PDA

View Full Version : Pistol Training Schools - Your Impressions


BuckTurgidson
07-17-2010, 9:10 PM
Have wanted to take a defensive pistol course(s) for years but have been constrained by the time off work required plus the considerable tuition, travel, lodging and ammo expenses. I'm thinking about actually going through with it, since I'm not getting any younger. Asking for Calgunners' assistance in the initial information gathering stage.

Have perused the web pages of Gunsite, Front Sight, Thunder Ranch and Lethal Force Institute. Anyone been to one of these, or any other? What were your impressions of the quality of instruction? Did you come away with the feeling that your money was well spent? Are there any academies that stand apart in their excellence?

Would appreciate if we could restrict replies to folks who have actually attended classes at an academy similar to the ones listed above.

johnny_22
07-17-2010, 10:10 PM
8 hour drive from San Jose to Thunder Ranch in Lakeview. Clint and Heidi are great teachers and the shoot house is so much fun.

I enjoyed it so much, that I signed up for their Handgun II class for April 2011.

One disadvantage is the extra cost of the Pb-free ammo. But, Ammoman has it in stock and the price is down from 2009, when I bought 1k rounds 9mm for $650.

One warning. Lakeview is a small town. My wife went with me to drive and I told her she could shop while I was in class. Well, after the hardware store, drug store, Safeway and a little book store, there isn't much else in the town. Although, you want to see the post office. Beautiful wood paneling inside. Just like a movie from the 1930s.

Don't overlook Louis Awerbuck's classes at Reed's Indoor Range. He is close and a great teacher. I took his Close Quarters and Low Light classes. Although Clint had a flashlight time in the shoot house, Louis spent more time on it and helped me improve.

BuckTurgidson
07-18-2010, 12:00 AM
Terrific input. Thanks.

HCz
07-18-2010, 12:40 AM
Haven't been to any of those, but if you can wait until October, Magpul Dynamics is coming to San Jose, which should be closer to you.

http://www.magpuldynamics.com/training/schedule.shtml
Oct 1-3 Dynamic Handgun 1 Metcalf Range, San Jose, CA

I have not taken classes with them, but their reputation seems solid.

Classes I took were:
ITTS (Scott Reitz)
FTA(Firearm Training Associates)
Larry Vickers
Tiger Swan

John Browning
07-18-2010, 12:56 AM
Paul Howe and Larry Vickers have been there and done that. They know what works and what doesn't. I'd bet that if you took all the other super ninja instructors and put them together, they don't have 1/10th of the real world experience of these two.

I'd try to take a class from one of these fellows, as you know what you're getting isn't BS cooked up in three gun or at the range, but tried and tested knowledge that came through real gunfights.

9mmepiphany
07-18-2010, 2:26 AM
i can recommend Thunder Ranch (much more cozy now in OR) as the best school of the ones you've listed and Bill Rogers (former FBI instructor, designer of the Wilson 47D mag, the reason the Surefire "Z" series flashlights exist) as the best school to really push yourself.

the get to most out of either school, make sure your current/fundamental shooting skills are up to snuff...why spend the money on a defensive shooting school to learn grip, stance, sight alignment, trigger control, the draw and mag changes. they'll be happy to teach you these, or you'll just fall behind, but you'll learn a lot more if you already have the fundamentals down before you go

23 Blast
07-18-2010, 6:21 AM
I'm curious - do you need to have a certain level of proficiency before you should sign up for these things? I always get the impression that these things are sort of like finishing schools for people whose pistol skills are already very good and simply want to get to that elite level of proficiency. Or do they accept people with literally novice/beginner level skills?

Quiet
07-18-2010, 7:38 AM
I've gone to Front Sight.
Excellent instructors. I improved after going there.
I recommend it, since you can get a 2/4 day certificate off of Ebay for around $100-200.

I'm curious - do you need to have a certain level of proficiency before you should sign up for these things? I always get the impression that these things are sort of like finishing schools for people whose pistol skills are already very good and simply want to get to that elite level of proficiency. Or do they accept people with literally novice/beginner level skills?

Usually the level 1 class is for beginners.

9mmepiphany
07-18-2010, 10:06 AM
I'm curious - do you need to have a certain level of proficiency before you should sign up for these things? I always get the impression that these things are sort of like finishing schools for people whose pistol skills are already very good and simply want to get to that elite level of proficiency. Or do they accept people with literally novice/beginner level skills?

i'm not saying you can't go without basic shooting skills beyond safety and ability to holster, it's just that you'll learn/absorb/retain a lot more about the tactics and movement drills if you're not worried about putting shots on target at the same time.

there are very few shooters who wouldn't benefit from a refresher course in shooting fundamentals. it brings to mind a student we had in a Practical Fundamentals class a couple of years back...you'd know him as Chris on History Channel's Top Shot. a good basic knowledge of shooting fundamentals is something you'll always be able to fall back on when you hit a rough patch or when trying out new techniques

Front Sight is definitely a "best buy" at $50 per day...most reputable schools run about $200 per day, about like any other professional training/conference you'd attend...that is a good hourly fee for 1:1 instruction

johnny_22
07-18-2010, 11:25 AM
I'm curious - do you need to have a certain level of proficiency before you should sign up for these things? I always get the impression that these things are sort of like finishing schools for people whose pistol skills are already very good and simply want to get to that elite level of proficiency. Or do they accept people with literally novice/beginner level skills?

The level one class said that you can be with a brand new holster and pistol and take the class. However, most of my class mates had military experience, law enforcement experience or had taken other classes first. One person was brand new and had a lot of trouble not jerking the trigger and keeping the groups small. The student had improved by the end of the class, but, a Basic Pistol class would have smoothed out a lot of the problems before the class.

9mmepiphany
07-18-2010, 1:03 PM
The level one class said that you can be with a brand new holster and pistol and take the class. However, most of my class mates had military experience, law enforcement experience or had taken other classes first. One person was brand new and had a lot of trouble not jerking the trigger and keeping the groups small. The student had improved by the end of the class, but, a Basic Pistol class would have smoothed out a lot of the problems before the class.

any class will help you improve, but paying to take a "tactical class" without good shooting skills is like going to a 4 year college to take the General Ed classes you could have taken in a Community college

PressCheck
07-18-2010, 1:10 PM
Paul Howe and Larry Vickers have been there and done that. They know what works and what doesn't. I'd bet that if you took all the other super ninja instructors and put them together, they don't have 1/10th of the real world experience of these two.

I'd try to take a class from one of these fellows, as you know what you're getting isn't BS cooked up in three gun or at the range, but tried and tested knowledge that came through real gunfights.

TOTALLY CORRECT!

razr
07-18-2010, 1:11 PM
They are all good enough to get you started. Up to you to stay in shape. At the end its all about muscule memory.

Waldo
07-18-2010, 5:52 PM
I"ve found that Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch, Louie Awerbuck, and Paul Howe are great teachers and you will learn alot from them.

However, I'm glad I took Mas Ayoob's LFI I course beforehand. The others will teach you how to shoot well. Mas' class will teach you when to shoot, with a bit lesser emphasis on how to shoot. Hard to squeeze in since it's a 5 day course.