B5 Systems

Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

If you were to tell your neighbor that they are going to experience a home fire tomorrow, most would run to check the status of their fire extinguisher, or maybe even run out to purchase a new one. It sounds a bit flippant to say this, but the aftermath of the most recent terrorist event in the US has had a similar effect on many citizen’s outlook on firearms. Make no mistake, the Second Amendment is in place for such an need. I am always amazed at the number of people that have CCWs, yet rarely ever carry a sidearm. Somehow, they think that they will have time to strap a gun on if trouble is about to descend upon them.

Reality is that being prepared is about being ready. Situational awareness must be practiced; it is something that most people don’t possess; like combat marksmanship, it only comes with practice. Just having a gun is not really enough, you must be safe and skilled with a small arms in order to be effective. Most folks go to a class to qualify for their CCW. In most cases they make no effort to either improve their shooting skills or maintain them. Right now the buzz is that everyone wants a ‘high capacity’ pistol to prepare to shoot it out with a terrorist cell. Get real, it’s not how many bullets your sidearm holds, or how many spare magazines you have on your belt; it is about how well can you shoot effectively when the chips are down. Find a range in your area. Set aside time each month for dedicated practice. Seek out instruction; any is better than none.

Most every area of the USA now has a local guy cooking kydex holsters in his kitchen, another building AR15s in his garage, and another guy that has bought a set of 5-11 clothes, a war belt with leg holster (generally one that looks more like a high ankle holster), and blaster that looks like it came from the movie set of Star Wars. These types declare that they are ninja commando trainers and your answer to learning to become a great ‘Combat Shooter’ (whatever that may be).

Look at the reason you need a sidearm. What are realistic problems you face? Remember those little compact 380s and pocket rocket 9mms may be great to carry, but how well can you shoot one when someone is shooting at you? Most of these little pocket type guns are perfect for the people that carry them, as long as they never need them.

Good training and a supply of ammo to stay proficient is not cheap. Don’t kid yourself and think that just because you ‘qualified expert in the military’ or outshot your buddies 10 years ago at a beer can shooting match means anything today. Combat marksmanship is a perishable skill. Okay, if you are going to exercise your CCW rights, make a plan now to become skilled, and get started.

– Ken Hackathorn

Old Guy With A Blaster

Ken Hackathorn has served as a US Army Special Forces Small Arms Instructor, Gunsite Instructor, and NRA Police Firearms Instructor. He is currently an FBI Certified Firearms Instructor, Certified Deputy Sheriff with Washington County SO, Ohio, and a SRT member and Special Response Team trainer. Ken has trained US Military Special Operations forces, Marine FAST and SOTG units and is a contract small arms trainer to FBI SWAT and HRT.

Ken has provided training to Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies and been active in small arms training for the past 25 years. He has written firearms related material for Guns & Ammo, Combat Handguns, Soldier Of Fortune, and currently American Handgunner and contributed to at least six other gun/shooting journals. Ken was also a founding member of IPSC and IDPA.

To see Ken’s Training Class Schedule visit aliastraining.com.

Gunfighter Moment is a weekly feature brought to you by Alias Training & Security Services. Each week Alias brings us a different Trainer and in turn they offer SSD readers hard earned words of wisdom.

Tags: ,

10 Responses to “Gunfighter Moment – Ken Hackathorn

  1. Tim says:

    On the money. As an NRA and USCCA instructor in multiple disciplines most people come to me and my fellow instructors not really knowing what they need. Here say, Internet crap, and uneducated advice fills their head.

    Although I spent over two decades in combat arms I don’t teach “tactical” courses or shooting techniques. Between developing and refining our curriculum we focus on
    – An overview of how modern pistols work as well as what to look for when arming themselves.
    – Fundamentals of correct shooting technique, in class, simulation, and on the range. Includes pistol presentation from their actual carry method instead of your competitive holster.
    – The CHL process in our state as well as your rights and responsibilities as an armed citizen. This is taught by a retired police chief who also works as one of our CRSOs.
    – Physio and psychological responses to stress.
    – Situational awareness (Cooper et al.) theory and vignettes.
    – The aftermath of a self defense incident or what happens

  2. Tim says:

    Part 2

    – Dealing with the police and inevitable legal and civil aftermath. This includes identifying a 2A lawyer and talking to them as well as legal defense insurance. Although both the NRA and USCCA offer products we don’t push those.

