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A Girl & A Gun writes [via]

When making a major purchase, a smart consumer will research options, read reviews, and compare products. A good student will do the same when seeking a firearms instructor and evaluating the quality of training offered. You are making an investment with your consumer dollars — and your life may someday depend on this training.

The first step is to learn where your instructor received training and make sure that you’re getting quality and correct information. Modern gunfighting skills have not changed too much in the past decades as far as standards of safe gun handling and points of marksmanship.

There are leaders in the firearms industry who set the standards of exceptional training, such as Kathy Jackson pictured, above. Some people are fortunate to have trained with these individuals and share their knowledge throughout the country.

Be wary of instructors that modify these techniques and believe that they are being innovative with their own style or interpretation. Avoid instructors who rely on YouTube for training.

As you learn from a new instructor, he or she must model safe gun handling at all times and the training facility must be safe. It is okay to ask questions about any skills or drills that you are told to do that may be unsafe.

Learn why an instructor tells you to do maneuvers or movements, especially when it may slow your response or impede your accuracy.

For example, if an instructor asks you to bring your gun to a low ready instead of a compressed ready when checking your six, would you know if that compromises your safety?

It is your responsibility to know your instructor’s background and question techniques that may seem “outside the box” of industry standards. Here are seven red flags that tell you might want to avoid a patticular instructor.


1. No diversity in training

Most good instructors have trained with a variety of mentors that discuss different styles and methodologies. For example, there are several approved grips and stances. Some instructors force students to adopt one methodology, but the best instructors will analyze what is best suited for the student’s body and performance.

2. Has a different profession

If your husband is a great shooter and has been hunting his entire life, but spends his days as an accountant, he’s not a firearms instructor. He may be able to give you some pointers, but your private lessons should be with someone who has a career in the firearms industry with countless hours behind the trigger.

Keep in mind that military and law enforcement may have received exceptional firearms training, but that does not mean that he or she is a firearms instructor. Further, avoid instructors that do not have experience teaching civilians because mindset and tactics are very different.

3. New instructor

If he or she has only recently become an instructor, or maybe even a gun owner, he or she may not be a good resource. Look to the intensity and diversity of training before deciding to take a class or lesson.

4. Non-teaching certifications

A person may be certified to teach a License to Carry or CCW permit course, but he or she may not be a firearms instructor that can teach safe gun handling and points of marksmanship. One teaches you how to shoot; one teaches the law for a permit or license.

5. Sketchy marketing

Your instructor’s website or Facebook page should have a list of training credentials and online reviews. Having 100% of positive reviews should raise your eyebrows, since it is normal for some students to not connect with an instructor 100% of the time.

Even the best instructors receive criticisms, so make sure you have exposure to those, too, so you can make your own decisions. Also keep your ego in check to recognize if an instructor is using you for marketing if you have a large social media following or community of potential new student

6. Bashes other instructors

Instructors that do not encourage you to seek additional training either have large egos that are overconfident about their curriculum or worry that you will give your consumer dollars to someone else, which you have every right to do.

7. Does not take training classes

A reputable instructor is not always the teacher, but enjoys being a student. He or she will attend continuing education sessions and training to constantly advance and/or reinforce their skills.

8. Shows off

An instructor may demonstrate a drill for the class or student, but it is not a time to show off. If your instructor is being a “hot shot” or shoots more than you do, find a new instructor.

9. Not connected

The firearms industry is very competitive, but also very interconnected. Good instructors collaborate and participate in the greater firearms community. See if your instructor has ever taught at the A Girl & A Gun National Training Conference, the Polite Society Tactical Training Conference, or other reputable gatherings.

Names to Look For:

As you look at your instructor’s bio and resume you want see these names: Kathy Jackson (Cornered Cat), Massad Ayoob and Gail Pippen, Tom and Lynn Givens (Rangemaster), Marty and Gila Hayes, Robert Vogel, Ben Stoeger, Rob Leatham, Ken Hackathorn, Larry Vickers, Pat Rogers, Paul Howe, Clint Smith (Thunder Ranch), Jerry and Kay Miculek, John and Vicki Farnam, Jim Higginbotham, and those who have trained with them.

It make take you some time to research who trained with whom, but it is important. Don’t be guilty of reading more reviews about a product on Amazon than about your firearms instructor and information that may potentially save your life.

When in doubt, ask an organization you trust for feedback and guidance.

About A Girl & A Gun:

A Girl & A Gun (AG & AG) is a membership organization whose events have been successful stepping stones for thousands of women into the shooting community and fostered their love of shooting with caring and qualified instructors to teach them. The league breaks barriers for women and girls in the area of self-defense and in pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooting sports by welcoming beginners to learn the basics of safe and accurate shooting and providing experienced shooters with advanced-level training.

Learn more on their website.

Read more:
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
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    • Throwing a gun on the ground and stomping on it can be a valuable tactic in certain situations, although I don’t know what they are.

      Don’t be narrow minded.

      Tactical Myopia Kills!

    • Yeager fit every single credentialed line in this article. I think it’s funny, half of those names on the “approved list” have appeared on Yeager’s channel, taking his classes and him taking theirs. I’m pretty sure if James was as horrible as everyone makes him out to be, people like Larry Vickers or Ken Hackethorne wouldn’t bother being on camera with him.

    • And naturally, we have to eliminate instructors such as Gabe Suarez because he is ‘so off the wall as to be totally insane to call himself a gun fighting instructor’.

      No, we won’t mention those perfectly honest, hard-working part-time instructors who have attended a few courses, learned their trade well, but simply don’t have a Big Name School with their Big Name in the header.

      Quite often, people who teach have bigger heads than those who wish they were teachers. Trouble is, thousands of kids graduate schools every year still unable to write their name– all taught by ‘professional teachers’.

      Just utilize your brain and caveat emptor. (or whatever that word is that spel-check refuses to recognize).

  1. Nobody starts nowhere.

    High speed / low speed / anecdotal operator/ wtf ever


    Weapon Safety – YES

    But, same as any profession (if it is one). Don’t ever think their resume can solve your problems, or that they can make your resume match theirs. AND Rule #1: Do they care MORE about you than your payment?

    Do you do RDR? GOOD, keep doing RDR, Safely keep your weapon in your hand(s) whenever possible. Muscle memory will help you 2x, and your trainer 4x.

      • Capitalism doesn’t dictate. There’s plenty of good marketers out there that’ll keep the revolving door revolving.

        Look at the evil blue house of lib_prog_comm_gloablist (D).

  2. Great article. Might start something like another “caliber war.” In that vein, I would add Tiger McKee (Shootrite), Pat Goodall (Practical Firearms), and Eric Pfeiffer (ex-Suarez) to list of names to look for.

  3. 2. Has a different profession
    If your husband is a great shooter and has been hunting his entire life, but spends his days as an accountant, he’s not a firearms instructor. He may be able to give you some pointers, but your private lessons should be with someone who has a career in the firearms industry with countless hours behind the trigger.

    There is only a small minority of full time firearms instructors (and I mean full time all that person does is instruction). And there are many good instructors that do training as a part time job. In fact I would argue that you are more likely to find an excellent instructor that works part time, than to find a full time instructor.

    7. Does not take training classes

    A reputable instructor is not always the teacher, but enjoys being a student. He or she will attend continuing education sessions and training to constantly advance and/or reinforce their skills.

    Depends on what type of instruction are going for. For you are looking for shooting instruction, typically top level shooters don’t take formal classes. They might do joint training sessions with others, but there is no formal classes that will get you better once you reach a certain level of ability.

    • I stopped reading the article at “has a different profession.”

      I had the exact same thoughts you had here in regards to that. Nothing wrong about me taking lessons from an ex-navy seal who occasionally trains local police and regulars carrying a CCW, because he has another job that pays more.

      Only buy the absolute best is what this article says – and …. No. I learn from someone better than me – and that’s it. That’s all. When I am on their level, I can learn from someone better than them, on my terms, on my time.

      • I have had the pleasure to learn from a couple good instructors but most of my instruction comes from shooting with people that are better then I am. Unless you can invest a small fortune and only shoot with instructors most of your shooting is going to be yourself/ friends trying to incorporate ttps that you pick up in a class.

    • Yes, sadly, the author conflates being an exceptional practitioner with being a good instructor.

      What educational credentials do any of aforementioned professional shooters hold? A B.S. in education? A masters in instructional design? A Ph.D in Learning Behaviors?

      Why is it that everyone thinks that anyone can teach? And that anyone who is an expert at something is the best qualified to teach it?

    • The type firearms training was not specified in the article, but the examples were of self defense and gunfighting. So, it’s not just “shooting” any more than effectively using a knife is just “cutting.”

      • -and this is why I must encourage you not to learn cutting from some hack. Don’t fall for training by someone with a different day job! For god’s sake, your husband may know how to use a knife in cooking, but if he doesn’t use knives full-time, and take knife-use lessons from others, then he isn’t a committed teacher.

        The seven reasons to rule out an instructor basically amount to one rule: “If the teacher isn’t committed to building the industry as a full-time specialty and a limited guild, rule them out!” Nope.

        • There are two types of instructors (there’s actually more than that but I’ll compare these two).
          There’s the ex law enforcement, ex military SF, competitive shooter who wants to make a living now as an instructor. He/she takes all the major courses and knows his/her shit. They build a resume and build a business. They get recommendations from their former instructors so there is a stream of clients. But can this person with such a background in firearms teach a new shooter? There is more to instructing than talent in the industry of guns.

