Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Training – No, no . . . . that’s actually the TITLE of this post . . . .


Seems to be the current topic lately that’s flying around the gun blogs I read. Train more, train less, train harder, “train like you fight”, proper form, proper approach, good trainers, bad trainers . . . . . . . . yeah.

I suppose this post is just a bit self serving because I am – at least in my mind – a “trainer” – a person who imparts the knowledge I have, the methods I use, the approach I like – to students who look over my blog, company site and reviews and decide to come and spend their time and money with me. Yep, I am a trainer.

So let me share some of my thoughts with you about training, what to look for, how to evaluate a trainer and what all this means to you – a new shooter.

Do I need “training”. Well, it depends on why the heck you bought a gun in the first place. A few examples:

Cool gun to hang over the fireplace? Nope – skip the training.

EVERY OTHER FRICKING PURPOSE UNDER THE DAMN SUN????? Why yes – some training would be advised.

Perhaps a bit finer definition of the word “training”. Let’s go “lowest”. work our way up and see where that takes us.

“I just want to shoot the squirrels that are chewing large honking holes in my house” or “I just want to kill the armadillos that are ripping the crap outta my back yard”. (These are two actual conversations I have had over the past year). Well, training in this case began with weapon selection (both a nice air rifle with hunting pellets), “range time” with a target and box in the back yard, confidence in the “4 RULES OF SAFETY” and the general use of the weapon of choice and, voila , the training is complete. Other than on-going target practice (though one got his with a laser sight) they are good for life – spend your money on a night out with “the little woman”!

Next level – hunting (something other than squirrels and armadillos). OK, training here begins with defining the type of hunting you want to do, the location you want to do it in, the firearm rules of the state and county and then making a weapon selection. Once that is done I see two paths. Meet the requirement of the state to purchase a license (most require a hunter/safety course as a minimum) and then find a good friend to “sponsor” you in your hunting endeavor. This becomes your “training” – everything from the right ammunition to how to track, set blinds, handle close/medium/long range shots. And, finally how to choose your animal, properly harvest it and field dress it as well as store and prepare it. My only golden rule of hunting – you eat what you kill. And yes, that means sparrows, robins or any other stupid choice your child makes with their BB gun during “hunting season”. THEY WILL ONLY DO IT ONCE!

The thing I notice about hunters is that most of the training evolves into information revolving around the game animal, the habitat selection of a hunt and the stalk itself. Once hunters are comfortable with hitting their target – shooting training seems to end.

Next up – personal defense. This is certainly a topic that has exploded over the past couple of years. In fact it was the change in Iowa law – moving from a “MAY” issue state to a “MUST” issue state that nudged to to starting e.IA.f.t. So, to answer the basic question – “do I need training”. If the immediate answer in your head is “hell no” – then please, move along. You’re not thinking yet and I simply do not tolerate folks who can’t/don’t think.

Yes grasshopper – you need training. So what does this mean exactly – training? At the basic level (for simplicity I am going to stick with handguns for this post) the most basic question I get is “so, what kind of handgun do I need – I hear Glocks are great!!” Perhaps a little more knowledge is needed prior to weapon selection. For example, can you kill a person?? Just a thought. Past that one small item . . .

Do you have any physical limitations, how strong are your hands, how big are they, do you plan to carry, how do you plan to do this . . . and these are just the basic questions. Good, solid training programs will answer these and more. And, that is the purpose of the NRA Basic Pistol and First Shots programs. These programs (or similar programs), will answer most of these questions and put you on a sound footing to move forward. And yes, I know many folks get all pissy about the NRA and their courses – but for a starting point, with instructors that have been trained and evaluated, you could do worse, much worse.

Next step with personal defense – carrying your weapon. “I’ve been to a basic course, what more could I possible need other that more range time?” As soon as you pass this question – you have entered another phase of training. In the defensive pistol world this moves you to re-evaluate your weapon choice, selection of holsters, belts, magazine carriers, ammunition, secondary weapons – a pretty broad list of knowledge that is greatly facilitated by an instructor.

And, at this level, testosterone begins to be a factor in the instructor community. Everything from combat vet – run and gunners, to grizzled old farts like yours truly – who “know” everything about everything. Honestly, it’s just the way we are – all of us – and if anyone denies that, they’re lying. Of course, if an instructor is not confident in their ability to carry a weapon and employ it to protect themselves, their families or folks around them, why the hell would you want them as an instructor in the first place?

So, how does selection go forward for you from here? Luckily, it today’s world you have your little friend – the Internet. Gunnies talk about everything – instructors, course materials, course videos – everything imaginable. Bottom line, it’s YOUR money – read trainer and course evaluations, look up any youtube videos you can find to see if it’s what you’re looking for, ask for references, talk to other students – MAKE AN INFORMED DECISION – then tell anyone else whodings you about your course/instructor choice to go to hell – it’s your choice.

As for the “do I need training” question, just think about the decision you have just made. You have bought a tool that, with the simple press of the trigger, can end a life. You feel uncomfortable enough in your environment that you believe carrying one of these tools 24/7 sounds like a good idea. And, you have made that decision that yes – in an existential threat situation – you could use your tool to kill the attacker. Maybe it’s just me – but this choice of tool just screams out for more training. Doesn’t it?

So, bottom line, get training, make informed decisions about weapons purchases, find reputable trainers to give you the basics, grow from there. Be satisfied with YOUR choices – demand excellence from your trainers.

Finally – carry your weapon – period. Things go sideways when you least expect it. If your dying thought is “damn, shoulda brought my gun today, shoulda been able to clear that double feed, wonder why I pulled the trigger and it didn’t go bang” . . . . .

Shame on you.


  1. Another thing is to train 'smart'... at 60, I'm NOT about the rough physical stuff, BTDT 30 years ago. NOW I want to know how to use what strength and abilities I have left; and shoot 'smarter' not necessarily tacticool shooting...

  2. Another excellent post and old NFO is right...training to your abilities, limitations, etc is very important.

  3. NFO - fully agree. What I notice when older folks take my more advanced courses is that their body "self limits" - alot of times they are not even fully aware of the range of their physical limitations regarding using their weapon. Once they do notice THEN we can work with them. It can be a real eye opener for some - but they always seem to embrace adapting to new positions, grips or stances.

    AGirl - yep, a shooter just needs to push their limits during training and then adapt to where they are. Honestly, the whole "pride" thing is there as well - even pisses me off at times that I can move the way I did in my 20s. Yet - there ya go!