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“Do You Shoot?” “No, But I Have My Permit.” Finding an Instructor

So many times during a conversation, that line has come into play. I’ll meet someone and they’ll bring up shooting and start to ask questions. I secretly squeal on the inside when that line is said and they aren’t actively practicing shooting, or never have, but are happy to report that they have a CCW permit.

My response is usually, “You should take a class or find a trainer. You’ll love it!” It’s a more acceptable reply than “Please don’t try to use a firearm if you’ve never been trained.”

For sure, many states require education and training to obtain a CCW permit. Many do not. Mine doesn’t. Although many look at the no-training as a freedom, it does scare me a little, having people with no training or very limited training, willing to use a firearm if needed outside the home and possibly in a very public area. It’s a terrifying prospect for anyone WITH training. It becomes infinitely more dangerous for someone with none.

I highly recommend training, but how do you find a good trainer?

Look for credentials first. Is the trainer certified by a recognized organization or agency? Is he or she current or former law enforcement? Formal education on what and how to teach can’t be replaced by someone who has just always “shot while at camp.” I’ve seen lifelong gun owners who can’t instruct a newbie on proper grip, let alone any other basic shooting fundamentals.

Look for continuing-ed. Is this trainer willing to continue to coach you in the future to help you to continue to develop your shooting skills and answer questions you might have via email or text? Essentially, can you develop a relationship with this person?

Ask around. There’s no better intel than from people you know and trust in your community. They’ll tell you if they’ve had a good experience with a trainer, moreover, they’ll REALLY tell you about a bad experience they had. It’s the same with teachers or fitness instructors. Everyone passed the same test to become one, but some are better than others.

If you’re striking out asking around, you can call your local Sheriff’s office for advice. Often, the sheriff or a few deputies are firearms instructors, or they know of the local ones and can steer you in the right direction. You can always go to the internet – the larger organizations have a “find a course” or “find a trainer near you” that could get the ball rolling for you.

Is it important to you to have a trainer of the same sex? You might not think so, but there truly is a difference when women teach women. We think differently from men, we’re built differently from men, our hands are generally smaller and we’re generally not as strong. A woman trainer has had the same obstacles to deal with and can more naturally address these. There’s less of an intimidation factor with a woman trainer too, so female students are more willing to ask questions, without fear of “sounding stupid” in front of a group of men.

Most any training is better than no training. Shooting proficiency is built by practicing proper techniques, and doing it regularly. It’s not like riding a bike. But practice also makes permanent, so if you’re practicing it incorrectly, you’ll have bad habits and skills on-going.

Take the time to do your research on finding a credentialed trainer and ask around. It might take one or two or three tries, but it’ll be worth your time when you find the right trainer who is patient, gets the material across so you can easily understand it, is encouraging and motivating and is willing to coach you onward.

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