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View Poll Results: When do you wear body armor?
While training, to include tactics, PT, etc. 4 10.53%
On duty or in theatre. 5 13.16%
Rarely. Usually stashed in the bug out bag. 2 5.26%
Both 1 & 2. 9 23.68%
Never! I'm the Highlander... 18 47.37%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 38. You may not vote on this poll

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Old June 8, 2012, 09:12 PM   #26
Doc Maker
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I think you're implying that those students are going to make the same mistakes over & over. I don't see that, I see new and exciting ways to make me **** my pants all the time.

I suppose I should've been clearer in the OP. I'm not really that concerned about the fashion sense. When I HAVE to wear it, the other instructors do too so no one stands out. I'm more interested in the etiquette for those other situations. Even taking it out of the red carrier and wearing it concealed, armor is never THAT concealed (maybe in winter.) I'm also thinking of starting to wear my old plates during my workouts.
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Old June 8, 2012, 10:05 PM   #27
animal
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I have a vest, ugly cream color thing, but have never worn it training a new shooter.
But … there have been a couple times I would have been more comfortable with the heavy, hot, thing on … a particular 80+ yr old lady with deceased hubby’s .32 auto comes to mind. Here’s a quote : "Here’s Stanley’s pistol. I suppose it’s loaded. He always kept it loaded." … This during a surprise pull out of the purse and that itty bitty muzzle seemed to be pointed everywhere on me at once, and with that bony little finger on the itty bitty trigger the whole time.
Hubby had been dead for years and the pistol lived in her night stand all that time. Before the actual lesson, I had dropped off copies (old versions, been a while) of the NRA basic pistol book, home firearm safety book, an orientation flier (my own version), and a cover letter. The flier and letter both had 16 point boldface instructions to NOT bring a gun to the first lesson, also had told her this in person (pointed it out on the flier, in fact) and twice over the phone…. Yep, it was loaded, severely gunked up, but functioned just fine.

What does not kill us is a chance to learn. Never trust a newbie.

The red vest … careful washing the outer … though pink might be more attention -getting.
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Old June 8, 2012, 11:12 PM   #28
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I teach gun safety every time I'm on the range too, and I very rarely am working with "new" or inexperienced shooters. But I don't even try to fool myself that everyone will follow the rules and be safe. I certainly wouldn't trust a class of full new students that much. If I had a vest and was acting in an official capacity in some way, I'd wear the vest.

I've had to physically control a handful of guns/ shooters already to prevent a gun from being waved down the line. I've also had a deputy drop a hot AR on the deck before... It is not a warm and fuzzy feeling.

There should never be a "third time" if we're talking about safety violations.
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Old June 8, 2012, 11:21 PM   #29
Jammer Six
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No, what I was implying was relatively straightforward, and perhaps slightly naive.

My classes start in a classroom. My classes start with lectures, and move on to demonstrations. Then my students handle first training weapons and then "safe" weapons, and finally weapons.

One at a time, with me, in the classroom. One at a time, so everyone can watch every mistake. With me, so I can make corrections that everyone can hear. In the classroom so I don't have to shout through hearing protection.

I wasn't implying that the students were going to make the same mistake over and over. I was implying that the instructor IS making the same mistake. Over and over.

The overwhelming majority of students, in my experience, will take correction and apply it, provided it is given professionally.

If one of your students sweeps the line, it could be the student.

If it happens a second time, with another student, it's not the students.

Methods can be adjusted. Methods can be added. More time can be taken. Different approaches tried.

When one of my students sweeps the line, they do it with a blue gun, and everyone sees it. Not only does that student get corrected, but the entire class sees and hears it. Then they have two more chances to get it right before we move to the firing line. By the time we get to the firing line, no one is going to sweep the line, no one is going to throw their weapon downrange or any of the other drama I've been reading about.

That works for me.

I'd urge any instructor reading this to find a way that works for them. It's what we get paid to do.

Consider this list of facts:
  • They can do anything we teach them to do.
  • They will do anything we teach them to do.
  • They're doing something wrong.
Now. Given that list, who and what really needs to change?

My answer is "not body armor".
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Old June 9, 2012, 01:40 AM   #30
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"If it happens a second time, with another student, it's not the students."

I would have to disagree with this. It's muscle memory that keeps the finger indexed and the gun under control. Students just don't have that yet. They're thinking about the million other bits of information that we, as instructors, take for granted. I could stomp on the offender as hard as possible, making an example. And two minutes later someone else will sweep because he dropped a magazine. I see 10 year USPSA Master shooters sweep the crowd. Handle a firearm enough and we all do it. The best instructor, following the most conservative of lesson plans, will still get more than one sweeper.

"Consider this list of facts:
They can do anything we teach them to do.
They will do anything we teach them to do.
They're doing something wrong."

I wouldn't call them "facts."
Not every student can do what we teach them, exactly as we teach it. Most people have smaller hands than I do. They can't physically manipulate the gun like I do.
They can only take what we teach them and apply it to the knowledge they gain from other instructors. I don't want clones of me, I would hope that they would end up better shooters.
Students aren't the only ones who make mistakes on the line, instructors get tired, distracted, complacent, bored, etc. because we're human.

