Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards [Citizens Defense Research]

John Johnston, instructor for the Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards Course
September 9, 2019  
Categories: Assorted Ramblings

Everyman Tactical Training: Technical Handgun

Citizens Defense Research Training

Training Organization: Citizens Defense Research
Course: Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards
Instructor: John Johnston
Location: Johnston, Iowa
Date: January 2019
Cost: $200 plus range fee – 1 Day class
Round Count: 600

Instructor Background

John Johnston holds several instructor certifications including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun, Vehicle Close Quarter Battle (VCQB), Close Quarter Battle (CQB), and more. He hosts the nationally syndicated Ballistic Radio show and is a product consultant for companies that specialize in self-defense. John is a strong advocate of critical thinking and challenging the status quo. As the co-owner and instructor of Citizens Defense Research, he is passionate about fostering curious students who ask questions. His desire is that they understand why certain tactics, techniques, and products may or may not be applicable.

Citizen Defense Research Training Class Instructor John Johnston.

John Johnston, in green, instructs a student at the Citizen Defense Research Training Class.

Reviewer Background:

Joe Neuroth has worked in Federal Law Enforcement for the past 10 years. He has attended many shooting classes and instructor level courses that involve firearms, tactics, and combatives. He has a passion for shooting, learning, and also competes in firearms competitions.

Reviewer’s Equipment: Glock 17 Gen 4 with Surefire X300U-B, Safariland ALS holster, Grey Ghost Gear Accommodator Pistol Pouches, Ares Gear Aegis enhanced belt

Citizens Defense Research Training Drill

Citizens Defense Research Training Drill

Joe’s Review

Class Overview

This class is an intermediate/advanced level 8-10 hour class that dives into the weeds on defensive shooting standards, and the technical skills it takes to be successful performing them. The instructor places a heavy emphasis on pushing people to new levels of automaticity. Students shoot multiple tests for the recorded score. They are expected to already be proficient with their chosen handgun and carry method at the beginning of class.
Topics include but are not limited to:

  • increasing presentation speed
  • decreasing reaction time to visual stimuli
  • maintaining accuracy while shooting as quickly as possible
  • recoil management
  • and external pressure disassociation.

The mix of Students: 10 students. In order to attend the course, students must have previously attended a firearms training class. All students were switched on shooters. The class was split about 50/50 with law enforcement officers and responsibly armed citizens.

Tests and Standards Mindset

Ideally, most training classes start with a lecture or conversation about mindset and how the class can help develop and enrich the mindset that the student already has. I previously attended a different Citizens Defense Research class and the mindset portion was very eye-opening. This class was a tad bit different in that it was all about tests and standards. It was all about testing each individual shooter’s abilities and pushing forward to make the shooter better. Normally most training classes have a lot of contextual information involved with them, and that matters. This class didn’t involve many contexts, but it wasn’t super called for. Plain and simple, this class is designed to help each shooter get better at the technical skills they need to perform defensive shooting.


John set and enforced safety precedence throughout the day-long class. It was refreshing to see.  Ofen the safety portion on the range and around others is breezed over without much effort put into it.

John started the class in a unique way that I hadn’t experienced before. He went one by one with each student and showed us what a proper trigger pull should feel like. This involved him helping us pull the trigger. Later in a debrief, John explained that not only does this step teach students what a proper trigger pull feels like, it also helps him evaluate each student’s attention to safety. Starting the class in this manner ensures that his hands are on the gun for the first rounds shot in the class. This makes a lot of sense if you look at it from the instructor’s viewpoint. John has the responsibility to run a safe class and he might have 10 shooters that he doesn’t know anything about. If I was the instructor, I would be a little cautious as well and would want to make sure people aren’t going to be putting holes in things that don’t warrant it.

Main Points of the CDR Class

Early in the day the subject of weak hand and strong hand only shooting came up. We wondered if we were going to practice some of that. John rolled with how the class reacted to talking about it and incorporated it into the class. I asked John about how these classes usually run and he said that different classes have different levels of shooters. Each individual class shoots a higher or lower round count, depending on how experienced the students are. Also, each class runs the tests and standards that most benefits them.

I really enjoyed discussing was the term sub-conscious or automaticity shooting. Really that’s the point of the whole class, and I think it’s worthy to draw attention to it. I believe that if you are carrying a gun around every day that it’s something that everyone should strive for. Subconscious shooting can benefit people in many different ways, but that a whole other topic for discussion and I just wanted to touch on it briefly.

Drill Results

Joe's 5 yard round up at the CDR training course, Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards

Joe’s 5-yard roundup at the CDR tactical training course.


Citizens Defense Research Spencer Keeper Drill. Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards

Tactical training on the one-way range: Joe’s CDR Spencer Keeper Drill results.


Citizens Defense Research | Technical Handgun: Tests and Standards

“Test with No Name” results.


This Citizen Defense Research training course is a $200 day-long class. It was time well-spent. We got to the range, did the safety brief and we were off to the races. We shot a handful of proven tests and standards that have been around the firearms training world. After each test or standard that we shot, we took time to sit and discuss the particular standard. I thought this was one of the most important and valuable parts of the class. As I said before, this class had a lot of talented shooters in it. It was very helpful to everyone to have a no-bullshit and no-ego conversation about how that test or standard could help us get better at shooting.

I thought this was an awesome class and will go to it again if I get a chance. I liked the one day format and the price. The instruction and information were great. Obviously, we discussed way more information in the class than I can cover in this brain dump.

Looking for good courses for tactical training? Check out our Brain Dump series.

You can learn more about Citizens Defense Research at their website:


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Joseph Neuroth

Joseph Neuroth

About the Author

Big Joe Neuroth may look like a special live exhibit in the primate section of a traveling circus but he's actually a surprisingly erudite and articulate LEO of many year's service. A corn-fed Iowa native and former Border Patrol agent, Joseph's current job takes him all over the country and around the world in defense of Truth, Justice and the American Way. This has allowed him not just to deal with assorted malefactors from Nairobi to Panama, but also to have a wank on at least five continents. Joe enjoys training, teaching and catching bad guys almost as much as he likes bubble baths. He does not now nor has he ever spoken Japanese, but he does have a high regard for Akira Kurosawa and good sushi.


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