How do you train? What is good training? Who, where and how much to spend?

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I have heard and read a number podcast and forums talk about training, usually from trainers. One message is rather than buy a new gun you should spend it on training and ammo. Fair enough if you already own guns and have the cash to buy a new gun you should think about training as an alternative to your gun purchase. I recently bought my last pistol that I for see and will focus on training in the future.

I love to train and miss that from my military days but now it comes down to time, money, family priorities and being unsure of who, what and where and if it is worth it. I know if I own and carry for self-defense it is time and money well spent but the questions remain.

So here are my question and comments. This revolves around more advance skills and topics and not the basic NRA and marksmanship course.

What qualifies as training?
Instructor lead, self-regimented (read, videos, dry fire, range time) or both? Can it be self-regimented only? If it is instructor lead do you require range time? What do you think the minimum time should be? Does a few hour course count, one day, weekend, one week?

Who do you pick and why?
What do you look for in an instructor? What quals must they have? Should they have? I have heard you should find an instructor who has been in critical situations (gun or knife fight) because they will have an insight other will not. I partially agree with that but you if you do you might dismiss some really good instructors who may not have been in a fights but have insight in other ways such as students, LEO and military who have and they work(ed) with?

Would you stay local or travel?
This dovetails off the question above. Will you waste money in travel expenses because it is a big name instructor or do you stay local? There are some affordable instructors and facilities locally but is it worth going down south or out west for close to what you pay for in your own backyard?

How much would you pay?
Loaded and open question but I have seen some great pricing others that make me go HMMM. How much per day and what do you expect to be included?

How do you know you are not wasting your cash?
Like all of us here I read and watch a lot on shooting subject, techniques, legal matters, etc. How do you know you are not getting the same stuff you already know? I truly believe if you can an open mind you will gain something new but at what price. If nothing else it is an opportunity to shoot and network. I always read the good reviews but never see any bad. Are there any?

How do you know if you need training?
I dry fire every night, during the week I have a regimen of practicing my draw strokes from various body positions, even inside the car, schedule time for a revolver and semi from the different carry position I use, and reload drills. I also work in a rifle dry fire. On average I shoot twice a month where I practice the draw stroke, shooting from various allowed positions, dot torture drills, marksmanship and speed drills. I am not competition material nor do I wish to be but my shot placements are very acceptable with pistol, rifle and shotgun. I also try to do an IDPA in when I can to add the stress of time and movement. I feel pretty comfortable in my abilities.

What kind of training would you do?
So what would you choose? This is all with respect to personal defense and not the basics; handguns, long range shooting, shotgun, AR/AK, force on force, Hand to hand, knife, a legal discussion or other? For me I think from a truly practical position a legal course, handgun (both revolver and semi), hand to hand, shotgun and knife. An AR course, long range shooting and force on force would be fun but doesn't seem practical in my world...but I will still do them if I can.

I have to convince myself that I need to rather than want to before I try convincing my wife.
 

M1911

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Good instructors can identify problems that you don't know you have. Drawing from a holster and reholstering are dangerous if you don't know what you are doing -- a good instructor can see that you are doing it wrong and correct you.

For instruction on the use of deadly force, I haven't found anyone who does it as well as Ayoob. You could take his two-day classroom portion for just the legal stuff: http://massadayoobgroup.com/?page_id=7

For shooting, my marksmanship improved more in a class with Randy Cain than in classes I took from Ayoob, Sig, and a couple local places.
 
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Sig Sauer up in NH has a ton of classes. That's where I took my basic safety course a few years ago and it was a great time.

sigsaueracademy.com
 

M1911

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I took two classes at SIG -- Concealed Carry and Advanced Concealed Carry. IMNSHO, Randy Cain is better. My shooting improved more at Randy's class than at both of the SIG classes. YMMV.
 
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I have taken several classes @ sig and would recomend them if you are getting in to training. they offer a varity of 1 and 2 day classes that are reasonably priced and they are close. Jim Conway and crew http://www.neshooters.com/. Offer many classes and bring in big name instructors regularly. Jim is a member here and runs great classes.

I try to take at least 1 training class a year. This exposes me to new techniques. and I then practice those techniques that apply to my personal situation. My current interest is defensive shotgun and I will be looking for training in that discipline in the near future.
 

