Most reputable school in the U.S.?

Discussion in 'Training & Safety' started by mattbatson, Dec 3, 2008.

  1. mattbatson

    mattbatson New Member

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    I'm looking to get some of the best, most reputable training in pistol, shotgun, carbine, rifle in the country.
    I would like to become an instructor for hire here in florida and my long term plans are to have my own outdoor gun range, with plans to eventually build this range into a similar facility to a Gunsite or Thunderranch...complete with playhouses, simulators, etc...I'm already in process of finding the land and investors.

    This will be a long journey, but will be a journey of love;)


    I was wondering about opinions though, from members of this board. If you were to get instruction, what kind of qualifications would you look for?
    Previous experience with what school?

    I graduated marksman first class from basic pistol at Gunsite back in the early nineties.
    I've taken a few classes since then here and there locally here in florida, but so far have not found anything even close to the level of a Gunsite.

    Now, I will get the NRA range safety cert, and maybe other NRA instructor certs, but I dont know that these hold the same level of prestige.

    Opinions?
     
  2. matt g

    matt g New Member Supporter

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    I'd mostly be looking for practical experience from the military or law enforcement communities. Everything else is just armchair commandoing.

    You can't teach someone how to drive a car just because you read a book on it once. Without countless hours behind the wheel of a car, you're not competent enough to teach someone how to drive. It's that simple.
     

  3. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    If you want to make money in the training realm, you need to follow the lead of the existing schools.

    First off, the training is going to come second. Like it, or not, the training is going to be why they come there, but not where you are going to make your money back.

    You need lodging, and food/drink, to turn the profit you are going to need to be able to pay the guys who are going to be conducting the training. You need to plan on having swag that they can only get from you to "prove" they were there to all their friends and cohorts. Stuff like that.

    NRA certifications are nice, 10 years as a basic firerarms instructor is good also. BUT, if you want to capture the market, you need a handful of proven operators that can point to 12 years in "The Teams" and 8 to 10 years with "such & such" SWAT.

    Your target SWAT / Special Teams / and Military units, if you are lucky enough to pull it off, aren't going to be coming to your school for basic firearms instruction. It doesn't matter if you have the best facilities on Earth, if half of your class is shaking their head and laughing at the instructor because he has never been in the field and can't speak from "experience" your chances of good reviews and repeat customers is going to be pretty low.

    I been to Thunder Ranch & Valhalla. I would go back to Valhalla in a heartbeat. Thunder Ranch, not if I am paying for it....;)

    JD
     
  4. chopkick

    chopkick New Member

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    There is also Frontsight and the Sig Academy.
     
  5. mattbatson

    mattbatson New Member

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    good points.
    However, dont think it is the end all/be all;)

    I am an ex-cop and can tell you that most of the police officers I shot with were not very good.
    After getting the firearms award at the academy (and having the range master there tell me I was the best handgunner he had seen in 25 yrs of instruction) I went to work for two separate departments over a 4 yr period before retiring.
    I was the top gun at both departments, and one was over 150 officers strong. And yes, that includes the swat teams:rolleyes:

    I dont have any experience in the military.

    However, when I went to gunsite there was a SEAL team there training. They were pretty good, but not better than me or my buddy. And from what I understood these guys did a LOT of shooting.

    Why isnt law enforcement or military an instant qualification of competence with a firearm?
    Because they will never be able to compete with a hobbyist.

    The hobbyist loves the sport (whether it be combat handgun, tactical carbine, etc.). He lives, breathes, and eats it and is happiest only when runnin' and gunnin'.
    Sorry, but a couple of weeks of firearms training in boot camp or the academy will NEVER be able to compete. Yes, the SWAT and special teams in the military get much more training. But anyone can get this same level of training.

    The other thing to consider is, at least back in the day, the military used to send it's elite troops, such as SEAL, Ranger, etc. to schools like Gunsite. They did this for a reason.
    So yes, the hobbyist CAN get the same training as even the top tier military/law enforcement personnel.

