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Reader Tommy Knocker got through Zack Pike’s review of the advanced pistol course he took at U.S. Shooting Academy and he ain’t buying it. Tommy figures that because such a small percentage of shooters will ever actually take a training class, all this training talk is just dust in the wind.

Hey I am NOT bashing any instructors nor TTAG. But when is it going to be time for an honest discussion about training in the US of A in the year 2012? Look there are a probably between 6 to 8 MILLION CCW permits out there. Let’s do some quick math ok? . . .

If each class can handle 30 students (and I’m being real generous) and a good amount of training is 2 days in the LIFETIME of the CCW holder (many recommend that you go every year or so, so I am being REALLY generous here), HOW MANY classes in a year (gonna do all 364 days, so that is VERY generous) to train all permit holders???

6,000,000 / 30 = 200,000 full classes

200,000 / 182 (the num of 2 day sessions possible in a year) = 1098 instructors (at minimum, if only one instructor per class)

OK…so we can see I think that the reality is that Clint Smith, Tiger McGee, Gabe Suarez, Seeklander, the SIG academy …. and on and on and on….ain’t gonna cut it. RIGHT? So can we lighten up on this training meme??? If you have the money, if you have the time, if you have the inclination, and you can get in a class, good on you. If not, as the vast majority of readers don’t, this is all just pipe dreams…..

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  1. i mostly agree with this. seems most of the bad guys flee at the first sign of resistence and when they do fight they frequently are 3 stooges incompetent. the 2 guys in the cybercafe come to mind. 1 had a rusted gun that wasn’t working and the other had a bat. how many times do we ward off the bad guys without firing a shot? we play the percentages here, what’s the real world chance that you’re going to encounter compently trained and equipt bgs. and who’s to say that these courses are all that good. they’re a business trying to get your money and if the instructers hurt too many feelings in the class paying customers are going to quit showing up.

  2. I probably will never get to own anything full auto. Could TTAG stop talking about them please? It’s a waste of my time. kthxbai

  3. Semi-serious question: Is this post supposed to be the basis for a negative argument or the opportunity-explaining preamble of a business plan?

  4. I agree that for most people, myself included, these advanced classes are cost prohibitive. Aside from the cost of the class and the needed ammo, there is travel cost (whether that is airfare and/or auto expense), two lost work days for travel, two or three nights in a hotel/motel, and four days of meals. Most of us have to get by on just going to the range as often as the budget (and time) will allow.

    • +1

      It goes double true for those of us with families, especially young children who aren’t old enough to go to range yet (2 year old and baby). While I could be an irresponsible husband, ditch the wifey for a few days and leave her with the kids, I’d prefer to keep my marriage intact, even if it’s at the expense of my hobbies.

      I don’t reading about all these nifty advanced courses, though… maybe someday. A man can dream, after all.

      • This assumes that a range is within reasonable distance. The last range within forty miles of me shut down a couple of years ago, as the yuppie housing tracks sprang up nearby. I make do with dry fire and a box of those plastic cases and bullets made for indoor gallery practice (they use a small pistol primer and can still put a nasty dent in the wall, so basic safety rules still apply, as they should any time you handle a weapon). I think they were made by RCBS, I don’t know if they’re still available.

    • +1

      It goes double true for those of us with families, especially young children who aren’t old enough to go to range yet (2 year old and baby). While I could be an irresponsible husband, ditch the wifey for a few days and leave her with the kids, I’d prefer to keep my marriage intact, even if it’s at the expense of my hobbies.

      I don’t reading about all these nifty advanced courses, though… maybe someday. A man can dream, after all.

      • Yup, I’m in this cataegory so I get it. I had to cut back depressingly on my practice while my kids grew to the point I could include them. And I still have to budget my ammo, range fees, etc.

  5. Jeff Cooper observed that being a proficient shooter is a personal decision.As the Law Enforcement & military community prove you cannot force someone to be an expert shot,and the same ethos goes for CCW permit holders.If someone doesn’t care about being a marksman there’s not a class in the world that is going to change that.Based on my observations at the nearby indoor range,id say most people are content with “minute of paper” accuracy.For most self defense situation this is good enough if not ideal.

  6. To be honest, two-day, or even week-long classes aren’t enough to “train” someone. In reality what you’re doing is learning drills and methods so you can train yourself. No one would go to one two-day football camp and assume they had been “trained” to be on the varsity squad. It takes years of muscle-memory repetition, thousands upon thousands of iterations, tens of thousands of rounds downrange, in a continuing, never-ending cycle, to be “trained”. Not that I expect the vast majority of gun owners to do that, but really, if you’re going to actually prepare, that’s your path. Classes are all well and good, but unless you take what you learn there and practice it, you won’t be trained any more than watching the Knicks on TV trains you to be in the NBA. I think of learning to shoot like learning to play an instrument, it takes constant practice and escalating difficulty to become good at it. And when you stop practicing, your skill begins to die.

