COLUMN: Decorated special operator reforming firearms training

Bob Keller knows what works in a gunfight and what doesn’t.

He’s been in more gunfights than he can count.

Keller began his Army career in a Ranger battalion and later transferred to Special Forces, but for the past 10 years he’s been a member of Army Special Operations.

Now, as retirement draws near, he launched a civilian firearms training firm, Gamut Resolutions.

I spent the day with Bob at the Manatee Gun and Archery Club last week.

It was the best firearms training I’ve ever had — period.

It was also… well… revelatory.

You see, Bob’s distilled down decades of firearms training, He tossed out the theoretical BS and kept only what you need to win a gunfight, based on his numerous combat deployments overseas.

I spent as much time unlearning old techniques and drills as I did learning new ones, albeit ones that work.

It was refreshing.

Gone are the rote techniques that were started for reasons unknown, and then passed from instructor to instructor because they look cool.

“They waste time at the range — precious time — and they simply don’t work,” Bob said.

Gone are the silly left-right-left scans, the dangerous don’t look at your holster before reholstering, and the requirement to mimic the instructor’s preferred shooting stance.

“Your stance in a gunfight is going to be quite different from how you stand and shoot at a square range,” he said.

Gone is the over-reliance on gear and gadgets. Bob and his teammates have learned to become gear minimalists. They carry only what they need. Compared to today’s mall ninjas, they’re practically naked.

Shooters who, like me, thought clanging steel plates at 25 yards is good enough are in for a rude awakening. Bob uses paper targets with three-inch circles. The small bulleyes bring aim small, miss small to a new level.

To be clear, he teaches precision tactical shooting. It’s humbling at first — very humbling.

All handgun drills start from the holster. Bob’s big on practicing draw strokes. However there’s no formulaic three-step draw, five-step draw or the ridiculous seven-step technique. They’ve been replaced by one fluid motion. Your off-hand meets the gun as it’s pushing out. There’s no stop in front of the shooter’s chest for the hands to meet. Bob’s found that all these formulas do is slow the shooter down.

As a coach, Bob misses nothing — nothing.  He makes corrections as needed. They’re real-world suggestions not dogma. He’s very flexible about a shooter’s preferences.

One thing that wasn’t flexible was firearm safety. I’ve found that the more elite the shooter, the safer they tend to be. Since Bob’s one of the most elite shooters in the world, safety was paramount, especially during loading and unloading when most negligent discharges occur. He used a three-step process to verify our M4s were clear. It’s just one of the techniques I’ll be using from now on.

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend taking one of his classes.  You can get in line right behind me and those who came out for the training.

I’m glad there’s someone moving firearm instruction forward.

“There were a lot of theories out there pre-9/11. We tried a lot of different things,” Bob said. “Now, we know what works.”

Those who want to modify their training, make ready. Bob’s got an instructor class planned.

Things are about to get real, which is a very good thing.

— Senior investigative reporter Lee Williams, The Gun Writer, can be reached at 941-284-8553, by email at lee.williams@heraldtribune.com or lee@TheGunWriter.com, or by regular mail, 1741 Main St., Sarasota, 34236. You also can follow him on social media at facebook.com/TheGunWriter or Twitter.com/ht_gunwriter.

Here are links to the other stories, videos and podcasts in this special project:

Welcome to our special project: ‘A commando’s tale’

A commando’s tale 

VIDEO: A Q&A with Special Operations legend Bob Keller

COLUMN: Decorated special operator reforming firearms training

VIDEO: At the range with Special Ops legend Bob Keller of Gamut Resolutions

GALLERY: Behind the Scenes of A Commando’s Tale

VIDEO: SNN-TV’s special report on Gamut Resolutions

Q&A: A Special Operations legend defines real-world firearms training

PODCAST: Bob Keller and The Gun Writer on Armed American Radio with Mark Walters

VIDEO: A SOF-level Med kit and med plan for the range

PODCAST: Special Operations veteran Bob Keller of Gamut Resolutions talks firearm training 

REVIEW: ‘Proven Methods of the Carbine’ DVD

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1741 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.

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