The Defensive Trainer

The Defensive Trainer on the Range at Gunsite Sheriff Jim Wilson

Take a variety of defensive training classes and you quickly realize that there are all different kinds of trainers. Some are good, some are really bad, and a few, a very few, are excellent. In my book the worst of the bunch are those who claim police or military background and give off the aura that “I am something that you will never be.” These are the guys who tell way too many war stories and seem to want you to leave the class knowing, beyond a shadow of a doubt, how very cool they are.

In my view, a good defensive trainer does not have to have been in a number of gunfights and dashing adventures. He should, however, be well founded in the actual dynamics of gunfighting. He must know what happens during real-world events when one’s life is on the line. While I admire the ones who have “seen the elephant” during times of war, I really question how his experiences actually relate to what the armed citizen has to face on the streets of this country.

To be successful, defensive training must be all about the student, not about how cool the instructor is, or wants to be. The successful defensive instructor is as well founded in the art of teaching as he is in gunfighting. He knows how to explain things so that the student can understand quickly. He knows how to look for signs that the student is not understanding and he knows what to do to fix that. A good defensive instructor must, above all, truly like people and want to help them learn.

While maintaining a safe range and imparting important material, the good instructor also knows how to keep it fun for his students. It’s just a simple fact that people who are interested and are having fun are also learning more quickly and will retain what they have learned for a long time.

Taking classes from a guy who wants to be recognized as a Super Hero, with the “It’s-all-about-me” attitude, is probably going to be a waste of your time and money. Look for the instructor who is as good a teacher as he is a gunfighter. Look for the instructor who truly likes people and wants to help them learn. That’s the kind of instructor who can give you a life-changing experience. That’s the kind of defensive instructor who is worth every penny that he gets paid, and then some. They are out there, you just have to track them down.

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28 Responses to The Defensive Trainer

  1. Pingback: Daily Firearms News | Gunmart Blog

  2. Mark Fowler says:

    This was a good article to read, and I certainly agree with the meat of the message. The only problem I saw with it is the fact that you don’t shave your head bald and you don’t have any cool tattoos. I think you saying that caused me to have some bias about your judgmental way of thinking when it comes to personal appearance of the instructor. One of the reasons that I will never get to share my expertise with guns and gunfighting at Frontsight gun range is because in addition to my “shaved head and tattoos” I also have earrings in a pierced ear. Like I said I agree with the teaching techniques and the meat of story. Thanks, Mark Fowler

  3. David says:

    I agree with you wholeheartedly Sheriff.

  4. John Odum says:

    I thankfully had the good type of instructors you described in my 1974 LA State Police Academy. On The first day of our two week firearms training the instructor told us he had never been in a gun fight but his job was to prepare us for one. I saw the instructors take rookies who started out scoring 50-60 out of 300 on the first day and having them shooting 280 by the end. In 1974, we were required to start with 18 shots from the 50 yard line and the target was scored 5-4-3-2-1-0 and not 2-1-0 as today. These high standards are still with me today at 63 years old. Thank goodness for great firearm instructors.

  5. JF says:

    Great info on picking the right instructor.

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