The firearm training industry currently has hundreds of hopeful instructors vying for your business as a student. Since the concealed carry program is regulated by the state, it shouldn’t really matter where you go, Right? Why would anyone pay $150 when they can find classes for half that.
Many concealed carry students are taking their first (and only) class on firearm safety, marksmanship, and legal use of deadly force. They all agree after class that they have learned critical information about the subject matter and they will likely pursue more training. The most insightful information comes from those who have taken the class before with another instructor. Students who have taken only one class typically suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect and don’t know what they don’t know. A new student has just been fed with a fire hose for 8 hours with a wide range of information. They have no comparison and not enough experience to determine if this information is necessary and accurate. They can only assume that it is. Upon completion of the one-day class, they have a new sense of confidence in their marksmanship and understanding of the laws.
This phenomenon affects both students and instructors. Kansas’s training requirements for becoming a Concealed Handgun Instructor include being a certified firearm instructor for one of the recognized programs. A mediocre shooter can typically accomplish these requirements in about two to three days. Upon completion, they have a fairly firm understanding of the NRA’s principals of instruction and training policies. They have also demonstrated that they can handle a handgun safely and shoot with fair accuracy. These are important aspects of being a pistol instructor, but certainly leave a lot to be learned in becoming a CCH instructor. They have had about 20 hours of instruction in preparing to teach an 8 hour course. This is comparable to having the 2nd graders teach the kindergartners.
Many people seek out people with law enforcement or military training. If you are planning to join the local law enforcement or enlist in the military, this would be a great asset. There is a distinct difference between LE/Military training and civilian concealed carry training. As a responsible civilian you should avoid conflict if at all possible, where as LE/military personnel are expected to run TOWARD the gunfire. There is also very little self-defense law taught in these programs. A good firearms instructor may or may not have a background in law enforcement or military, but they typically have a lot more training to prepare them for the challenges a civilian may face. A dedicated instructor not only studies the art of pistol craft, but also teach methods and the science behind teaching the mind and body to work together. You should ask your potential instructor about their most recent training and they should be able to gladly tell you what they have done within the past year to become a better instructor.
Many super-star instructors have techniques they have trademarked as their own and encourage all of their students to mimic their technique. This is a great way for experienced shooters to discover tweaks to their techniques in an attempt to improve their performance if they prefer the new technique. For the most part, the fundamentals of shooting are universal and the best shooters have simply learned how to utilize these fundamentals efficiently. There is no magic to shooting well. It only requires a commitment to perfecting the basics. Any instructor who requires their students to learn a super secret technique before mastering the basics is doing them a grave injustice. Instructors who cross-train with other instructors frequently tend to have many more tips and tricks to help new shooters overcome some of the common hurdles to becoming a pistolero. A great instructor will customize their approach to fit your needs rather than taking a dogmatic approach and insisting that every student mimics what they do.
Another pitfall for the new student is falling into a class taught by someone who is merely there to offer you a chance to qualify and pass a test rather than expand your knowledge. The ol’ Shoot and Scoot approach. There will always be instructors and students looking for shortcuts, but if you are ever forced to use your gun in self defense, you will likely regret the time and/or money you saved when obtaining your training. An instructor who is barely qualified to teach will typically assure their students that a half-day class is plenty to prepare them for a life threatening situation and the legal aftermath that follows. As an instructor collects hundreds of hours of training they soon realize that a one-day class is barely enough to cover the most important elements of concealed carry principals. Remember, when it comes to preparing for a gunfight, “Training may be tough, but losing is worse.”
Remember, if you ever have the misfortune of finding yourself in a gunfight, it will likely be with an unknown opponent at the time and place of their choosing. You need to do everything you can to gain every advantage possible.
Here’s another article on choosing instructors https://www.nrafamily.org/articles/2019/3/11/how-to-choose-a-concealed-carry-pistol-instructor/