Village Praxis: How to Structure Range Practice by John Meyers

Training is a process, not an event.”

– Claude Werner

Either learn to drive a rifle or ride a rail car.”

– Bill Buppert

Publisher’s Note: The blog is at 95% and I am still black-listed by Verizon and ATT on cell but not WiFi. I remain blacklisted on all DoD websites. I would suggest that anyone who is opposed to human slavery will find themselves harassed by providers on the ‘net. Just a fact of life.

 The forum is now accessible, but we had to create it from scratch. We will start to add sub-forums on the forum like the old version on request. You’ll find in the forum tab, go ahead and join.

 ZeroGov t-shirts are on the horizon.

 I have several avocations and one of them is as a layman observer and listener of jazz to include the Great American Songbook which was probably born around 1911 with Irving Berlin’s splendid and sublime Alexander’s ragtime Band. Four.years after in 1915, the greatest song interpreter of the twentieth century was born, Frank Sinatra. One of the few benefits of WWI was the birth of the American jazz music industry after 1918 into a commercial empire. I have been enjoying the 100 song retrospective by the musically erudite and eloquent Mark Steyn.

 I have also enjoyed one of the best single volume treatments of the jazz oeuvre in But Beautiful by Geoff Dyer.

 Some of the most vivid jazz criticism I have read of late.

 On the home front, I have concentrating on optics upgrades with Vortex Viper scopes and shifting the pistol RMR configurations to 7 MOA amber-dotted dual illumination devices by Trijicon.

Update 8-13-2018: ZeroGov T-shirts are now available on Amazon for 22 debt-bucks shipped.

 The always scintillating John Meyers has written another ball-buster of an essay. -BB

It’s surreal. If the average liberty adherent went to sleep in the late 80’s and woke up in 2018, they’d be flabbergasted. Conservatives love Russia and Liberals hate it. Liberals are in favor of free trade and Conservatives are in favor of Protectionism (i.e. taxes). Democrats want to abolish a department of government while Republicans fight vehemently to boost its funding. Lefties on the fringe are arming themselves and a conservative populist president is responsible for one of the biggest budgets and deficits in history as well as the more gun control than the entire eight years of Obama.  There seems to be validity to the unnamed law that says ‘the new president will always be worse than the last.’

The proprietor of Attack the System, Keith Preston, a website dedicated to a big tent, ‘pan secessionist’ approach to curtailing Leviathan made a social media post that sums up the current state of affairs.  He commented that the next civil war in these united States would be a giant food fight between one side hurling Starbucks Latte’s and the other tossing Chic Fil-A sandwiches. At this point I cannot find fault in that argument.

Change my mind.

The topic of a looming domestic conflict is popular to speculate about in certain circles and the very real threat of dealing day to day with criminal violence is a motivator to train.  The folks in the survival milieu tend to be very good at amassing piles of stuff but often the skillset to employ the equipment can be lacking or suffering from severe Dunning Kruger syndrome.

Which brings us to the topic du jour, structuring practice at the range particularly for a group of dedicated folks. The following is merely written as a set of contextual suggestions and/or a detailing of things I have found beneficial.

Why Group Range Days? 

The opening quote of this article by Claude Werner may seem self-evident, however it is lost on many. Some folks approach the Tactical Art of Gun-Fu with a definitive mindset. “I’ve taken that class!” or “I got my CCW permit already, I’m good.” The common refrain of the Retreat Sniper is “I’ve hunted all my life.” Le Sigh.

Skills must constantly be worked to just maintain your skill level. Even more work must be done to increase performance.

Training is a process, indeed.

We can accomplish quite a bit of work in the shooting arena by ourselves. Working fundamentals, turning techniques into skills and honing those skills to competency can be done on one’s own time. So why should we also seek practice sessions in a group environment?

Unless we get around other shooters, we really don’t understand our own capabilities in comparison to others’ abilities.  Until that Retreat Sniper sees the 70-year-old come off an oxygen tank to wear him out 6 ways from Sunday on a course of fire, Mr. Retreat Sniper will overestimate his own ability.

A group setting allows one to compete against their peers.  It doesn’t have to be some sort of serious competition but the slightly added stressor of performance on demand in front of your peers is useful. The mere fact that someone else might see your target(s) is often enough to trigger those stressors.

