I often think that we give TOO MUCH credit to “experience.” Someone who has done something a few times, and done it WRONG, but gotten lucky, is a very, very dangerous instructor indeed. I have seen many times a bad decision luckily turn out well, this “validating” that bad decision. Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way…

The ideal, of course, is considerable real world experience using techniques that have served not only that one instructor, but a wide variety of end users well over a long period of time. I put very little faith in anecdotes, one-offs, and “well, I knocked out Mike Tyson, so I must be the best fighter ever. Well, yeah, he did slip and hit his head on the curb just as he was about to knock me into next week, but my one experience PROVES that my techniques are the best!” I’d rather have an instructor who may never have had to use his techniques, but whose STUDENTS perhaps have used them extensively and proven their value.

One of my personal favorite instructors (who is a Grand Master competitor and has been in more than one defensive shooting situation in his life) has the opinion that far too many “cool new techniques” are developed by people who did something once and got lucky. The thought applies, “Well, if I survived this one encounter by shooting the gun upside down and running the trigger with my pinky [because specific circumstances forced this course of action], then it must work all the time!” Then you get Bobby Lee’s Tactical Pinky Inversion school.

That’s the extreme, of course, but if you look at any number of would-be trainers on YouTube, you will see plenty of folks emphasizing one specific skill-set as the solution to all defensive shooting. I don’t trust any instructor who doesn’t express some sense of adaptability, and whose supposed wonder-technique doesn’t stand up to a decent amount of poking, prodding, and questioning by the students.

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