How Do You Know If You’re Getting Good Training?

Kathy Jackson
Kathy Jackson
A Girl & A Gun Women’s Shooting League

USA -( When making a major purchase, a smart consumer will research options, read reviews, and compare products.

A good student will do the same when seeking a firearms instructor and evaluating the quality of training offered.

You are making an investment with your consumer dollars — and your life may someday depend on this training.

The first step is to learn where your instructor received training and make sure that you’re getting quality and correct information. Modern gunfighting skills have not changed too much in the past decades as far as standards of safe gun handling and points of marksmanship.

There are leaders in the firearms industry who set the standards of exceptional training, such as Kathy Jackson pictured, above. Some people are fortunate to have trained with these individuals and share their knowledge throughout the country.

Be wary of instructors that modify these techniques and believe that they are being innovative with their own style or interpretation. Avoid instructors who rely on YouTube for training.

As you learn from a new instructor, he or she must model safe gun handling at all times and the training facility must be safe. It is okay to ask questions about any skills or drills that you are told to do that may be unsafe.

Learn *why* an instructor tells you to do maneuvers or movements, especially when it may slow your response or impede your accuracy.

For example, if an instructor asks you to bring your gun to a low ready instead of a compressed ready when checking your six, would you know if that compromises your safety?

It is your responsibility to know your instructor’s background and question techniques that may seem “outside the box” of industry standards.


Red Flags:

Proceed cautiously if your instructor has these characteristics:

1. No diversity in training. Most good instructors have trained with a variety of mentors that discuss different styles and methodologies. For example, there are several approved grips and stances. Some instructors force students to adopt one methodology, but the best instructors will analyze what is best suited for the student’s body and performance.

2. Has a different profession. If your husband is a great shooter and has been hunting his entire life, but spends his days as an accountant, he’s not a firearms instructor. He may be able to give you some pointers, but your private lessons should be with someone who has a career in the firearms industry with countless hours behind the trigger. Keep in mind that military and law enforcement may have received exceptional firearms training, but that does not mean that he or she is a firearms instructor. Further, avoid instructors that do not have experience teaching civilians because mindset and tactics are very different.

3. New instructor. If he or she has only recently become an instructor, or maybe even a gun owner, he or she may not be a good resource. Look to the intensity and diversity of training before deciding to take a class or lesson.

4. Non-teaching certifications. A person may be certified to teach a License to Carry or CCW permit course, but he or she may not be a firearms instructor that can teach safe gun handling and points of marksmanship. One teaches you how to shoot; one teaches the law for a permit or license.

5. Sketchy marketing. Your instructor’s website or Facebook page should have a list of training credentials and online reviews. Having 100% of positive reviews should raise your eyebrows, since it is normal for some students to not connect with an instructor 100% of the time. Even the best instructors receive criticisms, so make sure you have exposure to those, too, so you can make your own decisions. Also keep your ego in check to recognize if an instructor is using you for marketing if you have a large social media following or community of potential new students.

6. Bashes other instructors. Instructors that do not encourage you to seek additional training either have large egos that are overconfident about their curriculum or worry that you will give your consumer dollars to someone else, which you have every right to do.

7. Does not take training classes. A reputable instructor is not always the teacher, but enjoys being a student. He or she will attend continuing education sessions and training to constantly advance and/or reinforce their skills.

8. Shows off. An instructor may demonstrate a drill for the class or student, but it is not a time to show off. If your instructor is being a “hot shot” or shoots more than you do, find a new instructor.

9. Not connected. The firearms industry is very competitive, but also very interconnected. Good instructors collaborate and participate in the greater firearms community. See if your instructor has ever taught at the A Girl & A Gun National Training Conference, the Polite Society Tactical Training Conference, or other reputable gatherings.

Names to Look For:

As you look at your instructor’s bio and resume you want see these names: Kathy Jackson (Cornered Cat), Massad Ayoob and Gail Pippen, Tom and Lynn Givens (Rangemaster), Marty and Gila Hayes, Robert Vogel, Ben Stoeger, Rob Leatham, Ken Hackathorn, Larry Vickers, Pat Rogers, Paul Howe, Clint Smith (Thunder Ranch), Jerry and Kay Miculek, John and Vicki Farnam, Jim Higginbotham, and those who have trained with them.