          Then there is the person that did not want to be a firearms instructor. They may or may not have served in law enforcement or military. They don’t have the disposable income to invest in competition with entry fees and travel. They don’t take fighting classes and night vision tactical team maneuvering for the modern day contractor or nuclear facility defense tactics 101. But they love shooting and more importantly they love people. They don’t speak jargon. They have a daytime job and guns is somewhere between a hobby and a lifestyle. They have learned a lot by researching and practicing. They naturally become the go to guy on guns in their work and social environments. They field dozens of questions a day on self defense topics. These people asking all the questions do not spend time watching gunnies on YouTube and reading Massad Ayoob articles even when they email them the links. This person has a knack for teaching and particularly teaching the uninitiated. They may have a background in coaching kids in sports. Teaching is a talent and the subject matter is secondary. Ability to perform the subject matter is secondary as well. Knowledge and ability to transfer that knowledge to another person is paramount. Henry Aaron could hit better than anyone in his day but he has no clue how to teach it. But if Mike, the little league coach opened a hitting clinic and the Hammer had one next door, you know who would get all the business.

          So the first guy has the talent and the name recognition but might not be able to convey the message to the student. You can’t see that on a resume.
          The second guy is an accountant who enjoys helping everybody learn what he has learned and decides to start a side business teaching introductory firearms to people other than the 3%. There’s value in these guys to reach out to the 97% of the population who would never take a gun class otherwise. Don’t rule these guys out.

      • The author is expecting a firearms instructor to have a CV better than a SEAL. Wait, no, by her standards someone who did 6 tours as a SEAL isn’t qualified to teach firearm self-defense, because they weren’t trained by whomever she deems qualified.

        For crying out loud, a basic self-defense course isn’t that damned complicated. Teach your students proper grip adn draw mechanics. Teach them the difference between cover and concealment. Let them do the cool stuff you can’t do at a box range, like moving and shooting. Your instructor doesn’t need to have worshiped at the altar of Larry Vickers to do that.

  4. 10. Instructor is male and has no beard or a thin, non-luxuriant beard.

    11. Instructors arms are not of sufficient girth to completely fill the sleeves of instructors short sleeve shirt.

    • ^This.
      Tacticality begins at the bathroom sink. Instructors (even the females) SHOULD have beards.
      AND, they (even the females) should be big enough to pick you up one-handed and carry you to the parking lot in case you pass out or shoot yourself.

    • 13. Shows up to class drunk after being in the disruptive environment of a strip club until 4 AM.

  5. There are some good points here, but some….not so much. You could kill a few of these points with the same stone.

    1) Are they professional (actions, body language, do they actually listen to your questions or just give you loaded answers that reinforce their own teachings)? – kills 5, 6, and 8.

    Names to look for: You missed a bunch of good ones. It’s much more important to see some names at all vs those specific names (but I get what the point was).

    2. Has another profession…. you’re kidding right. Simply because someone doesn’t earn enough income instructing to support a family, doesn’t mean they aren’t a good instructor.

    • The “other profession” comment caught my attention too. I have a full time job that isn’t shooting. But I’m also, if I may say so, a pretty kick-ass instructor in both NRA and non-NRA courses.

      I think knowledge and professionalism count a lot more than job title.

      And I’d add Greg Hamilton to the list as well.

    • + I tend to agree with Boo here.

      The REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY, REALLY GOOD instructors have a job where they TRAIN PROFESSIONALS. AND IF YOU EVER GET TO MEET THEM, much less train under them, then
      Y O U
      and your training,
      is their “side-job”.

      The other kind may just be effective marketing and marginal business sense.

  6. So… which of those nine reasons make up the seven reasons? Which two should I ignore?

      • If the 7 reasons don’t get you to swear-off “bad” instructors, then you get the other two reasons for free.

      • Precisely. Absolutes are for amateurs, context is for professionals. I once attended a class where the instructor was impatient due to a wide skill gap in the class, to the point of anger, exaggerated his skills to the point of near lunacy, taught everything as inviolable absolutes, which included equipment and weapons, much of which he insulted the entire class. It wasn’t a complete failure – it will serve as a classic example of unchecked ego, and why you should thoroughly research every instructor.

  7. Speaking to new shooters just learning the basics of firearms handlin: does the instructor require the student to provide their own firearm or will they train with a variety of guns provided by the instructor? I often caution the complete noobs NOT to select a handgun until after they have gotten some basic instruction so as to avoid making a rash or ill-informed decision. Moreover, a well qualified instructor will have a .22 or two, perhaps even an airsoft gun, for teaching the basics with.

