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Kawa Mawlayee’s Pistol 1 and Pistol 2 Class Review

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Hey, this is Myles with Tactical Hyve.

Last month I had the opportunity to attend a 2-Day pistol class with Kawa Mawlayee.

Kawa is a former Army Green Beret and SFAUC (Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat) Instructor. He’s also the owner of 2 Alpha Training Group.

His 2-Day pistol class was divided into Pistol 1, Mastering the Fundamentals, and Pistol 2, Introduction to Dynamic Movement.

His class is my kind of pistol class because he throws a lot of information at you in an organized manner while giving you ample time for drilling to drive in key learning points.

Let’s take a closer look at the class.

The Review

Kawa’s class was run well with a great instructor to student ratio. Kawa had two assistants on the first day and one assistant instructor the next day.

Not at one point did I notice any student struggling with a technique for very long. There was always an instructor available to help and to answer questions.

At a minimum, students had to bring a pistol, magazines, a range belt, OWB holster, ammo, and eye and ear protection. Students could bring other optional equipment like a medical kit, TQ, and dump pouch, but they were not required.

His 2-day pistol class started with Pistol 1, Mastering the Fundamentals. While one might think Pistol 1 is meant for brand new shooters, I think his Pistol 1 class is best suited for shooters who already know how to safely manipulate a weapon and who have taken a basic pistol class or two.

Day 1 – Mastering the Fundamentals

We started Day 1 with a safety brief, so everyone knew what to do in case of an emergency.

In line with safety, Kawa discussed how every student should always know the condition of their gun, and how all weapons manipulations should be done in one’s workspace to maintain situational awareness.

He then ran the class through his administrative loading process, which includes visual and tactile checks, and how to properly unload a weapon. He also briefly talked about press checks.

After, he took a good amount of time to run the class through the fundamentals of pistol marksmanship: Stance, sight alignment and sight picture, trigger control, grip, breathing, follow-through, and recovery.

As he was going over the fundamentals, I really liked how he talked about three points that are hardly discussed in the classes I’ve attended.

First was the “grey area” in many triggers. Shooters have probably heard, and have been taught, to take up the slack in their triggers–to pull their triggers until they reach a wall, to help ensure a smooth trigger pull, straight to the rear.

However, many instructors seem to neglect to teach students about the “grey area”. Once a student hits the wall of their trigger, he or she should still be able to pull the trigger even more before the shot breaks.

When it comes to precision shooting with a pistol, understanding and fully leveraging the grey area is key to accurate shooting.

Secondly, I liked how Kawa discussed a different method of gripping a pistol. Traditionally, shooters have been taught to make sure that the heels of their palms touch one another when gripping. Kawa mentioned that he and many of his peers no longer subscribe to this technique, as muzzle flip and managing recoil can be controlled even with a little space between the heels of one’s palms.

Interestingly, when I first started shooting, I instinctively used this type of grip. I have also heard very well-respected special forces instructors and Navy SEALs talk about using this method of gripping their pistols.

I no longer use this method as I personally shoot more accurately and faster driving the heels of my palms together, but I really appreciated how he shared this technique, at the same time, he did not say it was the best and left it up to the student to try it out and determine if it is best for them.

Lastly, when talking about the fundamentals, specifically recovery, I liked how he talked about what recovery would probably look like in a real gunfight versus on a flat range.

For those of you unfamiliar with recovery, it pertains to what you should do after the shooting is over. Some instructors will categorize this under scanning and assessing after one is done shooting.

For civilians, their recovery process will likely be more dynamic than what they do on a flat range or different from, let’s say what an operator might do, after clearing a room.

After the fundamentals, we switched gears and focused on dealing with malfunctions. I liked how Kawa decided to cover this early because students never know when they will run into a malfunction while drilling.

He covered standard immediate action and remedial action drills, and also talked about squibs and what to do if your pistol doesn’t cycle.

None of the classes I’ve been to thus far talk about squibs, so I appreciated Kawa taking the time to talk about squib loads, which basically refer to a projectile being lodged in a barrel, which can be very dangerous. He taught us what to listen and look out for, and how to deal with them.

We then spent the rest of the day shooting, working different drills that would help us master the fundamentals he just taught us. For our drills, he continually encouraged us to move quickly with our weapons manipulations but to slow down as we pushed out to take our shots.

We warmed up with some live-fire shooting incorporating some malfunction work, using the tap rack technique.

