Question And Answer With Rob Pincus


If you have been reading for any amount of time, you will know that we are pretty big on the teachings Rob Pincus. If you do not know, he is the ubiquitous face you will see in so many training videos, gun magazines, TV shows, industry events and seminars I am not even going to try to count of list. Not to mention an unreal training schedule among writing books on the subject on how to save your own ass.   Rob has been a good friend to looserounds in our short time and you will often see us share his exploits, advice and new products.   A few days ago I got in touch with Rob and he did a short Q&A with me to help kick off the PDN banner that was added to the site.   He graciously took the time out of his schedule of doing more important things then shooting the bull with us to drop some wisdom and excellent no BS advice. Which is a hallmark of his in my opinion.

1. During the current economy, training DVDs are more and more popular with more people thinking they are a suitable substitute for any other type of training and want to save money and travel time. What would you say to warn the new shooters who want, or think they can rely only on these training DVDs?

RP : As the guy who has produced more DVDs in terms of individual pieces and titles (about 4 Million and 75, respectively), it would be disingenuous for me to say that I don’t think some real learning can be done through video presentations. Of course, there are limits. The things that people can learn incredibly well through vides are conceptual. Things like why training should be done in a certain way, how to approach training drill development or understanding why any particular technique or piece of gear is a good or bad idea can all be learned very very well from a video. But, if we focus on physical skills and shooting ability, video can olny show you what to do, it can’t really help you develop the skills themselves. New shooters, especially, need to be very honest with themselves about the importance of spending time of the range, with their actual gun, shooting and learning to perform the techniques they choose.

2. On the subject of saving money. the .22LR trainer, or conversion is gaining popularity. Some of the staff sees the 22LR trainer as  step up from dry fire, to be used as dry fire enhancement, being that you do not get the full experience.  If you had to break  the use of the rimfire as opposed to centerfire training into percentages, what would consider a good cut off would be so as not to become falsely  confident in your skill due to the none recoil of the rimfire?  Example.  70% centerfire 30 % rimfire  etc?

RP:I tell students that they can use .22 conversions (or dedicated .22 firearms) for up to 50% of the round count for any given course. Any more than that, and I think you start to hurt your skill development process. I also advise them to use most of those rounds in the middle of the course… so that they learn the skill with their actual gun and full power ammo and they also get to leave the course with a realistic evaluation of their ability to apply their developed skills with the same. The middle of the course, when they are primarily practicing the skill sets, is the best time to use the .22.

3. To the new shooter with his brand new CCW permit in hand trying to practice by himself before professional training, what do you see as the most common mistake they make?

 RP:Misunderstanding the value of raw shooting skill, as in marksmanship ability, in regard to personal defense training. Most people, especially those who would go out and try to learn and practice without formal training, already have some concept of “shooting”, but “defensive shooting” is something very different. When people are just “shooting”, they tend to try to maximize their control over deviation at all times (trying to shoot the tightest group, etc.). In Defensive Shooting, we should only be controlling deviation as little as we need to and maximizing your speed. Defensive Firearms Training is about much more than just shooting.

4. Out of all the massive amount of people you train every year, how common is it to see students who are wrongly fixated on their gear or place too much emphasis on its importance?

RP:It is a very common thing in our community to obsess over gear. In fact, one of the biggest hinderances to progress for many students is a fetishistic penchant for gear that really doesn’t serve them well. Many students show up with antiquated, unreliable or ill-fitting gear. Those who understand that the tool should make their job as easy as possible and not create hurdles quickly decide to change their gear. Unfortunately, some people will make excuses for their gear or rationalize their choices and be forced to spend extra training resources on fundamental skills. For example, a student who insists on choosing a double action/single action type firearm will be forced to spend extra time & effort learning two different trigger pulls, switching between them and operating the de-cocker (and possibly a safety!). In addition, many of those types of guns have relatively high bore-axes in relation to the shooting hand. A student who chooses a modern striker fired handgun doesn’t have to deal with any of that and, all other things being equal, they spend less time learning the fundamentals and have more resources available for practice or advanced skills.

5. Everyone has heard the old chestnut “beware the man with one gun, he likely knows how to use it”,  Do you feel it works against true proficiency to train and try to develop skill with a wide variety of commonly found weapons in the USA and abroad?

RP:As mentioned above, some guns are inherently harder to learn how to use than others. If you try to learn how to use them all, you obviously need to spend more training resources than you would need if you just chose one type. The question really is what advantage you gain from spending those resources. If you travel constantly in various parts of the world, don’t carry your own gun and have reason to believe you might be forced to employ one of any number of types, it obviously makes sense to learn as many as you can. If you are a firearms instructor and you have to deal with many different types of students’ guns, so you need to learn how to run as many different types as possible. For the average guy, learning multiple types of guns is just a distraction. At some point, people have to decide if they are serious about training for personal defense or just a hobbyist.

