Read this excellent post today (referred to me by by Greg Ellifritz, talking about a point from Tom Givins’ instructor development course). It addresses the question of what credednials a proper instructor should have, other than being certified by some organization and/or having been behind a gun for X years. Hard to disagree with anything in it. But it raises the question: What constitutes “experience” in a civilian context? I posed the question to both Tom and Greg. Here’s our exchange:
Tom: Perhaps actually having worn a gun, day in and day out, continuously, for a few years. This gives experience in actually living the life-style and shows it’s not that hard to be routinely armed.
Ralph: Makes sense.
A related thought: we all certainly know instructors – some probably pretty well known – with education, training and experience (some of that experience reasonably impressive) who do nothing but parrot whatever they have been taught by God knows who God knows when. So even meeting your (Tom’s) criteria is no guarantee.
Which touches on the notion that the line between (good) experience and luck can be thin.
I’ve written before that all experience is limited to the conditions. For example, if all my gun-on-people experience comes from a warrant service environment, then that experience is limited to team environments and further to environments where we took the initial initiative. While this is legit and real experience, it doesn’t relate too well to a civilian surprised at a gas stop, for example. If all my experience is from a war zone with a highly trained team with me…you get the idea.
No one has had enough statically valid experience, accounting for all the variables, in lots of different kinds of environments. Therefore, no one’s experience is universally extrapolateable. It can offer hints (sometimes strong ones) to others in other environments, and it’s valid to teach others going into the same environment, but it is not valid for anyone – ex-Delta, whatever – to say “I know the answer for you”.
And I haven’t even touched on the issue of how much time a student is willing to give to the subject, which considerably varies what is appropriate to teach him/her. I recall Ken Hackathorn once telling me that he was contracted to teach a very high-income couple armed self defense. They said they could give him 4 hours on a Saturday. Period. He didn’t turn down the impossible-sounding session; he brought a .22 pistol and taught them to hit a silhouette at fairly close distance. That seemed to me to be a brilliant and valid use of both their times.