Buyers Guide

The Value of Firearms Training

Anyone who owns a firearm (or who is thinking about purchasing their first firearm) should consider formal training with a qualified firearms instructor. Whether a firearm is intended for competition sports, hunting, or self-defense, the value of firearms training cannot be overstated. Becoming a good shot and building proficiency with a firearm can be a fun experience as a person establishes and masters a suite of practical, transferable marksmanship skills.

What is the Purpose of Firearms Training?

You are no more a marksman because you bought a pistol than you’d be a musician because you bought a guitar. – Jeff Cooper

Firearms training goes beyond simply hitting the target; a qualified instructor will impart skills and knowledge to develop mastery of a firearm through proven structures of training combined with a superior framework of self-improvement and practice.

Whether through training as part of a group or through an individual instructor, these skills will prove be transferable and relevant to a wide application practical firearm use, whether training is intended for sport, hunting, or self-defense.

What Are Types of Firearms Training?

While most firearms can perform a variety of roles well, it would be a struggle to identify any single firearm that lacks distinct limitations beyond their design and intended purpose. The skill and practice gained through proper training will empower a person to compensate for these limitations in an effective and intentional manner.

Fundamentals & General Safety

Introductory courses focus on firearms safety and marksmanship fundamentals. Often taught in small groups, these courses welcome questions and generate generate useful interactions to illustrate fundamental do’s and don’t’s. Classes will introduce technical information such as firearm actions, types of ammunition, sights, and along with manuals of arms used by different firearms. Even those who possess years of self-taught firearm experience are likely to benefit from an introductory course to validate experience and habits through a qualified instructor.

Pistol & Rifle Courses

Pistol and rifle courses introduce a wide range of firearm categories along with mechanical and functional concepts. This includes semiautomatic pistols, revolvers, bolt action rifles, semiautomatic rifles, lever-action firearms, and much more. Each variation of firearm requires specific operational knowledge to effectively and safely operate and maintain, and pistol and rifle courses provide a comprehensive overview of this knowledge along with reviewing their capabilities and limitations.

Shotgun Courses

More so than pistols and rifles, shotguns require specific knowledge regarding various actions, barrel chokes, and different types of specialized shotgun shells. Shotguns are easy to learn, but they also have a wide range of applications (IE clay shooting, multigun, hunting, home defense) that benefit from knowledge from an experienced and qualified instructor. This includes recoil management, proper ammunition selection for an intended purpose, and how to overcome the limitations inherent to most shotgun designs (lower capacity, larger dimensions, heavier weight, etc).

Hunter’s Education

Hunter’s education reviews outdoor gun safety, hunting laws, sustainable collection practices, and it teaches hunters to act as conservationists in tandem with park rangers on national parks and public hunting grounds. Hunter’s education builds an understanding of the hunter’s role in surveying, controlling, and preserving wildlife populations to better understand their numbers and movements in a precise manner for each season.

Self Defense Courses

Self-defense shooting is teaches legal usage of firearms to identify and stop imminent threats posed by hostile persons. Since legal firearm owners carry the burden of responsibility to properly identify and appropriately act upon a threat, they require knowledge, skill, and practice to use their firearms precisely and judiciously during an act of self-defense, in public or in one’s home.

Firearms Training is Affordable and Accessible

Due to the rising interest in firearms training and shooting sports, firearms training has seen a growing number of qualified instructors, many who draw from careers in military, law-enforcement, and competition.

Quite often, instructors will provide firearms for demonstration and practice; owning a firearm is not always necessary to take the course. Be sure to contact the instructor ahead of time to understand what their course will provide.

This trend has made firearm training more affordable and accessible than ever before, and many courses of instruction are tailored specifically for new and prospective gun owner.

Group Training

My first Basic Firearms Safety Course reviewed extensive knowledge regarding established safety practices and marksmanship fundamentals. The group environment put basic ideas into a practical space with many questions and scenarios I had never considered. To me, it was interesting how many attendees possessed years of self-taught experience, and these people brought useful knowledge to the group.

