I think as fans of all things firearms, and especially for us firearms instructors, we tend to be creatures of habit……some worse then others, but a habit none the less. On topics we are passionate about, we find a perch, especially in social media, and whatever we like or don’t like gets hashed out, sometimes in poor fashion.

Facebook….Twitter…..Instragram…..Snapchat….the list goes on and on.

.45 vs 9mm; SBR vs Carbine; this training doctrine over this one; NRA vs. the world! The proverbial straw broke the camels back tonight while perusing the ye old Book of Faces and I was able to get a front row seat to two sides “discussion” of a particular training activity involving the simulation of real stress in training. This discussion went from, what I believe, was a genuine difference of opinion to an outright display of open mockery of the others thought process. So, after reading the article in question I had to ask myself: Who is right here?

Now if you are no stranger to these social media outlets, these type of things go on daily, sometimes hourly. We’ve ALL seen them: heck, I’m man enough to admit that I’ve even been part of it BUT THAT’S JUST BECAUSE THE OTHER PERSON IS STUPID AND CANNOT SEE THAT MY WAY OF SEEING THE ISSUE IS THE RIGHT ONE….AND….AND….DAMMIT, WHY AM I NOT GETTING THROUGH TO THIS PERSON! AND WHY AM I…..WHY….why am I yelling at a Facebook post? What am I accomplishing for the betterment of the ability of one person to positively change the current gun culture in order to help people better defend themselves when they need to?

More importantly, why are we doing this to ourselves? What causes one belief or opinion to become so ingrained that you are no longer able to think critically and acknowledge that someone else may have a valid point on a particular topic? To top it off, us INSTRUCTORS are the worst offenders of them all! We galvanize ourselves with the noble shield of “the truth”, and just simply shrug off that other instructors who do not see eye to eye with us are just plain wrong. This can’t be the way that we evolve in this game…..it can’t because that divides us, and it confuses the masses who look to us for guidance when it comes to entering into or improving their firearms training. Whose opinion do they trust with their training and safety? And we wonder why people run to whomever gives them the most for the least!

I had an opportunity to discus as much, WITH MY ACTUAL VOICE, with another instructor whose opinion and insights I value wholeheartedly. Not because he is the newest guru of gun theory, but because he is a critical thinker like me. We stay up on things….we read, and we discuss…and we disagree…and we find consensus. It doesn’t matter if it’s Rob Pincus of PDN and I.C.E., Greg Ellifritz of Active Response Training, The Mad Duo from Breach Bang Clear, Massad Ayoob, Grant Cunningham, or one of our other compatriots that doesn’t have instant name recognition in the blogosphere…..we simply look at someone’s point of view and say, “I’m here…teach me something I don’t know!”

Even in my discussion with him, the issues of Trainer Bias came up. When he explained to me that people were adverse to coming and training with a particular entity, that he spent a great deal of time getting to teach something in his area that isn’t readily available, I was puzzled. We tell our students to get out there and train, and then we get our jollies off by basically tearing down avenue after avenue of training opportunity all in the name of “real training”. What makes things worse is the fact the some of you out there have gotten so big in your britches that us small guys have trouble making inroads to positive discussions without the use of blogs like this…..and you know who you are! So we now have a perch and can effectively drown out the dissenting voices with trolling and discrediting the other guy.

This is not to say that there is not BAD information and BAD training doctrine out there. Things that are overtly dangerous and irresponsible with regards to the balance of risk vs. reward deserve to be countered. But, barring that,  that would never preclude me from suggesting one training opportunity or experience over another, even if that opportunity clashes with mine or is something I don’t see eye to eye with, if that is the area the student , who is paying their own money for our time and effort, has decided to pursue. Unless it is something that involves live electricity or farm animals, I tell people “before you buy another gun, TAKE A CLASS!”. Yes, even if I think you are wasting your money.

Way before there were officially recognized writing classes, the monks of Western Ireland were single-handedly saving Christianity by copying books from the Gospels when most areas had descended into the Dark Ages. No one told them “HEY! Who told you that you could write that? You have to get cert XYZ to create those masterpieces!” Each monk had a passion for what he was doing, and even though they possessed the most rudimentary of educations, they ended up with something beautiful by working towards a common goal; not seeing which monk made the best gospel and burning the rest.

Folks, we simply must do a better job of banding together…bouncing ideas off of each other and growing  like the way most of us started out. Feed the good stuff, and chuck out the trash, everyone benefits. We need to spend more time propping each other up and discussing topics together instead of wasting 10 minutes of a Thursday night eating our own. The other side of the gun debate in this country has no problem banding together because they have the same goals. For sure!

This is how we survive in the firearms instructing game and in the world of the American firearms community as a whole.  Will there be the money takers and the charlatans out there? Yes, but the true critical thinkers out there MUST resist the urge to compete your way into oblivion by destroying each other. We are all here for the same goal…..well trained, responsible gun owners and advocates of our 2nd Amendment Rights. Leave you egos at the door, open your minds, and if you find yourself in a discussion of opposite ideals, bring something positive to the table. You may not win the argument, but you just may cause someone to think critically and affect how someone who seeks them out benefits in the future.

– Atchison sends….