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The National Rifle Association has a new training program associated with their Carry Guard insurance product. The NRA touts their instructors as former Navy SEALS or other high-speed, low-drag type operators. Of course, the NRA promises “The best carry firearms training on the planet. Period.” Not that the NRA has ever been accused of excessive hype, but has the gun rights org created the best firearms training on the planet? Time will tell.

I’ve been a firearms instructor for twenty years. My fellow instructors and I teach everyday Americans how to safely and effectively use firearms for self-defense. Over the years, we’ve taught defensive shooting skills to thousands of adults.

My own learning has never stopped. In my time, I’ve been to a couple of dozen classes from nationally known instructors, recognized by many as the best of the best. Ayoob, Rogers, Farnam and Tarani just to name a few.

I’ve observed trainers both good and bad over the years. I’ve worked to lure some of the best ones onto our training team and I’ve seen some sad excuses for instructors, too. Sadly, some are not only incompetent, but also unscrupulous enough to sign off on fraudulent training certificates.

The NRA’s Carry Guard classes may indeed be the best firearms training on the planet. I have my doubts, though. The NRA’s (or their PR firm’s) decision to promote their program as the product of cops and vets is worrying.

Generally, I have nothing but respect for people in law enforcement and military. But what difference does it make whether an instructor learned their skills on the mean streets of Oakland or were “taught downrange” in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Far more important: can the instructor communicate the fundamentals effectively to everyday people, empowering them with the skills they need to avoid becoming a statistic.

Civilian self defense classes aren’t about teaching students how to kick in doors to hunt the Crips or the Taliban.  We teach civilians the strategies and skills, including firearms proficiency, to avoid victimization in their daily lives. These skills and tactics will give them every advantage if the worst happens and they have to use their gun to protect innocent life.

Carry Guard has no proven track record of teaching civilians yet. Their instructors have an unspecified number of years teaching civilians self-defense. What’s more, legal considerations don’t even merit a mention in the Carry Guard course description.

My advice to The People of The Gun: before succumbing to the marketing pitch of this brand new program, sit this one out for a while. Read reviews of Carry Guard’s training here and elsewhere to see if the course merits your time and hard-earned cash.

If Carry Guard training proves itself worthy of the title “best on the planet,” word will travel fast. If it turns out to be like the NRA’s “blended learning” debacle introduced a couple of years ago, word of that will travel just as fast.

Meanwhile, I recommend Masaad Ayoob’s 40-hour MAG-40 class. To this day, I believe it stands as the best handgun training in the nation for civilians. Ayoob, a former cop, remains one of the best instructors in America. For $800, his four-day class has a thirty-plus year proven track record of excellence.  What’s more, it’s cheaper than the Carry Guard’s three-day course by $50.

Ayoob’s shooting curriculum and his authorized instructors are superior. The extensive legal lectures in Ayoob’s class set it apart from any firearm training course I’ve ever experienced. If, God forbid, the worst happens, he also teaches his students how to manage the aftermath of a deadly force encounter.

Practice makes perfect? As many gun gurus will tell you, perfect practice makes perfect. In this case, make sure you don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect.

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  1. But what difference does it make whether an instructor learned their skills on the mean streets of Oakland or were “taught downrange” in Iraq or Afghanistan?

    An enormous amount actually. Nothing against pipe hitters and door kickers here but a lot of military training and tactics have very little real world application to the civilian world. Not to say that those things don’t work but applying them in civilian life is often asking for criminal charges.

    Let’s be real, outside competition the number of times a civilian will need “carbine combat skills” is approaching zero and, if you do need them you probably won’t have your rifle anyway. Then there’s the issue of legal justification for use of force at rifle distances, which is further pushing “high speed, low drag” training into the realm of the absurd.

    IMHO, the same is true of a lot of “high speed, low drag” pistol work but for other reasons.

    • Combat experience counts, though.

      Personally, I’d prefer to take a class from someone who thinks about tactics (versus just repeating whatever he was taught however long ago), because if he thinks about why he’s doing what he’s doing, he’ll probably be a better teacher with better tactics.

      • My attitude is that their tactics need to be tested for real world application in situations that a student might actually encounter otherwise it’s all theoretical nonsense.

        A lot of stuff that’s being taught “expects” you to be part of a team which isn’t likely during a mugging.

    • “But what difference does it make whether an instructor learned their skills on the mean streets of Oakland or were “taught downrange” in Iraq or Afghanistan?
      An enormous amount actually. Nothing against . . . ”
      . . .civilians or civilian trainers, but non-military (I can’t speak for police) training and carrying a weapon around is near anecdotal to someone who has had to live with, carry, employ, and account for one for at least every day of 9 months to a year and a half. It shows in the weapon handling. Some people can fool you for a little while, but it eventually shows. Not sure why.

