Legendary firearms instructor and subject matter expert, Dr. Wes Doss is now the victim of a series of medical incidents, including Malpractice and Negligence, that is almost too ridiculous to believe. The worst part is that this incident continues to Spiral out of control and now Wes’ health, future and the continuation of his life is complete unknown at this point.
This is a Call To Action for anyone who can Spread the Word about this Injustice.
Dr. Wes Doss is an internationally recognized firearm, tactics and use of force instructor with over 30 years of military & civilian criminal justice experience, as well as significant operational time with both military & law enforcement tactical operations & protective service organizations.
Wes holds specialized instructor certifications from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, Arizona POST, the Smith & Wesson Academy, the Sig Sauer Academy, NRA LEAD, FEMA and the Department of State. Wes holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration and an upper level Doctorate in Psychology, with an emphasis on sports and performance.
If you’re anything like me, you came up in an All-American family that hated anything those commie scum over the pond would produce, from trade-goods, to guns, to foreign policy. You were accustomed to the bad guys in every 80’s and 90’s action movie being a generally terrible human, sporting some kind of AK variant. Then, if you took the next step and joined the military, you would notice the enemy killing your brothers and sisters with these same weapons. AK’s are cheap to buy, cheap to fire, mass-produced, and function nearly anywhere, making them obvious choices for warfare. Lets just say there was no love lost on AK’s in the eyes of myself, and many of the people I came up with in the Marines.
Fast forward a few years out of the Marines, the “All-or-Nothing” Marine mindset starts to fade and I start to get curious as to why these weapons are so widely used. What really makes them so popular when so many newer weapon systems have been developed since the inception of the AK? I also start to think that if we ever get invaded on our own turf, it might be a good idea to have a weapon chambered in the enemy’s rounds on hand, as well as a lot of practice functioning and manipulating such a weapon. So I called up a good friend of mine, Brian Kovacs and told him I was on the hunt for a AK-47, I didn’t know what was quality and what wasn’t at that point but I knew he did and I trust his judgement. He agrees to keep an eye out for a quality one, but then says to me, “47’s are great, but have you ever heard of a AK-74?”. That conversation was the start of a serious love affair (Not just with Brian, but also these weapons) and ultimately led to the collection of my (Closet) favorite weapon, the AK-74.
Sparing you all the weapon specs you can find in a quick google search, I’ll get into a little bit of its history, and why I love this weapon. It was the next evolution of the AKM and what many call Mikhail’s answer to the M16. It was fielded in the Afghan War by Soviet Special Forces initially, and once Americans started to hear rumors of a Russian AK with “poisoned” bullets that could hit nearly anywhere and still kill, the race was on to get a hold of one. The AK-74 uses smaller 5.45x39mm rounds, with a higher velocity, with less recoil and more speed. This means lighter combat loads with more rounds per soldier, more penetrating power, and more accurate automatic fire capabilities. All while keeping the rugged reliability of the AK platform. All these reasons are why I had to try it out, plus the rounds look absolutely wicked, I mean come on.
As soon as I fired the first round I was blown away (right?!). The recoil was less -or at least felt less- than nearly any AR platform weapons that I had fired. Muzzle-rise is non-existent, and the factory trigger surprised me, not only on the first shot, but the following shots as well. The weapon breakdown is that of any AK, super simple, and tool-less, which I find an amazing feat in itself. The shots were surprisingly accurate, even standing, walking the shots out from 50m to 100, then 200 and so on. I could not believe I had just been given a Commie weapon that felt this great to fire and was basically an “Out-of-the-Box” example. I was amazed, and instantly fell in love. It felt so damn dirty to love a gun produced from the enemy so much, but I did, and I do. I hand refinished the wood, sanding it, restaining it, and sealing it over the next week. I cleaned it meticulously and went on the hunt for heaps of ammo for it… I knew I would keep this weapon, it made the cut.
My time in the military had produced a short list of “Must haves” in a weapon. High on that list is the trust that the weapon will fire every time you pull the trigger. Reliability, it seems, starts to outweigh things you thought would be more important like accuracy over 500m, a staple in the Marine mindset through training. Other things like worldwide access to ammo, parts, and ease of maintenance, especially when short on tools or time are also pressing concerns. This is one of those weapons that checks all the big boxes, and most of the little ones. If you ever find yourself in the market for an AK, I’d suggest you start with one of these weapons, but only if you’re OK with falling in love with the enemy.
