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Old March 25, 2013, 01:24 PM   #1
abherbitter
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What To Ask

I live in an area unfortunately devoid of good ranges. But my 40 years of wandering in the desert are soon to end as a pistol range will be opening up near by HOPEFULLY late this spring (here's hoping April showers bring May flowers). A friend of mine forwarded me a reply he got from the VP to an RFI he had sent in wherein the VP says they will offer courses in self-defense as well as general marksmanship. I'm keen to take both but what kinds of questions should I ask about the classes before throwing my money at them in order to decide if these are really going to be helpful, or if it's just a couple guys who watch too many action movies?
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Old March 25, 2013, 01:27 PM   #2
Spats McGee
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I'd start with Cost, Coverage and Credentials. What's it going to cost? What's it going to cover? and What are the credentials of the folks teaching the classes?
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Old March 25, 2013, 04:42 PM   #3
redhologram
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Quote:
I'd start with Cost, Coverage and Credentials. What's it going to cost? What's it going to cover? and What are the credentials of the folks teaching the classes?
That would probably be where I would start as well.
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Old March 26, 2013, 12:02 AM   #4
Buzzcook
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Ask to meet the instructor. If possible observe a class.

If the basic safety/pistol class is relatively inexpensive, start with that. It should give you a good idea of how subsequent classes will go.
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Old March 26, 2013, 10:22 AM   #5
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You have to start somewhere. The NRA Basic Pistol class teaches to move from the simple to the complex. A solid foundation (stance, grip, etc.)has to be laid in order to move on to more advanced levels of pistolcraft.
Whether or not one uses the NRA model, we all pretty much develope a new skill the same way. Although, at different paces depending on our learning style.

Just sayin'

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Old March 26, 2013, 01:19 PM   #6
Spats McGee
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Originally Posted by Gone_Now
how will he know what SHOULD be "covered"? And what is a waste of time and money for him. A lot of this stuff currently being sold as "training" is never going to matter for a civilian. It's wannabe SWAT stuff. And how would he know what "credentials" matter? Having been a cop or a soldier doesn't mean that a guy can teach well. Ditto their having done well at matches, having been successful hunters, and so on.

I suggest that first he ask his library to order some books on the subject, a couple by Massad Ayoob, a couple more by John Farnum. google for Paladin Press, search for defensive shooting there, use the ISBN numbers, titles, and author info so obtained to get the books via your local library. :-)
It is my sincere hope that nothing that I ever learn in a Self-Defense class ever comes to matter one whit to me. So what? Does that mean that I shouldn't take a handgun class focused on SD?

We don't really have any idea from the OP how much experience abherbitter has with firearms. It could range anywhere from "I just bought my first BB gun" to "been shooting for 25 years, just never had any instruction." He may be in a position to judge what sorts of topics will be useful for him. As for judging the credentials, would you suggest that he simply not ask? What good will that do him?
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Old March 26, 2013, 02:53 PM   #7
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Abherbitter

The sad truth in life is that one is much able to properly critique instruction (of any subject) AFTER one has mastered the subject than when [first] learning. I don't know your level of ability, but you seem to have some interest in the matter and I presume some actual experience in 'shooting' at least.

Basic Marksmanship should cover stance or posture, grip fundamentals (possibly both single handed target work and two handed defense shooting configurations), breath control, sights, sight alignment, sight picture and trigger release (or squeeze, pull, stroke or in my case 'convulsive spasm'). This class will include how to fire a well aimed single shot, and possibly how to put several well aimed single shots together for 'timed' or 'rapid' fire.

Self-Defense should cover legal aspects of defensive shooting. What - IN YOUR STATE - is 'justified self-defense'. (Most places are fairly similar, but the small details can cost a great deal of attorney fees and incarceration time if not correctly observed.) The shooting portion should include concepts like mental preparation, types of practice for self-development, actual 'targets' on the human body - and possibly on predatory animal bodies if such problem presents. The difference between 'target' and 'combat' sights, 'flash' sight picture, 'lead' on a moving target, concepts of 'cover' and 'concealment' and deescalating techniques.

In general terms, I would suggest an instructor with law enforcement background over an instructor with solely military background for self-defense training. The rules of engagement and mindset for defense is different between 'citizen-defender/lawman' and 'soldier'. There are some glowing exceptions, of course. The downside is many lawmen types have a built-in persona of 'in charge' and can be a bit difficult with whom to deal. Again, some glowing exceptions.

Also, bear in mind that firearms trainers are often their own biggest fan. Most have worked very hard to become proficient with small arms, and jealously protect their accomplishments. Some of them are as good as they think they are. Some aren't. But as in much of life, one cannot always tell ahead of time.

Also, some instructors may be very well versed in the mechanics of gun handling, but very poor in legal knowledge. If nothing else, a self-defense instructor should know the appropriate sections of law for your state and at least show you where to look up the law so you aren't totally ignorant.
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Old March 26, 2013, 04:08 PM   #8
abherbitter
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roberg I think makes some good points. In relation to my own skill level--I've got a wealth of irrelevant technical knowledge (hey guys did you know the gauge number of a shot gun is determined by the multiplicative inverse of the weight in fractions of a pound of a lead sphere with the same diameter?) and limited shooting experience. My father was an Infantry Captain (anyone else enjoying a Legacy USAA membership?) and decided he'd had enough of firearms for his tastes and so the only guns I grew up around were non-working replicas my grandfather built from kits.

I purchased my first pistol in early 2012 and I have a Taurus Millennium Pro PT145 and I've shot probably 500rds. Maybe a another hundred or two on times when I've gone to the range with a friend who lives out of state (much to my dismay since he's a retired Sheriff's Deputy and would give me a ton of free tips).

Let me also say that I'm really sad you aren't the instructor here, Archie. Can I convince you to move and possibly change careers?
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Old March 26, 2013, 04:52 PM   #9
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Here you go, right in your home state.
One of really good trainers - Tiger McKee:
http://shootrite.org/
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