  8. This is pretty silly stuff. If you are new, what is important is can they teach breathing, sight alignment, trigger control and safety. For that stuff LE/military range instructors are amazing. When your job is teaching hundreds of non gun people a year the basics, you are likely to be pretty good at that. If you are trying to do civilian tacticool stuff, have at it. Swat or infantry background is probably a good thing in an instructor. If you wanna compete better, learn from a competitor, who has some teaching credentials and a good local rep.

    The stuff about ego and showing off is great, but frankly, who really cares if some guy you are gonna shoot guns with for a weekend is part of the industry circle jerk.

    • I never understood the breathing control with a defensive handgun.

      This article is so timely to me because I decided at work today to take people who have never shot a gun before and run private instruction classes.
      My goal is to be the gateway drug for timid folks who have considered buying a gun for defense but don’t have the gumption to walk into a gun store.
      I understand to the noob that the process can be daunting. There is a niche there for guys like me to reach people like this. And make a buck.
      I fail on 5 of 9 of the listed things to avoid. That tells me that this article is not trying in any way to advance the plight of the second amendment advocate. Rather it caters to the all in on guns crowd.
      I’ll get my NRA Instructor certification, but only to paste on my add.
      Seems like this article is guilty of doing what it advises instructors not do.
      “We are the only way”

      • I was thinking about doing the same, potg can be very off putting to the point of discouraging new shooters. I have pretty thick skin but the first time I ever went to a range as an adult the range master made fun of me and my gun( cause it was a old target model and I wasn’t trying to be tacticool). He was also letting some other patrons break the safety rules ( I don’t care if you they are your buddies flagging the firing line is a big hell no). I work in a gun friendly environment but even now gun snobs can ruin it. Sorry I didn’t invest a whole paycheck in the newest foreign wunderguun or high class 1911 that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t shoot or that I am somehow inferior.

        • And the dig on YouTube was off base as well. All the name dropping in this article reminded me of all the hours of YouTube videos I watched where these same people named in this article gave free of charge great wisdom to the world. Not the same as taking 14 personal classes from these gun gods, but $28,000 dollars cheaper, and knowledge is knowledge and we live in the information revolution world. She needs to accept the new reality.
          My wife learned how to snow ski at the age of 40 by reading a book.
          YouTube taught me how to:

          Grip a semi auto.

          Break down a Glock, Shit, every gun, including an FNH 1910.

          Build an AR

          Do a trigger job on my Glock 19

          Draw from concealment while sitting in a car and shoot through the windshield

          That you can, and sometimes should draw on a drawn gun, and when to do so.

          That one shot stops are not something you should expect, rely on, or strive to achieve.

          Caliber does not matter in a handgun between 9mm and .45acp. and if it does, you should be carrying a .44 magnum or a real 10mm.

          Press checks are stupid.

          Israeli carry is stupid

          Administrative reloads are stupid

          How to clear a type one, type two and type three malfunction

          Unfuckinglimited amount of drills to hone shooting skills.

          The four rules of safety

          How to clean and lube everything

          How to zero a rifle

          The importance of a weapon mounted white light

          Why you may want a revolver and why you may not

          Why you may want a semi auto pistol and why you may not

          Every gun that has had a recall and was it addressed satisfactorily

          The best all around home defense gun is a 20 gauge pump shotgun

          1911s suck (unless you spend some cheese and get a custom model) and a series 70 has fewer parts to fail

          911 is your friend

          911 is not your friend

          No handgun is too powerful for a woman if she learns to handle it

          No center fire handgun caliber is too weak to be used for self defense

          Warning shots are not a self defense option

          Learn first aid

          Learn open hand combat

          Mindset and situational awareness are more important than tools

          Suppressors do not silence gunshot noise

          Criminals can continue fighting after receiving multiple gunshot wounds

          You’re not going to learn self defense shooting on a range with standard rules

          A long gun for self defense should have a sling

          When not shooting you should be moving and learn to shoot while moving as well

          “Mil-spec” isn’t necessarily the best quality

          And more.

      • “…I never understood the breathing control with a defensive handgun…”

        It’s simple… just keep doing it and make sure you prevent the other person from doing same. (‘Other Person’ being the bad guy, ok?)

      • We train to shoot rifles at people. I find breath control helpful for off hand rifle shots. Don’t even think about it with pistols anymore, but when I was learning to hit the broad side of a barn it was somewhat useful.

  9. I once said no to an instructor because he was a super tacti-cool bro who absolutely insisted that all carry pistols must be striker -fired with no external saftey.

    • You never listen Grasshopper,
      I said all carry pistols should be metal framed and have hammers and external safeties.

