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Thread: The (ma)lingering question re: CCW instruction, with emphasis re: female students

  1. #1
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    The (ma)lingering question re: CCW instruction, with emphasis re: female students

    With apologies in advance, I couldn't decide which forum fit this the best, so mods, feel free to move or direct me to do so...

    I'm an occassional CCW instructor in No. Colorado. It is definitely more of an avocation than a vocation as I don't advertise, participants tend to be friends or friends and family of friends, and classes are kept intenitonally small (4 - 8 students). My class exceeds the state of CO requirements in that I require a live-fire portion. I don't feel comfortable "certifying" anyone whom I have not seen handle and safely operate a live weapon. My marksmanship requirements are extremely modest: Safely demonstrate firearms handling and the proficiency to consistently hit an 8" target (paper plate) at 1, 3, and 5 yds. Students do not draw or shoot from concealment, or even a holster. It is most definitely a cold range.

    Approximately 4 hrs are spent in "classroom," including safety, different handgun/ammunition types, cleaning/caring for/storing weapons, legal issues, the fundamentals of shooting, and conflict avoidance, including Cooper's colors and Boyd's OODA Loop. I make painfully clear in my presentation that this is the beginning, and that it is vitally important that they seek out qualified instruction in firearms, either from me or elsewhere, and that they practice their skills. The range portion is typically ~90 mins. long.

    My experience over the past several years is that essentially none of the participants have any sort of formal handgun training. Some have never fired a handgun, some "...grew up around guns," mostly rifles and big-game hunting, and a few were in the military long ago, but were trained in rifles. It is not uncommon for me to have paticipants new to shooting, particularly women. I find that these female shooters are often the best students, but also often have a hard time with the semi-autos which have been recommended to them.

    I have never had a student "fail" the live fire portion, but that is because I am literally coaching them directly, and repeatedly, and we are from 1-5 yds on a large target. Left to their own devices, who knows? I haven't left them to their own devices because I feel part of my responsibility is to teach and coach. I could increase the live-fire portion, but by how much. Even a 6hr class makes a long day for participants.

    So, I have a couple of dilemmas... One is that, I VERY RARELY have a student follow up with actual firearms training, either with me, or elsewhere. Granted, I don't pretend to know what each person has done, but I definitely have a sense... I recognize that, at the brass tacks level, it is up to each individual to be responsible for him/herself and their decisions, and that, had they not received the training from me, they would likely simply attend one of the larger, less expensive (Groupon-attractive) $50 4-hr classroom-only classes, and the result would be the same--they met their requirement. Still, it bugs me...

    My bigger question is regarding the complete novices, and particularly female participants who struggle with the (perceived) complexity of an auto, the relative difficulty in reliably and safely manipulating the slide, etc., but who also struggle with the stiff DA pull of a J-frame. I started bringing my J-frame to classes because I thought it was the answer. It has not had any trigger work done, so it is stiff, but perfectly manageable (to me), but my female students sometimes have a hard time even pulling the trigger, just as they have a hard time with the slide of various compact and sub-compact autos.

    I don't know how I could push additional training any more without coming across like a pushy used car salesman. I also don't know what a better option is, particularly for female students in the situation I've described. It seems like the upshot is that I can fully expect my class participants (all of whom are wonderful, guy/gal next door type of people) to not train more than these minimal requirements, and I'm not even sure what to recommend, particularly to my novice female clients with upper-body strength concerns.

    I welcome your feedback, suggestions, and critique, particularly regarding those two essential concerns.

  2. #2
    If you feel strongly enough about it, maybe a slightly stepped down caliber semiautomatic that is reasonably rackable is a worthwhile investment to let them try. Maybe they'll end up getting one and have something that they can use/enjoy enough to train more and "graduate" up to something bigger later. Shield EZ or Ruger LCP?

  3. #3
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    Could you offer a follow-up class coupon? Lots of people buy lots of stuff they don’t need every day because there’s a sale or a coupon offered making “deals too good to pass up.”

    Could you offer the use of a pistol with an easier trigger and action? My kiddos first gun use was a Ruger MKII. When I start a new shooter, it’s almost always on a .22 of some kind. G44 is a new favorite for that. They’re just super easy to run.

    Kudos for helping people out and requiring a shooting portion when it isn’t required by the state. I have mixed feelings about requiring classes before allowing people to exercise any civil right, but guns are dangerous and require instruction in order to handle safely. People should be responsible enough to seek out instruction anyway, but many (most?) will not unless it is required of them. My first state permit required a class, but the only weapon proficiency portion was loading and unloading with dummy rounds. When I got a nonresident permit from another state, there was no class required at all. When I first got an Arizona permit, there was a class requirement of 16 hours, which had to include state mandated material and live fire proficiency of at least 4 hours.

