Idaho Gun School
I guess the cat is out of the bag. I recently had the pleasure to attend a 5 Day Rangemaster Course called “Protective Pistolcraft Instructor Development”. It was taught by the Legend Tom Givens and supported by Rangemaster Staff instructors Tiffany Johnson and Aqil Qadir, hosted by Ed Monk of Last Resort Firearms Training and Range in Whitehall Arkansas. I’m a huge advocate of continuing education, ESPECIALLY for instructors. This course checked off so many boxes!! This course was 5 stars. 2 thumbs up. Excellent. Top Shelf. Amazing. I guess I could just stop here. But these descriptors just don’t do it justice. While these are all true, it’s merely just the start.
Tom Givens is known through the firearms training industry as a leader. He’s been in the game a LONG time. Longer, in fact, than I have been alive! Tom and Rangemaster came highly recommended to me by an instructor that I look up to, Mike Green of Green Ops. I figured, if this course is good enough for Mike, it’s good enough for me! Tom Givens and Rangemaster seem to attract exceptionally high caliber is high quality instructors, so I knew I would have my work cut out for me. This was not one of those “gimmie” courses.
On day 1, we started off in the classroom where Tom made his introductions. I was among the handful of students in the class that had never taken any training from Tom previously. Most of the other 23 students knew what they were getting into. Being the “New Kid on the block”, my only option was put in the work and do this. After introductions of the staff and students, we all got an extremely thorough safety brief. The work had begun, I started taking notes.
Training Day (TD) 1 ended with us at the firing line, starting with some dry fire work, then we completed a few drills over a couple of hundred rounds. I feel like this day was mostly him assessing us as a class. There wasn’t any “competition” or “official” grading that happened. Although, I am sure that Tom was documenting our every move.
TD2 -started promptly at 830am, some more in class learning, and then back out to the range in the afternoon. On the range, we did quite a bit of drilling along with the first “test”. Of the Range Master Baseline Assessment Drill, which is a 20-round drill covering multiple skills, there are a total of 200 points possible. I got an 188 on this drill. It could have been 198 but I failed to accurately count and ran a round short. There were several students that “tied” for first place with 197 points. They got to shoot the Ken Hackathon Drill; 10 rounds in 10 seconds. The highest score won and got one of Tom’s coveted coins. BAH! I missed that coin opportunity because I failed to count right! Oh well! Own it and move on!
TD3 – This was the day that we got to hear from John Hearne. he nerded out on us about “Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why”. We got to learn about “Automaticity” of action and how to develop our skillsets into unconscious mastery. Basically we learned how to remove ourselves from the decision process to activate motor programs in response to a stimulus when time is of the essence. This several hours of instruction was likely the culminating block that helped to “bring it all together”.
We ended TD3 at the firing line and worked on “Thinking with a gun”. We shot Tom’s infamous “Casino drill,” and had the opportunity to earn another coin! This drill is designed to FORCE you to think. Shooting at multiple different numbered shapes shooting a specific number of times per target. This drill is a total of 21 rounds. You start with 3 magazines of 7 rounds each and shoot at each numbered target sequentially, 1 round in number 1, 2 rounds in number 2, 3 rounds in 3 and so on through the 6 targets. Oh yeah, you will also have to reload 2 times AND remember how many times you have hit each target and how many are left. You get penalized 1 second for each miss, and a 1 second penalty for not hitting the right number with the correct number of rounds or shooting out of sequence. This drill has a 21 second par time.
Also, Tom likes to add stress to this by having you shoot this timed, while your class peers watch! I shot this clean, under the par, with a 19.10 second time. Not blazing fast, like the 14.5 time the coin winner posted, but you can’t miss fast enough to win a gun fight.
This was also our “night shoot” time on the range. We all got to experience shooting in low and “no” light illuminating our targets with our flashlights working through different techniques.
TD4 again, started in the classroom. But on the range We worked through multiple drills and skill development, and again, a little competition. We all had the opportunity to “earn” our card. This drill was shot into a 3×5 card, which was the original size of a playing card “back in the day”. This was a simple gun test, shot with 5 rounds, because that’s how many rounds people carried in their revolvers then. This drill was shot at 5 yards (or paces) and you were a “good hand” with a gun if you could hit the playing card 5 times in under 5 seconds. This was my day to shine. I hit all 5 rounds with nearly all of them touching :D. This is a “pass or fail” drill. If you passed, you earned the right to keep your card. And Tom signed those cards for the shooters that passed. I’m confident that this was the tightest group of the bunch. I’m pretty proud of myself :D
There were 2 shooting tests.
Test 1 is the FBI Qualification shoot. It’s 50 rounds and each “hit” is worth 2 points. Any hit inside the sillohuette that is above the belt line is worth 2 points. This test is the same test that FBI agents are required to get 80 points on. FBI instructors are required to get 90 to pass. So, of course, Rangemaster instructors are required to score at least 90 points to pass. I scored 100 points on this test. Scored the rangemaster way, it would have been worth 248 of 250 points. I wasn’t upset about that.
Test 2 is the Rangemaster Qualification. Which is a more difficult test. The times are a bit tighter and the accuracy standard is higher. This is another 50-round test. You get 2 points for each in the critical hit zone and 1 point for a hit outside of that zone. I dropped 1 slightly low when I “tried to hustle” and didn’t quite have my grip right. I’m still happy with a 99 of 100 points on this test. So far so good!
Finally, we make it back for the final written test. This is an 80-question test that is much more than the typical “multiple guess” test. It’s mostly a fill in the blank style of test. Tom has high standards and requires 90% to pass this test. If you don’t have 90% or better on all three tests, you don’t earn the certificate. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
On the written test I earned 97.5% giving me a grand total average of 98.3% for the whole course. I apparently was ready for this class. I get to proudly display my rangemaster credentials.
I’ll be back for more Rangemaster training. Now I know more, and I’m way better prepared to help people learn “the way of the gun”. Rangemaster is a notch above the rest due to Tom’s knowledge and ability to relate everything to his students in a logical way, he has a story for about every situation or technique he teaches. I appreciate Tom’s style, and knowledge, and punctuality. Like I said, I’ll be back for more rangemaster coursework. watch this site www.Rangemaster.com for the schedule of classes, Maybe I’ll get to meet you there!