My 2018 Year in Review and a Look Ahead

Last year was incredibly busy for me, and my primary avocation (firearms and this blog) somewhat suffered as a result. Nonetheless, I had a good year with some great training opportunities and acquired a few new pieces of hardware as well.

  • As always, early in the year, the annual Rangemaster Tactical Conference provided some great training vignettes and some awesome networking potential. I’m looking forward to attending the 2019 iteration in New Orleans this year.
  • Speaking of Rangemaster, I was able to attend both a shotgun class and a pistol class taught by iconic firearms trainer Tom Givens last year. If my math is right, it had been 21 years since my initial handgun training with Tom in my home town of Memphis. As I’ve told Tom in recent years, I consider myself quite fortunate to have had him as my first formal instructor. The fact that he still continues to offer relevant and realistic training nearly a generation later speaks to his dedication and lasting impact.
  • I also was able to attend John Murphy’s excellent “Concealed Carry: Advanced Skills and Tactics” class. Having had a glimpse of what’s to come from FPF Training, I’m excited to see the continual evolution of training offered by John Murphy.
  • A one day carbine clinic with Kyle Defoor allowed me to train with a new to me optic and was an excellent review of carbine fundamentals. Defoor always seems to pack a lot into his classes. He’s already posted that classes this year will now include a discussion on lights.
  • Finally, the HiTS “First Responder Pistol” course rounded out my training year. I had wanted to train with Bolke and Dobbs ever since attending their training block at my first Tac-Con, and the class did not disappoint. Due to work obligations, Wayne Dobbs couldn’t make it, but we got to meet Jim Watson of Watson Knives, who Darryl Bolke had brought along to assist in the class. (As an aside,  Darryl and Melanie Bolke have started a new Facebook page under the heading of “DB’s Shooting Adventures.” If you’re on social media, it’s worth following the page.)

All of the above classes caused me to give some thought to how I go about protecting myself and my family, and I did make a few changes.

One of those changes was committing to a scattergun as my primary home defense gun. I wrote a bit about that decision in this article. I have also made a concerted effort to carry pepper spray more often. I can’t say that I always do, but I’m getting better. I also feel like my range sessions have become a bit more structured after the classes I took this year, and I plan to continue that trend. My primary goal this year is to work on the fitness side of things. Many bloggers and podcasters have already made this point, but I don’t really believe in making “New Year’s Resolutions” anymore. Instead, it’s more realistic to plan and execute sustainable lifestyle changes.

On the hardware side, I have been carrying my EDC G19 customized by Boresight Solutions for the majority of the past year, and I consider the modifications to be money well spent. I also received two new tax stamps for short barrel weapons and was able to acquire a S&W J-Frame that I had been wanting. I’m quickly coming to the realization that S&W revolvers are sort of like Glocks and potato chips… just more expensive!

Regarding the blog, the stress of moving and raising two toddlers has definitely taken its toll on my writing, and for that, I apologize to our readers. In the past few months, I’ve adopted a policy of only writing when I feel I have something useful to say. The corollary here is the old adage, “the more you learn, the less you know.”

So far, my training calendar for 2019 is shaping up nicely, at least for the first half of the year. I will be taking a defensive pistol class with Mike Seeklander in February, I’ll be at Tac-Con in March, and I’m excited to attend “Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent/Guardian” with John Johnston and Melody Lauer in April. This last one is of particular interest to me given my status as a parent of the aforementioned two toddlers. I also plan to register for one of Will Petty’s VCQB classes later this year. I’ve heard nothing but good things about VCQB, and given that I drive roughly double the national average every year and spend a large portion of every workday in a vehicle, I think it’s relevant.

I know of several other excellent local training opportunities available as the year progresses, but I can’t make any promises. The harsh reality is that training is expensive, and I only have so much time. I’m finding it increasingly difficult to prioritize what I need and want to spend my training time and dollars on, especially given the regional landscape of available training. There are a lot of good choices, but do I really need to take more than one pistol or carbine class per year? I always take away something from every class, but the gains are becoming more and more incremental. What I would like to find is a local jiu-jitsu class, but even if I did, I have no idea when I would be able to fit it into my schedule on a consistent basis. What I need to do is focus on refining what I’ve already learned and move past the mediocre plateau that I’ve been at for a while now. Easier said than done, but I still aspire to be better than just an “average” shooter.

Finally, while there are always new guns that I want, the only ones I think I might be able to justify this year are a S&W 43C and perhaps one of the new Glocks if by some chance the G43X or G48 turns out to be a “Goldilocks” solution for my hand size. Or, I could just buy a Sig P365… I’m legally constrained to ten round magazines where I live anyway.

So that’s about all I have to write about at the moment. Stay tuned for a few gear reviews of stuff that I’ve been using for the past several months, as well as updates to some of the blog articles that have stood the test of time. As always, I will continue to try to write worthwhile AARs of training I attend. Thanks for reading.

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