People have been shooting hand held weapons since the 13 th century, and the weapon has been moving
ever since. You’re going to move when you shoot – whether you’re using the Isosceles, Weaver,
offhand, or any other stance – the pistol will not be stable during the shooting sequence. Our goal
should be to not ADD to that natural movement by disrupting sight alignment or using poor trigger
control. Shooting within your natural movement will produce tight groups well within the capabilities of
almost any modern weapon. Let’s accept that the pistol is moving, and deal with what we can control.
Pistol sights are on the weapon to align the point of impact with the point of aim. We are all familiar
with the various types, but regardless of type, keeping them consistently aligned during the shooting
sequence is priority #1. Whether you’re shooting IPSC or International Free Pistol, the first thing to
practice and perfect is your grip. The pistol must be comfortable (my Free Pistol has Bondo all over the
grip to create a perfect match for my hand), correctly sized, and naturally form a straight line from
forearm/hand/barrel of weapon. Any kind of physical discomfort, whether due to injury (my friend
broke his dominant wrist and has an unorthodox grip) or unnatural positioning will result in the body
resisting that position, which will cause subconscious movement away from it. This subconscious
movement away from a natural position causes added variation to our group…which is bad.
Some people love the 17° angle of the 1911, others love the 20° angle of a Glock, and all variations in
between. Be comfortable in your grip. The pistol should be an extension of your arm. It should raise
and be aligned without effort. If it isn’t, you won’t be able to consistently shoot with precision.
Here’s your first practice lesson to maintain sight alignment: put a full-size target on a frame backwards
so that the white of the target is facing you. No bullseye, no silhouette, nothing but a white sheet
staring at you. Holding your pistol at the ready position (45-degree angle toward the ground), raise the
pistol quickly while looking down at the sights, and fire ONE round at the center of the blank white
background, and return to the ready position. Repeat this exercise 50 times – one full box of ammo.
You’ll be surprised at the size of group you shot…all without an aiming point.
Since 1288, when that first guy tried to hold onto his hand cannon while stuffing a lit match down a hole
in the barrel, people have been trying to release rounds downrange without inducing more movement
in the pistol. Triggers have come a long way since then, from Matchlock’s in the 16 th century to today’s
ultra-precision two-stage set triggers and digital triggers, but one thing is the same: anticipation of a
shot still creates flinching, jerking, and movement of the pistol during the firing sequence and induces
MORE variability in our groups.
The first order of business is to make sure your pistol has a great trigger. Whether this is a trigger job
from a gunsmith, or an aftermarket trigger, or a combination of both, your pistol has to have a trigger
that is free from creep, roughness, or excessive pull weight. For tactical applications it is prudent to
have a heavier trigger pull of greater than 4 pounds, while precision shooting allows for much lighter
trigger pull within the rules of the discipline. In either case, a crisp clean trigger break is mandatory for
shooting with precision.
In releasing a shot, the trigger must be touched from the front and pulled backward toward the aiming
eye. It may seem simple to mention this, but you’d be surprised how many people I see on the range
with half their finger inserted in the trigger guard, pulling the trigger with the meat between their first
and second knuckle on their index finger, or barely touching the trigger with the very tip of their index
finger. Both of these mistakes induce sideways movement (right and left, respectively) and add
movement to an already moving pistol.
The area of your index finger between the tip and the first joint is a very sensitive instrument, and when
you place it against a trigger and start pulling, you’ll be able to quickly tell how much effort you’re
exerting. Pulling the trigger should be a steadily increasing application of pressure, rather than a one-
time flick of the finger. Simply add pressure slowly until you’re surprised that the shot has gone off.
Releasing the trigger is one of the most difficult things a shooter can learn. It must be practiced over
and over thousands of times – whether on the range or dry firing at home – until it becomes
Here’s your practice lesson to master trigger control: using a revolver with a nice trigger, do what is
called Ball and Dummy practice. Have your range buddy load your weapon for you using 2-3 rounds of
live ammo and 2-3 rounds of spent brass. Don’t watch him load the weapon. Once he hands it to you,
start at the ready position, cock the weapon (shooting single action only), and raise it quickly to the
center of mass of your target and release the trigger. The pistol should not move if the hammer falls on
a chamber without a live round. If the pistol moves at all, any visible movement, continue practicing the
exercise until it doesn’t. This could take years (kidding) but I guarantee that it’ll take years to master
and to make subconscious.
