Class Review: Advanced Tactical Pistol with Ken Hackathorn

“Under stress, you have got to have skill… Situational awareness is the single most important skill.” –Ken Hackathorn


Eighteen shooters turned out for a rainy Saturday and beautiful Sunday of shooting with one of the foremost instructors in the business. Participants came from at least three states, and the class was a mix of private citizens, federal agents, and the Sheriff of a Georgia county.

Ken Hackathorn 2014 - Tactical Handgun

Ken Hackathorn 2014 – Tactical Handgun in Atlanta, Georgia


We began with a discussion of common elements found in self-defense incidents. That was followed by a discussion of current trends in the firearms industry and the firearms that he is most commonly seeing coming through his classes now.

We then moved on to the live fire portion of the class and did some basic shooting and assessment drills so that he could see where we all were as shooters. The drills were pass/fail drills shot against a standard. We shot these as a mix of individual competition and the entire class shooting the drills altogether. We also shot some pivot/turn drills as well as some reloading drills. After a supper break, we had a low light session.

Sunday was a full day of shooting. The focus was primarily on shooting while moving. Added to that was some strong-hand-only and support-hand-only work.

Of note, we shot some point shooting drills. One of these drills involved a lot of movement and with our sights taped over. We then shot the same drill using sights. The evolution in which the sights were used had better results. Imagine that; that little bumpy thing on the muzzle end is actually there for something…. might as well use it. (Note: that is a poke at people that say you don’t need your sights inside certain distances. It is not a poke at the drill or the instructor.)

As for what he was packing, Mr. Hackathorn was toting a Hackathorn Signature Series 1911 from Wilson Combat. There was quite a bit of friendly banter back and forth on this issue as he is an unabashed fan of the 1911 platform.

Ken Hackathorn 2014 - Tactical Handgun

Ken Hackathorn 2014 – Tactical Handgun in Atlanta, Georgia

I enjoyed the opportunity to spend a couple of days with someone as venerated as Ken Hackathorn. I particularly enjoyed the back and forth banter and all of the historical insights.

Ken Hackathorn 2014 - Tactical Handgun

Ken Hackathorn 2014 – Tactical Handgun in Atlanta, Georgia

And now for a bonus science lesson:



  1. I would be very interested to learn how exactly you were moving while shooting. Were you moving (dare I use the word?) dynamically? Or just the classic heel-toe Groucho Marx thing? Was your target moving? Having taken some force on force classes with Sims, I found point shooting a very viable technique at about 20 feet and in. There is a Federal Air Marshal who took the class with me who probably still bears scars from the COM hits I put on him from about 18 feet with both of us moving as fast as we could. I like aimed fire as much as anyone else, but in a reactive fight (not being a SWAT guy or a member of ISIS, I don’t expect to ever be in a proactive gunfight….bad guys will choose time and place, not me), I don’t plan on standing still (or hoping my opponent does) trying to get a good sight picture.

    1. I’m so slow that when I ran track in high school they had to time me with a calendar rather than a stop watch… No, it wasn’t the typical IDPA shuffle, but I wouldn’t call any movement that I make “dynamic”, and while I make no claims of being an “operator”, I’m not a novice either.

      If point shooting works for you, more power to you, but in my experience as a student and instructor it has proven not to be as effective as sighted fire

    2. The major difference between SIMS and real guns is the projectiles from real guns are considered lethal and we are legally liable for them when they leave the muzzle. If you can rock on without aiming your firearm and get good hits every single time that’s great. For those of us who are merely mortal I’d suggest using those funny bumps on top of our pistols and making sure you’re point of aim meets up with your point of impact regardless of your method of movement whilst reacting.

  2. I have no doubt that Ken has forgotten more about fighting with a handgun than I will ever learn. Having said that, I do believe that point shooting should not be dismissed out of hand. It is, in my humble opinion, a viable technique in some circumstances. I would love to believe that, with the training I have had (which includes some of the other Alias guys), I would be all cool and get a nice sight picture. But, in reality, I will be behind the curve and in a close range fight will get hits on the bad guy any way I can.

    Thanks for the review. Sounds like a good class. And thanks for the work you do, Chief!

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