  7. Tommy Knocker has swallowed that whiny, OWS, 99%, class warfare, us vs. them, rich vs. poor bullshit hook, line and sinker. Get off your ass and deliver some pizzas and save enough for a cool, fun local training class. Keep the training course reviews coming.

    • Anybody who can’t afford to go to a $1,000+ firearms training class is probably going to vote for Obama anyways…

    • Unfortunately for a lot of us it is not as simple as getting off our asses and delivering some pizzas. My wife and I are both disabled and the amount of money that we bring in every month barely covers the necessities. I’m not whining about what I get. I am grateful for it. It took me over a year to save up for the handgun I now have. I’ve put 250 through it since I purchased it in March of this year. I do not have the money to get “training” or join a gun range and as my wife and I get older we realize that we are more of a target for mugging now that we are not in as good shape as we were even 10 yrs ago. It’s not that I think that training is not necessary but I can NOT afford it and a lot of other people are in the same boat. You are the one that brought up class warfare. Why don’t you get up off your ass and offer seniors and disabled people discounted training in your area? Even if you are not a qualified instructor you probably have a lot more experience shooting than some one like me.

      • Corwin, I sincerely respect your position and situation. My comments were directed at Tommy Knocker, not folks such as yourself on fixed incomes and unable to work and still desirous of defending themselves.

  8. I understand the concern. Why not try an Airsoft alternative?? A really good pistol can be had for under $200, and the BB’s are $12 for 5,000!! These guns are unbelievably realistic, and shoot at about 400 ft/second–enough to leave a nice welt if you get hit. You can even buy a “blow back” model in which the slide “blows back” after each round. The slides even lock back after the last “round” is shot. The Navy SEALs use these guns for “force on force” training (I know this for a fact) as do law enforcement and defensive handgun courses teaching “gun fighting” skills. Set up a “course” in your backyard or even inside your house! Buy some realistic human “bad guy” paper targets from Amazon; I get mine for about fifty cents a piece. Mount them to large pieces of cardboard, and set them up…then shoot!! While you won’t get the advantage of an instructor, there are plenty of videos on You Tube demonstrating force-on-force techniques. Then just practice!! Then, there are also dry fire drills–they cost nothing!! Practice 10 minutes a day. You’ll be way ahead of the curve then a lot of people who conceal carry.

    • This is a great option. You can actually purchase the training pistols used by such entities for well under $200. Example, the KWA PTP and Mk series, which retial for ~$160

    • Agreed. I got my daughter a realistic CO2 Beretta and myself a nice M&P, which really helps with the trigger pull, drills, etc. $50 on sale. Cheap to shoot and you don’t have to leave the garage. They can manage pea-sized groups at 15′. Good training tool for between range trips. Only lacks recoil management (and no slide racking on these).

      And you can pick up some cool tips from videos, which is better than nothing if you’re willing to practice. (Of course, no pro feedback to correct bad practices.)

    • SNo doubt, this is the way to go. I forget where I saw it (maybe here), but read that serious competetors in gun unfriendly countries train this way.

    • +1 This is a great option. Not totally realistic (obviously) but at least some basics can be practiced on a constant basis for next to no $

  9. Even if most TTAG readers with CCW/CHPs never seek out training, having the reviews of courses can be quite valuable to those few who do attempt to train. Having insight into the types of training classes that are out there can help CCW/CHP holder know what to look for in training once they decide that they want more than the basic NRA Personal Protection series. (In partial acknowledgment of Tommy Knocker’s initial argument, the range that I like to use offers two or three CHP classes every month, but only offers the NRA Personal Protection courses twice a year. Widespread training will never happen if that scheduling is any indication of the underlying demand.)

  10. I see his point, HOWEVER…
    Those of us who have had alot of professional training can pass much on to friends and family. All for the joy of relationship with them as well as for their own protection. While this may not make up the difference, it will make a dent. Also, there is alot to be said for DVD’s etc.
    AND, All the training in the world won’t benefit you if you don’t PRACTICE!!!
    can i get an “amen”? 🙂

  11. I have no problem with training, the more the better but here is the but it has to be the right kind of training. Most of the courses are built for combat/le situations. These are not the scenarios CCW permit holders will face. We need more counter-surveillance, avoidance and escape training than combat tactics. A gun owner gets attacked because the bad guy made a mistake not because he wanted to go toe-to-toe with you. If you doubt this just go through the DGU of the day files.

