Recently, I was watching a somewhat " target="_blank">tongue-in-cheek YouTube video about "Gunfight Rules", from Tactical Response's CEO, James Yeager. For the record, I think the video makes some very good, and concisely delivered, points about gunfighting. Then I came across this forum post about him: Tactical Response CEO Lists False Firearms Training Credentials Online, State Says. I found the post because I was Googling one of the courses he's taken, which sounded interesting, and I thought I might like to find out more information or take it myself.
In that forum thread, posters are really making Mr. Yeager out to be a fool and a poser. This got me thinking, "What actually makes a firearms training expert, or an expert of any kind?" I believe many of the commenters assume that there is some over-arching, agreed-upon, governing body that dictates the credentialing process for firearms instructors, which there is not. There are some national firearms instructor certification organizations, such as the NRA and state Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.), but they typically only cover very basic training. The entire "advanced gunfighter" training world is run by committed instructors, who are essentially self-proclaimed experts (including myself, to be fair).
Use of a firearm in combat (defensive or offensive) is a complex and dynamic activity. There are dozens of respected methodologies on the subject, with dozens more tweaks and offshoots of each, taught by a wide range of trainers. While some theories are considered more sound than others, the fact is that almost all of them have trade-offs (pro's and con's), and there is no one, clear, best choice for all situations and purposes. Firearms use techniques are "a set of best practices" at most.
What you really want to become more adept at, through firearms training, is problem solving. "Problem solving consists in using generic or ad hoc methods, in an orderly manner, for finding solutions to problems." Leading up to, during, and after, a violent crime [or combat gunfight] situation, you are going to presented with a wide variety of problems that you must solve in order to protect your safety, or the safety of others. Someone may attack you with a edged weapon, or be shooting at you through wall, or your gun may run empty and require a magazine change, or someone may be running after your car, or you may fall on the ground while attempting to shoot to stop an attacker... on and on. The purpose of training is therefore to:
Notice that these three goals build and feed on one another. Combined, they endow you with the tools necessary to find solutions to the difficult problems you may face. For example, if you have a weapons malfunction, your first response will be to apply a pre-learned clearing operation, if that doesn't work, your desire to keep fighting is going to force you to use your in-depth knowledge of your firearm's internal workings to seek out the source of the malfunction and clear it in a way you have not done previously.
I have no conclusive insight into Mr. Yeager's qualifications. He may simply have been trying to find a way to articulate his completely-relevant past firearms experience, and did so in a way some people misunderstood. Or he may have been purposefully concocting it. He is obviously a successful instructor, with successful students, in any case.
What should you look for when considering [firearms] instructors for your training? Here are some of my thoughts, besides the more-obvious traits of being articulate, enthusiastic in the classroom, and personable:
You now have a few things to think about, when considering if your chosen [firearms training] instructor is expert enough for you, or not.