Men vs. Women - Training Mentality

Pistol TrainingOne of the largest issues that I have faced as an instructor in the firearms industry is the difference in training mentalities for men and women. No matter how they arrived at our training events, and no matter how long I've known them- I have consistently encountered a common theme regarding their particular training goals and aspirations.

Men NEVER want to take a beginner course, and women NEVER think they are ready to take a more advanced course

I mean it... More than 90% of the time that a man calls me, he is very downtrodden about the idea of taking a course with a "beginner" label on it, or a "101" level course. For some reason, it is engrained in every man's psyche that he is the protector of his domain, and desperately wants to preserve that naive belief that he is "already a pretty good shooter." Often times I will inquire as to what lead them to the belief that they are an advanced shooter, and I generally get one of a few different responses:

  • I grew up around guns. I own several deer rifles and a pistol. I can hit a coke can at 1,000,000 yards with a handgun.
  • I go to the indoor range all the time. I own several different firearms and I can stack shots in the bullseye at the range.
  • I have a ton of experience but am mostly "self-taught."

There are many different versions of the above declarations of skill level, but they all seem to fit into one of those key themes. I want to take a look at these one by one, so that our friend Tommy-Tactical reading this might see if he can identify with any of these symptoms.

- The deer hunter who "grew up with guns" -

I get it, man... You've killed a bunch of deer. So have I, and I grew up enjoying the outdoors as much as anyone. However, I have come to the inevitable understanding that deer hunting and violent encounters have literally nothing to do with each other. The only similarity that one could even attempt to draw is that there is a firearm present in both. The common-ground stops right there! The deer aren't trying to harm you or your family. They aren't developing tactics to advance on your position while you try to work through that double-feed that you've never experienced. They're not causing you to perform reloads while moving, identify and utilize cover, minimize exposure, treat gun shot wounds, etc... In other words- it's not a fight! You aren't born with the ability to run and manipulate a firearm under pressure, and you certainly haven't honed that skill in the slightest during your days in a deer stand (duck pond, bird field, etc.).

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor. Understand that you DO NEED A BEGINNER COURSE to build the proper foundation of skills prior to moving on into more complicated tasks. It's okay... We won't tell your ego that it's a beginner course. Just trust us on this one.

- The indoor range action hero -

I get it, man... Your Glock 21 and your Uncle Mike's holster make it to the range once every few months. You blow through 3 boxes of ammo at a target 7 yards aways, and then after a quick selfie with your target and handgun, it's off to discuss bad-assery with your friends over a beer. There's nothing at all wrong with this scenario as a social-outing. Just understand this... You didn't just do any "firearm training" and you're not any better prepared for violence after this range trip than you were before you went. I understand that you can stack shots on top of other shots... You're Hell-on-wheels as long as you are firing at a static target at a static distance from a static position with as much time in between shots as you need. Awesome!

What you have just demonstrated is an ability to impress your girlfriend, mediocre marksmanship capabilities, and that you don't mind donating brass to your local range. You did not show any capability whatsoever to problem-solve with a gun in your hand, manipulate your firearm under stress, discriminate between threat and non-threats, or virtually any other skill that would be pertinent to a gun fight. Now, before I go any further, understand that I'm not talking about the guy at the indoor range who has a regimented routine as to what he is doing. I'm not talking about the guy who swung by to confirm his zero before a day of training. I'm talking about the guy who probably showed his muzzle to at least 50% of the people in the range with him, and who has likely avoided a self-inflicted gunshot wound merely because of lack of opportunities to do so.

Indoor Range Action Hero, do us all a favor... TAKE A BEGINNER COURSE so you don't hurt yourself or anyone else around you. (Oh, and you likely need to check out our rant about Your Handgun Grip Sucks - Fix It!)

- The Self-Taught Call of Duty guy -

Your "tactics" and "communication" loosely resemble your favorite scene from Call of Duty. Your knowledge of every military weapon in every video game ever is impeccable. You've memorized whatever specs that PlayStation told you to memorize, and you're ready to fight... Only you don't know the first damn thing about how to run your gun. You and your buddies have set up coke cans and shot at them from prone positions at 15 yards, but the excitement of a failure to eject makes you think that you need to consider a new gun that is more reliable. When asked what your average times are for an emergency reload, you don't honestly know because you've never even seen a shot-timer. After all, no one has a shot timer in your favorite video game... 

I get it, man... You're the type that wants to be better, wants to be proficient, and fancies themself a hero during a gun fight... The problem is- YOU'RE NOT PREPARING FOR A GUNFIGHT! You're preparing for a paintball match where ammo is unlimited and plywood acts as true cover! YOU NEED A BEGINNER COURSE and I promise you, you'll see the light.

- The Moral for the Men -

It's impossible to know what you don't know. That's the conundrum of learning how to use your weapon as a tool during a violent encounter. There's no way for you to know how little understanding you have because you're not even sure what you're looking for. In fact, you're not even convinced that you should be looking for it! I promise you, a four hour fundamentals course will teach you more in half of a day than you've learned in your previous 10 years.

- The Moral for the Ladies -

It's time to burst your bubble... That fundamentals course that you've taken is an excellent foundation for learning how to safely put holes in the target and not yourself or anyone around you. However, it's not enough to protect you in a fight. You need to expand your skills, and you're ready to do that in the next level of training. Learn how to manipulate your firearm. Learn how to reload it as efficiently as possible. Learn how to correct it in the event of a malfunction. Learn how to run your gun in a sub-conscious manner so that you can focus on solving the problem at hand. You should be able to run your gun through multiple magazines with minimal conscious thought required so that you maximize your thought processes on escaping, evading, or neutralizing whatever threat had you drawing your firearm in the first place.

It's nothing to be intimidated by, it's just the next step in your training. I promise you, as "progressed" as you felt after Level 1, you'll feel that much better at the end of Level 2. Then at the end of Level 3, you'll hate watching Hollywood actors handle guns because of how bad they suck at it!

Looking forward to seeing each of you on the range.

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