I Carry and Train from Time to Time. So what’s the Problem?

by | Apr 2, 2019 | At The Range, Concealed Carry | 0 comments

When I ask people who carry why they don’t work with a professional handgun trainer regularly, I get varied answers from “I’m fine” to “the cost” to “not sure who to use” to “not enough time.” I always find these responses fascinating. Here are some reasons why.

Although both training and practice are necessary to become proficient and knowledgeable, I want to focus only on the role of the trainer and regular training here with this simple distinction; training is under the supervision and instruction of a professional trainer and practice isn’t.

The indisputable role of training in sports and martial arts.

Handgun practice has a lot in common with other types of physical activities that many people participate in and enjoy, such as sports and martial arts. If I wanted to become a scratch golfer it is hard to imagine just practicing my way to this high level of performance (for me at least) without training. Having attained a 1st degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do in my youth, I know that without consistent training it would not have been possible. Most people agree that consistent training in the context of sports and martial arts is necessary. But many waiver when talking about concealed carry.

In the world of CCW and handgun training, I get the pleasure of talking with a lot of people. Almost all of them want to improve their shooting skills but feel their practice regimen isn’t effective. When I formally survey people, a consistent 80% of respondents express this feeling. If I ask about training regularly, the responses I usually get are “no not really” or “what do you mean by regularly.” After probing a little deeper, they usually agree that if we were talking sports or martial arts, consistent training seems indisputable and even critical.

Why the disparity?

There appears to be a disparity in the perceived importance of training for concealed carry as compared to sports and martial arts. A few things come to mind as to why this is. Making incorrect assumptions. Preconceived ideas. Putting off learning more about it. Bad experience. It could be many other reasons. Whatever it is, I want to offer some thoughts for your consideration on making training a priority for concealed carry.  After all, we are all trying to make good decisions for ourselves and our families, set the right priorities, and use our limited time and money wisely.

The cost of training and the cost of not training.

Training does cost money. Individual instruction from a professional trainer can cost $50-60 an hour or more. Group classes can cost over $250 a day and you can be shooting with 20 people. There are advantages to each format so your knowledge level and performance goals should guide you. I think it makes sense to to mix it up and some of both.

Individual instruction allows you to get all of the trainer’s attention and the benefit of close observation with a lot of shooting.

Training classes, depending on size, offer a broad choice of curriculum topics and variety of instruction. Classes also offer the chance to observe how others perform, as examples of what to do and what not to do.  The instructors time is divided among the class participants so there is a trade-off between individual participation time and learning from a group. I personally have learned a lot in class formats.

On the flip side, there is a cost of not training too. These costs a can be reflected in poor practice results, inefficient use of time and ammo, and in the increased risk of an unsafe practice event or mistake made during self-defense. These costs are easy to overlook or not realize they exist.

So lets talk money for a minute.

Let’s assume you have decided to get your concealed carry license so you can carry to protect your family. As a responsibly armed citizen you will likely spend a significant amount of time and money to prepare, to become competent and proficient. This list usually includes handguns and accessories, ammo, range, classes, books, insurance, training, targets, even a practice simulator to name a few.

In my surveys, while many people said they spent between $1000 – $2500 a year many spent much less. So with limited funds, what should you allocate for training? When deciding where training falls in the spending priorities, give these benefits of training some real consideration.

Practice takes money too.

Training does cost money, but so does practice. So does screwing up. And so does buying the wrong gun, wrong caliber, wrong holster, shooting from the wrong carry position (for you). Why waste time and money buying and practicing with the wrong stuff, using it the wrong way, changing your mind and then have to sell it on the cheap? A trainer saves you money because they’ve been there, done that. They have the experience to help you decide what you need for practice, so you can practice on point and avoid costly mistakes.

Your time is valuable too.

Training takes time, but so does practice. For each hour of training, you will need to practice what you learned for several hours. This helps to commit it to memory and lock in the techniques. It’s like homework in school, it takes longer than the time spent in class. When I skipped school, homework took forever and I usually got a bad grade. A big waste of time. A trainer helps you stop wasting your time as a teacher and a coach.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

We’ve all been told this at some point in our lives by someone with a lot more experience in something, trying to help us not make the same mistakes they did. Concealed carry trainers teach us proper technique to practice based on lessons from the trainers’ real-life experiences, possibly from actual combat. This type of training and learning the reasons behind it are key to having effective practice. Without proper training, you will likely waste a lot of time and money practicing with little to show for it. A trainer teaches what you need to know, what you need to do and why it’s important. 

And one final twist.

If you carry, please keep this in mind. You may think you’re better and more prepared than you are. Sorry, but it’s true.

I know I did. If you don’t think it’s possible, read up on the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Dave Spaulding made me aware of this effect as I was sharing a personal story of a very shocking lesson I learned during scenario training. I’ll touch on this more in a separate article but let’s just say, for me, it was a hard lesson in irrational confidence.

The bottom line is you cannot know if or when you may have to act to defend yourself, so the knowledge and skills you have at that moment are all you have. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. You could be ill-prepared to prevail or make a terrible mistake while doing so. What if you think that you are better than you are and you really aren’t prepared to carry?  We have the right to carry but not thinking about what it takes is an easy thing to put off.  Finding out you’re not prepared enough to carry when you need to perform on demand is no time to find out. Don’t wonder about it, make sure. A trainer will tell you the truth and then help you prepare for what it takes to carry and prevail.

Consider including regular professional training in your plans and then practice what your trainer teaches you.

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