LMS Defense Pistol I Summary

“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”

The premise of defense training is to prepare for tomorrow’s fight. Whether if one is a student of martial arts, first aid, or other defensive strategies, the goal is to add as many tools to our toolbox – firearms are one of many.

Knowledge regarding mindset, marksmanship, and weapon handling do not exist without some form of instruction. Teaching one’s self is standard among all firearm owners, but achieving “proficiency” is difficult with a knowledge base that has little to do with fighting. Since I bought my first pistol nearly two years ago, the only experience I have is standing in front of a paper target making pretty holes. Hell, my holes weren’t consistently pretty. Stationary practice with no emphasis in real world defense hardly qualifies as perfect practice.

“Train hard. Fight easy.”
– Roman Legion maxim

Recommended to me by Andrew from Airsoft Extreme, I enrolled in my first formal firearms class; Pistol I with Last Man Standing Defense. A two day course, Pistol I covers “weapon manipulation, marksmanship fundamentals, combat stress management, movement, use of cover, fighting from unusual positions, ground gun fighting, concealed weapon tactics and continuing self training tools.” Beyond the course description provided on their website, I did not know what to expect.

Summarizing Day 1 Curriculum-
After an introduction and safety briefing, Josh and Mike of Last Man Standing Defense started right off with an overview of holster work and with other fundamentals followed by a cold headshot to the target to set the benchmark. From low ready to suhl sul, sight picture, speed to emergency reloads, clearing malfunctions, evaluating one’s surroundings and Grouching, the class of nine worked through the curriculum despite the light rain. We engaged illustrated targets with full facial and body characteristics as well as shapes numbered 1-6 varying in color practicing the fundamentals mentioned above. We concluded our day with a qualification course to evaluate our progress.

Summarizing Day 2 Curriculum-
With some tools on our belt, we pushed to improve marksmanship. Fist-sized groupings through the neuro-ocular cavity and heart are key. One on one instruction was made available to diagnose and correct trigger slamming, sight alignment and recoil management through rapid strings of fire. Shooting from the knee(s), prone, rolling prone and supine were then covered to become familiar with ground gun fighting. Moving on, we explored and applied the use of cover (versus concealment) while incorporating the use of different shooting positions we’ve learned thus far. Josh and Mike then discussed the morals and ethics of deadly force – If it’s not worth dying for, it’s not worth killing. Further discussion included levels of alertness and competence. After familiarizing ourselves with these concepts, we continued to practice movement, marksmanship, weapons handling. Specifically, we learned how to unholster our weapon with our support hand while maintaining our fist-sized groupings (very interesting).

Pressing on, Josh and Mike set up two exercises that really allowed us to evaluate our progress. In a diamond exercise, we had to utilize cover (placed at north, south, east and west) as one maintains a stable shooting platform and engage the target (placed about 6 feet from the north point), clear malfunctions and reload behind cover, and maintain focus at the threat. The second exercise was similar to the first, but additionally engaged multiple targets at the instructors command through two points in a figure-eight pattern. The final task was the qualification to pass the course. With 50 rounds of ammunition, we were required to utilize most of the techniques taught over the weekend.

“The instructor does not have to impress me; he has to teach me. I do not have to impress the instructor; I have to learn what he is trying to teach me.”
– Jim Crews, From Behind the Line (2001), p.1

Day 1 Reflection –
Green as I was, Josh and Mike’s instruction was always clear and to the point. I have informal experience using holsters (airsoft); thus, exposing and presenting the weapon from the holster was a new experience.

Deactivate the holster safety, punch back with the elbow and push forward with the pistol.

The ready/shooting positions were demonstrated well and I followed through without a problem. Now I know that the contact between the two thumbs at the chest with the support hand under the gun is called sohl. When we had the chance to fire off our first shot, I was a tad disappointed. I hit the bad guy right at the hairline. With the instruction and encouragement from Josh and Mike – I sent that bad guy to cardboard hell.

Dry runs with the holster to present the firearm established a lot of confidence in my ability. Though clearing malfunctions in controlled conditions is easy as pie, live fire presented a different obstacle. When stress kicks in, you can only rely on unconscious competence. I didn’t realize how much I needed to drill this into my head until the second day when longer strings of shots were required. Loading was similar in nature.

Scanning is now a very important concept I must also ingrain in my head. The fight isn’t over unless I can verify with my own eyes. The instructors helped immensely to catch those times when I neglect to do a 360 degree scan.

Though not prohibitively exhausting, grouching is a more tiring than it looks. Nonetheless, the “turret/tank” analogy helped a lot to illustrate the separation of the legs and upper body. This allows to me maintain sight alignment while on the move toward or away from the threat.

I learned a lot through the quasi-qualification at the end of the first day. Though I wasn’t too stressed, I still managed to miss 2 shots when engaging multiple targets. There were several others that were outliers and other shots that could have been placed better. Generally speaking, I needed to go back to the fundamentals regarding target acquisition and marksmanship. Time wasn’t necessarily an issue this time around, but for some reason it did the next day.

Day 2 Reflection–
Through one on one instruction, Josh helped me to get behind my shots. I suppose a few too many visits to the paper range allowed my muzzle to flip a tad bit too high, slowing down my recovery time. He got me back behind the gun and now that I’m consciously aware of it, I can now train to become unconsciously competent for quicker follow up shots.