  12. I think training is very important. I havent been able to afford to make it; I would suggest it (not preach it) to any CCW I know. For me, I am too busy filling out my bare necessity list of firearms (stil have to get a Shield, AR, 10/22, LCP, and maybe a bolt .308). Hindsight, I’d say that training is the very next thing you should buy after buying a CCW handgun and getting your permit. I almost wish it were required as it would make me feel a bit better about myself and fellow CCWers. As for me… after I secure my minimalist list of firearms above, I’ll be saving up for classes and ammo for 2 handgun course (1 for the spouse), 1 rifle course, 1 adv handgun course, and 1 shotgun course. At least that is my hopes, but all of those course will probably sum up to $4-5K. Maybe I’ll win the lottery ;).

  13. How many (we’ll say) guys get away once every year or two for a “Guys Weekend” to Vegas, or the ski slopes or wherever you please for similar time and money as one of these courses? My guess is a substantial amount of both TTAG readers and non readers fall into this group.

    If that’s the case and guns are your hobby, I don’t think it’s unreasonable. Moreover, in that case, you’ll get a far more intense, immersive and rewarding experience than just going to the range. And nobody says you can’t bring the wife and/or kids and make it a family event.

    Also, the TTAG writers are attending classes that are largely local for them rather than traveling far afield. My guess is there are similar programs sprinkled throughout the country. After all, if a writer living in Rhode Island/Massachusetts has options for firearms training…

  14. This whole little rant completely ignores the fact that they’re are thousands of advanced classes at thousands of local gun ranges across the country. Just because they’re not 2-day courses at some place with “Academy” in the title doesn’t mean they’re not valid and useful. I live in a very small town on the east coast of Florida, and even my local gun range offers a variety of DGU classes for those new to concealed carry as well as experienced shooters, all taught by certified instructors and ex-military personnel. All classes are 8 hours and cost either $80 or $150 depending on the level and whether or not they include CC certification. I find it hard to believe that I am in a unique situation and that there aren’t similar classes elsewhere in the country. Also, many advanced handgun classes can be taken at gun shows, these are fewer and farther between but they do exist.

    I cannot agree that TTAG should stop covering and/or promoting these classes. Yes, for some they may be a big inconvenience but making it sound like they are only an option for people with a shitload of time and money on their hands is simply inaccurate.

    • Great for you. Your or my beliefs don’t matter. Here’s the point. Time and money and desire are issues. There are many who just don’t have enough of each of the three things listed. If they don’t want to or can’t because of any of these factors, who are you to judge?

      The important take aways need to be:
      – They have a gun
      – Support the 2A
      – Have the possibility of defending themselves
      – Not looking to deprive you of your rights

      It’s good YOU make this work for YOU. Your argument comes off unsupportive for those who, at least, own. To that point, here’s something else you haven’t thought of. There are MANY folks who own guns that aren’t “gun people”. They can be intimidated by gun culture. The perception of attending classes with so called “gun nuts” may put them off the idea. To you, these may seem like excuses. To them, not so much. You, yourself, may have been the cause of souring the experience for novices. STOP IT! All you are doing is making it worse for those who do and would support gun ownership. Don’t be the stereotype that screws the rest the law-abiding gun owners.

      If you can help in a positive manner then do so. If not, help yourself to being part of the silent majority.

  15. LOL…when I saw DZ quoting me I figured I’d have to put on my asbestos overalls ! But actually you guys do see my point. Thanks the lord. Zack did a great review. And Seeklander is a very knowledgeable guy. If I ever hit the Powerball I will be buying a house somewhere close to Gunsite or Thunder Ranch. I love these guys and yes I do watch their videos. I even practice with a green gas blowback airsoft gun in the living room. The folks above have suggested these things, and they are indeed all worthwhile activities.

    I am a contrarian. I don’t trust commonly held opinions. When someone presents a “fact”, my brain automagically just asks “how do you know that to be the case?”. Lots of accepted wisdom turns out to be bunk on deeper examination. So on this topic I just step back and do the math. No one offered different or better numbers. So I am going to assume I’m pretty close to target on that stuff. Now being a contrarian I look at the opposite side of stuff…what about those who CAN NOT get trained. Well that turns out to be a VERY large ‘problem’ or ‘opportunity’ or just a “situation” as Snooki might say. Depends on your perspective I guess.

    One unintended consequence I see is that as we (gun community) push for education, the anti-gun folks hear us and say “your absolutely right ! We need a law !!” In fact I am hearing that from the anti’s now. Well that is a problem. I don’t like anti gun folks regulating my activities. Period. Good intention or not. I don’t want a Mayor Bloomberg, Rahm Emanuel or Nutter or about a 1000 other slimy politicians mandating “common sense” regulations that make 4 weeks of training required before you touch a gun. See my point? Just looking at one aspect of this from the other side.

