3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Firearms Instructor

Learning to shoot a firearm is about much more than pointing and pulling a trigger. Rather, you need to become proficient at handling your weapon, maintaining the equipment and understanding how to operate your firearm in an extremely safe manner. The only way to achieve this is by using a qualified firearms instructor. But how do you choose the right one? Below are three questions to ask when assessing prospective candidates:

How Satisfied Are Former Students?

It can often be difficult to determine the true satisfaction level of former students. Particularly if you look at online testimonials, it is easy for any instructor to ensure they only give prospective students glowing examples of their previous work. This means that their website will likely be saturated with great reviews, but is this really a true reflection of the instructor?

Rather than taking this at face value, you should ask the instructor to give you contact details for their most recent students. If they refuse to do this, you need to find out why. Great instructors should be more than willing to put you in touch with previous students and will have a line of people waiting to vouch for their ability. If the instructor can't put you in touch with such people, this should be seen as a red flag.

If you are still willing to give the instructor a chance, consider speaking to staff at local ranges and gun stores. Because they swim in similar circles, they should be aware of who the best instructors in the area are and who to avoid.

Will You Get Along with Them?

When it comes to choosing any type of instructor, one of the key things to establish is whether they have the type of personality you will find it easy to get along with. You are going to be spending a significant amount of time with this person, so it just makes sense to choose someone you find interesting and are able to build some sort of connection with.

This is even more important when it comes to choosing a firearms instructor. The instructor will literally be teaching you how to defend yourself in dangerous situations and will be giving you advice that may well save your life one day. If you do not like the instructor on a personal level, you may switch off when they are delivering crucial information that could have drastic consequences down the line.

Furthermore, it is important to be relaxed when learning to handle firearms. You do not want to associate learning to shoot with a feeling of tension; rather, you want your lessons to seep into your subconscious mind so that reacting to a dangerous situation becomes second nature to you. Therefore, make sure you choose an instructor that you get along with and that makes you feel relaxed when learning to safely handle firearms.

What Teaching Experience Do They Have?

Being a great firearms instructor is more about being a great teacher than it is about being an accurate shot. Of course, great instructors have to be able to walk the walk, but what's more important is how they share their knowledge with you and ensure you are able to get up to speed with handling a firearm.

As such, it's important to look for specific teaching experience when choosing an instructor rather than simply work experience that required them to operate a firearm. You need to be careful when looking for success stories though—pass rates are not always the best indicator of success. When it comes to teaching firearms, some instructors are more strict than others and may have a lower pass rate. This can actually be a good thing for firearms teaching.

Because safety and competence are of the utmost importance when learning to shoot, an instructor with a lower pass rate may simply demand more from their students. Although this can be frustrating at first, competence is much more important than simply knowing how to fire a gun and oftentimes a stricter teacher can help you really increase your ability.  

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