    Ya know, writing this post reminds me of when my buddy and I used to go to the local range down in south florida for the weekly 5 pin shoots and tactical handgun competitions. Long before I was even thinking about being a cop, we used to shoot with many local law enforcement guys including two guys from the swat team.
    My buddy and I would win every single time and walk away with gift certificates to the range. Paid for our ammo every week:D
    The tactical comps were similar to IPSC and IDPA.

    I know there are great shooters in the military/law enforcement. However, I do think there are plenty of misconceptions out there.
    But, you may be right. Most people may be more concerned with your past military/law enforcement experience as opposed to level of training and skill.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2008
  6. mattbatson

    mattbatson New Member

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    To be clear, this range I will be building will simply start out as a regular outdoor range.
    As I build the business, I will look to expand. I'll start doing basic firearms instruction.
    Then, I will look to build funhouses and simulators. This will be a few years into the project at least. Of course, I would make sure the instructors are equivalent to a Gunsite or Frontsight or whoever.

    I'm hoping to have a 600 or even a 1000 yard rifle range. I have a good friend who competes in the long range stuff with lots of training, incredible talent, and the ability to verbalize proper technique very well.

    Right now, I'm looking to expand on the training I already have.


    I agree that having vending machines on site, a small shop with shooting essentials like eyes, ears and ammo, etc. is a great way to add income. These are all things we have planned.

    I'm still researching insurance, berm design, EPA lead protocol, etc...Not to mention zoning for an outdoor shooting range and location/proximity to neighbors, etc...

    Mostly this is a really good excuse for the wife for me to go attend some of our nations top small arms training facilities:D

    j/k

    thanks for all the advice.
     
  7. mattbatson

    mattbatson New Member

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    What was it about Thunder Ranch you disliked?

    What was it about Valhalla you liked?

    Thanks again,
     
  8. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    Okay, up until now, I was taking this thread seriously, but this post demands proof.

    You either post some proof of these shooting skills, skills that outclass an undisclosed SeAL TEAM, or you move on to other threads that don't involve outrageous claims.

    I know a former SeAL - he was on Team 2, and Team 3. He is also one of the BEST SHOTS I have ever seen. He is double distinguished in Rifle and he is flat out one of the best shots with a handgun I have ever seen live!

    I have been to Thunder Ranch and I have been to Valhalla - so I know the difference, plus I spend a lot of time around the guy and he isn't talk, this guy is hardcore.

    You want to talk about being as good, or better, as an undisclosed SeAL Team, I want proof.....

    JD
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  9. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    At Thunder Ranch, I was a number, and I wasn't important to what was going on. I was number such and such, and I had the instructors time form point A on the clock until Point B - then it was go ahead and practice what I have shown you and I will be back...

    There were plenty of Alpha Males at Thunder Ranch, that was never in question, but never was there any "connection" with any of them.

    At Valhalla, I had one instructor, even though other people were going through the same training. I had an instructor that assessed my skills, worked with my skills, and spent his time with me.

    I also spent time talking with, and drinking with later, Rob Pincus, who was the lead instructor and Director of Operations for Valhalla.

    Valhalla had a State of the Art facility, and I had input on the training, along with what I wanted to work on with my specific weapon and skill set.

    I never felt that I was one box in an assembly line, and that made a world of difference for me.

    JD
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  10. mattbatson

    mattbatson New Member

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    I dont remember which SEAL team it was, or even if I was ever told (remember this was back in 92).
    If my buddy and I would have shot side by side with that team, we would have held our own.

    Now, there WAS a guy there who was better than me. But, he was a marine and he wasnt good because he was a marine, but because his father got him into shooting from a young age.

    What is it about your SEAL team friend that makes him so "hardcore"? Do you think he is more hardcore than an hobbyist can be? How is he the best handgunner you have ever seen? Speed on target? What exactly?

    Here is a bio about Rob Leatham, who used to be someone I would watch back in the day....

    http://www.robleatham.com/aarbiopersonal.htm

    Notice he was never in the military or law enforcement. Perhaps he is not hardcore?
    Is your SEAL team buddy better than Rob? Are you saying there is little chance of anyone being better than a SEAL?
    Also, are all SEAL members created equally with regards to smallarms? Are some more passionate about it than others?
    I also knew a former SEAL in college. At the time I was heavily into handguns and I remember many a conversation with him about shooting. It is funny because he had long hair and looked more like a surfer than a former SEAL. He also did little shooting before he was a SEAL and hadnt shot at all after leaving the military.

