View Full Version : What are you looking for in a Firearms Instructor?

Tom Perroni
January 17th, 2010, 11:45 PM
What are you looking for in a Firearms Instructor?

I ask this because I feel that in order to be a good instructor I must first and always be a good student.

So please let me know what you are looking for when you go to a class. What do you expect to gain or learn from the instruction? I consider myself a good instructor but every time a take a class I learn something….even if it is how NOT to do something.

Sometimes as instructors we assume students know something and they really don’t this causes a big disconnect in training. I have made it a point in my training program to offer Basic courses i.e.: Handgun 1, M4/Carbine 1. I feel basic courses offer the best training experience; let’s face it without a solid foundation of the basics how do you learn in any “Advanced” course.

What are your thoughts about classroom V. range time? I try and run a 50%-50% class half classroom half range. There are many schools that just shoot.

Static V. Dynamic training: Do you move, shoot, communicate?

I try and break the training down into (3) distinct groups:

1. Fundamentals : serving as, or being an essential part of, a foundation or basis; basic; underlying: fundamental principles; the fundamental structure.

2. Techniques : is a procedure used to accomplish a specific activity or task.

3. Tactics : the science and art of disposing and maneuvering forces in combat.

What are your thoughts about the aforementioned?

What types of training are you looking for?

So let me know what you think would help you learn better, or give me an example of a class that could have gone better or you could have learned more only if…….However please note I DO NOT want this to turn into instructor bashing.

I really just want to know what you folks want to learn form us Firearms Instructors!


Tom Perroni www.ccjatraining.com

January 18th, 2010, 12:32 AM
As someone who has experienced both sides. I'm lucky in that I've seen more good examples than bad. Examples below are of both (and some of the bad are things I've recognized in myself). Here is my view when I'm a student somewhere.

I want an instructor who will take what I have and make it better, not necessarily replace it with his way. If I'm a good student, I'll figure out for myself if his way really is better.

If I'm not getting it, I'm going to need the instructor to already know (or think fast) a different way of explaining it.

I need for the instructor to believe in what he is teaching me. If some parts are just "part of the lesson plan", its going to show. (Guilty)

I need an instructor who knows what it is like to struggle.

Unless it is a basic class, I don't need for it to start with 30 minutes on weapons safety.

I love coming away from a class with 1-2 little gems to throw into my toolbox. Whether it is a trick new way to ______ or a phrase to help remember some manipulation or procedure.

Any time spent shooting is worth twice as much as spent sitting at a desk listening (or trying to). The classes where I spent (or would have spent if I paid for it) almost as much on the ammo as the class are the ones I enjoy the most.

I do get something out of Instructor Demos, even though some view it as "show off" time.

That is all I can think of for now.


January 18th, 2010, 07:50 AM
I just finished MSG Paul Howe's book, The Tactical Trainer, and frankly I recommend that all trainers read it. Oddly enough, I was reading it precisely for the converse reason you mentioned above. You said you think being a student makes you a better trainer, I thought that reading how trainers think would make me a better student.

Some of the points in his book are worth mentioning:

1. He believes that somewhere around an 80/20 range/classroom time is the best balance.
2. He gives approximately an hour long safety lecture as the beginning of each class no matter what. (I would hate to be your insurance liability carrier if you didn't do at least some reasonable run-through on safety.)
3. He uses a video approximately every 5-8 frames in his Powerpoints to keep the class paying attention, and gives about a five minute break every hour.
4. He runs the class in whatever full gear they're wearing, so if asked to demonstrate, he shows that a 50 year old guy can do whatever he's asking them to do in full gear.
5. He believes in the extensive use of video cameras to show the students what they're doing wrong, and he has videos already completed to show them how to do that evolution correctly. He shows them at the beginning of the next day so the students don't leave bummed, rather they have the whole day to work on the problems.
6. He does not believe in hazing or harsh individual criticism, but rather merely pointing out problems and the solution.
7. He uses a strong team concept, and appoints team leaders for each 4-5 guys, then makes them responsible for enforcing what is being taught.
8. He feels that if you correct two problems with each run through, a) you'll fix all the probs in a couple run throughs, and b) that's about all that a team can take correction on in one gulp.

Anyway, the book is chock-full of advice, and I strongly recommend it to anyone doing instruction or training.

January 19th, 2010, 02:59 PM
1. Take me out of my comfort zone. I always learn a lesson or two here regardless of the topic.
2. Push me to failure. Show me where my limits are and how to raise them.
3. Have a good sense of humor you pig f*@ker!


January 19th, 2010, 03:50 PM
I ask this because I feel that in order to be a good instructor I must first and always be a good student.


I want an instructor who continues to learn and grow. I do not want someone who is stuck in a fixed doctrine. Technique and tactical doctrine continues to grow and change everyday. The instructor and his curriculum need to evolve to keep up.

I want someone who teaches A way, not THE way. One who can acknowledge that there are other ways of doing things. Some may be worse, but some may be better. Some may just be different. I like when more than one technique is demonstrated, and the student encouraged to pick which one works best for them.

An instructor should understand the techniques well enough to articulate to students why a particular technique is used, why x works better than y, etc. This should include things like basic physics, ergonomics, and efficiency of motion. "Because that's just how we do it" is never an acceptable answer.

As much as is possible within the class size, I'd like ti see every student being pushed to improve. That means making sure the students at the low end get the attention they need to keep up without being overwhelmed, while at the same time pushing the more advanced students harder.

Training validation. "You don't rise to the occasion, you default to your level of training." Stress drills that push you hard, stress you out, make you start screwing things up - they give you some sense of what your level of training is. What things you need to work on more, and what things you need to work on a LOT more.

Also, ditto everything JT said.

January 19th, 2010, 03:56 PM
Also - Breaking things down into Fundamentals / Techniques / Tactics is an excellent way to go. I definitely see them as three distinct areas.

As for classroom vs range time, I think that can vary widely depending on the subject being taught and on the class.

January 19th, 2010, 05:02 PM
I have studied at various levels, and tought mainly to new to moderate shooters.
Have set minium of saftey instruction, if more is needed sometime add it, but never go below standard level even for experienced shooters.
There is no set percentage of class/ range time . It all depends on what knowledge and skills are being tought.
An instructor/ staff Examplar is an important tool. It should NOT be instructor/ staff demonstrating high level skills aka showing off . It should be Instructor/ staff demonstrating the skills that were just tought at a pace that a typical student would be able to do . This is another tool for their subconious to use to guide them under stress.
I am firm believer in presenting multiple viable options to students, for them to pick which works for them, or at best to have multiple options.
BUT when receiving training I am willing to " when in Rome etc".
I feel my imeadate training goal is to learn as much as I can of what he is teaching. Then , later I can evaluate if said training is : inherently valid. Useful to me personally as either primary technique, or additional option. And whether useful to pass along, and in what context.
If only to discover that something new is not worthwhile, or even fundementally invalid is a important lesson.