There’s currently a lot of Internet stink about some limitations imposed in the NRA Carry Guard training. I’m not going to comment about Carry Guard in general because as an Instructor certified in numerous disciplines through the NRA Training Department, there’s a possible conflict of interest.
What I will comment about the equipment limitation is:
They’re staying in their lane of competency.
Looking at the background and resumes of the instructors, running a striker fired autoloader or Sig 226 is mostly likely all they’ve ever been trained with, practiced with, or used. Revolvers and 1911s have a different manual of arms and idiosyncrasies that these instructors, with the exception of Jarrett who was briefly with the LAPD decades ago, are probably not familiar with.
They are probably expert with the weapons they have used and the possibility is they are either inexperienced or ignorant of how to operate other weapons at any professional level. I see that a lot now. The number of young police officers who literally cannot open the cylinder of a revolver is stunning. There are numerous firearms trainers who can operate one or two weapons and provide good training, as long as it’s confined to those weapons
Why would we then encourage these Carry Guard instructors to teach students how to use weapons they are not experts in the use of? How often has the meme ‘Stay in your lane’ surfaced lately? To his credit, when Rob Pincus wanted to make a DVD about Snub Revolvers, he brought me in to do it, just as he did with Dryfire. I’m an expert on those topics and he is not.
We can’t have it both ways. If we want instructors to ‘Stay in their lane,’ then we’re going to have to accept that just like lanes on the highway, the lanes have limits. In this case, the limitation is that NRA Carry Guard probably needs to say “Training for a limited subset of weapons but not all.” Describing itself as ‘the Gold Standard’ is probably a bit of a stretch. That is not to say I accept what Carry Guard provides is, in fact, the ‘Gold Standard.’ I mean that if Carry Guard is unwilling to provide training for two extremely common weapons, revolvers and Browning pattern pistols, then, by definition, it can’t be ‘the Gold Standard.’
Perhaps it could be ‘the Silver Standard.’ Without seeing first hand what actually takes place at the training, there’s no way for me, or anyone else, including NRA Carry Guard, to say. What they are going to provide remains a prototype, unlike the training provided by NRA Certified Instructors, which are proven training processes. How well Carry Guard’s training prototype will translate to the Instructor candidates being recruited also remains to be seen. At least as long as you’re not using a revolver or 1911. Then you don’t have to be concerned with it.
I had a unique opportunity this past weekend to observe two very different firearms trainers on back to back days. Sunday, I was invited to a Back Up Gun class conducted by Ken Hackathorn. Monday, I was able to observe the last two hours of Introduction to Combat Focus Shooting by Rob Pincus.
Hackathorn and Pincus have backgrounds and philosophies that are probably as different as can be found in the training community. Both are good friends of mine and I have noted that despite their quite divergent backgrounds and philosophies, neither gentleman speaks ill of the other. In fact, both have good things to say about each other.
I believe they both recognize what are commonly thought of as ‘facts’ in the training community are actually opinions. Every trainer’s opinion is based on his or her background. As a result, we are all victims of our own experiences and bring our own biases to our training curricula.
As I watched and listened to Pincus, a number of items struck me as echoing things I had heard the previous day in Hackathorn’s class. The parallels between significant parts of their expressed philosophies and desired training outcomes were quite interesting.
Pincus posed three questions to the students during the class. He wanted them to express, at least to themselves, some answers at the close of training.
- What are you capable of with your gun? (I.e., what are your limits?)
- What SHOULD you be better at?
- How do you get better at the answer to #2?
Questions 1 and 2 mirrored primary questions Hackathorn posed to his class the previous day. “What are you capable of doing with the equipment you are carrying?” “What real world problems might you have to solve?” At the end of Hackathorn’s class, he made the statement “Training teaches you what to practice.” This is philosophically not far removed from Question 3 posed by Pincus.
They spoke about it in different ways, but they both emphasized the need to be able to hit the target. Further, they both made the case that reality will dictate defensive shooting requirements. This is very different from being able to pick our cadence and circumstances when we go to the range by ourselves. Both made comments about the difference between training and competition and not confusing the two.
Often in the training community, we become obsessed with differences, sometimes minor, in style or technique. Periodically, the observation is made that it would be more productive to focus on what we have or espouse in common. Approaching both classes with an open mind was a good indicator of the latter.