Close Quarters Pistol Review


AAR HiTS Close Quarters Pistol – Dallas, Texas, Oct 18-19, 2014

Name of Company: HiTS – Hardwired Tactical Shooting

Type of Course: Close Quarters Pistol

Date of Course: October 18 & 19, 2014

Location of course: Dallas Pistol Club, Carrollton, Texas

Class purpose, copied directly from the course announcement: This class is designed to work our methodology for dealing with lethal force threats inside of 7 yards. We will focus on a lot of the techniques and drills introduced in day 2 of First Responder and highly recommend a previous First Responder or higher level class as a pre-requisite. There will be extensive movement, and the introduction of a number of "bystander" and non-shoot targets into the drills. Previous students can shoot from concealment IF they are using a high-quality concealment system of holster, belt and auxiliary gear. Many drills will be executed solo with instructor input from multiple angles and for the benefit of the class to "see" how these drills are approached by different shooters that will aid in discussions. As firearms handling will be heavily enforced. This class is "Revolver neutral". If you want to run your real daily carry equipment in a stress environment, this class is for you.

Instructors: The co-owners of HiTS are Darryl Bolke and Wayne Dobbs, and both are members here. They are retired LEO’s with much experience as street/SWAT cops and trainers. Both have decades of experience training people, and it clearly shows. You are never left wondering “What did he mean?” Their training is logical, tested, and directly applicable to my needs. 

Their website is located here:

Equipment used: Glock Gen4 G17 with Ameriglo Hackathorn sights, Vickers Tactical slide release. Trigger was stock, along with mag release. Surefire X300 was mounted to mimic nightstand pistol weight and handling. No issues with pistol, this was its third training class. Round count on the firearm prior to the class was 2669. Pistol finished the class with 3160 rounds. It has had no malfunctions to date. Lube was Froglube paste, because that’s what I had and I don’t really sweat the type of lube, just the amount. Spare G17 was brought, but never left the case.

Support gear: Same from previous classes. Volund Gear Works Atlas belt, Raven Concealment Phantom Holster, Eagle Industries triple mag pouch, CSM Gear mini dump pouch, Surefire 6P light with holster. Joe Watson HiTS knife. Big pile of G17 mags, some with Arredondo +6 extensions as on nightstand pistol. No issues with any of the gear over the two days. I was going to try a new Ares Gear Aegis Belt, but it is still being built.

I also carried a Smith & Wesson 642 in the left front pocket, because I carry it everywhere. Holster is a Steve McElroy RKBA leather holster. Reload is a Safariland Comp I speedloader. More on the BUG’s used in the class later in the AAR.

Round count: Stated round count before class was 500 rounds. I brought 1000 rounds of Magtech 124-grain 9mm FMJ. Ammo functioned very well, accurate with no issues. I fired 491 rounds in the class.

Class started with introductions and a very solid safety brief. Most of the 11 students already knew each other, and many had trained together previously. It was an interesting mix – we had Federal law enforcement, accomplished 3gunner, former LEO, current EMS, my favorite knifemaker, and folks who are just seeking the best training they can.

The safety brief consisted of a very good discussion of how the 4 rules work, both on the range and off. There are some additional restrictions at the venue we used. They are not onerous, but must be observed. They were explained in detail, and followed. The HiTS instructors are rigorous about two things – safety and round accountability. You are responsible for being a safe shooter, and you own every single round you fire. Other stuff like Isosceles versus Weaver or whatever – they will work with a student to make them efficient with what they have. 

We also had a very good discussion regarding the way Rule 2 (muzzle direction) and Rule 3 (trigger finger) work together to prevent good people from an unwanted increase in orifice count. This was an important discussion, because we would be working problems involving those two rules on Training Day 2.

Then we went on the range, and fired a 1-2-3 drill to see how everyone was doing. First shot was a single round to the head. The 2 rounds to the X-ring in the chest. Then 3 rounds – two to the body, one to the head. 

