View Full Version : A question about training courses
April 5, 2012, 10:30 PM
I am planning on attending some additional handgun courses this summer. Right now, I'm just trying to decide the best approach. There will be several good instructors who will be giving three day/weekend courses either around my home town or within reasonable driving distance, and on a mix of subjects (basic handgun, close quarters tactics, and the like.) If I wanted to, I could probably take one a month between May and September.
I started looking at the numbers and doing the math on what this would cost (between round counts, etc.), however, and realized that instead of doing this, I could just save my money and just go to Gunsite for a week instead. (It would be more expensive after lodging, transportation was factored in, but not decisively so.)
So...all else being equal, what would be better from a training perspective? One week at Gunsite, or a few courses over a few months with different instructors? I'm kind of inclined to pick the latter, since it seems to make more financial sense, but lots of people say that Gunsite 250 is a 'life-changing' experience (and there's a certain cachet about going there, I'll admit.)
April 5, 2012, 10:57 PM
My vote is for the serveral courses with different instructors.
April 6, 2012, 12:00 AM
Either way. A lot depends on what the individual courses are, who the instructors are, what your training has been thus far and what you're looking for.
I've taken some excellent, local one and two day classes from fine instructors, and those have been valuable. And I've been to Gunsite three times, and would not trade those experiences for anything.
I don't know if it would help, but I wrote this article (http://ezine.m1911.org/showthread.php?t=87) about my last trip to Gunsite, almost a year ago, for the Intermediate Handgun class. You might find it interesting.
April 6, 2012, 01:46 PM
Do Gunsite. As noted, it will be a lifetime experience. More importantly, however, a week of "total immersion" is far more likely to result in positive knowledge retention than several short courses.
April 6, 2012, 05:16 PM
Before you decide what classes to take, you should have a learning goal that you'd like to accomplish, that way you can pick the classes which best serve that goal.
April 6, 2012, 09:38 PM
Frank: I enjoyed reading your article.
April 6, 2012, 11:40 PM
...I enjoyed reading your article. I'm glad you did. Thank you.
April 7, 2012, 06:50 AM
I just finished reading your article. It was VERY interesting and informative.
Makes my decision even more difficult, of course -- Gunsite looks very appealing!
Thanks again for your help.
April 7, 2012, 07:35 AM
I would think multiple Courses could be good from the point of having several slightly different courses not all alike. The multiple courses may all me designed to take you from Point A to Point C. Taking multiple courses just takes you from Point A to C several times. Not a bad thing for learning.
Now with GunSite you might go from Point A to Point E with the longer course. Then you have all the simulators to learn on.
Normally the short courses do not have all the nice things to work with you will have at GunSite.
I would vote for GunSite if you can swing it.
I have an Instructor buddy who just got back from his third trip. Nice to be able to go on the company dime, ammo, travel, lodging, meals, and all.
Unless I win the lottery, I do not see myself ever making the trip.
Off to the Range for Steel Challenge.
April 8, 2012, 04:45 AM
I wish I was in your dilemma! The first thing I would look at is having this many different instructors teaching various classes so close to your home normal or out of the ordinary. If it's the latter, I would take the various ones and save up for Gunsite next year or even the year after as Gunsite isn't going anywhere anytime soon...at least I hope not. Like someone else stated, a lot depends on who the instructors are. If they're well known folks that are held in high regard then by all means, take those classes. If you have never heard of them and after reasearching you're still on the fence with even one or two, than you would probably be happier with Gunsite. Regardless of your choice, you're going to have a great time and pick up some invaluable tips either way. Enjoy!
April 8, 2012, 06:50 AM
@Freakdaddy: It's actually something of the norm. In Pittsburgh, we are fortunate to have a non-profit called the FIRE Institute (http://www.fireinstitute.org) run by Gunsite alumni who periodically invite some really good people to do training at a local range. The head of the organization is a local attorney, and he also does some pure lecture classes on the law -- last year, after Pennsylvania's Castle Doctrine took effect, he did a one-day seminar on the subject.