Then, we moved on to a slow fire drill to work our mechanics.

We took 15 shots from full presentation, 15 shots from position 3 or compressed ready, and 15 shots drawing from the holster. While drilling, Kawa continually advocated that we self-assess and think about why are shots are on or off target. Students should learn something with every shot they take.

Kawa then put us through a couple of drills to isolate trigger control.

The first drill was to shoot a 1-inch pastie from 3-yards away, holding our pistols with one hand, gripping only with our thumbs and index fingers. This drill allowed us to really work on our trigger press. We then moved to a partner drill to help us better understand and have a feel for our trigger’s grey area. Our partners were there to also remind us to quickly reset our triggers after breaking the shot.

We then broke out the dummy rounds to continue working trigger control. We had a partner randomly place a dummy or live round in our magazine, and we had to focus on just moving our trigger figure when shooting. Using dummy rounds, if we flinched, we would know we were anticipating recoil. The goal is to mentally train ourselves to move only our trigger fingers.

After trigger control, we spent time working on reloading. He talked about speed reloads and tac reloads, and the different ways one can release their slide after inserting a fresh magazine.

He discussed the various slingshot methods and using a pistols slide release. Kawa prefers using the slide release, but he encouraged students to try all methods to find out what works best for them.

Kawa moved on to briefly talk about hand transfers. Although transferring a pistol from one hand to the other is simple, I really liked the technique Kawa showed. I haven’t seen it anywhere, and I appreciate little details that can make movements even more efficient.

We then worked on cadence for a while, taking shots following a full count, half count, and quarter count rhythm.

We ended Day 1 with a number of drills, like a 25-yard shot drill to see where we were in terms of accuracy from distance, and various drills to continue working on our trigger press, sight alignment, follow-through, and cadence.

Day 2

The next day, we started by working on our holster draws to one shot on target. We went through a number of sets, where we had a par time to meet for each set of repetitions. This allowed us to really hone in on our technique while gradually speeding up. We found that most students could draw and shoot while maintaining good technique with a par time of 1.5 seconds. At a par time of 1 second, we noticed that technique and accuracy started to really deteriorate.

After working on our holster draws, we moved on to target transitions. Here, Kawa talked about the 3/4, 1/4 rule, where one is taught to transition quickly to another target for the first 3/4’s of their movement, and as one is about to get their sights on target, they should slow down slightly to ensure an accurate shot.

Kawa then focused on moving and shooting, –the Pistol 2 section of his class. Here, he taught students how to properly bend their knees to act as shock absorbers and how to point their toes in the direction we are moving.

To practice moving and shooting, he put us through several drills.

The first drill focused on lateral movement, where we engaged multiple targets while moving laterally. Drill number 2 focused on forward movement shooting at a target with a hostage. We had to take one shot, reload, and take another shot while moving forward and hitting our target while avoiding the hostage. In drill number 3, we also took one shot, reloaded, then took another shot, but this time moving towards our targets in an angle.

We moved on to working from cover and concealment. Kawa taught us how to shoot from different positions, including the kneeling position where he talked about the pros/cons of having one’s outside knee up or down. He discussed pieing, where for one-main clearing, movements will typically be slow and deliberate. He also taught us about load-bearing, canting, and backing away from cover.

The rest of the day was focused on shooting and moving drills, where students had ample time to shoot.

We practiced speeding up and slowing down our movement while shooting,  then moved on to a figure-eight drill that required us to be situationally aware of our surroundings as we had to move backward on an uneven surface while shooting. We then ended the day with a timed, speed drill with movement that all students ran through.

The Verdict

If you’re looking to improve your pistol fundamentals and start moving and shooting, I highly recommend Kawa’s Pistol 1 and 2 classes. You’ll get a lot of shooting in combined with great instruction.

Kawa’s class is safe, fun, and well-organized. He always demonstrated what he taught and kept a close eye on all students.

What I liked the most about the class was Kawa’s professionalism and personality. You can tell he isn’t just a special operations veteran, but also a seasoned instructor. He has a great attitude that closely aligns with our Subject Matter Expert standards at Tactical Hyve.

If you’re looking to improve your pistol skills, I encourage you to enroll in one of his classes.

This is Myles with Tactical Hyve, signing off.


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About the author


Myles is the Founder of Tactical Hyve, a competitive shooter, and a life-long student of all things dealing with the tactical and self-defense worlds.

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