Training Report: Defoor Proformance Shooting 2-Day Pistol Class
Eve Flanigan 03.04.19
Down in south Texas, where the weather is wet but tolerable in February, Kyle Defoor of Defoor Proformance Shooting held a rendition of his two-day pistol curriculum. It was my good fortune to attend. Despite the name, the days were packed with a lot more than just pistol shooting.
Ten minutes in, I could tell this wasn’t going to be Your Mama’s Pistol Class. The safety brief was presented in a way that makes sense for off-range encounters, with strong emphasis on “feel the steel,” Defoor’s term for where the trigger finger should be, in contact with the slide, except when firing.
Most shooting was done from either seven or 25 yards, and we started with a pre-test of sorts consisting of 10 rounds fired on a six-inch NRA B-8 target from 25 yards. Shooters kept score with a Sharpie right on the target as each iteration of this drill, five or six in all, was repeated. Before each of the first three, Defoor presented information on sighting, then trigger use, then grip, in order.
Funny, of course I knew about sight alignment and thought I understood front sight focus before the class. But my biggest gains on the test came after instruction to the group to concentrate on perfect rear/front sight orientation—equal daylight on each side of the front sight post and a plateau across the top of the elements. Something about consciously focusing on sight relationship shot my score up 10 points right away.
By the end of the exercise, the line was firing this drill with a 20-second time limit. Passing Defoor’s “hat qual”—to win one of his logo ball caps—is to score at least a 90 on this standard. By the end of the class, two of the 16 students in attendance were awarded a hat. Throughout the class, Defoor demonstrated each drill before students shot, usually with a Glock 43X. He scored a 99 on this test as we watched through mist-covered glasses, erasing anyone’s excuses about the capability of small guns.
Defoor’s background includes a 10-year career with SEAL Teams and an extensive history with overseas contractors and their firearms training programs. It’s been my experience that no class with a SEAL Teams veteran neglects a discussion of mindset, and this one continued that tradition. Starting with the considerations of thoughts resulting in words which lead to deeds that become habits, Defoor demonstrated through storytelling the importance of these for both combat and life. Though he has plenty of victory stories of his own to share, credit was given with great reverence to some of his own mentors: Tuhon Thomas Kier, former Green Beret JD Potynsky of Northern Red training company, and numerous associates including another SEAL Teams veteran Bill Rapier, and the Sayoc and Atienza Kali training groups.
Carboard-melting intermittent rain forced some changes to the usual format of the class, but the flow was still logical and digestible thanks to both Defoor’s mastery of the teaching trade as well as having a roofed outdoor classroom just steps away from the range. Attendees lost nothing from the experience due to the weather.
Among the skills taught but not stated in the name of the course were tactical medicine and blade and hand-to-hand combatives. Topics were presented in a manner different from any course I’ve ever taken, in a good way. Defoor is not oriented toward a single martial art, but uses elements of several combined into an incredibly easy-to-understand format. Using Thai pads, students paired off to practice one move at a time after seeing clear and simple demos. Unlike many other so-called self-defense courses I’ve taken, I was stunned to find myself knocking a substantially larger student around with ease, even when he resisted. These techniques work.
Though I view myself as relatively well-trained, prepared, and a bit experienced in application of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) methods, I picked up some new tips I’d not known before. The knowledge about preventing loss of life when trauma in austere conditions was purchased at a very high price on the battlefield. It is encouraging and empowering to civilians like me to see these simple, life-saving skills being shared on US soil.
I’ve taken many blade lessons here and there in the last decade-plus. Within a week post-class, I’ve consistently felt that I knew enough based on the lesson to get myself in a heap of trouble. Just as with the physical techniques, this class introduced blade use in a way that is easy to remember and not dependent on infinitesimal details that will never be recalled under stress. Students learned four targeting points that offer the opportunity to win a fight if a blade is in reach, as well as advice for keeping a blade in reach regardless of one’s predicament. Using the expertly designed trainer blade required for the class, these along with the other combatives are new skills I actually feel confident in my ability to use now. That’s a first.
Kyle Defoor credited his associate Tuhon Tom Kier of Sayoc Tactical Group for his collaboration on chunking information for the non-shooting part of this class into threes. The human brain loves to absorb and retain information stacked in this fashion. This “2 Day Pistol” class was much more than that, and is definitely one that I derived maximum benefit from the hours invested.
Potential attendees should understand that this is not a class for those who are unsure about their willingness to unleash violence to stop or prevent harm. It is not for anyone who withers at the sound of cuss words. It is for people who are willing to put the reps in to travel a direct path between where they are and being more capable of fighting with pistol, blade, body, and mind.