Training Daze: The Reality of Tactical Training for the Modern Man

I must admit, so often when I hear people talk about “getting some tactical training” this is exactly what I envision:

And this is about how I imagine myself looking at such a class:

Not pretty.

Made less so by the fact that I’m about 30 years older than that fellow. Which makes me about 30 years past the point where I would realistically consider doing much of anything that would require me to have a serious level of tactical training. “Back in the day” I was an accomplished martial artist, but that was two wrecked knees, a rebuilt ankle, one badly abused rotator cuff, and something on the order of 50 pounds of middle-age spread ago. I have absolutely no delusions about ever being an operator of any sort.

So, I don’t need any training, right?

Well, I wouldn’t say that. I take the responsibility of carrying a self-defense gun seriously, and in my mind that means I should be competent in the use of my guns. Getting out to the range regularly (once a month or better), going through standard practices using one hand and off-hand grips, shooting from odd angles and different stances, practicing at different ranges, doing a little point-shooting, improving my equipment as I can – all of these things can help me maintain my abilities with firearms.

But they only go so far.

I am fortunate that a buddy of mine actually is something of an operator – part of his department’s SWAT training team, regularly attending all manner of advanced training programs to keep his own skills sharp, et cetera. And when we get together, he can offer me advice appropriate for my level of skill and for my needs. He knows I’m competent and have the basics covered. But he also knows I don’t really have any need to learn how to engage fourteen crazed AK-wielding terrorists when I am armed with only my J-frame. Or how to run while field-stripping my Glock:

Those things just are not going to be a factor in my life. Or, if they are, the situation is so unpredictably absurd that it would be ridiculous for me to try and train to deal with it. My friend understands this.

But not everyone is so lucky as to have a friend like mine. So how do you avoid the idiots who are just wanting to cash in on suckers who want to be tacticool? How do you find a school or instructor who can provide you with an appropriate level of training for your experience and situation?

First off, take a look at the school/instructor’s website and publications. Read the descriptions of the classes. Do they sound like they offer something, which makes sense for you? Yes, you may well have to take some kind of introductory class on safe handling techniques – remember, they don’t know you from the average internet tough guy, and they have to keep themselves and other students safe. Don’t let that dissuade you, since a brush-up class on the basics is seldom a bad thing. But past that, do they have classes, which seem geared to your needs?

If so, what are the credentials of the instructors? Do they have the appropriate NRA Certification for the classes they teach, or some other verifiable appropriate credentials?

Next, how long have they been around? Longevity doesn’t automatically equate to competence, but it can be a good indication that the school/instructor has the appropriate experience and is at least good enough to maintain a client base. Further, the longer they’ve been around, the easier it is to check out their reputation.

What do people say about the school/instructor online? Testimonials on their website are all well and good, but what real people say about them in your favorite gun forum can be very insightful. Or just do a basic Google search and see what comes up.

This is all common-sense stuff. But sometimes it is surprising how easy it is for people to not think it through. If you want actual high-end tactical training, then that’s cool. Hook up with the right school. Go for it, sheepdog.

For the rest of us, finding the appropriate level of training for our situation is another matter. It may take a little time, but there are a lot of good schools out there, places that offer real-world, practical scenario training. Training that folks like me, and maybe you, can benefit from.

Got a favorite school or instructor? Name ‘em in comments so others know.

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