Always, the instructors pushed very high accuracy standards within a reasonable time limit. You put your shots into a 3x5 head box, or it was a miss. You put rounds into the black on a B-8 target repair center, or it was a miss. 10-ring hits were preferred. 

We also used these cardboard targets, with a B-8 repair center overlayed:

It’s the NRA National Defense Match target. TLG, Wayne, and Darryl prefer it, as it more closely mimics the correct aiming points for a shooter – high center of chest and headbox. I just ordered some to practice with, and will probably do a followup post with more observations after they arrive.

We also shot a portion of the LAPD D Platoon (SWAT) qualification. I personally like this drill a lot, because it is 1911 neutral. (Go figure, considering its source). It’s also a drill you can do with a box of ammo and a revolver. 

A lot of the shooting at this point was done from a low ready position. We did a lot of work from the holster later. But the point was stressed about how a good low ready position itself can solve problems. This was tested by the students themselves. They were timed to see how many accurate rounds they could put into the black from concealment, and how many from a low ready. 

As an aside, retired LAPD SWAT/Metro officer Scott Reitz has a very good discussion of this topic in the November 2014 issue of SWAT magazine. It’s on the web and worth looking up. (Hat tip to Tam.)

You might think you hear Montgomery Burns from the Simpson’s saying “Well, duh!” But it’s a very effective teaching methodology – experiential learning. Most people learn best when they actually perform a task, in a frame of mind that is ready to receive knowledge. When I am training minions at my place of employment, I refer to this as “the teachable moment”. HiTS does this with both drills and real-world examples. It’s highly effective.

We did more reinforcement of the 1-2-3 drills with time pressure added. Then we started doing them weak-handed, then added the time limits back. If you think you are building an ingrained response to go for a head-shot when available, you are right. The nice thing about shooting something in the head is that it usually causes a cessation of annoying behavior.

We followed this up with more weak hand shooting drills. Some of these I had been exposed to in a previous Advanced First Responder Pistol class, and had been incorporated into my range and dry practice sessions. What happens when you get shot in the hand, or your firearm takes a round? That is a surprisingly common event, given how people visually fixate on weapons in gunfights. Do you go after the weapon on the ground, and fire single/weak-hand? Or do you draw a backup gun from a pocket and fire? Have you timed that? How easy is your BUG to shoot weak hand only from concealment? Have you timed that and looked at the accuracy?

For some of us, it was faster to get the weapon off the deck and put two rounds COM. But everyone with a BUG tested that. Very good training for all involved. 

And then we got to the meat of the course. How do you handle rule 2 and rule 3 around real human no-shoots? Students were asked how many of them had ever run a muzzle across a no-shoot cardboard target in a match, with their finger on a prepped trigger? You could see the look of horror spread across a few people’s faces. “So you are going to do this in a match, and build that habit, but you won’t do this in real life, right…….”

Then one of the instructors gave me one of those little gems that I scribbled into my notebook: “When you hear somebody tell you “In a gunfight, I would do this…. When they say ‘I would’ it means they have never done it, and likely never tested it.”

And that is when I said to myself: “Self – you seriously need to work this stuff very hard and reset your brain.” Remember the mention of safety and round accountability? Yes, it’s all building blocks, and guided discovery. Another thing I really like about these classes. You are set up to learn. 

We spent the next half-hour watching, discussing and practicing the different techniques for avoiding no-shoots. Low ready, compressed low ready, high ready, SUL, even a discussion about Temple Index. When would they be advisable, and when another technique might be better. 

We then did shooting on the move drills, while adding multiple no-shoot targets. You had to perform a failure to stop drill, or a headshot on demand. Always a demo from the instructors, showing exactly what they wanted to see. 

Training day two brought the modified snake drill. This was done with cardboard target stands, and not live breathing nervous human no-shoots. We set up multiple target stands with cardboard targets, and the student was required to move through the no-shoots, and fire failure to stop drills on four different bad guys. Every round had to be a hit, and no muzzling good guys. This forced the shooter to use different techniques to prevent violating rules 2 and 3. Wayne and Darryl both paid homage to Ken Hackathorn, who runs this drill in a superb fashion. They also encouraged students to seek out his classes. I was planning to do so last year, but broken bones interfered with my plans. I’m definitely looking forward to learning from Mr. Hackathorn.

