On Training

All training is not good training.  In and of itself, that’s true.  There are plenty of so-called “firearms instructors” that aren’t qualified to teach a BB gun class, much less an intermediate defensive handgun seminar.  However, dismissing the professional firearms training industry as a whole is absurdly short-sighted, because while there are negative aspects to training you cannot ignore the positive benefits.

Assuming for the moment that you’re an average CCW holder; you understand the fundamentals of sight picture and trigger control, you’re not really interested in becoming a USPSA Grand Master, and you just want to practice with your carry gun.  Sure, you can go to the range and shoot mediocre to average groups with your carry gun, but that doesn’t really do anything for your ability to deploy your firearm under stress in an actual self-defense situation.  The mission statement from Magpul Dynamics explains this far better than I ever could:

For those of us that carry, protect and serve or defend our nation; only one percent of our lives may involve actually pulling a trigger on another human being. The other 99 percent could be everything from taking your family out to dinner and all the way up to almost pulling the trigger on a battlefield in a far away country…

Why do we care about training for that one percent so much? That is one percent you cannot get wrong. You can pick up the pieces from almost any other mistake in your life, except the one that ends yours or a loved ones. At Magpul Dynamics, we prepare people for that one percent, that moment that determines life or death.

This is exactly why training is a vital and important part of what a concealed carry permit holder should do.  While most of us will never have to deploy a firearm defensively, if it happens there is absolutely no margin for error whatsoever.  That’s the first, and primary benefit of training is that it can help prepare you for that 1%.

There is another huge benefit to professional, reputable instruction – and that’s “outside eyes”.  As shooters, we don’t like to practice things we’re bad at, and it’s physically impossible to watch ourselves shoot while we’re practicing.  A competent, professional instructor can see mistakes you’re making, or introduce new techniques and methods to tweak your skill set.  Once you’ve learned those on the range from a trainer, you can then take that skill and knowledge to your practice sessions, which is where in both dry fire and live fire you build the muscle memory and repetitive skill necessary to deploy these techniques under stress.

Professional training also helps the mind of the shooter – to a certain extent, all shooting classes are platform agnostic.  I have taken lessons learned in carbine classes and applied them to pistol shooting, and lessons learned in pistol classes and applied them to carbine shooting.  A weekend carbine course can teach valuable information that’s applicable to homeowners, hunters, and the average joe.  If you enter a class with an open mind and a desire to learn, it will always benefit you as a student.  Secondary to that is the simulated stressful environment that classes put a shooter in.  No one wants to look like a crappy shot in front of their peers, and even that little bit of pressure can help inoculate the mind against the stresses of an actual defensive situation.  While not 100% comparable, any stress-based training is going to be an improvement over simply standing in a range booth banging away.

There are many more advantages of professional training, but the last one on which I’d like to touch is very simple – training is fun.  The opportunity to gather with like minded individuals and enthusiasts while doing something you enjoy is always a treat.  That fellowship of individuals also is a learning opportunity – simple BS sessions I’ve had with other shooters have produced ideas and tips that I’ve used to tweak my technique and methods, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but it never hurts to try.

The bottom line is that while all training isn’t necessarily good training, there is plenty of benefit in attending good classes from reputable trainers.  I heartily endorse the following groups individuals:

Find a good instructor, find a good class, and go in with an open mind.  Then use your range time to practice what you learned, and you’ll start the path to the top of the mountain.  There are many paths, but some are faster than others.


  1. “only one percent of our lives may involve actually pulling a trigger on another human being. ”

    Yeah, because I’m drawing down and plugging a perp for 14 solid minutes of every day.

    It’s exactly mall ninja BS like this that I’m talking about.

    No one spends one percent of their time pulling a trigger on another person. It only happens in the Brady’s blood in the streets dreams.