Group range sessions will broaden your frame of reference and give a more realistic assessment of you and/or your potential future survival team’s abilities.

Often times if we stay isolated (and as a side effect of Dunning-Kruger) we can develop ‘big fish in a small pond’ syndrome. You become complacent and confident through your own segregation and can often overestimate your abilities. If you see others performing better than you it can push you to strive for excellence. Until the small fish gets out in the ocean, they don’t know how good they really are.

Group range days, particularly if you have rotating organizational duties, allow shooters to perform under peer pressure and on someone else’s course of fire.

Probably of most interest to the readership, is it allows you get in practice with buddy teams or larger units. Obviously you can’t work team tactics by yourself.

It also needs to be said that the ‘range day’ is not supposed to be a class. It’s not necessarily a time of formal instruction but it could be if that is what people want or someone is capable of instructing. There may be an organizer or someone running the line at a certain point in time, but in general we aren’t looking to have a class. The range days I prefer are days for shooters to practice what they know and refine those TTP’s. (Techniques, Tactics and Procedures) It’s a guarantee someone is going to learn something from someone else or try a new technique they saw, but there is generally no formal lectures or instruction time.

Employment of Standards and Qualifications

Controversy.  Standards and qualification tests are metrics of performance and used as evaluations of skill. There are skill-building drills and there are drills that evaluate skill.  Sometimes there is overlap, but usually not. I mention this because there is often confusion on the definition standards and qualification’s.

Think of standards tests as the test your teacher gave you at the end of the week. Skill building drills are the reading assignments and homework the teacher gave you leading up to the test.

If you don’t do the work and simply take the test repeatedly without any real knowledge on the subject, you are not going to get better; you are just going to keep failing. You must do the studying to get better on the test.

Stated differently for the meatheads out of there.  The test is the powerlifting meet. But in order to bench 405 at a body weight of 150lbs., you don’t start training by putting 405 on the bar and hitting reps. The work must be done leading up to that personal record.

An example of a test might be the Super Test. It might be a specific drill such as one found on the Federal Air Marshal Qualification that has you fire specific courses of fire under a certain time constraint. For a totally made up example, draw pistol, fire 2 rounds to the credit card in the head box, take a knee and fire 6 rounds to the body in 5 seconds @ 7 yards.

A useful method to employ is to use a standard or test at the start of a range session. Use that as a diagnostic to figure out what you need to work on that day. For instance if you start out with the FASTest (7 yards, draw from concealment, 2 rounds into a horizontal index card, slide lock reload, 4 rounds into an 8” circle) and you miss the time hack you set for yourself or accuracy standard because you boggled your draw, and missed both shots to the index card.  You know right then the focus should be draws and accuracy.

Then you can structure some time for different micro drills or exercises to work the draw. You may shoot some exercises that work on your sight alignment by shooting 1” dots at 5 yards or if you are moving the gun off target due to pre-ignition timing issues you may employ a 50/50 drills to work on that problem.

During the group range day, there may be too many people to work each problem every shooter has with a specific drill, but the shooter can concentrate on the issue during the range session and know what they have to work on individually on their own time.

Frank Proctor is widely known for unique training methodologies that do not necessarily mimic the pack. He refers to skill building drills as exercises. He trains 99% of the time using these exercises.

“Testing” as part of the range day should be a very small and brief portion. The main goal is sustainment of skills and working to better those skills.

Standards are generally based on aggregates of performance across a wide variety of shooters. USPSA and other organizations use aggregates determined by thousands of shooters in the database to determine placing. Fighting units have other means of determining the qualifications. The point I’m getting at is these tests are not just made up as some people assert.

Standards often get a bad name because of how they are often employed by various Blue Tribe agencies.  Often these departments do very little training at all and they repeatedly shoot qualifications without building skill. The track record of the various 19,000 agencies across these united States is open source for all to see for themselves.

The outcome is everything, but it is nothing. The goal should always be getting better not just trying to achieve some standard. Once you reach the standard it’s not an end point. To use Pat Mac’s phraseology, if you cloned yourself today, you want to be able to kick your clone’s ass tomorrow. Focus on the process not just the outcome. It’s no different than a Westside Barbell template.  You don’t just focus on the PR (Personal Record) you have to focus on working on your deficiencies and performing perfect reps and conjugation to build up to that PR. Once you achieve it you go right back to focusing on the process to hit another PR.

