One of the first things you should do if you are a new handgun owner is to take a formal class. Not a lesson from your uncle, even though you love and respect him. Instead, seek out a class taught by an instructor who not only teaches regularly but attends classes from other reputable instructors.
Carrying a handgun every day requires not just the proficiency to pull the trigger and hit a target, but to think holistically about how to survive a violent attack. Sure, these classes are not cheap, and you may have to travel a few hours to find one. However, there are great defensive-handgun classes for everyday concealed carriers that will not break the bank and will open your eyes to the reality of gun-fighting.
If I have convinced you that signing up for a class is the right thing to do great. But it can still be overwhelming to find a reputable instructor in your area who offers a course that suits your skill level and time-frame. It can also be intimidating trying to figure out what to bring and what to expect. Below are some tips on how you can find an instructor, as well as a list of things you can do to prepare for the upcoming class. After all, you want to get the most out of your investment.
Finding an Instructor-
You are not going to find a firearms instructor in the yellow pages if anyone even uses the book anymore. Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram can help, but it may be tough to know which instructors are reputable and which are not. Instead of price, look for things such as how often the instructor is teaching. Better instructors are typically teaching more often and instructing more students. Find out when the instructor last attended a training class for personal development.
Preparing for the Class-
Call or email the instructor before the class and ask your questions. Instructors would rather answer some questions beforehand than have students show up unprepared. If the class listing does not have a gear list or if there are questions, make sure to ask. Things like, how many magazines do you need, what type of holster to use, how many rounds to bring, is lunch provided or available are all important questions to ask.
If there are prerequisites make sure you meet them. Some instructors will even send videos of the fundamentals the student should master beforehand. It is important to read or watch whatever material the instructor sends out. If you are wondering if your gear will meet the requirements reach out to the instructor and ask.
What to Bring-
Do not go out and buy something specifically for the class if you are unsure about what to buy. An example would be a class gear list that requires a holster. If you are unsure about what type of holster or what makes a good holster, first do some research. Second, ask the instructor. Sometimes folks will buy things in a rush and end up regret their purchase because they did not consult someone with a bit more knowledge.
Make sure your body is prepared. Get rest, eat breakfast, and bring snacks and water. Being hungry and dehydrated can not only cause you to be uncomfortable but could create a medical condition if you are going to be training with any level of intensity. Make sure to check the weather forecast. Prepare for rain, heat, or cold by dressing appropriately or bringing the right gear.
During the Class-
Pay attention and ask questions. If you do not understand something the instructor is saying, ask questions. You are paying money; you should not leave with questions or confusion about topics covered.
Bring a notebook to take notes. You are likely not going to be able to memorize everything the instructor says. There may be some key principles that you can refer to next time you are at the range. By taking notes, you can reference those things that helped you in the class.
Be open to learning something new, after all, isn't that why you are taking the class? If you have taken some training in the past, and you are learning a new technique, try it out. It may or may not be best for you, and there are different ways of doing things. But make sure you do not close yourself off to getting better because you are stuck to the old way of doing things.
Finally, have fun. Talk to the other students in the class and learn from each other. These people may be future range buddies and friends. Furthermore, you are going to enjoy your class more, perform better, and probably retain more information if you are enjoying yourself.
Now get out there and find a class that challenges you to be better.