Archive for the ‘Training & Education’ Category

posted by Charles L. Cotton on Mar 15


The National Rifle Association is known as the largest and most powerful civil rights organization in the world. But the NRA is far more than just a “gun lobby,” it is also the leader in firearms training. In fact, the NRA trains more law enforcement officers nationwide than any other organization. It is also the leader in civilian firearms training, with programs in rifle, pistol and shotgun shooting, as well as personal protection programs.


In recent years, the NRA has seen tremendous growth in the popularity of and demand for its NRA Personal Protection Inside the Home Course (“PPIH”). As its name implies, this Course focuses on using firearms for self-defense and defense of your family within your home. Topics covered include: Texas law on self-defense including the use of deadly force, ethics, mindset and awareness, cover and concealment, strategies for home defense, confronting an intruder, responding to violent confrontations, selecting a handgun for self-defense, safe storage of firearms, and sporting activities and training opportunities.

Students do not be spend all of their time in the classroom, as important as those topics are in self-defense training. In this course, students spend a minimum of three (3) hours on the range learning tactics of self-defense shooting. The NRA PPIH full course runs between eight (8) and ten (10) hours, depending upon the number of students in the class. The PPIH Course is a pre-requisite for the NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home (“PPOH”) as that course builds on the skills developed in the PPIH training.


The last decade has seen a huge increase in the number of states enacting laws to allow law-abiding citizens to carry handguns for self-defense. In Texas, this law is commonly referred to as the “CHL statute” and persons licensed to carry a concealed handgun are referred to simply as “CHLs.”

In response to public demand for special training for CHL’s, the NRA embarked on a multi-year project to develop a comprehensive basic course to train people licensed to carry defensive handguns. The result of this project is the NRA Personal Protection Outside the Home Course (“PPOH”). This Course builds on the concepts and skills a student learns in the NRA Personal Protection Inside the Home Course. Topics covered include: concealed carry safety and the defensive mindset, self-defense and concealed carry, legal aspects of concealed carry and self-defense, concealed carry methods, presenting the handgun from concealment, presentation, position and movement, and special shooting techniques.

The PPOH Course is a minimum of fourteen (14) hours long broken into two (2) days, including 8 ½ hrs on the range practicing tactics and techniques used in self-defense shooting outside the students’ home.

Many people learned to shoot informally, without any organized training or course. While this works fine if you have a good instructor, the NRA courses delve into issues not covered in when learning the physical act of shooting. I have thought hundreds of people how to shoot over the last thirty-five years, but the introduction of the NRA Personal Protection courses has added a new dimension to the training available.

As the course titles state, the NRA PPIH and PPOH courses are basic self-defense courses, not advanced “tactical” courses. They are an excellent start and for many people they are the only personal protection courses they will ever take. If one chooses to take more advanced courses, and this is strongly recommended, they will find the NRA Personal Protection courses gave them a good basis on which to learn new skills.

Now that you have your concealed handgun license, or are in the process, take the next logical step and get additional training. The NRA PPIH and PPOH courses are good choices.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 28

Although I am a practicing attorney, I also spend a lot of time giving seminars on Texas Self-Defense Law and teaching NRA firearms courses, as well as the Texas Concealed Handgun Course. In almost every class or seminar, I am asked “what gun should I get for self-defense.” That’s much like asking “what kind of a car should I buy?” I go through the questions most instructors ask, then I explain the advantages and disadvantages of several different revolvers and semi-autos. I strongly recommend that people try to shoot several different handguns before deciding what they want to buy for self-defense.

The best way for me to help accomplish this is to bring a wide variety of guns to the range and let students shoot them all. I’ve noticed that one of my 1911s in .38 Super is frequently a crowd favorite, especially with the ladies. The more I watched the ladies take to the .38 Super like proverbial “ducks to water,” the more I became convinced that a Commander length 1911 in 38 Super may be a perfect defensive handgun for many of the ladies. The 1911 trigger is hands down the best trigger on any handgun, and it makes it easier to shoot accurately, all other factors being equal. It’s also slimmer than other semi-autos, making it easier to conceal.

