FR&I, Inc. Chris' Comments

A Student's View of Level-II

The author of this article can be reached at

This past weekend [October 16-18, 1998], we sponsored a three day (30 hour) Level II handgun course here in St. Louis, taught by Steve, of Firearms Research & Instruction, Inc.

This course was fantastic!! I expected to learn a lot in this course - what I actually learned greatly exceeded my expectations. All of the class participants showered Steve and his course with praise.

The level of Steve's knowledge was most impressive, and he was able to communicate what he knows in a clear and concise manner. Sometimes Steve's posts to the Glock list can be, shall we say, "sharp" and "to the point." Well, that's not all the way he teaches a class. He was very supportive, patient and forgiving of errors; he gave people the latitude to learn, but not the freedom to fail.

This was very much a "hands-on" course. I can't adequately cover all of the things we did in the course in a brief message, but here is a listing of items that I remember without looking at my notes:

*Conflict avoidance
*When is it justified to use deadly force to protect yourself
*Developing the survival mindset (especially when hurt)
*Awareness training (scanning your environment)
*How to properly draw from a holster (and keep it!)
*How to react when attacked
*What to do AFTER the attack
*How to retain your handgun if someone tries to take it
*How to disarm someone pointing a gun at you
*How to move away from the line of an attacker
*Shooting while moving (and moving to cover)
*Responding to a multiple assailant attack
*If you must, how to "clear" your house if an intruder is present
*The proper use of flashlights
*Why it may be better to be faced with an attacker with a gun than a knife

I know there are a few things I forgot to mention. The entire course was practical. The skills learned were "basic" so that you could perform them under intense stress. Each student fired at least 750 rounds of ammo. A variety of police type qualification courses were used, as well as simulated attacks (with clothed Tactical Teds). You "brought it all together" during the simulations - which were intended to cause stress - and they did! It was amazing. After the first simulation was over, I didn't remember drawing, aiming the front sight, or pulling the trigger - yet, I quickly hit the attacker(s) with every shot fired. Under stress, you do what you have been trained to do - nothing more. If you learn the right stuff, you will automatically do the right things (your body and brain can't be expected to do anything else). The "software" is more important than the hardware.

The best analogy I can think of to describe the stress you must feel when attacked, is to think about what it's like to be driving, and have the driver in front of you throw on his/her brakes. You all have experienced that sensation - that desperate desire to break and avoid the crash. Hold that same feeling of intense stress in your mind and body, and now add the variable of someone trying to shoot you. Now try to draw you handgun and hit the attacker, without hitting a bystander, before you get shot, while running to cover as fast as you can (if can you remember to do that).

I walked away from the weekend knowing in my heart that the caliber debate is a lot of B.S.! You want something that is: {1} AVAILABLE to you when needed; {2} RELIABLE (you see REAL panic during a simulation when a gun jams - your life span just shortened); {3} SHOOTABLE UNDER STRESS (you can hit your attacker when required to do so, with adequate shot placement). If you can carry a .50 caliber, that is reliable, and shootable for you, then that's all the better for you. If not, then use something smaller. The three points above are things I've read 100 times, but they never truly sunk in until I took Steve's course.

For me personally, the weekend reinforced my love for Glocks (I think other class members got tired of hearing me talk about Glock Perfection). During the course, I used a G21, G30, G19, G27, and G23. Actually, the G23 was Steve's famous G23 - the one he bought in 1990, that now has over 30,000 rounds through it without a jam. I put about 500 rounds though his G23, and feel in love with it! On the various qualification courses, I scored about the same with the G21, G30, G23, and G19. The G21 is still my favorite Glock, but the G23 now has my serious attention. I'm selling my G19C so I can buy a G23. If concealed carry passes here in Missouri next year, I think a G23 will be my carry gun of choice (followed by my G30). It fits my hand a little better than the G30, and I like having three extra rounds. I also discovered that could shot the G23 very fast with deadly accuracy. After one simulation, one fellow class member said it sounded like I shooting the G23 on full auto.

The top award for best shooting has to go to Steve. Parker Brooks also attended the course (a great guy!), and Steve was shooting Parker's G27 at 50 YARDS. At 50 yards, with every shot fired, Steve was hitting a Tactical Ted in the chest (you could see the shirt move with every hit). Someone in the group yelled, "Hey Steve, shoot his hat off." I'm thinking to myself, "No way, you can shoot a hat off at 50 yards with a G27." Steve paused for a moment, pulled the trigger, and the hat went flying off the Tactical Ted. I'm still in awe over that one. It took me seven shots with my G21 to shoot the hat off at 50 yards.

If there is any way possible for you to take Steve's class - TAKE IT!! You will greatly increase your likelihood of surviving an avoidable lethal encounter. Having the right hardware won't do you much good if you don't have the right software.

We are planning on offering the Level II course again in St. Louis in late April, and then a Level III course in September.