7 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Firearms Instructor

7 Questions to Ask When Selecting a Firearms Instructor

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Most responsible people who shoot regularly know that the learning curve can be greatly improved when you take training from a qualified instructor rather than trying to teach themselves from youtube videos and articles on gun forums.DSC00112bing And hopefully most people realize that we can certainly practice, practice, practice what we know but cannot train ourselves since practice is nothing more than repeating perfectly what you have been trained to do.

When it comes to self-defense training is even more important in that during a violent encounter you will sink to your lowest level of training, and if you have had none, that will be your lowest level.

Selecting an Instructor

Finding a quality instructor is not that easy really since in the firearms instruction business there are no barriers to entry and anyone can get a rudimentary certification and hang out a shingle. When you have come to the level of learning where you are consciously incompetent, meaning you know you don’t know and you want to learn it is wise to determine what your training goals are and what you hope to obtain in training. Different instructors offer different areas of expertise for instance let’s say you want to compete, you might seek an instructor who is or has been a national level competitor. On the other hand let’s say you want to go to work with a LE agency, you might seek an instructor who has been a LEO or still is. There is a decided difference in study and expertise between competition shooting, law enforcement, military and self-defense. When you look at the four different realms keep in mind your purpose and objective, if you want to be able to defend yourself in a violent encounter you should probably seek instruction from those whose sole focus and experience comes from that field. And now, the sort of defining factor, the instructor has to be able to quickly communicate to you those skills you are seeking for regardless of the instructors’ background and experience, if they cannot quickly teach you are only going to have a “range master” barking commands at you.

What is the Instructor/Schools level of experience as an Instructor?

DSC00041If you found that you needed surgery would you select a Doctor that does 20 or 30 surgeries a year? Probably not because you know two things, the more someone does something generally speaking the better they do it over time and secondly, your life may depend on that persons success. The same really holds true to firearms Instructors. As mentioned earlier anyone can become an instructor, post a class listing and voila, I is an Instructor . . . and they may actually hold 20 to 40 group classes a year. When I personally seek instruction I look for a specific instructor who teaches 150 to 200 days a year because I know he is good at what he does, imparting knowledge to the student. I look for an instructor who is more interested in my learning than the number of bodies (read that as fees) that they are able to generate over a certain time period. The busier the instructor is, who is working with individuals rather than groups the better my chance of achieving my learning goals.

What is the stated focus of the School/Instructor?

For me, I am looking to learn how to be a better teacher so that is my focus and I look specifically to Instructors/Schools that train Instructors. When I started these learning process years ago I looked for Instructors who focused primarily on the area of expertise I was looking to learn. If you wish to play Spec Ops you might look for an Instructor/School that focuses on teaching military. If your objective is to become a better IDPA competitive shooter you might look for that kind of school.  If you want to be able to defend yourself in a violent encounter I suggest you find an Instructor/School that focuses on that specific goal because one size does not fit all and all of the different shooting disciplines have distinctly different ways of doing things with firearms. If the Instructor does not state specifically there is a good chance they are a one size fits all mindset, that all types of shooting activities are the same.

What is the satisfaction level of former students?

Almost all Instructors receive good reviews; I mean after all who is going to demean publicly a person who knows how to shoot well. So how do you determine what the students think about the value they received? You could ask for a list of names to contact from say the last 10 to 15 classes they taught. If an Instructor would not be willing to do that for me I would wonder what it is they are trying to hide. You can always check their testimonials online but you have to be able to read between the lines and realize no one is going to outright bash a bad firearms Instructor, at least not publicly. You can also check with local ranges and gun stores, these people do not mind being honest because a quality instructor is beneficial to all in the business, if they know of a dirt bag they will not hesitate to tell you and most will steer you to Instructors they know the reputation of.

What class size are you willing to suffer?