JimConway

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In 2011 Neshooters is hosting Bill Jeans for a 3 day Shotgun course in the Fall
Bill Jeans will also be doing a shotgun module at the Summit on April 2 & 3, 2011
 

JimConway

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This is something to think about. Most of this discussion has focused on courses. For me, most of my training has occurred after the course was over. Have you ever made a critical assessment of your skills?
if you have done that, how often have you worked on your weak points?
Before you go to the range, it is best to have a plan. If, for example, your weak hand shooting is not up to par, a plan might be to shoot weak hand only until all of you shots are in a 3" group. Then, and only then, will you do some fun shooting.
Remember that, if the shooting that you are doing is what you are good at, you are not training
 
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everything you do can be considered training in some way. Every time you open a box at home or work, pull out your knife efficiently and open it to stable grip. Every time you upholster to go to bed/take a shower, do so efficiently and get a good sight picture when you draw, even if it's pointing down at the floor (goes without saying but always point in a safe direction!). even walking down the street, keep yourself mindful of your surroundings and train yourself to always notice trouble spots. the more you take notice of the small things you do every day the more you can utilize them to help you so you're already doing the rite thing naturally. (think how strict miagi was about wax on-wax off, lol)
 
J

Jose

The competitive shooting organizations are also great training.

I disagree.

You may practice technical elements of shooting in competition. But there is no training going on. Certainly no training on how to fight an adversary using guns, hands, knives, etc.
 

edmorseiii

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I disagree.

You may practice technical elements of shooting in competition. But there is no training going on. Certainly no training on how to fight an adversary using guns, hands, knives, etc.

True, but for someone who is fairly new and thinks they are more competent then they are (been there) you learn quickly what you are doing wrong when you hear the timer beep and everything you think you know goes out the window. I found IDPA practices were very beneficial for things like getting your draw ironed out and working on reload drills.

That said it is not a substitute for structured training.
 

DickWanner

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I disagree.

You may practice technical elements of shooting in competition. But there is no training going on. Certainly no training on how to fight an adversary using guns, hands, knives, etc.

No, but the fundamentals are all the same and if you can't shoot with proper fundamentals then no HSLD technique is going to save you. I for one do not have the $500+ to pay someone else to train me so I train myself.
 
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I for one do not have the $500+ to pay someone else to train me so I train myself.

That is the situation I am in and why I started this post. However, after talking with David Kenik and working a little with Jim Conway it is worth it. Although those two do not charge 500+ but I have seen some organization that do depending on who they are and what they are teaching.

Instructors can introduce you to new concepts, ideas, techniques, etc that you can train on later. Also they have ways of pushing you (safely) to test your limits and moving beyond them increasing speed, accuracy, awareness and all the good stuff. They also train with other trainers, LEOs, Military personnel so you get the luxury of that knowledge as well.

I plan on at least one if not two formal training with an instructor per year.
 

jar

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In the neighborhood of $200/day seems to be the going rate for a class with a big name traveling instructor. I wouldn't pay much more than this unless there were some really sweet facilities involved. The NEShooters summit is a great way to meet a bunch of different trainers and decide where to spend your money and time. NEShooters brings in a bunch of excellent traveling instructors. I see little reason to travel to a school unless you just want to make a vacation out of it.

Regarding picking instructors, once you start training, you'll get to know some instructors and you can see what they think of other people you might want to train with.

I agree that competition isn't training, but it's a great way to pressure test your fundamental gun handling and shooting skills. Take what you suck at in competition as a guide to where to train.
 

JimConway

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I think that you are partly right and partly wrong.
There are instructors that are just teaching for the money.
I know of one instructor that takes a simple concept and drags it out so that he can sell more classes.
Your comments about instructors, as a whole, is so far wrong as to be laughable.

About ten years ago, I would have agreed with you, until I took my first formal class.
In that class I discovered how little I knew. I also found out that most of what I took as gospel was dead wrong. Since then, I have attended over 1200 hours of formal instruction taught by some of the best instructors in the world. Not once, in all of those hours have I ever been thought any material that was in any way useless.
The material was always relevant and always applied to the real world.

Have you taken any formal firearms instruction?
If so, how many hours of instruction have you had?
 
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