HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR GUN TRAINING
When deciding to seek gun training, many factors must be considered, including the quality of the coaching, your goals, the expertise and perspective of the instructor, the emphasis of a specific class, the investment, and venue, and more. Assuming you've chosen a safe and reputable instructor or training facility, you can take a few steps to ensure you're an excellent defensive training student and get the most out of the experience.
Undoubtedly, selecting an instructor who is an excellent fit for your objectives and expectations is critical. You'll also want to ensure you're comfortable with the instructor's credentials.
Once you've found a suitable instructor or academy, the first step is assessing your current skill set. How are your shooting fundamentals: grip, stance, sight alignment, and trigger press?
A good indicator of this is whether you can place rounds wherever you want at the distances you usually practice, and this could be done untimed and without pressure. If your rounds aren't hitting where you desire them to, irrespective of your experience, you should probably take an introductory shooting skills class. If you are hitting your targets, it's time to examine your basic mechanics: loading, reloading, drawing and presenting your firearm, and clearing malfunctions.
Enroll in classes that focus on mechanical fundamentals if your basic mechanic skills are not second nature. If your fundamentals are solid, you can concentrate on tactics such as target engagement under stress, tactical movement, post-engagement scanning, and other skills to help you survive a violent confrontation.
This type of self-evaluation aims to determine what you really need to work on before moving forward. If you honestly assess your current skills, it will be much easier to find a suitable class to meet your needs. It is also worth noting that you may need to take prerequisite classes to train at the required level. If this is the case, approach them with humility and a focus on improving your skills. Knowing where you are can also assist you in developing realistic short-term (for the next class) and long-term (for improvement) goals.
Ensure your equipment - gun, magazines, ammo, holster, flashlight, and so on - is appropriate for the class before attending. Check your equipment, then double-check it. Bring extra ammo, magazines, optics and flashlight batteries, backup eye and ear protection, and so on, depending on the class. Don't miss a great lesson because you forgot something or because your equipment is damaged.
Arrive early, locate the restrooms, and familiarize yourself with your environment. Take the time to meet the other students and connect with them before the class and during breaks.
It is also crucial to recognize that a class with limited time is not the place to try out new equipment. Likewise, if your primary goal is to improve your defensive skill set, don't bring your "competition gun" just because you shoot it better; this would defeat the purpose. Instead, get the equipment that best matches what you would use outside the class while remaining within the limits of required gear for the course.
For example, I strongly recommend wearing tactical gear if you are in a tactical shooting class. Likewise, if you are in concealed carry dry-fire class, you should consider wearing everyday carry gear for your training. Again, if you are in a live fire shooting class, you may want to wear outside-the-waistband holsters and belt-mounted mag carriers.
Every instructor has a "style," and knowing what that style is, is critical to your success. When students ask questions in class, pay attention to the instructor's body language. Is the instructor exciting and knowledgeable, or are they full of themselves and condescending? You may decide that this instructor's style isn't for you, but bringing it up during class is disruptive and rarely appropriate - the exception being immediate safety concerns.
My instructor style is lively, spirited, and unique. All of my students are encouraged to ask questions, but I also expect them to honor the time constraints of any course I teach. Before asking a question, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if it is a legitimate one that will benefit other students. Is it a brief example that will substantiate what the instructor is saying? Is this more about objecting to the debated main points or even bragging about your knowledge? If you have a legitimate question, go ahead and ask it.
Just be mindful to wait until after the class or during a break if you plan to ask questions that disagree with the main points discussed. That way, you steer clear of creating class confusion or the appearance of grandstanding. Your goal is to learn as much as possible while remaining true to your role as a student.
Many instructors have taken courses as students and ended up with instructors lacking experience and skill. Don't pass judgment too quickly. Instead, focus on what you can learn. Take in all of the information. Take thorough notes. Please include it in your frame of reference and comprehension. When you are not shooting, you should observe, watch others perform drills, and listen to the instructor's instructions. It's a great way to broaden your understanding. I've never been to a class where I didn't learn something useful, even just by observing the instructor's distinct teaching style.
It would be best if you also tried to help the class in any way you could to ensure it runs smoothly. For example, if the instructor is changing targets and you have nothing else to do, offer to assist. The more time saved, the more time there is to maximize your training dollar.
PERFECT YOUR METHOD
A good student should have a positive mental attitude and a strong desire to learn and make the most of their education. Attending a class should be about being open to new information and instruction rather than showing off your knowledge. These objectives may shift, but even when I enroll in an introductory class, I ask myself what I can learn and how I can improve. You are most likely learning new material and will not be proficient in it right away. Please keep this in mind.
Even if a class is required, keeping a positive mental attitude can help you get the most out of your education.
Every once in a while, an instructor will teach a technique that I know does not work well for me, but I am willing to try it, considering how they are teaching it and considering the rationale provided, and for whom the technique might work. Although I do not use the process in my training, I acknowledge its benefit for some and the methods used to teach it. A mindset focused on objective evaluation, and goal customization will optimize your experience before, during, and after the class. A positive attitude will also improve your fellow students' experiences and allow you to develop into a trainee the instructor expects to see again.
Written by Hasan Harnett
Hasan teaches people how to protect themselves, loved ones, and others. He is a leader and holistic self-defense coach who has integrated fitness, fighting arts, and firearms into a comprehensive system for the everyday person seeking superior defense training and intelligence.