By Dave Spaulding
2nd Edition, 2020
Softcover, 6 x 9, 234 pages
$ 23.95 at Looseleaf Law Publications
Reviewed by Art Joslin, J.D., D.M.A.
Handgun Combatives is Dave Spaulding’s twenty-two-chapter text that serves as the basis of his Handgun Combatives courses in pistolcraft. I chose his book as my first book review for the Network since I recently attended Dave’s Kinetic Pistol course in Texas earlier this year.
Handgun Combatives encompasses the author’s 40-plus years of training, teaching and being an active participant in everything pistolcraft. He begins his second edition with the most important, but often overlooked, topic of how to develop the combat mindset. He opens the chapter with this, “For as long as I have been studying combative skills, it has always been understood that the mind is the ultimate weapon.” This idea is prevalent in his teaching as well. The take-away in this chapter, at least for me, is the idea of adopting a lifestyle of the combative mindset because, as Dave points out, it occurs before, during, and after the self-defense incident.
There are so many more lessons to be learned from chapter one but I’d have to write a hundred pages to cover it all. Dave brings to light much of what other authors and trainers have already stated but he does so with a unique and fresh application. Well worth the read.
Spaulding continues with such important chapter topics as mental imagery to a successful outcome through personal fitness for combatives. One of the highlights of Handgun Combatives is Dave’s ability to apply his 28 years in law enforcement to skills that many instructors only know about but haven’t actually experienced. Whether you agree with his thoughts on the low-ready position or his ideas on close-quarters combat, Dave backs up his writings with his experience.
It has long been known that high-performance athletes use mental imagery as a strategy for winning. Applying this to the self-defense incident, a defender can certainly “pre-program” the defensive outcome. Seeing mental pictures of a scenario play out in the mind allows you to experience each moment in time even though it hasn’t yet happened in real life. Elite teams use mental imagery and visualization and it’s not that hard to develop as part of your self-defense plan. Dave refers to NLP, or neuro-linguistic programming, as the more technical name for visualization. He concludes with how NLP and Colonel John Boyd’s OODA loop intersect with each other. Of course, this short review doesn’t do the section on this topic justice, but I can only say, “Get the book.”
Other chapters of the book deal with selecting the carry handgun, grip, and shot placement; all topics that we’ve read over and over again. However, don’t be too quick to minimize the content of these chapters by their topic. Dave brings personal insight and experience to these otherwise remedial topics and gives the reader a few things most instructors overlook. “If there are rules, it’s a sport, not a fight. In a fight, if you are not cheating, you are not trying hard enough to win!” Dave writes.
Additional chapters on holster skills, drawing techniques, concealment, tactical considerations, night work, and extreme close-quarter shooting round out this valuable text. One thing I noticed about attending Dave’s Kinetic Pistol class is that he doesn’t teach anything into which he hasn’t placed research, planning, and great thought. There is no BS factor here.
Overall, I thought Handgun Combatives an excellent read and would highly recommend that it sits in the library of the top twenty self-defense books that any serious practitioner owns.
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