Thursday, September 22, 2005

Why I teach Basic NRA pistol courses

I teach NRA Basic Pistol courses primarily for women. Lets face it, it’s a mans world, and it’s a right-handed mans world. A female walking into a gun shop, unless there happens to be a female salesperson, is likely to be met by a man that has no experience in teaching women pistol marksmanship. Most male gun owners practice their hobby in a good-ole boy environment that isn’t always welcoming or comforting to women. Not that it’s intentionally that way, it’s been that way for so long and we men are reluctant to change. I have 20 years of experience in teaching women gun safety and do so for the following reason.

I began my official USMC Marksmanship Instructor career in 1986 while stationed at Puuloa Rifle Range, Ewa Beach, Hawaii. I had just graduated at the top of my Primary Marksmanship Instructor (PMI) class and landed a job at the rifle range as a full time instructor. My first assignment was to coach a class of senior enlisted WM’s (Women Marines). It seemed that these women were having a difficult time qualifying with their issue M1911 .45 ACP pistols, and it was my job to get them qualified. Prior to 1986, WM’s were not required to qualify, as the Marine Corps excluded women from combat assignments. Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen P.X. Kelly changed all of that, and from that time forward, WM’s would be required to qualify just like any other Marine. The only problem was that many career Women Marines had never become fully comfortable with the .45 auto pistol.

Soon I recognized the difference between coaching women and groups of male Marines. The women were more comfortable in confronting their fear of the weapon and would openly admit any fears or problems that they had. Unlike their male counterparts, who would be more likely to hide any fear out of peer pressure.

After I connected with the women and recognized this, I soon learned to enjoy working with them. Women were intellectual, easier to teach, approached learning in an organized manner and were more receptive to trying new methods of firing. Also, I felt that I got more positive and honest feedback from women. The proof was in the results, as all of these WM’s were able to qualify, thus keeping their jobs (and mine too). At that point, I learned that teaching groups of women was very different than teaching a Company of Infantry Marines.

Fast forward to 1997. My wife was Christmas shopping with our small children at the mall when a child was abducted from the area near the food court. She had often talked about obtaining her Concealed Weapons Permit and carrying a pistol, but as many of us do, she had procrastinated in obtaining the proper training to do so. After this frightening episode at the mall, she was determined to get her permit. It just so happened that there was a gun show at one of the local conference centers and there was a “Concealed Weapon” course being offered.

After work, I went by and met the instructor. He seemed to be more than qualified, and had an impressive resume’. I called my wife, and she promptly came down and took the class. After the class, she called me and was furious. It seemed that the instructor, had everyone make out a check to him and in return they were handed their certificate. The rest of the class time was spent on his “spiel” trying to sell his “advanced” training course. She never fired a pistol, and really received no hands-on training at all.

I regret having not been an NRA instructor at the time and having the ability to teach civilians basic firearms courses and offer them a certificate of proof of training for their Concealed Weapons Permit. Soon afterwards I contacted an NRA counselor, who set up a course for me, and I took the NRA Basic Pistol Instructor and Personal Protection Course and the rest is history. I believe that there are other women like my wife, looking for basic firearm instruction and don’t know where to go and I want to give them an honest “no B.S.” gun safety course. The goal for my course is that upon completion, she will be able to walk into a gun store and make an informed decision as to what she needs as opposed to being “told” what she needs by some gun shop salesman.

I have taught US Marines, basic marksmanship courses for M-16’s and M1911 and M-9 pistols and 12 ga. shotguns. Also, before the .38 spls. were phased out I coached aviators and air crews with their revolvers. I was a competitive shooter in the Marines with the M-14 rifle and M1911 pistol and was a Crew Served Weapons instructor in Quantico, VA with the M60 and M2 machineguns. I was a Force Recon Marine and taught small-unit tactics and marksmanship in various settings including through interpreters.

As a Law Enforcement Officer, I am a Florida CJSTC certified Firearms Instructor. I have taught several sub machinegun courses, tactical pistol and tactical shotgun courses at our local Police academy. I am an adjunct instructor for Tactical Response Training, Inc. and have taught SWAT related courses including Sniper, Dignitary Protection and Tactical Patrol Rifle.

I believe that all citizens have a right to own firearms and if they chose to carry them, should be afforded the proper training to do so.

For more information, view my website: Defensive Training Group

Semper Fidelis.
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