I got a great question from a student during the debrief for my one day Defensive Focus Shooting class this past weekend. The question was: how can we fix the training deficit that exists in the gun culture? This question came right after I had told the class that I believe state-mandated training should be abolished because it gives most people a false sense of security. I believe that when the state gives people a score and tells them that they are “certified”, it has a tendency to make most of them believe that they have met their training responsibility and don’t need to do anything else. I believe that responsible armed citizens will seek out quality training on their own, without prodding from the bureaucracy. Furthermore, I have seen that more people seem to find their way into real training if they aren’t forced to take a lowest common denominator class in order to exercise their rights. The student who asked the question made the point that he wouldn’t have known about my Defensive Focus Shooting class had he not gone through the licensing process with me. While that was certainly true for him, I don’t believe that most people are getting good follow-on training resources from their CHL instructors. I wish that were the case, and though some of my peers in the local CHL instructor community are advocates for follow-on training; I believe that is more the exception than the rule. The fact of the matter is that the best thing we can do to “fix” the training deficit in the gun culture is to become training evangelists.
As armed citizens who take training for personal defense seriously, you have “seen the light” so to speak. Most people don’t tend to make it to that point purely by coincidence or stumbling around on the internet. Most people find out about training classes from people they know. I myself would still be lost in the sauce had someone I met at the range not invited me to a class. Out of all the marketing methods I have tried, the most effective is just plain old word of mouth. If you go to a class and learn things, you should tell your friends and family who own guns for personal defense about that class and why they should attend. Additionally, you should be doing the things you learn in that class on the range when you practice, which will cause people to ask you questions; thereby giving you further opportunities to evangelize. Most people who are part of the gun culture spend some amount of time on the range; and they may even be doing what they view as “practicing” with their defensive handguns. When you share a shooting bay with these people and they see you practicing in the way that you learned in class, it will likely be radically different from what they are doing. When they ask questions, this gives you the opportunity to point them to the resources they need.
One of the most satisfying things in the world to me as an instructor is seeing former students training in context at the range; and I’m not the only one who sees that. We can “fix” the gun culture training deficit one conversation at a time. Go to the range, have conversations, and spread the good word!