    Quite the disparity in requirements from state to state.

    At least your preparation ensures they know how to not shoot themselves while administratively manipulating the thing.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by dogcaller View Post
    With apologies in advance, I couldn't decide which forum fit this the best, so mods, feel free to move or direct me to do so...

    I'm an occassional CCW instructor in No. Colorado. It is definitely more of an avocation than a vocation as I don't advertise, participants tend to be friends or friends and family of friends, and classes are kept intenitonally small (4 - 8 students). My class exceeds the state of CO requirements in that I require a live-fire portion. I don't feel comfortable "certifying" anyone whom I have not seen handle and safely operate a live weapon. My marksmanship requirements are extremely modest: Safely demonstrate firearms handling and the proficiency to consistently hit an 8" target (paper plate) at 1, 3, and 5 yds. Students do not draw or shoot from concealment, or even a holster. It is most definitely a cold range.

    So, I have a couple of dilemmas... One is that, I VERY RARELY have a student follow up with actual firearms training, either with me, or elsewhere. Granted, I don't pretend to know what each person has done, but I definitely have a sense... I recognize that, at the brass tacks level, it is up to each individual to be responsible for him/herself and their decisions, and that, had they not received the training from me, they would likely simply attend one of the larger, less expensive (Groupon-attractive) $50 4-hr classroom-only classes, and the result would be the same--they met their requirement. Still, it bugs me...

    My bigger question is regarding the complete novices, and particularly female participants who struggle with the (perceived) complexity of an auto, the relative difficulty in reliably and safely manipulating the slide, etc., but who also struggle with the stiff DA pull of a J-frame. I started bringing my J-frame to classes because I thought it was the answer. It has not had any trigger work done, so it is stiff, but perfectly manageable (to me), but my female students sometimes have a hard time even pulling the trigger, just as they have a hard time with the slide of various compact and sub-compact autos.

    I don't know how I could push additional training any more without coming across like a pushy used car salesman. I also don't know what a better option is, particularly for female students in the situation I've described. It seems like the upshot is that I can fully expect my class participants (all of whom are wonderful, guy/gal next door type of people) to not train more than these minimal requirements, and I'm not even sure what to recommend, particularly to my novice female clients with upper-body strength concerns.

    I welcome your feedback, suggestions, and critique, particularly regarding those two essential concerns.
    1) I echo getting, for example, a Shield EZ, for those with lesser grip strength to use. Also echo starting out with .22's. The important thing is to get them on the road safely.

    2) You say that most of your students are in someway connected to you - participants tend to be friends or friends and family of friends - have you ever followed up and invited them to do more shooting with you?

    3) Have you considered making the class a two-day event? with a short first day and a longer block of range training on the next day? Say Friday evening and most of the day Saturday?

    4) If you are training enough females to make a small pistol league - why not start a women's rim fire challenge or similar adventure. I'm toying with taking the NRA Action Pistol courses of fire and modifying them to be shot from the ready as one idea. My problem is advertising and an already full schedule on weekends at our gun club.

    Just some ideas. Kudos to you for putting in the work to make new shooters.

  5. #5
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    Before I offer my opinions and suggestions I'll qualify that I've only been a fledgling instructor since the beginning of the year, in basic pistol classes not intended to be taken into defensive context. Prior to that I was, and still am, mostly a training enthusiast, though I've taken some instructor development. None of my ideas are original and I apologize in advance for anybody's messages I'm about to garble, or anything you've already thought of.

    I've seen incredibly few trainers email a pre-class questionnaire getting to know their students' backgrounds and expectations, which more importantly provides an opportunity for the students to put undefined thoughts and feelings into written words that may or may or may not be said to you in person. When I took Ian Strimbeck's classes, this also included a self-assessment of skills of what they felt they could and could not do well. I don't remember if it included skills that were beyond the scope of the class, i.e. medical or unarmed techniques, but I think it would be worth bringing up.

    Firearms education is education by any other name. I'm guessing you probably have pens and notepads ready in the classroom, or tell students to bring note-taking material in the list of items to bring. Tom Givens is adamant about preparing a handout for them to keep regardless of whether they take notes or not. I like that he has a good dry-practice program in his, when I went through Intensive Pistol.

