Getting what you pay for
Last year I had the pleasure of meeting Eve Flanigan. For those of you who don't know Eve, in addition to being one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met, is an accomplished shooter, instructor and gun writer.
Yesterday, I woke up to an article that she had written about finding the right firearms instructor. You can read the full article here. For the record, I am in complete agreement with what she advises in the article. That is why, later that day I came across an advertisement for a concealed carry course in my area and after digesting Eve's article, it threw up a major red flag, especially when I started reading the comments.
Right: Eve and I showing off our "ankle bracelets" at the Whittington Center during Lucid Optic's Ballistic Summit. How many of you carry a med kit as part of your EDC?
So here is what I noticed about the concealed carry course, in the hopes that if you come across one similar you will be able to vet them better. Let's start with the course, it is 65.00 and you are crammed into a hotel ballroom with 100 other people and fed a powerpoint lecture. You are then given a certificate that says you have been trained for concealed carry.
WARNING A.D.D. Moment!!!
Now, before I address the issues here, let's have a little perspective: I do not believe in the idea of CCW licencing by the State. My personal belief is that the second amendment is a right, and that government at any level doesn't get a say. I also believe that ongoing lifelong training should be a priority for anyone who carries a firearm for self defense. No, not mandatory, but we as a culture should be promoting continuing education as part of being responsibly armed. (That is what is actually meant by the phrase "well regulated militia". Well trained and equipped populace, after all We the people ARE the militia)
Ok, some food for thought: As I read through one of the commentors asked if they needed to bring their own firearm for the shooting test. The response from the company was no, because Wyoming doesn't require a shooting test, there was no range requirement. Wait, WHAT!?!? You are going to certify people of unknown skill to carry a lethal weapon without actually assessing how they conduct themselves with the weapon?
Again putting aside my personal feelings on licencing our given Rights, I find this type of "course" to be a disservice to the majority of students that attend. Why? Because firearms training in any capacity should actually include shooting a firearm. As an instructor I would be unwilling to certify someone who I had never observed on the range. I say that for several reasons: Maybe the person is not proficient, and I would feel that they needed more practice before I would sign off. Maybe it's someone who has anger issues and when the slightest thing goes wrong they fly off the handle. Again, not someone I would want to sign my name to until they got themselves under control. It may be as simple as someone who is a new shooter, or simply new to self defense. No matter what, as their instructor I will bear some responsibility on how they comport themselves after training with me.
Ultimately here is the deal: If the worst should happen, and one of my students was involved in a shooting, there is always the possibility that I may be called as a defense witness. Should that happen, I want to be able to, in full confidence, say that the student I certified exhibited capability, competency and above all else safety. I need to be able to say that I oversaw this person on the range showing good judgement and control. That I felt confident in their ability to perform under stress. At the end of the day it's about standing behind my training, and the students who go through it.
That is why I oppose seminar style "training" unless it is strictly informational. I do not believe that you can cram a bunch of people into a lecture hall, and through a 4 hour presentation prepare them for the worst moment of their life. Training for life and death needs to be practical, realistic, and as frequent as possible. You life may depend on it.