2019 Year in Review and a Few Thoughts Looking Forward…

Similar to recent posts by Robert, I thought I might share a brief year in review and some thoughts on the coming year. 2019 was not nearly as tough on me as it was on Robert, but it has not been without its challenges. In but one example of this, I did not make it to the range even once for the month of December. This was largely due to significantly increased family and work commitments, but those take priority and it is what it is. The past year was not without highlights, however.


I started off last year on a high note when I had the opportunity to train with Mike Seeklander in February. His “Defensive Handgun Level 1” was an awesome class that served as excellent foundational work for the year. I may very well take a follow up class this year when he returns to CT.

In March, I attended the Rangemaster Tactical Conference for the third time, and greatly enjoyed the training and networking potential that it offers. I probably won’t make it out to Dallas this year, but I am on the wait list. We’ll see…

May found me on John Murphy’s range in VA attending Citizens Defense Research’s “Contextual Handgun: The Armed Parent/Gaurdian” curriculum. This was an extraordinarily valuable experience that was directly relevant to my everyday life as the parent of two toddlers.

In June, I traveled with Robert to take Centrifuge Training’s “VCQB” in Alliance, OH. I had been reading about both the Alliance Police range and VCQB for years by that point, so making the journey was an easy decision. Like the aforementioned TAP/G class, and as discussed by Robert, this was a class that involved thinking with a gun in hand. Getting to do a low-light night shoot around vehicles was an awesome opportunity as well. Again, I consider the material to be quite relevant to my armed lifestyle since I spend a LOT of time behind the wheel and sitting in a vehicle.

In July, I returned to VA to take a one day “Advanced Handgun” class with KR Training (Karl Rehn). This was pivotal not only because of skill development but also because of an opportunity that developed out of it. A few months later, Robert and I appeared on the After Action Project podcast with Karl to discuss the class, a first for the blogging team.

October marked the highlight of my training year when I traveled out to Chino Valley, AZ to take Rob Haught’s “Shotgun Skills” Class hosted by Vang Comp Systems. Anybody who has spent any time reading the blog knows of my affinity for the shotgun, and I had literally been wanting to train with Haught for over a decade. I was lucky enough to be at an iteration of the class that featured 00Haught! Both Rob and his son Matt are true gentlemen and put on a phenomenal class.

Finally, in November I was again able to train with Bill Rapier. This time it was his Amtac Shooting “Combative Carbine” course. I really appreciate Rapier’s approach to this material and lifestyle and I will continue to train with him as the opportunity presents itself.


Notable in 2019, I switched to an M&P9 2.0 Compact for EDC. I’ve generally been happy with this choice and don’t really see it changing anytime soon.

I also acquired another new (to me) gun late last year, one that has been a long time coming and one that I will probably write about a bit in the coming months. While semi-automatic pistols have largely eclipsed revolvers for duty and concealed carry, I still think that wheel guns are relevant for certain situations. To that end, I just added another revolver to my collection. The first gun I ever carried was a S&W Model 19 snub. I foolishly let it get away from me and had wanted one ever since. They weren’t getting any cheaper on the used market, so I finally jumped on one on an auction site last month. I purchased a well-used 19-3 that probably dates from 1971-1972. Once I have a chance to get it cleaned up and outfitted with some new grips and leather, I’ll share some more thoughts on what I consider to be an iconic sidearm.

The only other major change I made last year was swapping to an 11.5″ upper on my SBR. I’m currently running an inexpensive PSA upper and I’ll report back once I have some more trigger time with it.


In addition to not making it to the range as consistently as I had hoped last year, I didn’t really do a lot of dry fire. I hope to change that this year. My beautiful and talented bride gifted me a newly available CoolFire training barrel for my M&P9 2.0 Compact this past Christmas, so I anticipate that practicing in the basement will be a bit more fun and realistic. Again, I’ll report back with a full review later this year.

Regular readers might have noticed that there was no annual hunting blog post this past year… that WILL change in 2020, one way or another. In early February, I will be traveling to attend the Great American Outdoor Show with my hunting friends and we are going to formalize some plans then. I may even drag Robert along on a hunt this year!

On my radar for this year are training opportunities with Frank Proctor, Mike Seeklander, Tim Chandler, Ashton Ray, and Bill Rapier. There may be other classes I look at as well, but the burdens on my time and training budget are not going to be getting any lighter this year. Such is life and I embrace the responsibilities that I’ve been gifted. The challenge for all of us is finding a balance. I look forward to continuing to develop and foster positive relationships in the community. One thing that probably will be a major change is that I’m not going to be traveling for classes as much. I’m sure I’ll make exceptions (as always), but I’m really trying to stay within the state this year to minimize the impact on my family and kids. Fortunately, there are some really great opportunities local to me.

As in years past, this blog will remain an avocation for me, and I will continue to attempt to produce worthwhile content as I’m able. If there’s anything our readers would like us to explore or write about, please let us know.

As always, thanks for reading and supporting our work through our Affiliate links. There may some more of those in 2020. We welcome comments, questions, and civil discourse. I can be reached privately at civiliangunfighter.john@gmail.com.

Happy New Year!

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