I've been told that people, especially men, often do a little bragging to cover up for their own insecurity. This may be the reason that those of us who teach firearms training often hear the old line, “Hey, I've been shooting since I was just a kid.”
While this is often true, it generally means that they've been plinking that long and maybe doing a little hunting. What they are often covering up is that they don't know doodly-squat about defensive shooting but are too into the whole macho thing to ever admit it. You can't help but feel sympathy for the guy who is foolish enough to inform Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch or Ed Stock at Gunsite Academy of these alleged facts. The response from these gentlemen is often something other than pretty. This attitude usually last about the first two hours of the class, and then individuals decide that they'd better buckle down and learn to shoot if they plan to get a passing grade.
I can't imagine why a person would spend the kind of money that it takes to attend a week-long firearms training class at a professional defensive school and not show up with an open mind and a desire to learn. Arguing with a professional instructor rarely ever can be expected to impress them. Trust me on this – students are very rarely pulled out of a class and given the job of instructing that class.
A good friend of mine, at my suggestion, took the week-long 250 pistol class at Gunsite. He later attended several NRA defensive shooting schools at the Whittington Center. His attitude was, “I am going to show up with an open mind and try to perform exactly like the instructor is trying to teach me.” Surprisingly for some, this friend actually feels like he got his money's worth at all of the schools.
I've talked several times about the responsibility of a truly professional firearms training instructor. He has to be a people person and he has to know how to teach. A good firearms training class is not about the instructor and it is all about the student and helping him/her to learn.
But students have a responsibility, too. They must enter a firearms training class with an open mind and make an honest effort to learn. They must do their best to learn the techniques and perform them in the manner that the instructor requests. When they raise their hand in class, it should be to ask questions, not to tell tales of derring-do. The only exception to this would be if the student perceives a safety issue and even this should be questioned respectfully.
Some years ago, I took the bolt-action rifle class at Gunsite, a class designed for the rifle hunter. Now, I have been hunting since I was just a kid and really didn't think that they could teach me anything that was new and different. You have no idea how glad I was that, for once, I kept my big mouth shut. They did, in fact, teach me a lot that has improved my hunting-rifle performance immensely.
So, when you get to that next firearms training class, realize that you bring a responsibility to the class just as the instructor does. You can't imagine how glad it makes a defensive instructor to hear, “I'm here to learn. When can we get started?”
So, lose the attitude. You'll be glad that you did.