    • I just went to instructor Robb Allen and he put me on the right track with some simple advice. It was very helpful:

      Your gun sucks and you’re holding it wrong.
      That caliber is ineffective. You would do better to pick something bigger.
      That caliber is too big / expensive. You would do better with a smaller caliber that is cheaper and gives you higher capacity.
      I am not a lawyer, I have never argued a case, and in fact I tend to get confused when watching Matlock, but if you do not follow my legal advice to the T you will spend the rest of your life behind bars and that’s after you get the lethal injection while sitting on the chair.
      Unless a cop hands you the ammunition from his gun, you will go to prison forever should you be forced to shoot someone in self-defense.
      Your gun sucks because it’s not the same gun that every cop in the tri-state area uses and cops only use the best
      You have the same gun as the cops? No wonder it sucks. They only have that gun because they got them in a bulk discount, not because it was a good gun.
      The difference in grip angles between your gun and mine, which can only be measured using a protractor that uses scientific notation to denote the degrees, shows why you gun sucks and is probably why you’re holding it wrong.
      The instructor for that gun class you took wasn’t in Iraq and didn’t operate with the operatingest operators and thus any training you got was worthless.
      The instructor for that gun class you took was in Iraq and the techniques he taught you are not valid for civilians and thus you wasted your money.
      Your gun sucks and you’re holding it wrong.
      You’re holding your head too high.
      You’re not holding your head high enough.
      You shoot like a girl.
      You wish you could shoot like a girl.
      My degree is in office management and the closest I have ever come to any sort of formal, physics training was that one time I lost the remote and had to watch an episode of Nova, but let me explain in nauseating detail why a 1:9 twist rate on an 18” barrel is insufficient for the bullet weight you have selected.
      Shot placement is everything. Unless you’re shooting what I shoot, which kills instantly even if it’s just a graze across the thigh.
      Shooting USPSA / IDPA will get you killed in a real gun fight.
      Not shooting competition means you don’t have what it takes to survive a gun fight because you won’t be accustomed to shooting under pressure.
      The best way to survive a gun fight is to either not get in a gun fight, or follow the 18 paragraphs of advice I just doled out.
      The length of your guide rod is wrong.
      Unless you use this exact lubricant, made of purified fat from virgin baby seals, your gun will rust between shots and that’s if it doesn’t seize up on you first.
      My father’s next door neighbor’s son knew a guy who thought about going to Police Academy, plus I’ve been pulled over numerous times; thus I know the law inside and out and you can’t do what you’ve already done a hundred times before and here’s the law, 706.2 HB Subsection D paragraph 4 that is about penalties for failing to pick up after your dog.
      Let me deduce your every problem by the one blurry picture you posted along with your description which suffered a dangling participle and several typos. Don’t argue with me because I am using the vast physics knowledge I obtained by reviewing MacGyver reruns frame by frame.
      The way you carry your gun is wrong.
      The way you do your politics about guns is wrong.
      I took my AR out to the range, hit the edge of the target at 100 yards TWICE and thus the only accurate configuration is mine. Unless you have the exact hand guard, butt stock, front sight post and each and every aftermarket accoutrement that I do, you will not achieve the same accuracy. Plus, you’re holding the rifle wrong.
      Your trigger, in a configuration that would make both Heisenberg and Schrödinger cry, is simultaneously too light for a carry gun and too heavy to be accurate.
      Lab tests using Jell-O prove that this particular bullet, with a round flat hollow point low-ogive nose is better than yours, which doesn’t have the low-ogive. Plus, shooting Jell-O is as close to real life as you can get.
      Your gun sucks. An you’re holding it wrong.

      After studying these I felt ready for any instructor’s admonitions. My shooting is fine, but it was already fine 46 years ago. I keep trying to get “better” but “older” keeps offsetting most of the speed and accuracy gains. I do think I’m sneakier now.

  10. I just glean the best techniques from shows like NCIS Los Angeles. They don’t miss as much as on other shows.

    They can also conceal an AR under a light jacket.

    • No way.
      Hawaii Five-O is obviously superior.

      Just those five cops for the entire Hawaiian Island chain? And usually with no backup and ESPECIALLY no commonality of equipment.

      Looking for Magpul tacticool swimwear to be a sponsor. With Hickok45 explaining how to use Ballistol on a surfboard.

      • I like the Hawaii Five-O series, but some of that stuff is off the map ridiculous – more teacupping than Buckingham Palace and atrocious handling skills. Not quite Walking Dead, but still bad. Since my wife and I started watching the series, I’ve told her we will never vacation there since they’re anti 2A and apparently have a crime problem approaching total anarchy.

