Getting training isn't as easy as someone telling you to "get training." It requires a physical location and a proper instructor.
We continue to face a huge number of new gun owners and new shooters – something that had its beginning in 1986 with the advent of 'shall-issue' concealed carry permits, continued through the years of the Clinton gun ban from 1994 until its sunset, and really ramped up in the age of internet forums, internet video and the Global War on Terror. Something that continued the drive to more private gun ownership was self-identification of the Democrat Party as the "Party of Infringement" (h/t, Stephen Wenger) and a federal government that continued to be threatening as certain individual states rushed to get state-level infringements of their own passed.
Still, to the new gun owners and new shooters, we've all been saying "Get training."
Let's face some unpleasant facts. First, the training infrastructure is unable to handle the load of new shooters – let alone people coming in for refresher. Aside from just the number of facilities and the times that they are not open, consider special needs. In the overwhelming number of ranges, the act of drawing from a holster is forbidden. States, like my own, passed a training mandate for carry permits had lesson plans that forbade drawing and reholstering as a component of the class. We could dip into that and go through all the reasons they wrote the plan as they did, but consider that many ranges (and instructors) have liability policies in which they're not indemnified from potential personal injuries suffered by someone who makes a mistake.
While the numbers of ranges have started to rise in certain locales, there are still not enough to accommodate the needs of the "new shooters" group.
Even doing the NRA Basic course requires numbers of instructors that just aren't available – there are so many more potential students than trainers. As ranges grow in number, they face considerable cash flow issues – the additional costs to consumers of ammunition and support gear for the most basic of training prevents the numbers of students required to make a good dollar if you consider closing all or part of the range for the class.
Consider vetting instructors. We call on consumers to do that, but how will they do so absent a training oversight organization that certifies instructors? If you look at NRA, they have an instructor development program but the numbers of instructor trainees are such that how can anyone do a meaningful assessment of a candidate's ability to teach a physical skill? There are many in the industry who don't think much of NRA instructors, but that doesn't help the "I never shot before" student.
Then you get those who are the "Uncle Fred taught me to shoot on the farm" or the "I was in the military and I know about gun safety" types. Having been a law enforcement trainer since 1986, I've seen all types. There are internet horror stories, the video equivalent of "self-inflicted wounds," with so-called "tactical" instructors in a building pointing guns at students and having students point guns at instructors or other students.
With Gunsite, the SIG Academy, Thunder Ranch with physical facilities and companies like Massad Ayoob Group, DTI and Handgun Combatives that bring the training to a place near you, there are training opportunities. The problem is that taking the trip, taking the time and packing a training event into 2-5 days is an expenditure that many can't or won't take on. Consider the advantage of having local trainers that could do fairly short classes during evenings and having the new shooter track his or her own progress.
Besides, people really should have some grounding in the gun before engaging in some of the classes the "days long" training institutions offer.
Even teaching action shooting skills requires a range that allows the use of holsters -- and fewer ranges seem to allow practice of that necessary skill.
Going beyond simply training how to safely handle and accurately shoot firearms into training geared to self-defense is even more problematic: Issues like mindset, awareness, escape and avoidance aren't "training as entertainment," as Michael Bane has noted and has little appeal for the 'video game' type shooting enthusiast.
Doing force-on-force, something only to be done (1) after some level of competence is achieved on the square range and (2) only under the supervision of a controlled environment by trained force-on-force practitioners, is even more ego-crushing. It's also critical to get someone past being a shooter and into being someone capable of handling emergencies.
Personally, I'm less interested in new shooters being able to do the FAST Drill than to be able to draw/reholster without shooting themselves, having muzzle/trigger awareness and learning ethical decision making in the defensive firearms context. It's very hard to market, but it's critical to success.
This is an issue that will follow us into the future and one we need to discuss and consider if positive outcomes to Gun Culture 2.0 are to be realized.
Defensive Use of Firearms
The Tactical Professor
-- Rich Grassi