    People tend to make these blanket statements and assumptions, but reality can be much different.

    Now we can get into a discussion about competition and reality. We can discuss what makes a great handgunner. We can even attempt to come up with the perfect competition/simulator/training that most closely relates to the real world;)

    proof? Well I have no idea how I can provide proof for an event that occurred nearly 20 years ago;)
     
  11. mattbatson

    mattbatson New Member

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    great info, thanks.
    1 to 1 instructor ratio could be hard to attain ...

    I will have to look into attending a Valhalla course.
     
  12. mattbatson

    mattbatson New Member

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    Another part of training that I find interesting is the use of simulators.

    I've used two different types of simulators (again, this was over 15 yrs ago).

    One type was where they had a large roll of white paper movie screen mounted above...and they would then pull a clean sheet (no holes) down with each new shooter. They would project a movie onto the paper, turning all the lights down in the room, and you would interact with that scene.

    So, for instance, there would be a hostage situation where the bad guy has your wife in a choke hold from behind with a knife to her throat...or gun...and you would talk to the screen and pull off the shot when you saw fit. Then, after shooting, the movie is frozen and you can see exactly where you hit.

    The other one I used was with a dept that had a standard issue glock. So, they took a glock and put a photocell in it. This one also had a movie that you would interact with, but when you fired there was no recoil and obviously no hole from a bullet.

    I imagine the advantage to the second one was that you could have it anywhere, whereas the first type would need to be in a range.

    The really cool thing about these was that sometimes you were shooting moving bad guys, or would have to react quickly as they were often unpredictable. With both, everything was life size and right in front of you. It gave it a great feel of realism.

    Has anyone on this board shot in a simulator?
    Thoughts?
     
  13. matt g

    matt g New Member Supporter

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    I'd like to see operators as instructors at a tactical course, because that is an operators area of expertise. A hobbiest will never had the experience that a professional has, ever in any field.

    I've seen SOCOM guys in action and I can tell you that they are able to make incredible shots under great duress. They get to the point that their shots actually suffer when they're not. It doesn't surprise me that you were able to out shoot operators, as you were in your element and they were probably bored to tears.
     
  14. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    First off, SeAL Teams don't run around telling people they are SeAL Teams, that's kind of protocol. If an instructor mentioned it, it could have been true, it also could have been a line of BS.

    Regards, I find blanket statements like "They were pretty good, but not better than me or my buddy" to be seriously stretching the Internet Fabric.

    First off, former SeAL - clearly listed. I listed some of his credentials ( double distinguished rifleman ), Held a couple of state records himself, but what I think makes him hardcore is his ability to pick up any small arm and put rounds on target. Not just "his" weapons, they can be yours, that guys, or some piece of crap that "just doesn't shoot right" some clown brought to the range. The guy can make anything run, and shoot straight, not some specially tuned, custom built, competition pistol.


    I know all about Rob Leatham. You think you are the only guy who used to watch him compete?

    Rob can shoot, there is no question, but he is a competition shooter. Granted, he may be one of the best ever at doing so, and kudos to him. He is disciplined and he is very good at what he does.

    HOWEVER, he isn't a breacher, he isn't a sniper and he isn't a member of a tac-team. He is one guy with a hell of a talent - but are you telling me that you are going to bring Rob Leatham in and have him teach a SWAT team to breach a hostage situation?

    You asked about opening a school to train police and like minded units. You can read books all day about tactics, but that doesn't mean you know the little idiosyncrasies that only someone who has done the job, in real life, would be able to point out.

    And, irrelevant to this conversation. No, Rob is a better shooter. But Rob is a shooter. He isn't an Operator. Big difference.

    No, what I am saying is that I don't believe that you and your buddy showed up at a training site and were just as good, or better, than an undisclosed SeAL Team, sometime back in 1992.

