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Self Defense Instructors... some thoughts

breamfisherbreamfisher Senior MemberPosts: 13,871 Senior Member
I'll preface this by saying I've never been in the military, LE, or been a civilian contractor. I've never taken a SD course at a Gunsite/Thunder Ranch or something like that.

However, I do tend to read on such topics and watch a few YouTube videos on it.

Perusing the internet and looking at some sites and such, I wonder: what criteria do folks use in choosing who to listen to or who to spend money learning from? Some of the instructors out there seem to be more competitive-oriented in their background, others are ex-military/LE, some don't list any qualifications, and a few actually list combat tours in the military or similar LE experience (SWAT, etc.) I wonder...

If someone doesn't have any actual experience with deadly force, what makes them qualified to really speak to the application of it and use of firearms? Unless you're presenting a curriculum that's been distilled from the experiences of others (LE and military instruction would be an example in my mind - though I could be mistaken) then how valid are the ideas being put forth?

Also, why is it that some instructors don't put up any qualifications or experience on their advertising sites?
I'm just here for snark.
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Replies

  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,428 Senior Member
    Somewhat off-topic, but I can relate some experiences with "educators" in general. Some of the instructors I've worked with have a "fake it until you make it" teaching approach. I've seen various skilled trade classes taught by coaches, people with limited or obsolete skills, and some guys who just rely on a good line of B S to slip by long enough to get tenured and ride the gravy train for the next 20-something years until they can retire. Now, teaching something like woodworking, plumbing, or house wiring might be possible when dealing with greenhorn kids, but something as deadly serious as teaching self defense would be hard to fake for very long.

    Of course, I suppose dealing with greenhorn gun owners, teaching basic gun handling might be a pretty simple thing to do, at least for a while. "Caveat Emptor!"
    Jerry
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    Competitive shooters can teach you how to shoot and the theory of "tactics" from an ergonomics (efficiency) point of view. But, that cannot teach action under fire except by theory.

    If you are using someone else's information or curriculum, you teach from their experience. Not yours.

    A good competitive instructor will tell a defensive class, "Look, I can teach you how to run your gun like a machine and I can teach you economy of motion. But, I will not teach you tactics."

    Tactics should be taught by those who have applied them and found their strengths and weaknesses.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,871 Senior Member
    Mr. Jerry, you were actually someone I was thinking of when it comes to this sort of thing. When it comes to education, we expect the instructors for our mechanics, electricians, masons, and other such jobs to have actual experience with what they're teaching about. In the scientific community professors who teach research are expected to... research.

    I'm not sure I've seen that with self defense....

    And Zed, you bring up a good point: a competitive shooter may be able to teach you how to shoot quicker and more accurately. But I'm not sure they can teach you how to use a firearm in a deadly force situation. You can't pre-solve a defensive situation, and for competitions, that's usually what happens.
    I'm just here for snark.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    I am about the worst student an instructor can have. If you tell me to do something or that this or that action is the best way to do something..........I'm going to ask you "why?"..............if you can't effectively explain that to me.........we are done. The answer "because" don't cut it.

    Then, after you explain to me the "whys".............I'll ask you to prove your actions. Once you show me it's effectiveness.............I'll then validate it for myself.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    As an instructor, my method of teaching is:

    -Ask (how they do something/think they should do something)
    -Suggest (a method if different/better)
    -Explain (why it's better)
    -Show (why it's better)
    -Validate (allow the students time to prove to themselves)
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,871 Senior Member
    What got me thinking was an article about choosing instructors I read in a magazine. The author said he had a friend (LE I believe) who would listen to the instructor's introduction and if it didn't meet his standards, ask something to the effect of...

    "Since you've never personally used this technique against an armed, hostile opponent, why should I listen to you?"
    I'm just here for snark.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    Well, bloody hands can often be proof of concept. But, obviously not everyone has the opportunity to kill in mass. Therefore, validation can also come from having simply applied the tactics with boots to the ground (real life, so to speak). That does not always have to mean a chalk outline was the result. Often times, good tactics avoid that chalk outline or at least there being several of them.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    Sometimes, a dead bad guy means your tactics sucked!
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,871 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    Well, bloody hands can often be proof of concept. But, obviously not everyone has the opportunity to kill in mass. Therefore, validation can also come from having simply applied the tactics with boots to the ground (real life, so to speak). That does not always have to mean a chalk outline was the result. Often times, good tactics avoid that chalk outline or at least there being several of them.
    I don't think that's what was meant (at least that's not how I took it) but rather that if you haven't actually "been there, done that" to some extent, how do we know if what is being taught will work or not?

