8301 S IH 35 Frontage Rd, Austin, TX 78744


Your Equipment Doesn’t Matter

That’s a bold statement, but it is true from a certain point of view. I see so many new shooters start down the wrong path by looking to solve their shooting problems with equipment.

Define Your Mission

When I have the opportunity to guide a student towards their first gun purchase I start by asking them what is the reason for the purchase. Why do they need a gun? I’m not asking them to justify why they want to buy a gun, I’m asking them to tell me what is the mission for the gun. Are they looking for gun to carry concealed, for home defense or strictly for sport. There really isn’t one gun that will accomplish all those missions well. There are a few that can do a good job, but they also may not be the best starting point for a first gun. Here is a harsh reality for many new gun owners, you will probably buy the wrong gun. You may do some research, talk to some knowledgeable sources and even try before you buy and still end up with the wrong gun.

It’s Always the Indian

To be honest, which gun your purchase won’t really affect the outcome as much as the training you invest in with said gun. Without the training it is nothing more than a good luck charm. Without training you will lack the insight into what really works for you, what you truly need. The other harsh reality is most who invest into training learn the original gun purchase may not be the best for their newly developed skills. As you train more, you learn more. You learn more about what you need. Can a nice gun help with the learning process, of course. It is not a requirement, it is only an enhancement.

Buy Cheap, Buy Twice

When the shooter invests in their training, they will by proxy see improvements in their skill. It wasn’t the platform as much as the hard work they put into learning. The first gun purchase becomes a stepping stone towards what will probably be many purchases. The problem becomes avoiding buyer’s remorse and realizing you don’t have to keep working with something that is suboptimal. You can find it a new legal home through a variety of methods. Don’t feel compelled to sale the ship into the rocks for the sake of staying on the ship. It’s okay to acknowledge a poor choice, don’t beat yourself up about it because you didn’t know then what you know now.

Out of the Box

As a first time gun buyer, don’t feel like you have go hog wild to update, improve or enhance your new purchase. Learn how to use it, develop skill with it and if you discover the new gun works for you then great. The flip side is there will come a point of diminishing returns. A point where you will drop more money into equipment with the expectation it will improve your skill. Yes, there is some truth to this notion. However, I caution you on using this as an excuse not to train or improve your skill. You may see some skill improvements, but do those improvements come at the sacrifice of other skill deterioration. At some point, you will find a gun you can perform well with under a variety of conditions. It is reliable, durable and accurate enough for you and your skill level plus the mission at hand.

I rarely see someone out shoot a gun out of the box. Don’t look to the gun as the source of the problems, look at your skills or lack there of and do something about them.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

The struggle is real

There is a lot of buzz over some of the new micro & subcompact handguns designed for concealed carry. This a great time within our industry to see so many products marketed to the concealed carry consumer, but what is the tradeoff.

Little Blasters

I am all about encouraging as many people to take personal responsibility for their own personal safety. This comes in many different packages. An obvious start is a handgun and obtaining a license to carry. Many new to the market will see a handgun in a small, compact package and assume it is ideal for carrying concealed. It very well can and does this mission well. The problem is many of the new shooters are not privy to the challenges these little blasters bring to the table. By the same token, with quality training and the proper equipment these are great for the selected mission.

Rapid, Accurate Fire

Recently I decided to have some fun with these little guys. I put each of my sub-compacts and micros through a test designed to measure pure marksmanship. The first challenge is the reduced size equaling less grip surface. A lot of times people run out of space for their pinky. An easy fix is not to worry, just curl your pinky finger under the magazine base pad and it will greatly improve your performance. The other complication is the less gripping surface equals a greater recoil impulse. Plinking on the range can leave you with a sense of accomplishment. Trying to perform rapid, accurate fire at extended ranges will challenge the best of shooters.

Statistics Don’t Lie

A justification many will use is how most self defense shootings are close range in nature. There may be some truth in this statistic, but let me lay something pretty heavy on you. If you fired your gun in self defense you are already a statistical anomaly. Making an excuse why you’re not shooting at distance does not make for a good plan. Pushing these baby blasters at extended ranges was not only eye opening, but fun. Yes, they are plenty accurate for the task at hand, but their inherited challenges do force the shooter to have their skills fully developed.

