In my work as an instructor, I get the chance to talk to a lot of people who are taking state mandated firearms training in order to qualify for a state-issued CCW permit. My organization “polls” every student after every class in the form of a verbal “debrief” and through the use of a printed Feedback Form that is handed out for students to provide an evaluation of the training they received. On the form, we ask them, A) if they are interested in taking more training, B) what additional classes they are interested in taking, and C) if they would like for us to contact them when those classes get added to our schedule. Around 90% of respondents indicate that they do wish to take more training, and about 75% of those ask to be contacted when those classes come up on our schedule. While those rather large numbers seem like something to get excited about, unfortunately, the number of those people who actually elect to take any follow-up training is much lower. While I can’t account for students who go on to take additional training from other instructors, the number of them that return to my organization for additional training is only in the 5 – 7 percentile range, and I believe it’s reasonable to assume that, at best, only an additional 1 – 2% seek out additional training from other sources.
On that note, I’ve made it a point to ask people why they don’t take additional training, even though they, at one time, recognized the need. While there have been a myriad of answers, I compiled the five I hear most often and have offered an alternative way to think about them in hopes that more people will consider a change to their priorities. Remember, these are the responses I hear most often from people who have already completed the minimum, mandatory firearms safety training required to obtain a CCW permit from their state.
- “I don’t have the time to take any additional training.”
Alternative: Do you really have time not to take additional training? Time management is about priorities. Human beings have an innate ability to “magically” make time for activities and opportunities that are a priority to them. If we make training a priority, it stands to reason that we will find some time to make it happen. With that said, we can simplify this process if we plan ahead. Most instructors post their schedules a number of months in advance; some even post them for an entire year. Find the class you want to take and reserve your spot early so it fits best with your schedule.
- “Training classes are too expensive.”
Alternative: Can you afford not to train? I don’t know how many people have told me that they “can’t afford” to attend a training class, yet they are buying new guns, new holsters, and other new hardware every time you turn around. Again, this is a matter of prioritization. Quality training doesn’t have to be expensive. I know of a number of quality, defensive-oriented training courses that cost under $200 (in some cases, WELL under $200 – All of the Defensive Shooting Courses that AMI offers are under $190) that are offered by local instructors several times each year. Yes, it can be a bit more expensive to attend training courses at some of the national schools or with some of the nationally known instructors, though even some of them are offering fairly reasonably priced classes these days. An investment in some new, upgraded software might well prove to be a better decision than an investment in the ever-growing pile of new hardware.
- “Good training is too far away.”
Alternative: How far is too far to travel for quality training? We are pretty fortunate here in my home state of Missouri to have a variety of good training resources spread throughout the state. No matter where you live in this state, you are never more than a 3-hour drive from a quality training facility and program. In addition to that, there are usually several nationally known instructors that come through the state each year to conduct classes hosted at in-state facilities. A quick day trip is all the travel investment one needs to make in order to become better prepared to defend themselves and their families if the unthinkable was to happen.
- “I don’t need more training. Bad guys don’t train, so I am already better trained than they are.”
Alternative: Are you sure that “bad guys” aren’t training? Greg Ellifritz, from Active Response Training, recently penned an article titled, “Training vs. Experience”. In the article, he cited an FBI study in which researchers concluded, “Nearly 40% of the criminal attackers in this study had received FORMAL firearms training (mostly in the military). More than 80% of the criminal attackers regularly practiced with their firearms, with an average number of 23 Practice Sessions Per Year!” (You can read the entire article here: http://www.activeresponsetraining.net/training-vs-experience). This doesn’t take into account all of the “training” that takes place each and every time one of these criminals serves another prison sentence. How many armed citizens can honestly say they partake in meaningful, structured practice an average of twice a month? And how many armed citizens are proactively improving skill sets and tactics by seeking out quality training at least a couple times per year? The idea that the criminal element is untrained is romantic, but it is not reality.
- “The odds that I will ever have to use my gun to defend myself or my family are so low, that I’m not too worried about becoming better trained”
Alternative: As far as statistical probability is concerned, you would be correct in saying that the odds are low that you’ll ever have to use your firearm to defend yourself or another. However, the consequences for being ill prepared to use that firearm efficiently and decisively should the need arise, can be of the highest severity. The truth is, we can’t afford to fail when the lives of our loved ones are at stake, or when our own life is at stake. Defensive shooting skills are similar to life-saving emergency first aid skills, we hope we never have to use them, but if we do, it will be detrimental if we are not well rehearsed in their application.
In conclusion, I understand just as much as the next person how everyone has a limited amount of resources. My resources are limited too. It is not a unique situation to be in. With that said, it IS something we can largely overcome if we exercise some due diligence, plan ahead, make some slight changes to our budget, and come to terms with the importance of the issue. We owe nothing less to our families and ourselves.
As always, be safe!
~ Chris ~