What makes us different?
If you are looking for a structured, successful training program which will teach you safe and efficient gun handling, marksmanship, combat mindset and defensive shooting, we have the class for you!
“Defensive Firearms Training Schools” are now open all over the United States. At times it seems that everyone who has ever attended one of these schools has started his own school with little more than a week of training under his belt. As our veterans return from the middle East, many of them are capitalizing on the firearms skills that they have acquired by teaching.
Jeff Cooper started Gunsite (now known as the Gunsite Academy) in the 1970s and soon there were other schools following his lead and trying to cash in on the market. Now there are hundreds of schools trying to make a spot for themselves in the firearms training industry. Some of them are excellent, some of them are mediocre and some follow unsafe practices and or they teach poor techniques leaving their students worse off than when they arrived. The list of problems associated with “civilian defensive firearms training” is a long one.
The Problems with competitive shooters teaching combat shooting
Competition shooters who have made a name for themselves would of course like to cash in on their fame. They tend to teach what they know which are the techniques used to be successful in shooting matches. Many of these techniques are ill advised for use in the street. Nevertheless these techniques are copied and followed by others because they are used by competitive shooters to win cups and titles. When considered away from the emotion of a prestigious shooting event, the idea that combat shooters would emulate competition shooters almost sounds silly. We have written an entire article on the differences between training for combat and training for shooting matches. World class competitive shooters who have attended our training have acknowledged those differences.
Most schools do not build a sufficient foundation for learning
I have created firearms training programs and taught firearms for the United States Army, the United States Marine Corps, U.S. special operations units, The Department of Energy, the National Tactical Officers Association, Commandos from two foreign nations, The State Department, numerous Police Departments, numerous SWAT teams, the LAPD SWAT team and the LAPD Police Academy. I found that all of these organizations had been using a similar method of teaching. “Tell the people how to shoot, watch them shoot and tell them what you suspect they are doing wrong.” This is how nearly everyone teaches shooting today. This is how I taught shooting for years. If this system worked very well, everyone who received training would be a great shooter. In reality, only a small percentage of shooters will learn to be excellent marksman when trained in this way.
If you are looking for a one or two day “dog and pony show,” where you shoot entertaining drills that are way above your skill level, while reinforcing your mistakes, you will have to go elsewhere.
How we learned to teach shooting in a more effective way
In 1977 I was assigned to the LAPD SWAT team. In early 1978 I was assigned as one of the two primary firearms instructors for the team. This gave me a unique opportunity to try different training methods and put them to use. I had been friends with and mentored by Jeff Cooper for 9 years prior to attending a week long class at his Gunsite training facility in 1980. I paid close attention to the methods used by Jeff to impart his skills to the students. We immediately incorporated some of those methods into our SWAT training.
In 1984 Chief Darrel Gates assigned me and my partner, John Helms to the Police Academy for 6 months to train recruits. The class was very successful but I always believed that there must be a more effective way to teach people how to fight with a firearm. In 1986 I was again loaned to the Academy to teach the “Semi Auto Pistol Transition School.” We were tasked with converting thousands of Officers from revolvers to the semi automatic duty pistol. It was here that I started to see the light. I devised a comprehensive system for teaching the skip loading drill with the semi auto pistol. This drill turned out to be a corner stone for historic success.
In 1991 I transferred to the Police Academy and was assigned as the “Chief Firearms Instructor.” I had approximately 100 new recruits starting the Academy each month. This provided me with a large pool of new shooters to train and afforded me the opportunity to create new teaching methodology. I soon developed a set of instructional skills which included “Trigger Drills” one through four. I had been using these drills since 1985 but now I combined them into a structured training system. I changed the initial lecture from one hour to 13 hours. I changed the pistol manipulation training from 5 minutes to 30 hours. I forbade Officers to shoot faster than their skill level would dictate. I reduced the number of rounds fired in the Academy from 3,000 plus to less than 1,500. The total number of training hours remained the same. I reduced the amount of rapid fire practice and emphasized marksmanship skills.
The results were astonishing. The previous average for recruit classes was 42% shooting medals, most of which were Marksman (the lowest medal). I took my first class to 97% shooting medals. My second class earned 99% shooting medals and my third class earned 100% medals. Every class I taught set new records at the Academy. All my recruits earned shooting medals and very few of them shot Marksman, many of them shot Expert. The overall shooter proficiency improved by several hundred percent. The hit rate in the street changed from 13 percent to 75 percent. LAPD achieved its highest score in street shootings several years into our new training program. Over 50 criminals KIA, no LAPD Officers lost. That record will likely never be equaled by LAPD or any other American Law Enforcement Agency.