    You can’t expect someone who scraped together the money to buy a gun for self defense to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on training of dubious utility and to portray it as some kind of moral imperative, that if you carry YOU MUST GET TRAINING, is not helping. You’re playing into the anti-gun hands with this attitude because they WILL use it to try to deny people the right to self defense. “Oh, you must take X number of hours of training before you can buy or carry a gun, even the gun nuts say training is important”

    1. I disagree. Although gun ownership is a right in this country, it’s my belief that with many rights come responsibilities. Voting is a right. With it comes the responsibility to research and be informed. Everyone performs these responsibilities to different extents. Much of Caleb’s recent posts have dealt with the varied degrees of training from casual shooters to Grand master competitors. If you don’t use your rights responsibly they can be taken away. After reading the highlighted quotation above I want to make a Magpul Dynamics class one of my training programs. If I cant afford it I’ll buy the DVD. I want to make sure I’m responsible in my right to use deadly force in a self defense situation where my life is threatened. Then I won’t be a statistic the Brady campaign can point to.

    2. Yeah, because I’m drawing down and plugging a perp for 14 solid minutes of every day.

      Based on this sentence alone, you’re obviously familiar with the concept of hyperbole.

      Saying “a very small percent of our lives” doesn’t work as well as a corporate motto as “train for the 1%”.

  2. “If you don’t use your rights responsibly they can be taken away.”

    That’s some pretty dangerous ground you’re treading there.

    1. “That’s some pretty dangerous ground you’re treading there.”

      That is a fact, plain and simple. Brandishing in public, negligent discharges in and around your home and many other irresponsible actions with firearms can result in your right to own being taken away. The exercise of your rights ends where they begin to infringe on mine. It’s similar to the irresponsible dog owners. It makes life miserable for those who train, leash, house, feed and clean up after their dogs. The dangerous ground is where they start banning certain generally described breeds similar to certain generally described firearms. The owners of both are charged with their responsibilities.

  3. This should not have to turn into a second amendment debate, gun rights are not what are in question here. Regardless of what the law says the fact is that the right to own a firearm is just as important as any other right granted to us. Such as that of life and liberty for the protection of which many of us excersise our right to bear arms. If, by extension, you are careless in your right to bear arms, and so many people are, you are needlessly and unjustly endangering the lives of those around you therefore infringing on their rights.
    I’m not going to let some idiot on the range shoot me or anyone else because they fail to see the importance of training. I also don’t want to get pegged by some moron off the street who manages to shoot a bystander instead of a bad guy because they didn’t believe in training.
    Defensive training is always for an “if” situation, but at the end of the day you might as well be prepared, and if you’re prepared for the zombie apocalypse you’re prepared for anything.

  4. I agree with Caleb, training is important.

    You can be self trained, not the best but it works, go to a local IDPA club, and enter the competition, but don’t compete, run the match the way you would really do it, sort of a mini training session, observe the other shooters what can you learn. If you can take some classes, and yes they are expensive, not the class itself mind you, but the ammo, the travel costs is what really adds up.

    In the long run many would do well to find a local basic class from an NRA Instructor, and work on getting the basics down.

    Yes taking a class is not “training”, but if after you leave if you practice what you were shown, the way you were shown it will become ingrained.

  5. I train for the simple reason that practice makes perfect. My goal is to never ever have to pull the trigger and shoot another human being. But, should that day ever arise, I want to make darn sure I hit the threat and not someone walking behind them or anything else. You can’t just buy a handgun, get a CCW permit, and shoot 100 rounds a year and call yourself proficient. Standing in front of paper targets that are not moving is not training. There are so many good reasons out there to take classes to learn, get better, and practice; there are very few reasons why you should avoid professional training.

  6. Caleb, I agree with you and the Magpul statement.

    Training for the 1%… why don’t we just carry auto insurance on the days we have accidents? Why don’t just carry our guns on the days we’re getting mugged or robbed? Why don’t we just train for that 1% situation when we know we need it?

    Training is fun. Practice is fun. Some like golf, some have other hobbies… I shoot – the family shoots – our friends shoot.

    Find good firearm training, find good firearm clubs, find good firearm friends… it’s worth it and it makes life fun!

    …and if you’re blessed like we’ve been, build your own covered range out back.

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