Range Day Structure

There are many ways to skin a cat, but as of late, I’m a fan of starting cold, out of the gate with some sort of standards test for a picture of performance on demand. That’s what counts, yes? We are not going to have a 5 min warning before the next gunfight in the gun free zone.

Range day structure doesn’t need to be cloaked in erudition, but it does need structure and focus to ensure the time is spent to benefit all. From here I generally like to work from most likely to least likely to be utilized skills. Draws to first shot string or presentations (‘up drills’) may be the first focus, followed by some malfunction work or target transitions. Remember that although a civilian is highly unlikely to need to reload in a gun fight, (I don’t think an example exists in a totally civilian context but I can stipulate that) the gun running dry is usually the most likely ‘malfunction’ you’ll encounter.

With group range days, you have the advantage of having a buddy to work draws, reloads or what Mike Pannone calls Rabbit and Coyote contests. With more than one person you can use malfunction sticks to induce complex malfunctions, which is a more realistic way to train them in my view than simply setting up battle field pick up type malfunction drills or running snap caps and brass in your mags (great for simple malfunction clearances by the way). This is also a case where being competent in the difficult processes makes it easier to clear the easier malfunctions.

Have a theme for the day. Whether it’s working 2-man tactics, movement, injured shooter, speed, positional shooting, vehicle or distance work, decision making, etc. the list is endless.

I’m a fan of task stacking and grouping and having each exercise build on each other to a final culmination at the end. It needn’t be dramatic, but a course of fire or exercise to end the day that ties everything together is important. This is not really any different than how most competent instructors organize their Points of Instruction. (POI)

The themed day seems to work out pretty well and keeps everything on track.  While I am an ardent believer in spontaneous order, I’ve seen a few times where if there wasn’t some Points of Interest lined out beforehand, things turn quickly from 20 minutes of staring at each other saying ‘soooooo….what do you want to run?” to blowing up TV’s. While that could be fun, it’s not pushing us closer to our goal of getting better.

In keeping with the trajectory of most likely to least likely, after work on the fundamentals, I tend to move quickly into exercises that involve processing and decision making of some sort, even if it isn’t necessarily the direct focus of the day. Whether its simple line drills such as the Casino Drill or more complex, multi target, multi person, multi position exercises involving movement and no shoots.

(For those interested range session logs, go here.)

 Organizational Challenges

Typically, there will be hitches in the giddy up. Generally, you may encounter venue issues such as finding a venue in the first place that is somewhat local to your people, that will allow 10-15+ guys burning it down for 8 hours or into the night if working low light. You also have to deal with dedication of the participants to even show up regularly which can often be very difficult with a thing called Life constantly in the way. (Although the actual cause of no shows is lack of commitment to training or prioritizing that commitment)

You also have to deal with targetry, stands, barricades, vision barriers, perhaps vehicles you don’t mind shooting around, land big enough to be used for SUT (Small Unit Tactics), hauling around steel targets, or even a shoot house.

There is also the duty of putting together the courses of fire and exercises. Ideally the chore would rotate around the shooting group allowing different perspectives to flourish and break institutional inbreeding and keep variety.

Let’s touch briefly on ‘vetting’ of the attendees. Obviously, this is left up to whoever is organizing and participating in the event.  I’ve seen both spectrums from throwing the doors wide open to anyone to keeping things super secret squirrel. The irony of the ultra secret approach is that it only stays that way, until the lead starts flying, and the entire community hears what is going on.  This is where the Patriot is often at odds with their Prepper persona. They want to keep things super wrapped up and secret, you know, ‘muh OPSEC!’ but the Freedomista in them wants to tell any busy bodies or enforcement agents to take a hike. “This is my land and By God, I’ll do what I want! Any time!” throwing OPSEC/PERSEC out the window.

I’d suggest figuring out where you stand on that issue up front. If you want ‘muh OPSEC!’ you are going to have to retreat pretty far back into the woods or use a legitimate shooting facility that would allow an organized range day to take place.   Shooting in the front yard probably won’t work for you.

