Becoming a master marksman is a field of study that you can dedicate your life to, but for everyone who owns a firearm it makes sense to get the right training to use it. Instructors will be able to check your form, give you tips to improve your accuracy, and will teach you new and advanced techniques that will make you a better shooter. These classes will also help you from developing bad habits, maintain your speed and keep your edge as a shooter. You've got plenty of options when it comes to finding an instructor and take a shooting class, and today we're going to run through what you need to look for as you improve your ability to shoot.
Decide on the class for youUltimately, you should enroll in a shooting class that is going to teach you how to safely and effectively operate your firearm of choice. If you're just getting started, a basic course will probably suffice, as this will cover a high-level overview of rifles, shotguns and handguns. More advanced shooters are probably going to need a more specific class, and also your intended use of the firearms is going to require a different training program. Learning how to shoot defensively is very different to what's required for competition shooting, or even hunting, so pick the class that's right for you. If you can afford it, get a premium class or an instructor to train you one-on-one, and you'll progress rapidly.
Decide on the instructor for youWhat you learn is going to be very dependent on your instructor, and there's a few points to keep in mind when you're choosing a class. Remember, you're going to be working closely with them for the duration of the course, and you'll learn much more from a good teacher.
Private vs. group classesPrivate instruction is typically more expensive than a group class, and for many students this option is not within their budget. Investigate the average cost of private training in your area, and decide what makes the most sense for your budget. In my experience I've had better results with private instruction as it gets the trainer focused on me, but I've also been a part of some really good group courses, so it's a mixed bag.
What others sayBe vigilant in tracking down old students to hear what they have to say. A laundry list of qualifications means jack if your instructor is not able to teach well, or if they have a particular problem with training students from certain demographics or ages. Instructors must show a respect for both the subject and their students, and they should never talk down to those seeking to learn. If you can, meet them before you commit to the class, so you can get a feel for their attitude yourself.
Their experienceYour instructor should be a professional, and comfortable running you through their qualifications. Most will have been trained either by the government, through a certification via a firearms school, or have competed professionally. Be upfront, and ask them how they learned to shoot. Good instructors will also practice regularly, and have updated training, as well as the certificates and licenses which document their ability to teach you to shoot.
The focus of the courseUnderstand the particular areas the course will focus on. Safety should be a priority, and your instructor should not make light of this subject, but also dig into the core focus of the course. Some are very general which are suited for beginners, but advanced shooters should look for those that hone in on specific skills. It could make for a good choice if it's the course covers a point of weakness for you, and is an area you need to work on and develop.
How to be a good studentBecause of the deadly outcomes when firearms are mishandled, good instructors require their students to follow a set of behaviors to ensure the safety of their class. Be clear on the following, and practice all of these in your training sessions.
- Safety comes first. There is no place for fooling around in a shooting range.
- Keep an open mind. Be open to what is being taught, and follow the instructions precisely.
- Try your best. We all learn at different speeds, and the class isn't a competition. Just do your best.
- Don't be disruptive. If you have a valid point to make, wait till the break, don't interrupt the class.
- Ask questions. If you don't understand the technique, don't be afraid to ask for another explanation.
- Do not teach. You're there to learn, leave the instruction of the other students to the professionals.
- Remember to practice. Training is only the start, it takes practice to master the skills.
- Be prepared. Show up on time for your class, with everything you need for the day and don't turn up with a hangover.