Training Junkie & Ammo Whore

What I recommend is to improve the sight system right away. Nothing out of the box is really that good, but when you are pushing the envelope already every little bit helps. What prompted all this fun was breaking out my Glock 26 and upgrading it with some fiber optic type sights. Thin and plain allowed me to see them better and and perfect my aim. While the other blasters had different types of sights, I noticed the difference immediately. Performance was still good, but not good enough for me. I literally walked off the range and immediately ordered replacement sights for all, but one blaster. I cannot wait for these upgrades, as if I needed an other excuse to practice. They will all get more trigger time and more exposure in our classes.

I’m all for options, for being able to select what best fits your needs. Don’t forget nothing is free and you will have to know your limits as well as your equipment’s.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

The Two Confidences

It happens all too often, you start off real slow and before you know you are some sort of ninja. Well, at least in your mind you are a ninja, the reality is a little different.

Finally Tuned Machine

In our instructor courses I talk about the importance of developing the two confidences. The first is skills confidence. What you need to technically be proficient at the skill or skills. This is where you put the hard work into your development as a shooter. You learn the basics, drill them over and over. Start to fail, learn why you fail and work to improve. Then fail again, repeat as necessary. At some point, you have developed your skills to what I call command performance level. That means, at any given time, in all manner of conditions demonstrate your skill to a minimum standard.

The Truth Hurts

It sounds easy, truthfully it is pretty easy. The hard part is patience and discipline it takes to get to the level where you can now push into situational confidence. The mistake made is trying to jump right into the situational confidence arena. It may not be bad, you learn really quick how ill prepared you are and well worth the price you paid. You walk away realizing, well that didn’t go according to plan. It can force you to work harder, seeing your failures in all their glory. Or, it can do the opposite. It can solidify the notion of not wanting to be put in that awkward and uncomfortable position…ever again.

Baby Steps

Situational confidence is about taking your proven skills confidence; which is typically void of realism and applying them in realistic settings. These don’t always have to be in force on force scenarios, even just role playing with unloaded or even prop guns can scar someone. The importance of situational confidence is huge, but it is also part of a linear progression philosophy. One where you build from one level to the next, only advancing when you have developed a level of proficiency or meet a standard.

The Unknown

This is where the rubber meets the road, where you want to spend a good amount of your training resources. The reason situation confidence is so important is because it both familiarizes you with an unknown as well as inoculate you to the unknown. The more you dabble in this field the more gaps you bridge; which allows you to better react in real time. A major problem this solves is critical decision making under stress.

Rehearsals & Looks

Trying to perform any task under duress is challenging enough. Trying to do it without ever having been in the situation can be Herculean. We call these “looks” and a major reason we spend so much time doing rehearsals. The insight was ridiculously valuable, but it was only available if you were willing to see it over your ego. You had to recognize you made a mistake, try to understand why you made the mistake and then work towards changing the behavior that lead to said mistake. It is a process and no amount of good intention can replace the skill needed to take advantage of the benefits.

Put the work in to build your skills, hone them to a razors edge. Then test, test them until the fail, then test them again.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

Mobility Restrictions

When I was younger I can remember when someone asked me if I was going to warm up before a run. My comment usually was “sure, I’m just going to run slower in the beginning.”

High Mileage Athlete

As I get older and the high mileage starts to show my body recovers slower. Nothing should be earth shattering about this fact, pretty much a no brainer. What I have noticed more recently is how its affecting my performance. This week has been brutal on the body, doing “2 a day” workouts. It doesn’t help that my lifting sessions have been centered around Olympic lifts. These explosive lifts are great for my training plan, the fit in quite nicely. The down side is the days after I have reduced range of motion. Yes, there is a little soreness, but what does the soreness mean. For me, it means my muscles are tight. When they are tight they have reduced their overall range of motion. Normal everyday movements are minimally impacted.