I can say with confidence that shooting is mainstream these days in a majority of the country, if you are away from urban population centers.  Buppert reminds us that cities are incubators for collectivism. There are people that make 6 figure incomes off of YouTube videos and associated activities about guns/survival. The cat is out of the bag. ‘They’ know that people are shooting.

There is often an argument of ‘but we have to conduct a 2 year long back ground check and vetting of every person we tell about our range days, cuz muh Antifa!!’ I can assure you if this is the position you take, you’ll be shooting alone for a long time. There is an argument that says no one except MIL or LE, or in this case, vetted Patriots should know tactics or even basic weapons handling because you may inadvertently ‘train the enemy.’ Some argue that open enrollment tactics type classes should not exist.

I hate to break it to you but that horse has left the barn a LONG time ago. From Army FM’s to YouTube videos detailing everything from CQB to low light techniques, everything is open source. Any Antifa hooligan with about 5 minutes on their hands can access everything you think is a secret on the interwebz. However, I’d be remiss to point out that merely accessing information does not mean you are competent in those skills anymore than reading a book about brain surgery makes you a brain surgeon.

Having attended well over a dozen completely open enrollment, mainstream firearms classes, the main concern to me is that someone is safe. I’ve found that in general the people, who pay the industry rate to train, tend to be level headed, good-natured, and attending the class to learn. (Or at least, they tend not be total idiots. There are exceptions.)  It’s highly unlikely that you’ll find a Redneck Revolt guerrilla at a 2-day carbine course by a national level instructor that costs 500$+ for those in fear.

Often one is more likely to see more issues at free or low-cost classes. It’s not unlike college and high school. In general, you tend to see more folks in public high school who don’t want to be there that cause problems than you do at college. This is largely because despite the government created college loan bubble, someone is paying a decent chunk of change for the education and they aren’t forced to be there like in compulsory public high school.

These are just some suggestions for folks to get the people motivated to train together.  I would like for folks to think of this as legitimate shooting practice to make everyone better not some militia call out. I’d highly encourage some sort of physical fitness standard to be worked toward as well.

Instead of throwing victory parties over 4% GDP growth by Herr Orange Fuhrer, get out and do work.  (Who cares about the made-up GDP anyway? Its 45% composed of government, if Gov. grows, so does GDP. If prices rise from tariffs, the GDP grows. If prices rise from inflation, GDP rises. And yet we are poorer. So who cares? Consumption and spending are not production.)

Those 20 Budget Builds are not going to shoot themselves and you are not going to learn if they even work without getting them on the range. Stop treating piles of stuff as a talisman.  Say what you will about him but a controversial figure in the shooting industry that went by the pseudonym of “Roland” for a time while still on active duty had a quote that sums this all up pretty well.

Amateurs talk about gear. Professionals talk shot placement. Masters are too busy dry firing.”

Run gun, not mouth.

About the author: John Meyers traces his Appalachian ancestry back nine generations to the 1750’s. He lives with his family on the high ridges of the Smoky Mountains.


7 thoughts on “Village Praxis: How to Structure Range Practice by John Meyers”

  1. Advice which tallies a number of other dedicated training and philosophy of weapons men who dedicate themselves to helping those who help themselves. That’s a good thing, seeing a commonality in sound fundamental thinking and practice.

    I believe it is very critical achievement, and one that is hard won and well learned.

    The similarities between those I personally view, through both written, and actual participation, as the small infantry tactics FreeFor leaders in weapons and philosophy of training and application in the real world, Max V, John Mosby, yourselves here carries much legitimacy.

    One of the benefits of such fundamental weapons training and philosophy is the idea you take it with you, return to your family tribe and community, and teach others. The basics, the fundamentals, are exactly that foundation of building antifragile supportive thinking and sound implementation of the fundamentals, in themselves standards to function by, thus creating organized cadre, throughout the structure of your support system. And so on, they in turn can help more of their kin and tribe.

    I know from taking home my small unit infantry carbine and combat handgun training and sharing these fundamentals with family and tribe in rural Appalachia, the life experience of my tribe in weapon handling for hunting and protection is a huge positive for the overall upgrade these foundational precepts of training and application bring to us. And vice versa.

