Real & Imaginary Dangers of Firearms Training Classes

By Rob Morse: Training

Defensive Handgun Class
Victoria Hickey gets instruction from Cornered Cat instructor kathy Jackson during a GunStart women only defensive handgun class Saturday afternoon. The three day course taught students gun safety and handgun defense techniques. To see more on the class see page A10 and visit for an audio slide show.

Slow FactsUSA –-(  The most dangerous thing about gun training is….

… I could accidentally wound my pride.
… I need a new gun, mine is too old, before I can take a class.
… I could make a mistake in a self-defense class.
… I might look clumsy or unsafe, and leave my ego bleeding on the classroom floor.

These excuses feel familiar to me. Most gun owners have never taken a concealed carry course, so the feeling might be new to you. If we did get our permit, then most of us stopped there. We haven’t been to the range or taken a class in years. We like to shoot, but our fear of embarrassment keeps us from taking the next step.. of getting training. Our fear also leaves our family at risk.

We would rather fail on the street in a self-defense encounter than submit to correction in a firearms class.

Our fear of embarrassment in a firearms class is unfounded. That is the good news. The person who puts his ego on the line is a willing student. Every instructor I’ve ever met would much rather have willing students in his class, than have a person who is afraid to make mistakes and accept correction. The classroom is the perfect place to find out what you know and what you don’t. The classroom and range are where we can discover what works and what needs improvement.

It isn’t the instructor who will judge us or criticize our character. We are afraid of falling short of our own unrealistic expectations. How can we gather our courage enough to learn something about firearms safety and self-defense?

As a statement of fact, very few of us are as good as we imagine. On average, we’re average. I speak from personal experience.. and have the competition scores to prove just how average I am!  The solution is simple.

Back up and take a basic course where you feel comfortable.

I need to step back an take refresher courses from time to time. I have NEVER taken a class I didn’t enjoy. I don’t know anyone who has, and that covers some extremes. I’ve been hot and cold and wet, but I left with a smile every time. I always came away smarter.

Maybe I have convinced you, but not your friend. Your friend says, “I already know how to shoot.”

Then show us.  Go take a class and be willing to learn.

  • Do you safely load, unload, and handle your firearm with confidence?
  • Do you hit stationary targets at intermediate distances?
  • Do you shoot on the move?
  • When you carry a gun on your body, do you get a perfect grip on your firearm every time?
  • Do you consistently present your firearm while wearing a concealment garment?
  • Do you remember the legal use of lethal force?

Take that first step. Ask the gun owners in your area where to train, because the course that fits an experienced gun owner in Hawaii won’t work for a beginner in Maine.

Check these links of organizations that provide training in your area:

Believe me, there is so much to learn. I guarantee that you will learn something new. Even if you are in a basic class that you took years ago, you will remember things you’ve forgotten. You will also demonstrate what you know when you are out on the shooting range. Now you know what you know.

As a bonus, you will also discover what to learn next after you take your class. It is simply one small step at a time.

About Rob Morse

The original article is here.  Rob Morse writes about gun rights at Ammoland, at Clash Daily and on his SlowFacts blog. He hosts the Self Defense Gun Stories Podcast and co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast. Rob is an NRA pistol instructor and combat handgun competitor.

  • 10 thoughts on “Real & Imaginary Dangers of Firearms Training Classes

    1. Training update is a good practice. I’m 70, Army vet, including a year as an MP. over 2000 patrol hours as an axillary police officer and an early member of IDPA. I have had my ccl since 1998. This coming Saturday I am taking a defensive carry class. I’m bound to learn something new.

    2. I was in a training class a few years back. The instructor was an active duty police officer who was also the rangemaster at the PD range. On the morning of the first day, a student using a revolver dropped his speedloader when attempiing to reload. This P.O. went ballistic and scolded the student to such embarrassment that he quit and left the class. At noon we went to lunch, and the issue was not discussed. After lunch, only 5 people of 12 returned. I was a returnee, but for me, the enjoyment was over. I finished out the day, but did not return to complete the course. I found out later that no one returned the second day. Too bad!

      1. More damage is done to new shooters by these people than Soros and Bloombergs stooges. My daughters and I shoot regularly and they refuse to go to certain ranges because the RM’s simply scream at people. They get its safety first and these people getting screamed at did something wrong, but it completely alienates them from the sport.

      2. I took 3 courses from 3 active SWAT PO’s from the San Jose PD, they were very calm, very through and very good. They got newbies on target and safely handling their weapons. There was only one guy that was a jerk and they informed him that if he didn’t shape up, he was out. Not nasty just in front of everyone and dead serious. They made it fun but we learned, at the end of the classes, two in daylight and one at night, we got to shoot at a steel target, 100 yards away….with pistols. Sadly they had to shut down. That’s a shame because they could have helped so many others.

    3. There are classes and there are instructors. Not all instructors are good teachers and not all classes are aimed at self-defense on te street and in the home.
      A champion shooter or a NAVY SEAL might be te worst person to teach a housewife how to shoot. The great skill of such a shooter might just be intimidating or give a beginner the impression that they are incompetent and that they are wasting their time.
      A good class is taught by an instructor or team of instructors who are communicators who adapt to the students’ needs. Some instructors lecture and demonstrate and then observe the student perform. A good instructor evaluates the student and adjust their teaching to help the student improve.
      A self-defense class is more about awareness of outside threats and dangers than it is about fast draws and fast reloads. [My opinion].
      Again my opinion, a new shooter needs more mental preparation and awareness training than a high weekend round count. Working with an unloaded gun, dummy rounds, observational skills as well as instruction on Use of Force and when it is lawful is more important than a case of empty brass [and an empty wallent] at the end of te first weekend.

      1. Exactly. I trained for years with Pat Goodale for all the reasons that make him one of, arguably, one of the finest Instructors in the world. He has two locations in the USA and I found that I just saved and took a long weekend of vacation at a time to train with him. His motto: “Give more than you have to, charge less than you can”. He is renowned in LEO circles as well as the civilian world. I can’t recommend him enough for all levels of shooters.

    4. Classes and competition are good – the time and place to identify failures and weaknesses in skills and equipment is in a class or match, NOT a real self-defense situation. Even though I was introduced to shooting at a young age, as an adult I still benefited from taking a number of professionally taught classes. I also recommend IDPA matches. Although IDPA competition should NOT repeat NOT be regarded as actual training for “life and death” encounters, moving, reloading, drawing from concealment, and scoring based on both time and accuracy make IDPA useful for identifying areas in your equipment and skill set that need work.

      One caveat to training is that if you take a training class, be aware of who the trainer is – trainers run the gamut from a few idiots to some true masters. (I still value the experience I had years ago from taking a class taught by the late Ray Chapman, a former World Champion.)

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