People want to do normal things and they want to have fun while doing it. If gun training is normal, normal people want to participate in it. Right now, there is a tendency in firearms training to capitalize on the special operations warrior as the be-all and end-all of firearms training. The problem is, advertising gun training classes as hard-core or top-tier or whatnot limits the market to people who either want to be special forces themselves, or high responders like myself, who want to help others in their pain. We’re not normal, though, and for most people, though, gun training is not normal.
What is normal for most people? Things that are fun. Everybody likes things that are fun, even people like me who do firearms training on a regular basis. We spend our leisure time doing things that are fun because they are fun to do. Bowling is fun. Horseback riding is fun. Going to the range and turning money into noise is fun. Taking a gun training class? Not fun. Okay, I think it’s fun, but we’ve already established I’m not normal :D. The fact is, until gun training becomes fun, it will be just the 1% who show up in the nation’s gun schools.
And that’s a problem. Firearms trainers, by and large, are really bad at making training fun. There are some things that can be done to make classroom training fun, such as group participation, quiz programs like Kahoot and giving out minor rewards such as candy for correct answers. Unfortunately, this sort of thing is very rarely used while doing firearms training. Most teachers are content to read their Powerpoint to the students, never stopping to ask for feedback along the way. Even worse, all the teaching is one-way: The teacher imparts his or her knowledge to the student and hopes that the student absorbs it on their own.
No wonder students rarely go beyond the basics of getting their concealed carry permit. If experience inside the classroom had all the joy and excitement of a corporate training seminar, why go back?
Sadly, most firearms trainers are more concerned about WHAT they are teaching in their gun training classes, rathe than HOW they are teaching it. All the high speed, low drag advanced techniques in the world mean nothing if you can’t impart that knowledge to your students.
Fortunately for the training industry, there are lots of resources out there to help firearms trainers become better at training. When it comes to keeping your students listening to what you’re saying, nobody did it better than Steve Jobs. Watch as he turns around an audience who was ready to string him up for killing their pet projects into an audience that’s on-board with his vision for the future. He engages with the audience, understands their needs and then turns around the conversation, making it a win-win for everyone.
You know what wasn’t in that video? A Powerpoint presentation.
Stop reading your PowerPoints. Learn to instill trust by relating to your students on an emotional level as well as an intellectual level. Put the needs of the students first, not your need to show how smart you are. Engage them in the learning process and bring them along your journey of responsible armed self defense. Remember that your job isn’t just to teach them how to shoot, it’s also getting them to learn on their own. Be a mentor, not a teacher, and you will help make firearms training become normal again.