For many Americans, shooting has always been their second nature. While some are fast learners, others require a lot of time and dedication to improve their shooting skills. No matter how much time you put into improving your shooting game, you will never be able to cover everything without the help of a shooting school.
A firearm instructor can teach you a lot of things, especially if you are new to the game. Even more, you will discover that the proper shooting school can sharpen your fundamentals significantly. Your main struggle will be to pick the right shooting school for your needs. The following article will help you put things in perspective and give you a few tips on what you need to do before entering a shooting school.
I’ve asked my trainer, a former USMC Recon Marine to share his suggestions about picking a shooting school. After a long discussion, here are the conclusions we established together.
Things to figure out before choosing a Shooting School
Figure out your objective
When going to a shooting school, you need to have a clear objective in mind. Figure out if you need to develop a specific skill or learn a new weapons system. You may be surprised to find out that some people go to a particular shooting school just to soak in the atmosphere of a famous institution. They are trying to make connections and get bragging trophies rather than learning something.
You have to be honest with yourself and determine what you need and want to learn. Are you looking for defensive shooting drills or stress shooting training? Understand your goals before making any demands. Some just want to improve their accuracy while others have enough experience and want to get into competitive shooting. Start at square one and evaluate your qualities and establish goals.
Settle on a specific objective
Just like a kid in a candy store, you will be tempted to acquire (learn) everything. If you set a goal as suggested in the first step, the next phase would be to check that the class’s curriculum of objective satisfies what you demand. For example, if you are interested in a transition between rifle and pistol, but your goal doesn’t have pistol pre-requisites, you will end up disappointed.
You can change the shooting school at any time, but if you don’t figure out your objectives from the start, you will just be wasting money and time.
Related article: 7 Tips for Successful Defensive Shooting
Do a little bit of research
From my point of view, the first thing you need to do before entering a shooting school it’s to learn about the facility’s safety record. After all, you want to survive the training experience, don’t you? If the shooting school you selected has a poor safety record that should be a clear warning sign. You might end up training in a facility where safety protocols are substandard or even nonexistent.
Even if the shooting school was recommended by close friends, you should still try to learn more about it. Ask your friends what they learned after attending the classes and how they improved their skills. Even more, look online for reviews and other forum discussions. Just like in any business, an unsatisfied customer equals one hundred happy ones.
Check your instructor background
Most people that are new to the game hesitate to ask about their instructor background. I honestly, don’t understand why since most of them are open about their past and have no problem “bragging” with their merits. The problem when picking an instructor is that everyone wants to train with the best of the best. They will go for the guy or gal who’s been in multiple combat tours and have a lot of field experience.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing heroes out there and I have the utmost respect for them. However, the reality is that some of these guys have no experience in public speaking or teaching. There is a big difference between giving orders and adjusting your tone and figuring out the learning curve of the person in front of you.
Do your homework and check the bio of your instructors and if possible, request for some private face time with him or her. You will pay for a session to discover the person in front of you and figure out if it’s the proper match for you.
This one makes me laugh to be honest and you’ll be surprised to find out how many people show up at a class without the proper gear or a range bag. A shooting range bag can ensure all of your shooting gear in one place. You can put your ear and eye protection, gun, cell phone, holster, first aid, gun cleaning supplies and many others item in your range bag. Even more, some people show up without their main tool in question, the firearm needed for the class. They assume that they will be given everything they need and they don’t bother asking questions.
Many shooting schools are pretty specific about gear, and even magazine requirements. Instead of wasting everyone’s time, read the course gear list carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand or can’t figure out the requirements. Nobody will think less of you if you ask specific questions, you’re there to learn after all. Only by communicating with the personnel from your shooting school you will be sure your gear matches and meets the course requirements.
Understand the importance of a regular training
If you start this journey, it’s better to commit to it and keep your head in the game. You need to train regularly if you want to improve your skills and you should avoid skipping classes. It’s important to discuss about your schedule and match it with the openings of the school. Some people have a changing day to day schedule and it’s hard to keep consistency when you don’t follow your training schedule. Even more, the famous facilities are booked in advance and you can’t squeeze in if you don’t follow the schedule you agreed upon when signing up for the class.
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Choosing the one
The best thing you could do is settle on only one shooting school, but like many others, you will probably change your primary option within the course of your first training year. This is not necessarily a good thing, but you have to do you. You need to find a shooting school that makes you feel comfortable and a firearms instructor that understands you and your needs. The key to success is familiarity and repetition, but also soaking in as much information as you can. Only by doing so, you will be able to become proficient with a firearm.
The first shooting school I picked was a good fit for me at that time, and I kept saying to myself, “I really like this one”. However, after one year, I started looking for a shooting school that would teach me how to test my limits and my stress level, to train me for real life shooting scenarios.
I was looking for a class that would be able to prepare me for stress shooting by getting my heart rate up from physical exertion. As I said before, it all depends on what you need to learn and what you settle on improving over time. People have different needs and it’s less likely you will be able to find a shooting school that covers all the needs of people.
I have found that much of the experience I’ve gained in shooting drills from various shooting schools does influence how I react in daily interactions and travel. I’m probably over cautious sometimes, but I am also confident that the teachings I’ve gained will help me remain switched on possible dangers.