Dave Spaulding on modern firearms training mistakes

Dave Spaulding has a long and exemplary track record in the firearms training industry (scroll down at the link to read his bio).  He knows whereof he speaks . . . and he speaks out loud and clear on his blog about a lot of the nonsense currently circulating in the civilian firearms training industry.  Here’s an excerpt.

Before 9-11, there were just a few training institutions and about 10-12 traveling instructors … I got to them all and had a good handle on what was being taught. Then our country was attacked, two wars began and a large number of folks came out of the military and changed the training industry, I believe forever. Focus shifted from the concealed handgun to the M-4 carbine and if you were not former Special Ops you didn’t know ****. If you weren’t former Special Ops and wanted to instruct, no problem! You just act like you were/are.

Defending the home or what to do in a parking lot attack moved to battlefield tactics. Never mind much of the battlefield stuff was/is inappropriate for law enforcement or the legally armed citizen … it was/is really cool to do! Gear became the primary concern and many felt as long as they looked good, it did not matter if they could shoot good. Many potential students are real gullible, was the thought. They were right … just watch You Tube. What garners the attention of the current shooting community is truly amazing! I recently noted Col. Jeff Cooper’s video on The Combat Mindset had around 27,000 views. However, a young girl in short shorts shooting a rifle had over 3 million! What the hell??

. . .

The number of people who call themselves “instructors” is now HUGE. It is amazing how it has gown in just a decade. From the local folks who are doing CCW certification to the top tier tactical/SWAT/Spec Ops instructors…I have never seen so many people vying for your money in the almost 40 years I have been doing this. What is the quality of their training? Do students know enough to know when they are being fleeced? I have seen some really strange stuff being taught. Students come to me in classes and show me what they have been taught elsewhere and I am speechless … that used to be hard to do to me, but not any longer. I see no reason to teach a barrel roll or back flip with a gun in your hand…

What about some of the on line debates? Do we really care if one person prefers a red dot while the other likes iron sights? Why do people or groups try so hard to prove that others are “wrong”? Appendix carry, SERPA holsters, Kydex versus leather, irons versus optics … is it critical we try and impose our thoughts and desires about such things on others? Ego abounds. Do you think that maybe … just maybe … what might work for you will not work for someone else? Should it be about SOLUTIONS for the students or imposing our instructional will and satisfying our ego?

There’s more at the linkVery worthwhile reading, particularly if you’re considering taking serious defensive firearms training.



  1. Thanks for this post- Mr.Spaulding seems to be a very astute individual.

    IMO, regarding self defense, most folks would do better to concentrate more on situational awareness and less on gun bling.

  2. Peter, thanks for that article. I started my firearms training with Clint Smith at a time that proceeded all the "Special Ops" instructors. Over the last few years I am amazed at the popularity and the amount of crap spewed out by some dubious instructors. A couple of examples are the guy and the girl in short shorts who were big on the internet until it was found out he was a deserter from the army. And the guy who is extremely popular now, but a quick Google search of "Edinburgh Risk and Security Management Ambushed in Iraq" will have you wondering what people see in this guy. Fortunately there are still good folks around like Spaulding, Clint Smith, Bill Rogers and Tom Givens. Of the newer instructors, I think Frank Proctor, Mike Seeklander, Matt Graham and Aaron Cowan (Sage Dynamics) are good trainers.

    A couple of years ago, I took my wife for her first pistol class, a one day beginner's course run by Special Ops guys. Fortunately, we had a good instructor but they tried to do too much in one day. Very little instruction on grip, stance, sights, trigger control, drawing from the holster and other basic fundamentals. We hurried through a morning session of shooting only to spend the afternoon standing around while the members of the class individually went through a live-fire shoot house. On the drive back, I complained to my wife about how little was actually taught in that class. She remarked that most of the people who were in the class didn't seem interested in learning, all they really wanted was a gun vacation. I'm glad I was able to start my training by spending 4 days at Thunder Ranch, not one day playing at being an "operator".

  3. Firearms have met the McDojo. Not really that surprising. The MA world has sort of found a way around it: people who want to do MA/SD seriously don't go to, for example, an ATA gym.

    Take care.

  4. The fact that someone had the drive and determination to be a top tier operator does not mean he will be a good instructor or teacher.
    That seems to be lost on most people.


  5. I for one, would rather watch a comely lass shooting a rifle than listen to Jeff Cooper. But, I've been a student of the Colonel for many years (long before the current era) and I've pretty well absorbed his teachings. Having said that, watching a shapely lass in shorts is not a bad thing.

    I've been on two SWAT teams and commanded the last one. I've also been a soldier, though not in the current conflict. They call me PawPaw for a reason. What works on the battlefield, or on the mean streets of our democratic strongholds doesn't necessarily translate into the things that a simple CCW guy needs to practice.

    I'm not an "instructor", nor a "Spec Ops" guy. Simply an old fart who was doing this stuff long before anyone knew what "Spec Ops" was. I concur that most of the stuff being taught today is hogwash.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *