Friday, November 4, 2011

Training Before Practicing

Practice is important guys, I think we all understand that. It is pretty much common sense. But in order to practice well, we have to be instructed well on the front end. We can spend hours and thousands of rounds of ammunition practicing to do things the wrong way and end up worse off than when we started if we are not careful. Believe me, I have been there. When I first started shooting handguns about 4 years ago I went to the range before getting any real instruction. I had a buddy show me how to work the gun (Glock 23), and that was about it. I went to the range and started off okay, by the end of the day I could barely hit a B-27 target at 3 yards!! All because honestly, I didn't know the first think about what was required to shoot well.

I think the problem arises when we look at the price of a tier one firearms course ($200/day) plus the cost of ammo (generally 1,500 rounds for a 2 day course) and we go "Smokes, that is nearly $1,000!!" Or maybe even more depending on what caliber you shoot. Plus if it isn't local, there are travel and lodging expenses to boot. So instead of seeking out quality instruction so that we can practice well on our own time, we just go hit the nail harder with the same old hammer and end up bending the nail.

I have had a lot of firearms instruction in the 4 years I have been shooting, 296 actual contact hours with an instructor in some form or fashion related to the use of a firearm (mostly handgun). It is that quality instruction that brings the value to my personal practice sessions. Knowing how things are supposed to work and concepts behind them, knowing what I am supposed to do and how to execute it properly is what enables me to practice doing it properly and becoming better at it. If I didn't know how to do something properly, how could I possibly practice it correctly.

To get good instruction though, doesn't mean you have to pay the $200/day price to attend a course by a big name instructor. There are plenty of good instructors out there who can get you set on the right road, so that 4-5 years from now you can take that class from the big name instructor. In my local area, I can name two instructors who are pretty decent. They aren't the greatest, but they know what they are doing and can get you a little ways down the road for about $100 for an 8 hour course.

Self Defense Handgun I
Shooting While Moving
Expand my search area a little and Range USA is just down the road in Memphis, TN. Awesome place to go shoot, and they run some incredible specials on their classes from time to time. I paid to attend a basic Intermediate Handgun class with my wife there and it cost me $50 for the two of us, for a 4 hour class. Now it wasn't some super awesome shooting class, it is just a fundamentals class, but hey you have to start somewhere. A few months later we went back for the Advanced Handgun course, and then the Self Defense Handgun I course earlier this year. For me it was easy stuff, but even at my level of shooting it is good to have the oversight of an instructor because you can't always see your mistakes on your own. Probably one of the biggest areas of improvement for me over the past year has been my draw because of a technique change that started with the Self Defense Handgun I course at Range USA. The real testament of the quality of these Range USA courses is my wife's shooting ability because the only formal instruction she has received has been from Range USA and she can hold her own against guys who have a similar training background to my own.

When you are ready for that next level, you can't go wrong with Mike Seeklander and a Shooting Performance course. You can also take courses from him at US Shooting Academy in Tulsa, OK. Mike is by far the best instructor I have taken a course from, and this year he took the production division title at the World Speed Shooting Championship (aka Steel Challenge) in Piru, CA. Not only does Mike teach you how to shoot, he teaches you how to train after the course to continue the growth that he will jump start over the 2.5 day course. For $395, that is a bargain. Plus, he will travel to your range.

Do not miss that key ingredient to getting better, solid instruction. Hit up the firearms related websites and forums and find a good instructor in your area that fits your skill level. If you are starting out, find someone to teach you fundamentals, if you are an experienced competitor, find someone like Mike Seeklander who can not only get you to the next level but show you how to get to the next one after that.


  1. Well, you've doubled the number of competitive shooting trainers I know about now. Sadly, Tulsa is a bit difficult to manage from VA, and the VA trainer, Todd Jarrett, fills his classes obscenely quickly.

    Do you know of any others?

  2. Mike Seeklander travels and either just had or is having very soon a class in TN, I forget where though.

    If I were in VA I would definitely be looking up Todd Green from He isn't competition specific but I am pretty sure you could apply most if not all of what he teaches to competition shooting.