      I’ve been trained by credentialed civilian trainers who have put on good-to-great classes, but military training was completely different, AND IMHO THE DIFFERENCE IS: military (who become civilian) trainers train you as though you are going to be the one backing THEM up (people hate the operators trying to make you operators but most [not all] are just trying to get your speed up to support the ‘squad’). Little weak on taking instruction? We’ll do the Blues Clues method until you can at least Scooby-Doo. Military instructors are used to the drills and building block methods that keep moving things along until the point that they are finally teaching you to not get dead in a deadly environment. It’s all simple-stupid, not top-secret, stuff that takes care of the basics so that you can employ them in various situations. With a little bit of “push” thrown in, to keep you moving forward.
      It’s all: four-rules, movement, response times, action times, weapon becomes a part of you, you go solve or cure a ‘problem’ with it. Everything is a “mission”, a mission has elements and expected outcomes.
      Civilians (non-ex-mil / LEO) give you some of that only, and the rest just often seem like they are trying too hard to do / match the former.
      Actual military training would be better, but that’s a whole different forced ‘immersive environment’ thing all together. And your progress is measured by the people you live with.

      • Not knocking military or leo, but the mission is entirely different. Those guys have a legal profile than I, as a legal defensive user of firearms, don’t have. You can choose the classic “rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6” attitude, but I would rather pass on both, thanks!

      • The point here isn’t that military training isn’t useful, especially in terms of weapons handling, the point is that much of what the military teaches in terms of actual application of force isn’t applicable to civilian circumstances where

        1) you’re not initiating contact
        2) you don’t have a SOFA to protect you and therefore are legally and/or civilly liable for every round fired,
        3) you’re generally on your own as opposed to with a team or supported by fire from your buddies,
        4) the average “trainee” isn’t drilling constantly with correction and reinforcement from someone else with experience and
        5) you may have to, in the aftermath, deal with a DA who thinks that your “training” means that you should have handled it differently like by “shooting them in the leg” because you’re all trained and the DA has no idea what they’re talking about.

  2. That’s a cool pose and all, but where’s that round going if it gets torched off? Looks like a violation of rule #2 if you ask me.

    • Unless you are #2 in a 5 man stack on a door. If it is in your hands, and you are ready or have just used it, a weapon’s muzzle should go where your eyes go.

      • Whoa, forgive me, that sounded like a ‘rule’, and that was unintentional. I don’t write, nor can I readily recite any ‘rule’. That’s just another thing I was taught, and it has served, so far. I’m certain there are exceptions to everything, except this sentence.

      • See, derp’d.

        I meant to type #3.

        Dale typed #2 and it threw me off.

        Good thing I don’t train anybody.

        • All very perishable skills, but you have to have them in the first place for them to degrade. Better if they were tested too, IMHO.

    • Looks kinda like the Sabrina position – I’m sure there are times when it’s safe, but I wouldn’t want to be teaching it to newbies.

  3. Very interesting insights, but a question, is this that same class that restricted 1911’s and revolvers as secondary weapons? Because that story still makes me laugh at the tsunami of revolt it unleashed along the halls of the gun community.

  4. I find it a little amusing that an organization that sells insurance in case you have to use your weapon and get in deep legal do-do for doing so is also out there bleeding the same people dry on a class to become an operator. It’s like your car insurance company selling a class on high speed driving.

  5. Excellent point. My fear is that because their training leads to carry insurance the anti gun folks will start pushing harder for insurance. Want to buy a gun buy this policy, want to carry, buy this policy. More infringement.

    • Worse, like car insurance, in the eyes of the law, fault or no-fault, if you are involved in an incident WITHOUT INSURANCE, YOU are the negligent party.

      F all dat.

      Judas goat.

        • ???

          Read any U.S. State’s DOT rules and I’m pretty certain that “Basic Insurance” coverage is required for [at least] the operation on public streets, of a motor vehicle. The absence of which would mean you shouldn’t be on the road and but for your negligence in being on the road anyway a motor vehicle accident or traffic violation would not have occurred. Thus “fault” [at least partially, and for no other reason] shifts to the non-insured party/motorist.

        • Do I think that should translate to firearms carry?

          Yeah, the same way I think every perp should have their way with ya, if you can’t afford both a firearm AND the NRA’s “affordable” insurance.

          Again, F dat.

        • Joe R,

          Not sure where you got that from but it’s not true. If you are fault, you’re at fault. Insurance coverage does not matter for that, even if it is required; the penalty for not having it is not that you are found at fault.

          Feel free, as the poster above suggested, to show where states find you ‘at fault’ due to your insurance status rather than the actual specifics of the accident.