    Another issue is the if the trained in the community abandon their brothers and sisters because the are not trained, when they get involved in a DGU? Even if they were trying their best to do the best they could? Hey he deserves jail time cause he wasn’t trained. I don’t want to see that.

    Then there is the whole us vs. them attitude. The “we’ve been trained and are some sort of uber ninja now vs. the 70 year old lady who wants and needs to have a tame revolver in her purse. I am going to tell all the young bucks out there, that there are more seniors around then them. I once asked a trainer if arrangements are made for the seniors or disabled. The short answer was “I don’t have time for them”. See my point? I was at a gun rights conference early this year and had to sit thru an active duty special forces guy berate the gun owners of America because he thought we had insufficient training and were useless as a militia so we shouldn’t have guns. I don’t like that attitude.

    Oh well, I’ve had my say. I thank DZ and RF for bringing it to the forefront. I hope it makes folks think just a little different about this stuff in the future. 🙂

    • @Tommy Knocker

      Here’s a discussion with some numbers for which you were looking.

      How about we call up the NRA Instructor force as “ready reserves?” According to the NRA, there are over 51,000 instructors. Assume 50,000 and assume 20% (10,000) are qualified to teach the Personal Protection Outside the Home (PPOH) two-day course. Using your same numbers, 6,000,000 CCW students/50 two-day periods per year (assuming only weekends) divided by 10 students per course equals 12,000 PPOH courses per year. Divide that by the 10,000 instructors means that each would need to teach only about 2 (1.2) PPOH courses per year. The other 40,000 instructors could serve as assistants in the classes, if desired. 

      That would cover the existing CCW licensees; new additions would be easier to accommodate once the “backlog” is trained. 

      Now, I’m certainly no Clint Smith, but I feel that virtually ALL new CCW licensees would learn meaningful information from the NRA PPOH class as the curriculum is written–plus the extra pearls offered by the instructor and the other participants. And, for me as a sample size of one, if I was in an emergent DGU situation, I’d feel better if I knew the other CCW in the crowd had had at least two days of thorough PPOH training before he/she joined me in the shooting.

      The well-known, well-regarded, “famous” courses certainly are excellent and shooters should treat themselves, if possible. However, many are icing on the cake. Solid training can be had locally, however, and should be pursued.

      • An addendum to my above comment.

        The preferred path to the PPOH course is to take the 1-day Pistol course (which can incent the student to continue and achieve ratings in the Markmanship Program) and the 2-day Personal Protection in the Home (PPIH) course, before taking the 2-day PPOH course I described above. In all, that would increase the teaching load to the proscribed 10,000 instructors to 5 days per year. The advantages to the participant of taking all three courses are the significant addition to one’s knowledge base and the experience of shooting several hundred rounds monitored by a coach or coaches.

        Of course, if possible, shooters should watch TV shows like Michael Bane’s The Best Defense, Gun Nuts, Shooting USA, etc., to pick up the latest thinking and knowledge.

    • TK, “I was at a gun rights conference early this year and had to sit thru an active duty special forces guy berate the gun owners of America because he thought we had insufficient training and were useless as a militia so we shouldn’t have guns. I don’t like that attitude. ” I don’t care much for that attitude either.

      Unfortunately, that’s not an uncommon mindset. There are many out there who have drunk, far too often, from the fountain where the tacti-kool-aid flows. If you can’t clear out a Taliban bomb factory in Jalalabad or Kandahar, in the dead of night, singlehandedly, with your M9, then you ain’t got game. Sigh. Granny Sue is pretty unlikely to need that level of pure, high octane awesomeness. She’ll probably be just fine when the bad guy breaks in through the window and she grabs her dear departed husband’s Model 10 from the nightstand.

      The other thing to consider is that training is a business. Businesses are designed to make a profit. The bigger the profit, the better. It is in their best interest (not necessarily yours) to use very clever marketing techniques (read: manipulate you) in such a way that you’ll feel the need to buy their product, and lots of it. Caveat emptor.

  16. A lot of people think they shoot just fine, and so don’t need any training.

    A lot of people think they drive just fine, too, and don’t need any training in that, either.

    They probably know enough to get by. The concepts involved here aren’t that difficult.

    But if we’re talking about being in an ideal world, we ought to take the opportunity to train with true professionals every chance we get in any field in which our lives may depend.

    What’s the old saying? He who knows not and knows not he knows not? He is a fool – shun him.

