First, to everyone who has taken the time to share their story with me and to all who are interested in taking the next step(or first step) in your firearms training THANK YOU!
As a side note, I keep getting contacted by generous folks who want to donate so the gift list is growing. You can check back to see what has been added.
I will personally respond to your email. If you send me your story and have not heard back from me then ping me again. If you don’t hear from me it means you are not entered. Give me a few days as the number of folks entering is high and it takes time to read each story and then respond plus I have this life thing that can distract me from time to time.
I am getting a lot of good questions accompanying these stories. Love to see that people are taking their training seriously!
The number one question I get is “which gun should I buy”. My advice would be if you do not already have a gun maybe wait until after your training. I know FPF Training has guns that one can borrow/rent while taking a course. Being able to practice with a gun in a realistic training is very valuable. Often times people bring their gun to a class and find out that while it works perfectly well at an indoor range, under no stress, shooting a non moving target, it doesn’t hold up so well in a “real” life gun fight. That is some mighty helpful info to know. It is one(there are other good reason) reason why most firearms instructors I know recommend you bring the gun you carry/use or plan to carry/use, but if you are brand new then training is also a good place to get started off on the right foot. No point buying a gun then finding out it doesn’t work and having to make due or purchase another one. Although, can anyone really have too many guns?
However, if you have some shooting experience and are ready to buy here is a very timely article on the subject.
I am also getting a lot of questions about what to look for when choosing a quality program/instructor and what do I consider quality.
First I would look for someone with years of experience. This person does not have to be former military or police. They do not need to be high speed low drag special ops secret squirrel types, but they should have more than a year or two of teaching under their belt. If you are looking for someone to teach the basics of firearms knowledge, safety and getting a good hit on target then a new instructor is perfect for that. We are not talking about that here. We are talking about taking a course where you will learn to use your gun in the face of a mortal threat. You want experience for that.
Look for someone who has lots of training under their belt. I would take a shooting course from someone who has an NRA cert or two, but I would not take a self defense course from someone who only have one or two certifications. Again experience counts plus personally I am not taking a course from someone who doesn’t care enough about his/her own skills to continue training themselves.
Do some research. Use Google. Remember just because someone is famous doesn’t mean they are a good instructor, but if you pop on a few blogs or forums it won’t take long before you see the same names coming up. Goolge a few names and see what kinds of certifications those instructors have. Read their bios and what their philosophy is. Some of the bigger names have some very impressive bios. Your instructor doesn’t need to match up to theirs, but looking at someone who is successful can give you an idea of what to look for.
Ask around and see who the folks in your area train with. Ask the people at the gun range you go to or call up a local shooting club and ask them. I would not go on word of mouth alone, but it is a good place to start.
Do not be afraid to travel. Training courses can be pricey(but I am paying for one) and when you add in the cost of ammo, hotel, gas or flight prices it seems downright prohibitive, but the training is a life skill. It is something that will stick with you for a good long time. Setting a solid foundation of safety, firearms knowledge and training is crucial. I really would not skimp.
Don’t limit yourself. Many women want a female instructor and I understand why, but gender is not a good way to choose. I know several top notch female instructors and I recommend them all the time, but to be honest there are not that many out there. If your top qualification is gender and that gender is female then you are really narrowing your field. Most of my training has come from men. Former Marines, snipers, MMA fighters, crotchety old dudes, young full of self esteem gun slingers and you know what…all super nice, patient, kind, supportive guys. I have not noticed a difference in quality, skill or kindness between the female and male instructors out there. A good instructor is a combination of many things. I would not rob myself of an excellent learning opportunity simply because I could not find someone in my same gender. That goes for guys too. I think it would be wise not to limit your instructors to just men.
Once you gather a few names of people in your area or around the country, call up those that look promising and ask some questions.
What kind of training/certifications do you and or your staff have? I belong to the NRA, I am a certified NRA instructor and I think the NRA offers some quality programs, however, I don’t really care if my instructor is NRA certified or not. What I care about is does he/she have a diverse background in firearms training.
How long have you been teaching? What is your background?
Ask about safety. How many totally students have they taught over the years? Any accidents? An accident at a range would not stop me from taking a course from someone, but I want to know the circumstances around that situation, so I can make an informed decision.
Who will be teaching your course. If you attend a large training facility the person who is the head of it or the face on the web page might not be who you are getting on game day. Ask.
Ask how what the class size is and how many instructors will be present. I don’t want to take a class with 50 students and one instructor. Not safe(not enough eyes) and the chances of me getting much one on one guidance is not very good.
Ask how much time will be spent in the classroom and how much on the range actually shooting. Classroom time is very important and while many people roll their eyes and just want to get to the shooting, don’t rush things. The newer you are the more classroom time might be needed. Safety is the number one top priority. The bad guy isn’t the only one with a gun. You are now armed and knowing that you will not shoot yourself or anyone else(unintentionally) is extremely important. But, sitting in a class for 6 hours and getting 30-60 minutes on the range is not good either. The NRA has some excellent first steps classes that do just that. Those are great places to start, but once you get passed the basics and are looking for self defense training, time on the range is important. Not much substitution for doing.
Ask if they know me because if they don’t then they suck. Ok, not really. Just seeing if you are paying attention.
If you are the recipient of the gifts being offered in the Giveaway and none of the above seems like something you can do then ask me. This is a small community and chances are I know of someone in your area or have people I can ask.
Keep the stories and questions coming! Once again…GOOD LUCK!!