Firearms Instruction: Commitment, the First Step

Mike Seeklander, CEO and founder of Shooting-Performance drilling a class.

U.S.A.-(AmmoLand.com)-The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of American citizens’ lives. As in any time of discord and uncertainty, more Americans feel the need for protection and security. For many, it is the first time they will enter a gun store and make the purchase of a firearm. This year alone has set an unprecedented record in firearms sales. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) conducted over 3.9 million background checks in June, the highest since NICS was founded in 1998. The June numbers even exceeded the previous high March sales. July numbers tapered off slightly but still far over 2019 numbers. Overall, firearms sales are 80 percent higher than last year. Remarkable. Maybe not.

Fear does funny things to people. It often drives them outside their comfort zone. The rise in firearms sales is a result of many people buying their very first handgun. For many first-time buyers, the big step was walking into a gun store. Whether or not they previously researched a potential purchase, the newbie now faced a gun store owner or clerk. It can only be hoped that the assistance the newbie received was professional and consummate. Maybe, the gun store clerk took the new gun owner on to their firearms range and gave them some instruction. Maybe, the new gun owner had a friend take them to a range to familiarize them with their new firearm. Or maybe not. A firearm as a self-defense tool is only as good as the person using it. When properly trained, the results and/or outcome of a defensive situation or just a day at target practice will increase in a positive direction.

Mike Seeklander demonstrating for a class.

Training to use a firearm properly and safely is one of the most important steps in developing confidence and proficiency whether you own for personal defensive purposes, to acquire a new skill, or with your eye on the prize to join the ranks of USPSA or IDPA competitors. Finding a trainer that meets your criteria is THE most important step. A good firearms trainer can take you from your current level, whatever that may be, and not only provide you with the tools and techniques to make you a better shooter but give you the confidence and passion to pursue your new skill set. When choosing a firearms instructor, consider the following: credentials, experience, and reviews. Does the instructor provide a body of learning, does he or she make you feel comfortable, is the information provided thoroughly explained, and does the instructor spend one-on-one time with you? What to watch out for: instructors that don’t go over safety measures or range rules, instructors that are sloppy in their handling of firearms and ammunition, or instructors that assume you have a certain level of knowledge and instructors that demean, yell, or intimidate you, or an instructor that guarantees you’ll be shooting like a Navy SEAL or just follow his six easy steps and you’ll be shooting like a World Champion in no time!

“You can’t buy skill.” That’s a statement you would never think you would hear from a firearms trainer, but then Mike Seeklander is no ordinary instructor. Founder and owner of the American Warrior Society and Shooting-Performance, Mike is a nationally-ranked practical handgun competitor, a combat veteran and military marksman instructor, former law enforcement officer and SRT operator, lead instructor in the Federal Air Marshal firearms division and tactics and physical trainer at the training center in New Jersey. Mike has trained professionals in the military, law enforcement, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in South Carolina. He has served as president and COO and Director of Training for the United States Shooting Academy. He has earned over 25 titles from major and area IPSC and IDPA matches including two national and a World Championship. Very few can say they are ranked as a Grandmaster and Distinguished Master, but Mike can claim both. Combining his outstanding credentials and his experience in developing training curriculum, Mike touts that no training program is ever complete.

Whether it is training for personal defense or competition, Mike is adamant that students understand that training needs to have context-driven goals and recommends that anyone looking at a training program, make sure it includes:

  • Dry fire practice several times a week. These should include manipulation techniques such as draw, reloads, malfunction clearing, rifle mounts, stepping, and pivoting movements).
  • Live-fire drills that mimic the dry fire drills. Practice until the student achieves mastery before moving onto more complex skills.
  • Testing of the newly acquired skill set through competitions, simulated events, or standard skill tests.
  • Evaluation of results – good or bad, where is there room for improvement, and where do you go from here.

Mike’s credentials and experience are extensive but his offerings to potential and current students are many. He understands that students come from all sorts of backgrounds, with different levels of experience with firearms, different limitations and expectations, and are as diverse as our society. With that in mind, he has built a wide-ranging offering to include traditional on-site range training programs to online training, downloadable eBooks and video courses, podcasts and blogs, and his newest offering of Livestream classes.

Mike Seeklander demonstrating during a class.

“Once a student, always a student,” is Mike’s training philosophy with an understanding every student has to start somewhere. Mike offers potential students a solid sneak peek at his training methodology with a free downloadable 94 Tips to Becoming a Better Shooter and he created Shooting-Performance Training Addicts, a free member area where students can acquire basic handgun and rifle skills, join the free Daily Dryfire Challenge and access over 80+ handgun and rifle training videos. “Our goal is to get new potential students to access the free material, apply it and then, as part of their continued growth in the sport, either sign up for any of our low-cost training programs such as our 91 Handgun and Rifle Drills or get the most out of Shooting-Performance and American Warrior Society offerings by becoming a member. Our members have access to a six-week online Zoom class, plus countless other benefits.” View this video to get an insider’s look at the memberships.

Allowing potential students to practice in the security of their own home allows them to grow more confident. As a student progresses through the course offerings, that new confidence will carry over to live-fire training via Mike’s Livestream and Zoom classes where students combine downloadable practice scenarios and quizzes to complete and can participate in Zoom meetings where Mike can directly address students and provide demonstrations.

The American Warrior Show is a podcast of the American Warrior Society Mike co-hosts with Rich Brown, a competitive shooter, to discuss a variety of topics and training and interviews with industry professionals and top shooters. The podcasts are a great opportunity for potential students to get to know Mike and his training philosophy and methodology.

“No matter what level of shooting proficiency you are currently at, there is always room for improvement,” Mike concludes. “No gimmick or five-minute video will help you achieve your goals like a commitment to continuous improvement through training. It’s what I do every day; it is who I am. I hope you can join me and see the difference dedication makes.”

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