Economy of Motion

What I notice is how my drawstroke is affected. My dry fire and live fire is a mixture of the various carry conditions. Both open and concealed conditions as well as strong side, appendix and ankle carry positions. What I specifically noticed was how I had to accommodate with either extra or altered movements. One thing I try to emphasize in classes is not to add anything unnecessary and to do the minimum work necessary. If you are interested in being fast the natural response is to move faster. Simple enough. The first thing to do is clean up your technique so it has the minimum movement required for the action performed with a high level of precision. Having limited range of motion effected my movements. I liked discovering this, since my lifestyle has extensive periods where my range of motion may be suboptimal it reminds me of the importance of my mobility work.

Limited Mobility

I have a mobility program I consistently follow. A prime directive in my strength programming is injury prevention. It includes both pre and post workout. It has significantly improved not just my recovery, but my workouts and my quality of life. What I see as a common dilemma in our classes is students who as a result of injury, lifestyle or not knowing any better have terrible mobility. I see this easily demonstrated in posture. I joke about this in class, but if you grew up in Texas and had a mother like mine who constantly scolded you for not sitting up straight it left a mark. Among many things in my childhood she was right. Probably the two biggest posture issues I see involve shortened hip flexors and rounded shoulders.

Adapting to the New Norm

The shortened hip flexors will pull on the front part of your hips. I had this pretty bad when I was younger. Once the muscles and tendons shorten, it is difficult to get them to return to their normal position. Trust me on that one. My lower back continues to send me flowers ever since. To be honest the rounded shoulders were the least difficult of the two to correct. They both had a negative impact on my shooting. They affected my shooting mainly in recoil management, but other areas as well. When I corrected them I saw the positive impact in my shooting. At first in small dosages, but with time big changes. The human body can adapt and accommodate to many different conditions, but that doesn’t mean it is a good thing. When on the firing line I’m looking at the student’s posture to help identify potential problems.

If the shoulders are rounded and the hands rest in front of the hips realize this is not natural. It may have become the new norm, but it is not natural.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

Death & Safety

I have been pretty lucky over the years to have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people. I was saddened to learn the loss of a friend and student recently.

Not As Bright

I am constantly reminded how short and fragile our lives are on this tiny blue planet. You can do everything right and still be hit by a drunk driver, be the subject of a medical malpractice or die accidentally. It is hard to cope with the loose. There really are no simple ways to get through grief. There is only the realization the world is a little less bright without these people in our lives. After loosing a close friend of mine several years ago, I vowed I would make it a part of me to communicate my gratitude, my appreciation for those who have come into my life. To let them know they had an impact on my life. It is one of my prouder moments. I enjoy sitting down to pen and paper, sharing a few memories.

Ground Rush

When it comes to gun handling there is the critical understanding of the lethality of guns. How they are simply a machine, willed to action by the human behind the trigger. I feel it is important to review why we have safety rules in place. While we can never eliminate the danger of a gun, it is our responsibility to manage it and will it to do our biding. Complacency is a killer, it is ninja like how it entangles in our lives. We take so many things for granted, often times going through the motions. I can remember watching a video prior to my first free-fall jump so many years ago. We watched in amazement these jumpers performing all manner of jumps. I can remember the rush of knowing shortly I would be doing that, doing all those cool moves. Then the awkward feeling something should have happened by now, realizing the ground is rushing up. Making out objects on the ground as it speeds into your view and then nothing.

Recognize Danger

We were told the video was from an experienced sky diver, someone with more jumps than most can ever hope to achieve. They had decided to skip the last jump of the day, but were talked back into filming the exit only. As the familiarity of the jump takes hold and the jumpers prepare to exit so too does our cameraman…without a parachute. Choosing to film the exit only, he had left his parachute on the ground. While we were briefed on the multitude of failures that day, the glaring point to me was how comfortable we can become with danger. Years later I would be dressed down by a mentor for not recognizing danger. Placing myself and a teammate in grave danger as a result. I have strived to improve my ability to recognize danger. For new shooters we express upon them the importance of understanding the gun does not care. It is an emotionless, thoughtless piece of engineering.

