There are some exceptional trainers out there putting out well above average information and coursework who are not teaching on the national circuit much. Karl Rehn is one of those guys. He runs a fixed base training company in central Texas called KR Training. He has been in the training business for a long time and has been quite successful at making the fixed base training game work. There are very few people who have been able to pull that off. Fewer who have been able to pull it off for so long.
Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training was first published in 2019, written by Karl and his senior assistant instructor John Daub. The book is about 150 pages long and divided into three sections.
The first section, titled Beyond the One Percent, pulls largely from a presentation Karl Rehn had done on understanding the training marketplace. While the average student of the gun will likely find the information in this section interesting, it is probably most useful for instructors. The section focuses on understanding who trains, and who doesn’t. It tries to crack the code to get the people who don’t train to start training.
This is where Karl’s experience in the training industry really comes in handy. He has had the opportunity to experiment with a lot of different approaches to the problem and shares the insight he has gained through that experience. There is something here for every level of instructor. For the aspiring instructor, there is a chapter outlining a path to competence in that endeavor. For people already in the instructor business, there are chapters on understanding client motivations and strategies to improve access to training.
Section two is titled Minimum Competence for Defensive Pistol and originally started as a presentation by John Daub. While I felt section one was targeted at instructors, section two is targeted at gun carriers who are not overly familiar with training or how to approach skill development. In fact, it is probably one of the best pieces of content I have seen for that level of shooter.
For the new or less experienced shooter, this section provides a well-reasoned benchmark of minimum skill. If that benchmark cannot be reached at the moment it offers a path on how to get there, or how to improve beyond the benchmark once it has been reached. I have read a few books on skill development, for the most part, they are targeted at the already initiated. This part of Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training seems targeted at a less experienced group of people.
For the more experienced shooter or instructor, I think there is still useful information here. Mostly in understanding how to approach skill-building from the bottom up. Often times we might have our own ideas on what is “good enough”, usually shaped by what we happen to be good at.
It is easy for someone who is relatively good at shooting to think that something that is easy for them should also be easy for everyone else too. I know because I have been there. “This is easy for me, why isn’t it easy for you.” This section is a good reminder of where everyone has to start, and the path of development that has to be traveled.
Section three is simply titled Drills. For the first several pages there is a detailed explanation of why and how KR Training’s 3 Seconds or Less course of fire was developed. It is an interesting look inside the logic. I have shot and written about this course of fire before, but I will need to revisit it again now that I have a deeper understanding.
The remainder of section three is spent explaining how to understand a drill’s difficulty level, grasping the concept of automaticity, and the authors’ favorite drills. In general, I would say this section is targeted at the person with a little bit of skill development already under their belt. It is about understanding what the next level is, and includes some tools to help get someone there.
Altogether, I was impressed by this book. It is a fairly easy read even though many of the topics covered are a bit dry. The chapters are short enough that it is easy to read a bit here and there and then take some time to really process the information and ideas presented.
The book provides perspective and insight that I really haven’t seen in other books. For people who are into skill development, instructors trying to build a business, or people new to the defensive shooting party, this is a worthwhile read. There are bits and pieces for all of those categories of people.