Class Review: Rangemaster Combative Pistol I

“You don’t have time to miss.”

I could stop right there and sum up the essential lesson from the class, but that wouldn’t make for much of an adventure through the blogosphere.

Tom Givens of Rangemaster brought his Combative Pistol I class to my proverbial backyard. He was assisted by John Hearne, Jeremy Younger, and the lovely and gracious Mrs. Lynn Givens. There were 24 students in the class, including one who came all the way to Georgia from Pennsylvania only to be topped by another student who came all the way from New Mexico. The class was a mixture of private citizens and peace officers.

Due to logistics, we did all of the classroom work on the first morning of the class. The classroom portion consisted of a safety briefing followed by discussions of several real world incidents and the lessons learned from them. We then moved on to a discussion of basic techniques.



After lunch, we convoyed to the range and began the shooting portion of the class. We began with warm-ups and then moved into drills all designed around specific teaching points.



Day two consisted completely of shooting drills, and other than the initial warm-up, everything was shot from concealment.

Rather than going into the specifics of each and every drill, I’ll simply say that each drill had a specific purpose, they built upon one another, and they gave the students a structured way to practice in their own range sessions. We also shot several scored tests to assess our skills and our progression, and there were several drills where we shot on our own against the clock with everyone watching to kick up the stress factor.


Now I can move to the most important part of the class review:

The firearms training community is full of devotees to schools of thought who are not bashful about espousing their particular chosen sacred cow and then dogmatically defending it. Tom did a very good job of explaining why he teaches what he teaches, and he also explained many of the other schools of thought often including their origins and how they have been misinterpreted over the years. The focus was on efficiency and precision rather than such things as a Weaver versus Isosceles or  caliber debates. The pace was quick with students either shooting or loading magazines with no downtime other than a few short breaks, and the discussions were all brief and on point with the lesson at hand.


I’ve been in a lot of classrooms over the years between my academic pursuits and professional training, and Tom is absolutely one of the top teachers I have experienced. His lessons are more than proven. Over 60 of his students have successfully defended themselves in violent encounters. The very, very few that have lost failed to have a firearm with them when they needed it.

Below are my results on two of the tests:





  1. Thanks for putting this together Lee. I know I had an absolutely fantastic time, and it really expanded my defensive skills!


  2. Having never attended a course of this length and intensity until last weekend my perspective is not nearly as broadly based as Lee’s. I have however attended lots of legal trainings of various quality over many years and I know a good class when I see one. Combative Pistol 1 was a truly great class. Practical, sound instruction with none of the chest thumping bravado you might suspect would sneak into this type instruction. Thanks Lee for putting this together. I will be eager to learn from Tom Givens again.

  3. I have trained with Tomm Givens many times. He is one of the best as you say. His training is realistic and skill building. Thanks for your comments Lee,

  4. Chief, first of all thanks for hosting the course. Being in LE or the military for my entire adult life, I will have to agree that Tom did an excellent job building on each block of instruction/shooting during the course. Having spent more time on a range than I care to count, I enjoyed the pace of the course and the fact that he held each and every one of us to standards. I have been to more than my share of courses where students left the course no better than when they started, but hey they got the certificate and t-shirts. I would recommend a Rangemaster course to both my fellow officers and those responsible citizens that choose to carry a weapon every day to protect themselves and their loved ones.

  5. Training with a top drawer instructor like Tom Givens is time well spent.
    I’m one of the 64 he sometimes mentions. Making holes in paper is expensive.
    However, when there is a plan, such as – moving and shooting, shooting from
    unusual positions, etc., making holes is worthwhile. IPSC, IDPA, etc., are
    useful to develop firearm handling skills. However, I don’t recommend taking
    those practices to an actual fight. The really important training is
    gun fighting. Force on force working against moving aggressors, with airsoft
    or sims is the ultimate in handgun training… short of the real thing. With enough
    FoF an actual fight is nothing special. When three thugs attacked me from 15 feet away
    and were running at me, I ran at them. I was not looking for cover. I was looking to ruin
    their day. Seven shots and seven hits later the leader was DRT.
    His accomplices running for their lives, abandoned their getaway vehicle in my driveway.
    For them a wise choice. In the final analysis, training is vital. However, the outcome
    of a fight is in the head of the winner. Decide not to take crap from criminals.
    And, Chief Lee, thanks for sponsoring this training as well as the training with Eric Lund.

    Barry G.

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