Respect and Humility

When you are handling firearms never presume to above reproach. Above error. That bullet does not care. Instead, approach firearms handling with respect and humility. Recognize and admit you are fallible and can make a mistake so put in place steps to help you minimize those chances. Realize the intention of the safety rules is to work together, in an overlapping nature. That should one rule be broken, the hope is the others will survive to safeguard your actions. Live by these rules everyday, whether you handle firearms daily or not. Make it a point to review the rules and hold yourself accountable to living them and set the example for other to follow.

In the end, that is the best we can hope for, that we set the example for others to follow. That we live each day knowing how fragile it is and how we must act to protect life.

Injuries, They Suck

With an active lifestyle it is hard not to see the occasional injury. Add a lot of mileage as an athlete and you can expect to see the negative side of all those miles.

All In, All the Time

Carrying concealed is something you either go all in or just walk around edges. Very few take the plunge or at least on a long term basis. Once you reach the level where you truly are carrying everyday your gear selection becomes essential. Add your work conditions and other obstacles and finding a good system becomes complex. The mistake many make is investing in one system then being so shut off it becomes your only way. At some point you find yourself looking at the round hole as a square peg.

The Path Less Traveled

When I carry, I typically have my go to or standard load out. It solves 50% of all my known problems for a good load out. I enjoy the comfort and capabilities it provides. I have been shooting these platforms for long enough to know them like the back of my hand. When something changes and I have to move off my beaten path I do so cautiously, but optimistically. Moving off the beaten path can be the result of several different factors or just one big one. It really doesn’t matter, the point is can you accommodate or improvise. To avoid being disadvantaged.


I get asked all the time what I carry. Truthfully I rarely answer. Partly because I keep the information close to my chest, but also because it changes periodically. I will go from my go to blaster, to the one I reserve for special occasions, to the one I use because I’m being lazy. I feel as though I have good coverage to manage most of the crazy thrown at me or that I might walk into on my own. Lately, I discovered a flaw in my plan. It happened while on vacation, but it gave me great insight into changing things up on my load out. The catalyst was managing some injuries. These injuries forced me to carry well outside my normal load outs.

Some Things Don’t Change

The good news is principles transcend. It doesn’t matter, to a certain extent, what you may be holding as long as you apply the same principles. There will always be subtitles, but they mostly go unnoticed if you are focusing on the right thing at the right time. What I was pleasantly surprised by was the ease of my new carry method. When I say ease, what I’m talking about is my existing equipment I could make work. I didn’t have to go out and buy anything new or different. What was not easy was the changes meant I was sore in places I haven’t been sore in a long time. It took some getting use to carrying in this new configuration, but I’m already well adjusted and acclimated. Since then I’ve been putting a lot more time into this new load out. Practicing, shooting and sourcing additional supporting equipment. Maybe I should have given this more thought before my vacation, but I didn’t. Now, I have the advantage of the lessons learned to move forward.

Having used this setup at my last instructor course it gave me that comfortable feeling again. Don’t let your environment or equipment make all the decisions, think through how you can best accommodate or improvise.

Author: Jeff Gonzales

Technical Vs. Mechanical

Over the years I have seen enough students struggle with various shooting errors, like I’ve seen a lot. An excuse begins to form it is not them, but their gear.

We Are All Human

I get it, I’m human and fallible big time. In other areas of my life I often forget the lessons I’ve learned on the firing line. I overlook the simple fact it is not my gear, but me. With ego’s being so fragile these days it shouldn’t be surprising. It is hard to accept the rarity of gear issues. I will caveat my statement with when you select quality gear designed for the mission at hand. More importantly, we loose an important means of growth when we fail to self critique through our own failures. When we refuse to acknowledge our short comings we lean towards a self fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

It Is Always the Indian

On the firing line, the difference between a mechanical versus a technical issue is not frequently observed. I had a recent conversation with a student who didn’t realize their lack of experience was preventing them from seeing the real issue. They blamed the “possibility” of gear failure rather than looking at the real problem, instead of acknowledging most gun related issues are operator error. I’m not saying they are not possible, I’m saying before you try to blame the gun or create some wazoo need to carry this or that, look inward. Be genuine in your self evaluation and ask yourself if it is possible you could be the culprit. Start with this question, what could I be doing wrong. Not, what is wrong with my gun.

