Full disclosure (as always): I am a full time professional trainer (and shooter) and I make $$ teaching classes. I wanted you to read this blog without thinking it was self-serving. It is actually “you serving” if you listen to what I have to say, I will save you time and money. If in the end, you take a class from me, great. If you take one from another good instructor, that is great too!
So the other day not long ago at an event where I taught a class, I overheard one of my students taking to another shooter. The shooter was expressing their interest in taking a class, but made a specific point to say that they would not consider one until they had a year or more of practicing and learning the basics. Seems reasonable right? Get the basics down, then spend your hard earned money on a class. NO! I cringe when I hear people share that thought process. Let me explain. I teach courses all over the U.S. and have
been full time for more than 12 years now. I break my courses down into a level-1 and 2 course for each subject, and the level-1 courses specifically focus on the material that will really make someone a better shooter. This means that a large part of the focus in a level-1 course is on teaching the proper way to manage the recoil (grip), sights, and trigger. After that, the course focuses on manipulations (draw, reload, etc.) and application of the shooting fundamentals at higher speeds. Level-2 course focus more on movements and advanced applications. The fundamental part of the process, however, is the key. Think about it this way, no matter what advanced technique you learn, shooting well will ONLY be accomplishable if the fundamentals are understood and trained properly. If they are trained and ingrained wrong, then the subconscious skill of shooting will be done wrong when the skill is needed!
Now, for the competitive shooter, this may mean a match loss or bad stage, but imagine the implications for a defensive shooter! My point is that the sooner you can take a class, the less likely you will be to ingrain bad habits that are VERY difficult to fix later. Here are your steps to success:
- Obtain the gun, gear, and enough skill to load, unload, and fire your handgun or rifle slow fire with reasonable accuracy. This will ensure you have the pre-requisite skill to take most classes. Some instructors may require you spend some time one on one with them before their main class if you are very new to shooting.
- Set your shooting goals. This is a step that some people do not realize they need to do, yet the process is simple. Simply decided if your shooting goal is defensive in nature or competitive (to shoot in competitive matches). You see, while shooting technique is much the same in both arenas, the context and subtleties are not.
- Research and find an instructor that will be able to teach you what you want to learn. How do you know if you have found someone reputable? Try to do some research oh their background, look for certifications (firearms instructor), and most importantly, talk to some of their students. Most good instructors will have numerous students that will tell what they thought about the instruction. Try to speak to students that are not “in love” with instructor because he/she is their idol, but rather those that can tell you the specific things they learned, and what they liked about the instructors teaching style.
- Take a class! So you found an instructor that meets your needs, now is the time to take that class. This is the one point that you need to pay attention to. A good class from a good instructor will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. How, simply by allowing you to take the correct path to learning the basics. Ammunition is VERY expensive, and hard to find. Don’t waste it training wrong.
- Supplement. With defensive books & videos, competition training books & videos, and free training materials. This blog and my youtube page are perfect examples. I freely give information on some of my videos that will help you learn how
you should be doing things, and why. Check them out.
There you have it, your simple steps to saving yourself a big headache and saving a bunch of money. Please, consider what I have said and think about finding a good training class sooner than later in your skill development. My last suggestion for you is to consider adding to that base, at a minimum yearly. So if you take a class from instructor X, strongly consider re-taking that course in the future (you will learn more…I promise) and THEN take his/her next level course. Try to take at least one private class yearly with a good instructor as well, as one on one is a big key to finding small things you might be doing wrong!
Until Then – Train Hard!