This Basic Firearms Safety Course cost me $80 (split between two people), and included practice with a .22 Caliber pistol, another semiautomatic handgun of my choice, and enough ammunition for an hour of practice on the firing line. By comparison, a typical first-time trip to a shooting range costs roughly $60-80 for just an hour of range time, one firearm rental, and ammunition & targets.

The additional knowledge along with hands-on correction and instruction helped me build marksmanship foundations which I still rely upon, while fostering confident, safe handling of all firearms I encountered afterwards.

Personal Training

With a personal instructor, expect to gain one-on-one guidance while practicing marksmanship fundamentals on the firing line. This includes hands-on adjustments and review of marksmanship form to build a self-guiding framework of knowledge and practice.

My first personal instruction session cost me $100, and it helped me overcome numerous performance barriers and plateaus. May stance, grip, presentation, and accuracy vastly improved during my first instruction session while I also engaged in new forms of practice to build skills beyond my known limits.

The real takeaway was being introduced to and practicing proven structures of practice, a better understanding of how to evaluate performance on the firing line, and drills which could be practiced at home without live ammunition.

Learn What Works and Doesn’t Work

A qualified firearms instructor will instantly recognize and address the deficiencies and bad habits on the firing line, and they possess the experience to quickly correct these habits to improve numerous points of marksmanship.

Quite often, a person needs a basic reminders and subtle corrections to execute upon concepts which they already know; it is easy to become overwhelmed or fixated on a single aspect of marksmanship while ignoring others. A qualified instructor will address these blocks and fixations in an effective manner.

A self-taught marksman can develop many of these abilities through trial-and-error, but the cost of this approach is usually high, requiring higher volumes of repetition guided only by superficial indications of success or failure. This approach also runs the risk of practicing techniques incorrectly, cementing poor habits, or over-investing in skills which are already sufficient.

Using a qualified instructor, I was able organize my practice efforts to establish a superior rate of improvement while learning skills which helped build consistent performance.

Additional Layers of Control & Safety

Both new and experienced shooters who have never received firearms training can greatly benefit from a pair of fresh eyes to observe their proficiency, consistency, and safety. Small details pointed out by a professional instructor will go a long way in ensuring a lifelong journey in marksmanship training without incident or mishap.

Anyone who works to be as safe as possible realizes the level of vigilance required to truly be safe at all times. A new shooter can easily be overwhelmed by numerous factors: New and unfamiliar firearms, noise and recoil, frustration and difficulty when trying to hit a target. It helps to have a witness to eliminate any reticence or intimidation that might ultimately impair progression or inadvertently create unsafe behavior.

Through training, I learned how to safely place my non-dominant hand when drawing from the holster, how to safely perform a non-emergency reload with a round in the chamber, and most importantly, the things I should ignore along with things I should remember during a combat scenario.

Where to Find Firearms Training

Search online and seek out qualified trainers who have demonstrable experience, national certifications (IE NRA-certified instructors, ranked IDPA competitors, former LEO or Military professionals); any qualified instructor will be part of a professional training school with professional affiliations with local and federal law-enforcement and military organizations.

Many qualified instructors will have associations with your local range, and quality instructors will also have no shortage of available reviews and testimonials about their services and qualifications.

(Perfect) Practice Makes Perfect

“Pistol skill is nothing very esoteric. I think it takes a good deal less to be a good pistol shot than it does to be, say, a really good typist”. – Jeff Cooper

A person can become a proficient marksman without formal firearms training, but it will be difficult to truly master a firearm without guidance from a qualified instructor. A self-taught learning will also be expensive, require more time and repetitions, and it will be fraught with limitations that are difficult to divorce from any trial-and-error approach.

Firearms training with a qualified instructor will always be the most efficient way to master a firearm. Both classroom and personal instruction will help people excel outside their comfort zone to achieve performance beyond self-established limits.

Like a golf swing, hitting a baseball, or playing an instrument, the key to constant improvement is blending knowledge with practice, and firearms training draw experience from a qualified professional with years of mastering and build mastery of firearms in others.

Related Topics
The 4 Fundamentals of Marksmanship
First Time Shooting Range Guide
The 4 Rules of Gun Safety

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *