If you see pictures like this on a firearms training website, please consider whether you want to be IN this class. How can you teach firearm safety if you’re not practicing it yourself?
If you see pictures like this on a firearms training website, please consider whether you want to be IN this class. How can you teach firearm safety if you’re not practicing it yourself?
Celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend, I realize that a good bit of what my mama told me was true. Now that I have a seventeen year old daughter myself, I wonder what she will say, “my mama said…”
To celebrate and share the joys (and tears) of motherhood, let’s share what our mamas told us. Good advice, bad advice, funny stories, gross (should we go there?) stories. What other way to honor the mothers in our lives but with their own words! These are going to be GOOD!
Are you a hobby shooter wanting more? When you go to a range, what are you practicing for…skill, defensive, or just out hangin’ around just to have fun! I was one that found myself going to indoor ranges to become a better aim, hit that center target and have fun while building my skills and then something clicked that I wanted more.
I started paying more attention, getting more serious about what I really wanted in my knowledge. Thinking long and hard about this hobby of mine and what I really wanted out of it. Do I just want to go to the gun range and shoot a hole in the center target or do I want to get serious about what I’m doing and go further, push myself, learn more, crave more, desire more?
At this point in my shooting skills, the want to move forward in learning the correct way of shooting hit me hard. Paying more attention to my stance, grip, trigger pull, front sights and target put me in the running for more knowledge and understanding the fundamentals. I noticed that I was craving more, something fun although structured in learning.
Being around the indoor range and always hearing about competition, it got me thinking…what really is competition? Now, I wanted to know more. I got myself into a women’s league and one of the facilitators does competition shooting along with a few women in the group and that piqued my curiosity.
Consequently, one night I went to the gun range when they were hosting an IDPA match and whoa, was I hooked! This is what I’ve been looking for. The structure, the thought process, and development of shooting skills. I watched eagerly to learn and wanted to know more. The next week, they were having an ASPSA match and I got myself the necessities to shoot that match. Belt, magazine holders, gun holster, and ammunition. I was set.
Not knowing what to expect, I signed up for my first match. Nervous and not understanding the commands, I asked questions, a lot! Listening to the squad leader and RO tell you what the match will be about and how it will be played, you then come up with your strategy to move forward in this match.
My first turn came up, all eyes were on me, the new comer to the game. My nerves were racked as I’m trying to understand and digest what to do, how to do it and make it count. My first trigger pull, my firearm stove pipe’s, I wanted to cringe, although I got through it and by the time I did, I was extremely proud of myself for shooting my first stage in the four stage match.
I get through the second stage with better timing and better accuracy and by this time I was floating on cloud 9! I was so proud of myself and I felt good. I was getting it down and the 3rd match came and it was my turn. I instantly got disqualified as I unholstered planning my strategy without thinking, when I knew better. That was a definite learning experience.
After I was DQ’d I stuck around, help paste the targets, clean up and tear down to still be apart of my team and show excellent sportsmanship. This is the kind of person that you want to be and your team mates need. That night when I left there, I couldn’t be more proud of myself and still am!
Now, I’ve got the bug. I’ve got to get the training although don’t know where to go. Because I’m still new in town, I really don’t know anyone so I join online women gun groups in South Carolina and I make an online friend who is more than willing to help me get to my next journey in life.
Craving more and more, I had to set myself back due to eye surgery. In the mean time, I was looking for someone I could talk to about learning the correct way of handling my gun, techniques and understanding the commands for competition.
I make some phone calls, sent some emails and I found a person who I thought was perfect for what I wanted. The more I conversed in email, the more I realized I didn’t want to learn more defensive, I wanted to learn competition. Back to the drawing board. I see a message through an online group and I decided to call this place and the person on the other end of the phone understood what I was looking for and teach competition and we set up a date for myself and my husband who has caught the bug to learn our new passion that we are now sharing together.
We went, we learned a wealth amount of education and we had fun. This is when truly I realized this is what I want to do. One step at a time learning as I want to do it right. Eager to move forward and excited, I’m hoping to find a mentor that will take me under their wing in my area to move onward with my new-found love, competition shooting! Earning the respect of my fellow shooters and making new friends who enjoy the same passion is where I want to be in life while enjoying….competition shooting!
Worried about picking an instructor? Here are some things to consider. At first I didn’t care if an instructor was male or female, all that mattered that the instructor was knowledgeable and safe. After more than a handful of classes under my belt and teaching others myself, I realize my expectations have grown.
Beyond if the instructor is male or female, I consider these elements:
1. Does the instructor ask about my training plans?
An instructor who only cares about booking one class with you is probably not the best one to learn from. Unfortunately there are retirees out there teaching just to have something to do, make a little extra money, and to feel relevant. A good instructor will put the emphasis on your needs. Where do you see yourself going in training? Do you wish to learn more about self-defense? Would you like to participate in shooting competitions? Would you like to learn trap shooting?
