Wednesday, October 26, 2011

QSI Basic Defensive Handgun :: Training with a Real World Focus

Quorum Security, Inc. (QSI) Logo Patch
It was a beautiful October day with lots of sun that warmed up into the low 60's. I arrived at Ahlman's at 8:00AM along with five other students for the Quorum Security Inc. Basic Defensive Handgun Course. I had brought my Kimber Pro Carry 9mm with plenty of ammunition and was ready for whatever the day would throw at me.

"Unloaded Guns Scare Me"
After formal introductions of the students and instructors we delved into the safety brief. Training Director and CEO of Quorum Security Inc.; Erik Pakieser was flanked by his two instructors Gabe Stitzel and Josh Ray. Erik made sure that we were all aware that we were going to perform some techniques that make many Range Officers act like they're having a bowel movement consisting of bricks. While some of these techniques might be controversial, Erik believes that it is necessary to practice what we might have to do in a real self-defense shooting. Erik stressed that handling of firearms was an inherently dangerous act "We are dangerous people, doing dangerous things, but we will do them as safely as possible."

The safety briefing consisted of a review of the Four Basic Rules of Gun Safety:
  1. Treat all guns as if they are loaded.
  2. Never let the muzzle of a gun point at anything you are not willing to destroy.
  3. Be aware of your target and what's beyond it.
  4. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target and have decided to fire.
Once the safety brief was complete we stepped onto the firing line to load and conceal our pistols. Erik was adamant that our guns be loaded for the duration of the course. "People do a lot of foolish things with unloaded guns; unloaded guns scare me." Erik said. We all know the safety rule: 'Don't point your gun at anything you're not willing to destroy', but many people do not practice this. "What is the first thing someone who just shot their tv, cat, or wife say? I thought it was unloaded."

During the safety brief, Erik also showed the class where a Gunshot Wound Kit was located, and stressed who would be the primary medical officer in case of an injury, who would transport the injured person, and the location of the nearest hospital. This is often an overlooked part of a safety briefing, but was sobering reminder that what we were about to do must be taken seriously.

"Eat Your Vegetables" The Basics
The first few things we did was review the basics of marksmanship. Stance, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control. The beginning consisted of partnered dry fire practice that progressed into live fire. Before we began live fire we reviewed drawing the pistol. Many instructors view 'drawing the pistol' as an advanced technique; "Bullshit," says Erik "I don't want the first time you draw your pistol from concealment to be the time you have to use it in a life or death situation." This was very refreshing to hear. Many ranges do not allow you to practice 'holster work' especially from concealment, but we had the unique opportunity to exhaustively experience how the equipment we selected would perform in a dynamic environment. Another 'basic' that is often overlooked is staying situationally aware of your surroundings. This should be done at all times. Erik incorporated scanning early on as it would play an important role later on.

We had a variety of pistols represented at the course. The Instructors were using Smith & Wesson M&P's and a Glock. The students were armed with a Glock 19, EAA Witness, Kimber Pro Carry, Smith & Wesson Sigma, Springfield XD and a Walther PPK. All of the pistols were chambered in 9mm with the exception of the PPK being chambered in 380ACP. About halfway through the course we performed a 'Grab Bag' exercise in which you picked up each pistol and put three shots on steel. The exercise was then repeated with intentionally induced malfunctions to demonstrate that with even a basic knowledge of firearm operation you can pick-up any pistol and run it with success.

'Tape Loops'
What is a 'Tape Loop'? Before, during and after a serious encounter where you may have had to draw or fire your pistol there are a few things you should be vocalizing without having to think about it. The first comes when you encounter an individual. This is where you try to avoid any unpleasant situation by attempting to disconnect with the subject. If they continue to put you in a position that you don't want to be in you tell them, in no uncertain terms, that you don't want them anywhere near you. This is done in a loud manner in an attempt to achieve two things; distract them and attract attention to yourself and the subject. If the subject continues to forcefully engage you (i.e. draws a weapon) that will be the end of the first 'tape loop' and the beginning of the second. After you have fired your pistol (if needed) then a third and fourth 'tape loop' for any concerned citizens and responding law enforcement takes over.
Erik introduced 'tape loops' to us as a tool to use not only in a self-defense situation but in everyday life. You may even have 'tape loops' that you use and not even know it.

