When I got into firearms training back in the mid-80s there weren’t a lot of choices in terms of trainers…but most of those out there were top notch: Mas Ayoob, Jeff Cooper, Ray Chapman, Tom Givens, John Shaw, Bill Rogers, and a handful more. All had some background and experience that made their teaching legitimate and made them worth the money you spent to train with them. (Not all of what every one of them taught then is still considered completely street-worthy, but an awful lot – the vast majority of it – still is.)
Today, all you need is an Instagram account and a foul mouth and you’re in business! Tats seem to help, too. Which is a shame because there are today an awful lot of great instructors in the market, many with extremely valuable mil and LE experience. Nonetheless, if you don’t know how to choose, if you don’t know what you don’t know about choosing, or you just plain made a mistake a chose a bad instructor, once there you may be tempted to just walk out of their class. That might be smart (especially if they have a money back policy) or it might not. Or of course, like all things, it might depend.
When to Walk Out
- When the instructor is unsafe or allows students to be. In these circumstances sooner or later someone will get shot. The four rules of firearms safety are well known and easy to understand; if they are violated, vamoose!
- If the instructor eats up all the time with meaningless talk. Now, different courses require (sometimes vastly differing) ratios of talking to shooting time, but if the instructor drones on and on about things not related to the subject at hand, you’re wasting your time and money.
- If the instructor clearly doesn’t know what they are talking about, and what they are ignorant about is important to the material. This doesn’t necessarily mean you simply disagree with them, but if they are clearly spouting nonsense or ridiculous facts – that are germane – then getouttathere. But I’ve been in classes where the shooting and tactics taught were good things to learn even though the instructor was mangling, or just plain wrong, about the science supposedly behind them. I still learned some valuable material.
- If the instructor continually makes inappropriate contact with students (usually men making inappropriate contact with women). If you’re a woman, you draw the line where you want to. If you’re a man, ask yourself if you’d want your daughter treated that way.
- Finally, when the instructor is just plain a bad teacher. Anyone that takes money for teaching has a responsibility – a duty – to be a good teacher, regardless of their skill level. If you are paying money, you deserve fair value.
When to possibly not walk out…or maybe to walk out
- When the instructor is a racist/sexist/homophobe/whatever. I have gritted my teeth and stayed in classes where these kinds of comments occurred…but not when a member of the offended class was present. I had paid my money, I wasn’t the intended victim, and no harm was done to anyone in the class. So long as I was learning, I stayed (but I sure didn’t recommend the instructor to others). I have to say that none of these comments have occurred in any class I’ve been in when a member of the offended class was present, and I hope that if I ever am I will indeed walk out. There’s too many good teachers out there to put up with this, if you need a purely practical reason.
- When you disagree with the material. Usually you can learn something in most classes. Give the material a try (so long as it’s safe to do so). I’ve been in some pretty bad classes with guys who were “in the Navy”, and they were always polite and did everything the teacher asked of them, no matter how silly it seemed. If these professionals can try and learn something at every class, we all can.
- When the instructor is demeaning. Yes, this is a bad instructor, but I’m a big boy, not part of the snowflake generation. The test for me was, “Am I learning something?”, not if my little feelings got hurt. Not that I ever went back.