Sunday, December 7, 2008

Thoughts on the CCW Permit Course

Let me preface my comments with the following information.

I am not an NRA rated instructor. I have never taught a CCW permit course, nor am I a former member of the military or a police officer. Outside of basic safety training, and my own personal endevors to this point, I am not in any way what you could consider a seasoned firearms instructor.

However, I did spend a large majority of the last three years in my job designing and then implimenting a training course for new desk technicians in the skill set I am fluent in. In fact, I was SO good at it, that while I could turn out a proper desk technician in a week, if I had too who wasn't a complete idiot while begging for MORE time to do the job right - they decided that if I could do it with NewPOS they could do it with the other desks... (sometimes being good at something isn't a plus)

So, I know a thing or two about engaging, and training adults, some of which very well may not want to be paying attention, or who may think they know more then you, etc.

I don't pretend to be an expert - but when I pay a hundred dollars for someone to provide me with a written test for the North Dakota permit, and an NRA basic firearms training course for the Utah permit (and the requisit stamps) I expect a certain level of professionalism in both materials, and what is covered.

I'm not expecting the second coming of an absolute gun god who knows everything there is to know and attempts to impart it on you come hell or high water - but I *DO* expect to learn something. Even if everything else is basics and I *should* and probably *DO* already know it, it pays to stress the basics.

There were somewhere between 20 and 25 people at the sportsman's warehouse for this training class. The trainer, who's name I will leave off this blog, was a nice enough guy, handed out the materials, and introduced himself as a former marine, former federal fugitive squad, etc etc etc. Basically a guy who'd been there and done that.

So I figured we'd get to hear a good story or two, and learn what I hoped to learn in a direct fashion.

We started with the ND Permit test. We were given a 2 sheet 'test' that was not even photocopied well that had all of TEN questions on it. I could have answered 9 of them correctly without looking at the study material.

Which we were handed. Apparently this was a 10 question open book test :P

Oh, and all the relavant answers were highlighted in the study material. Now, this study guide had REAMS of useful material in it. It was basically the entire ND carry code including anything and everything you'd want to know about how Deadly Force is interpreted in the ND justice code. At least, thats the way it looked. I managed to skim a small amount of it before the 'test' was over, and we moved onto the Firearms safety course.

Now, I paid a hundred bucks for this stint. One would think I at least get to keep his poorly photocopied study guides. You'd be wrong.

Can I find this on my own? Certainly. But this was part of what I was paying for after all - or at least that was my original impression.

The outline for the firearms safety course fit roughly what I expected from an NRA backed basic course. What we got in lecture, didn't exactly match.

First - in defense of our instructor, it is very obvious that he A: very much believes in concealed carry and B: Lives the lifestyle he preaches.

The problem is that we're all there to get through the hoops that are REQUIRED for concealed carry. That means we all pretty much agree that Concealed carry is a Good Thing (TM). And, while I've already decided that once I pick up a more CCW fitting firearm, I intend to carry it when and where I can - I don't think I'll ever match our instructor.

He was carrying no less then a Kimber 1911 (.45 ACP of course)in an inside the waistband holster under his long shirt, a S&W hammerless revolver of an unknown calibur, but from his statements it couldn't have been less then .40, and at least two different tactical folders. And from what I gathered during, and after, he probably carries more then that - too.

So... maybe just a touch overboard. (Thats probably an understantement) There's the boyscout motto... and then there's this guy.

Along the way he gave ancedotes, stressing that stress shooting isn't like target shooting (which its not) but not offering any ideas on how one might train for stress shooting, while stressing that you *MUST*. (I don't disagree with him, mind, but I'm paying you. How do you think I should train this?)

How the Cops aren't your friends in a Defensive shooting situation. And while he's right, in that you need to watch what you say, and do - especially in CCW hostile areas - some of the stunts this guy claims to have pulled would put him on my *immediate distrust* list as a Cop. And he had *all* sorts of stories about stupid Cops to illistrate his point.