        • Omg same here. Sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, it makes it look like Falujah and Chicago had a very bad baby and named it “Honolulu”

  11. You lost me on #2. Having a real job rules you out?!? NONSENSE. My own brother was an Olympic coach(and a great one)who had a regular job so he could finance unpaid trips and spending time and money on athletes. Yeah I know it ain’t guns but that’s a rookie blunder. The rest is OK…

  12. I’m going later this month to get started as a NRA-certified instructor and have been wondering where to go from there and what else to pursue. Some of these are good tips for me. Thanks for the sideways heads-up!

  13. “that do not have experience teaching civilians because mindset and tactics are very different” … bull****.

    If the will to survive, the desire to succeed, and the love for God, family, and country are not in them, they deserve no teaching. Shoot to stop the threat doesn’t end whenever I take my uniform off.

    • Sure the whole, whip the smoke wagon out, and shoot aspect is the same, but how a Marine fire team or a LEO approaches a gun fight, and how a civilian do are completely different.

      For example civilians often can’t draw their guns until after the threat is realized. While LEOs and military dudes can use their weapons much more liberally. Military and LEO dudes rarely operate alone, while a civilian not is typically alone but if someone is with them they are someone they need to protect not back up. And then there is the a ton of military specific aspects like covering fire, combined arms, and pistols being at best a secondary weapon.

      • Given the history of our country, the second amendment, and our freedom; I find your reply appalling.

        2A is not about home defense only, it’s freedom defense. From tyranny of evil men (and women too).

    • It should be pretty obvious that apprehending armed criminals or advancing on an enemy while under fire would require a different mindset and tactics than defending self and loved ones.

      Still, I would just as soon take instruction from someone who has actually been in a gunfight or six.

      • Tactics are different but the fundamentals are the same, in the Army it’s a logical progression from never shot a gun before to trained maneuver and you start with the basics. we didn’t even shoot a round until week 7 in basic. He learned the safety rules, how the weapon works, the four fundamentals, then we qualified( basic marksmanship) then we learned reaction drills( up down) and quick fire drills, then we learned buddy team bounding with rifles and then onto squad and platoon maneuver. The only steps that are different are the maneuver ones, as civilians the focus is more defensive then offensive.

      • So… your weapons are only for defending yourself at the shopping center? Or are they for ensuring your freedom too?

  14. I think it depends on your skill level.

    If you’re a noob you need someone to teach you the basics of gun handling, safety, and some marksmanship.

    I have been shooting for 40 plus years and went to the NRA certification to be 4H rifle instructor (University of FL does not allow 4H handgun traing).

    Usually in one day I had 8-16 year old student shooting 1 inch groups at 25 yards

    Once gun handling and marksmanship is attained, it is relatively easy to reinforce and strengthen their skills.

    Tactics for defense could be added after that. I know how to move and shoot in a variety of positions and situations but have never been in a gun fight I wonder how many instructors have .

    Regardless, knowing your weapon and being able to hit your target are the most important skills

    Challenging yourself with multiple targets and against is a good way to induce stress and increase confidence

    I disagree that police get excellent training they get the basics and many never progress to competent

    I’m not knocking training. It just doesn’t take that much to be proficient with a weapon

    Once you have mastered the basics, teach someone else. It will give you a lot of insight into what you do and don’t do well.

  15. If you’re taking a state-required training class for your carry license, some due diligence might save you some expense and disappointment.

    In Illinois, less than a year after the law went into effect, a few instructors got their certifications yanked because the weren’t following the official syllabus and not providing the full 16 hours of instruction.

    Sad part is, every one of their students got their concealed carry licenses yanked too. Time and money gone, they had to start the whole process over.

  16. Any instructor who goes on and on about training Navy spec ops, dev gru, delta, SWAT and wants to teach you to be the same. Unless you are wanting to be an spec ops, dev gru operator.
    Go to someone who teaches CCW people how to survive, not take on 30 terrorists in a mall.
    Gunsite is awesome, I’ve attended Ayoob courses. Great people.

  17. Exactly how does one enter the sacred world of “firearms instructor”?
    This writer has the attitude that it takes a doctorte in shooting to even get a foot in the door.
    I could be a flight instructor before a firearms instructor if I followed the recommendations of this article.

    • You nailed it. The article is more gun snobbery. You don’t have to do all this stuff to be a competent concealed carrier.
      Absolutely take a class. Take a couple. Watch YouTube videos from the “preferred trainers”. READ A GOSHDARNED BOOK OR TWO.

      And much like the way one gets to Carnegie Hall, practice..practice..practice. Taking a weekend course twice a year but never practicing between them is not as beneficial as taking one class a year then shooting every other weekend. There’s no substitute for trigger time.