    Put it another way: say you're learning how to shoot behind cover from a top IDPA competitor vs. someone who runs the risk of getting shot at. The competitive shooter will tend to "game" the cover so you get the maximum amount of body out there so you can engage the targets quicker (from what I saw when I shot IDPA.) The other fellow will tend to use the cover more effectively so you stand less of a chance of getting shot. Little things. Like keeping your feet and legs inside the truck when you open the door to shoot out...
    I'm just here for snark.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    That, I can agree with. If you've never ridden a horse..............how is it you plan to teach ME to ride one?
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,871 Senior Member
    Exactly! That's why I wonder about some of the folks out there who are either spouting defensive shooting info or teaching it.
    I'm just here for snark.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    Little things. Like keeping your feet and legs inside the truck when you open the door to shoot out...

    :sniff:
    :theylistenedtheyreallyreallylistened:
    :sniff:
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    This reminds me, what was that school that had the wackos in black doing all the "acrobatic" crap on the range. Owner claimed to be ex military or some nonsense but attempts to validate his "resume" resulted in dead ends. Anyway, watching those advertisement videos gave me hysterical laughter on the one end and nightmares on the other.

    Laughter that they were doing it and nightmares that they were teaching it.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,871 Senior Member
    I'm just here for snark.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    BINGO!!!!

    I needed that laugh. Thanks.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,871 Senior Member
    I need to start carrying 2 large tantos so I can roll out (literally) and pull them out.

    Would I get extra flash point for carrying folders or fixed blades?
    I'm just here for snark.
  • bobbyrlf3bobbyrlf3 Senior Member Posts: 2,587 Senior Member
    If I could piggyback on Bream's OP, how much field experience is enough for you? How many real-world experiences qualifies one to offer informed instruction on how to handle an SD or HD situation?

    I deal with a lot of people who have little to no firearms experience who want to learn; some ask a lot of questions, but more often than not, I hear them repeating garbage that they've picked up somewhere. You know, the usual myths about guns, shooting, and SD situations. I want to correct them on the misinformation, especially in a group conversation where they're spouting that crap, but I don't want to make myself out to be something I'm not.

    I guess that's a long-winded way of asking where do you draw the line between speaking on what you know from talking to or reading from people who know, and speaking from your own experience?
    Knowledge is essential to living freely and fully; understanding gives knowledge purpose and strength; wisdom is combining the two and applying them appropriately in words and actions.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    Common sense is common sense. If the methods are sound, it doesn't matter who suggests them. If they're stupid............they're stupid.
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • EliEli Senior Member Posts: 3,074 Senior Member
    Depends on what I'm wanting to learn. For the most part, I couldn't care less if they've "seen the elephant."

    How vs. why.

    For the MOST part, I want to know "HOW", if the instructor can help me to get the "how" down pat, then it doesn't matter what their background is. It's only when we move beyond skill and into actual tactics that the "why" comes into play. For "why" I want someone who has BTDT.




    Also, anyone that I go to for instruction HAS to be a student as well.

    "Fortuitous outcomes enforce bad tactics and breed complacency."

    If 30 years ago Buford T. Fife got lucky and dropped 3 bank robbers with his S&W Model 10, using a cup and saucer girp and Weaver stance, while standing perfectly still in the middle of the street, and still to this day states that "this is ALL you need to know, 'cause it's what worked for me"........then I honestly don't think he has anything to offer me as far as instruction goes.

    The instant someone stops learning is the instant they cease to matter as a teacher.
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 12,040 Senior Member
    I have attended a few schools (AAMOF, I'm getting some personalized 1-on-1 instruction this weekend- a present from my awesome wife), and have done a lot of 'self-paced' learning with some of the big name DVDs and videos. None of this makes me an expert on this in any way, shape, or form. In my estimation, a trainer does not have to have been some high-speed, low-drag operator operating in tactical multilevel battle spaces.

