Review: Pistol Basics with Dave Spaulding

by Gary Evens

It was just a couple of years ago that I ran across a series of firearms training videos sponsored by Ruger Firearms that featured Dave Spaulding. I found the videos very informative and I really liked the way Dave explained things. I thought that I'd like to take a course from this guy if the opportunity ever presented itself — not that I thought it would ever happen.

Then just a little over a year ago I saw this Spaulding guy in a segment on a self-defense television series on the Sportsman Channel or Outdoor Channel. What caught my attention this time was that the segments were filmed at the Dayton Police Department shooting range. Gee, that is just a few miles from where I live!

As I tried to figure out why the segments were being filmed in Dayton, I discovered that Dave Spaulding had been a member of a Dayton area police department. That got me serious about seeing if he offered courses locally, but his website didn't list anything still available for that year.

Then, this February I saw an announcement by the Buckeye Firearms Association that Dave Spaulding would be putting on a couple of fund-raisers for them at the Greene County Fish and Game Association grounds just south of Xenia. That was only about a 20 minute drive from my house! The cost for the one-day basic pistol course was very reasonable, so I jumped at the chance to sign up before the class was filled. Finally, on July 14 my chance came to actually get some training from Dave Spaulding.

Dave started out with a short lecture setting the foundation for what he hoped to achieve for the course and the twenty-five or so students that attended from across Ohio. He talked about the need for awareness and the essential characteristics of a good self-defense pistol. After a brief discussion of shooting fundamentals, it was off to the range for the rest of the day.

I have taken several handgun courses from basic to advanced presented by some nationally recognized instructors, but for all of them I had used a semi-automatic pistol. For Dave's class I decided to go "old school" and use a revolver — a Smith & Wesson Model 19 with a 4-inch barrel. I did it to see how well I could do with a revolver compared to what I had been able to do with the semi-autos. Dave, his assistant instructor Brian "Bucky" Buchanan, and Clint Lake from the Buckeye Firearms Association appreciated my choice.

So how did I do? Not bad actually. Sure, my reloads (using speed loaders) were a little slower, but on the timed drill at the end of the class I was still able to draw, fire one round, reload, and fire another round faster than about 25% of the students, so I was satisfied — especially when Dave said that my time wasn't bad for a revolver. (I didn't admit to Dave that I had not practiced reloading with the speed loader for several years, but that is something I definitely need to do if I am going to carry a revolver at all for self-defense.) All but one of my hits were in the "kill zone" of the target, and the one that wasn't was my fault for pulling off target at the last moment before the shot broke — for some reason you've got to have your sights on the target at the moment the shot is fired for it to hit the target!

What I really liked about the class was the time Dave and Bucky spent explaining just what we needed to do and why we needed to do it. They then went from student to student as we fired the various drills giving encouragement and making corrections. It was quite hot with no shade anywhere on the firing line, but Dave and Bucky made sure we drank plenty of liquids to keep hydrated. They interjected humor just enough to keep everyone engaged.

Another thing that I appreciated was that Dave's approach to firearms instruction does not depend on a high rounds count. That is really important in these days of ammunition scarcity and high costs. If I get the opportunity to take another class from Dave, I certainly will. He met all of my expectations.

If you get a chance, you should also jump at it. Check out Dave's course offerings at his website, Thanks to Dave and Bucky, and Buckeye Firearms for making this training opportunity available.

Gary Evens is an NRA-certified Firearms Instructor in multiple disciplines, an NRA-certified Range Safety Officer, and a certified School Attacker Response Course (SARC) instructor. He is a retired US Air Force officer and has participated in competitive pistol shooting over the years ranging from small-bore bulls-eye completion in college to, more recently, cowboy action shooting. He is a member of the Ohio Rifle and Pistol Association, the Ohio Gun Collectors Association, and a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association.

Help us fight for your rights!

Become a member of Buckeye Firearms Association and support our grassroots efforts to defend and advance YOUR RIGHTS!

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

Get weekly news and instant alerts on the latest laws and politics that affect your gun rights. Enjoy cutting-edge commentary. Be among the first to hear about gun raffles, firearms training, and special events. Read more.

We respect your privacy and your email address will be kept confidential.


Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.