    – Practice, dry fire, and simulation with range practice planning basics. Improving and sustaining critical skills.

    And of course a pitch for course offerings focused primarily on defensive shooting technique.

    While the tactical shooting courses would probably be great to attend, most of them have limited applicability to CHL and home defense. Obviously there is great demand for them based on the offerings out there; before I drop a couple grand on one I would rather spend the money on ammunition and range time.

    No doubt there are probably many techniques to learn and good instructor feedback would develop and refine my shooting but honestly I can’t think of more than a dozen instructors for which I’d invest the time and money in.

    My concern is protecting myself and family and for most of us we need to build and sustain practical self defense shooting skills, develop situational awareness, and decision making, and establishing your red lines in terms of responding to perceived threats and making a decision early enough that shooting is not your only option. Not always possible but vacating the immediate area is COA #1, time and space allowing me to.

  3. SC1911 says:

    …and donโ€™t forget to press check that bad boy every time you strap it on.

  4. SRecz says:

    Kind of meandering points in this article, not terribly clear what any one point was. Just train I guess was the gist?

    • Larry says:


      – If you have a CCW…carry
      – Carry a real gun and not some compromise.
      – Shoot it a lot/training
      – Instead of pimping it out, buy some ammo and shoot it a lot/training.

      I have lots of friends that have a CCW and NEVER carry. The same guy’s will tweak and tweak their pistols/AR’s to the point of them having issues. GLOCK triggers that are so light they cause light primer strikes. Hours and hours spent on stippling, money spent on custom slides for their GLOCK’s that make them look stupid IMHO. SBR’s that don’t always cycle on weaker ammo because of some gas issue they caused.

  5. Tim says:

    SC- My takeaways were:

    – If you decide to carry it means all of the time. To do otherwise is as bad as not carrying at all. If you could predict a situation where you needed to defend yourself then it would be cheaper and easier to just not go there.

    – There is never enough time and money to shoot if it is not a priority. Acquiring a CHL implies a commitment to practice regularly; not only your shooting skills but developing better situational awareness.

    – Since time and money are constraints for most of us, have a plan before going to the range. Ensure there are specific goals each session and shooting drills that support CHL tasks. The best stress you can build on your own is using a timer. It is also essential ICW recording hits that you have an objective standard to achieve.

    I’d love to have the time and money to do some of the tactical courses, but I always have the time and money to practice concealed carry/home defense skills.

  6. MidGasFan says:


    I never get tired of reading your Gunfighter Moments! Simple, effective and straight to the point. I’ve been fortunate enough to take some classes from 3 Gun shooters, a Force Recon Marine, a few NSW chaps, some Green Berets as well as some police officers. I’ve learned that not every method is for me but, I sure learned something from each of them! There are always positives to take away from training. If the same negative Nancy comes out of each class notching that they didn’t learn anything, that’s on the student, not the instructor.

    You’re mind it’s like a parachute, it only works when it’s open!

    Working in and around gun shops for the last ten years has driven home the the sad fact that less than 10% of CCW types actually practice and many of those that do, shoot at an indoor heated and cooled range. They never practice when it’s 30 degrees or for that matter, when it’s hot as blazes outside. People stay in their comfort zones and that breeds complacency. Shoot when you’re tired, cold, sweaty, when it’s muddy, when you’ve had a long tiring day, etc. When you can draw and hit a target on demand, great, keep going! It’s going to suck but you will get a lot more out of the session.

    Fortunately for me, I suck at shooting so that means more practice! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Thanks for another great read and I’m looking forward to shooting with you next year if you come back to the Pacific Northwest!

  7. Disco says:

    This piece will hurt some egos and that’s a good thing.

    All these doofuses on YouTube being all tactical and whatnot. Mewling over mindset and “combat readiness”.

    Meanwhile there are dudes what been in the mess who are all “man, funk dat.”

    Because they have drilled and drilled with a Glock or rack grade M4 and were not rewarded for their knowledge but punished for their ignorance until failure simply wasn’t an option.

  8. Scott Ehman says:

    Kenny, speaks the truth, if you are going to carry, you better be good with the pistol. Training weekly is recommend, I do it weekly. Of course it does help to have a reloading machine in basement and a small 100 yard range in back of house…practice, practice, practice.

  9. Just as I tell most ccw holders who don’t practice , leave it at home before you hurt yourself or some innocent bystander. I know friends who just got their ccw and are so proud they post on facebook. How dumb to broadcast you even have guns.