It make take you some time to research who trained with whom, but it is important. Don’t be guilty of reading more reviews about a product on Amazon than about your firearms instructor and information that may potentially save your life.

When in doubt, ask an organization you trust for feedback and guidance.


About A Girl & A Gun:

A Girl & A Gun (AG & AG) is a membership organization whose events have been successful stepping stones for thousands of women into the shooting community and fostered their love of shooting with caring and qualified instructors to teach them. The league breaks barriers for women and girls in the area of self-defense and in pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooting sports by welcoming beginners to learn the basics of safe and accurate shooting and providing experienced shooters with advanced-level training.

Learn more on their website.

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Well dear gil is probably somewhere in London that used to be once upon a time Great Britain with its loaded diaper after that pervert mowed down inocent pepul minding their on business. How telling of the muslum in the brown headscarf strolling on by yakking on her phone doing a follow up body count. Blame the car for drunk driving- not the loose nut behing the sterring wheel. That is the same logic for gun confiscation commonly mislabeled as “gun control”. How about car control in this instance vs lots of instantaneous INCOMING FIREPOWER? Is that u, gil. Yep,… Read more »


Chicago-ites would call that a near crime-free weekend. Had the same thing happened in Texas the aspiring heroes would have totally missed the speeding car and have shot innocent bystanders.

Michael Arnold

Forgot one: Beware of folks who write gun articles but don’t sign their work.

Who did you say wrote this article? I didn’t catch the name.

Ken Firestone

Yeah, let’s show a kid with a gun to emphasize “safe gun handling”. In item # one, the author talks about different grips, styles and methodologies, however; teaching multiple techniques to a student is confusing to them, and doesn’t create consistent learned skills for muscle and brain memory for when they have to engage a critical moment.


Yes, I agree with the comments about proper training for a young person. If you look at the picture closer I’m sure you will see this is a toy gun with the red cap. This could have been a random photo of a kid playing with a toy gun or she could be blowing the smoke from the barrel like the movie stars do.

Georganne Greene

Not everyone can travel to attend a “famous name” training. People should look for NRA-certified instructors with experience. Ask your local gun store personnel for recommendations.


Or local liquor stores as to when they’re likely to be robbed to you can get some free target practise.


Just venturing a guess here! Seems Gil get’s his ‘practise’ attacking the U.S. 2nd Amendment from afar. Judging by how he spells ‘practice’ he’s probably one of the Queen’s minions. The Brits are aware that people with guns cost them ‘The Colonies’ and not having guns themselves make a bridge in London a soft target for Islamic Terrorists. A Conundrum?


There’s no better training than going to the seedy side of town and helping out those less fortunate with your gun shooting skills. Don’t you want to help prevent crime with your gun?


Well for starters, the picture of a girl with a gun in hand with finger on the trigger looking down the barrel to see the bullets come out would have been sponsored/APPROVED by dear pervert gil. Curosity kills the cat, literally. Take your boy hunting instead of hunting your boy. And shoot any gun for her under adult supervision to demonstrate that they are NOT toys. After an initial introduction learning safe gun handling and shooting a brick of 22LR, she has a measure of beginning responsibility and accountability for unsupervised consequences that could be fatal. All my kids are… Read more »


You understand then someone offends you enough such as aggressively throwing popcorn at you they crossed the line and has to pay with his life;


Oh yeah, and don’t even get me started on what will happen if they throw a bag of chips…


The NRA has trained more military, Law Enforcement and civilians than any other group.
All those famous names from TV land? She must be kidding!
AND YES that picture of a child holding a gun, what were tey thinking???

Jim in Conroe

Yeah, the girl with the gun in her face is a little disturbing.

I am currently attending an NRA carbine course with exceptional instructors. Relying on courses organized by recognised organisations like the NRA is one additional way to get will qualified instructors.


Good lord, do you have to use a photo of a young kid pointing a gun at her face with finger on the trigger, like Hollywood or a liberal would do? Gives me chills to see something so stupid.

This is how anti-self-defense people think and act, not responsible gun owners. No need to give the morons something to bleat about.


Sure enough no mention of the legal rights when to use a firearm nor the legal repercussions if things go wrong. But then again since AL & friends think the death penalty should apply to those who throw popcorn at you they’ll aren’t concerned with the law either.