    What they need to be is SAFE, a great TEACHER, and have proven methods and cuirriculum. The two schools I use the most have instructors that pride themselves on going to other schools and learning from other instructors. I see no problem in an instructor learning what other people use and have done, and using it in their curriculum... as long as they are honest about it. I actually wrote up a short post on the subject of choosing a shooting school that was supposed to go on one of the blogs on G&A's home page, but it never went live (Probably a comment on my writing more than anything). Here is the post:
    Recently on the Guns and Ammo Forums, a new member joined with a concern about a pistol instructor that she had gone to. This member was concerned with the professionalism and safety of the instructor. She related that the instructor had fired a round without making sure that his students had the standard safety equipment in place- In other words, this guy cranked off a shot before everyone had their ears on. The concerns of a new member and new shooter prompted me to do some more research so I could gather more information.

    Every day there seems to be more and more shooting schools opening, with instructors advertising their wares on the internet and in local classified ads. There have been numerous posts on the various blogs, message boards, and customer review sites with shining recommendations and competing horror stories. How do you know the right class to choose? What should you want in an instructor? What should you avoid?

    I believe that the first place to start is with yourself. What do you want to learn? If you are looking for a basic concealed carry class, you don’t want to go to a school or class that is teaching military contractors how to do dynamic room clearing. You need to start off with an open and honest review of your own skills and needs, and then pick a class that fits your unique situation.

    The second place to check is the instructor’s or school’s website. Check for references. Check the promotional materials. Look for clear course descriptions with a defined goal. Also, make sure you have your horse-squeeze detector on full alert. If you see too much mall-ninjary, super-tactical gun-fu flips, dives, and outright dangerous behaviour- don’t go. If it looks unsafe to you, trust your gut and let that be a warning.

    Ask the instructor about a refund policy, and be up front and honest with them. You need to be prepared to walk away from a class if you get there and there is something is blatantly unsafe or if the instructor or school does not teach the skills that you are wanting to learn. If the school does not have a policy to return your fees if you are not satisfied- take that as a red flag. If the instructor knows what they are doing and teach a good class, they should have no worries that you are going to walk out and want your money back.

    And finally the next suggestion is to ask friends. Look for recommendations from places and people you know and trust. That can mean checking with personal friends, enthusiasts you know on social media sites, consulting forums, or any blogs that you follow. Ask any coworkers and family members that shoot and may have taken a class. Google the class and instructor, but take that with a grain of salt- they are letting anyone write stuff on the internet these days.

    Gather as much information as you can and you should have a firm set of data that can help you make your decision.

    There is a movement going on in the professional shooting instructor community to standardize on a set of guidelines and a code for training and professional instructors. A growing number
    of industry professionals are working to make sure that both shooting schools and course
    instructors are both safe and and provide a benefit and value for students.
    Rob Pincus: A Code for Professional Defensive Shooting Instructors
    Grant Cunningham: What is a Professional?
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • cappy54cappy54 Member Posts: 269 Member
    Bream, as an instructor myself all i can say is that this is the proverbial argument as same as small and fast or large and slow.There are some that say that an instructor with combative experience is better than one without. But many instructors have looked upon the shooting cases known which have been analyzed studied and dissected and brought those to the range ie: the infamous 1986 Miami, FBI shootout, many protocols where brought because of this.

    I myself have many credentials that i advertise but others are to myself and myself alone(hope you understand) having said that always check with others the quality of the instructor before spending any money ie: recommendations from previous students. So, does he need any combative experience? I can't say. And if i may, for your own good and being as your are involved in shooting and maybe even CC take some classes train and hope that some day that training may not be needed. Good luck.
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 8,491 Senior Member
    I have been there three times now, because I want the same training that SF groups get:roll2:
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,321 Senior Member
    Zee wrote: »
    Competitive shooters can teach you how to shoot and the theory of "tactics" from an ergonomics (efficiency) point of view. But, that cannot teach action under fire except by theory.

    If you are using someone else's information or curriculum, you teach from their experience. Not yours.

    A good competitive instructor will tell a defensive class, "Look, I can teach you how to run your gun like a machine and I can teach you economy of motion. But, I will not teach you tactics."

    Tactics should be taught by those who have applied them and found their strengths and weaknesses.

