New (or Noob?) Shooter Training


March 4, 2011, 07:42 PM
Hey guys. I'm relatively new to shooting/collecting firearms. Other than a CHL class and years ago in Boy Scouts, I have absolutely no real firearms training. All my shooting is done either at a fairly strict local range, American Shooting Centers for any of you Houston guys/gals (no more than 1 round/second, no draw from holster....basically you can't do anything but practice your accuracy) or at my parent's/friend's land with no structure.

My question is this: what classes or courses should I be looking for as a beginner with very little training that will be fun, useful, and not too intimidating? Part of my hesitation is just getting up the courage to sign up for a "tactical" or "defensive" shooting course when I am so new to the sport. I have a feeling that if I have a good experience with my first, it will be something I continue, and if a bad experience....etc. Any information regarding the financial cost of these courses would be appreciated as well!

My current collection:
Colt LE6920
Remington 870HD
Beretta 92fs
Beretta PX4Storm Sub
Remington 870express magnum, Remington 1100
and the newest: Savage 16FSS in .308

I have all these guns I love, research, and take obsessive care of; I want to learn how to get the maximum enjoyment from them possible and not just plink with them and keep them in the safe.

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March 4, 2011, 07:48 PM
That's a fantastic collection for such a self-proclaimed "beginner"! I say this: buy a LOT of ammo, practice the basics extensively, and get to know your weapon and how it handles...but more importantly, how YOU handle IT. The internet is a great resource, and you can view (for free) many videos that will orient you with progressively more advanced techniques and skills. Once you have exposed yourself to these methods and skills, you can practice them on your own time, until you feel confident in a basic apprehension of both the basics and the concept of tactical operation of your weapons. Just remember, tactical is between your ears... not what's hanging off of your guns. Just keep practicing and absorbing all the shooting classes and lessons, and then apply them when you get some trigger time. Then, once comfortable, go for a real, live-fire class! With your enthusiasm, you'll be there in no time :-)

March 4, 2011, 08:02 PM
It isn't "Tactical", just simple rifle shooting fundamentals with lots of practice, but Appleseed is great for a base set of shooting skills. It's cheap too.

March 4, 2011, 08:44 PM
Define your goals for training. Self-defense? Competition?

Obviously, the first course should be a gun safety course. NRA "Home Firearm Safety" involves no shooting and focuses entirely on the safe handling of firearms. You could also take NRA "Basic Pistol" or NRA "Basic Rifle" since they include gun safety.

However, the NRA basic courses only give you the basics. A tactical course will improve your shooting in a very short time. I didn't improve until I attended my first one...and my shooting speed doubled in the first few hours. A good self-defense oriented course will focus on mindset and tactics. The most important part is mindset. Shooting is just part of it, but you likely do not know how to run your guns.

I dislike shotguns for defense. I prefer to focus upon carbine and handgun. It reduces logistics and reduces the number of courses I attend annually. If your goal is "defense", then you should attend SouthNarc's ECQC course or something similar. This is a very important course because it covers what to do when the bad guy is in contact with you.

In general, expect to pay around $200 per day for a good instructor. You should expect long days: 8-12 hours, depending upon the format. Round counts will vary depending upon the focus of the class. Some are more shooting skill oriented (higher round count), while others teach more tactics, mindset and even combatives.

I generally buy 1,000 rounds for a course, though what you'll use varies. Then again, Roger Phillips' "Point Shooting Progressions" is a 2,000 round course. Cruise,, ammo seek,, midway usa,, and so on. Do NOT skimp on ammo if it's a precision rifle course. Buy Federal Gold Medal Match 168's or 175' will cry...but you will shoot better and not get frustrated. Handgun shooting is more forgiving; I just use Wolf for work out to 25 yards. You should use decent ammo for a carbine class (you'll zero at 100 yards and you need good groups).

Given the gear you have:

Colt 6920: Any carbine course. Generally these are CQB type courses. They typically go from 25-100 yards.

