This could be a first, blog entries on back-to-back days, what is the world coming to?
So, let’s define a few things first. “Gun Pretender” = A self-proclaimed expert in firearms and self-defense training who most often doesn’t even carry a gun for self-defense, could be male or female. “Troll” = A sub-human being who likes to interject their self-proclaimed superior knowledge into conversations to which they know little to nothing about, could be male or female, most often are of the male gender. “Subject Matter Expert” = That individual (Male or Female) who exhibits the highest level of expertise in performing a specialized job, task, or skill and can teach it to a high degree of professionalism.
Over the past few years I have been both trolled and ridiculed for the training methodology I have (I train to the adult learning theorems) by some of the “Facebook Instructors” who are now “Instagram Instructors” and claim to be top notch with their superior intellect, and mediocre at best skill sets. Just ask these “keyboard operators” who claim to be subject matter experts, and they will tell you just exactly how superior they are to you.
Yesterday evening as I was reading comments that amounted to nothing more than an “appendage measuring” contest between two male NRA Certified Firearms Instructors on Facebook, I realized that one of these men who has been a complete “Richard” (That’s long hand for Dick) toward me for years has less total training in Non-NRA course curriculum time than I will take this year alone in student level courses, yet he professes in his postings and more importantly in his verbose comments to be superior to everyone on all things self-defense and firearms training related.
So I ask, how many hours of professional training, coupled with experience in teaching curriculum, writing curriculum and more importantly evolving curriculum to meet the ever changing needs of your students and instructor candidates would you consider to be enough for someone to announce themselves as a Subject Matter Expert?
Personally speaking, and I am nobody special, my experience in training is at just over 2,500 hours of professional firearms and self-defense disciplines that I can document dating back to 1982, and I am adding well over 300 hours this year alone, mostly as a student. See my recent blog posting titled, “My 2017-2018 Personal Training Calendar.”
Even with all that training behind and in front of me, I don’t consider myself a Subject Matter Expert on any discipline. Let me repeat that, I don’t consider myself a Subject Matter Expert on any discipline. Heck, I tell one of my mentors jokingly from time to time that I am but the learner, and he is the master. (Yes, I felt it appropriate to make a gratuitous Obi-Wan Kenobi/Anakin Skywalker-Darth Vader reference)
My point is simple, even with all of my training, and being a full-time firearms instructor for the past eight (8) years only taking a little time off from January 2012 to April 2013 I find myself still learning each and every day. I am far from perfect and make many mistakes, but I don’t make the same ones twice, that is the definition of being a “learner” or learning.
Additionally, there is not a day that goes by that I do not work on my skills or methodology, my coaching techniques or the way I work the trigger. (Yes, I get in dry-fire practice daily, my goal is to do dry-fire practice every day for the rest of my life) So, if I don’t consider myself a Subject Matter Expert in any discipline, how can someone who has less than 300 hours of formal training (Outside the auspices of the NRA’s course catalog) claim to be such an expert on all things self-defense and firearms?
Here is the easy answer for you, this is the internet and if it is on the internet it must be true, right? Wrong! Just remember, “you are not what you say you are, you are what you do or don’t do.” – This is a quote from a close friend of mine.
When I tell you the trolling in these Facebook groups is incessant you wouldn’t believe how much. The boys should be wearing rompers, if you grew up in the 1960’s and 70’s rompers were a thing back then, oh wait … never mind.
Now I’m not complaining, heck I will just block someone if he or she gets to be too much of an idiot if you will. Recently, I unblocked a couple people because I had heard they liked to talk all tough behind my back, what I found out is one had me blocked and he is just a garden variety idiot, no loss there. Regardless, who has time for their BS? I sure don’t, I’m too busy teaching and or preparing to teach or travel to another course.
If asked, the best advice I can give to these Gun Pretenders, Trolls and self-proclaimed SME’s is to stay in your lane. Brannon LeBoeuf from NOLATAC Firearms Training said it well in this video ironically titled, “Staying in your lane as an Instructor.” I encourage you to give it a look, it is only a little over eight (8) minutes long and it would be very beneficial to the new or the old instructor who thinks he or she has all the answers for their students.
Back to the resident Gun Pretenders and Trolls, here is the funny thing about them. Once I started telling people publicly of the training schedule that I am keeping this year and posting proof positive that I was where I said I was going to be, taking the courses that I said I was going to take and training with whom I said that I would be training with, the trolling has nearly stopped, not totally, but we’ll just say, it has slowed down considerably.
Why do you think that is? I believe one reason has to be that I am spending $15-$16K out of my company assets on training this year alone. Traveling to eleven (11) different states including taking classes in my home state of Florida and traveling to Georgia (3 times), Wisconsin (Twice), New Hampshire (Twice), Virginia, Kansas, Illinois, California, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Ohio, and South Carolina. It takes some serious money to travel on a plane, rent cars and hotel rooms for up to a week at a time, not to mention buying ammunition for all these courses. Let’s face it, $15-$16K is more than many of these “keyboard operators” who operate operationally on Facebook and Instagram have made in their lifetime of instructing.
Does that kind of income make me a Subject Matter Expert? Not in the least, but what it does do, it shows clearly that I am willing to invest in my professional development and bring back quality training to my students and instructor candidates.
So, I ask you, is a person with less than 300 total hours (Let’s bump that to 500 for the sake of argument) of formal instruction under their belt a Subject Matter Expert any more than a guy with over 2,500 hours of formal instruction who is taking more than 300 hours of formal instruction this year alone? Nope, there is no comparison between the two, there may be a slight difference of experience, one having trained with different instructors, but that’s about it.
I’ll leave you with one last nugget of information that you should consider. Dr. David Yamane, a Professor of Sociology at Wake Forest University has compiled some interesting information (I believe that he is writing a book) on the “civilian” firearms instructor and you should read it, all of it. You can find links to his blog postings here on a landing page that he has created and that I have linked below. You can also follow Dr. Yamane’s blog here Gun Culture 2.0.
The link here is the landing page for Dr. Yamane’s series of posts on the private citizen (or civilian) gun training industry (or community)
Trust that if you take the time to read all of these blog postings, and I suggest you do that from the bottom to the top, you will find them to be very enlightening and maybe even a bit educational.
“The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it is open.” – Clint Smith
Until next time …
As always, live life abundantly; train hard so you can fight easy!