2. Does the instructor ask about my previous training?
Where you have been helps identify where you might need to retrace. Training without practice is a good time on a day long ago. Practice is what keeps your skills fresh and strong. Unpracticed skills are not skills but knowledge. Knowledge without application is nice but a good instructor will make sure you practice that knowledge to bring it back to the forefront.
3. Does the instructor seem approachable?
Why would you want to learn from someone you don’t feel comfortable talking to? Not everyone is an extrovert and ready to ask anyone questions, some are introverts but still want to learn. I have had classes with people who do not talk during the class, I learn more from the ones who ask questions. Don’t choose an instructor you will not be comfortable with. This is important.
4. Does the instructor talk more about him/herself than ask me questions?
I learned this with experience of talking to many instructors. If they talk more about themselves than they allow their students to talk, it is time to say, thank you for the information and make your leave. A laundry list of trainings & certifications does not make an instructor good, it means they have spent time and money to learn from someone else. Your instructor should care more about learning about you than telling you about them.
5. How many people will be in the class?
I have a hard time believing an instructor cares about 50 students equally and gives them individual time. When someone says 20-50 students to me, I immediately think cash farm. A Range Safety Officer shouldn’t be handling that many students on a range. I would look for classes that have 10 or less, unless there is a team of instructors and then I would be certain it was a class with an excellent reputation from past participants.
6. Are there videos to watch of the instructor?
Another sign an instructor’s ego has gotten the better of them, they have videos on their website of them teaching. Before you object, yes there are good instructors with videos and great instructors that participate on YouTube or others. However, watch the instructor’s videos, see what is happening. Is there firearm safety being practiced? Is the instructor yelling at students? Do you see skills being taught that you want to learn? If the videos are focused mostly on the instructor, you know why they are there…for themselves.
7. What is the reputation of the instructor?
Read reviews, ask around but mind the opinions you receive. Previous students would be best to learn from about any instructor. This is dependent on who you ask so be leery of others opinions but consider them in your decision.
8. What are the credentials of the instructor?
What has your instructor learned and how long ago? Who did they entrust their learning to? I would not recommend taking a Defensive Handgun class from someone who hasn’t invested time in learning from a reputable source. There is more to consider than just firearm training, what is the instructor teaching you as far as attitude, legal issues, and all the other real world trappings?
9. Does the instructor offer further training tips and helps?
Why would you want an instructor that doesn’t offer further helps and tips after the class? There are so many resources out there! At some point in your class, your instructor should make a recommendation for more resources. You can ask them before the class too!
10. Does the instructor offer a path of recommended training?
You should feel at ease that there is a path to follow for learning with your chosen instructor. If there isn’t, it should be a part of the conversation! Where are you now, where do you want to go? Go back to #1 on the list! Is the instructor concerned about you having a plan?
If you are in a class or private instruction and the instructor wants to show you “how it’s done” find another instructor. There is nothing to be learned by showboating to your students just how far they have to go in their training to get to your skill level. Also your instructor should be participating in classes themselves, ask about their next class they will attend!
Training is a journey and is always happening.
Stay Safe, Stay Aware,
You are scared, you know it’s your turn next and you’ve watched Jill and Bob accomplish the feat before you. They were fine, Bob even made a mistake, you can do this. Your hands are sweaty, you feel nervous, and you wonder if you can convince David behind you to take your place, to go next.
It’s now your turn. You take your place, you begin to speak and it’s happening. Next thing you know it’s over. You survived and apparently you did well. You feel accomplished and ready to learn the next part. Oh, the next part is something else you’ve never done before. Whew, David and Kelly are in front of you this time you can see what they do and get ready for your time. You still feel nervous but not like before, you know everything will be fine in the end. You know you can do this, you step up and accomplish the next step.
The next task is presented, you volunteer to go first. At this point, you are still nervous but you know everything will work out, even if you make a mistake. You get comfortable and the fear that you first had is gone by the end of the event. You have new knowledge not only about the subject you were learning but also about your ability to learn.
This article is about how to break out of your comfort zone. It’s a fabulous read and will help anyone teetering on a decision point. I often push myself past uncertainty by telling myself that it will take only 20 seconds of courage to get the phone call done, the question I’m afraid to hear to no about, and the task I’ve never done before. I also tell myself that I am learning and it’s okay to make a mistake. As long as you learn from the mistake, it’s all good. The failure is in not trying at all. So I urge you to give it 20 seconds!
I completed another training class yesterday and I decided to write what I have learned from fellow classmates. At all times we are all novices and experienced – skills HAVE to be practiced to be sustained. We have a great mix of experience among our classmates and goals for taking the class.
