Bad Practice: "Advanced" courses for Beginners

Classes aren't your opportunity to self-promote. If you show up underready as a student, or allow it as an instructor, you're wrong. Here's how to avoid that.

February 28, 2019 9:23 PM
ISG Team


"So, basically, if you don't pew right, you um, die."

If there's one thing that makes all gun people look bad, it's brommandos and gun bunnies who have no skill showing off puzzlingly bad tactics at their latest class.

If you want to shoot and have fun, cool, we're not trying to dog on ya... but... Classes aren't supposed to be an opportunity to film yourself doing stuff and looking photogenic. They're not for your ego. They're a chance to learn where you're weak so you can buff out the rough patches.

So, we've got a two-fold problem today.

"I don't even wear shoes that cover my feet that much."
-American Gun Chic

Let's introduce: American Gun Chic and Tactical Response.

I don't want to focus on the personalities involved, because that's a dead end and frankly we don't need the drama. What we'll say is this: From the looks of it, "AGC" has not been shooting long and Tactical Response is *not* the place for her to start. She needs work from the ground up.

"Tactical" anything needs to wait while she focuses on technical everything.

The Story

We can't embed her video, but you can see it here. Make up your own mind, but to us, she looks like she's in *way* over her head.

That brings us to our point:

"Just rack the slide off your boot" says the instructor.

Seriously, I won't teach classes because I don't think I have the credibility. This guy is an instructor.
As a student, you need to know when you're still a beginner. As an instructor, you need to know when a student isn't ready for the material.

If you do that, you'll save everyone a tremendous amount of laugh lines watching as you try and rack a pistol off a pallet... then off a barrel... then off your belt... then off your boot (which you only wear to the range).

"See, here's your problem, you're not ready for an advanced class."

As a student, you need to be used to basic procedural techniques before being forced to perform really bad interpretations of a complete black swan event (a one-handed reload).

The poor girl goes on to slay the dirt around the reactive over and over again. Then she pulls her ear pro off to narrate, gets a reminder that it's a hot range in the form of some ringing ears and puts her pro back on.

As we say in the South, "Oh, bless her heart..."

"Break it down, Camacho!"


Seriously, we need an intervention and I'm not even 2 minutes deep into this video. More than anything, I feel bad for this girl. It's like watching a 6 year old try and do algebra. Even if they're really interested, they're just not there yet.

So what? There's no shortage of these kinds of antics, so why single her out?

She's the most flagrant example of a beginner who's not ready for the tasks they're performing I've seen.

Furthermore, I don't wanna make assumptions about the instructors motivations here, but from the sound of things in the video, they *knew* she wasn't performing consistently at a basic level, not at all at an intermediate level, and not even advanced by Afghan standards. They clearly knew she wasn't performing at the level the course demanded, but they let it slide.

That's what makes this case worth taking a look at.

If you're an instructor, have the decency to tell your student "you're not ready."

A few wayward pointers as I see them:

Wrong, wrong, wrong.
  1. She's got too much gun and *no* fundamentals.
  2. Her anticipation of recoil is really bad - she needs more reps live fire without the added pressure.
  3. She's jumping all over with her trigger control.
  4. Her clothes aren't well matched to the venue. She's just going to ruin them and be uncomfortable.
  5. That belt is too small to support the load her equipment is putting on it. She's going to get rubbed raw.
  6. Keep your ear pro on while people are firing and don't try to explain the course to your subscribers while the class is still in session.

There's probably more, but by now we should be piecing together a big piece of the puzzle:

Tactical Response really mishandled this one.


If you're an instructor, there are two *major* lessons we can learn here:

  1. You are "on call" to demonstrate the drill for the student. Don't think you can get away with just explaining it.
  2. You have control over that range. If a student is struggling, stop them, pull them from the action, and pace their learning appropriately to their level of skill. This benefits the student, you, and everyone else who's there to learn.

