Tactical Response Fighting Pistol course, Casa Grande

Sitting in with the Tactical Response Fighting Pistol course was a real educational experience and a heck of a lot of fun. Take a look at some of the lessons learned and drills used to learn how to fight with a pistol

Tactical Response Fighting Pistol Course
Camden, TN

We sat in with the Tactical Response Fighting Pistol class held in Casa Grande, Arizona on Aug 31 and Sept 1, 2006

The Fighting pistol class of Aug / Sept 2006

on day one with an introduction to the instructors and the rest of the class

Shay (on the right) and Yancey (middle) at the beginning of day one

Our head instructor was Shay VanVlymen

Shay is the Vice President of Tactical Response. He is a certified NRA Pistol Instructor and certified by the Tennessee DOS to teach TN CCW classes.

Shay’s knowledge and familiarity with the subject of tactical pistol was invaluable for the group Shey could easily answer our questions off the top of his head with insightful answers.

Yancey Harrington was also with us for both days

Yancey was there for safety and to assist Shay but his insight and knowledge was also a benefit to the group

The Basics

The course was hosted by the Casa Grande Police Dept at their range next to the Elzy Pearson Shooting Range.

It was 98 degrees to start out on Thursday morning luckily the students being AZ residents were used to the heat

The Elzy Pearson Shooting Range is a public range next to the Police range. The Elzy Pearson Shooting Range completed renovation and earth work 2004-2005 from Arizona Game & Fish Department

The members of this course were from a variety of backgrounds, from software engineers to police officers. Everyone learned, asked questions and improved their pistol skills

Before the shooting started shooting emergency drivers were appointed (the two Casa Grande police officers) and an EMT stepped up to be our primary medical person in case something bad were to happen. Of course we had no emergencies because everyone followed the simple yet effective safety procedures that were also defined before we started to shoot

We started the course at 9am and were on the range shooting by 11am. This is a mostly hands on class and the 1000 rounds on the equipment list was no exaggeration


Starting with the basics of a three step draw. The class started with drills to get the draw movement down, keeping in mind this is a fighting pistol course the next step was adding movement to the drills.

When the pistol gets a jam (malfunction) or an empty mag the students were instructed on how to move to become a more difficult target during the gunfight.

The class moved at a quick pace. It’s not a marksmanship class for the most part, instead it’s a class designed to teach mindset and tactics over gear and skill. Once students learned the basic elements of a gunfight it will be up to the students to practice the lessons and drills learned during the two day (15 hour) course

Speed = economy of motion, so the lessons taught were all designed to imbed efficient, movements into the students so that they become reflex and don’t need to be thought about in the fight

After two days the improvement in the students was obvious steps that were awkward at the beginning of day one were smooth and quick by the end of class 2 days and 1000 rounds later.

The pace of the class was quick but not too fast to leave anyone behind. Because of the heat we took a few more breaks than a typical class. And even these breaks served a good purpose. In addition to some time in the shade and a chance to drink and re-hydrate, the students used the time to ask questions

Revolvers vs Pistols
Carry vs Issue pistol
Right had vs Left hand

Shooting 1000 rounds means a lot of reloading, these breaks served as another good time to drink water and ask questions. Most of the class is group lessons, but the breaks allowed students to received some one on one instruction

Dummy rounds were passed out and each magazine was loaded with a dummy round at a random position so that each mag had the possibility of a malfunction. This helped the students learn to diagnose, clear and recover from malfunctions with out hesitation.

Students quickly learned that with so much reloading, that it’s much faster to dump ammo from the boxes so that so they could just grab handfuls of rounds.


Pistol fighting is not like shooting paper targets so movement is a key ingredient. In a gunfight the major goal is to NOT get shot, and movement helps your odds by creating a more difficult target.

Movement in training also teaches the mind to multitask.

During mag changes malfunctions and scanning the area movement is utilized.

Shooting from standing, laying down supine (as if you’d been knocked down) kneeling etc was all practiced. These drills also served to make clearing a pistol second nature

Range commands were clear, so on the ‘fight’ command the class would lunge, walk or take position and begin shooting

With a dummy round in each magazine, and up to three mags used per session, clearing malfunctions was soon being taken care of with almost no hesitation


How do you know when the fight is on?
What if the first thing you realize is that you’ve just been hit and been knocked down?
Knowing how to draw and shoot from the ground is key

One handed shooting, off handed one handed

Concealed ready position
Shooting from the back sounds easy, but drawing and not sweeping your leg while clearing malfunctions and changing mags is more difficult than you’d think

Many of the drills were on the ground and after the initial draw drills none were without some type of movement to help simulate real life situations

Shooting from sitting, kneeling, on the back (supine) positions and different targets were used to keep the students minds working on multiple tasks. Instructors were ready and watching for safety and to aid students in correct technique

Day Two

We started out early on day two to avoid some of the heat of the Arizona summer. The first portion of day two was lecture on mindset (the most important aspect of fighting) as well as tactics of how to avoid a gunfight. In addition to mental attitude and awareness we talked about use of force and legal issues

The second day builds on the techniques learned on day one. The students prepared to combine the lessons learned on day one in advanced drills to incorporate their new skills in more true to life situations like walking and using and moving to cover

Advanced Drills

Walking and firing one handed and from the off hand stared the advanced drills. The skills like clearing malfunctions were done just about flawlessly by every student at this point in the course.

Cover is a great thing but choosing and walking behind it while firing is more difficult than you might think.

Cover drills were done two at a time but one on one with an instructor for safety and to get direct feedback on technique

Close in fighting requires weapon retention and the ability to maintain the ability to fire. Students walked close in to the targets and learned how to fire from the retention and protected retention position

End of Class / Graduation

After 16+ hours of instruction and drills the students were tired and satisfied. This was not all the training needed to become proficient in pistol fighting but it was a very complete set of instructions. The students were instructed to continue to run these drills and tactics to improve these techniques, until they are habit

There are many options in training out there and this shouldn’t be your only class, but if you are new to fighting with a pistol or are looking for continuing education this is a worthwhile class. The cost is about $25 an hour and is worth every penny. This is a course you’ll walk away from with valuable new tools in your personal ‘toolbox’

You will learn how to improve yourself with practice and when the time comes for your next step Tactical Response offers additional courses that increase the level of training

To contact Tactical Response visit their website or call 731-676-2041


Fighting Pistol Course
From their website

The root word to “gunfight” isn’t “gun”.
It is “FIGHT”!

This is the course everyone is talking about! It is the most comprehensive 2-day handgun class in the world! This course is literally a life saver. Our Fighting Pistol course prepares you to prevail in a real world violent confrontation and many students have gone on and done just that! This intensive course covers an incredible amount of material in just two days and we have been told that it covers more than any 5 day course at the “big schools”.

Topics include the role and attributes of the handgun, legal aspects of deadly force, anatomical stopping power, mental conditioning for combat, movement and communication. Live fire drills include both one- and two-handed shooting, shooting on the move, use of cover and concealment, tactical-emergency-and speed loading, using both eye level and retention techniques, at a variety of ranges and from a variety of tactical body positions. This course is about 40% lecture on mindset, tactics, skill, and legal issues but don’t worry because you will still be shooting a minimum of 750 rounds while you are on the range!

2 Days/$400