They mostly rely on word-of-mouth for advertising so, unfortunately, some of the more advanced classes sometimes get canceled due to lack of interest (a class on disarms and weapons retention fell by the wayside this March,) but the basic-level 3-day pistol, rifle, and shotgun classes seem to always go on schedule. They also do some one-day introductory classes. I took one of those a few years ago right before I purchased my first handgun, and I think it really introduced me to the necessity of quality training.
April 8, 2012, 07:45 AM
A mix of training settings, schools and instructors is best.
Locally-offered training from instructors that do "traveling road shows" is the most affordable. Sometimes it's of outstanding quality as well. In this vein I have done both Rob Pincus and Gabe Suarez courses. Many training DVDs also come to mind, with the Thunder Ranch series being those with which I am most familiar.
By all means, go to Gunsite if that draws your interest. Immersion is good, and probably just as important you can make contacts with those of similar interest. Schools like Gunsite attract students who are serious gun people, and you can learn as much from the students sometimes as you do from the staff. The social benefits of such an experience are of lasting value. You should continue to do local courses when you get back.
I opted for Thunder Ranch as my "exotic" travel and training destination, probably just because I like Clint's drill instructor style, having been in the Fleet Marine Force myself (Semper fi, etc. :D) Thunder Ranch in Lakeview, Oregon ain't near anything, so travel was expensive, and for me, prohibitive of repeat visits, at least anytime soon. But the facility and its setting are impressive. You will get in shape just walking up to the shooting deck from the parking lot a couple of times per day at 5,000 feet elevation.
That said, remember that what these schools -- local and otherwise -- should be imparting to us is an appreciation for which fundamentals of gun handling and tactics are important, and why. At that point it's up to us to drill, maintain skills and advance on our own. Schools are one path to competency, not assurance of it.
April 8, 2012, 12:27 PM
Viper225: If you plan a trip one to two years ahead of time..then it can be done without breaking a budget. Ten bucks here, 20 there, it all adds up.
April 8, 2012, 01:00 PM
I like the idea of training with different instructors, but, Gunsite, Thunder Ranch, and Firearms Accademy of Seatle are all on my personal "Bucket List". Two years ago I took a two day class with John Farnam (Defense Training International)at a local range, last year I went to the Polite Society Tactical Conference at the U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa where I got to meet and train with folks like Marty Hayes, Rob Pincus, Claude Werner, Masod Ayoob, Tom Givens, and a host of others. This year I,m am signed up for a two day advanced pistol class with Chuck Taylor at the Corbon Law Enforcement Training Center in Sturgis. All of these, great expiriences and well worth the money, but places like Gunsite will always be "Meca" for me. :D
April 9, 2012, 07:01 PM
In the last 2.5 years I have taken 5 Gun Fighting Courses. One was local to where I live and the other 4 were travel to by car. I have done Force on Force and shooting from my car at multiple targets. No one school has all of the answers, but each one can give you many parts of the puzzle from which you can draw on when that time comes. At 64YO I have been the oldest in 3 of the 5 courses. Having shot competition for the last 22 years (USPSA), I do shoot fairly well. My last course 2 weeks ago was a High Intensity Course that had many shooting positions in it that I had not done before. The schools way out west are a bit out of my ability to get there, get ammo there, and stay in a Hotel. Those that I can drive to and from I will continue to attend.
Good Luck in the courses you select and take a variety of them.
April 11, 2012, 12:35 PM
Posted by Frank Ettin: I don't know if it would help, but I wrote this article about my last trip to Gunsite, almost a year ago, for the Intermediate Handgun class. You might find it interesting.
In reading your article, I saw the quote from the Gunsite instructors about "We teach the Weaver stance." In the photos, it appeared that some students were shooting from an Isosceles stance (or a close approximation).
