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Big name shooting schools -- worth it?

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by wgp, Mar 11, 2010.

  1. wgp

    wgp Member

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    Anyone here attended one of the "brand name" shooting schools, like LFI, Gunsite, Thunder Ranch etc.? I am taking local classes when available but am curious about these schools. Big investment in time and money, and I wonder whether anyone here has attended one of these and could comment on whether you thought it was worth it for the "average" shooter/concealed carry permit holder?
     
  2. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Senior Member

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  3. Buck Snort

    Buck Snort Senior Member

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    Shortly after moving to Modesto in 1987 there was a story in the Bee about an old woman (in her late seventies or early eighties) who shot and held an intruder until the police arrived. Several years later there was another story about a woman who shot and killed an abusive husband who'd just been released from prison and was determined to kill her. She turned the tables and killed him with a single shot to the neck. There was no mention of either woman getting any training but both obviously had the will to stop a criminal attack and did so competently. Does formal training help? I'm sure it does. Is it absolutely necessary? Patently not. Yeah, I'd like to do it but quite frankly I'm just not motivated to spend a big chunk of my income and vacation time for training that in all likelihood I'll never have to use. Will some guy cancel my ticket someday because I was not well trained? Its possible but the chances are extremely slim. You pays yer money and you takes your chances in this life. I'll pass.
     
  4. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    most people learn to shoot and try to improve by reading watching videos or other shooters. if they shoot enough they will reach a plateau in their shooting. at that point they usually go one of two routes, they either buy a "better gun" or get training. buying a better gun is a perfect example of a hardware solution to a software problem.

    those who pursue training often find that they've developed certain habits over their years of shooting which are very hard to change...sometimes they decide they don't want to "fix what isn't broken", and that's were they stay.

    the best time to get training is when you first start shooting so that you don't develop those bad habits you'll have to change later. this should start with safety and basic gun handling, progress to a good shooting school/class and then to tactics instruction. what it really comes down to is how proficient you'd like to be if you should have to use your gun to protect yourself or your family.

    the advantage of a "big name" shooting school/instructor is that it is likely that they teach the most proven and up to date skills. shooting well is a constantly evolving skill set, techniques that don't work are quickly discarded...respected schools have a vested interest in keeping up to date.

    i've received instruction by several "name" instructors and i thought it was money well spent. i not only shoot better, but i have a better understanding of how to train to shoot better YMMV
     
  5. mcdonl

    mcdonl Senior Member

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    I agree with this, but if you can get these same skills in a local school than the big name school doesn't get you much more. And, if the distance and cost is prohibitive then what good is it?
     
  6. Al Thompson

    Al Thompson Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, if you can't budget for the school, then you can't. I had the opportunity to go to a name school (Shootrite in Alabama) and learned bunches. Well worth the money and time.

    True, but how do you know your getting the same thing? A Mercedes and a Yugo both provide transportation and have four rubber wheels, but if you've never seen or driven a Mercedes, how do you know if it's worth it?

    I've passed up local big name training as I didn't need or want the skills in that course. We do have some local trainers that may be a better bang for the buck. Now that I have a frame of reference, I'll take a class and know if I want to do anymore training with them.
     
  7. DKeener

    DKeener New Member

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    Lots of people can drive. Some think they can drive really well. None reach the ability of a professional race driver without training and practice.

    Big name shooting schools don't necessarily teach you how to shoot. They take you out of your "comfort zone" and have you do things you couldn't, or wouldn't do on your home range. The Terminator at Thunder Ranch is an eye opening experience. They also teach tactics, legalities, and practical skills while increasing your confidence level. Not to mention the lifetime braggin' rights.

    I'd much rather spend a week's vacation at a Big Name shooting school than a week ar Disneyland. Cheaper and more fun too.
     
  8. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

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    I can definitely say that they are worth it to us- my wife and I have been to several sessions with nationally known instructors.

