Truth about Training/Instructors and a Review
This is a discussion on Truth about Training/Instructors and a Review within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I wanted to write an opinion post for those looking at developing their skill sets through training programs/instructors. I first must give you a little ...
November 23rd, 2009 05:38 PM
Truth about Training/Instructors and a Review
I wanted to write an opinion post for those looking at developing their skill sets through training programs/instructors. I first must give you a little background so you understand my opinion and thoughts so you can determine for yourself whether they apply to your situation and if they would meet your objectives.
I am in my late 40’s, military background, multiple adventures into the sandbox as an armed contractor but not a “shooter” but a principal. I have been taking a minimum of 3 training courses per year for the last 11 years from multiple instructors, companies and their development programs by many discussed and advertised on this forum, my life and the lives of my security detail depend on it so no expense was spared on training or gear. When I start with a new instructor I never mention any prior training and I always start in their “beginner” training program and work my way through their civilian, military and then contractor (or most advance) course. I have no loyalties/obligations to companies or instructors in writing this post, I do not get a “discounted” rate for future classes by advertising on forums, I write this as an unknown to those companies/instructor that I have had the privilege to train with since the company that employees me pays for training, gear, ammo and weapons.
Evaluation of Instructors
I start with the first and what I consider the most critical for those seeking to be proficient in the art of gun fighting. I have had instructors who’s only claim to fame is the past, what they were over 20-years ago. The enemy has changed, tactics has changed and weaponry has changed. I talked with one instructor during a break in their most advanced course and asked about fighting out of a vehicle and he told me “when I was in we only fought out of helo’s never vehicles”, which is fine if you’re not in “Contractor Prep Course” like I was but we had no training on exiting or fighting from a vehicle.
Many instructors were and are not only great warriors but have become great teachers as well. The hardest thing I believe an instructor can do is to dissect his extensive training/experience into compartmentalized segments that students can grasp as skills to learn/experience during their selected course so they can practice and perfect on their own time.
I look for instructor attitudes that say “this is a way” and not “this is THE way”. Many mechanics/techniques do not work for a student for many different reasons. I remember one class that all the instructor was concerned about was promoting a piece of gear/equipment or his next “advanced” class. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking for the best products, I am interested in his next class because I took it but advertising every hour is a bit excessive.
I have learned from experience and my employer’s dollars that instructors/programs with accreditation from multiple agencies (more the better) have a much higher level program/instruction than those who’s only claim to fame is a “high round count” which brings me to the next issue.
Round Count Courses
My ammo cost me nothing; pulling the trigger puts a smile on my face so I am a big proponent of pulling the trigger but several programs I have been through had very little substances but an extremely high round count. The instructor to student ration was low, criticism/corrections were non-existent, their only focus was getting you to burn ammo and telling you what a good job you did even though I along with the rest of the class were muzzle swept a dozen times during the class and watched horrible (get you killed) fundamental breakdowns with no critique.
The higher the round count in some cases is a result in minimal instruction/corrections and program substance. I will admit some classes have worked my butt off and my round count was high but everyone in the group were of extreme advancement and the instructors knew it and pushed the students to the limits which was greatly needed and wanted by the students. This leads me back to great instructors, these experienced training professionals can “read” a student in a matter of one drill or kit observation during gear up and determine what their dealing with, I have seen and experienced this first hand and been called on it.
Purpose of Post
I only belong to 3 forums and usually only ask questions and read others post so I can stay current with the latest. I have decided to stick my neck out and give you an unbiased opinion of each training course I attend in the present and future classes. I hope those looking for help in their selection of courses/instructors will find this beneficial.
My recent course was with Tom Perroni, Training Director of the Commonwealth Criminal Justice Academy (www.ccjatraining.com) in Fredericksburg, Virginia which is a very long haul from my location. The course was their beginner “Basic M4 Tactical Carbine and Patrol Rifle Course”. The class was a one day (Saturday) consisting of 3 hours class room and 4 hours range time for $150 which is a great deal compared to some of the others I have taken. One of the great things about the Academy is the location of the accommodations which is the Hospitality House Hotel ($70 per night with Academy discount) in the center of one of the largest shopping centers in Virginia with plenty of restaurants and things to do and only a few hundred yards from the Academy.
The Academy/Classroom is in a very upscale office building with plenty of secure parking. I went to class early (30 min) as I always do to get a feel for the instructors and program. Upon entering the early students are watching a DVD gun fighting training video which helps focus/prepare and energize the students, great idea. At 9:00 AM introductions are made (accreditation's from just about every government agency is mentioned) and I find out I have two (2) former SEALS, one (1) Delta Force and one (1) Force Recon as my instructor package today all of which have spent time in the sandbox, for me this is the jackpot based on my objectives.