Suffer? What does he mean suffer? Class size will determine how many strangers with guns you are going to have to interact with. Class size will determine based on the student/instructor ratio how much of the instructors’ actual time you will receive.IMG_0415 As an example, there are 15 people in the class, it lasts eight hours and there is only one REAL instructor . . . you will receive in actuality less than one half an hour of that instructors attention and time during that day. I took a four day class once at a nationally known school, there were 50 shooters in my class and each day there was one Instructor and one assistant and on two days there were two assistants. So for those four days I received a total of less than one hour of the Instructors time, and I paid top dollar for the class . . . not the best return on my training investment. So in the end, you have to ask yourself how much of the Instructors attention do you want and that will help determine the class size you are willing to suffer,

What is the flexibility in terms of scheduling and location that you require?

Are you able to pick the day of the week that you want to take training? What about the week or month of the year? Most Instructors post a class date and that is it, you go that day or you don’t go. I’m not sure about you but my life requires just a bit more flexibility and unless I MUST have instruction from that ONE particular instructor, I have a hard time being tied down to their schedule. For me that means my selections become limited. I don’t like limited, do you?

What is the specific Instructors background as it relates specifically to teaching?

The objective to taking training is to learn and subsequently the Instructor must be able to teach. Because a person performed a firearms related job most of their lives does not mean they know how to teach. Teaching requires modifying your method of communication with each individual student to ensure the students understands the instruction and accomplishes the stated goals of the lesson. Sitting in a chair off to the side of the range barking Range Master orders through a megaphone to a line of shooters is not instructing. And just because the instructor explains something thoroughly does not necessarily mean the student understands. No student fails, only instructors fail. This means in essence that the quality instructor will have had in his background a proven level of success in training people in complicated tasks. But this does not imply in any way that the Instructor does not have to have a level of proficiency in the field they are teaching as it is a fine balancing act. A teacher/instructor succeeds the greatest when the students can surpass the Instructors personal ability. There is nothing more satisfying to me than to have a student out shoot me in an exercise or drill because it simply means I did my job well.

What is this going to cost?

I mentioned earlier in class size how much of the Instructors time do I receive. Firearms instruction is not a Walmart item, cheaper in bulk is not going to give you the best learning ability if your life is potentially on the line based on what you learn. There has to be a way to compare the value of different instructors/schools. Let’s use this as an example. You are going to pay $250 for a 16 hour course, and there will be two instructors and 20 students. That is the same as having one instructor for 10 students. Essentially you are going to receive 1.6 hours of the instructors dedicated time for $250, which means if you had the full dedicated attention of one instructor for 16 hours your real cost of instruction is $156.25 per hour of instructors’ time, or in reality you are receiving only 1.6 hours of individualized training. There is a reason Instructors like doing large classes, they make more money. If your instructor is more interested in how much money they make versus the amount of real instruction you receive, they might not be the best pick because in the end, YOU DO GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR and if your life could be on the line I for one am not going to make my decision based on purely cost.


This list is not in order of importance to me; it is just my thought process when I look to take firearms training for myself. I hope no one takes this post as an attack on some instructors, it is not meant in that manner but it is given in the same intent as we do our teaching, to ensure that the student gets the best possible, up to date training in personal self-defense because in the end, it is all about the student.


How do you decide which firearms instructor is best for you?

How do you decide which firearms instructor is best for you?


Jarvis Nelson OsorioNothing is worse than having a bad instructor!! The situation was the same when we were all in grade school. Some teachers were great; they were kind, patient, understanding, courteous, and professional. Above all, they inspired and motivated us to learn and improve. Others were rude, short spoken, unmotivated, and worst of all….incompetent. So in today’s world of firearms instruction how do you find a good instructor that embodies all those positive attributes that you so highly prize in a teacher/instructor? Perhaps the question burns in your mind of, “Why do I need a firearms instructor.” Let’s deal with the second question first.

So why do you need a firearms instructor?