    One of the great benefits is the trust in skills and mindset such mutual self structured training brings to our group. We can each assess ourselves and fellows, and develop confidence in each other, discover strengths and weaknesses, mindsets etc, and all that implies in regards to organizing this resource of men in a practical manner befitting our circumstances and AO.

    The roll on order effects are priceless. Just the level of trust in skills between us and operating in a safer mutual support sense alone is an immeasurable force multiplier.

    Example, how do you go about slicing the pie around the corner of your hay barn and have overwatch in a two man team at 3:30 am, having no clear idea who or what you are trying to interdict?

    You can not do this on the fly with the confidence you can depend on each other not to end up shooting each other in mistake.

    Case in point up here we have a serious feral dog problem we have been mitigating. The meth heads use dogs as alarms, usual PitBull or mixed breads there of, chained up and barely fed to keep them mean and alert to various threats from the law to robbers. Usually a few dogs are kept, and like all meth pill addicts they neglect these animals, eventually from either being arrested, run off, or dying, the dogs get loose and form packs. Very dangerous critters, no fear of men, they run down deer, cattle, horses, even people.

    The skill sets spoken of in this post are most suitable to dealing with these cunning predators. The most important of skills being the small unit infantry tactics of movement and hasty ambush. These basics of combat and weapons skills work exactly as described. The level of confidence obtained sublime, the results extremely effective. Though the “enemy” is not shooting back, even though the predatory nature of these very dangerous feral animals is respected and demands thoughtful prudent application of the way of SUT and weapons handing philosophy in real life. To have had the opportunity, rare indeed, to apply my training and study in potentially deadly circumstances with like minded trained compatriots is the gold standard, priceless training for a far more deadly opponent.

    My point here, is not to make points, it is to point out from practical experience as a trained citizen in citizen orientated tactics, mindset, and philosophy, what such above mentioned trainers exemplify and hope to equip us mortals with works in ways so well they blow my mind in their effectiveness.

    The saying “you don’t have enough ammo”, is prologue for “you don’t have enough training”, because if one thing came to be known in this realm of unknown unknowns of combat, there is no limit on refining these fundamental skills and warrior mindset. It isn’t secret squirrel shit or showboating latest tacticool, its not a higher level of tactics, equipment etc, it the weapon between the ears, and refining these fundamentals to where they become second nature, iterative, inuitive, memory muscle and muscle memory, where you are left with a higher level of brain power not consumed with out the distraction of “thinking” about the basic fundamentals, where those fundamentals are natural, and the unknowns can be anticipated on the fly with combat effective decision making.

    It the “art” of combat per say.

    The fascinating aspect of all this combat training and weapons philosophy so generously and selfishly offered by a thankless few, is you find there is more and more to learn as you get the fundamentals, that the basics have facets within facets in the sphere of their implied and applied knowledge. It is an ever increasing process. I suspect you never stop learning these dynamics and their basis. You certainly can never take any of it for granted, which appears to be negative side of improper SUT and Weapons philosophy.

    Humility and prudence go hand in hand for the citizen warrior. We don’t have the support system of organized state military and police state forces.

    All we got is ourselves, each other, and the anti- fragile preparation of body and mind, the 4th Generation war mindset, the efficient fugal use of terrain and territory, and limited support resources.

    We can not afford anything but citizen SUT, and its complimentary weapons philosophy.

    If your not the warrior in the garden, and instead the gardener in a war, the humility of being that warrior in a garden is lost on you.
    This evolution in citizen training and mindset which has evolved over a few decades to the exemplary form it is today is its own force multiplier par excellence. And really, there is nothing else. The exigencies of citizen small unit infantry combat and defense of our properties, families and tribes will be a brutal merciless culling.

    Like the Boy Scouts motto “Always Be Prepared”, was in its day meant to instill a sense of pride, of value, and virtue in our ability to have and use the tools to be prepared for anything.

    The idea of citizen SUT and weapon handling are the same. And to look upon it as virtuous, practical common sense is key to its universal acceptance as the standards in which to train to and live by.

    The right stuff speaks for itself.

  2. Mr. Meyers, so right about the training, as a friend says, “don’t settle for the training that comes with the box ‘, usually referring to firearms. Great suggestions. I hope folks listen, it is growing louder every day.