    There is much wisdom here. I would add that ability to TEACH is at least as, if not more important than how many fleas lived in their Special Forces beard. They may very well be an extremely lethal Delta Operator Ninja Tactician (D.O.N.T.), but if they can't intelligibly convey what they know, they are wasted as an instructor.

    I think a facility needs to be able to operate with a hard focus on both levels - all the sexy tactics in the world won't help you if you can't hit the broad side of a barn after successfully deploying them, and all the marksmanship in the world is useless if you get killed because you pulled the car up too close before getting out. The outfits that have "This is the dangerous end" classes as well as how to fast-rope from a Blackhawk, with a variety of instructors to suit are probably your best bet.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 18,112 Senior Member
    Well said! There have been a few classes that I was sent to back in my working days that were so incredibly bad that I packed up and left at the very first lunch break...and did my best to ensure they never got another dime of the governments money...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Jack BurtonJack Burton Member Posts: 386 Member
    How does one who has seen the elephant as a civilian, advertise such a thing? I mean think of the civil liability, even if the person was not subject to a civil suit in the immediate aftermath of their SD experience years ago, how can they market themselves (let alone make money from) an experience in which someone (even if a BG) died without attracting unwanted civil attention from say the family of the deceased? This doesn't even get into speaking of the actual experience as a part of a class lecture. Can you be ruled to have purger-ed yourself if you misspeak one time in 100 class lectures when telling the tale.
    Came for the fishing, stayed for the guns.
  • VarmintmistVarmintmist Senior Member Posts: 7,945 Senior Member
    Bigslug wrote: »

    I think a facility needs to be able to operate with a hard focus on both levels - all the sexy tactics in the world won't help you if you can't hit the broad side of a barn after successfully deploying them, and all the marksmanship in the world is useless if you get killed because you pulled the car up too close before getting out. The outfits that have "This is the dangerous end" classes as well as how to fast-rope from a Blackhawk, with a variety of instructors to suit are probably your best bet.

    This, however it should actually be two separate things. that are linked tightly together. Its my argument with Fudds when I hear 'Huntin aint shootin." for the same reasons. You can go runnin through the jungle as well as taking to the timber, but if you cant shoot, then you are not going to be effective.

    I think if you are taking a course that is trying to teach you which end is the bangy part and then doing a helo rappel in a week is likely a waste of time.

    I wonder how many classes are geared for folks that just want to feel "operator". There was a group that people were paying large to be trained shooting at a range I was at when my teammate and I were testing out his Mosin at 600. Supposedly there were cops that their depts paid large for so they could take this "Training". They were all concerned that we didnt know what we were doing and would interfere. We talked them into letting us take the far left side in the grass with warnings to not shoot their steel 1/2 person sil targets. We seemed to be OK I guess.

    I gotta say that I wasnt impressed. Here was thousands of dollars in gear all over their section of the range and their senarios were set up like a "mortar squad" at 300yds that you had to "take out" (they never mentioned how you got to within 300 of said mortar squad) and then "take out" a squad back to front from like 300 to 200 yds. All of this with the instructor calling hits and misses, shot off a bench with scoped AR's. There may have been a target at 500 but I dont think so. It was day 2 so I dont know if they were doing other stuff before, and I know they did a night fire which would have been fun, but practical?? It was Black Hat so I dont know it they do other stuff and this was just a fun fire for some folks or what. Though some of it looked fun, and they seemed to run a safe range, I am pretty sure that I won't pay for it.
    It's boring, and your lack of creativity knows no bounds.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 9,321 Senior Member
    I think if you are taking a course that is trying to teach you which end is the bangy part and then doing a helo rappel in a week is likely a waste of time.

    Yes. Exactly what I meant.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • BuffcoBuffco Senior Member Posts: 6,244 Senior Member
    Guys I've played a lot of FPS so I've got tactics coming out my ears. You can ask me stuff.
  • ZeeZee Senior Member Posts: 27,449 Senior Member
    Buffco wrote: »
    Guys I've played a lot of FPS so I've got tactics coming out my ears. You can ask me stuff.

    You coach Chuck Norris, right?
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • BuffcoBuffco Senior Member Posts: 6,244 Senior Member
    Yes. I had to dumb it way down because he was a simpleton, much like you lot. Plus, he didn't have much in the way of physical conditioning.
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