Recently a former student wrote to me about how bad a local carbine course was that he took. The course outline looked awesome but when he got there, nothing was as expected. He had a horrible experience and felt like he had been cheated out of his money. He said the worst part was that other students thought it was the greatest thing ever when he knew how bad the advice was.
How can you keep from having the same experience? It’s not easy. Sometimes, it’s just a crap shoot. You can look at their web site, but that doesn’t really help any more. It’s so easy to set up a professional looking web site and then sell stuff. You can look at the instructor’s bio, but those aren’t as real as they should be. A true pro will play down what he or she has done in life and be looking at the future. An amateur will play up everything they have done. Then there is “stolen valor.” The Navy Seal, Delta, Ranger, PJ that has done everything James Bond has done and more is just a lying liar, and they are hard to spot unless you have been there, done that.
So how can you tell if you are getting a good trainer? Here are a couple easy steps to take before signing up for a class.
Read Course Reviews – Yes, you can check out the company’s web page, but look for other reviews as well. And you can always use words like “sucks” and “horrible” after the course name to find bad reviews on Google.
Read/Listen to the instructor before hand – Lots of instructors have blogs, podcasts, and YouTube these days. Find the instructor’s blog or podcast and listen to them before signing up for the class. If they do a podcast, you will really get a good feel for whether or not you will enjoy being around this person. You are paying a lot of money and time to take instruction and should be easily able to find one that you would like to be around and enjoy learning from.
Find Interviews of the Instructor – If you are going to a big name school or instructor they will have interviews and guest spots on podcasts, blogs, radio, and YouTube. Go find them and listen to them.
Things to look out for:
This is the only way to do something – There is no “one way” to do anything. If they say this is the only way, then it’s probably not the course to go to.
This is the only gear you should use – Different guns and different equipment work for different people. There is no “one size fits all” even in the tactical world. This is a dead giveaway that you should probably go somewhere else. Yes, the instructor can have a favorite, but he says you should shoot only his type of gun, use his type of gear, and everything else is crap, think about going somewhere else.
Safety Isn’t Important – As you get better and more advanced, safety becomes more important, not less. Instructors that don’t worry about safety or blow it off during interviews and your background check will blow it off during the course. Safety is important, especially during training with lots of people around and should be emphasized.
I’ve Trained SEALs, Delta, Rangers, and thousands of “Special Operators” – That’s great! But are you a Ranger? And you probably don’t want to be treated like a SEAL in BUDS (it sucks). You are looking for someone that has experience training people like you for what you are working on. It’s fun to kit up and run around the range training like you are in a special unit going to kick in doors. What’s the probability I’ll do that again? Pretty slim. Now I’m a civilian and self defense is my focus. I’d like to learn from someone that has experience teaching me to defend myself. Law Enforcement training has the same issues as military training. If you aren’t a cop, you don’t need to be trained like one.
Too Much Stuff – If you think you are going to learn everything in a 1-day or 2-day course, think again. The instructors that puts everything in their course descriptions are lying or in-experienced. Yes, as an instructor I want to teach you everything, but there are only so many hours in a day. So, if you see everything and the kitchen sink on the outline (like Night Fighting, Team Tactics, Vehicle Fighting, CQB, Movement, and long rang shooting; each one of those could be a 2-day course), it’s probably not going to be everything and may not be anything fun you want to take.
Lastly, ask around for how that instructor does. Get some direct feedback from someone you know or can talk to. And ask if they have been to other instructors too. If someone only has been to one instructor, they always say that course is the best. It’s when someone has had multiple different courses from different people they begin to understand what a good instructor looks like.
PS If you aren’t sure about an instructor, you can email me and ask. I don’t know everyone, but I know a few and will let you know what I know.