Jason was quiet and unassuming, but easy going. Jason had been shooting only since December, he decided that he needed to learn how to defend himself and his wife and started taking classes. He has a twitching trigger finger, it wants to be in the trigger guard a little too quickly and a little too long. He did admit that he doesn’t practice often and that the last time he shot was the last class he took one month ago, which I also attended with him. He apologized to me for making me nervous, I responded that any with a live firearm would have me on alert.
Jason was the one I watched the most for muzzle control and safety issues. He caught me watching him a few times. He has only been shooting for 3 months and hasn’t found his confidence yet he is still grasping the fundamentals. Jason wants to learn, he wants to do well although he is a bit slow in mastering, I know he will get there. His steadfast desire to correct his mistakes and his awareness that I was uneasy a couple of times (with good reason), I have no doubt he will be successful as long as he practices in-between classes. I worry that he may get discouraged if he doesn’t practice the skills he learns in class.
I had been in class with Brian before as well. He was a bit more vocal this class then a previous, indicating he was feeling more comfortable. I recognized that he is a gun fan (aficionado) or however you wish to say it. Anyone who is aware of current happening in the firearm industry and watches YouTube videos, takes their hobby a bit more seriously than occasional shooters. His gear was all matching, neat and tidy, he had on new shooting pants. He brought his 1911 and a couple of different magazine capacities, including a few 30 rounders. I could tell he is genuinely interested in becoming better, and takes himself pretty seriously. He is a good shot and you could tell he has practiced and used the same gun for a while. In fact, there was a bit of discussion about using a 1911, and he said he has shot it for a year now.
Brian didn’t seem pleased when he was warned by our instructors that not using the safety on the 1911 could lead to a negligent discharge, especially when re-holstering. He was thrown a bit off by trying to engage and disengage the safety as he holstered his hammered tool. I recognized the importance of getting to know your firearm and practicing with it by watching him. I hope I am not describing him wrong, he didn’t have the cocky ego that some may have, I could tell he took the instructors’ comments seriously but he also quipped back that he didn’t want to use the safety even if it meant a higher chance of discharge. I noticed that he uses a weaver stance that has been practiced, his motions were smooth. He was applying what he was learning systematically and it was showing.
There was a husband and wife in the class together which made me wish my husband was with me. It was obvious that he has been shooting for a while or at least more comfortable with guns for a longer time than she was but she is gaining ground in shooting skill. Kelly was smooth with her presentation, solid in her stance and you could see she was locking her arm. At the beginning of the class we were shooting static and she was not doing well, as the class when on, she became very proficient with her shots. Her husband, Jet did the opposite. He did very well at the beginning of the class during static shooting and as the class progressed his shots weren’t making their aim. He was quiet throughout the class, seemed to be one to keep to his own. Seeing a couple together going through a skills class, it is a reminder to be supportive of your partner through the good and the bad. Kelly did exceptionally well towards the end of the class, she was shining bright. Jet went from being vocal to being reserved as the class proceeded throughout the day. He wasn’t moody just quiet. I could only imagine if my husband was there outperforming me, how that might feel.
Chuck, my last classmate, I had never met before. I learned in class that he had recently had foot surgery and in talking to him, he was only a week out from wearing a boot. He was walking great, I would never have guessed! His shooting skills were a bit rusty but he took it all in stride. Chuck is a bit older and I could tell he takes the class seriously as well. He was quiet throughout the class and he sat next to me. He had a few grip issues with his Glock, which indicated to me that he probably doesn’t practice much outside of class. With his foot, he probably didn’t go to the range but I wasn’t able to get a feel for if he would dry fire at home or not.
I have recently changed my everyday carry, and its sights. I recognized the value of using the same firearm for consistent training. There was a point in the class I couldn’t hit a target 10 yards away although I was consistently shooting well before that. I got over the crisis in confidence and started doing well. I haven’t had much chance to shoot while moving and was surprised how well I did. We had to walk through a path in the woods with steel targets hidden through out and eliminate the threats. Ping, ping, ping…what a beautiful sound. In the moment, you don’t have time to worry about how you’re doing, you are moving and shooting and focused on the front sight. No time for anything else. It felt like time was standing still while you are shooting at the targets, moving to the next after you hear the ping. Ducking and crouching around trees to shield yourself from the pretend enemies. There was a golf ball that I wanted to hit, after wasting 2 shots on it- I moved on. My instructor warned against wasting resources and time on a missed target, serve them all, he said.
While the instructors are teaching the class, I was also learning how they responded to our questions, how they encourage and correct us, and what they leave alone for the time being. This is my 5th class with these instructors, I am very comfortable with them, to the point of ribbing them when the opportunity arises. GRIN!
When others make a mistake, I find myself taking care not to make the same mistake. I made my own mistakes during the class, I forgot to scan and assess a few times, I got my shirt stuck in my holster as I was trying to re-holster, and each time I worked harder not to continue the mistake. It was a great class, we all had a good time and learned a lot. I look forward to seeing my classmates in another class soon!