Instructor warfare

Todd at Pistol-Training.Com talks about about the problem of infighting withing the professional training community; he spotlights a specific example of a trainer/forum poster that attacks instructors whose schools he hasn’t he attended.  I’m not qualified to speak to the instructor infighting specifically, but rather how that trend translates to the student community.

All instructors have fans; and it stands to reason that students will probably like a specific instructor more than other instructors, whether it’s based on personality, technique, or that student’s perceived gains in the class.  That’s perfectly fine, since most people are smart enough to not get overly attached to a specific instructor.  “Most people” however is not “all people”.  What you’ll encounter in the student world is what Tam has called “My sensei can beat up your sensei”.  You see this most frequently on gun forums in their “tactics/training” whatever section, where someone will post a class AAR, which will then be greeted with responses ranging from “that guy is a terrible trainer” to “you’re just a fanboy”.  The problem with the student infighting is that it dilutes the message for prospective students trying to make an informed decision about where to go to gunschool.

My personal thought on what different schools you should go to is pretty straightforward: “There are many paths to the top of the mountain, and some are faster than others.”  I believe that it’s extremely beneficial for me as the eternal student to “use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it” (Bruce Lee).  That means that I want to be exposed to different trainers, different schools, and different ideas about shooting.  From those schools and trainers I take what works for me and add that practice and discipline to my shooting growth.  As a student, never be afraid to attend a different school.  Say you took a Gunsite class and you really like their school of thought and the techniques they teach.  Just because you liked Gunsite’s training doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a class from US Training Center or Pistol-Training.Com.  Many ways to the top of the mountain, and each of us will take an individual path.

Choose your instructors wisely, and spend your training dollars well – but don’t be afraid to attend a class that teaches a different set of skills, or a different philosophy about shooting just because you really liked the Magpul class you took.  I personally hope that I never stop learning new stuff about shooting and about my skill – as long as I’m learning, there is always room for improvement.  Whether it’s developing mechanical skills or mindset, it will never hurt you as a shooter to try something new.  If it works, keep it.  If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it.

10 thoughts on “Instructor warfare”

  1. Any good class will learn you stuff.

    Now I have a little Todd Green in my head, to go with the little Louis Awerbuck and the little Todd Jarrett.

    And sometimes it’s funny, the One Big Thing you take away from a class. Todd J. is telling me to grip the gun 20% tighter while Louis is telling me to stay on the trigger and Todd G. is telling me to get lower…

  2. Infighting among students and instructors is just like politicians fighting and name calling. A good student can learn SOMETHING from any good instructor, even if that is that the other way is really better for him. And a really good instructor is professional enough to treat other professionals with respect. There is respect in saying “I like to do it this way because. . . and this is just one way of doing it. Find what works well for you.” The current mayor of Kansas City ran for office saying “My opponent is a good and qualified man. He is good at these things, I am good at these other things. Decide which is most important.” So it should be with shooting instruction.

  3. The “big names” like Vickers and Hackathorn aren’t typically a problem. They have a proven product and a well earned reputation. However, there are some instructors that do need watching and do need to be called out.

    I know of one local instructor who pepper sprayed an unsuspecting student in a class. I know this because another student caught it on video and posted it online. That type of behavior by an instructor does need to be called out by reputable instructors.

    I’ve also seen some local instructors that are fundamentally sound in what they teach, but their format may not be relevant to the real world of the student.

    Attacking an instructor just because they teach a different technique or approach is in ridiculous and in poor form. Calling out an instructor for unsafe conditions in their classes is another. I think there is a distinction.

    We should be seeking different approaches to validate and challenge our techniques. Perhaps the best way to do that is to take training from multiple sources.

  4. Bottom line, there is no one size fits all answer for anything.

    When I had my gun shop I had a few people ask me to teach them how to shoot. I told them flat out that I was not qualified as an instructor, that I could teach them how to handle and carry a firearm so they wouldn’t shoot themselves with it and the basics of marksmanship, even firearm disassembly and cleaning. If they wanted more than that they should look for a qualified instructor in what they wanted to learn.

    Too many people think they can do way more than they actually can. Some of the videos you have highlighted here are proof of that.

  5. As someone who has been in the instructing business (and a teacher by profession), I have often noticed that often – not always – but often poor students rate instructors as poor. Many “poor” students are those typically not really interested in learning:

    Are you here to learn, or just here to tell me how much better another instructor/class is?

    Are you here to learn, or just here to tell everyone else in the class how everything I’m teaching is wrong?

    Are you here to learn, or just here to be an unpaid instructor by forcing your endless knowledge on the other students?

    Are you here to learn, or just here to tell everyone how I must not have a clue what I’m doing because anybody who knows anything wouldn’t be using brand X gun, sling, ammo, holster… you name it?

    You need to learn and discern – not everything taught by everyone works for everyone.. do your research in seelcting training, then Learn and Discern…

    Dann in Ohio

  6. I agree with most of the above with one caveat. If an instructor in anything but a very advanced class uses or allows other students to use the phrase “Big boy rules” to cover unsafe behaviour, Leave the class and try to get your money back immediately!

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