  18. They make all sorts of half assed references to the secret stuff that they did in undisclosed locations with unknown people. Then they imply that anybody who didn’t do super secret squirrel stuff like they did is a commie pinko fag wimp and doesn’t love Jesus. They all wear Oakley sunglasses, tactical black golf shirts, 511 khakis and under armor shorts and they reek of an attitude that says mere mortals can never be as tacticool as they are. I’ll grant that lots of these guys can shoot but not many have the skills and the patience to teach people how to become better. They’d much rather spend their time in urinating matches with other instructors and their students over who is the biggest dog in the pack.

      • Hey I call polo shirts “golf shirts”. Must be my improper schooling. You can tell that they’re tactical because they have the little strap across the collar yoke for the tactical microphone and the pocket on the left sleeve that’s too small to hold a pen but looks cool anyway. These shirts cost about $75 because they’re the same shirts worn by bad dudes everywhere. Without the little collar strap they’d be on the $14.95 sale rack at Wally World. I’m just venting a little because I’ve listened to (and worked with) way too many self obsessed blowhards who think that a $300 pair of sunglasses and an under armor shirt makes them an instructor. Shooting skills count, but people skills count lots more.

        • Actually, you can get them with the little strap and shoulder pocket for about 15 bucks at LA Police Gear.

          And the little strap? That’s really for the sunglasses!

  19. #2 is ridiculous. My brother is a police officer first, and a federal firearms instructor who runs interdepartmental training second. The fact that he doesn’t train others full time doesn’t make him any less qualified.

    • Spot on. There’s a local guy that spent 10+ years in SF all over the world, is still in the reserves, has another job, and runs a variety of training classes through his training company – and he’s an outstanding instructor.

  20. I seem have got lucky with who I got training from. Marty Hayes, with his “Firearms academy of Seattle, ( nowhere near Seattle).

  21. That’s a pretty solid swing and a huge miss.
    Shooing people away with military experience is foolish to the point of ridiculous. Not only do NCO’s in the military teach people who have never shot a gun in their lives how to shoot well in a relatively small amount of time, but they are the people most likely to have actually used a firearm in a life or death situation. There isn’t a mindset difference for survival, unless, of course, your mindset is not to survive. It would also disqualify some of the instructors on the “approved instructors” list. For instance, Larry Vickers makes the instructor list, although his experience is from the military, and he lists absolutely none of the certifications the author suggest are required.
    The advice to stay away from someone who has a different profession is, well there’s no other way to say it, just stupid. There are a vast number of people who have decades of real world experience, as well as instruction, who now do something else because it simply makes more money. I know a man who was a SFARTAETC instructor who is now an engineer, outside of the firearms industry. He occasionally teaches long range shooting classes. If you can get these people to put on a course you would be far better served by them than by someone who has no real world experience and has taught nothing but new shooters who don’t know any better.

  22. “No new instructors” Oh, ok. Well, you know how an instructor gets experience? Teaching others. How is a new instructor like me supposed to get experience if no one ‘takes a chance’ on them?

    Like applying for a job out of college. To get experience, you need a job. To get a job, you need experience. Vicious circles everywhere…

  23. I would say anyone who has actually fired at someone else, and/or been fired upon, would have some real world knowledge on the subject of, at the very least, self defense. I would also want to take a EMT/life saver class from someone who has effectively saved a life or two, versus the guy who hasn’t.

  24. Many of the names on the list provided, are NOT firearms instructors as per Rule #2 – Has a different profession.

  25. “if an instructor asks you to bring your gun to a low ready instead of a compressed ready when checking your six, would you know if that compromises your safety?”

    No…no I wouldn’t. What’s your EXPLETIVE DELETED point?

  26. “For example, if an instructor asks you to bring your gun to a low ready instead of a compressed ready when checking your six, would you know if that compromises your safety?”

    I think the question is “Why the theatrics?”. If you thought a threat was at your six the gun should go there – where the damn threat is.

    I would add Mike Pannone, Pat McNamara and Greg Ellifritz to that list.

  27. Lhstr, Hmmmm, I guess my 2 instructors that do lessons for ccw and advance defensive gun training are unequiped to train? I know they are exmilitary and a little spookie. What and who do I look for? They do this part time! Been training for over 30-40 years, now I have to start all over, not enough time in my life. Oh well I’m still alive and doing well, I don’t like your rules!!! Be safe out there.

  28. The article strikes the same tone of superiority that it claims you should avoid in instructors. Not to mention being an ego trip for the author – what the heck is “A girl and a gun” and why is teaching a class there such a big deal?

    Oh – and the guys that added Greg Hamilton and Marty Hays to the list are spot on. And I’d also add TTAG’s own Jeff Gonzales, a superlative instructor, and Andy Stanford – quirky, but useful information.

    • “A girl and a Gun” is the name of the blog the author began a few years back when she decided to take up a gun for self defense– after being mugged in a parking lot.