The pistol is going to move – accept that fact. By making sure you don’t ADD to that movement by
inconsistent sight alignment and poor trigger control you’re going to start shooting with precision,
regardless of discipline. In our next article we will start talking about conscious versus sub-conscious
shooting – when shots should break and why.
Let me sound off first by saying I have never been a tactical wizard with pistols. Hell, we
barely even trained with them in the Marines until you were an NCO or above, or in MARSOC.
My first professional training with a pistol was the Beretta M9 on an impromptu range in the
middle of the artist formerly known as Khorasan. It was weird because Marines train and qualify
with the M9 and MSOB (Marine Special Operations Battalion) were running 1911’s in the field. I
guess that’s what happens when you are the brand new bastard child of the Special Operations
Community… Adapt and overcome. Anyway let’s get back to the point: I originally had minimal
pistol training or pistol systems exposure until later on in life, and I still consider myself a student
in pistol work. However, I do have enough experience now to bring you a stellar pistol
recommendation that I’ve seen dropped into a novice shooters hands that made them shoot on
the next level.
My first pistol purchase out of the Marines was what I was familiar with, so I picked up a
1911 chambered in .45. I later swapped the 1911 for a Glock 21, keeping that old mindset that
you need .45 for stopping power. I began to really enjoy the reliability and magazine capacity of
the Glock, and was glad I made the swap. Around this time I started to look into different
calibers more, as a by-product of training with more serious shooters. I began to grow
accustomed to the idea of the 9mm, having more rounds in the mag, similar ballistic capabilities
of .45 (with proper rounds), and ultimately less recoil, allowing for quicker follow-up shots.
So I picked up a Glock 43 for concealed carry initially and began to train draws from concealed, as
well as multi-target drills. At that point, I was ready to make the swap to 9mm on all my pistols
because nothing the .45 offered outweighed the bonuses of running 9mm in my opinion.
Once I had made my decision on caliber, the next step was to look for a full size carry
weapon to go with my kit. My Ole Lady was a police officer at the time and we got her a Glock
34 to run on duty, so naturally I used it to train drills in the off time with her as well. Although I
was becoming a better shot, I still wasn’t great. Then one day while training pistols I was offered
to try out a buddy’s H&K VP9, so we swapped holsters and weapons and got to work. I drew
from holster and fired a perfectly centered up head-shot at 25 meters on the first shot. Not a feat
by any means, but what I’m getting at is this gun is so natural to fire, that on the first shot I hit
exactly where I wanted, without ever touching the gun prior. I surprised myself, and knew in that
same moment, that this was the pistol for me.
First off, the VP9 is an H&K so toss your worries aside about its quality because it has all
the qualities. I have short thumbs so I always had to rotate to the side of any pistol to release
the mag, which almost always un-seats a good deep, high grip for firing. This weapon rectifies
that problem and then improves upon it with an ambidextrous mag release lever that you push
down. That means you can release the mag with your pointer or middle finger without
compromising your grip at all. It also feels more natural pointing a lever downward, where you
want the mag to go. The grip is absolutely the most ergo grip of any pistol I have ever held,
period. Not only does it feel great with the default grips installed, but there are six side panels
and three back straps you can interchange out in ANY combination in order to fit your personal
It is a striker-fired pistol, which most people complain about the trigger pull on striker
fired pistols but let me tell you, H&K has done wonders on this one. The pre-travel is a flat,
consistent pull and the break and reset are crisp and pronounced. The slide has front and rear,
aggressive milling for grip, as well as what they call charging supports near the rear. These are
great for when you have a weak grip or were unable to obtain a positive grip while charging the
weapon. They will stop your hand from slipping back off the slide, allowing for charging in less
than desirable conditions. The factory night sights are ridiculously bright, surpassing many of
the aftermarket sights I’ve used on other pistols, which makes for one more thing you don’t have
to worry about after your purchase. It comes with quality, P30 steel 10 or 15 round magazines
from the manufacturer and finally, a picatinny rail for accessory mounting.
In my opinion no other pistol I have tried on the market has the VP9 beat on overall
quality, ergonomics, or function. I cannot give this pistol enough praise. However, I have found
that pistols -more so than rifles- are not a one-size-fits-all. I had to go through shooting multiple
pistols from multiple manufacturers before I found something that felt natural for me to shoot. So
while I suggest the VP9 as a great place to start your hunt for the perfect pistol, it may not be
what you end up using when it’s all said and done. Please do yourself a service and try as many
different pistols as you need, to find the one that fits your style of shooting and tactics. Do not
under any circumstances let yourself be chained to a platform or manufacturer by blind loyalty
when there may be another option out there that takes your shooting to the next level.
