Well it’s 1,2,3 What Are We Training For?

Kathy Jackson (she of The Cornered Cat fame) asked an interesting question on Facebook this weekend. 

Sitting at dinner last night with several other well-known defensive firearm instructors, the conversation came around to women & firearms training. Want to eavesdrop? Here’s what the other instructors were saying:

1 – Lots and lots of women are taking the most basic handgun classes right now, especially state-required concealed carry classes; but 

2 – Very few women take more than the basic level class. One instructor said that at his school, the numbers drop from 40-50% women in the basic class, to 10% in advanced classes. 

The instructors each had their own theories about why more gun-owning, gun-carrying women don’t want to learn more about how to use a gun more effectively. After all, having better skills would be safer for them, their families, and any bystanders. 

If you had been sitting there, what would you have told these guys? Why do you think more women don’t sign up for the intermediate to advanced handgun classes?

My response: 

I think it’s more about what “Advanced Classes” teach than most people realize. Many advanced classes talk about pistol-handling in a vacuum, as if the skill itself was the destination. In reality, we need a reason *why* those things are important in order to learn those skills. Simply taking them to be a better pistol shot is not enough for some people, no matter their gender. An advanced class on protecting your family or friends (with a pistol or not) like a bodyguard might be more attractive to women than one that teaches you the latest HSLD pistol techniques because it allows for a destination other than becoming a crack pistol shot. 

I’m a USPSA and IDPA competitor, so I get the idea of becoming a good shot for marksmanship’s sake alone, just to be better than the next guy. For women, though, it might be different. Heaven knows there are some GREAT women competitive shooters out there who can kick my@ss on a pistol range (and twice on Sundays), but, in general (be warned, there’s sexist stereotyping ahead), women tend to be more protective of their families and friends than those of us with testicles. 

Sarah Palin described it well when she talked about “Mama Grizzlies”, and I’m not seeing that emphasis on protection showing up in most advanced courses. Most of the syllabi I see out there are about how to do the much the same things you do in the basic classes, only more of it more often, with a few new techniques thrown in to move your skills along a bit more.

Nothing wrong with that: Having confidence in your weapon is a good thing, but for we “civilians”, the destination isn’t being a crack shot, it’s protecting our loved ones. An advanced course that doesn’t give us a reason to get better (other than getting better) isn’t what people interested in keeping their loved ones safe are looking for. Making the transition from making the shot in 90% of the situations we face to making it 94% of the time isn’t as big a deal for me as keeping my family safe 100% of the time. Show me how to do that first, then I’ll worry about one handed reloads and urban prone.

So what’s your idea of an “advanced pistol class”? What training would YOU like to see in a class like that?