Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence Book Review

| September 22, 2014 | 11 Comments

After I reviewed Killing the Active Shooter by Gabe Suarez, I was asked if I had read “Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts About Doing Violence.” I was able to download it through the Amazon KindleUnlimted program, which allows you read any of 200,000 titles for a flat monthly fee.

“Gunfighting …” is written by CR Williams, a former Suarez International firearms instructor and multiple-time author at US Concealed Carry. The book does not have a central theme and is a collection of essays and thoughts for students of fight-focused training.

It’s a good book for someone who’s taken one or two steps into the world of training to fight instead of learning to shoot for fun or prizes. Readers with less experience may find the subject matter too “aggressive.” On the contrary, veterans of fight-focused training may find the book is preaching too much to the choir.

Topics covered

  • A gunfighter’s mindset
  • Drawstroke
  • Point shooting continuum
  • Shooting speed vs accuracy
  • Bilateral shooting
  • Multi-level and multi-extension shooting positions
  • Philosophy of dealing with a home invasion
  • Ported handguns for self-defense use
  • Long guns and self-defense

I left out some other bits, like carrying with a round chambered or how to evaluate the value of a firearms instructor. This first volume is a mix of previously written essays and new content. Keep in mind CR Williams wrote a lot of these essays for a concealed carry magazine, where readers may not have taken any modern self-defense training. A certain array of topics had to be addressed.

Writing style

I’m not sure what CR Williams’s professional background is, but there are plenty of pop culture references in his writing if you know what you’re looking for. Williams’s style is a blend of casual conversation and Gabe Suarez’s over-the-top grim and gritty noir style. I feel like the reprints from other sources is less confrontational.

The mishmash of content leads to a sporadic tone throughout the book. Sometimes CR Williams takes a “train or die” tone, and in the next essay I feel like I’m sitting at a burger joint chit-chatting about why you don’t want the muzzle of a ported handgun going off in your face.

Neither approach is bad, but when you’re reading page after page like I did the book is more difficult to read than it should be. Perhaps Williams’s Volume 2 is more consistent; it’s on my “to-read” list.

There is a fair amount of hyperbole in the book. The sentences can be quite long and I found myself browsing the lead sentence of each paragraph to determine if I should read the whole thing or not. I think this is partly due to Williams’s longer-form style, and also because I already knew most of what he was going to say.

Who is this book for?

I kept asking myself “who is this book’s audience?”

I consider myself an intermediate student at best. I also have a pretty significant crossover with CR Williams, as he and I have spent a significant amount of time reading (and in his case, contributing) to the discussion forum at WarriorTalk.

With that said, the book covered more “what,” than “how.” Meaning, Williams does a good job identifying “what” fight-focused students should know, but there isn’t much in the book about “how” to accomplish these things.

The “floating gun” portion of the book is a good example. Williams is communicating the valuable exercise of shooting from different points along the draw stroke and from different alignment points along the body. I agree 100% that these things are important. Unfortunately, Williams only communicates the need to learn how to do this. It is good to generate awareness, but it would be more helpful to explain how to practice these things.

The combination of “things you probably already know” and “things you should know without explaining how to do them” puts the content of the book at odds with its intended audience. Either you already know these things and the book is of lesser value to you, or you’re a novice / journeyman and you’re only left with what you don’t know.

As I read through the book, I decided this was a great resource for someone you’re mentoring. Buy this book, read it, and then pass it along to someone you know who is just starting their journey into fight-focused training. Everything in the book is something you should discuss with another fight-focused student; the book provides a vehicle for that conversation.

I think for those new to the subject of gunfighting, the book may ask more questions than it answers. People who are new to thinking about killing someone with a gun instead of shooting paper may be put off by the book’s tone. It’s up to us to mentor these folks so that they continue the journey of taking responsibility for their own safety.

Technical difficulties

Unfortunately the Kindle version of the book has a problem. Many pictures are on top of the text. There’s no way to move / disable the pictures.


This part of the book explains how to deal with your pistol being stuck in your shirt. This content is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT as I’ve seen people do this in class and especially in Force on Force scenarios. It’s going to happen; do you know how to deal with it?

I’ve already mentioned this to CR Williams and he stated this will be fixed in a new version of the Kindle book. However, if you buy this book today you’re going to encounter this problem.


“Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence” is a collection of essays about important topics for students of fight-focused training. I would have organized the content differently, but it’s good stuff all the same. I think this book exposes the difficulty in transitioning episodic content from a magazine, Web forum or blog into a printed piece.

Don’t let the organization or “randomness” get to you, though. The book touches on very important topics that need to be thought about by anyone serious about self-defense. This book is of particular value to the novice, but in my experience most novices aren’t ready to accept the grim reality of fight-focused training.

This is where you come in, and where I’m volunteering to help.

Yesterday I ordered two print copies of this book from Amazon. I’m going to send them to two people so they can read it. I want those people to read the book and pass it along to someone else.

How to get the book:

  1. Please comment here or send me an email if you’re interested in reading the book.
  2. I’ll contact you, and you’ll pay postage. Don’t worry about the cost of the book itself.

What to do when you get the book:

  1. Read it. Come back here and comment on it if you want.
  2. When you’ve read the book, mark the back of the front cover with a portion of your name, initials, pseudonym, whatever.
  3. Put the state you live in beside your name.
  4. Pass the book along to the next person who wants to read it. If you don’t know someone personally, contact me again when you’re done and I’ll tell you who to send it to.
  5. If necessary, I’ll send you a USPS shipping label by email. Print it, put the book in the mail.
  6. Tell the person you give the book to about the spirit of this knowledge-sharing, and make sure they will “mark” the book and pass it along to someone else when they’re done.

The object of this exercise is to share the book. Don’t be a dickface and keep the book. Only give the book to people who will understand the concept of sharing and are willing to do so.

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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11 Comments on "Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence Book Review"

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  1. JG says:

    I would love to read it. I don’t know anyone where i live that trains, so i’m trying to figure some stuff out by myself.

  2. Brian says:

    My wife and I would both benefit from this book! She just got her carry permit and is working hard to come to grips with many of these topics.

  3. Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

    You are both on the list!

  4. Tom RKBA says:

    I prefer “Guns, Bullets and Gunfights” by Jim Cirillo as a primer for gunfighting. I have noticed SI’s books sometimes are badly edited and need revision prior to going to print. There are so many other authors, including Mas Ayoob, Louis Awerbuck, and John Farnham, that are excellent that there is no need to compromise.

  5. CR Williams says:

    An excellent review and just the kind of detailed feedback I need for this kind of project.

    Tom RKBA: This is not an SI book. I make a considerable effort to make sure things are both edited and arranged correctly. Updated Vol. 1 is an example–I wrestled with a page-size change for weeks and still am not convinced I got it set up correctly to this day. The Kindle problem with photos is something I’m still working on and can’t honestly say I have a resolution for at this time. But it is being worked on. CR

  6. JG says:

    I’m a little over halfway through and have a few critiques. The first being that there are no page numbers. Hard to list the rest because there are no page numbers to cite.
    Would you like me to write a mini review when I’m done?

  7. Dan says:

    Is the book still in rotation? It sounds interesting…

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