  17. I have to agree with Tommy Knocker in most respects. I agree in that not everyone will get the training they should. I teach a pistol safety class and I can tell you at least 90% of the people take the class, purchase a pistol, and put in the nightstand and maybe get to the range once a month.

    However, there are alternatives. Even in CT, we have had Vickers and other come have classes here and the classes are usually $500 or less for 2 or 3 days and since they are local, you can go can come home after each class. When possible, they try to do the classes on the weekends. When not taking classes, there is IDPA, IPSC and GSSF type tournaments and usually local rules are more liberal so that you can run what you brung. For long guns there is Appleseed, CMP, 2P/3P and other long gun or turkey shoot/bullseye/silhouette type of events. I only wish I could go to the tacitcal 22 events I have seen in CA, but the local events are good just the same.

    Yes, these are gun games and not defensive, but you have take what you can get.

    Even if you are busy, and you have a family, you can probably find something at least monthly or weekly you can attend. The training is nice, but it is spongable in that if you don’t use it, you loose it. So, if you can at least keep your proficiency up, that helps a lot.

    I myself, like to read about the classes. I will be attending the Sig classes after the reviews here. There is no way and no how I can attend the classes where I need to fly, but I still love to read about them and know they exist.

  18. If you don’t want to learn to fight with your weapons because you are to busy/ lazy/ cheap/whatever, that’s fine. Just don’t make excuses.

    Seeking out a top level trainer is awesome and cool. If you can, go, do, learn, enjoy! If you can’t, find something closer to home. There are many good local instructors, and many trainers teach all over the country (and the world) It’s funny how many people will say they can’t afford to train, but somehow still can scrape together the money for a new Kimber (or what ever)

    Can’t afford a professional instructor? try a good instructional video. (or two or three) OK true it’s not as good as a trainer, but it’s worlds ahead of shooting a ragged hole on the same piece of paper all day….or more often targets that look look like they were shot with a Blunderbus!

    Still can’t afford that? A lot of the big name trainers have some freebies on YouTube. (you just watched one) As good as a class? Nope. Unless your choice is learning on your own or nothing at all, then learning on your own might be the best choice you have. Bottom line, if you can afford a firearm, if you can afford ammo, you can afford to train.

    There is no excuse for not working on bettering your fighting skills.

    The biggest hurdle for most people is their own mindset.

  19. I mostly agree with Tommy Knocker, but my main concern about training it that the trainers aren’t teaching me what I need to know. They’re training me to be a LEO or a SEAL, which for me is beyond dumb. I don’t need to know how to storm Falujah; I need to know how to get the hell out of Falujah with all my body parts intact.

    Teach me how to improve my situational awareness, how to shoot better while moving away from the threat, how to effectively use cover and concealment in order to escape. Don’t teach me how to advance on a target with the rest of F-Troop, because that’s not what I need to know. Yeah, retreat isn’t macho, which is why trainers don’t train for it. But it is what I need.

    • You should really try a good program. There is a plethora of trainers who teach practical concealed carry tactics and techniques. The course I took at USSA was focused totally on real civilian situations that have actually happened. We definitely were not storming anything.

  20. I guess I should chime in…

    The single questions that got me so interested in training a few years ago (after 13 years shooting experience, 2-3 of those competitively)… Say you find yourself in an active shooter situation, your carrying, you had just spent $600 six-months ago. Was that $600 best spent on a nice new gun that’s currently sitting in your safe, or was it best spent on expert training followed up with practice? The correct answer is obvious. (This particular question was actually posed to me by a very smart man when I was considering a new 1911, a lot more than $600, and had only been through my state-mandated CCH course)

    For me… If I have the means to prepare myself with advanced techniques to hopefully put me in a more advantageous position if something bad ever did happen… It seems almost idiotic for me not to do it.

    Today, if I didn’t have the means to participate in training like this… I would find the means. (ie. sell a gun, deliver some pizzas, drive a less expensive car, get my wife and family on board, etc) But that’s only after seeing how much of an improvement I’ve experienced since I started training (and lots of practice of the techniques I’ve learned).

    If you haven’t experienced it… I can definitely see how you don’t even know what your missing.

  21. Hey, Seeklander and Michael Janich, two of the finest trainers on earth, are on THE BEST DEFENSE on Outdoor Channel most every week! New season starts in January…we’ll be modeling both the Zimmerman and the Aurora theater shootings. Our legal expert is Marty Hayes, founder of the Armed Citizen Legal Defense Network and a world-class trainer at the Firearms Academy of Seattle in his own right. The reason my shows exist, aside from covering my ammo costs, is to get as much intelligent training information in as wide a circulation as possible.

    The information is out there if you’re willing to look for it!

