forum home > articles home

Practical Shooting and Training Academy
a review by Kim Foster

The SHOOT-N-IRON is located in central Oklahoma, near Oklahoma City.  In September of 2001 I took a three day pistol and shotgun class at the SHOOT-N-IRON.   It is run by former police officer and sheriff, Paul Abel. The SHOOT-N-IRON has been open since the late 70's which makes it one of the oldest defensive shooting schools in the country.  Paul spent 40 years in law enforcement and has been involved in numerous gunfights.  When Paul talks about tactics and techniques, he's not teaching from somebody else's book, he is speaking from personal experience.

A couple of the things set the SHOOT-N-IRON apart from other schools.  Paul doesn't just teach shooting, he also teaches how to survive a gunfight.  This is very refreshing in today's world where some schools are little more than an assembly line moving toward a diploma. Another is that the SHOOT-N-IRON doesn't publish an annual class schedule.  Paul makes every effort to accommodate clients' schedules and can usually provide the requested class with little notice, as he did in my case.

The SHOOT-N-IRON's ranges are not fancy but contain all the necessities. The pistol range includes plate racks, paper target frames, a small shoot house and numerous pepper poppers. The SHOOT-N-IRON also has a 200 yard rifle range and a Jungle Lane.

Paul is a superb instructor and is capable of tailoring instruction to the individual student's needs or requirements. Paul doesn't have the set-in-stone "my way is the only way" attitude that a lot of instructors have.  He makes suggestions and lets the student decide what works best for them. Since I have had previous training and experience, we started out with basic skills and quickly progressed through multiple targets, use of cover, shooting while moving, speed reloading, failure to stop drills, transition drills, room clearing and building searches.  Paul's classroom topics included weapon and ammunition selection, weapon retention and disarming, and what to say (and what not to say) to the police after you are involved in a shooting.  Paul integrates his multiple weapons classes so that you're using both long gun and pistol in the same scenario.


My primary objective at the SHOOT-N-IRON was to improve my skills with the social shotgun.  For this I brought a Mossberg 590 12 gauge. This gun has a 20 inch cylinder bore (no choke) barrel and an eight round capacity.  I've shot hundreds of rounds out of this gun, both before and during the school. It has been 100% reliable.

 For the pistol portion I took a Smith & Wesson 5906.  This is a traditional DA 9mm with a 4½ inch barrel and a pre-ban capacity of 15 rounds. I've had this gun a long time and consider it a trusted companion. I carried the S&W in a SafariLand 5181 (open top) paddle holster. I'm not a big fan of paddle holsters but this one conceals well, stays in place on the belt and is cut low in front for a speedy draw.

Part of Paul's philosophy about tactics is ambidextrous use of weapons. This is something that 99% of us, me included, don't practice enough. Paul recommends that, when negotiating a left side corner, a right handed shooter should switch dominant hands with the gun, whether it be a pistol or long gun. And vice-versa.  Paul set up scenarios so that about half the corners were "offside" problems.  Some other tactical strategies that are emphasized are keeping your weapon topped off with ammo, taking your time during tactical scenarios and insuring a target is dead before moving out from cover.  Paul has a cute little trick for underscoring this last point. I won't give it away, here, but he got me with it a few times.

Another part of Paul's ambidextrous philosophy is weak hand only manipulation. This covers not only shooting but reloading and manipulation skills as well.  A good indication that I needed more practice in this area was when I tried to draw my pistol using only my left hand and promptly dropped it in the mud!

The second morning a severe thunderstorm moved through the area, so we didn't do much shooting.  We spent the time practicing weapon retention and unarmed defensive techniques. Paul is an accomplished martial artist and demonstrated some very affective moves.  Although no training time was lost because of the weather, Paul offered to continue the course an extra half day, at no charge, to make up for the lost shooting time. This is consideration you probably won't see at any other school in the country.

I came away with a lot of information from this class and definitely feel like I got my money's worth.

You can reach the SHOOT-N-IRON on the web at, via mail at 17205 Gaddy Road, Shawnee, Oklahoma 74801, via phone at 405-273-4822, or via fax at 405-273-4180.

copyright 2003 by the author, all rights reserved.

Uploaded: 2/21/2004