    Follow-up emails after class may go a long way toward thanking students again for their time, reminding them of key bullet point takeaways of what you guys went over, and any personalized individual feedback you managed to gather. Tim Herron takes copious notes and gave me about four paragraphs' worth both times I've taken his 2-day Pistol Performance but it doesn't have to be that much; Jeremy Bennett took one Coach's Eye video of each student and gave each of us an index card that he tried to put at least two points in our technique to improve on, with one point we were doing good on. The follow-up is also a great place to plug additional training that you and others offer.

    At the end of my last time with Tim Herron, John Correia noted that of many handgun classes he's been through, Tim was one of the few that had a pre-class AND post-class standard that were the same thing, to show measurable improvement in the students' performance. I know John has his own; Tim's is in the form of the USPSA-style stage that everyone attempts cold on the morning of day one, and does again at the end of day two. However, I think there are plenty of good reasons to have the pre- and post- be different though, i.e. if the finishing course of fire is for a prize, especially if it is relatively well-known. Something like warming up with a couple minutes of dry practice at Gabe White's PSS to get a feel for everyone's confidence, perhaps with a small block of instruction first if there's any completely new shooters.

    Since you don't incorporate holster draw, perhaps to drive the point home that they've only just begun might be to show them footage of a defensive concealed handgun use with a positive outcome that is as close to 'textbook' as you can approximate, and point out about how much time it took for the encounter to start and finish, and how much time it took for the defender to draw to first shot. Maybe also demonstrate the differences on a timer between starting from full presentation to the target, starting from low ready, and starting from the holster. Do you teach low ready? If you do, how would you feel about having the 'final exam' consist of each student firing one round at five yards from low ready on the timer individually, as everyone else watches? There would need to be some explanation of human reaction time to an anticipated stimuli, and what a timer is (and what it isn't). Just a heads-up, if you want to use videos from Active Self Protection, it's free if you're not charging your students, but if you do they want $40 for licensing.

    Students struggling with racking the slide and/or locking it back has been a common occurrence for me. I walk them through what Kathy Jackson said. https://www.corneredcat.com/article/...ack-the-slide/

    Some additional resources that came to mind while typing this up:

    - Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training, by Karl Rehn and John Daub. Refer to their KR Training and Stuff From Hsoi blogs about 'Beyond the One Percent' and 'Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol', respectively.

    - Street Focused Handgun Training, Volume 1-3, by Ralph Mroz. If I taught CCW classes I'd write him up and get his permission to take a list of 25 things he made and make it a handout.
    https://pistol-forum.com/showthread....73#post1071273

    - Primary and Secondary ModCasts #214 (Helping New Shooters), Foundational Carry Concepts (Especially for Women); Civilian Carry Radio #129 (Judi Wells), #145 (Lou Ann Hamblin). Extended listening, but I think it is worth enduring the podcast format to get the nuggets.

    - FBI Pistol Qualification. I like the things that Lucky Gunner, John Murphy, and Active Self Protection's dry fire challenge have all done with it.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe S View Post
    If you feel strongly enough about it, maybe a slightly stepped down caliber semiautomatic that is reasonably rackable is a worthwhile investment to let them try. Maybe they'll end up getting one and have something that they can use/enjoy enough to train more and "graduate" up to something bigger later. Shield EZ or Ruger LCP?
    That's a good idea. I don't own one of those, but a buddy does, and I could see how that works out before purchasing. If the recoil spring is appreciably lighter, which I imagine it is, that might be a good solution for that problem.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Duelist View Post
    Could you offer a follow-up class coupon? Lots of people buy lots of stuff they don’t need every day because there’s a sale or a coupon offered making “deals too good to pass up.”

    The coupon is a really good idea. I'm not much of a marketer, but this is just simple and makes great sense, thanks!

    Could you offer the use of a pistol with an easier trigger and action? My kiddos first gun use was a Ruger MKII. When I start a new shooter, it’s almost always on a .22 of some kind. G44 is a new favorite for that. They’re just super easy to run.

    I definitely can. I have a few .22 semis and am thinking about an 3" LCRx as a DA trainer for myself, which could serve double-duty. The reason I haven't done this before is because I really think of my class as a CCW/CHP class, as opposed to a basic intro to firearms/handgun marksmanship class. The reality, however, is that most people need both--which I can't deliver with any quality in ~6 hrs. I think this is the crux of my angst--knowing that these good folks need a lot more than they are getting, but that they don't seek it out as I advise them to.


