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August 19, 1970 - June 2012
100 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Over the weekend of 21/22 May, I had the pleasure of hosting renown instructor Tom Givens for his Combative Pistol 1 class in lovely Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

In addition to being a roadshow instructor, Tom is the proprietor of the state of the art indoor range facility in Memphis known as Rangemaster [].

I’ve known Tom for a number of years and have wanted to train with him for quite awhile. Unfortunately, life has gotten in the way each time that I have planned to attend one of his classes. Thankfully, it worked out this time and I was able to attend.

Throughout the weekend, Tom continually returned the focus
of the class to the need to accept and cultivate a fighting mindset. He did this in several different ways.

Tom started with a bit about his background and then proceeded into a discussion of defensive shooting technique.

Prior to livefire, Tom showed us the Dinkeller video after which, we discussed the ramifications of his actions on his survival. Following that, we watched an interview with Lance Thomas and discussed the same topics. To say that it was a study in contrasts is a major understatement. This helped set the mental stage for the livefire work that was to follow.

Watching Tom shoot, his Modern Technique background is obvious and his arms still maintain a Weaver-like structure, however that is where the similarities end. He urges you to maintain a fighting platform that allows Stability, Mobility and Flexibility. He also advises that your platform should allow you to maintain balance and that it should be
aggressive [with your nose forward of your toes]. Additionally he admonishes you to 'Drive the gun, don't hang onto the gun.'

He utilizes a 360-degree grip, but prefers a 'flying thumbs' grip a la Farnam over the 'thumbs forward grip' that is my preference.

He encourages the shooter to use an 'acceptable sight picture' dictated by time [closer &/or larger target requires less time to get adequate hits...]

Trigger control, trigger reset, Non-standard responses of 3 to 5 rounds were all addressed on Saturday.

After working the skills of Presentation etc, Tom introduced the Speed Reload as his core reload technique.

Tom utilizes a series of 50 round courses of fire throughout the class to track student competency with various techniques.

During one of these COF, shot from concealment, I had somewhere around 20 failures to fire due to a box of very substandard ammunition from a Mississippi reloader who sells to the local law enforcement community. To say I was a “Tap, Rackin’ S.O.B.” would be a grave understatement.

On Sunday morning, after shooting the Q-COF cold, Tom gave an extremely detailed presentation on the “Miami Massacre”. The “lessons learned” available from this incident are profound on many levels.

The class was very well organized and I managed to shoot approximately 1100 rounds over two days. This was do-able only because Tom runs the range in two relays. One group is on line working while the other is stuffing magazines. The timing is such that as soon as you are done firing, the next group is ready and so there is no downtime for the entire class to be loading. Given how rarely I get to shoot anymore, I greatly appreciated the opportunity to put so many rounds downrange.

Some interesting comments from Tom:

The purpose of Combative Pistol 1 is to teach the basic skills involved in fighting with a handgun.

"Secondary Skills" means that you are statistically less likely to need the skill, not that the skill is less important.

The difference between the novice and the expert is the ability to execute the same skills well, quickly and on demand.


Tom's Combative Pistol class is very solid. The mindset component for the private citizen is unmatched. The drills are challenging. The techniques taught are a comphrensive blend with a surprising degree of overlap with those that I teach. This class was very worthwhile and if you have the opportunity to train with Tom Givens, take it.

4 Posts
I have studied with Tom for many years now, and keep coming back for more. Tom really nails down the concepts and skills for the civilian. It is not that his standards are low-in fact he pushes hard, very hard. He just gets it, plain and simple. If you enjoy breathing free air, seek him out and study with him.

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