Tom Givens-Rangemaster Pistol Instructor Course 24-26 Feb 23, Kansas City, KS
AAR- Rangemaster Pistol Instructor Course, Kansas City, Kansas 24-26 Feb 23
Lead Instructor-Tom Givens, Assistant Instructors- Chuck Haggard and David Barnes
Intro: This is my first AAR online in some time. I took this class in 2010 in OKC as a student and was an assistant instructor in 2016 in Ottawa, KS. I feel compelled to write it for those who find themselves on the fence regarding taking a class from Tom Givens in particular and others in general. My goal was to see how the class had evolved and to “pressure” test myself shooting an RDS pistol “cold” on some of the tests that were to be given to the students over the course of the class. This was my first class that I have taken or “taught” since the summer of 2016 with the exception of some 4-8 hour “in service” blocks with various client agencies.
Venue: Frontier Justice in Kansas City, Kansas. This is brand new an indoor facility with multiple 25-meter ranges, programable turning targets and full line gun shop selling firearms, holsters, clothing and accessories. There is off street parking, modern classrooms, a soda/snack/coffee machine and a microwave all in the building. The ranges themselves had excellent air handling and baffling such that it fairly easy to hear relative to many other indoor venues, particularly if one was wearing electronic hearing protection.
Class Description: Tom has done a superlative job in upgrading the class with relevant information as we have come to understand how adults learn along with the evolving equipment, doctrinal, legal and social changes that have taken place since 2010. Students are paired off with each other and coach each on basic marksmanship fundamentals under the watchful eye of Tom along with any AI assigned to the class. The class was about 60% shooting/40% classroom. There was shooting every day. (200ish rounds day 1, 450ish rounds day 2, 200ish rounds day 3.) There were shooter on shooter competitions on day 2 and graded shooting tests (The latest FBI Pistol Qual and the Rangemaster Qual) along with an 80-question comprehensive written exam on day 3. A passing score of 90% is required on each of the three tests to pass and earn a certificate. Tom put the quality in house a/v equipment and thoroughly vetted power point to excellent use with no tech issues. Additional classroom topics (beyond marksmanship fundamentals) included safety, firearms nomenclature, ammo, gear, how to teach, lesson planning and legal issues.
Additionally, Tom gave an industry standard set of mindset and crime stat lectures re rationales for carrying a concealed pistol on a daily basis that are arguably worth the price of admission alone. This conclusion is also bolstered by the fact that nearly 70 Rangemaster students to dates have successfully defended themselves and/or others.
I mean this with the utmost respect-Tom has an “answer” for everything he teaches. You may not like or agree with the “answer”, but it is clear that Tom has thought long and hard about his teaching approach, material and methodology. When asking a question, you will get a full explanation as opposed to a “ because I said so” answer. The “why” is always fully addressed.
Class Pistols/Ammo: The entire class (16) was shooting brass cased 9mm. Just over half the class was shooting a flavor of Glock. There were also a couple of Sig 365s, a Beretta PX4, a CZ P01, a long slide SIG 320, a Staccato, a Walther Q5? and an old school Sig P228. Tom demoed with a S&W 2.0 in the metal. Chuck and I both had Glocks with Holosuns. Speaking of RD sights, over half the class were running those as well. Mostly 500 series Holosuns with an Aimpoint P2 and a RMR in the mix. Everybody’s gun worked well. The malfunctions I observed were shooter induced by failing to firmly seat a magazine and/or vigorously run the slide.
Student Gear: The vast majority of students had electronic hearing protection and quality holsters (IWB/OWB and AIWB.) There were no SERPAs and only one leather OWB holster that was on the edge because the sweat guard had the potential to foul the re holster. The gun in question (Walther Q5?) such that this may have been one of the few holsters the student could find. All of the students shot from concealment.
Class Goal: Tom strives to explain, demonstrate, have students imitate and practice, and ultimately test the students on what they have learned. Over the 3 days/24-hour class, the goal is clearly met.
Bottom Line: If you are a student of the pistol and believe you should teach, his class is an excellent step. Tom is one of the last living links between the father of Modern Pistolcraft-Jeff Cooper (Tom trained with him pre-1980) and those who teach today. Unlike some instructors of both Tom’s generation and those who have emerged since the “War on Terror” began, Tom has continued to collect, collate and create knowledge in the uniquely American martial art of Pistolcraft, particularly for the armed person who does not act in a sworn or military capacity.
Personal Gear Shout Outs:
Holster: I ran a Circa 2022 Mastermind Tactics G17 AIWB with a full rectangular pillow. It was great and has been my EDC for the last few months. It is presently sold out. I intend to buy another as a spare as soon as it comes back in stock.
Belt: I ran a Mastermind Tactics Specialist TLG/PF Edition (Black w Orange stitches) on day 1. A Tenicor Zero on day 2 and a Wilderness Frequent Flyer (CSM version) day 3. All worked fine.
Mag Carriers- CCC Basic Mag Carrier x 2. Fast, secure and presently “unobtanium” as they are no longer being made.
Socks: Darn Tough. They are simply the best I have ever worn. Buy them on sale. Have them given to you as gifts. Better than SmartWools, IceBreakers and Kirkland Merino, though fine socks all.
Shoes: Danner Bull Run Boots day 1. Hoka Gaviotas day 2 and 3. All were fine. Having said that, I would consider a more basketball-oriented court shoe if I was going to be at this range again given the relative slickness of the concrete floors.