Last edited by Doc Maker; June 9, 2012 at 01:50 AM.
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Old June 9, 2012, 02:01 AM   #31
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If you have the vest and want to wear it, that is an option for you. Not saying it is wrong to wear the vest. It sounds like you may need more qualified help on the range.

One thing I believe is vital for a class is having enough qualified instructors and range officers to assist the shooters. The instructors and range officers need to understand that when they are on the range, their job is to assist the shooters and help ensure a safe and productive range session. Chit chat with other range help can be done when they are off the range.

I do understand what Jammer Six is saying. I have worked with many shooters, and not once did they point the muzzle at me or another person on the range. They are given instruction before they ever get to the range and instruction while on the range. I watch them very closely and can address a potential problem quickly if necessary.

Some may consider the following to be overkill, but it was worked very well for me and the shooters I have assisted.

When possible, I have them shoot from the side of the range that is opposite of their strong hand. Example - if they are going to be shooting right handed, I start them to the left side of the range as long as the shooters to the right have good muzzle control and safety discipline. A right handed shooter will have a tendency to have the muzzle pointed to their left - especially when inserting/removing magazines, cartridge or casings.

When possible, I avoid the shooting lane next to the wall. We don't want the bullet from one of their shots to hit the wall. The lane next to the wall can also be intimidating for many shooters. Put the experienced and accurate shooters in the lanes next to a wall.

The muzzle is ALWAYS parallel to the shooting lane/floor/ceiling. If they start to break this rule, they are corrected well before the muzzle would sweep someone else.

I have them start out by dry firing and loading/clearing the firearm with snap caps. This lets them learn how to handle and operate a firearm in a less stressful situation.

I then have them load and shoot only one cartridge at a time for several minutes. This gives me time to watch their muzzle control, trigger finger control (trigger finger on the frame until the muzzle is on target), how they are able to handle the recoil and other safety disciplines. Many shooters lose their muzzle control when they remove/insert a magazine from the mag well or cartridge/casing from a revolver cylinder or when they are bringing the firearm on target. Most people have a tendency for that dreaded cowboy arc you see in most movies or TV shows. Starting out with one cartridge at a time also gives them practice loading and clearing the firearm. I allow them to load more than one cartridge in the magazine or cylinder when they demonstrate they have good muzzle control, trigger finger control and other safety disciples.

I take the shooter through progressive steps. Moving to another step helps them feel good about their progress. It also helps to reduce or relieve their fear of firearms. We want them to understand and respect firearms not be fearful of them. If a shooter understands what is required of them in advance by classroom time and demonstration on the range, they are very likely to be able to follow instructions when given proper instruction on the range. It is very gratifying to see a shooter handle a firearm safely and be able to shoot accurately.
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Old June 9, 2012, 02:22 AM   #32
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I do understand what you're saying, and in my experience, new shooters do tend to be more cautious. But I also see experienced shooters break the rules that they KNOW are sacred.

We're getting off topic though... There's no question about wearing the armor when I'm working, we all do. That's why we're getting it issued. I'm wondering who wears it outside the job.
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Old June 9, 2012, 02:56 AM   #33
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The only time I wear mine is when going into an elevated risk area or situation. .. such as collecting rent or handing out eviction notices … if the area or tenant is questionable. It was given to me by a cop friend that thinks I need it because of the areas I go into for work. The vest stays concealed when wearing it, of course.

Giving gun safety/use courses is a hobby/personal mission for me and almost exclusively with older ladies… Usually 1 student at a time and often I have an assistant (sometimes my wife, and formerly with another certified instructor until he died recently). The shooting is done at a private range or the local police range. The 1 on 1, or 2 on 1 approach makes it where I don’t have nearly the problems that you pros have to contend with. The most we taught at one time was 5. The "second instructor" is also to help the student be more comfortable.
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Old June 9, 2012, 01:29 PM   #34
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A vest in a shot-house? sure... but does it really need to say Firearms Instructor across the front?
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Old June 9, 2012, 02:25 PM   #35
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FWIW, as a student I wouldn't take offense if my instructors wear armor. One more safety element, and I really don't think it makes trainees any more complacent on the range.
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Old June 9, 2012, 04:53 PM   #36
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Jammer Six - it is amazing that your students are not like the rest of humanity when it comes to making mistakes.

I have seen such by students under the tutelage of some of the best instructors we have.

It is not drama and frankly, I don't think your experience can generalize. Your attitude that your instruction can program out human factors errors is not really that believable.

Your continued insinuation about the seeming incompetence of other instructors is not welcome.
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Old June 9, 2012, 05:23 PM   #37
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I wear mine every time I go to the range, noobs rapid fire, bullets criss cross maybe, and could hit you. Gun blow and your chest is ripped. Always wear.

Do you wear a seat belt when driving?
Do you wear a life vest boating?
Why not wear a vest shooting?
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Old June 9, 2012, 05:58 PM   #38
Jammer Six
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Glenn, I never imagined that it would be "welcome." Furthermore, I tried to make my point obliquely, but you, among others, would have none of it.