    1. Yeah! You said it Tom. It is really great seeing Bill add all this new stuff to his blog. Exciting.

      John has is stuff together, has a wonderful way of explaining things.

      Bravo! Keep up the splendid work you guys.

  3. Most excellent article. It’s simple, if you’re shooting, your learning. At some physiological level the mind, the muscles are re-creating the natural, chronological order shit happens in. Call it what you want, from threat recognition to weapon recovery, to sight picture to pressing the trigger, it’s all scripted.

    Please don’t forget luck, there is a degree of luck in every gun fight, the wise shooter creates his/her own luck, with solid fundamentals,

    Lastly the civil accountability can never be considered in this scenario. And their will be consequences for our actions. The system demands it!.

    Great article, as I age, I’m guilty of every flaw pointed out by John. Got a 5000 acre ranch, from one foot to 2k ranges, Rarely use the ranges anymore, which IS the crime. Hopefully your most excellent article will light a fire.

    Seems like the only time I shoot a pistol anymore is qualifying for my HR-218 twice a year. The standards are very low. As long as I’m faster and more accurate then the young buck, fire breathing Policemen, from my old agency, I feel adequate. I admit it’s a pretty low standard, most of those guys are not gun guys, or shooters.

    In trying to figure out why I don’t shoot anymore, I think it has everything to do, with shooting becoming a fad, a game. Gun work is far to important to be a fad or a game. After carrying one on duty for 25 years, I clearly understand the consequences and the responsibility of everyday carry.

    I’m not certain that the majority actually get it.


  4. I hope this is not off topic, that it ties in with the mentality and training spoken of.

    There is something that keeps popping up in the background of my mind which all the excellent training and philosophy of being a warrior citizen has highlighted.
    It occurs to me as things heat up, if the future involves armed violent action by so called “unorganized resistance” where groups of separate but like minded people act to defend and protect their AO’s, there is at least in the beginning the matter of how do various groups identify each other, as possible allies avoiding fratricide and friendly fire/casualties?

    A commonly known symbol like for instance Confederate flag patches in subdued colors? A battle pennant of sorts like Christian warriors and Crusaders of old?

    All personell have a tiny battle flag they can stick to a tree trunk or in the ground as a message of friendly unorganized resistance squads and such?

    I think it is a very important question if for no other reason as families tribes and small communities can ill afford to take KIA or WIA casualties.

    What with the rag tag Salvation Army approach to combat gear and clothing that is the norm among civilian resistance fighters it will be very difficult to determine who is who without outright exposing themselves in effort to acquire as to friend or foe.

    How do you tell a criminal gang of marauders from a friendly tribal forward scout movement?

    It’s a thought exercise.

    I reside on a high altitude ridge line with spurs and plagues, mostly pasture and arboreal rain forest, 14 – 18 miles long. There is one goat path with one western approach and an eastern fork which all three axis of access drop down over a thousand feet.

    The ridge top is not much wider than a half mile at its widest, the drop off into the hollows and ravines each side of the ridges are accessible only by foot being they are steeper than 12 inch pitch, some almost vertical.

    The only other road access is through heavily gated dirt haul roads owned by paper and coal mining operations.

    It’s about as rugged and steep terrain as it gets.

    Most of us on the ridge know of each other, so establishing some kind of recognition system is not difficult. It’s the possible forces who come up from “flat land” I keep thinking of, many of whom probably have blood who live on the ridge coming from ten- 30 miles on foot.

    It is clannish and tribal by nature in this area of Appalachia. The wounding or death of almost anyone means family and clan members wounding and killing family and clan members, allies all.

    I think this cultural character makes it relatively easy to have a common recognition symbol or system and keep it basically secure from enemy outsiders.

    But not every area across America is clannish or tribal. It would be a terrible travesty where thousands of essentially potential friendly and ally forces clash before they recognize each other as such.

    You can’t take back boolits.

    And with the limited resources Freefor will most like face at various stages of hostilities, the avoidance and methods there of of Freefor on Freefor casualties becomes an imperative. And one more complication in an extremely complex environment.

    Time to think about and come up with remedies is now in the luxury of non violent festivities.

    Never mind the potential of intra-tribe/clan feuds which are likely to develop and all that entails, it REALLY gets complicated in a hurry.

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