A Training Roadmap – One Instructor’s Suggestions (2 of 2)
Yesterday I discussed Round 1 of your training roadmap. Round 1 got us started; in it you have established a core set of skills and knowledge based on the most important and probable things needed to protect yourself and others. Now it is time to embed those fundamentals and begin working on some of the less probable but still important skills. At the end of the article we’ll look at some key bullet points that would always be kept in mind when training.
Intermediate Defensive Handgun
This is where you really begin to own the skills you have made; here the investment in learning and practicing begins to pay off. These classes do not really teach too many “new” skills, rather they apply the basics in a manner that applies stress, time, and austere conditions. This is where you begin to see if you really know what you think you learned before.
Talon Defense – Chase Jenkins
CTT Solutions – Mike Pannone
Shooting Performance – Mike Seeklander
Practical Firearms Training – Pat Goodale
I.C.E Training – Rob Pincus / various
TMACS – Pat McNamara
Low-Light Techniques (focus on handheld)
At this point, you are very comfortable with manipulating your handgun (including doing so one-handed). Many times events occur in areas of diminished light, so we should also train in and for that environment. Low-light training also helps further build our ability to fire single-handedly, which is something that might very well happen due to an injury or some other factor that limits us to a single hand.
Talon Defense – Chase Jenkins
NOLATAC Training – Brannon LeBouef
Patriot Defense Training – Brad Vanvaulkenburg
Basic Carbine / Shotgun Courses:
Now that you have a level of personal comfort and mild-mastery of your most probable self-defense tool, it is perhaps appropriate to start spreading your wings. It is time to try new platforms and techniques. Many people want to jump to shooting a carbine or shotgun before they have even gotten competent with their handgun, though that is what they are most likely to use if they ever use a firearm for defense.
Haley Strategic Partners – Travis Haley
Defoor Proformance Training – Kyle Defoor
Redback One – Jason Falla
Vickers Tactical – Larry Vickers
NOLATAC Training – Brannon LeBouef
Yavapai Firearms Academy – Louis Awerbuck
Viking Tactics – Kyle Lamb
Costa Ludus – Chris Costa
TRICON – Jeff Gonzales
Ronin Strategies – Jason Redding / Jason Long
SRT – Steve Reichart
Stoic Ventures Training and Consulting – Mike Lamb
Armed Dynamics – Jeff Bloovman
Advanced Medical Trauma Course (or refresher) Course:
Try to find a new instructor or at least re-take your earlier medical class to see if techniques or gear has changed. Medical skills are one of the first things to go when not used.
Advanced Handgun Course:
Any of the instructors listed should be able to provide a “level 2” type of course. What you are looking for is something that takes you beyond simple stationary and static shooting. These classes should include some kind of movement, barricade work, and possibly unorthodox positions. By now you probably have learned a little bit about how to shop the training market.
Defensive / Evasive Driving:
Adults spend an inordinate amount of time in their vehicles. It is also a place where we see violence occur in situations like road rage, parking lot robberies, or simple vehicular accidents. Learning how to avoid those accidents, mitigate their damage, and utilize the vehicle, as a means of escape or a last resort weapon is important
This where more advanced courses with particular firearms comes into play. Here we begin to look at things like precision rifle, courses specifically designed around vehicle tactics, room clearing and team tactics, survival, etc.
While these courses can be very rewarding and even fun, we have to ask ourselves if based on our actual environment and needs, would we be better served taking another instructor’s handgun course or the latest tactical ninja room clearing night vision one handed course?
Rifles Only – Sniper / Precision Courses
Tactical Response – Contractor, Medical, Sniper, Instructor
Defensive Training International – John Farnum – Instructor Course
Rifle Dynamics – Jim Fuller - AK Armorers / Builders Courses
Haley Strategic Partners – Survival Courses
SRT – Steve Reichart Long Range / Precision Courses
LMS Defense – John “Chappy” Chapman / Nightvision
By this point, you should be well prepared, though never fully prepared, to avoid trouble and/or respond appropriately and effectively when it will not allow you to avoid it. You have spent more than a couple of years and thousands of dollars and hours to get to this point, and rather than your journey ending, it simply begins again… from the beginning.
That is the important thing to remember about training. It is a never-ending journey that often seems like we are caught in a crazy Houston, TX traffic cloverleaf, but that is the point. It is only through positive repetitions of doing the right things, the right way, many times that we begin to truly own the knowledge and skills we have worked so hard to accumulate.
As you travel this path, you will find you have an interest and possibly even a natural ability with certain firearms and techniques. It is important to enjoy those things, but do not let them cloud you from focusing on the things you SUCK at, because at the end of the day, that is what training is all about – getting better, not feeling good about being good.
This might also be the point where you begin to explore being an instructor. Let me warn you, there is a lot more to being an instructor than a bunch of training hours under your belt or a couple of tours in the sand. Being a well-received instructor is a variable mixture of experience, articulation, personality, business sense, and knowledge. As long as you stay within the depth of your knowledge base, if you have the other components, you might find a new calling or at least a fun way to share your experiences and knowledge with others.
Remember these bullet points:
1. Training is learning. You will make mistakes. Mistakes are where the most learning occurs.
2. Don’t be a guru chaser.
3. Keep an open mind to learn from others…even those you may not be specifically paying as an instructor, but who may have something to offer. It is the guy with his ears open more than his mouth that generally gets the most out of any experience.
4. Sleep around. Try different instructors from different backgrounds. Plant your knowledge garden robust to harvest as much diversity as possible. Find those things that work with your body, mindset, application, and equipment.
5. You will get the most from a “basic” level course, after you have moved through “advanced” applications, for it is then that you can review the fundamentals and find your inefficiencies in them.
6. Ask questions. You are paying to be there and need to understand what is being taught. Also ask questions of your fellow students about their experiences with other instructors and their gear choices.
7. Write reviews of your experiences. It is through the collective experiences of others that we learn what instructors have to offer. Pay it back.
8. About mistakes again. Not only are mistakes OK, they are desired in training. It is through our mistakes that we actually learn because they generally come at some cost – financial, physical, ego, etc. Savor your mistakes, OWN them, learn from them, and try not to repeat the same ones—you have now defined learning.
9. Push yourself. Make every training dollar, round of ammunition, drop of seat or blood, and minute of your precious time count for something.
10. Have some fun. Just because you are learning very important skills does not mean you cannot enjoy the camaraderie and fun that comes with learning amongst like-minded people.
Train smart. Train Safe.
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About the Author: Newest RECOILweb contributor Brannon LeBouef is the founder and CEO of NOLATAC Training and Consulting, as well as the owner/operator of The St Bernard Indoor Shooting Center. Brannon spent 11 years as a United States Marine where he trained Primary Marksmanship Instructors. He has been in law enforcement for over 15 years, actively trains people across the country, and continues to work in the Criminal Justice and Defensive communities. He can be reached at Brannon (at) nolatac.com. Check out his YouTube Channel.