I always carry a 1911 in .45 ACP, as do my wife and both sons. However, a .38 Super is no slouch in terms of a self-defense pistol round. Check any reloading manual and you will see that the .38 Super is ballistically equal to or superior to the much-vaunted .357 Sig, and it doesn’t have a bottle-neck case. This is important for reloading purposes, but I’ll get to that later. If you reload, and you’d better if you’re going to shoot a .38 Super, then you can load ammo even hotter, without exceeding SAMII specifications. If you want to add a ramped barrel, then you can join the ranks of the IPSC shooters who load their .38 Super competition guns to rather “remarkable” velocities.

So why all of this talk about reloading? Well, that’s the only downside to selecting a .38 Super; there is very little factory ammo available for them and when you find it, the price tag will give you sticker shock. And I’m talking about the “cheaper” practice ammo, not premium self-defense loads. But you do have an option to reload. The pistol can be fit with a 9mm Luger barrel allowing the use of much cheaper ammo for practice. A barrel change in a 1911 is very simple and no other components need to be changed when switching between calibers.

Some people have reported either extraction problems or feeding problems when trying to use the same extractor for both 9mm Luger and .38 Super in the same gun. External extractors seem to cure the problem, but I do not believe this is a widespread problem. Plus, “standard” internal extractors are cheap and easily installed when changing the barrel, so this is hardly a deal-breaker.

So whether you want to reload .38 Super for a fraction of the cost of factory ammo, or have a 9mm barrel fit to the gun, the .38 Super provides an economical way to get the practice we all should have to maintain proficiency. And with quality factory hollow-point ammo for self-defense use, the .38 Super is more than equal to the task. All of these benefits combined with a milder recoil, less muzzle flip and a thinner profile for concealed carry make the 1911 in .38 Super an excellent choice for the ladies. Don’t just take my word for it, come to the range with me and watch people try a variety of guns and keep coming back to the Super.


posted by Charles L. Cotton on Feb 13

On Saturday, Sept. 27th, the fourth annual TexasCHLforum Day at PSC will be held at the PSC Shooting Club in Friendswood. This is a unique event in the shooting world that began as an informal gathering of eighteen (18) members of the TexasCHLforum in the fall of 2005 growing to about 100 people in 2006 and 2007. In 2005, the only activity was informal shooting in one pistol bay, but people had a great time competing on twin Texas Stars.

But in 2006, the event changed dramatically and not just in terms of the number of TexasCHLforum members in attendance. While the Texas Stars were back to challenge shooters’ skill and ammo supplies, attendees also had a number of educational seminars and shooting clinics to attend. In 2007, additional activities were offered and once again people seemed to have a great time.

Planning is already underway for the 2008 TexasCHLforum Day at PSC. While some shooting clinics and seminars will be offered again this year, many new and innovative activities are planned. Clinics are offered for beginners and experienced shooters alike. Some of the clinics returning this year involve basic shooting clinics such as Basic Skills (proper grip, sight picture and trigger control), Basic Drawing (learning to properly draw from a holster & purse) and Malfunction Drills. These clinics are geared toward people with little or no experience. We will likely offer some of the same advanced clinics such as Moving Target and Moving Shooters, and advanced Draw, Move and Shoot. New shooting clinics are in the works, but we are not far enough along in planning to make any final decisions on which ones will “make the cut.”

Last year saw seminars on the following subjects, Texas Self-Defense/Deadly Force Laws & Application, Awareness, Ladies Issues, and Combat Mind-set. These seminars likely will be repeated and others will be added to the schedule. Candidates include a Panel Discussion on concealed carry and self-defense issues, “What If” Scenarios and a few more.

People interested in attending this year’s event are asked to make a post on in the sub-forum for the TexasCHLforum Day at PSC. This will not constitute a formal “registration” for the Forum Day, but it will certainly help in planning. Formal Registration Forms cannot be posted until the final schedule of seminars and shooting clinics has been determined. This will likely occur in late April or May.

Make plans to join us for this unique, fun and educational event. You won’t regret it!


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