I began to retrain “in-service Officers” using the new methods that I developed for recruits and the results were just as significant. A computer audit disclosed the serial numbers of the 37 tenured Officers on the LAPD who most often failed to qualify on the combat course. These were deemed to be the worst shooters on the entire department. Some of these Officers spent days shooting the qualification course over and over in a nearly futile attempt to get one passing score. I was assigned to “fix them.” This would prove to be no small task. They were resentful at being singled out. They hated shooting and only carried a gun because they had to. Their bad shooting habits were deeply ingrained. Most of them did not even like guns and were resistant to learning. They were products of the old training system. Some of them claimed bias until I proved to them that the computer which kicked out their serial numbers had no idea what race or gender they were.
I applied the training methods which I had developed during the previous years of daily instruction. In a short time, not only were 36 out of the 37 able to pass the Combat Course but most of them went on to earn shooting medals, several made Expert and one made Distinguished Expert. One of the 37 or rather one of the 9,000 was simply a victim of a learning disability which was beyond the scope of a firearms instructor to rectify. Every day was a complete “start over” for her as if she had not been there the day before. She was able to pass the combat course and qualify but earned no shooting medal. She was eventually fired when she had a negligent discharge and shot herself, several months after the class. The reason given for firing her was, “negative retention syndrome.”
Stacey and I experimented to see how much we could compress the time required to teach our system and concluded that we could not reduce our system to less than 40 hours and achieve a high degree of success. We have been teaching this 40 hour class for years. We are constantly amazed at the marksmanship and safe, efficient gun handling skills which are acquired by our clients in so short a time. Fighting with a firearm is a martial art and one cannot expect to learn a martial art in 2 hours or 2 days. Most people can learn the fundamentals of shooting and fighting with a handgun in 40 hours. Using the drills that we teach, our students may then continue to improve on their own or seek additional training. How is our training different?
We utilize one full 8 hour day to build a foundation of knowledge in the classroom. Our clients develop a deep understanding of what they are trying to accomplish with the firearm and why. We find that this knowledge replaces fear and anxiety. We then conduct a full 8 hour day of manipulation training, using dummy cartridges in the classroom. Safe and efficient gun handling skills are learned and practiced. The shooters then have the proper skills to build upon. No combat shooting or rapid fire is done on the first live fire range day (day 3). This day is used to introduce the students to live fire while using the new drills and methods that they have learned in the classroom. On day four which is the second range day we start to teach the student how to fight with the gun. On day five we add more stress and additional combat drills. At any point, should the shooter begin to exhibit errors in marksmanship or manipulation skills we stop and review the fundamentals by repeating some of the basic foundational exercises.
We teach safety, weapon manipulation, mindset and marksmanship and only then do we teach combat shooting. The shooter must master each aspect of training before moving on to the next lesson. On the range we use a coach pupil method of learning. We have found that this accelerates the learning process dramatically. We believe that you do not really know how to do anything well until you know how to teach it to someone else.
We have developed a very structured system for imparting our skill to others. Our methodology is unique. We have been famously successful in training both law enforcement Officers and civilians using our system. A few instructors have tried to copy parts of our system but our success is held in the details of which very few instructors are even aware or understand.
One other thing that makes us different is the fact that what we do is partially a business and partially a community service. Any school which provides instruction near the quality of ours costs $3,000 + when you include travel expenses. We charge $575 for our 4-day program, we have flexible dates and we provide our clients with guidance in obtaining the most suitable firearm and accessories for their purpose. Our tuition includes services for our clients that no other school provides at any price.
There is no defensive firearm training program anywhere which provides the level of service and the level, and highest degree of results that our clients receive from “Marksmanship Matters” and we provide these services for a fraction of the cost of most other schools.
To restate; if you are looking for a one or two day “dog and pony show,” where you shoot entertaining drills that are way above your skill level, while reinforcing your mistakes, you will have to go elsewhere. If you are looking for a structured, successful training program which will teach you safe and efficient gun handling, marksmanship, combat mindset and defensive shooting, we have the class for you!