All too often I hear all kinds of excuses from people as to why they haven’t booked professional defensive training. Others will book classes but have preconceived notions that get in the way of their learning. These are barriers that get in the way of our ability to improve our defensive shooting skills and tactics.
With some female shooters it can be feeling out of place. They somehow have the idea that being able to shoot is a "guy thing." And then there is also the fear of being looked down upon by the men in the class. In the beginning I was against holding women-only classes, but soon realized that they were confidence builders. It is a real hoot to see the light go on behind a woman’s eyes when she realizes, “Hey, I can not only do this, but I can do it well!”
I’ll never forget being at Gunsite and seeing a woman take her first shooting steps in a women’s-only class. She was reluctant, scared and generally unsure of herself. I also happened to be at Gunsite about a year later when she came back for a week-long mixed class—and won the shoot-off at the end of the week. It was truly like seeing two different people.
Others fear training classes because of their age and/or infirmity. Again, special classes may be the answer and those are available. We may have to deal with special issues like shooting with bifocals and arthritic joints, but it can be done. In spite of age and physical handicaps, good training will help a person increase his or her defensive abilities dramatically. To think otherwise is to acknowledge a false barrier.
Ego is a barrier that I see too many shooters, usually men, bring to classes. Maybe the guy has made claims of skill he knows he can’t back up with a real gun in his hands, in front of witnesses. Maybe the guy has issues with taking lessons from someone the age of his grandchildren. Maybe he is just so set in his ways that he is afraid of trying to learn something new. Yes, all American men are born shooters—so now let’s put that aside and try to learn something.
In order to get the most from any defensive shooting class, you have to first examine yourself and honestly identify the barriers that you may have put in place. Then you consciously put those barriers aside and make a commitment to learning.
One of the first things that I tell my students is that we are going to accomplish three things during this class: We are going to be safe, we are going to learn something and we are going to have fun. If you can go into a class with those three intentions, it is going to be a good class.