Thoughts on Instructor Training & Taking the Rangemaster Instructor & Advanced Instructor Courses

I send “After Action Reports” to all students I provide with private instruction. I do this because learning to shoot safely and the fundamentals of accurate shooting is a tremendous amount of information for anyone to absorb. As a result, I give a written recap of all we learned and links to anything we discussed during the lesson so my student can refer to it.  Additionally, it serves as a review.

This blog post is intended to give you a brief summary and idea of the recent “Instructor” training I recently received. Note that I said “Instructor”; which means this wasn’t a learn how to shoot course. These were courses to teach you to be a better “Instructor”.  I just completed the Rangemaster Advanced Instructor course. In order to take this class, you have to be a graduate of the Rangermaster Instructor Course.

When I was considering starting a firearms training business several years ago, I met with our former A Girl & A Gun League City Chapter Facilitator Tracy Hughes for advice and recommendations.  One of several things she suggested which was easy to follow was to continue your training and get “Instructor” training.

It’s one thing to know how to shoot but a completely different thing to TEACH HOW to shoot.  Good training is not cheap or free. We are lucky because this area has good quality female instructors.

Being a new instructor with a training business, I knew I would need additional training. I want to offer the best quality instruction that I can.  One of the most difficult things an instructor should learn is how to diagnose shooting issues/errors.

Earlier this year, I took Tom Givens’ Rangemaster Instructor Development Course.  I was told this would be the most difficult class I would ever attend and just showing up doesn’t earn you the certificate. One must pass a 5-page written test and 2 shooting qualifiers at 90%. The range tests are the FBI Shooting Qualification and the Rangemaster Instructor Qualifier.  To earn an Instructor Certificate in Tom’s class and pass, one must score at “Instructor” standards, which is 90%.  Several people in each class do not pass and earn this certification.  It took me a year to get the nerve to take this class and I really didn’t expect to pass but I knew I would learn an incredible amount and get the large 200+ page instruction manual.  Most importantly, I would become a better instructor.

The Rangemaster Instructor Development Course is three 9-hour days of non-stop instruction and over 1,000 rounds of shooting.  It felt like Marine boot camp for pistol shooting.  It was fast paced, with constant team coaching, shooting, diagnostics and learning the “WHY” for everything that makes an excellent pistol instructor.   When Mr. Givens was teaching the “Why” in this class it was a wonderful history lesson in shooting.    Everything he teaches is all about how to keep you alive in a gun fight with sound practices; which are “Industry Standards”.  He proudly tells his classes (and rightly so) that all the students that pass his class have won any pistol fight they had the unfortunate reality to be involved (60 students). The only 3 that didn’t win and killed were because they didn’t have their pistol with them on the day that they had the unfortunate confrontation to have to fight for their lives.  CARRY YOUR PISTOL EVERYDAY!  With Tom, it’s all about accuracy as he constantly reminded us on the range that “You can’t miss fast enough in a gunfight, so don’t miss.”

Having passed the Instructor class, I wanted to take the Advanced Instructor class which is day 4 and 5 of his instructor training. We learned about target design, course of fire design, scoring methodology, liability, malfunction drills, pushing us to higher pistol skill levels, and the physiological issues of teaching students how to fight for their lives.  After 900 rounds, you leave with your body worn out and mind overflowing with information that needs to be assimilated.  (Just like the first course.)  😊

This class had a smaller number of students due to the pre-requisite of passing the first Instructor course.  My class this past weekend in Dallas was filled with some well-known and regarded firearms instructors such as Spencer Keepers of “Keepers Concealment Holsters”, an Air Marshall, several law enforcement officers/instructors, and a fellow A Girl & A Gun Chapter Facilitator.  As icing on the cake for me, I stayed with my son and even stayed a few extra days so we could get in a nice visit.

During the class I learned countless teaching techniques that I will continue to implement in my classes.  One of the features in Mr. Givens teaching is he gives you context and well researched rationale on what he teaches and just as importantly what he does not teach.  The “Why” in teaching a particular skill or method is important for an instructor. There are many good techniques but when taught out of context will NOT help you in a gunfight. These Instructor courses will definitely help me to continue to customize training for my students.

I am already looking at my calendar for future classes with Tom Givens of Rangemaster. He offers a wide variety of classes and I highly recommend them. If you can’t travel to one of his classes I strongly recommend his book “Fighting Smarter”.  It will give you valuable insight on how to become a better shooter and how to win if you are ever in a situation where you have to defend yourself.

I will end this blog with you the reader. Have you taken a class lately?  I advise all my students that “training”, and “practice” will help you win a gunfight for your life; not the latest model pistol.  What’s in your brain and mindset is what will win the day.  As Mr. Givens said in his book – “train hard and stay safe.”

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