After lunch, we worked on targets simulating both hostage rescue and human shield situations. The differences in both were explained, along with potential responses. Again, you have increasingly restrictive sightlines and time limits as we progressed. Movement and muzzle awareness was absolutely crucial. I’m not going to go into a great deal on this, because I don’t think I would do it justice. I think the drills and presentation was really useful, and well taught. It’s a complex evolution, and you really need to have solid people walk you through it. That was accomplished very well.

On a lot of these drills, a student would walk through the drill without firing, then perform it solo under the watch of both instructors. I really liked this. One instructor would watch the muzzle and trigger finger (no Wubbie!), and the other would observe the execution of the drill. The other students would watch and learn. Plus having a dozen set of eyes on you adds a little pressure, which is good.

And if you think having a dozen people watch you perform is bad pressure, imagine a dozen jurors…..

Then we went to two drills that were very applicable for everyone. What happens when an attacker or attackers approach you in a parking lot, when you are sandwiched between two cars. What happens when there are multiple attackers? What happens when you have a spouse/child/grandparent/hot date you are loading in the car? What if the loved one are already in the car, where does your muzzle go?

The second was a carjacking scenario. You are seated in a car, and Billy Ray the Buick Thief decides he needs your vehicle more than you. Getting the weapon into play, without muzzling yourself or a passenger was worked on. A BUG carried in an ankle holster was tested here, and found to be useful. This might be something to consider for folks who spend a lot of time seated in a car or desk. As I prefer to drive rather than spend time in airports, I’m probably going to be sending Ken Null some more money.

Airbags were also addressed, something I had never given a great deal of thought to before this. A lot of newer cars have side curtain airbags. Those, in addition to the ones mounted on the steering column, play a role in the thought process.

A little more about the wheelguns. We had one student that shot a pair of revolvers all weekend, as a test. A Ruger GP100 and a Ruger SP101, with .357 Magnum ammo. He more than held his own. Two other students ran Smith and Wesson J-frame BUG’s from concealment, as a test. With the right gear and training, you can run a revolver effectively within its parameters. Am I going to dump the 9mm Glock on my right hip? No. But I am more effective when using my backup from concealment.

Hardware issues observed in class: We had one 1911 that experienced an issue with a plunger tube, and it was deadlined. We had another 1911 that had an issue with a mag release. It was addressed and returned to service. Everybody brought backup gear, and we had no timeouts due to gear issues. Again, a credit to the students, recognizing gear can fail.

There is/are a lot of questions floating around about the current reliability of the Gen4 Glock 17 and G19 pistols. Mine has not had an issue, after three classes and a bunch of range trips. I have tried to leave this gun unchanged from the factory, with the exception of the sights and slide release. I have an Apex extractor and White Sound HRED sitting on the tool bench, but they have proved unnecessary so far. I wish the silly thing would go ahead and either blow up, or drive empty brass through my forehead, I’m getting tired of waiting….. Instead it just chugs along. Oh well, boring is good.

Final thoughts: This was a thinking class, not a “turn ammo into noise” class. It showed, too. When we ran the final drill of the day, some people’s accuracy had begun to drop off. The wheels came off my shooting on the final walk-back drill we did. But that is good – I learned again how much shooting I can do in a day, with that much mental decision-making. The length of class and round count were a very good choice each day, in order to reinforce the right lessons. 

Thank you's: The students in this class were great. Everyone had a great attitude, high levels of skill, and were always thinking. Muzzles and trigger fingers were in the proper position, and folks were constantly helping each other. This was a joy to see, and allowed for us to really accomplish a great deal during the class time. I personally was thankful for a tip from my favorite knifemaker, Joe Watson, who was a student in this class. He gave me a tip about shot pacing that had an immediate positive effect during the SOTM drills. And most of all I want to thank the instructors for all the lightbulb moments that occurred, it was definitely applicable training and well worth the investment.


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