, 2002, 05:52 AM   #19
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7 yards or 25, I just don't know if I could even pull the trigger that fast. I mean, how do you keep a handgun anywhere near on-target firing 10 rounds in 1.5 seconds, subtracting the draw time (I mean, you obviously do it, but how?).

Speed is my one serious weekness in shooting. I just have some mental obstacle when it comes to picking up that second shot fast. What's the secret?
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Old September 12, 2002, 07:32 AM   #20
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GSB, well, it CAN be done, but the time limit is for EACH shot!

Sorry about the confusion.

As far as speed, I highly recommend Advanced Handgun Skills, aka "Shoot until you puke", sponsored by LFI. Check the MTG website as well.
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Old September 12, 2002, 08:50 AM   #21
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Whew! Thanks KSF. 10 shots in 2.5 seconds would be .25 second splits if you started from the ready, ceratainly doable but I doubt how many hits I would have at 25 yards. GSB, the Bill Drill at seven yards is only 6 shots. This might be a good one for you to practice if you're having trouble getting your second shot off quickly.
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Old September 12, 2002, 08:55 PM   #22
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Thanks KSF for clearing that up. 10 in 2.5 from the holster seemed kind of "Jerry Miculek" to me!
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Old September 12, 2002, 08:58 PM   #23
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Thanks twix. What I need to do is invest in a timer. It's almost impossible for me to know how I'm doing without it.
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Old September 13, 2002, 07:22 AM   #24
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Timer? I hounded my shooting partner for a year that we ought to get a timer(I guess the plan was to go in together). It seemed we could never get it together, until he finally bought one this summer. The second practice after getting it, we were all set up and ready to go and when we turned the timer on, it was dead. I said, well let's just shoot. He said"Without a timer? What's the point? I'lll go to the store and get a battery." Oh, yes, I found a deal on an old used one for myself and a backup. Works.
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Old October 6, 2002, 05:45 PM   #25
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TFLer Glock-o-matic has now put the photos on the Midwest Training Group website thingy for the class. The photo icon thingy is on the right hand side of the homepage. You have to click on the photo and then Ken Hackathorn as I could not get the *&^%*@ hyperlink thingy to work.

That's the back of my head at the shake hands ceremony pic and that's me on the left end San Fran kneeling with the untactical "Friends of the Library" shirt in the group photo. Glock-o-matic is hiding on the back row behind his beard on the right side in a MTG shirt.

www.midwesttraininggroup.com
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