FNP-9: Any handgun self-defense course.

You will probably dump the Beretta 92FS and PX4 Storm Sub-Compact after you learn to run a handgun properly. The flip-up safety is counter-intuitive and a problem during emergency reloads. I do recommend that you have at least TWO identical guns. The second is a backup in case the first is lost, stolen, confiscated, or sent to the gunsmith. I broke my only gun and was without a carry gun for two months.

Remington 870HD: Any shotgun course. Tom Givens has some excellent recommendations regarding setup. Understanding the capabilities and limits of the shotgun is critical, as you will discover in a course.

Savage: Any long range rifle. What optic do you have on it? The optic makes the gun. I recommend a high quality optic with some sort of marks in it (standard crosshairs are not good for this). It would be even better for the optic to have a ballistic drop compensator and wind hold overs. This gun should easily hit targets at 1,000 yards. Once you're trained, shooting stationary man sized targets at 200-400 yards will be boring.

You'll need lots of gear: Bug spray, water, cooler, ice, LULA Loaders, lube, cleaning kit, spare parts, folding chair, hat, handi-wipes (must have), paper towels, TP, sun screen, towel, gloves, rain coat, and so on. Make sure you're self-sufficient when you attend a course. Always take a spare gun (preferably an identical backup) or enough tools and parts to repair your weapon. Follow the instructor's recommendations for holsters. You will need magazine holders.

ALWAYS take at least 10 magazines for each gun and a LULA loader. If you only take three or four magazines, you're going to be stuffing magazines instead of listening. Load the magazines before you leave for the day.

Gearing up for a precision rifle course is a whole thread by itself. Follow the instructor's recommendations.

Lunch is a time to Q&A the instructor. Do not leave the range.

March 4, 2011, 08:52 PM
Regarding "intimidating": Don't be intimidated at all!!!! EVERY self-defense instructor I have met has been a very supportive. Some were not nice; I would not want to learn from a "nice guy" given what they were teaching. However, you can expect professional instruction, not "Drill Instructor" silliness.

Just sign up with a local guy and start.

March 5, 2011, 03:13 PM
Thanks for the replies.
230Therapy, I would definitely be more interested in self/home defense courses than competition. Since I have put so much money into (and have the most fun with) my AR that is probably the rifle I would like to become most proficient with. I am currently saving up for a Micro-T1 RDS for it, currently using flip up rear/standard front irons. Will I get more out of a training course if I wait until I get my RDS?
BTW, the scope on my .308 is a nikon pro-staff 3-9x40 with bdc reticle, nice and affordable.

LKB3rd, I just did some reading on Appleseed. It definitely looks like something I would benefit from. I got the impression that the course may come with a lot of political rhetoric. Is this the case? I just want to learn to shoot better, not get indoctrinated.

Does anyone in the Houston area or Texas hill-country have any recommendations for a solid carbine course? I'd be willing to travel a few hours.

March 5, 2011, 05:53 PM
AR: The Aimpoint is nice and helps. Zero it using the top of the dot, not the center.

The ACOG is great too and is better at 50+ yards.

March 5, 2011, 06:48 PM

I'm also in the Houston area and sometimes visit American Shooting Center on Westheimer. ASC does have them rules, one second between shots.
I usually go to ASC for long range rifle practice. There is a gun club you might be interested in down by Lake Jackson. It is a membership only club but can get in as a guest with a member. Greenwood Gun Club is as large as ASC but no range officers and just follow their rules.
Here's their site:

March 6, 2011, 12:50 AM
Here are some forums with various trainers. Google them to see their full schedules.

All sorts of courses by type:

Hk Dan
March 6, 2011, 06:42 PM
Look into Rob Pincus' Combat Focus Shooting. Now, Rob is a little intimidating, but he's very good with new shooters as long as they listen. Just don't offer him ranch dressing with his noon chow salad and you'll be fine...LOL

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