We are blessed in this day and time with a large number of very qualified defensive schools and instructors. More and more people are realizing the real life-saving value of getting professional training in conjunction with their decision to begin carrying a defensive handgun. Some folks can easily afford to attend as many schools as they want, while others have to carefully budget their money to be able to get the desired training. Regardless, it is rare that a person will come away from a good school and not feel like they've gotten their money's worth.
But then there are the other folks who just don't take it seriously. Maybe they think this whole business of personal defense is just a fad. Or they may have been shooting since childhood and don't really believe that the instructor can really teach them anything new. These folks, intentionally or otherwise, can disrupt a class for the other students and they sure can make the instructor's day a long one. Here are three of the main pet peeves that just make instructors cringe.
1. That Ego Thing
I really think that some students take classes in hopes of impressing that big-name instructor with their shooting ability. We've all seen this guy in one class or another. He's the one who tries to act like an assistant instructor instead of a student. He's the guy who gives other students advice during the breaks. And he is often the guy who tries to debate defensive techniques with the trainer.
The best thing to do with your ego is to park it at the gate to the shooting range. If you are not there to learn, then you are wasting your money and the instructor's time. If you really want to impress the instructor and your fellow students, focus your efforts on learning and mastering the material that is being taught so that it will be clear to everyone that your shooting skills have vastly improved over the course of the class.
2. Not Trying It
Some defensive instructors will teach a certain stance, a certain gripping technique or a different pistol presentation. And those techniques may very well be different from what you have been used to. While it may be akin to the “ego thing,” some students seem to ignore what is being taught in favor of doing it like they have always done it.
Here again, the student is keeping themselves from getting the most out of the class. The smart move is to do your very best to perform in the manner that the instructor is teaching and give it a fair try throughout the class. In most cases, you will find that you have truly learned something new and useful. After the class is the time to think over what you have learned and decide how that fits into your own personal defense plan. If you decide to discard some of what you have just learned, it won't be because you didn't give it a fair chance and evaluation.
3. Ignoring Safety Rules
Any instructor worth his or her salt will begin the class with a safety lecture. He or she will explain proper safety procedures and enforce them throughout the class. These safety instructions and the way the instructor runs the range may be different from what you are used to. The important thing to remember is that safety, or your version of safety, is not a topic that is open for discussion. For example, I run what is called a “hot range.” That is, all guns are always loaded and they aren't taken out of the holster unless the student is instructed to do so. A loaded gun in the holster, with nobody fooling with it, is a safe gun. Other instructors want guns unloaded at all times unless the student is specifically told to load. When a string of fire is completed, the student is told to unload and show that the gun is empty before reholstering. Both methods are safe when the student listens, follows instructions, and keeps safety foremost in his or her mind at all times. To do otherwise is to court disaster.
There is no question that defensive training is critical to a person's safety and skill development. Before spending hard-earned money on a class, however, the student should give some serious thought to exactly what their goals are in taking the class. The only reasonable goal is to be there to learn and to improve life-saving skills. When you leave the defensive school, will the instructor be glad to see you leave or will he or she be hoping that you will come back soon? The choice is really up to you.
Park your ego at the front gate. Make an honest effort to perform the various functions as instructed. And always keep safety foremost in your mind. I can nearly guarantee that you'll be welcomed back to that school.