Once movement was introduced into our drills we switched from paper targets to steel. Steel targets keep you accountable by giving you and everybody else an audible indication whether or not you are making hits (plus it's a lot of fun to shoot at steel) This is where the instructor to student ratio (2:1) really shined. QSI is known for having a 2:1 instructor to student ratio for most of their classes. Now we had to focus on not being a static target and keep moving even while reloading. At this time we also incorporated a 360 degree scan. This is another technique that many ranges will not let you attempt, period. Contrary to popular opinion; a 360 degree scan can be preformed with a loaded pistol safely and effectively in order to gain better situational awareness.

Our final exercise incorporated everything we had developed throughout the day. The basics (stance, grip, sight alignment, and trigger control), 'tape loops' and movement while staying aware of our surroundings by scanning. Once you begin moving, shooting, reloading, communicating and scanning you can easily tie yourself into a pretzel. Training is key; but crappy training is no good. Good training keeps you accountable and that is exactly what QSI's Training Division does.

Take Away
The Basic Defensive Handgun Course is a perfect complement to the standard Concealed Carry Class; in which you learn all of the legal ramifications of self defense. I enjoyed that the QSI course was directed at the civilian shooter (holster work from concealment, retention of the pistol, and 'tape rolls'). I do not use the term 'civilian' in a derogatory manner; mearly a descriptive one. Far too often I see Military/Police tactics and techniques taught to the civilian shooter when they do not share the same goals. Military and Police, for lack of a better term, are often on a 'Search and Destroy/Arrest' mission when just the opposite is the goal of the civilian; escape, evade and report. The QSI Basic Defensive Handgun Course is a breath of fresh air.
Gabe Stitzel // Caleb Oosten ( // Erik Pakieser // Josh Ray
Got Training?
Watch Quorum Security, Inc.'s Facebook Page for upcoming courses and dates. You can get a hold of Erik Pakieser by email at:

About QSI and Erik Pakieser
Quorum Security Inc. was founded in Omaha, Nebraska in 1992 by Erik D. Pakieser, a police officer and US Army Veteran. In 1997, the company moved to Minnesota. Our instructors have provided professional firearms and tactical training to over 10,000 students, including military, law enforcement corrections, security personnel, private companies and armed citizens. We are dedicated to becoming the "go-to" firearms training organization in the Upper Midwest.

Erik has been working in public safety and law enforcement since 1988. His diverse background includes military police, law enforcement, corrections and professional security. His is a nationally recognized expert in counter-terrorism and has served on four different SWAT and tactical teams. In addition to his work with local, state, and federal law enforcement, Erik has also trained with private companies, including Israeli Instinctive Shooting International, Defense Training International and The Archangel Group. An 11-year veteran of the US Army and National Guard, Erik served in the 1989 Panama Invasion and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He is a Distinguished Life Member of the National Rifle Association. 


  1. I dont know I've seen this guys post on facebook he seems to think he is GOD and his way is the only way, to bad is attitude gets in the way of the of good ideas he has. Now I have never meet the guy only seen the facebook stuff, I dont maybe I'm just missing something and he might not be that way. I know I'm not perfect by any means. Anyone else know much about him personally? I'm wrong? again this is just my thoughts.

  2. Anyone happen to mention how dropping 50 to 100 pounds of flab might increase your chances of survival? Just sayin'

  3. This is FANTASTIC Caleb. Thanks for the extensive and well detailed recap on this. Easy to glean takeaways and implement at the range.

  4. Thanks for joining us, Caleb! We enjoyed having you in the class. That Kimber 9mm is a nifty little gun!

    We're looking forward to adding more training opportunities over the Winter, including Intro to Handgun classes for new shooters, a special class for women, Low-Light, Force-on-Force, and a Revolver Basics class.

    Coming this Spring, we'll be offering Basic and Advanced Handgun, Defensive Shotgun, and Basic and Advanced Carbine.

    We're proud to be offering training of this quality in a region where it's historically been unavailable. 2011 has been a great year, and 2012 is going to be even better!

  5. I highly recommend Erik and Quorum Security's classes. Iv'e known Erik and all of his staff personally for 7 years. Iv'e seen them teach and care about gun safety for each of those seven years. My name is David Sodergren and I have no problem putting my name to this post. I am an Executive Protection Agent, Private Investigator, Security Specialist, Executive Protection and NRA Certified Trainer. Firearms are apart of my everyday work and Erik and his staff have been and will continue to be very instramental in my development and continuing firearms education. Again this educator and his staff are the real deal and offer cost affective and proven firearms training. This is high value training.

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