      Her ‘instructor’ status came about by chance while shooting and assisting at a ‘certified’ class.

      She is actually a very sweet young lady. Well, perhaps I should say ‘used to be’, since she seems to have become pretty much a snotty snob over the years. Then again, perhaps she is just feeling the pressure of having to produce words for a blog.

      Oh- an tidbit here: her Marine husband’s best friend was her first firearms instructor. Oh, yes, he was ‘certified’… Not.He was a Marine combat vet.

      • JSW,

        There are several “A girl and her gun” blogs and organizations out there. The one you are referring to is not connected to this particular article. In fact, I don’t believe she has been blogging for years. The author of this piece is with a group in Texas.

  29. “If your husband is a great shooter and has been hunting his entire life, but spends his days as an accountant, he’s not a firearms instructor.”

    He’s not a firearms instructor not because he’s an accountant by day. He’s not an instructor because he has apparently no background in seeking a wide range of training in mindset, tactics and technique, as well as training in how to successfully train others in all of the above. People without real credentials tend to fluff their resume with stuff like: “Hunting all my life” or “Shooting tens of thousands of rounds of trap” or “gun owner since I was X years old” or, my favorite, “Had an interest in guns”

    And, I’ll add, anyone someone is related to, or slept in the same bed, is generally not the best instructor to teach them. Find an outsider to do it. People seem to listen better.

  30. What a waste of an article. Finally going to delete the bookmark to this mediocre collection of online firearms based news. Quality of the content keeps going down hill.

      • We’d like to help you out, but we don’t know how you got in.

        Plus, the Russian’s already hacked your account back in July, when you weren’t even really posting yet, and you’ve been under DOJ surveillance but not under investigation since before Trump’s been President.


  31. Sorry to all who loved this article, but it was clearly written by someone whose entire shooting career consists of taking classes. Some of the names she cites are people who are very good at writing books about shooting, and that’s a great skill; I read lots of articles about shooting and technique and they’re fun. But to be honest, as much as she disses military instructors, I would prefer to take my training from someone who has actually had to defend themselves or others and can give me a genuine account of what happened and what went through their mind at the time. What they forgot and what they remembered, and why they are alive today.

    Having said all that, I do agree that not everyone is a good instructor. They have to have some capability to teach and connect with the student. That is something you can usually discern with a good conversation with the instructor before signing up for the class.

    • It hasn’t been that long since I was in the militarybut I remember going through a lot of training getting my first post going through a lot of training deploying recovering from injury. Then after some time on a desk job going through a lot of training learning a lot about how to train others, training others, getting trained myself, getting trained on how to train others, Then doing a lot more training schools training exercises, deployment two more training. Finally joining the reserves getting training on how to train the trainers finally leaving the reserves and becoming a civilian. Now that I’m a civilian I only train 40 hours a year to maintain my proficiency and certifications. Sounds like a lot of training military and law-enforcement background those people must not know anything about training because in my experience there either training or applying that training in the real world. It’s better to just go to private schools because those people are just better at it.

  32. No, i don’t care about seeing any of those names on a resume.

    Some of the people on the list are experts in some areas, and in those area, they probably have knowledge that can help in their discipline. Yes, I would like to get some tips and tricks from Rob and Jerry on speed shooting. Or Massad on law.

    But most people need basics, and practice. They don’t need any of those folks to teach safety and basic gun handling for self defense. Actually, I’ve had personal experience with some of these instructors, and can honestly say, I’ve seen better instructors for the basics. In their disciplines? Yes, go to the best if you can.

    One other thing, look for instructors who specialize in basics for people like you. If you’re elderly, infirm, weak, disabled, look for people who understand your unique needs.

    • My LSG has a range, all one needs to do is look through the lexan window to see piss poor gun handling and marksmanship It was same when I worked for a gun shop and range. Even among the officers I work with there is vast disparity in skill level. Ten percent truly competent marksman some passable so far with the new qualification standard it looks like a few will be in the unemployment line. The training officer is as big of a problem as the ammunition allocation. One day the training Officer took a great deal of pleasure in telling me I would not pass qualification because I just missed all 10 rounds at that station, I told him to go back and check the hits in the head.

  33. Massad Ayoob…….. that should be on the avoid list. So I should not go to a class thought by a cop soldier or SWAT guy because their full time job is not a firearms trainer? The training officer at my current job is a joke he attends more classes and shoots three times more often than I do. He has been trained by and trained with them. I not only out shoot him with a handgun I helped an officer quality after failing the first nine attempts with the training officer to qualify on our new course. I’m a great guy for introduction training through novice and if a student seeks my part time training who has traveled and trained with the best I will be the first to tell them I do not offer the advanced training they are accustomed to.

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