But Then Again

There comes a point when you realize maybe it is mechanical versus technical. Recently, I experienced this issue first hand. I literally was going crazy because I refused to blame my gun. I was owning up to the responsibility it was me and me alone. I started trouble shooting my technique at a microscopic level. Employing the very corrective strategies we teach in class. I literally refused to believe it could be anything other than me. What was funny, less than a week ago I experienced a similar issue with a different gun. I opted to consider the first issue was a fluke, but two guns and you really have to look more closely.

Thank Goodness

I was getting frustrated because I know my skill. I know my capabilities, when I see problems my natural instinct is to think I’m in a rut. A lot of times, my go to solution when in a rut is to transfer the gun to my weak side. Do some hard work from that perspective before returning to my strong side. I can vividly recall the instant where as I was about to transfer the gun to my weak side. Right as I was transferring the gun, I used my weak hand trigger finger to test the integrity of the front sight post. To my absolute relief, it moved…pretty easily I might add. As I correlate my dry fire with a crystal clear image of my front sight and compare it to my windage issues from live fire I can see the pattern more clearly. I’m more than relieved to know in this case, it wasn’t me…it was my gun.

I encourage you to always look inwards regarding your shooting errors first. Eliminate any an all possibilities, then whatever you are left with; however improbable is your answer.

Body armor consideration

Anytime the subject of mass shootings and body armor come up there is a call for head shots. Again, I hate to break the news to you, but you are not that good.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Yes, some folks might be able to make heads shot, but at what range. Is it realistic to expect everyone be able to deliver a head shot at extended ranges on demand. I’m not saying it is not, what I’m saying is the average person fails to put in the minimum work to be proficient with a standard defensive response. Do you think it is reasonable to make a head shot at an extreme range under stress. I feel like this is wishful thinking at best, recklessness at worst. I’m all for the immediate stop to a deadly threat. How you do so will be dependent on the situation, but more importantly you’re skill. Should you fail, the consequences may be more than you bargained for in the first place.

Hard Versus Soft

Wearing body armor is not an end all be all. It doesn’t mean the head shot is the only available shot. You can still hit the torso covered with armor to great effect. Let’s look at what history has shown us from the recent mass shootings. Has any of the armor been more than level IIIa protection. Most of the news does not indicate the suspect was wearing hard armor, or rifle grade ballistic plates. Most if not all accounts indicate it was soft armor only. Still, it is capable of stopping some ballistic threats. Here is the key, you have to realize any armor, no matter how advanced is degradable. Even the best armor can only sustain so much damage before it is compromised. Most are designed to stop multiple projectiles spread out over a large surface area. Concentrated in an area and multiple shots have a better chance of penetrating the armor.

Getting Punched in the Gut

A real outcome to torso shots is blunt force traumaIf when wearing soft armor only. While the armor may stop the projectile from penetrating the body, it does nothing to stop the projectile’s energy. This energy has to be absorbed somehow and while spreading it across a wider surface area armor can dissipate the energy, it is still a tremendous amount of force. I have been around armor most of my adult life. When you wear it to save your life you take a vested interest in learning how it works. The part they don’t tell you is the back face deformation can still kill you.

Effective Fire Gets Results

Back face deformation is the energy transmitted through the armor into the body. It is generally measured against molding clay with a minimum depth to be acceptable. While we were so busy making awesome armor to stop threats we forgot to worry about the projectile’s energy and where it was going. Many of the hard armor is referenced as conjunction armor, meaning it must be used in conjunction with soft armor to minimize fragmentation and back face deformation. So, stop worrying about the head shot and direct your fire at the largest target zone you have with rapid and repeated hits. You are going to get a response, you may not get penetration, but you will get a response. This response may or may not stop the threat, but it may slow the body movement down or allow you the time necessary to make the more precise head shot.

Bad guys wearing armor is not as big a game changer as some people might believe. Rapid, repeated and accurate hits on the torso will have an effect.

Author: Jeff Gonzales