Retired Green Beret: It’s time to exceed, not just meet, firearms training standards

Lee’s note: Here’s a great guest column from Arden Tams. Arden served 24 years in the U.S. Army, the last 17 in Special Forces. As a Green Beret, he attended a host of high-speed SF schools, as well as some of the country’s most-prestigious private shooting academies. Arden, who retired as a CW2, deployed overseas 10 times, including multiple tours in Afghanistan. He’s trained Africans, Arabs and Afghans. I know no one with more downrange time. This is his first column.

by Arden Tams 

Now more than ever the gun community is under a microscope from both the anti-gun community and liberal politicians alike.

For too long the gun community has barked loudly about the infringement of our Second Amendment and done nothing about addressing concerns with proper instruction, training and safety.

There is an old analogy that house built on a foundation of sand will eventually collapse. Well, that holds true for initial firearms training too.

Since I retired from the military last year, I have not only witnessed improper training, I have been told by several instructors who are very proficient that many of their colleagues are not competent whatsoever.

Examples we all hear are instructors using starter pistols, or firing one shot down range for concealed carry classes.

This falls on both the instructor and student.

So how do we combat this as a gun community if there is a minimal standard in place set forth by states and the NRA?

We exceed the standards to ensure accidents like this last weekend do not happen.

Gun ownership is not only a right, it is also a privilege and a stewardship that we must hold in high regard and, more importantly, conduct safely.

In closing, we as a gun community need to step up our game and set the example for all others to follow in terms of training and safety.

I challenge every instructor and gun owner to stop meeting the standards and start exceeding the standards.


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. CommonSenseTyranny on

    Thanks Lee for sharing Arden’s message. There is a fallacy though in thinking that if we “safety” hard enough, train hard enough and practice responsibility enough that the anti freedom bigots who literally want to disarm and endanger us will back off from their pursuit of destroying the foundations of our way of life including the RTKBA.

    They are and will remain relentless and for that reason so should we.

  2. This column has nothing to do with the face that a child was killed by an improper use of a firearm at a commercial gun range. Lee Williams is an NRA mouthpiece who has no regard for safety. there is a big difference between a Green Beret operating a gun and an apparently poorly trained individual. this paranoia about being “anti-freedom” is ludicrous….thousands of innocent people will die while Smith and Wesson and the NRA it funds makes billions of dollars on their blood.

  3. Pingback: The Captain's Journal » Step Up Your Gun Training

  4. You are right; I should train more and better.

    I would strongly urge against ALL government standards. Simply glance around at any facet of our country that is regulated. And education standards, goment edumication, standards? Are you kidding? I get it, you come from a long government background and have much to offer but gov regs are a hammer and my retiree church friends are definitely not a nail and neither are millennial women. Remember your audience. One primary object is to attract new shooters.

    There are lots of training options; most are rather scary to first time and new shooters. I’ve seen terrible, even negligent practices myself. “NRA certified” helps but minimum standards would be welcome. I have had trainers that would stop between each evolution and read allowed, from written instructions, what the student is to do next and then he would demonstrated it. Excellent training!!!

    And speaking of education; the words of the LORD God in Matthew 7:26 is not an old analogy. It is fact. Remember your audience please, Mr. Williams. If you’re going to invoke the LORD you need to do better than, state set standards, which are, a house of cards built upon sand. Liberty comes from Him.

    Have you ever written and set SOP? Why don’t you, Kathy Jackson, Team Smitty, NRA, and any other subject matter experts start a group to create and set minimum standards. No rules, no guidelines, just figure it out. This requires ego control of course. Not always easy for experts.

    I hate it when people tell me this but I have succumbed and started saying it myself. Thank you sir, for your service.

      • Lee Williams on

        No worries, Fred. He’ll get it, and he’s arguing for voluntary standards to be created by the industry, not more government regs. As you well know, we’ve got enough of those.

        Thanks for reading.

  5. I agree we need to train more to be as proficient and as safe as possible. Growing up my Dad was the local hunter’s safety instructor. He had all of us kids take the course yearly even though it wasn’t required. As someone mentioned above, I cringe at the idea of any more government regulations, even those requiring coursework for gun owners. In Germany, for example, they have that requirement and it is so hard and expensive that very few people do it. I know two Germans who have gone through the course and they say it is very intense. And you can only qualify for certain weapons and certain hunts. If something like this was enacted in the US I have no doubt they would make it expensive and hard to obtain.

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