Does Gunsite require students to shoot from the Weaver stance ?? (I understand the "Attend class with an open mind" business, but am asking how they handle the Weaver/Isosceles aspect).
April 11, 2012, 02:05 PM
I vote for taking several courses over time for two reasons. First, I think it will be easier to absorb the training with time in between to think about and practice the concepts taught, vs the shotgun approach getting it all at once.
Second, I would want to be exposed to all the content before doing something really great like Gunsite. I feel I'd get more out of the experience of going to Gunsite if it wasn't my first time with the basics.
April 11, 2012, 02:44 PM
People here get personal protection weapons no training required there might be some safety training available but that's it. There is a lot of different training courses in America is all this training necessary for civilians. More people are killed in car crashes than by firearms but after people pass their test that's usually the last testing they do they drive every day but that's not to say they are doing it correctly.
Bubba in c.a.
April 11, 2012, 06:07 PM
I`ve had no real training (just infantry, MP, hunter safety, and CCW) and hope to go to my first class this year if money allows. After reading a lot of books and watching DVDs, I see a problem in mission drift. Most stuff I`ve seen is more oriented to police or shtf scenerios.
I want to search out a trainer who is focused on SD/HD -- me versus a burglar at o,dark:30. Local means more money and time training and more opportunity to dump the instructor if he doesn`t work out right.
April 11, 2012, 07:41 PM
People here get personal protection weapons no training required there might be some safety training available but that's it....That's too bad.
...is all this training necessary for civilians...Training helps one improve his level of skill and competence. It's necessary only if one wants to improve his level of skill and competence. A responsible gun owner will want to improve his level of skill and competence.
In an emergency, one will respond using whatever skills he has. If his skills are good enough, he'll be able to deal with the situation appropriately. If his skills are not good enough, he'll probably be unhappy with the way things turn about. If it ever happens to you, you won't know in advance what you'll need to be able to do to prevail. The better you are, the more skills you have and the more you're able to do, the luckier you will be.
...In reading your article, I saw the quote from the Gunsite instructors about "We teach the Weaver stance." In the photos, it appeared that some students were shooting from an Isosceles stance (or a close approximation).
Does Gunsite require students to shoot from the Weaver stance ?? (I understand the "Attend class with an open mind" business, but am asking how they handle the Weaver/Isosceles aspect).... Actually, most of us were using a Weaver or variation, insofar as we were using some degree of isometric tension (push-pull). That's the principal characteristic of a Weaver.
But for the intermediate class (350) the instructors tend to me somewhat more flexible as long as the student is performing satisfactorily or unless whatever the student is doing might be problematic. However, when I took the first level class (250) ten years ago, they were quite strict about using the Weaver. Of course, for that class Jeff Cooper was Range Master; and he was not known for being flexible regarding doctrine.
In any case, I'm a strong believer in the proposition that an accomplished shooter should be able to manage quite well with either a Weaver or Isosceles (as well as both dominant hand and non-dominant hand unsupported).
...I want to search out a trainer who is focused on SD/HD -- me versus a burglar at o,dark:30...Do you really know what you're going to need to be able to do it confronted with your burglar. Good training is, I believe, less focused on particular tactical situations and more focused on basic skills.
April 11, 2012, 09:33 PM
I always like to know the professional background of any instructor since the term is used rather loosely.
April 12, 2012, 07:55 AM
They say when the SHTF, and its for real, you can expect to lose at least 50% of your skill that you have in a relaxed situation (for example, on the range, when you think you don't need more training).
When you do take a class, and they start working in things like movement, speed reloads, tactical reloads, shooting from cover, issuing verbal commands, and responding to unexpected situations, you will learn that you need more training.
If you've never shot competitively, IDPA or similar, that is a great way to find out how much you need training. Getting those sights lined up when the pressure's on is a lot harder than you'd think.
Basically, if you haven't had any training, you suck, and you need training if you want to be at all proficient in any kind of real world situation.
