As I was planning and booking more firearms classes to attend, it dawned on me that I now have more than 100 hours of firearms training under my belt. It’s not like I didn’t know that, but I hadn’t really given much thought to that detail. That moment got memories flowing and while I have certainly learned a lot what stood out the most is how much fun I’ve had along the way. In turn, that got me thinking of a little fact, which irks me because I can’t wrap my head around why it’s true that less than 1% of gun owners attend training beyond legally mandated minimums. Legally mandated training bothers me for other reasons, but that’s not the point. The point is you should buy ammo and take a class.
I mean it. Buy ammo and take a class from a qualified instructor. You might not realize it, but if you own a firearm and haven’t taken a class beyond mandated requirements, then chances are you owe it to yourself.
I can feel the incoming “yeah, but” reactions forming. Hang on to those. I’ll address some common ones and mention some practical benefits, but I’m going to lead with the main reason I keep taking classes. Taking a class is fun. Frankly, it’s way more fun than most trips to a public range.
Different folks own different guns for different reasons and different purposes. Some pistols, rifles, and shotguns are owned for the sole purpose of hunting. Others are dedicated to competitive shooting sports or armed defense. Additionally, some are simply part of a collection or kept for their sentimental value. Whatever the reason and regardless of the gun, the vast majority of gun owners tend to agree that shooting is an enjoyable and fun activity. Consequently, the vast majority of those gun owners limit their shooting activity to shooting static targets occasionally or seasonal hunting.
Taking a class provides an opportunity to shoot different targets at various distances in dynamic environments using techniques that are generally disallowed or not possible at public ranges in a safe environment. The entertainment value alone makes taking a class worthwhile. Notwithstanding, a class is likely to expose a student to whole new worlds of enjoyable shooting activities and disciplines while also imparting many practical benefits as knowledge grows and skills improve. Then there is the chance of making friends with other avid shooters and the opportunity to put some of that range gear to good use.
And who doesn’t like gear? The traffic to gear reviews on this blog dwarfs the traffic to skill related posts and after action reports by several orders of magnitude.
Yeah, but most of the cool classes with the high speed stuff have boring prerequisites.
The prerequisites are there for several reasons. They ensure that the student is adequately prepared to get the most out of the class. This is important for everyone’s safety and to keep the class on track so all students get the most value out of the class. Otherwise, the instructors may have to slow the class down and pay more attention to students who aren’t quite ready for the content which negatively impacts the fun and value factors for everyone. In the worst cases, the unprepared student is ejected from the class which isn’t a positive experience for any one.
Yeah, but the basic level courses cover stuff that I already know.
That very well may be the case. However, it’s never a bad idea to review the fundamentals of safe gun handling, firearm operation, and marksmanship and perhaps improve them. Every time I’ve taken a basic level course, I’ve taken away at least one new way to look at a fundamental skill which helps reinforce it and provides me with another way to explain it to new shooters. These classes are still fun and provide an opportunity to make new friends. Given these types of classes tend to have low round counts and are sometimes more affordable, they are an excellent opportunity to try out new gear and work through any discovered deficiencies or problems before using that same gear in a course that requires a larger investment.
Yeah, but I don’t have the right gear and might end up buying the wrong or subpar gear.
All the more reason to start with a basic level course. Several instructors and training schools provide loaner gear for new students. Sometimes at little to no additional cost. There is a lot of questionable and sometimes dangerous gear available in the marketplace. As such, a basic level course is a great option to try new things (which is again fun) and learn how to identify quality gear that works for given applications.
Yeah, but tuition and ammunition are expensive.
Well, yes. Chances are those who are still reading this post already spend money on ammunition. The way I see it, attending a class helps a student learn how to put their ammo to more effective and efficient use by teaching us how to practice. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy magazine dumps for the sake of magazine dumps. However, I find more enjoyment from setting running a timed drill, scoring it, and achieving a new personal best. I also get more enjoyment at setting out a smaller target at a longer distance and hitting them more precisely than I was able to before. In that sense, tuition is an investment that results in saving money by making better use of ammunition to reach new goals fast and with less ammunition that would have otherwise been needed. Furthermore, that tuition cost is the entry free to a fun activity.
Yeah, but what if I’m the worst performer in class and the other students notice.
The other students will lift you up. Every other student present will likely be there for the same, or similar, reasons: to have fun and level up. Students will compare notes and equipment. Some are more competitive than others, but there is a kinship that develops among classmates that results in the formation of new friendships and support systems. Every single one started their journey at some point from a similar skill level and I’ve yet to meet a classmate who doesn’t want to help another.
Yeah, but I don’t know where to start.
Hate to break it to you, but it looks to me like you’ve already started since you’ve read this far. The next step is to figure out what classes are needed and take the first one. A good place to start is to take a peek at some of the after action reports posted on this blog to get an idea of what some classes entail and maybe find out that sounds interesting and fun. The after action reports on this blog cover courses taught by:
If one happens to find one, then reach out to the instructor or school to figure out what prerequisites are needed or suggested. I realize some of those instructors and schools aren’t near everyone geographically, but reach out to them anyway as they may be able to suggest an instructor or school closer to your vicinity.
As I’ve mentioned, there are plenty of practical benefits to taking courses which include safer gun handling, improved marksmanship, better decision making, increased confidence, and the list goes on. Even so, I can’t discount how much the entertainment, personal achievement, and camaraderie factors influence my decision to book yet another class. Sure, I like new gear and new guns as much as the next person. However, attending courses has expanded my horizons and I’d argue has deeply enhanced the enjoyment I get from them.
So yeah, buy ammo and take a class.