Classroom was the usual with breaking down your own weapon and cleaning/lubing it taught by an Armorer. From there we went to “Combat Mindset” and the understanding/mechanics of gun fighting.
At the range things got moving quickly, steady and with purpose. This is where low student to instructor ration really has its VALUE. We started with Failure to Fire, Eject and Load Drills. Then we started shooting drills and after the second skill run the instructors realized they had students capable of running more advance drills like “bounding” for us old guys we called it “shoot and scoot” and for you younger guys in your 30’s it was probably called “leap frogging”. Team tactics are by far my favorite and when we moved into this arena I thought if this is the “beginners” class I can’t wait for the next more advance class. We had excellent range safety, by far one of the best, no muzzle sweeps and no accidental discharges. We did have a few primary weapons go down for multiple reasons so transitions were practiced by many routinely. I really enjoyed the instructors yelling and firing during the drills providing the motivation/stress to get your weapon back into the fight, I almost thought I was…………….well you know, back in the ****.
The instructors were constantly giving you feedback after you ran the skill and for me I am not interested in how well I did, only how I can improve. I really appreciate the instructor’s efforts at giving you corrective criticism with a positive attitude.
I have been in several classes with wanna-be operators and they get a major chip on their shoulder when an instructor gives them advice on how to be better. In order to deal with a paying customer many instructors shy away and only say “good job” even when the skill was poorly done by the student. This instructor package would have none of it, if you missed one shot on steel, you stayed in position until you properly completed the skill, even doing the stress exercise shooting. That my friend is honesty in training, something you will be hard pressed to find.
I really like the Instructor team, course program, classroom, accommodations and firing range the Commonwealth Criminal Justice Academy has put together; they were so focused on making me better that I ended up leaving there with a satisfaction that it was by far the best $150 I have ever spent on training. I give their beginner M4 Carbine Course a 10 out of a possible 10.
November 23rd, 2009 08:17 PM
Try Ayoob's courses, especially if you are concerned about the legal aspect.
He is a friend of all the one's you've mentioned. I agree with you though, I find much of the problem lies with older NRA course instructors. This year I've graduated from LFI I, LfI II, and LFI III. I realized as an older retired NCO my last combat expereince was with the 7th ID in Panama, for Desert storm I was activated and getting up to speed at Ft. Ord when it finished. I wanted the best instructor training to teach civilians who carry for self-defense I could get.
Good luck in you efforts you seem to think things out very well.
November 23rd, 2009 08:25 PM
Thanks for the writeup.
I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.
AR. CHL Instr. 07/02 FFL
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November 24th, 2009 01:43 AM
Great post. Looking forward to your future reports.
A traffic ticket is formal recognition of a lapse in situational awareness.
November 28th, 2009 01:36 AM
Very informative post, thanks. With the economy the way it is most people have to be pretty selective with their training dollars. It's nice to have someone with a lot of first class training willing to share their experiences.
If you would be willing, please share any other training experiences in the past.
"America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall."
November 28th, 2009 06:52 AM
Very informative post, thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to reading your reports for the other training courses you have attended.
"In America, freedom and justice have always come from the ballot box, the jury box, and when that fails, the cartridge box."
-- Steve Symms, US Senator from Idaho, 1990
January 26th, 2010 10:25 PM
Read your report over at another forum but sorta turned into a ******* match rather post here. I to have taken quite a few but never even thought of posting my experiences I eagerly await your thoughts of classes I to go through as a beginner and go all the way through there are some good and bad. Sorry for run on sentence I'm on a blackberry.
January 27th, 2010 07:46 AM
Great post. I also look forward to additional reports from you.
Sometimes in life you have to stand your ground. It's a hard lesson to learn and even most adults don't get it, but in the end only I can be responsible for my life. If faced with any type of adversity, only I can overcome it. Waiting for someone else to take responsibility is a long fruitless wait.
January 27th, 2010 10:22 AM
Thanks for putting forth the effort on your write up. Much appreciated!
*WARNING - I may or may not know what I am talking about.
January 27th, 2010 08:51 PM
There are a lot of great training courses out there. The challenge is finding one that focuses on developing the skill sets that we most need. Too few classes consider concealed carry options.
January 27th, 2010 11:22 PM
In my CCJA Handgun 1 Course that is the focus Fundamentals as well as handgun manipulation skills. Both one handed and two handed. Along with a great deal of emphasis on the draw then the draw from concealment and the draw with movement as well as shooting from CQB distances.
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