    Michael B

    • I have Direct TV. In order to get the Outdoor Channel, I need to subscribe to the “Premium” package, $120/month! For that money, I could take a course or three, live, in person!! Why doesn’t Outdoor Channel negotiate a better deal with Direct TV to make it more affordable to watch?

      • A ha! Just realized I can order it “a la carte” for a measly $3.50/month!! Still….seems Outdoor Channel could do better with Direct TV. Just sayin’

  22. Look at it this way- going to the best classes available and training the skills learned there regularly after the class is over is the ideal. Not training at all after putting a few mags through the gun the day you buy it is the other end of the spectrum.

    People should take an honest assessment of themselves, their resources, and their abilities, and see how close to the ideal they can get for their training routine. The reviews of classes posted here are of value even if you can’t go to them next week, because it shows a more complete picture of the ideal goal. If you don’t know the class exists, maybe you think you’re hot stuff because you practice slow fire once a month, flat footed in a lane at the range.

    After all, that’s what I thought before I enlisted. Glad to be done with the Army, but even more glad I went, it really opened my eyes. Seeing and hearing what these classes are about can do the same for people who never got to experience the infantry. Or police. Or even one of these classes in person.

  23. If my current skills with my 5 round .38 snub nose isn’t enough to get me safely out of Dodge, then I am dead meat.

    I am fortunate that a bigger threat to my safety is a bad auto accident, running into a deer. Tornado or some other natural disaster. You got the picture.

    I would love to take some of these classes just for the fun of it. Just not top on the list of my priorities.

  24. Any training is good. Be it at a class or shooting range getting use to shooting the weapon, or even watching a tape. But till you get in the real thing and someone is aiming a gun or shooting at you. You can’t say how you will respond. Your body and mind may react and you defend yourself before you know it, or you may wish you didn’t drink all that ice tea as it runs down your leg as you stand there frozen stiff. People should do what they think is necessary for training.

  25. There are many thousands of highly qualified NRA instructors across the country, with deep and broad decades long experience that will be glad to show you how it’s done. If you’re looking for a high speed/low drag operator course with a high round count, run by a brand name, well, by all means, have at it. If you’re looking to hone your skills, at whatever level you happen to be at, there are lots of very well qualified folks out there that can help you move along in the right direction.

    Like any martial art, being able to use a firearm effectively in dire circumstances requires years of study and practice to gain competency; mastery, at best, takes decades. I’ve been using firearms for close to half a century. I consider myself to be a competent marksman and a fair student. The deeper I go, the more I understand how much I have yet to learn, let alone master. Should the day ever come where I’ll be tested, I hope and pray that I’ll be good enough to acquit myself honorably, effectively, efficiently and well. I don’t know with any certainty if that will be the case.

    You, alone, are the only person that can truly assess where you are and what you need. It’s a very long journey on a crooked, steep and often times obscured trail. Do your best. Seek sound advice from skilled, competent and knowledge people. Keep an open mind. Be brutally honest with yourself. Study, practice and evaluate. Then do more study, practice and evaluation.

  26. I absolutely agree. In fact this is one of my all time pet peeves when reading gun forums/blogs. Especially when you get the types that suggest that civilians should be “required” to have this kind of training.

    I get so tired of hearing about the adrenaline dump and the tunnel vision and all the stuff that “IS GOING TO HAPPEN”… Really? Then how come every time TTAG posts a DGUTD it’s always some Grandma, Grampa,OFWG,Mother with a .38, and on and on… I’m guessing they did just fine with their adrenaline dump handling skills.

    The elitest trend needs to go away in gun community.

    • Interesting take. I haven’t experienced the elitism with those who participate in training, or those who do the training, that your referring to. Of course, I’m sure there are some ego driven individuals who may have given you that impression.

      Am I better than someone else who hasn’t trained? I don’t know, but I don’t really care… Because I carry a firearm for MY (and my family’s) protection.

      Can you defend yourself without training? Of course, I have never seen any credible person argue (aside from the gun grabbers) that you can’t employ a firearm effectively without training. The way I look at it… Training and practice just put you further ahead of the game, because you never know if/when you’ll need it. So if you’ve got the means… Why not, what’s the harm?

      • The elitism in these classes is alive and kicking. In particular, more than one woman has made comments saying how they’ll never go back because of the experience they had. This really needs to stop regardless of gender. It just weakens the 2A and those that support it.

        Be quiet if you can’t be helpful. Knowledge doesn’t equal capable instruction. Teaching is MUCH harder than hitting bullseyes. If you don’t know if you’re a good teacher, then you aren’t.

      • Dude, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for the training. And truth be told, I’m saving up for a couple classes put on in my local area.

