Why Don’t You Take a Class?

Have you ever considered taking a defensive shooting course?  I’m talking about a course that goes well beyond the basic firearms safety and operation taught in most concealed carry classes.  Most people that take a concealed carry class or other basic firearms course never consider continuing their training.  Others think about it but never do it.  Then there are those that buy a gun for “self-defense” but never take any formal training of any kind.

How can you expect to use a firearm as a defensive tool with minimal or no training?  How can you expect a basic firearms safety course to prepare you for a life and death fight with a gun?

Basic courses simply don’t have the information one needs to become a good defensive shooter.  That isn’t the purpose of such classes.  They are intended to keep a new shooter from shooting themselves or another person.

So why don’t more people seek out good defensive training?

Most people have determined that taking a firearms class isn’t possible.  Some claim it’s the time involved.  Others say it’s because of cost.

Both of these excuses are quickly put to rest when you consider that it’s relatively easy to find a one-day course within an hour or two of just about anywhere that won’t cost more than $150.00 per person or require more than a few hundred rounds of ammunition.  If this sounds like too much time and money to invest in yourself, you must not think much of yourself.  Your self-improvement is worth this kind of investment.

Most of these folks, however, could find the time and money to do it if they chose to but they make other excuses instead.  I regularly hear these excuses…

“I hit the range a couple times a month.  That’s all I need.”

“I’m a casual shooter.  Tactical training is really only for military and police.”

“That kind of training is really only for serious shooters.”

“I’ve been shooting for years.  I already know what I need to know.”

“I would be way out of my league if I tried to take a class like that.”

If you have ever said or have even thought the first excuse, allow me to direct you to a previous blog I wrote on distinguishing the difference between training and practicing.  They aren’t the same and practice, while vital, shouldn’t be allowed to take the place of training.

Much of the time it comes down to either an incorrect perception of intermediate and higher level firearms training classes or an unwillingness to step out of one’s comfort zone.  I would like to point out that defensive firearms training isn’t scary or intimidating and it’s not only for the battle-hardened operator.

Always remember this: Pick the baddest gun and self-defense guru you can think of.  No matter what level you are at right now, that person was at the same level at some point in their life too.

I have hundreds of hours invested in defensive training both as a student and an instructor so I would probably be considered somewhat more trained than the average gun owner.  Recently I participated in a force on force gun fighting class for the second time.  This class involves the use of gas blowback airsoft guns that shoot a plastic BB at approximately 325 feet per second.  They hurt a lot when they hit you but it is a relatively safe way to simulate an attacker actually firing at you.  Courses like this teach a lot, especially which skills need work.  I was most impressed, however, by another student in this particular class.

Autumn is a young woman in her early twenties.  She came to this force on force class with a basic firearms safety course as her only prior formal firearms training.  She was the only female in the group.  She was also the youngest, physically the smallest, and the least experienced.  She was a prime example of a person that was intimidated and way out of her comfort zone.  I asked her how she felt going into the class with a group of more experienced men.

“I was extremely nervous. Then I showed up and the guys were extremely friendly and welcoming so I calmed down.”

She was a fish out of water but she quickly realized that the rest of us, regardless of experience, had no significant advantage over her in this class.  She also discovered that these more experienced, more trained, and better prepared men were friendly, helpful, and supportive throughout the class.

I have many friends that regularly participate in these kinds of classes.  None of them have any interest in building themselves up by tearing down another.  As a fellow student we support and encourage each other because, regardless of each individual’s level of experience, everyone can make a mistake.

I asked Autumn what she got out of the class.

“Walking into the class I had no understanding on the complexity of a gun fight.  I simply thought I would pull the gun out and shoot to defend myself.  I now feel capable of successfully surviving a force on force situation with the knowledge I gained from the class.  I was quickly shown that the strategies I thought would work would not.  This class showed me the importance of being enlightened on what to do in the situation.”

She is glad she took the class and has plans to continue her training.  She worked hard and earned the knowledge she gained in that class.  She also earned my respect and the respect of every other participant and the instructor.

Autumn had very little firearms experience going into this class.  For some, their experience may be more extensive but it is not self-defense related shooting.  It’s very easy for them to think they already know what they need to know.  Perhaps they have been shooting for many years.  They might be a hunter or they may have been in the military.  They could even be a competition shooter.  Thinking you already know enough is a very easy trap to slip into.

Kenny started out as a student but I now consider him a good friend.  He came into the defensive shooting world having primarily a target rifle shooting background.  While some skills are transferable, he would be the first to tell you how unprepared for his first defensive shooting class he was.

“My first defensive pistol class was an eye opening experience to say the least.  At that time I was a NRA basic pistol instructor but primarily a rifle shooter.  I shot NRA Hi-Power steel silhouette matches and a handful of other competitions.  So this area, this realm of shooting, was all foreign to me.  In rifle shooting I used to enjoy seeing how many targets I could shoot at hundreds of yards away in the shortest amount of time.  I found out right away that defensive pistol shooting was close up, fast moving and many other things.  In rifle shooting I learned that with every breath, every flinch, every bit of concentration is to go into firing each shot.  Defensive pistol involves rapid fire, lateral movement, and unsighted fire just to name a few things.  This went against everything in rifle shooting and I found out within an hour what gear works and what gear doesn’t.”

Kenny had equipment he thought would work.  He had a lot of knowledge about guns, ammunition, and how they work he thought he could apply to any type of shooting.  He found out quickly how everything he thought he knew was being put to the test.  He found out that the equipment he thought would work was unsuitable for an efficient and effective self-defense plan.  He found out that the skills he had spent years developing were suitable only for the shooting sport for which he had cultivated them.

He took these lessons to heart and, when I next saw him, he had replaced all of his regular carry gear with better gear including the purchase of a more suitable firearm.  He is now an avid defensive pistol shooter and instructor.

So, it’s time to set aside your preconceived notions about taking a defensive firearms class.  If you own a gun and consider it to be part of your self-defense plan, then you need training.  Training doesn’t come free.  It costs time and it costs money and a good instructor is usually worth what he or she charges.  The returns for this investment, however, can be worth much more than the initial output.  You will gain knowledge, skill, self-confidence, and you’ll really enjoy yourself.

Find a good instructor and sign up for a class today.

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