The importance of a good firearms instructor is not only in the bang-bang part. (UPDATED)

I believe that we have a crop of less than desirable firearms instructors out there. Some are famous/notorious either teaching stuff that has no application in the real world or will get you in trouble. Even for most decent and some good instructors, their teachings stop when you achieve a certain proficiency in grouping shots on demand. This is not bad at all, but also represents incomplete training for civilians unless emphasis has been made on  continuing their education on the parts they do not cover such as the legality of a deadly force situation. It does not absolve the student either: you took the responsibility to carry a gun and you should understand by now that a problem started by somebody else (the criminal) does not end when you use your firearm but that is only the end of Act 1 with Act 2 (police investigation) and Act 3 (Legal process) to follow.

Also gone are the typical Gunnie crowd. We now deep into what is called Gun Culture 2.0, urban and suburban dwellers that have no experience or interest in attending some sort of boot camp for overgrown boys and do not have the time or money to waste in such. Include in that culture people coming into years whose health and body stamina is not what it used to be and recoil at the pictures of some training facility website offering to take you on their weekend version of Hell Week. A smart instructor will recognize that these potato couch gun owners (me being one) or Moms with a mini van do not need to be excellent at vehicle counter ambush techniques against multiple AK-toting terrorists and will tailor the class to a more realistic carjacking scenario as they might find themselves involved during a trip to the mall.

So basically, if you as an instructor go for the whole Super Warrior Bushido Ninja Hooah thing for Average Urban Joe, two things may happen: you will lose customer and those who take your class and might end up having to explain to a jury why they felt they needed to attend a “Kill ’em all. Let God sort ’em out” class.

I want to talk about the last part in particular. If you have been somewhat serious about training for a while now, the name James Yeager is not a surprise for you. He has a story running about his past that I do not know if it happened or not and I’ll let you find out on your own. But what I can attest to is what he is doing right now and it is what many people call his douchebag behavior up and including dueling him.

Now imagine if you took classes with Yeager and by unfortunate coincidence you get in a use of deadly force encounter that, for whatever reason, the district attorney decides it should be taken for full trial. If the DA has any active brain cells, a deep check on your background will be made and it will include what kind of firearms training do you have. I am not saying that having taking classes with Yeager will be the final nail in your legal coffin, but it surely cannot help your cause that the jury should see the Youtube rants of your former instructor trying to pick a fight with half the Internet and maybe think some of his aggression might have absorbed by you.

If you are an instructor, be professional, understand what it may happen to a student if he is forced to use your training and adapt your class accordingly. If you are a student, do your due diligence and find those instructors that will either cover what may happen after the shooting is done or encourage you to seek further training and advice on the legal aspects of self-defense.

Don’t be a douche bag or train with them.

UPDATE: A Reader was kind enough to send me this little and very illustrative booklet in PDF file.

From the booklet

Initially, Nicolini grilled Hickey about the concepts and principles Yeager taught him, using notes and handouts from classes, and later he went over the same material with the instructor himself, discussing avoidance, de-escalation, gunfight tactics and many of Yeager’s similes, acronyms and catchy phrases – tools that the instructor used to help students remember important principles.
Alarmingly, out of context advice from instructors to “always cheat; always win,” and the axiom that one should treat every one else in a polite manner while simultaneously having a plan to kill them painted an inaccurate picture about Hickey’s outlook on life. Nicolini harvested these quotes from the training notes and handouts, and made much hay with them, especially during his closing arguments in which he described Hickey in highly inflammatory terms.

And to a certain degree, most of us have used those catch-phrases.

5 Replies to “The importance of a good firearms instructor is not only in the bang-bang part. (UPDATED)”

  1. Sobering story. My wife and I have traveled to take classes, and taken classes locally. I’ve often used that old Marines saying (be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet) as joke, along with other sayings. Does that make us targets for prosecutors, should we ever need to defend ourselves?

    I don’t have any of those “protected by Smith and Wesson” or “we dial 1911” stickers or signs just because I’ve heard of prosecutors like Nicolini.


    1. The Jay Rodney Lewis case. Sad piece of prosecutorial misconduct. Massad Ayoob mentioned the case in his SYG presentation at the Cato Institute.


  2. Gun Culture 2.0, doe shave a nice ring to it.

    But for classes, I frankly ask around, and so far people point me to Blue Ridge Arsenal’s classes, which aren’t the whole gung-ho hooah crap, but I’ll see, once a paycheck comes in.



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