        But this is a luxury for me. Something extra that I”m spending money on that I don’t need to. It’s the same for me as if I took a trip to play a super fancy golf course. I know that I’m paying top dollar for the experience, but I could easily play golf at home at my local course.

        The eliteism that I’m referring to is other gun owners talking down about people who haven’t been to these kinds of training. Some have even stated that citizens have no business owning a gun if they haven’t been through this kind of training.

        Really? And you’re a gun guy?

        One person wrote, “Unless you’re Law Enforcement, Ex Military, or planning to spend thousands of dollars on carbine training, then you’ve got no business owning an AR”

        It’s this kind of eliteism that needs to stop. I’m sorry to break it to all the tacti-tool dudes out there, but no matter what you train, or how you train.. it’s not going to go down the way you think it will.

        Be familiar with your weapon, and shoot lots of rounds. Yes I say challenge yourself. Yes, I say get a timer and practice hitting as many balloons as you can in X number of seconds. Compete with your buddies over who can knock over the bowling pins faster.

        But these are all things you can do at your local range, or out in the woods with your friends.

        You don’t need to drop next months rent to be proficient.

        • “You don’t need to drop next months rent to be proficient.”

          Absolutely true. Do the best you can with what you’ve got as often as you see fit.

        • Ah… Sure there are going to be some bad apples, as with any industry. But as a whole, in the training industry, most of the good trainers just want to help people be more prepared… That’s all.

          It’s easy to make generalizations when we have bad experiences… But I can tell you, from my own research and experience, the “elitists” are not the majority in the training industry.

        • Just to be clear…

          I’m not talking about “The Trainers”. I’m talking about other Gun Owners.

  27. Beyond improving gun skills training can refining one’s situational awareness, learning to recognize a situation potentially so dangerous that a gun wouldn’t save you, learning when you’re in over your head e.g. trying to clear a house by yourself.

  28. I remember my mom telling me as a child, “just because Billy and Bobby do that, doesn’t mean you want to do that too.” Usually right after Billy and Bobby did something really stupid.

    When it comes to training, you’re a fool not to train.

    From my article, “Finding the right (quality) firearm training program for you”:

    “Of course, the best way to win any gun battle is to avoid it altogether. Where this is not possible, training will make the difference between whether it was luck or skill that allowed you to prevail.

    Most forward-thinking folks would rather not rely on dumb luck to win a life-and-death struggle. This is where proper course selection could someday pay huge dividends to you and your loved ones.”

    For more, visit

  29. I dunno…I just got through Fairbairn and Sykes’ “Shooting To Live” and they state that they were able to provide individual training on their sole range to 6000 persons (4000 regular uniformed, 2000 auxiliaries) each year. That included changing it over to an obstacle course/ shooting range in many configurations and apparently even setting up a “mystery house” (kill house).

    On the other hand, Fairbairn/Sykes also dissed precision shooting training (aiming down the sights is a luxury you can’t afford!), which I’m sure wouldn’t go over well with most today (even if it was realistic given their noted 4 yards average engagement distance).

    How the hell long does it take to get through the F/S book? An hour or two if you’re a fast reader; it’s roughly 100 pages. Give the class a day to look through it.

    How long does it take to memorize Jeff Cooper’s four rules? Let’s see if I remember them…

    The part that might be missing is the “legal” talk about learning when not to shoot versus when to shoot, what being a vigilante entails (at least some people pull it off, IMO, but the term “vigilante” is thought of as a slur rather than taken at its literal, positive meaning), and so on. Probably what is most pressing is not a legal issue as such – to get people to ratchet themselves down a notch so that they aren’t subconsciously acting on some hero impulse that gets innocents killed or causes them to pull the trigger on somebody they should spare.

    • I also should mention that F/S explicitly say this for the opening of their second chapter:

      We open this chapter with a warning.
      Without an adequate knowledge of its use, there
      can be few things so purposeless and dangerous as
      a pistol. Adequate knowledge comes only from
      competent instruction. If you have never received
      such instruction and are not prepared to do so, do
      not buy a pistol, or if you own one already, surrender
      it to the police.

  30. Totally disagree. If your carrying a gun for self protection and you spend all the time and money for the equipment, your a FOOL, if you don’t take PROFESSIONAL training at some level. There is NO excuse. You don’t have to go to Thunder Ranch, Gun Site or the SIG academy. But here in the mid south, with world class trainers like Tom Givens over at Rangemasters,and the visiting instructors like Masaad Ayoob, so many people are getting training, that the ranges are expanding their training programs.

    If your not taking professional training, I think your in the minority. The people who get their permits and don’t take the classes are the same people that stop carrying the gun at all after 90 days because they figure it’s more of a hassle and carrying is uncomfortable.

