Introduce Yourself

Thoughts (ranting) onto paper –

Bear with me; it is going to be a reader, and I promise not to do this too often. As a P2C Instructor, I have been doing this gig for almost a decade under other companies, and building my own personal courses. I have worked with national-level organizations, as well as local-level groups over the years and have mixed successes.

As an aside, I have a civilian-based education; I don’t have an LEO / Military background a lot of other folks in the profession have. It helps in some aspects, and can also work against me in others. I have also been through several P2C courses to get my permit renewed as well (No, you can’t simply re-up your own P2C.) and have seen a lot of different approaches.

I personally believe having the right wherewithal mentally and working towards prevention as the foremost focus in your self-defense strategy are tantamount; Yes, having a gun is important. Yes, knowing how to use it is important. But a lot of the time normal folks don’t have the spoons to focus on the prep work mentally; they are banking on the automated processes of being able to work their gun to carry the weight of the ordeal. LEO and Military folks have been conditioned as part of their job. They then take that experience and do their best (most of the time) to translate that into a civilian mindset but experience works a heck of a lot better than stories and dictate. The other stumbling block is a lot of the time folks can simply be looking for an easy go at getting that little card that says they can carry a pistol, and that can lead to several issues later down the road. (Or during the class, and that’s a whole different beast to be addressed.)

My first course was technically my NRA Pistol Instructor Cert. I did a lot of research before I chose the folks I took the class with; background, length of course, how long they were teaching, how many people they have instructed as Counselors, etc. Fridstrom Firearm Instruction, LLC. was my first introduction into actual courses; They were an elderly married couple who were both NRA Counselors for longer than I had been alive. John and Claudia were active in their community, were on first name basis with a lot of the local LEO community, and had the very long list of credentials to support their business. They had their entire operation set up on their home outside Mora, MN. The weekend course consisted of myself and about a half dozen other hopeful instructors. We were in a detached garage set up to be a classroom, and the objective was simple; show a basic understanding of how an Instructor does what they do. For me, this was essentially forcing myself out of my introverted box. I am still a bit socially awkward, but it has done wonders for my ability to not completely come off as the weird kid in school. Part one was covering the course material, the second part was the shooting qualification. We were given sections to present, critiqued on our style and form, did some roleplaying for student/instructor, a bit of Q&A, and generally had a pretty decent time of it. It was good practice. The shooting qualifications were pretty standard; couple hundred rounds at varying distances, 90% passing qualifier. I would come back to them for my Refuse to be a Victim, and Personal Protection Inside the Home courses.

Now, to be perfectly honest, my first year was essentially “fake it ’till you make it”. I stepped into a world where you were expected to know everything right out the gate and I was a wee bright eyed baby. I joined up with an outfit as a contract instructor and stuck with them for a good while. They did classes out of big box stores, and it was a pretty basic course. Once again, pushing myself outside my comfort zone I got the practice of public speaking and got a lot of feedback in my first year. Some of it not the most flattering. But that’s how we grow.

Now I must not have done anything too egregious because they didn’t boot me. I got a bad review, and I improved my presentation. I screw something up, and I correct it. Did I take some of the criticism personally? Yeah, but everyone can say they have run into a time where criticism sounds more like just getting dragged for no good reason. I think the biggest saving grace for me was that I take the work very seriously; I honestly believe in the Responsibly Armed American and that takes a concerted effort from everyone. I worked contract security once upon a time and that was the biggest eye opener for “One person can screw it up for everyone.” If there was a rule that sounded stupid because it was ‘common sense’, there was always someone who screwed up bad enough to warrant that rule to be in place. Being responsible in all aspects of owning a gun is how we keep the fundamental right to bear arms in the US. There are plenty of folks who make good gun owners look bad, we don’t need the help of mishaps and Facebook stories ending up on the news to do more.

In my free time I go to the range, I watch others doing the YouTube thing, I network with other instructors and take their courses, I take legal courses, I keep up on local laws, I do dry-fire training, I do what I can to make myself more knowledgeable about the driving force behind being responsible. But does that set me up to be able to use the gun if push comes to shove?

Couldn’t tell you.

The one thing I can confidently say is that most human beings have zero idea as to how well they will react to a critical defense incident where they have to defend themselves. The fight for your life is not only physical, but mental as well. The concept of self-defense sounds really straightforward but it is like an onion; there are so many layers once you get past the paper thin shell, there are different kinds of onions for different dishes, there are different ways of cooking an onion. There is no catch-all method for making that onion palatable to everyone.

My first actual permit course after my Pistol Instructor course was hosted by a fellow in an untucked black polo and worn blue jeans. It was definitely not what some folks would consider “professional” but he was out there doing his thing and I don’t make a point of knocking on other Instructors trying to get folks set on the right path. The presentation was well informed and he handled questions professionally; none of that “well what I would have done would be X” or “Hypothetically your best bet would be to X”. And things he did not know were answered simply with “That is a good question, I have never been asked that before. I honestly do not know the correct answer for that, but I can definitely do some research and get back to you or point you to a good legal guy if needed.” I respect that. The worst thing any instructor can do is take folks on YouTube at face value and say “Well, this guy said this is the best way so that is the way I am going to do it.” Or just start spit-balling to see what sounds good in their heads. Maybe they were a combat vet, maybe they live in a state with completely different statutes regarding threat engagement, maybe they had to actually defend themselves and have that streetwise experience. Maybe they blow so much smoke up their own tailpipe they have zero actual grounds for informing the masses from a reality based perspective. (If that’s the case, and you know it, say something. Bad information can get you thrown in jail or worst case killed.)

Back on topic – Some courses are very formal, some try to make it an “experience” by giving out free stuff and making a show of it, some courses are held on a BoGo Groupon basis where they are only worried about how many folks they can say they certed out. The downside is that there really isn’t a super strict standard in terms of what is and isn’t a course in MN; You have to send your curriculum in to the BCA to get approved, but that could be a copy-paste of the NRA Pistol course with some MN statute flavor text. It can be a homebrew presentation with a lot of words and a couple pictures. It can be two hours long, or it could be a weekend affair. You could have someone shoot 10 rounds or 100. It varies wildly, so the basis on what a “good” course is really doesn’t have a solid metric by ‘state standards’. What I have found the best way to decide is look at the Instructors background; If they are charging you 200$ dollars for a couple hours, they had better have a decent history of instruction, they had better have a good bunch of papers hanging on their wall, they had better have published articles on a national platform like an NRA magazine, etc. They had better be a lawyer. There should be SOMETHING that warrants that; someone trying to be the next niche Instagram-famous subculture influencer isn’t it.

Am I an expert? I don’t personally think so; there is so much about firearms alone not to mention laws, rules, regulations that I could still learn. I can’t shoot a rifle to save my life. There are people that have been doing this sort of gig for longer than I have been alive and know a lot more than I do. Do I remember every last detail of the stuff I do know? Nope. But I remember the important stuff and know how to convey it to folks in an easily digestible manner. Personally, I like when folks who have been in the game longer than me come to my courses and give me constructive criticism; I have had ex/current-LEO, I have had other instructors, I have had hundreds of just average citizens over the years.

And every bit of input helps me shape the material I teach.

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