Shooting on one or two knees wasn’t too difficult; however groundwork proved to be challenging. Shooting prone and rolling prone, I had difficulty placing my shots consistently. This again is an attribute related to recoil management and sight alignment – it was totally foreign on the ground. Supine proved to be a little easier as my arms were extended out more, but goodness – it sure was an abdominal and neck workout to keep my head up for extended periods.

Utilizing cover was interesting. We learned about the importance of cover and it’s difference from concealment. We avoided hugging the cover and practiced a 6 shot drill with three different positions while engaging one target. Distance and angles are important in this drill. Leaning, shuffling, and personal awareness of your body is important to maintain protection behind the cover. If found a neat method to practice this exercise with airsoft on the LMS board.

“Mace set up an airsoft exercise to help us learn how to be aware of our body while firing from behind cover. We had to lean out with our airsoft pistols and shoot a metal popper. Another airsofter was next to the steel, shooting back at us. Folks quickly realized that while pieing the cover, they were leading with an elbow, or had a foot hanging out, etc which would subsequently get shot. Several iterations later, everyone had much better form and were ringing the steel before getting shot themselves.”


Before Josh and Mike discussed the levels of alertness, I was only briefly introduced to them when I skimmed through Boston T. Party’s Gun Bible. Being able to hear it gives me another medium to depend on to recall a specific color’s meaning.

White: Unalert and unware.
Yellow: Alert and aware.
Orange: A specific potential problem has been identified.
Red: Combat.
Black: Losing the fight.

I didn’t have a clue how to unholster a weapon with my support hand. I tried it a few times from the front; however, it just seemed too awkward to even pursue it. The demonstration Josh and Mike provided made it very clear. Giving me additional tools to choose from, I decided that it was more convenient to draw from the back. After several dry runs, the qualification segment with the support hand seemed pretty automatic (very cool). This lesson allows me to reflect about my holster placement and weapon presentation efficiency for both of my hands.

The diamond and figure-eight exercises were interesting. This incorporated all of the skills learned through the weekend: movement, sight picture, marksmanship, reloading, and malfunction clearing. I found that direction changing without crossing my legs and reloading to be the most challenging part. I want to move my feet whichever way is easiest, but it will eventually make me trip. I must work on keeping my feet pointed in the direction I want to go.

Reloading under stress can be difficult while maintaining focus on the threat. Particularly, I need to keep my weapon higher and use my support hand’s fingers to guide my magazine in a consistent manner. Josh helped me identify this as well as my reloading habits. When I eventually do get the magazine inside the pistol, I pull back on the slide in a flimsy fashion. As a result, I get stem-bind failures. I must rectify this by using the full motion of my strong arm pushing forward to take advantage of all the inertia from the slide to deliver my rounds into the chamber. Remembering tap, rack, and assess will help as well.

It was rather unusual that I was stressed over the final qualification segment. Stress management the day prior was simple. I think it was the “test factor” that was bugging me out. Unholstering the weapon wasn’t a problem. Instead, I was throwing out everything I learned over the weekend. As a result of stress, I reverted back to what I was used to – it became a paper target exercise and not a defensive exercise. Josh helped drive this home when I caught my empty magazine instead of letting it drop after I finished a string of shots. Perfect practice makes perfect!

During a speedload, my magazine failed to eject all the way. I thought it was really cool how I ruthlessly cleared it by using the magazine in my support hand to strip it out – a tool learned from the day prior. Upon reflection however, I need to incorporate a wrist shake when I eject the magazine to avoid a problem like that in the future.

“Advanced techniques are the basics mastered.”
– From the 17th century Samurai Code

Concluding Remarks-
LMS Defense has now set my expectations high for future training courses. There was an excellent balance between group and individual instruction. For a new organization, they really impressed me with the instructors they’ve chosen. The instructors were humble in their experiences and emphasized their positions as student-teachers. As a full-time student, a mindset such as that is rare in my experience – ego and status has a tendency to ruin the quality of instruction. As a result of this weekend class, I walked away with more tools than I have collected over two years; I feel I have become a much better shooter. Overall, they gave me the tools to continually diagnose my progress as the Last Man Standing – I will never look at my weapon or a paper target the same way again.

Photo by Jaizey. (Warning: N0t 56k friendly)

A special thanks to Twin Cities Rod & Gun Club at the Sutter County Public Pistol and Rifle Range for allowing LMS Defense to run this class.

Course Materials:
Les Baer 1911, Thunder Ranch Special
Blade-tech SRB Holster
Double Magazine Pouch w/Tek-lok
4 Wilson-8 magazines
700 rounds of Blazer-Brass ammunition
MSA Sorin Pro Headset with gel inserts
Revision Military Eye Protection

Edit: Who is coming with me?

Mar 10-10, 2008 Defensive Medicine $200.00 Register Yuba City, CA John Chapman

Tags: , , ,

Categories: Firearms, Guns


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10 Comments on “LMS Defense Pistol I Summary”

  1. ParatrooperJJ
    November 15, 2007 at 8:15 pm #

    Excellent writeup. It is call the “sul” position though. Spanish for south.

  2. November 15, 2007 at 8:25 pm #

    Thanks for the heads up! I’ll go ahead and edit that.


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