    There were former military team unit members on response to the North Hollywood Bank Robbery, but those two idiots ( I won't name them & continue to give them their 15 minutes ) were obviously better trained at what they were doing ( keeping the police at bay and trying to get away with the cash ) who proved that "amateurs" can play on the big field and more than hold their own.

    Would either of those two clowns be able to beat ANY two man team from a SWAT unit from, oh, I don't know, middle of nowhere Kansas/Arkansas/etc at the SWAT trials?

    Absolutely not - but that is not the point here.

    Get outside the SeAL train of thought here. This has nothing to do with them other than you said you and your buddy could hang with them, if they were even SeAL's, which you stepped back from on the initial statement.


    People also tend to make claims, especially concerning history, that is easy to brush over with statements like this:

    You may be one hell of a pistol shooter. You might be one of the best out there not currently named Rob Leatham. You may be one of the top at the discipline that you have chosen to devote your time too.

    HOWEVER

    That doesn't mean that given a check list of attributes that go into being a member of a real unit, trained for specific purpose(s), you are going to stack up apples to apples favorably.

    And with THAT in mind, a statement like this:

    Demands proof, or a retraction/clarification. Perhaps the unit in question was running off hand drills. Perhaps the unit in question was at the end of their training session and "just goofing off". Perhaps the unit in question weren't SeALs at all, but 4 or 8 like minded guys who came there for some training and the instructors told everyone they were SeALs because it was better for the reputation of the business at hand. "Look at us, we have SeALs training here". Perhaps it was a bunch of guys getting ready to go to BUDs and WANTED to be SeALs.

    The other important thing to factor in is this - IF they were really SeALs, or DELTA, or Marine Force Recon, or any ELITE unit, those guys are trained to put bullets on target when EVERYTHING around them is going to hell in a hand basket. They don't freeze up, and they don't jerk their triggers. True Operators, the real ones, probably wouldn't have been taking the "training" at the site with the same wide eyed, taking in everything that is being said because a lot of it was what they were already doing. They were probably watching the clock and looking forward to getting their time in, over with and getting on with their off time. No lives were on the line at Gunsite. No Mission Critical performance was required. Big difference.

    That would be like having a free throw shooting contest with Michael Jordan at a playground. :rolleyes:

    JD
     
  15. mattbatson

    mattbatson New Member

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    Listen, I can already see this going on for pages and pages...and I honestly dont have the time or patience for continuous back and forth.

    Gunsite has a history of training elite military units. They have a history of training SEAL teams. I'm sure if you were to research this you would find it to be true. That is verifiable.
    If you choose to not believe me about being there when there was a team training....then so be it. I can probably try and scan in my diploma, which should have a date on it...

    It really doesnt have anything to do with the whole point here anyhow.

    Operator.
    Okay, we have a new term brought into the conversation.

    An operator is trained to shoot and act in stressful situations involving life and death. This makes them different from a competitive shooter.

    So, tell me how they are trained to shoot and act when all is going to **** around them?
    Where do they get this training?

    Am I to understand that only if the military/law enforcement person is subjected to a real life situation where he has to shoot a real person that he is then considered competant and an "Operator"?

    I've read a lot on here about how these people are a level above...but have yet to read exactly why and how this is. What got them to their level of proficiency? Lots of practice? Proper training from a reputable school/facility? Shooting a person dead? I have also read some comments on here about "reading a book will not make you an expert". Once again, I dont really remember every saying that it would. Does that statement mean you consider attending a school like Valhalla or Gunsite is akin to reading a book?
    I dont even know what to say to that:rolleyes:
    Where do you think "operators" learn about those "little idiosyncracies" of actual tactical combat? On the job?
    And if those idiosyncracies WERE learned on the job, do you think schools would be teaching them?

    Of course I'm not the only person who used to watch Mr. Leatham. I never said that or even IMPLIED it. Lets try and stick to what is actually said/written. My point is that anyone can be an incredible shot with enough practice and instruction.

    Also, I really do not recall stating anywhere that I was planning on training military/SWAT teams...or even law enforcement. I simply said that I was looking to build a funhouse and other tactical set-ups and train people.

    But if I did choose to train SWAT, I am willing to bet that I could.

