10 tips for successful firearms training


For the uninitiated, even a basic firearms class can be somewhat daunting.

They imagine it involves fast-roping from helicopters, obstacle courses or screaming instructors who will publicly ridicule every mistake.tactical

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Good quality firearms training is fun, or at least it should be.

Here are 10 tips to help you find the right course and succeed at the range.

If you have your own tips to add to this list, please write them in the comments section.

1. Research the instructor:  Check their certifications and verify their experience. If they claim to have seventeen combat deployments with a Tier 1 unit, do they have proof? Compare the cost of their training with other similarly-credentialed instructors. The more extensive their training and experience, the more you can expect to pay. Check online for reviews of their courses. Feedback abounds on the right websites. Two questions I like to ask: How long have you been a firearms instructor, and why are you a firearms instructor? They should have good answers for both questions. Good instructors usually don’t have any problems answering questions about their background. Some will let your audit part of their course for free.

2. Assess your physical limitations: If you don’t like running, you probably won’t like running and gunning. Some tactical courses require more physical effort than basic firearms/home defense courses. You should know what you are signing up for. Ask the instructors what their course requires. You’ll be glad you did.

3. Make sure your firearms are operational:  You should arrive at the class with firearms that are cleaned, properly lubricated and in good working order. Batteries for any accessories should be fresh, and you should have spares. There’s nothing worse than halting training while staff tries to fix someone’s firearm. It wastes everyone’s time. Make sure you bring a well-stocked cleaning kit to class, and take advantage of breaks to maintain your weapons.

4. Bring appropriate gear: Holsters and mag pouches are as important as your firearms. Don’t skimp. Sure, you can always find something cheaper. They’re usually designed for Airsoft games, and will fail when you need them most. Buy a quality holster from a reputable manufacturer. Also, make sure you put your name or identifiers on everything, especially your magazines, which you’ll be dropping and kicking around.

5. Read the recommended gear list: Every class, especially anything tactical, will have a recommended gear list – to include the amount of ammunition needed. Pack everything on the list, and bring spares.

6. Report unsafe acts immediately: Most range tragedies or close-calls have one commonality – it wasn’t the offender’s first time doing something unsafe. There’s a simple formula: Carelessness + firearms = death. If there’s someone who cannot maintain proper muzzle discipline,  or worse, someone who engages in horseplay, let your instructor know ASAP. The life you save may be your own.

7. Prepare for inclement weather: Make sure to bring plenty of foul weather gear, sunscreen, hats, bug spray, spare sunglasses.

8. Arrive zeroed: While many carbine classes begin with having the students demonstrate a proper zero, some don’t. Make sure your firearms are properly sighted in before arriving at class.

9. Insure proper hydration: Most courses will have a water point, but don’t assume. I always bring a cooler with water, Gator Aid or Kill Cliff.

10. Don’t be that guy: That guy used to show up more often in firearms classes. Fortunately nowadays his appearances are becoming more rare. You know him. He’s that guy who thinks he knows more than the training cadre, the one who’s quick to argue every minor point, who detracts from the training, who feels he should be leading a SEAL platoon rather than taking a basic firearms course. When students arrive with positive attitudes, ready to learn, everyone wins. By all means ask questions when the instruction is not clear, but don’t be that guy.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Zengunfighter on

    Keep a small notebook in your pocket and USE IT. Adult learners forget 1/2 of what they learn in 24 hours. Even waiting til the evening to write down what you learned, you will forget things.

  2. Pingback: Top 10 tips for successful firearms training. | The Gun Feed

  3. Pingback: 10 tips for successful firearms training | Ghost Planet Firearms Academy

  4. I like how you mentioned checking the certification and experience of the trainers. Gun safety is of utmost importance to me and so learning from an experienced trainer is important. I recently purchased a gun and want to make sure those around me and my family feel safe. I’ll make sure to do some research on the trainer when looking into concealed carry classes.

  5. My wife has been wanting to get her gun safety taken care of for awhile now and we haven’t really had a need, but now she’s really adamant about getting it. I liked that you had mentioned that it can be very crucial to understand your physical limitations to make sure that you’ll be able to meet those. Once I start calling around checking into gun safety courses, I’ll be making sure that she can meet all the physical limitations.

Leave A Reply