    That’s a good thing, because if your not serious about the concealed carry lifestyle, then your most likely, not the best candidate for CCW anyway.

    Don’t train at your own Peril. Physically and legally. Screw up on the street and it may determine where you get to sleep for the next 20 years. Your own bed, or behind bars.

  31. Have ya ever noticed how every gun school now trains not only civilians, but military special forces? And here I was thinking that the special forces had their own training. My bad

  32. As a handgun instructor I have to say that there is something to this argument. But, I think there are a couple of exceptions.

    First, my favorite of all classes to teach/coach are Women on Target. I like working with women but more than that I Really like working with women who are either afraid of guns or have never touched a gun. They are the most rewarding students by far.

    Second, the discussion above seems to deal with gun handling skills only. What we teach that is important are the legal effects of defensive gun use – both criminal and the resulting civil actions you should expect. Also, of course, are safety considerations. Those are not as perishable as handling skills.

    People like to shoot guns and they want to be trained to do it better but they won’t practice enough to maintain their skills. We have to do both but we should understand just what part of the training they are likely to retain and concentrate on that.

  33. I have two words. Air soft.
    I don’t mind reading or watch different excersizes. You can learn a lot. Next is range time. Where I live you can plink targets all day but finding a range that can handle rapid fire or holster work is next to impossible.
    Our basic safety courses have a 3 month back log, so to reason that folks don’t want training isn’t true.
    Last up is home training. Air soft is fantastic for this as others have mentioned. Assuming the kids are kept duct taped in a closet, just kidding, but you could turn your house into a shooting gallery and clear it.
    Better yet drill your kids while you are at it. You blow a whistle or give some command like everyone safe. The kids drop what they are doing and go to a safe area like a locked bed room. Then you clear the house with an air soft. This training is like disaster preparedness by teaching them where to go and how to act in case of an intruder.
    In your garage or back yard you can practice rapid fire and shooting from different positions like a chair or on bed.
    This is something you usually can’t do on a range.
    Some people might never take a course and some might train endlessly. I don’t think anyone will be perfect all the time, but of we train and train often, even dry fire practice, you will get better.
    This all stacks the percentages in our favor of we are ever faced with some sort of DGU.

  34. Go ahead and carry a gun without training. I have no problem with it.

    The point of training is to increase your odds of winning on the street and in court. Even the best case “win” can simply mean you don’t get charged. “Winning” does not hold the nightmares at bay or prevent cold sweats. However, it may mean you shoot only the people who need to get shot. It could also mean that you notice the “pre-attack indicators” very early on and are able to avoid the violent confrontation. Obviously, this won’t stop violent crime and you can still do everything right and end up in the morgue.

    Training also imparts confidence. The shooter gets a sense of accomplishment when the training is challenging. You learn new skills and meet new people. I met several good friends on the training range. You get a sense of security knowing you can handle more lethal threats than you could prior to the class.

  35. I have found the PDN videos to be very informative. I do many of drills in the videos and I teach some of them in my Personal Protection classes. Mind you that not all techniques will work well for everyone.

    By far the most useful classed are the NRA Personal Protection classes. That should be the starting point and will cover 90% of everything will “likely” ever need to protect yourself. The PDN videos are far, far more advanced and more fun.

    I think that studying PDN videos prior to taking the NRA Personal Protection classes is putting the cart before the horse. The NRA classes spend a lot of time talking about the aftermath of a shooting. Both emotional and legal. This is just as important.

  36. I took a fantastic training course from an outfit near Ft Bragg called Tigerswan. It’s run by former Delta Force guys who are the most humble dudes you’ll ever meet. They have a training motto that goes “there are no “advance tactical skills”, only the perfect execution of fundamentals under stress.” The best thing about their training is that you walk away with a good idea of how to practice and improve when you get home. Guys with guns who don’t know how to shoot or how to handle a firearm safely worry me. Thankfully, they don’t usually carry. I don’t think it should be required by law, but there’s definitely a serious responsibility to get some training and learn how to practice properly, the kind that leads to improvement, if you’re going to carry a handgun.

    Practice marksmanship at 25yds so that your mistakes are amplified enough to see clearly. Learn to hit what you aim at with a good grip, sight picture and trigger pull. Then do it over and over again under more and more stress. Practice until you execute A zone hits on a 10yd IDPA type target from a concealed holster quickly ( try for under 1,5 sec) and then push yourself until you’re no longer acceptably accurate. Then dial it back until you are and add complexity. Practice 100% round accountability. Because misses in a DGU are totally unacceptable.

    Keep the training reviews coming guys.

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