by John Boch
(GunNews) – Domination. That word describes instructor John Krupa’s attitude when it comes to fighting with a sidearm in the Spartan Tactical Training Group’s 2-day Advanced Tactical Pistol course held in Bloomington in late October 2010.
“The handgun can be an incredibly devastating weapon,” Krupa said both in class and later out on the range as he poured six rounds into a fist-sized hole at 21 feet in about eight-tenths of a second start to finish. In Advanced Tactical Pistol, Krupa shared the fundamentals necessary for the students to replicate that after practice and training.
The course was advertised to help students to “develop reflexive gun handling skills that will enable them to quickly and efficiently engage threats while performing multiple complex tasks.” I came to this class with high expectations after hearing raves from multiple top-notch instructors to whom I look up to, including Jim Haggearty and Sue Darnall.
I was impressed with the course. Here’s what I saw and how it compares to some of the other schools I’ve been to.
Facilities & Weather
The class was held at Darnall’s GunWorks and Ranges in Bloomington, IL. We were in the “large bay” which is about 100 yards deep and 20ish yards wide. The furthest we shot was about 15 yards.
The range was set up with a dozen cardboard targets and adjacent 12” steel chest plates. Also present were some Safe Direction rotators, steel dueling trees and some falling chest plates.
The weather forecast called for rain and thunderstorms all weekend, with highs in the 70s. The weatherman was spot on with heavy rain and some storms until noon on Saturday. Goretex gear was called for if you wanted to stay warm and dry.
Krupa spent much of Saturday morning in the classroom and we hit the range around 11:00. The rain tapered off around noon and we had intermittent rain a couple of times later in the day. Sunday was beautiful as we were blessed us with splendid weather all day.
Most of the students ran “tactical tupperware” in 9mm flavor – Glocks primarily with a few M&Ps and a couple of 1911-style double-stacked Tauruses. I think everyone used kydex belt holsters of various types, including everything from plain-janes to SERPA retention holsters. I ran the only inside the waistband rigs – Kytac Bravehearts for my Beretta 92 on the first day and for my Glock 19 & Glock 17 pistols on Sunday. The long initial trigger pull on the Beretta was certainly a handicap. I also had a bad after-market magazine that was hanging up. It met the bottom of my boot.
My primary complaint with the Beretta was the old tritium sights that had long-since gone dead and yellowed, leaving me with significant difficulty in seeing the sights. I’ve banished it from my “go” gear until new sights are installed.
My pistols performed flawlessly. Me, not so. I had a failure to seat a magazine and a failure to feed an old +P+ hollow-point from one of the long stick magazines (mag issue?).
There were few malfunctions among the other students – one double feed and a half-dozen failure to seat the magazine properly during tac reloads (don’t cheat on your “Tap-Rack-Bang” and skip bashing that mag into the gun before racking the slide!).
We shot about 1200 rounds over the two days. Personally I ran through about 400 rounds of old, moly-coated Bull-X truncated lead 9mms on Saturday. Sunday, I fired about 800 rounds, mostly Georgia Arms remanufactured 115gr. ball. I also had a couple magazines chock full of leftovers from various types and manufacturers. In any event it was like heaven for the brass lovers after the class.
Krupa didn’t disappoint
Krupa offered his students (mostly civilians with a couple of cops) a long list of tweaks and techniques to make good shooters better – along with explanations of why the techniques work.
Everyone of the dozen students in the class was skilled, and some were quite impressive shooters out of the gate. By the end of the class, almost three-quarters shot “expert” on the challenging qualification course.
Steve Mills won the top honors on the qualification with a 98% – 24x. I managed to nail down 3rd place at 96% – 20x.
Krupa was also a big proponent of “fighting” with a handgun as opposed to just shooting it. That “fighting” philosophy permeated most of what we learned. He taught us to dominate the gun, the threat and the environment through a host of techniques.
Krupa was teaching a major revision to the shooting technique I’ve been using (and teaching) for a half-dozen years now. In short, Krupa told us to get our heads down and shoulders up as part of our natural reactionary stance. He also added a new grip where the reaction hand thumb is way forward on the gun. It and the rest of the support hand press against the side of the slide and gun. My fellow students and I found it to be very fast and effective at delivering multiple shots (with split times between shots of well under .20 seconds) with a high degree of accuracy.
Mr. Krupa showed us three different sight systems to facilitate the proper balance of speed and accuracy. The “fast” and “mach five with your hair on fire” sighting speeds were based upon indexing. We also learned how to shoot with rhythm (who says white folks don’t have rhythm?) and a host of split-time reduction strategies.
Movement was also emphasized, not only moving off the line of force, but also when shooting, reloading and malfunction clearing.
I also found his tips and tricks on ammunition management useful. He was constantly preaching to us to check weapon status and perform tactical reloads whenever the opportunity presented itself. If you didn’t, you found yourself with an empty gun at slide-lock while you were supposed to be engaging threats. This left you feeling plenty embarrassed.
As part of the course “combined skills evaluations”, there were man on man stress courses the second day. I won the dueling tree shoot-off and also the overall combined skills evaluation stress course, capturing two pairs of nice ESS safety glasses and a Spartan Tactical cap.
Krupa was an impressive and skilled shooter and has been there, done that as a cop for many years. He’s been in a couple of gunfights in his time, coming out on top (obviously) while his adversaries weren’t so fortunate. He did a fine job covering the material and keeping us engaged and excited as students, building our confidence while flying through a great deal of material in a timely manner.
I would recommend this class, taught by Krupa, without hesitation.
On a personal note, as an instructor myself teaching basic and intermediate-level handgun classes, it was rewarding to see so many former students continuing with their training and education. I think over half of the students in this class had been through one or more GSL Defense Training classes.