6. Do you have a training scenario, that when you present it to students, they are shocked it is a skill they would need to use?  The reason for this question is so many people seem to have this fixed idea of exactly how a violent encounter will ( if ever ) happen and just can not accept something happening to them any other way in the real world.

RP: No. Most of my students go through our fundamental defensive shooting skill program, Combat Focus Shooting. That program is very specifically focused on some very obviously necessary fundamental skills. I would worry about the legitimacy of a program that had something presented as a fundamental skill that would “shock them”… that’s probably either some overly “high speed” BS or the student would need to have been oddly unprepared for what they were getting into. What I like to do is to create drills that put the student into an experience that teaches something that they weren’t expecting, but still using their fundamental skills. Sometimes students are shocked at the psychological, intellectual and experiential lessons they can learn while shooting a drill. Those lessons are brought out in debriefs or lectures after the drills.

7. The training industry has expanded so much in the last decade. For those planning on seeking professional training from the multitude of choices, what advice would you give them to help them select whats right for them?

RP: Nowadays, it should be very easy to hear from students that have trained with the instructor you are interested in. Those who have gone before you are going to be the best resource on information about the experience you can expect. Of course, it is important that you gauge the value of the opinions you are getting. If you work in a retail or office environment, the opinions of a SWAT Cop or a Military Spec-Ops guy may not be relevant to you. Using the internet to find out what people are saying about an instructor is a great first step. If you can’t find anything because the instructor is new to the industry, that isn’t a red-flag, as long as the new instructor is charging a reasonable price considering that they are trying to build their business and reputation. If someone has just hung their shingle and they are charging the same as top tier instructors, it is probably best to pass.
Once a student has established a relationship with an instructor that they do find value in, that instructor can be a great resource about others in the industry who might be worth training with. I have a list of guys that I recommend to my students in a variety of areas, many of whom I have been lucky enough recruit into contributing to the team at Personal Defense Network.

8. So many people do not want to break their comfort zone and shoot at low light or no light,even though we spend half out lives in the dark. Would you suggest a minimum amount of time devoted t low light / no light training?

RP:I think low-light training is over-mystified in the training industry. The fact is that your bad guy has to be able to see you to attack you. If he can see you, you can see him. At the end of the day, I am not aware of a single incident where a person needed a handheld flashlight (much less a weapon mounted light) in a personal defense situation. It is fun training and challenging, but it isn’t anywhere close to “vital” in regard to shooting skills. I do think it is very important to train scenarios in low light, as that type of training is meant to immerse people in the circumstances they may be in when they need to use force. The use of force itself is rarely affected by the amount of light present.

9. Lastly, what projects or events do you have lined up for this year?  And what are the links to all the places we can keep up with your schedule and new products an events?

RP: We kick off the Personal Defense Network ( Training Tour this week. I’ll spend all but 3 days over the next 4 months on the road teaching across the country.
I am just finishing up a book with Mark Walters, “Lessons from Unarmed America”, in which Mark writes about situations that have occurred and I dissect them, identify mistakes made and offer training and preparation ideas that help people prepare for facing similar situations in their own lives.
2013 is the 10th Anniversary of the Combat Focus Shooting program (, which is really exciting. The entire team of CFS Instructors has over 100 courses scheduled this year. Gander Mountain Academy just sent a group of their staff instructors to get certified to teach CFS and will begin offering courses later this year. We’ve got some big stuff planned, culminating in a big celebration at our Annual  CFS Instructor Development Conference, which is being held in California at the end of September.
The newest thing that I’ve gotten into is product development. Last year, we released the Claw Emergency Manipulation Rear Sight and we just added the Claw Emergency Manipulation Baseplates. I resisted doing product stuff for a long time in my career. I felt pretty strongly that my role in the industry was to provide information and I didn’t want to dilute that. I certainly didn’t want to just slap my name or logo on a copy of something already existed or someone else’s product. Now, I feel like I have established my integrity and professionalism enough to be trusted to only bring products out under the I.C.E. Banner that I truly think are useful and/or important. The latest product under that banner is the new belly band holster that I co-designed with Crossbreed  Holsters. I’ve used and recommended belly bands for a long time, but they have always had some deficiencies, especially in the training environment. This evolved version solves many of those problems capitalizing on what Crossbreed does better than anyone else in the industry (combining kydex with other materials) and still retains the versatility and comfort of a belly band. All of these products are available at the I.C.E. Online Store (, which was a huge project last year, as we formed our partnership with DGG Taser in Florida.
10.  Bonus question. What movie is your pick  for best gun battle/gun play?!
 RP:Equilibrium. You don’t get more “gun play” than that.


  1. Shawn,

    Congratulations on this interview – it is a terrific piece of work! Your questions are spot on regarding the topics I am curious about. Add to that Rob’s repsonses, and this is info anyone who is shooting (from beginner to expert) would like to know.



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