    But why go to the school, when the instructor comes to a range near you? A lot of world class instructors take their shows on the road, and that can save you money in travel expenses. There's a partial list at
    http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=4964136&postcount=2 ...

    fwiw,

    lpl
     
  9. wgp

    wgp Member

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    I'm enjoying the responses. I have taken several classes (handgun, carbine and shotgun) with a local LEO who teaches in different cities around my area. I like his classes, I certainly have learned things from him. Since I have not been in classes by other instructors I can't really determine the quality of what I'm getting. That's the reason for my original question.
     
  10. mcdonl

    mcdonl Senior Member

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    Al, it is like anything else, buyer beware. Do you research. If you are Joe Public, and you get the notion you want to take a SD class and just call the local gun club then your at risk as you mentioned.

    As far as your car analogy it is a little apples to oranges don't you think?

    If I develop a list of quality indicators of a good SD class, shop around and find a local class with all of the attributes I am looking for there is nothing wrong with that.

    Sure, taking a class with the local LEO may not be able to give me the same bragging rights as a class with Mr. Ayoob, or the instructor may not have the stories to tell but if I did my homework I do not need to take a class from Mas as long as I know I am getting the same material and concepts. No offense Massad, as I have indicated in the past I am a big fan of your books.

    Come on here, take advice from the ones who know... on this matter, I read and buy the books that LPL suggest, because I trust his judgment. I talk with members at the clubs, I read the latest publications. I feel completely comfortable taking a class with a local instructor.

    Just my opinion. My opinion.
     
  11. Prion

    Prion Member

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    There is nothing I'd rather do with my income vacation time!!!
     
  12. LubeckTech

    LubeckTech Member

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    The quality of the training is the most important fact how much it costs is less important. If you can afford the time and money for a big name trainer or school it is money well spent BUT IMHO it is better find a less expensive local trainer that you can afford than not to get training because you can't afford the one you want. The majority of "famous" quality trainers do travel and one of them will generably be within a reasonable drive from most of us every year or two - the trick is knowing when and where. If you know a friendly LEO as they will very often know about local training opportunities and the quality there of. Also get involved with IDPA matches - I think anyone who carries should shoot at least one per year. They are not a substitute for good training but if you help with the matches and talk to the people there you can pickup a lot of good information about local training opportinities.
     
  13. CZ223

    CZ223 Senior Member

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    If I could afford it

    I would definitely go to a big name school without hesitation. If for no other reason than to be able to judge the quality of the local offerings.
     
  14. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    part of what you get from going to a big name school is knowing how to judge you local instructors and which questions to ask. the ones that coming immediately are:

    1. where do you rank trigger control in importance in accuracy?
    2. do you teach a stance that controls recoil?
    3. do you teach a grip where you lock your thumbs down or point them forward?

    the answers to these question will tell you if the instructor even understands shooting, the most important thing is if they can teach or just show you what they do...they are very different things
     
  15. oldfool

    oldfool Senior Member

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  16. Legionnaire

    Legionnaire Senior Member

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    LFI, InSights, Storm Mountain. Learned something helpful each time.
     
  17. KBintheSLC

    KBintheSLC Senior Member

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    I went to Front Sight last year, and I have to say that it is overpriced for what you get. I drove for 8 hours, shelled out $1000, paid for a hotel for 4 nights, and drove for another 8 hours to get home. All of this to be instructed at a 4:1 student/instructor ratio. That is $250/day of training, plus gas and hotel.

    For $150/day I can hire an excellent, experienced local instructor to give me private (1:1) lessons in the comfort of the local desert. I only have to drive for an hour each way, I get to sleep at home, and the desert offers more dynamic training capabilities than the basic pistol range I trained on at FS. Its a no-brainer to me.

    Yes, professional training is essential, but you don't have to go to "Harvard" to get a "degree".
     
  18. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    I've taken classes from different places that come to my local club.

    And I've met a good bit of the "big name" instructors working the NTI over the past 10 years.



    Yes, it's worth it to take a class from someone like a John Farnam or a Tom Givens. Those guys in particular will travel to hold a class if they get about 10 people committed to take it.


    Going to a "resort", if you will, is worth it to people who think it is worth it.