Part of the answer lies in the three goals of all NRA firearms courses; these goals are Knowledge, Skill, and Attitude. One of my favorite sayings is, “Knowledge will set you free.” In short, knowledge is the key to skill and a positive and confident attitude about your ownership and use of firearms. People who know how to do things do a better job than people who do not. People who know how to farm or fight or perform brain surgery all do a better job in those related areas than those who do not know or have never been taught how to do those same things. None of us are born with some divinely inspired ability to shoot a pistol, rifle, or shotgun well. Knowledge and skill must be acquired the old fashioned way by learning from someone who already possesses the knowledge and skill that you want. Just being born “male” does not guarantee that one will grow up and be a safe gun handler or a championship shooter or the top dawg at the local hunting club. I unashamedly acquired every ounce of knowledge and skill that I have from some other kind and capable gent who was gracious enough to show me how to shoot. I really thought I knew how to shoot a gun, a pistol in particular, until a highway patrolman friend of mine showed me how to hit a four inch steel plate at a hundred yards standing freestyle with an open sighted Smith 686 revolver. I was humbled and stricken with awe and immediately became a willing student. About the time I thought I was amounting to something, I went to my first IPSC match and once again got a big dose of humble pie when I realized again just how much better those guys were than I was. So again, I found a friendly and capable IPSC master shooter to travel with and study under as I worked my way toward master class in that organization. This scenario has repeated itself over and over many times in my life as I constantly grow and learn under capable individuals who have knowledge and skill to share. The conclusion to draw from this first principle is simple; we can all benefit from some good quality instruction. If you want to improve your scores in IPSC competition or IDPA competition, then get an instructor. If you want your Enhanced Concealed Carry Permit (IC sticker) then the state of Mississippi requires that you get an instructor. If your area of interest is skeet, sporting clays, combat shotgun, long-range shooting, or metallic silhouette, and instructor can advance your knowledge, skill, and attitude faster than anything else you can possibly do.

How do I select a good quality instructor

Now for the “other” question, “How do I select a good quality instructor that I will have a good quality experience with?” The short answer is to do some homework and ask some questions. The fastest growing type of instruction in our state right now is the Enhanced Concealed Carry Permit Class. Gun owners and concealed carry permit holders are flocking to ranges and private instructors in unprecedented numbers to jump through the “instructor certified” hoop and get their IC sticker for the Enhanced addition to the basic Mississippi Concealed Carry Permit. There are also lots of new instructors who have hopped on the bandwagon to take advantage of this new revenue possibility. Like our childhood schoolteachers, most of these new instructors are competent and capable of providing a quality experience ….but NOT ALL! So how do you avoid the bad apples, and what do you look for when selecting an instructor, particularly an Enhanced Concealed Carry pistol instructor? Let’s look at some stories that have come my way. How about the instructor who spent a lot of time during the classroom portion pointing a firearm at the audience and exclaiming, “Don’t worry, it’s not loaded”? Note to self, avoid this guy!! I sat in a class a while back and listened to an instructor repeatedly talk about the hammer on the pistol that he was using to demonstrate. The demonstration pistol happened to be a Glock which does NOT have a hammer. Again, minor error, but this fellow obviously was very new to firearms and firearms instruction as well, not dangerous, just incompetent. A student of another instructor’s class said that the instructor repeatedly belittled and made fun of people in the class and their firearms calling some of their guns “…pieces of s#!^…” No one intentionally pays to be treated that way. Avoid this guy! I met a lady in Jackson, MS just out of her Enhanced class. She was tickled to death with her instructor. I asked her if she got to do any shooting. She exclaimed excitedly, “Yes, we shot almost ten times!” Hmmm? Now what kind of instructor certifies a person for ENHANCED concealed carry of a real gun with a test of fewer than ten rounds of live fire? Avoid this guy. I’ve had a dozen people cancel one of my events to attend another area instructor’s classes because these guys are doing enhanced certification certificates in the evenings in less than three hours! Guys, the state of Mississippi Department of Public Safety requires that the enhanced class be at least eight hours. These guys are breaking the MDPS laws and guidelines with their shorty “drive-thru” certificate classes. Again, avoid such instructors.

So what DO you look for in an instructor?

