Training Tip: Do You Need a Firearms Instructor or a Firearms Coach


Training Tip:

BLOGGERS NOTES: As you read this Post, Jolyn and I would like the readers to know that before we became Firearms Instructors, we were students and educated consumers who were seeking professional firearms training. We found that there is indeed a definite difference between Instructors. We have classified these Instructors as Firearms Instructors and Firearms Coaches. We are bringing our experiences to the Readers of this Blog in the hope that you, as educated consumers, can understand the differences and make the right choices in pursuing your firearms training.

Six years ago, Jolyn and I started out as recreational shooting students.    As a Navy brat, Jolyn was around guns growing up. As a “Good Guy” New Yorker growing up in the Bronx, I was taught that only Bad Guys wanted or had access to guns. The one thing that Jolyn and I had agreed on was that our 4 Hour CCW Course did not give us enough information or enough skills that would enable us to (1) be either comfortable in carrying a concealed weapon or (2) be successful if we ever had to defend ourselves with our firearms. 

Identify Point Fire

So here we are, on 2 extreme sides of the firearms spectrum, looking for formal, structured instruction and direction. Our obvious next to the Sales Guys at our Gun Shop!
As is usually the case in most local gun shops, the Sales Guys talk to me because I’m the “Guy”…..yet I knew nothing….and opted to ignore Jolyn because she is a “She”, even though she knew more than I did!                  
Their recommendation, we should hire the Shop’s Head Instructor because of his extensive military experience. WOW… We were indeed impressed with his military credentials.
Fast forward…..after training for 5 days a week [2 days with our Instructor & 3 days on our own] and each of us going thru 250 rounds at each session [that we purchased from the Gun Shop] over the course of 4 months, we realized that we weren’t really improving! We recognized the following..(1) that there was a disconnect between what we thought we wanted/needed and what the Instructor thought we wanted/needed; and that (2) whenever we asked the Instructor to help correct our obvious mistakes [e.g. shooting low and to the left of the target], he would personally demonstrate what he wanted us to do [and he would hit the target correctly] but did not or could not explain how we should correct our mistakes.
We finally fired the Instructor and decided that we needed a firearms subject-matter-expert who was more than an Instructor with great military credentials. This new Instructor had to have, as a minimum, the following skill sets that are outlined to CHART “A” below.
Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 6.03.57 PMAs you look at these items in CHART “A”, you will notice that they are all related to creating a positive Student experience so that a Student could become successful in reaching their initial short term goals. Obviously, if the Students are successful and feel that they getting value from their Instructor, then the Students will be happy to keep paying the Instructor’s fees. If the Students are not getting value and the experience is negative, they will not keep paying those fees.
What is missing from CHART “A” is a list of the technical skill sets that are needed to (1) successfully carry a concealed weapon and (2) to have the proper mindset so that we could successfully defend ourselves if we ever had to. Not knowing what we needed to learn was caused by the Instructor not telling us what we needed in order to achieve our initial goals. He didn’t have a formally structured Firearms Training Program other than..”Do What I Tell You to Do”! His training process didn’t have a logical beginning and didn’t have a logical end. The training did not have a structured method that taught us how to correct our skill-set deficiencies.
It is at this point that we start looking at the value-added upside of Firearms Coaching.

coaching puzzle

We realized what we really didn’t learn from our first Instructor by training with other Instructors, who we are now calling Firearms Coaches. These Coaches had either (1) a formally structured Firearms Training Program; &/or who had (2) Coaching Skill-sets that enable each Coach to successfully facilitate the teaching/learning process. These factors actually helped us to achieve not only our short term goals & objectives but also helped us to identify our long term goals as well.
In CHART “B”, we have identified some of the skill-sets that we did not learn from our first Instructor.
One of the most profound teaching/learning techniques that we had experienced was the Skill Development Cycle (SDC) that was developed by Rob Pincus in his Combat Focus Shooting Program.
The SDC is a fully integrated teaching/learning/coaching process that consists of the following 3 integrated Steps:

image (4)

Step #1: Initially, the Instructors would teach & the Students would learn new skills in as much Context as possible. This training-in-context limitation is (1) dictated by the Student’s goals/objectives and (2) by the complexity of the various skills and safety considerations associated with these skills. For example, learning efficient presentations from a holster and clearing malfunctions fall into this category because these are complex skills.
Step #2: Eventually, all skills would always be taught/learned in the correct Context for Defensive Shooting. If the Student cannot master specific Skills in Step #2, then the Students would not proceed to Step #3. It is ultimately the Student’s responsibility to master their fundamentals.
Step #3: In this Step, the Student’s skill-sets are evaluated by how well they apply their skills in Simulations & Scenario Drills. [E.G. Figure 8 Drills; Sprint Drills; and Force-on-Force Scenarios]. If a Student cannot successfully demonstrate their skills, the Instructors will develop Student-specific action plans that will correct these weaknesses. These weaknesses will be fixed as the Student repeats Step #2. Again, it is the Student’s responsibility to master their fundamentals.


Benefits of Being a Firearms Coach As we achieved both our short and long term goals as Students, we decided that we wanted to become Instructors. However, because of our initial learning experiences, both good & bad, we wanted to become “Firearms Coaches”. Our objective was to make sure that our Students would become successful in reaching their goals and objectives.

Training skill

The Students who have entered our firearms coaching program, which is powered by Combat Focus Shooting, and accomplished their initial objectives, tend to ask this profound question “…What’s Next?” Our answer to “What’s Next” is very Student specific.
We find in Florida that most of our Students indeed want to learn how to defend themselves; however, most of them do not really understand what that means from either a training perspective or from a responsible gun ownership perspective. Our latest candidate, and we use the word candidate because we haven’t decided if she is really serious enough to become a responsible gun owner, declared that she didn’t really want to spend time with firearms training. She wants a “quick fix session”! The quickie requirements to qualify for applying for a CCW License and the skills needed to successfully defend oneself are definitely different. When our potential Students understand what responsible gun ownership entails, at least 80% of these candidates do not come back. But those who do come back, end up being the most responsible gun owners who we have ever had the pleasure of training.
In closing this “Think Piece”, the question that Jolyn and I would like to ask each Reader is the following“…….Are you comfortable and/or have enough self-confidence in efficiently managing your firearm to the extent that you can defend yourself and/or a loved one responsibly, if you had to?  


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