    I choose to invest in myself, and probably have spent as much on myself for training as I have in guns. I look at it as an investment. So yes, I'm worth it.
     
  19. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    i didn't know anyone paid full price for Front Sight's classes, i thought their big draw was that you could attend with a coupon for $100

    having said that, paying $200-$250/day is normal for just about any kind of professional training...think seminars and professional workshops. also a 4:1 student to instructor ratio is pretty good. i won't teach 1:1 for $150, even in these tough times, i'm charging $50/hour
     
  20. Jenrick

    Jenrick Senior Member

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    If you've got the money and the time I think you'd learn a lot. I personally have had good luck with attending on site schools with instructors from the big schools as well. As noted however a lot of times depending on what you want to learn a local instructor could fit the bill quiet nicely. A lot of times local instructors have attended the big name schools and can share a lot of their material and teachings with you, for a lot cheaper. Is taking a class from an adjunct instructor at Mid-South different then going up there to train? Heck yes, the facilities are a lot nicer at Mid-South. Are you still getting the same knowledge, drills, etc? Largely, and your doing it for about $2K less. Mid-South is Disneyland for shooters, don't get me wrong. It is also about as expensive a trip.

    As noted any where you think about going to train, call them up and ask what they teach. If you think weaver is dead like the dinosaurs, there are certain big name schools even that you won't like.

    -Jenrick
     
  21. Full Metal Jacket

    Full Metal Jacket member

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    i think those schools would be fun (especially thunder ranch with the fake little town you get to run through shootin at stuff lol). kinda like a disney land for gun nuts :)

    however, do i think they're necessary for civilians? nope.

    i certainly don't think it's bad to learn new training and techniques, but 99.9999...% of civilians will never have to fire a shot to save their life, and if they do, they're are generally robbed at point blank range anyway. (practicing quickly drawing and firing from a holster accurately and fast until it is intuitive is very important, which you can do on your own).

    as a civilian, i would take some training classes if i had money to burn on fees and ammo, just for the fun of it.

    however, i would definitely take courses from one of the serious schools if i were a LE officer though.
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2010
  22. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    F.M.J.

    You do realize that professional shooting instruction is not all about fake-little-town, Disneyland fun shoots, right?


    Of all the handgun instruction and training I took, 95% of it was done at 7 yards or less. It is entirely relevant and focused on performing your best at those point blank shooting scenarios like you mentioned.


    Unless we're playing a game of Nazi's and Jews, it's not easy to shoot someone at point blank range.


    I don't particularly care if you're persuaded to take professional instruction or if you're not. But for the benefit of others reading this I am going to counter that misconception about what a shooting class and professional instruction is all about.


    Those who take their first class nearly always come away commenting that they found out just how much they didn't know. And they also often say that they didn't even know that they didn't even know. <<<--- Read that twice; it wasn't a typo.
     
  23. JoeSlomo

    JoeSlomo Member

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    Price is always an individual concern.


    Most of the "Big name" schools have excellent facilities, and good instructors.


    Unless you are a complete novice, you will never learn a HUGE amount from ANY instructor, however, you WILL learn something that makes you go "That's smart, I will incorporate that....".
     
  24. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

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    this i definitely worth a 2nd read, just finding out what you didn't know is worth the price. as i referred to earlier, sometimes it's knowing the right questions to ask.

    i'll offer an example, i knew i couldn't shoot very fast without giving up accuracy. i knew i could pull the trigger faster, but that usually resulted in a jerked trigger. i found out that it isn't about pulling the trigger faster, it's about pulling the trigger as soon as you can acquire the sights. the trick to shooting faster is not wasting time between shots...how fast you might ask, how about 4-5 shots per sec while maintaining accuracy
     
  25. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

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    Really? How many classes have you taken?



    I was certainly not a novice shooter when I took my first professional shooting class. I had spent 4 years in the Marines as an infantryman. I was a machingunner, and I couldn't guess how many rounds I had fired in those 4 years. Certainly over 100,000.

    And I'll tell you I learned a huge amount of things I didn't even know I was ignorant of when I began training as a private citizen.
     

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