Remember, “slow is smooth and smooth is fast.” In essence, practice the basics slowly, smoothly, until you can increase your speed.

“Get some self-defense training.” “You need training if you’re going to carry a gun.” The boom in new CCW permit holders has created a parallel boom in the training industry. Everywhere you turn, there’s a new training company or trainer hawking their certifications and skills. But how can a shooter new to competition or self-defense know which training is best to get? How can we sift through the chaff to find to find the best training available? Here are some handy tips on how to spend your training dollar wisely.

Set Your Goals
The first thing to do before you find a trainer is know what you’d like to do with your time. Do you want to become a top-notch competition shooter or do you want to sharpen your skills for self-defense and protection? While your competition shooting skills can certainly benefit from a self-defense class and vice versa, picking trainers that specialize in the skills you want is smart. These goals don’t have to be overly specific, either. For example, a great goal for a novice shooter could be as simple as “improve my gun-handling skills.” The more advanced your skills get, the more focused your goals will become.

To help drive improvement, structure your goals so that they feed into each other. Mike Seeklander, a top U.S. Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) Grandmaster and self-defense trainer, uses this method in his training. For example, if you have an end goal to win your class/division at your state’s International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) Championship, then a goal to “feed” that goal would be “improve my draw time by 0.25 seconds” or “improve my accuracy to only drop an average of one point per stage at club matches.”

Having goals will also help you choose a training company or trainer. There are trainers who specialize in teaching competition skills, trainers that focus on self-defense and trainers that teach a middle-ground approach. In general, the middle-ground approach focuses on skills—gun handling, man-ipulations and marksmanship—that can be applicable in both self-defense and competition shooting.

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