Selecting The Right Firearms Instructor

There are more and more firearms instructors out there. How do you chose the one that's right for you?

posted on October 14, 2022
Sheriff Jim Wilson

There is no question that good defensive instruction is expensive. That is just a fact that we have to live with. Our goal should be to find an instructor who meets our needs and causes us to feel that we got quite a bit for the money expended. For example, the instructor may teach from the perspective of his military training, while we live in a major city and need different skills to survive. That doesn’t necessarily make him a bad instructor, just not the one we need. And there are many other facets of selecting good instruction. Here are some of the thing that I look for.

Thanks to social media, a person can pretty easily find other who have trained with a particular instructor. I will ask them for their overall opinion of the class and whether or not they feel it met their needs. I want to know if the instructor ran it like a boot camp or if an effort was made to truly teach the material and help the student assimilate it.

I am particularly wary of an instructor who comes across as “I am something you will never be.” I think we learn better from a person who takes the position, “If I can learn it, you can too.” Right in line with that, I avoid those who want you to believe that they personally invented successful defensive tactics. Instead of patting themselves on the back, they should give credit to people like William Fairbairne, Jack Weaver, Bill Jordan, Jim Cirillo, Jeff Cooper, and others who paved the way in personal defense.

While I have always liked a good story, I prefer that an instructor not take up too much of our class time with war stories. Stories should be brief and should be used to illustrate a certain point that he is trying to teach. The entertaining tales are probably best reserved for the breaks and for the evening bull sessions. 

I also want to know if an instructor takes time to teach the importance of awareness, use of cover, and the use of movement. In my view, quickly getting behind good cover is more important than the ability to do a sub-second speed load. Regardless of what the instructor teaches, does he take the time to explain the importance of it? It is not only a matter of “here’s what we do”, but also “here’s why we do it.”

So, before you spend your hard-earned money on a class, do some investigating. Following this suggestion, I have taken some great classes and learned quite a lot. In fact, in all these years, I have only been in one class that was a waste of time and that was only because an editor assigned me to it.  Do your due diligence, check ‘em out, and enjoy the learning experience.


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