I've considered your version of teaching and rejected it. I guess we're going to disagree.

Anyone can get better. Anyone can improve. Teachers can become better teachers. I don't blame my students for their mistakes on the firing line.

The vest is a symptom of that state of affairs, and certainly isn't a solution.

Be that as it may, I've made my point, and am content with where it stands. None of this is intended to offend, none of my posts are intended to be personal.

I assume you are speaking as a moderator when you say my comments here aren't welcome, and I would suggest that as a moderator, you consider allowing criticism.

Carry on.
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Old June 9, 2012, 06:07 PM   #39
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To me, it is part of the instructor "uniform" as much as the badge is to the uniformed officer on the street and the cap that says "Coach" on the Little League team.

It also emphasizes to the students that a firearm is a deadly weapon. Far from making students complacent (as was suggested in one post) I think it makes them less complacent. A silent reminder that training and target bullets can kill just as dead by accident as self-defense hollowpoints can on purpose.

Yes, wear it proudly and prominently.

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Old June 9, 2012, 06:39 PM   #40
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Wear it, and make sure none of your students bring a FiveseveN.
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Old June 9, 2012, 06:48 PM   #41
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Agree with jim page in post #23 that if the instructor needs armor, so do the students. A number of the examples in these threads have mentioned students covering students as much as instructors.

But what's the reason for this? Has there been an uptick in accidental range shootings during training? I'm not plugged into the current training scene but I haven't heard of anything that would prompt me to spring for a vest.

But, if there is a need, then wear the thing and don't worry about how it looks.
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Old June 9, 2012, 07:51 PM   #42
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IMO Jammer Six has made some very good points. Why shoot the messenger?
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Old June 9, 2012, 08:32 PM   #43
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Quote:
Hmmmm...Look like a d***** and be safe or look cool and not have protection from an accident?
Chicks dig scars.

Just buy a regular looking vest so you don't look like captain safety.
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Old June 9, 2012, 10:39 PM   #44
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Quote:
Anyone can get better. Anyone can improve. Teachers can become better teachers. I don't blame my students for their mistakes on the firing line.
I don't think we are trying to place blame on anyone. People are human. They make mistakes.

Quote:
The vest is a symptom of that state of affairs, and certainly isn't a solution.
The state of affairs is that fallible people are launching bits of metal at 1000+ fps. Every once in a while, they launch one in a direction they don't intend to.
Clearly, emphasizing and practicing proper safety is vital. Extra protection for accidents/negligence is not a solution, but is a method of mitigating potential damage.
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Old June 10, 2012, 05:40 AM   #45
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Who cares what is written on the vest? If you are a firearms instructor and the vest says "firearms instructor", what's the beef? It identifies clearly who and what you are.
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Old June 10, 2012, 10:21 AM   #46
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To be clear - one can debate the facts. I clearly disagree with statements that argue that the first time there is a mistake it is due to perhaps to the student. But a later mistake is due to the instructor.

One can reject that view but such an absolutist view is not supported by what we know about human factors and teaching.

If one wants to post such a strong view, then one must accept the critique. To claim insult as a critique after make strong and disparaging comments about others is not a viable defense.
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Old June 10, 2012, 07:22 PM   #47
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Glenn, I'm not claiming insult, I was under the impression that you felt insulted. If you don't, then all is good.
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Old June 10, 2012, 10:54 PM   #48
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I can imagine a class of ten. Someone's going to ask me "where's OUR vests?"-lol So be ready for that.
New shooters in my classes get one round and one instructor. The first time they hear the bang feel the recoil and get excited they want to turn around and share,muzzle and all. I stop them right there and review the muzzle direction rule. Blue guns don't add that excitement.

Good points all previous posts..I'm undecided
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Old June 11, 2012, 01:40 AM   #49
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Good points all previous posts..I'm undecided
Agreed. I don't teach professionally. When I do teach friends/co-workers, I usually don't wear armor, unless I want to demonstrate/teach things like transitions and rifle reloads (from the vest). When I did help teach larger groups in a military setting, the instructors wore vests. That was partially for identification, partially for safety, and partially because we always wore vests when practicing together.

I wouldn't say armor is a "must have" for all firearms instruction. In some situations, I would require it (shoot houses and training with a lot of movement). For basic instruction, I would not negatively critique anyone who did wear it, especially if the instructor to student ratio was not 1:1 or close to it.
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Old June 11, 2012, 10:33 AM   #50
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Red vests, body armor, range safety, shooting....

I say wear the red FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR vest(armor).
I have trained & shot live rounds on many military/public sector(armed security) ranges.
Many shooters/students seem to think they are Tier 1 spec ops(CAG-Delta, SEALs, ParaRescue, SWAT, etc). Until they loud noises go off and the wind/gunsmoke starts to whip around everyone.
Safety is no accident. Your safety & being clearly seen is more important than your "image". I'd wear body armor & the marked red instructor vest even in the break room/class rooms so the students(who will get tunnel vision, loss of motor skills) will keep safety in mind.

Now, not all armed citizens or security officers/sworn LE act that way but new or entry level students might.

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