  6. In fact, The fact that they may be LEO’s and/or military is actually in many respects a strike against them.

    It has been my experience that civilian shooters, specifically those that dont have the backing of a government, have an entirely different set of parameters that they have to work within.

    Printing, firearm weight, ability to draw from surprise and when not to draw, are some of our concerns. Our opponent is likely to be at contact range, or perhaps feet away. Marksmanship is important but honestly, if your not hitting the target at 3 feet, not too much can be done for you.

    The ability to fire from down on your back, or worse, on your chest in the pavement is of much greater significance.

    LEO’s and military are typically aggressors. Police may be reacting to an incident, but they are often trained to take initiative as quickly as possible and control the scene.

    A DGU situation is a split second call that in nearly all instances results in 0-3 bullets being fired. Often with a ton of confusion as bad guys dont often come with tags identifying them as such.

    Short version: I’m sure the trainers at the NRA are very knowledgeable and nearly all training is good and useful, but I’ll pass.

  7. The NRA, now offering training better than Frontsight…for more money. Oh, and buy their insurance too because as we all know…blindly following a former gun rights turned lobbying organization is working so well for POTG.
    I give my money to USCCA and G.O.A….all set with the FUDDS at the NRA and their crap “training”.
    Also, I’m a former NRA instructor…so I have a solid base for forming my opinion.

    • Agreed. I’m pretty much done with the NRA. They are less of a 2nd Amendment group and more about people buying their memberships, insurance, their courses, etc. Way too commercial. Better 2A groups out there these days. The only reason I’m still an NRA instructor is that it is required in my state to teach carry license classes.

    • “a former gun rights turned lobbying organization” – An effective gun rights organization should also be an effective lobbying organization. Lobbying is how the sausage is made.

      • Figures a lawyer wouldn’t see a problem with that. Slimy corrupt bastards, every one (even mine).

        • I guess the solution is violence since the courts and petitioning the government for the redress of grievances is “corrupt” and “wrong.”

  8. Love the NRA’s slogan for this crap too: “THE FINEST OPTION EVER MADE AVAILABLE TO GUN OWNERS” . . .

    Was written in the 2nd Paragraph of the Declaration of Independence.


    Fixed ya.

  9. Since cops are not in the military, they are civilians. They need to remember that.

  10. Would someone please explain to me what Standard Training is. Kinda like trying to define Normal. Had lots of training. Some good some not. Since their are so many scenarios to train for nothing is Standard with the exception of a beginner class. I don’t think that’s what they are talking about here. Just remember to train to improve your skills. Don’t waste your time and money training to be Rambo. Have fun and practice. Remember the best laid plans all go to Hell when the shooting starts.

  11. Well… I don’t know about all that, but I definitely +1 the MAG-40 recommendation.

  12. I took MAG 40 3 years ago. FANTASTIC training. I’ve been carrying for 20 years and it changed the way I thought about armed self defense. Mas spends equal time explaining the legal aspects, tactics, technical aspects of shooting as well as deadly force encounter avoidance. If you carry a gun in public, you really should take his class.

  13. My guess is that this isn’t intended to take the place of your Basic “insert firearm type here” training. Seems to me that this will be an extra course for the weekend GI Joe’s who can afford it.

  14. I wonder how many vets, of WW ll, Korea, Vietnam, felt under gunned with a .45 7 shot Army issue?
    people forget what the ACP was designed for (getting the attention of the hopped up Moro’s in the Philippines

  15. There is a bigger issue here: Is the NRA going to become a front for selling insurance, like the Farm Bureau is, like the AARP is, etc. These latter companies pose as a representative for their constituent group and are active in legislative matters, etc., but in reality, they are fronts for selling insurance.

  16. I have been reading this forum a lot lately and am becoming a little alarmed at the constant NRA bash that the writers seem to be displaying recently. The “truth” of the matter is, the NRA has been the foremost leader in protecting the 2nd amendment rights of Americans since long before we were all born. I get there can be some disagreement on how some things are done or presented but it seems to be as of late that all your writers are doing is throwing stones at the problem without presenting any solutions. If you don’t like what they have done, fine, say so and show us the better way. If you just want to bitch about something without presenting solutions, run for congress, that’s all those idiots do anymore. I will admit, I’m an NRA life member. While I don’t agree withe every word printed or spoken by their leadership or spokespeople, I’m old enough to know that somebody that pleases all of the people all of the time is lying to somebody. To your credit in this particular article you told the readers to choose their training wisely after researching, but the general feel of the article was “the NRA doesn’t know squat about training no matter what experts in the field they have employed, seek out Mas.” I agree totally that Ayoobs courses are some of the best available in the world but to slam the NRA courses without ever taking one discourages people who may need the training from trying it and is a disservice to your readers. I guess the bottom line is, I expected better form you all and I’m disappointed. Rant over.

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