First, look for EXPERIENCE! Ask how long he has been shooting. Ask if he has ever shot competitively and what rank he held in the organization. Ask how many rounds of ammo he shoots a year. Ask how long he has been teaching. Ask for some references and call and check up on them. Ask if he has his own range and how many classes he teaches a month. Ask what else he teaches besides Enhanced Concealed Carry. In short, you are looking for EXPERIENCE. Do not be overly awed and wowed by vocational titles. Just because an instructor is a police officer or former CIA or secret service or military or some other acronym does not make him a competent shooter or a competent instructor. The vast majority of the absolute best combat hand gunners in this nation every year are typically NOT law enforcement or military. I have the utmost respect for the law enforcement community and for our military service men. However, you can only ride those titles so far; at some point in time they also have to be able to demonstrate knowledge, attitude, and skill with a firearm in order to be an instructor. I personally watched a fellow with about half a dozen fancy instructor titles shoot in excess of 100 rounds of ammo and two different pistols before he qualified in a basic NRA pistol instructor course. Out of 17 participants only three people qualified the first attempt. Now which of those 17 do you want to PAY to be YOUR instructor? I watched another shotgun instructor candidate struggle with loading his semi-auto shotgun for a firing drill during NRA instructor training. I could not help thinking, “This is a nice guy and means well, but good grief, he is struggling with loading his own shotgun to shoot in this course….and at the end of it, he is going to be a certified shotgun INSTRUCTOR????”

As a thirty-year veteran high school teacher, it always troubled me to hear the saying, “Those who can …DO; those who cannot do…Teach.” I was always a tad offended by that saying; however, it seems to hold true in many cases in the firearms instruction business.

let’s consider the two questions posed earlier

To conclude, let’s again consider the two questions posed earlier. Why do we need to hire a firearms instructor? How do we hire a good one? The answers and solutions are clear. We all need Knowledge, Skill, and Attitude instruction and there are plenty of good instructors out there who have the three things we are seeking. Secondly, all we have to do is a little homework and ask a few questions to see if a particular instructor has the experience and people skills and general good manners to make his classroom instruction professional and pleasant. A really good instructor told me once in a classroom setting, “People may or may not remember what you teach them, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” When I come away from a class feeling motivated and energized and inspired as well to take that knowledge and skill and go out with a good attitude and share it with others, then and only then do I KNOW that I just gained and grew as a person and as a shooter; and I know that I must have had a truly great instructor.

How to Buy a Bulletproof Vest

Edited by Judithavory, XxCourtneyLikesCookiesxX, Denise, SkittyRocks! and 9 others

Although most commonly associated with members of police officer SWAT teams, bulletproof vests are worn by patrol officers, private security, and by anyone needing protection from being shot. Also called ballistic vests, the first modern bulletproof vests were developed in the 1960s for the military, with police first using them in 1969, a year after the development of the first SWAT team. If you’re planning to buy a bulletproof vest for your personal protection, here are the things you need to know.



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    Know the difference between hard and soft body armor. Hard body armor uses plates of metal or ceramic material to stop anything up to a rifle bullet or shotgun slug. Soft body armor uses layers of special fabrics to catch the bullet in flight and disperse the force of its impact. Soft body armor can stop bullets from most handguns, shotgun pellets (up to 12-gauge 00 buckshot), and blunt shrapnel.

    • Hard body armor plates are made of steel, ceramic, or polyethylene. They are highly resistant to impact along the face of the plate, but, especially in the case of non-metallic plates, they are vulnerable to blows along their edges, requiring careful packing when shipped.
    • Soft body armor is made from woven aramid fibers such as Kevlar or Twaron, or resin-impregnated parallel or cross-plied polyethylene fibers such as Spectra or Dyneema. The newer polyethylene fibers are as impact-resistant as the older aramid fibers while being lighter in weight, but they are more vulnerable to environmental degradation. Currently, experiments are being performed with carbon nanotubes as a possible material for bullet-resistant vests, and there are also experiments using gel-like fluids in conjunction with existing fibers to provided added protection at the site of impact.
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    Know the available levels of protection. Bulletproof vests are rated according to the amount of blunt force impact they are capable of stopping. Levels of protection currently available include the following:

    • Level II-A vests are the thinnest available. Generally 4 mm (0.16 inches) thick and made of soft materials, they are designed to be worn under clothing for long periods of time.
    • Level II bullet-resistant vests are generally 5 mm (0.2 inches) thick. They are the vests most commonly worn by patrol officers. They can either be worn concealed under a loose-fitting shirt or over clothing.
    • Level III-A vests are 8 to 10 mm (0.32 to 0.4 inches) thick. Heavier and stiffer than Level II-A and Level II vests, they are designed to stop heavier-grain bullets, such as those from a .44 Magnum, and rapid-fire attacks, such as those from a 9-mm submachine gun. They are designed to handle minor combat situations but can still be worn under clothing if need be.
    • Level III and Level IV vests incorporate 10- by 12-inch (25- by 30-cm) armor plates ranging from 1/2 to 3/4 inch (6 to 25 mm) in thickness to cover the chest and back. Each plate adds 4 to 9 pounds (1.8 to 4.1 kg) to the 3 to 5 pounds (1.36 to 2.27 kg) that the soft body armor vests weigh and reduce the wearer’s mobility accordingly. These vests cannot be worn under clothing and are the kind normally worn by SWAT officers.
    • Stab-resistant vests use armor plates similar to those in Level III and Level IV armor plate vests. (These vests are worn by corrections personnel to protect against being stabbed by prisoners with smuggled-in and improvised knives and stilettos.) Stab-resistant vests are rated according to the energy of impact they can deflect. [1]Levels of protection currently available include the following 3 Levels and are tested to protect against Stab Pressure with the penetration Limit of 0.28″ / 7mm: Level 1 – Protects against pressure of 24 Joules (J), Level 2 – Protects against pressure of 33 Joules (J), Level 3 – Protects against pressure of 43 Joules (J).
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    As do the plates in Level III and IV bulletproof vests, they add weight and bulk to the vest, reducing mobility; they can, however, be worn under clothing.Pending the outcome of further research, the plates may be replaced with the gel-like fluids described above.

    • Some bullet-resistant vests are designed to allow the wearer to insert additional armor plates to add layers of protection. These vests can accommodate armor plates to make a vest stab-resistant as well as bullet-resistant, as soft body armor can protect only against slashing knife attacks, not stabbings.
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    Decide whether or not you want a concealable vest. Level II and Level II-A vests can be concealed under a thick, loose shirt or a thinner dress shirt and undershirt. Level III-A vests may require a sweater or suit jacket to be concealed effectively. However, Level III and Level IV vests require at least a heavy jacket or sweater to be concealed or a battle dress uniform, and they are usually worn over clothing.

    • A vest worn under clothing is often white in color, so that it can be mistaken for an undershirt if you normally wear your shirt with the top button unbuttoned. A vest worn over clothing is usually dark in color.
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    Choose a vest that fits you. A bulletproof vest should fit you reasonably comfortably. Too large a vest will be ill-fitting and tend to slip, while too small a vest may expose vital organs to injury. Some manufacturers make bullet-resistant vests only in standard sizes, which may be a problem if you buy online and can’t be fitted before you buy.

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    Choose relevant add-ons[2]. Body armor protects the torso – front and back only. If you want to protect your shoulders, neck, sides or groin, you’ll need an add-on.

    • There are many aftermarket and official add-ons that fit some or most body armors manufactured today.
    • Add-ons will anchor to the vest and protect different parts of the body. There are extra defenses for the shoulders (Shoulderguards), the abdomen (Side protection), the neck (Gorget, or Neckguard) and groin (Groinflap).
    • Make sure that the add-ons you buy will anchor to your basic vest. Also make sure they can be fitted snugly to your body, so they will not constrict your movement.
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    Consider your budget. Not only do additional layers of protection add weight to the bulletproof vest, they also add to its cost. However, some body armor dealers resell used police vests to private security and civilians.

    • Used body armor has been tested by the National Institute of Justice and found to be as bullet-resistant as new armor. Aramid fibers such as Kevlar and Twaron last for many years; however, the fabric in the outershell carrier may wear out faster in a used vest than a new vest. You’ll also have to replace the elastic in the carrier sooner in a used vest than a new one.
    • Some dealers offer volume discounts for multiple purchases, which may be important if you’re outfitting a mall security force or group of bodyguards.
    • Consider the guarantee offered by the seller, as well as the manufacturer’s warranty.