Training and the Fanboy
from Down Range Firearms Training

Being an instructor in the context of firearms as well as overall personal defense, I’ve come in contact with a multitude of people that convey to me that they train for personal defense as well. That sounds great to me when I first hear this, that is until they explain to me what exact course(s) they have taken. Low and behold, they have usually taken what me and my colleagues in the industry deem as the ever-popular, “Fanboy” type course.

What I mean by “Fanboy” type course are courses that are primarily designed for active duty MIL, LEO’s or Armed Professionals in general. Some of these courses do have a restriction on not letting civilians in, while some will let any Joe Civilian off the street to partake in their specialized course layout and methods. Now, this is where I pipe up and say something along the lines of “Well that’s cool, but are you an LEO/MIL/Operator/etc?”

To my amazement (which has dissipated over time) they give me a confused and utter sour of a reply along the lines of, “Well…. NO! BUT IT’S GOOD TRAINING, AND TRAINING IS BETTER THAN NO TRAINING AT ALL… RIGHT!!?” This is where I digress and have to give my honest (and not usually wanted) retort to such a statement and for the most part don’t agree with such an overused rebuttal.

From there, we once again have a “clique-ish” divide of people in our industry. The question I have is, “Why?” Why in such of a small, specialized group of men and women are we “fighting each other” even though we’re all in it primarily for the same purpose, for the protection of ourselves and our loved ones. As an average citizen do you feel that it is more probable you may have to “stack” on a door to save your family in an overseas, hostage-type situation, or, having to defend them in the middle of the night, half asleep from a home invader? What situation do you as a student feel will benefit you and your loved ones more?

The fact is that, no, some training is NOT better than no training at all. There are better methods to spend how you train. This can be brought back to my article I wrote for Personal Defense Network in regards to the “Plausibility Principle.” We can’t train for everything possible for obvious reasons, it’s just unrealistic in regards to having a job, family and funds being spent. With that, we also shouldn’t just train for things that are only probable. Instead, we should train for the widest set of plausible circumstances so as to get the most out of our time, effort, energy, and money spent.

Understanding that, why do I see these Joe Civilian’s completely “kitted” out (donning militaristic gear such as plate carriers, drop leg holsters, kevlar helmets) going to these expensive, specialized courses yet work a nine to five job in a cubicle? You should use you time and effort spent learning in the most efficient manner possible, therefore your training should closely correlate to your lifestyle.

An extreme close quarters (ECQ) situation is more likely to happen in “real life” then when your “kit-ed up” on the range

Here we come back again to the “why” question again. Why are these average individuals that have jobs just like you and me in the civilian sector, spending audacious amounts of money on out of context-type courses. It could be possibly that they are trying to prove something, whether that be to themselves or their friends. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve come across people that take these type of courses and have a “sob” story as to how they couldn’t join the Military/Law Enforcement for X,Y,Z reason.(s) If your one of these people, don’t take offense, I applaud you for at least making the effort to serve compared to the other 90% of this country. The fact remains the same though, your honestly just wasting your time and money. Another reason is that some of us in the industry deem them as “Certificate Collectors.” Yes, they exist and they have various certificates from various instructors/companies that are perfectly framed in their “war room” to show off to their friends. All these certain individuals may care about is how many they can receive. Forget about the context of what they are paying to be taught, all they subconsciously “want” is that piece of paper with X,Y,Z’s name on it.

Realize that as a student, you are giving up your time and your well earned money to go to these courses in order to make you more proficient with a lethal tool. The question you may want to ask yourself is proficient in what? If you’re a SWAT member you may want to be proficient in room clearing or door breaching. As an Active-Duty MIL (especially on the Combat Arms side) you may want to get proficient in “bounding” to the rear with your team/squad, learning to transition from your long gun to your sidearm or how to do a four man stack on a door. As an ordinary civilian you may want to to be proficient in learning the pre-assault cues of a close quarter confrontation, drawing your handgun from your holster/cover garment or even how retrieve your handgun from a “Quick-Access Safe” while on the phone with Law Enforcement because someone has broken into your house. It all comes back to context, what are YOU training for?

Photos that show gear such as this look aesthetically pleasing for some people, but is completely unrealistic to wear and train with as an ordinary civilian

Solely basing your opinion on taking a certain course because it aesthetically looks appealing is just plain wrong. Especially if you’re attending said course because you know that the instructor has an extensive resume by being on Team/Group/Detail X,Y,Z and has “cool” war stories. What they teach may be the complete opposite context of what you are applying it for. For Armed Professionals, this is a different story because they have a specialized job, you as a civilian do not. Get training that can be applied to your everyday life. When are you going to be throwing full “kit” on and busting down doors as a civilian? Stop wanting to “play” soldier and start playing plausibility. You should be putting your well earned cash to a quality course that can be applied to your lifestyle, not the newest plate carrier or trendy camouflage pattern pants that were just released. I saw is first hand at SHOT Show this past year where I witnessed people sporting the latest and greatest Multicam/ATACS/Kryptek pattern pants/hats/assault pack and I asked myself why? We get it, you love the military! It’s still no excuse to blow your paycheck on expensive articles of clothing and gear that you’ll actually never use for its true use.

Needing to cognitively process information as well as shoot from these distances are much more plausible to occur in that “worst case scenario”

Situations such as this are more likely to occur while going about your day to day life. ECQ situations aren’t usually trained for because of the probability of failure in the individual

These aforementioned “tactical” courses will always exist partly because of these coined “fanboys.” It’s also obviously apparent that the instructors in charge of these courses are doing something right with their marketing. Scrolling through one of their Facebook pages I saw that one of their pictures has almost 2,400 “likes.” I applaud them in their efforts for drawing in an audience, they must have their heads in the right place. What they are doing wrong though may differ depending on your personal morals. I know that as an instructor if someone asks me why they’re applying a certain drill, I have an unbiased logical reason for it. There is literally evidence basing my reasoning off of doing a certain movement with my body engaging with the firearm. If someone shows up at a course that I put on wearing a drop-leg holster or some other piece of “kit,” I have absolutely no qualms with calling him/her out on the spot. Some people honestly need to be put in the spotlight and asked “What are you doing?” Too many instructors I’ve encountered “cottle” their students so as to not hurt their feelings. I 100 percent do not agree with such an unrealistic ideal. If you can’t as an instructor or a student give an unbiased reason for why you’re doing something, then you need to take a step back and reassess. There’s nothing wrong taking these courses for “fun” if you have learned what is most plausible first. Overall, we should reexamine our training as to be ready for that “worst case scenario” when our loved ones lives or our lives are on the line