April 12, 2012, 11:22 AM
My teenage nephew who has never had any tactical, SD training was attacked by a boar one morning... he had a empty rifle slung over his back and was able to put (2) rounds into the boar which ended the event. Later he stated that he never remembered loading. His level of training was basic safe operation of a firearm and hunting with his Dad.
I am 100% in support of training.. but the idea that people are somehow bumbling goofs under stress without specialized operator training, is just not reasonable.
April 12, 2012, 11:44 AM
My teenage nephew who has never had any tactical, SD training was attacked by a boar one morning... he had a empty rifle slung over his back and was able to put (2) rounds into the boar which ended the event. Later he stated that he never remembered loading. His level of training was basic safe operation of a firearm and hunting with his Dad....All that shows is that he was able to deal with the particular problem he faced with the particular skills and abilities he had.
...the idea that people are somehow bumbling goofs under stress without specialized operator training, is just not reasonable. Under stress, one doesn't "rise to the occasion." One defaults to his level of training. Confronted with a problem, one will use whatever skills he has available. If he's good enough, that will work. But if his skills are not up to the problem at hand, things won't turn out well.
The thing is that you can't know ahead of time what your problem, if you have one, will be; and so you can't know ahead of time what you're going to need to be able to do to solve your problem. And therefore, the greater your skill and the more you can do (i. e., the better trained and practiced you are), the luckier you'll be.
April 13, 2012, 04:11 AM
Since you live in Pennsylvania, taking several 3-day weekends over a few months will probably be much easier to arrange than taking an entire week off plus travel time to Arizona to go to Gunsite.
Taking classes locally, provided that the instructors are good, will provide more "bang for the buck". And a Gunsite 250 can still be a goal for the future . . .
Who are the instructors, if you don't mind saying?
April 13, 2012, 04:26 AM
Buy the Gunsite TACTICAL PISTOL HANDBOOK and also THE MODERN TECHNIQUE OF THE PISTOL by Greg Morrison.
And search on Amazon.com or Alibris for a copy of COOPER ON HANDGUNS (the 1974 edition is longer and better, the 1979 edition is OK)
If you plan to go to Gunsite in the future, that will get you started. Practice the pistol drills in the Tactical Pistol Handbook in preparation.
April 13, 2012, 09:04 AM
...Does Gunsite require students to shoot from the Weaver stance ?? ...A little more on this question.
I noticed that my friend, 9mmepiphany answered the question over on THR. He recently took the 250 class at Gunsite, so his information on that class is more current than mine. On the Weaver, he wrote here (http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=8084270&postcount=5):...I really liked that even though they teach shooting from the Weaver (and it isn't like a lot of other places I've seen teach it), they don't insist that you shoot from it...they do ask you to give it a chance. I went there to see how they taught it and to give it an honest try as a defensive technique...it took about 3 days to really get a feel for it....
Anyone interested in Gunsite might want to read his entire post.
May 2, 2012, 08:45 PM
Many firearms instructors will tell you-beware of those that travel, grab a brief case, go a couple hours from home and you are suddenly and "Expert"
I am in no way directing this statement at any of the names previously mentioned, but there are some traveling shows with zero street cred, zero real skill, collecting cash because they are a "new name" in town.
Multiple instructors, multiple options for technique, different ideas, we all continue to learn from one another. Whatever you choose, training and trigger time shouldn't hurt! Enjoy
May 4, 2012, 12:44 AM
I've been going to firearms training classes since 1980.
Most years I've gone to one class. Some years I go to two or three, depending upon schedule and geographical location and my cash flow.
One criteria I have always used is, has the instructor published articles in gun magazines, or written a book, and does their point of view make sense?
Not all of the instructors I have trained with were widely published, but it is one thing that I look at.
Another option is to research on the various firearms related forums (The firing line, lightfighter, getoffthex, etc.) and read after action reports from class participants. AARs can alert you to classes you might want to attend and also tell you what to expect, what gear to bring and what skills to practice ahead of time.
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