Sunday, September 1, 2013

Should you get training? What about DVDs, Books, YouTube?

I got my license to carry a gun in 2008.  I have carried off and on since then.  In the state of Georgia there is no requirement to get any training at all to get a Georgia Weapon Carry License.  You go to courthouse, fill out some paperwork, get printed, get your picture taken, pay your money then wait for your license to come in the mail a few weeks later.  Other states require a class, but those usually consist of going over law and the very very basics of shooting safely.

It took me almost exactly 4 years before I got real training with an instructor.  Why did it take so long?  Well, quality training is relatively expensive.  You can buy another gun for the cost of a class, especially once you factor in ammo cost and gas if you have to drive.  Billy Bob down at the local indoor range might teach classes for cheap, but what is he teaching?  The fact is, if you carry a gun for self defense, knowing how to use that gun can literally be the difference between life and death.

Sure in those 4 years I read lots of articles, browsed a few forums, and watched tons of YouTube videos.  I bought quality gear.  I even shot a good bit.  Hell, I've been shooting guns since my age was in the single digits!  I had looked at a few training courses, knew I wanted to do it, and thought "Yeah, I'll get around to doing that one day."  After I finally got around to taking a course(review here) there was two phrases that came to mind that I had heard floating around the forums:

  1. You don't know what you don't know.
    Man, some of this stuff was completely different that what I would have came up with on my own.  It all made a lot of sense though.  Getting off the X, shooting while moving(what direction? why?), draw or move first?, what do you do if there is more than 1 bad guy?, what do I do after I shoot?
  2. The "Me" after training would kill the "Me" before training if we were to get in a gun fight.
    If this is not the case, you have wasted your money.
 That's all well and good, but why not just buy a few DVDs?  Can't you learn just as much that way?  Eh, I would say that depends on a few things.  You probably will learn some good stuff from watching DVDs.  The big thing is, are you going to practice it?  REALLY practice it?  In an actual training course you are going to do the drills, over and over again.  The second thing is, how do you know you are doing the techniques as well as you think you are?  A lot of these techniques have small nuances that can make a big difference.  Having a good instructor watching you shoot and critiquing you can mean the difference between kinda knowing what you are doing and mastering a technique.  I think DVDs can be valuable tools.  They are good refreshers. I think they are good for seeing some of the differences in what different schools teach.  I also think that you can get a lot more out of a DVD if you really have your basics down pat from taking a course.

Another benefit of attending training courses that isn't often thought of is getting to hang out with other people that have the same views as you regarding guns and taking care of yourself.  When you are carrying concealed you may pass by any number of other people also carrying, but if you are both doing your job concealing you will never know it.  Every time I have went to training there has been a camaraderie there.  You get to talk about the things you usually aren't supposed to talk about, and you get to meet some pretty cool people there.  Going out for food and BSing after training is common.  We are lucky in that there is a good little mom and pop diner just down the road from our usual training location so we usually all grab lunch together too.  This is also a good time to ask the instructor questions you may have that don't pertain to exactly the class you are attending.   I know every time I go, I pester Randy about all sorts of things.

Cliff notes version:
  1. Learn to shoot better, probably WAY better
  2. Learn skills and techniques to better defend yourself if you ever have to use your gun.
  3. Become more confident, which actually shows and makes you less of a target(Criminals love easy targets)
  4. Meet good people
  5. Test out your gear.  Does it really work as good as you think it does?
  6. Learn what and how to practice.  Instead of just going to the range and blowing targets away, you learn effective ways to practice.
  7. It's fun!

 There really aren't any.  Unless you go to Instructor Bubba and accidentally get shot.  Don't be that guy, go to a reputable trainer.  Note: I'm not saying training has to cost $1000.  As a matter of fact it shouldn't cost that much, especially basic classes.  You can get quality training for just a couple hundred bucks.  Just make sure you read plenty of reviews before you go.

Update: I've had a lot of feedback saying that cost is a con.  Yeah, it can be I guess, and is probably one of the main reasons I didn't go sooner.  I really think however, that if you get some quality training when it is over you aren't going to be like, "man I just wasted my money on this, I should have just kept watching youtube!"

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