Students are, at least in part, your construction. You're giving them pieces and assisting them in constructing a framework that allows them to recognize what lethal force encounters require of them. If you're helping a child with a puzzle, and you see them continually trying to put a middle piece on the corner, you help them identify the corners. That might seem silly to you, but the student is still learning. As such, it's not only an option, but a necessity to slow them down and ensure they're performing the component tasks correctly *before* you throw them into a complex tasks.

In this case, the first clue the student wasn't ready for complex tasks is that she wasn't consistently hitting the target. The last clue is that she is celebrating her force on force victory in which she hits another student (and NYPD officer) in the forehead.

If you don't learn anything else from this article, this single point should stick with you:

A total amateur would have killed a professional and it was almost certainly a complete accident. She succeded in spite of her lack of skill.

We often talk about humility in training for violence. This is the reason. Professionals are predictable... Amateurs are dangerous.

Task Complexity and Student Performance

We've discussed one handed reloads and in our video and article. That context is: it's an *extremely* unlikely skill that should be practiced once you've perfected a host of *far* more practical skills. We don't emphasize the advanced skills with beginners because:

  1. Advanced skills are lost on the beginner - they need to understand context and relevance before their training has any traction. She goes on reciting talking points that illustrate that neither her, nor the instructors who taught her, have *any* idea why they're doing what they're doing.
  2. The more advanced the technique, the more specific the circumstances (generally).
  3. The more advanced techniques require absolute mastery of basic skills.

Let's break these down a bit. At the following levels, you should be able to:


  1. Be able to extract, load, and fire your firearm efficiently from storage without time pressure
  2. Properly and consistently align your sights
  3. Get a consistent sight picture (Grip, Stance, Posture - which should be coached before awkward shooting positions like supine)
  4. Demonstrate consistent, controlled trigger manipulation
  5. Repeatable, consistent results slow firing at a static target
  6. Identifying shoot/no-shoot targets
  7. Understand post fight protocols and identify legal justification to engage in lethal force


  1. Drawing and firing from a holster under time pressure
  2. Consistently hitting a target while firing strings of multiple rounds
  3. Reloading your pistol under pressure
  4. Transitioning between weapons or tasks (love the guy who drops his gun and pulls a second gun in the video. Practicing some "reality based" stuff, no doubt)
  5. Identify cover and concealment
  6. Utilize some basic movement while performing the above tasks (including choosing the right posture to move with the gun drawn)
  7. Perform these tasks while using your offhand to call for help, operate a light, or navigate interior spaces while under threat as applicable


  1. Navigate gun handling from conversational ranges, to include retention, timing, fending, and integration of empty hand and edged weapons
  2. Apply handgun fundamentals to complex tasks, such as vehicle bailouts, entangled gunfights, shoot/no-shoot drills during Force on Force
  3. Move around non-hostile people with a gun drawn without negligent discharges and while retaining your weapon
  4. Integrate these skills working in pairs or small teams while utilizing good coverage of potential threat areas
  5. Demonstrate an absolute mastery of the tasks above.


It's hard to make money in the gun industry, we get it. Worse yet, the guys who *should* be filling classes every week aren't and the guys who have no business teaching at all are making a killing selling bad tactics to underprepared students. Eventually, that will backfire.

Our eye is on the bigger picture... the more we leave a low bar and allow anyone to misrepresent their level of skill to a broad audience, the less credibility the larger "gun" community has and the easier it is to mock people who claim to be "trained". Further, if we start tolerating range narcissism in classes, it's going to deteriorate the class for all the other students, some of whom might be there to learn.

We say it all the time, it isn't a game. Take it seriously, whether you're a student or an instructor, and don't be afraid to say "I'm in over my head" or "This student isn't ready for this material."

At the end of her video, AGC says "I'll keep trying". That's a good attitude and hopefully she will. However, effort without structure is largely wasted.

ISG Team

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