We all have bad days, and we all make mistakes. An officer of the law's job is hard enough and thankless enough as it is. As an instructor you should be fostering a healthy respect for the law. This includes understanding that officers are human just like everyone else - and you need to approach self defense aftermath *smart*.

But don't go begrudging the fine people that put that uniform on every day. You wouldn't like it if I did it to the Marines, (I'm sure I can find some stupid Marine/ Marine MP stories somewhere) don't do it to the boys in blue.

I thought about recounting some of his specific stories, but I've decided against it. Instead I'm going to get back to this class we were supposed to be taking - a class room that taught firearm basics and safety.

He went through that so fast, I almost had to be sure I hadn't missed something. He'd get to a section and ask "Everyone here knows the difference between a bolt action and a semi automatic and an automatic."

And of course he'd get nods. I know the difference, but you might have a take, or a nuance on it I haven't heard before. But I'll never know. He skipped that section. (yes, I know, that's the simplest of simple, but when it comes down to it, there's a lot of history behind how they all came about. And while you might not *need* to teach that - you could touch on some of it... or at least not dismiss it out of hand)

Or maybe he could have spent some more time on the Four Rules. he touched on them, and recommended frangbles (something I had already pondered looking into) and a few other helpful hints that I'd heard from other sources already and had planned to impliment.

Oh, and he talked about how well set up his home defense set up was.

Good for you. Lets go back to some of these basics. Thats what the Utah law requires. You want to talk about Concealed carry while going over things, and how they relate - Great. I want to learn. But lets not half ass this, ok?

When I originally got done with the class I wasn't hyper annoyed. He told good stories, even if more then a few were probably tall tales. He did have some good examples, and he stressed many of the tenants of good carry.

But the signal to noise ratio was far in favor of the noise, and that disappointed me, especially the more I thought about it.

Oh, and while I knew this before hand... ontop of my hundred dollars I have another 90 to pay to actually apply and *get* those permits. (not counting any charges for the photos, ten cards, etc that are also required.)

That said - depending on what his overhead was, he pulled in a hunded bucks a person with 20 -25 people in the room, and we were done in under 3 hours.

Thats a fine days pay. I might have to look into becoming an NRA certified instructor :P

I bet I could give at the very least, a more professional LOOKING class. I at least am friendly with both my personal copy machine, and Kinkos.

Any thoughts from the blogosphere? Am I over-expecting here? Or what?

I'd really like to know



Sean said...

It sounds unfortunately like your instructor fell into the "teach everyone how cool I am" trap... which is more and more common these days, particularly given the growing number of people with just enough experience to be dangerous thanks to the past 7 years.

I am a bit disappointed to see this from an NRA class though, as they have (in my experience at least) usually done a good job of telling instructors "your course MUST include A, B and C in order to have our label".

IMHO, for what that is worth, I have always felt classes like this need to be built around your lowest common denominator - assume that people have NO firearms knowledge or experience, and work from there. Then, the people who do can reinforce the basics & build from there, and you don't leave anyone behind.

The bad part is - your instructor has technically opened himself up liability wise from how you describe things. Because when someone is in a shooting, and that attorney asks where they got their training & permit, it all comes back to him - what he taught, what he provided etc. Maybe someone needs to remind him of that fact.

And the poor quality of training aids is inexcusable in this day and age - with the availability of computers, Kinkos on every other corner, etc - you all should have had quality materials to keep with you.

Just my two cents, but yes I feel you are right to be disappointed in how things went. I'll try to add more comments later when feeling more human.

Mrs. Widget said...

I too was disappointed in my CCW instructor. Especially toward the end when we had to qualify. He just had people shoot, not scoring them, though generally we all did okay but some had never shot their gun. We ended up showing some how to load them. Then the instructor was trying to rush things, "I got another class". Hey sparky not my problem, I paid for my class.
When at a range later that gave CCW classes people were signing up, from what they were told this was obviously a better and more professional group. My hubby and I signed up for an advanced class with another guy.