I’ve often watched my husband Jim Krueger, a natural lefty who can shoot ambidextrous (with either hand), and wished that I could do that too. I mentioned it to him one day and the response I got back was “Well try it!!” That chance came when we went back to Gunsite a number of years ago.
Due to an error in communication regarding pre-requisites we needed to start from the beginning with their 250 Tactical Pistol course. “Well”, Jim says, “this is the perfect opportunity for you to learn how to shoot left handed! Since we have to start from the beginning you may as well have them teach you the right way!” There were other reasons voiced in favor of this as well: “You’ve had lefty’s in your classes wouldn’t it be nice to know how to instruct them!” and “Think about tactics and how this will help overcome some of the day to day obstacles.” Needless to say after a few more good reasons I went off to Gunsite with my Glock 19, a left handed rig and 1000 rounds of ammunition ready to learn.
At first it was a little confusing for me but after awhile it began to make sense. Think about it!?!? Normally you use your strong hand to hold the gun and pull the trigger then you use your weak hand to do all the dexterous tasks. For example, racking the slide, handling the magazines during tactical and speed loads and in some cases working the safety. But when you work with your offhand you are now doing all the dexterous tasks with your strong hand and the only thing that you have to worry about doing with your offhand is holding the gun and squeezing the trigger. Makes sense, huh??
Well it continued to make more sense after the first shots were fired. From the leather, 2 shots to the center of mass … bang! bang! Right in the middle and right next to each other. Then again, and again… Results the same. As we moved back I continued to be pretty impressed but of course I have to admit that this was not timed and my focus was pretty intense. You see when you try something new like this you automatically go back to the basics: front sight, trigger squeeze, breath control, grip, stance and safety… safety… safety!! Your focus is incredible. If it isn’t it SHOULD BE!
As the week went along it became much harder but I never even considered switching over to my dominant hand to complete the course. The challenge and the learning experience were awesome! Through the week we ran speed drills and I was actually able to draw and fire 2 rounds from the leather faster with my left hand than my right… 1.6 seconds! My tactics were slower but not bad and in tactics slow (cautious) should not be a bad thing. Overall my performance wasn’t too bad and I was very pleased to have successfully completed this type of course. One of my earlier instructors suggested that “…everyone striving to be an instructor should try taking an entire course with their offhand to put themselves in shoes of a new shooter … it can be a humbling learning experience”.
Besides realizing that I could shoot left handed I also learned how important good and patient instructors are. With the right coaching, solid basics and a lot of patience this was one of the best training activities that I have put myself through.
My wife and I have taught, co-hosted, and worked as range officers at numerous classes over the past 30 or so years. One the most recurring safety infractions are keeping the students finger off the trigger until they are ready to shoot and/or on target. We have tried to teach folks to keep their trigger finger along the side of the frame and with some students we have great success… others not so much.
Of course this is one of the most important safety lessons. We read about instances of what is commonly called an AD (accidental discharge) some resulting in severe bodily damage to the shooter and some cases resulting in death of the shooter or worse an innocent. AD’s cross all shooting levels from competition, law enforcement, hunters, gun smiths and yes… instructors.
One of the methods we have used over the years to combat this is, telling the class two or three times do NOT anticipate the command to fire, and another two or three times to “keep your finger off the trigger until on target”. And for many in the class that works but there are always those who need stronger instruction.
For those we generally call a cease fire and have all the students empty and holster their firearms after double checking everyone is cleared and holstered walk between them and their targets and in a very calm voice tell them “I have repeatedly told you to keep your fingers off the trigger, (now in a command voice tell them) NOW KEEP YOUR FUCKING FINGERS OFF THE TRIGGER! That seems to do the trick.
But sad to say every now and then you’ll still have to take someone off to the side and “instruct them further”. Instruction can vary from having them take their equipment off and watching the rest of the class, up to taking their equipment off and going home for the day to “think” about the problem they are having with the instructions. Of course this depends on the length of class and the only thing that it guarantees is that you and the other students stay safe. For the most part that will solve the problem 99.9% of the time. It seems harsh but the alternative is just not acceptable.