    Kudos for helping people out and requiring a shooting portion when it isn’t required by the state. I have mixed feelings about requiring classes before allowing people to exercise any civil right, but guns are dangerous and require instruction in order to handle safely. People should be responsible enough to seek out instruction anyway, but many (most?) will not unless it is required of them. My first state permit required a class, but the only weapon proficiency portion was loading and unloading with dummy rounds. When I got a nonresident permit from another state, there was no class required at all. When I first got an Arizona permit, there was a class requirement of 16 hours, which had to include state mandated material and live fire proficiency of at least 4 hours.

    Agreed. Before I started teaching the courses I leaned more toward the opinion that ther shouldn't be requirements. I now wish there was a live-fire requirement in all states, and that it was at least as rigorous as the (often watered down) minimal LEO requirements. (I also wish LEO standards were higher. That's not intended as a slam. I'm a big fan of LEO. Most of my friends and one of my brothers is LEO. They are also shooters, and one was a firearms instructor for his (large) dept. I've seen the standards and heard the horror stories...) I'm all for people exercising their rights, AND it's also true in my experience that many CCW holders have minimal skills in using weapons.

    Quite the disparity in requirements from state to state.

    At least your preparation ensures they know how to not shoot themselves while administratively manipulating the thing.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Lehr View Post
    1) I echo getting, for example, a Shield EZ, for those with lesser grip strength to use. Also echo starting out with .22's. The important thing is to get them on the road safely.

    2) You say that most of your students are in someway connected to you - participants tend to be friends or friends and family of friends - have you ever followed up and invited them to do more shooting with you?

    Good question. At this point the participants tend to be friends/acquaintances of friends or family. For example, a friend called me to say that his financial advisor and 4 other ladies from her office want to take a CCW course, so that creates a class. I don't know them personally, but would certainly be willing to provide follow-on instruction for a (very) reasonable fee. In this instance, I already know that they are all essentially novices, so I will be offering a follow-on firearms-only training day. Friends and family are always invited.


    3) Have you considered making the class a two-day event? with a short first day and a longer block of range training on the next day? Say Friday evening and most of the day Saturday?

    I haven't. I find that it is often difficult to get people to commit 6.5 hrs, especially when (some of them) realize they could get the same "certification" after taking a class which is 4 hrs long, Groupon-friendly, and less expensive. With classes of 4-8, more typically 4-6, it really matters when even one or two drop out. Also, my own schedule makes Sunday classes much more practical than two-day classes.

    4) If you are training enough females to make a small pistol league - why not start a women's rim fire challenge or similar adventure. I'm toying with taking the NRA Action Pistol courses of fire and modifying them to be shot from the ready as one idea. My problem is advertising and an already full schedule on weekends at our gun club.

    At this point that's more than I am willing to take on. I only run a few classes per year, and the number of females is ~40%. And, I'm not confident that enough of those ladies are interested in taking up a new hobby (as opposed to "my husband thought I should take this course with him," etc., that it would be viable). The truth is, with three kids of my own at home and a very time intensive job, *I* don't get to the range or matches nearly as much as I would like.

    Just some ideas. Kudos to you for putting in the work to make new shooters.
    I really appreciate your ideas and feedback, thank you!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yung View Post
    Before I offer my opinions and suggestions I'll qualify that I've only been a fledgling instructor since the beginning of the year, in basic pistol classes not intended to be taken into defensive context. Prior to that I was, and still am, mostly a training enthusiast, though I've taken some instructor development. None of my ideas are original and I apologize in advance for anybody's messages I'm about to garble, or anything you've already thought of.

    Great thinking and suggestions, many thanks!

    I've seen incredibly few trainers email a pre-class questionnaire getting to know their students' backgrounds and expectations, which more importantly provides an opportunity for the students to put undefined thoughts and feelings into written words that may or may or may not be said to you in person. When I took Ian Strimbeck's classes, this also included a self-assessment of skills of what they felt they could and could not do well. I don't remember if it included skills that were beyond the scope of the class, i.e. medical or unarmed techniques, but I think it would be worth bringing up.

    I could definitely do better with this. I'll have to think on a good question set, but I can definitely derive one. Participants tend to be good folks who feel like they know enough, but need to go jump through this hoop to get the cert., or good folks who really don't know anything but want to learn. Both groups inevitably learn something. I could formalize both my pre and post-class interactions through a questionnaire and feedback form.


    Firearms education is education by any other name. I'm guessing you probably have pens and notepads ready in the classroom, or tell students to bring note-taking material in the list of items to bring. Tom Givens is adamant about preparing a handout for them to keep regardless of whether they take notes or not. I like that he has a good dry-practice program in his, when I went through Intensive Pistol.

    Yes, I provide a paper copy of my slide deck.