    [ame]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sS5sbriw6rE&feature=related[/ame]

    Sorry, but these guys are not placing shots well under stress/pressure.

    Yes, I do know what it is like to shoot when exerting yourself and out of breath;) We used to run up 4 flights of stairs, back down, into the range without knowing what the scenario would be and act quickly all while making correct decisions on whether to shoot or not shoot, holster weapon and detain, when to reload (just when you thought it was over or ending, another attacker comes at you), yada yada yada.
    Been there done that.
    It is STILL about making your hits and keeping your gun from going dry.

    Good tactics are easily taught. There is no dark science that only military/SWAT have access to.

    Also, I think the assumption by some of you was, that I would be the only instructor, which is not the case. I do have some instruction experience though, and it all started when we were going through firearms training at the academy.
    I was able to help three recruits pass their qualifications and graduate.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2008
  16. ranger_sxt

    ranger_sxt New Member

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    There is some credence to having non-operators teach nowadays. Bennie Cooley and Rob Leatham (mentioned above) are both instructors who have been contracted by the military to teach marksmanship, due to their experience in IPSC and 3-Gun competitions.

    That is one of the reasons that the Army Marksmanship Unit holds the Ft. Benning 3-Gun every year: to see what the gun-gamers are doing that they may be able to use.
     
  17. ranger_sxt

    ranger_sxt New Member

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    I have to disagree.

    Why would I want to fly to his place in Florida, when there are tons of "gypsy instructors" running around out there, who will come to a range that is only 20 minutes from my house? IMHO, he will need to take the approach that his instructors will come to you, and train a class for you, but all of his advanced classes will be held at his home range (sorta like how James Yeager does it).

    Further, some people will just attend the class at the resort ranges as an excuse to escape the wife, and not really care about the shooting instruction. While you will still make the money on this, it can start to aggravate the other students, who will give you a poor review, and will not return.

    The NRA instructor creds, either basic or law enforcement, are something that I look for, merely because they are the closest thing to a standard that the industry has. Unless I know of the person by reputation/reading a book (Pincus or Kyle Lamb), I will see where he is accredited from to make a choice if I want to train with him.
     
  18. ranger_sxt

    ranger_sxt New Member

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    I'm going to ignore the portion of this wherein you claim to be God's right hand of the handgun, because it is patently unbelievable...

    But, if the hobbyist misses, what happens? NOTHING! He doesn't die; someone else doesn't die; the bomb doesn't go off; nothing happens. He can take his time and re-center himself, reacquire his target and shoot again.

    Military and law enforcement may not have that option. There are circumstances where they cannot miss. That is the major difference between a hobbyist and a professional.

    And before you start bringing the World Class IPSC/IDPA shooters into this, they are also professionals. If they miss a target, it is the difference between 1st place, and a $500 purse, and 2nd place, and a $250 purse.

    I put forth that the military was, and still is, sending these guys to these schools not for training on how to fight, but rather on training on marksmanship or something that the civilian world has a better handle on (medium to long range marksmanship for example).

    The reason that people want to see those qualifications is they are a tangible way to see how well the instructor is. It's not the obsession and hero worship that you make it out to be. It is a tangible qualification. If you were an IPSC Grand Master (and were willing to post your name, but that's an argument on another board), I would be just as inclined to believe that you can do what you need to as I would if you were SF or SWAT.

    Unless you have something to prove it in a recognized and tangible format (IPSC/IDPA), then, for all we know, this is just you telling lies. That's the reason that people want to take classes from military and law enforcement. These guys have met a standard...
     
  19. ranger_sxt

    ranger_sxt New Member

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    He isn't referring to a 1-to-1 instructor student ratio. He is instead referring to the time that the Valhalla Instructor gave to him. He was saying that the instructor taught him a skill, then spent time with him, and gave him feedback on how he performed that skill.
    The Thunder Ranch Instructor taught him the skill, and then walked away, never taking time to see if learning had occurred.
     
  20. ranger_sxt

    ranger_sxt New Member

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    I have. It was more similar to the second one, but driven from a laptop.

    But the best training I have come across thus far would have to be doing it with Airsoft, Real Action Markers, or Simunitions.