Tracy is currently attending the Massad Ayoob Group alumni reunion, so I thought this would be good time to post her article from the MAG Deadly force instructor class last year.
Deadly Force Instructor Course
Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes
Jan 31 – Feb 4, 2018
A group of KR Training assistant instructors took the Deadly Force Instructor Course, taught by Massad Ayoob and Marty Hayes, January 31 – February 4, 2018, in Giddings, Texas. Each student had to give a presentation to the class on a topic assigned to them.
I (Tracy) was assigned the topic: “FIREARMS TRAINING: ASSET OR LIABILITY?”
I introduced myself to the class and gave some background on who I am and who I have trained with. For those who are interested, I am a fifth generation Texan, a graduate of the University of Texas, an assistant instructor at KR Training, a staff instructor for the Massad Ayoob group, a Rangemaster certified advanced instructor, and a co-host for the Polite Society Podcast.
Assets to firearms training
So, why do we train? We train for a multitude of reasons, to include learning to defend ourselves with a gun as a last resort, to document that we are responsible gun owners, to document that we can safely handle firearms, to document shooting proficiency with our firearms, to learn when we can (and can’t) legally use our firearms, and to prepare ourselves for the unexpected. As gun-carrying good guys (and gals), it is imperative that we make ourselves court defensible. Karl has researched, and put together a rather lengthy presentation, stating that only 1% of Texas LTC carriers in the state of Texas seek out more than the basic state-mandated training. Folks, that scare you! A six-hour class, pass a 50-round course of fire, and pass a criminal background check, and in the eyes of the State of Texas, you are ready to carry a gun. I am a #discipleofayoob. Massad Ayoob has some laws that he has named after himself. Ayoob’s law #1 is really important. To summarize, “Be able to predict when the attack will come and have a proven counter attack in place and poised for launch.” You don’t learn to have a proven counter attack in place if you don’t train. This is not knowledge gained through osmosis. You have to get out there and put the work in, and you document your training!
You’ve made the decision to get more than the basic state-mandated training to carry a gun. How do you make the decision on who and where to take your training? What are some things to look for when choosing a firearms trainer? In my (not so humble) opinion, things I would consider when choosing a firearms trainer would include criteria such as a good reputation, personal references, a firearms trainer who will share their own Curriculum Vitae with you, experience in the profession (how long have they been an instructor), how frequently do they instruct, instructor credentials (are they an NRA or USCCA instructor or are they an instructor from a school that has higher standards, such as Rangemaster), who the firearms trainer has trained with, are they former military or law enforcement, or do they shoot competition? I would also ask if the firearms trainer continues to take shooting classes and do they have any sort of testing or accountability for shooting standards. Kathy Jackson has written that it takes somewhere on average 128 hours to complete a bachelor’s degree and wouldn’t you want a firearms instructor who has had at least 128 hours in taking classes and in training students?
Potential liabilities to firearms training
We’ve talked about what I would look for when evaluating someone as a potential firearms trainer, so let’s now talk about some things to avoid in a firearms trainer. Sensationalism – I would avoid a trainer who advertises “sensational” course titles. For example, “Killing within the law.” Let’s hypothesize that you have had to use your firearm in a self-defense situation. You are in court. Your training records have been subpoenaed. How good is it going to look to your defense attorney when you have to explain that you have taken a class entitled, “Killing within the law?” Massad Ayoob preaches that we must be able to articulate and explain all of our decisions in a court of law. How are you going to explain the class you took called “Killing within the law?” The prosecution is going to have a field day with that one.
What else would I avoid in a trainer? I’d avoid someone who has a criminal background or is a convicted felon. Remember, your training records are discoverable evidence, and the prosecution is going to research each and every person you have documentation that you have trained with. I’d avoid someone who has limited experience as a shooter, someone who has had limited exposure to other firearms trainers, and someone who will not share with you who they have trained with (are they a master of self-promotion or have they not taken any classes with any number of reputable national trainers). Unsafe gun-handling practices and unsafe range training practices should also be avoided, as should a poor reputation in the field.
I would also avoid a trainer who cannot speak well. Why? Your life may depend on it.
To wrap things up, good, reputable firearms training can be used by a good attorney to show that you approached firearms training in a sensible manner and that you are a responsible gun owner. You understand the lethality of the gun and the potential gravity of the circumstances that come along with carrying a gun and you made the conscious decision to seek out training above and beyond what your state says you have to have.