    Follow-up emails after class may go a long way toward thanking students again for their time, reminding them of key bullet point takeaways of what you guys went over, and any personalized individual feedback you managed to gather. Tim Herron takes copious notes and gave me about four paragraphs' worth both times I've taken his 2-day Pistol Performance but it doesn't have to be that much; Jeremy Bennett took one Coach's Eye video of each student and gave each of us an index card that he tried to put at least two points in our technique to improve on, with one point we were doing good on. The follow-up is also a great place to plug additional training that you and others offer.

    Agreed about the follow-up emails. I'm not much of a marketer, but this is such a "gimme" that I should have dont it all along. I believe the feedback cards would be helpful during a follow-on, pistol-instruction class. During the live-fire portion of the CCW class it is really just demonstrating basic safety, with not enough reps to give meaningful feedback--because they haven't really had enough reps to make meaningful growth. It's intended as a "check," rather than instruction, though it almost always incorporates both.

    At the end of my last time with Tim Herron, John Correia noted that of many handgun classes he's been through, Tim was one of the few that had a pre-class AND post-class standard that were the same thing, to show measurable improvement in the students' performance. I know John has his own; Tim's is in the form of the USPSA-style stage that everyone attempts cold on the morning of day one, and does again at the end of day two. However, I think there are plenty of good reasons to have the pre- and post- be different though, i.e. if the finishing course of fire is for a prize, especially if it is relatively well-known. Something like warming up with a couple minutes of dry practice at Gabe White's PSS to get a feel for everyone's confidence, perhaps with a small block of instruction first if there's any completely new shooters.

    This would definitely be useful in a pistol training class rather than a CCW class. Just need to get them to sign up for a pistol instruction class! The email follow-ups may help with that.

    Since you don't incorporate holster draw, perhaps to drive the point home that they've only just begun might be to show them footage of a defensive concealed handgun use with a positive outcome that is as close to 'textbook' as you can approximate, and point out about how much time it took for the encounter to start and finish, and how much time it took for the defender to draw to first shot. Maybe also demonstrate the differences on a timer between starting from full presentation to the target, starting from low ready, and starting from the holster. Do you teach low ready? If you do, how would you feel about having the 'final exam' consist of each student firing one round at five yards from low ready on the timer individually, as everyone else watches? There would need to be some explanation of human reaction time to an anticipated stimuli, and what a timer is (and what it isn't). Just a heads-up, if you want to use videos from Active Self Protection, it's free if you're not charging your students, but if you do they want $40 for licensing.

    I like it!

    Students struggling with racking the slide and/or locking it back has been a common occurrence for me. I walk them through what Kathy Jackson said. https://www.corneredcat.com/article/...ack-the-slide/

    Yes, I was thinking about following up with an email about Cornered Cat to all female students.

    Some additional resources that came to mind while typing this up:

    - Strategies and Standards for Defensive Handgun Training, by Karl Rehn and John Daub. Refer to their KR Training and Stuff From Hsoi blogs about 'Beyond the One Percent' and 'Minimum Competency for Defensive Pistol', respectively.

    - Street Focused Handgun Training, Volume 1-3, by Ralph Mroz. If I taught CCW classes I'd write him up and get his permission to take a list of 25 things he made and make it a handout.
    https://pistol-forum.com/showthread....73#post1071273

    - Primary and Secondary ModCasts #214 (Helping New Shooters), Foundational Carry Concepts (Especially for Women); Civilian Carry Radio #129 (Judi Wells), #145 (Lou Ann Hamblin). Extended listening, but I think it is worth enduring the podcast format to get the nuggets.

    - FBI Pistol Qualification. I like the things that Lucky Gunner, John Murphy, and Active Self Protection's dry fire challenge have all done with it.
    I'll have to check these out, as I'm not familiar with all of them. Thanks again!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by dogcaller View Post
    Agreed. Before I started teaching the courses I leaned more toward the opinion that ther shouldn't be requirements. I now wish there was a live-fire requirement in all states, and that it was at least as rigorous as the (often watered down) minimal LEO requirements. (I also wish LEO standards were higher. That's not intended as a slam. I'm a big fan of LEO. Most of my friends and one of my brothers is LEO. They are also shooters, and one was a firearms instructor for his (large) dept. I've seen the standards and heard the horror stories...) I'm all for people exercising their rights, AND it's also true in my experience that many CCW holders have minimal skills in using weapons.
    One of my good friends runs some CCW classes in Riverside County CA. He requires that the students shoot the old POST qualification course 12 rounds at 3, 7, and 15 yards with a reload on the clock at each location. He also requires shooting from the holster. He has had a few people fail, but he works with them until they can pass.

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