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:
- Does the instructor ask about my training plans?
- Does the instructor ask about my previous training?
- Does the instructor seem approachable?
- Does the instructor talk more about him/herself than ask me questions?
- How many people will be in the class?
- Are there videos to watch of the instructor?
- What is the reputation of the instructor?
- What are the credentials of the instructor?
- Does the instructor offer further training tips and helps?
- Does the instructor offer a path of instruction?
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,