Of course every class begins with a warm greeting, solid eye contact, a firm handshake or otherwise your protocol to acknowledge that person so that they feel comfortable and know that you recognize them.  Further, the class starts out with the same safety protocol. Consistency in your setup is critical. As described above, within the exclusive area and where there are no weapons,  immediately do the safety brief, allow them into the area, explain to them the choke point and let them start their everyday drills as described below. 

Students don't always show up at once so it's a good idea to get the safety pat down, get them into the exclusive training area, and let them start the everyday drill. In this case, that should be strong hand only trigger drills starting from the previous week.  If you have time, you may want to give them a few coaching points as far as pushing high and outside, challenge them to go faster, use a take up laser to really get the prep break reset protocol down, and otherwise coach them for success as you see fit.  Of course, when other people filter in, acknowledge them and continue the process where early birds can get a little bit more training and personal time.

Continue to do the everyday drill with just the strong hand only, encourage a few processions as far as speeding up, increasing distance, switching to weak hand, etc.  This is basically a refresher from the previous course.  Of course people are going to get varied amounts of repetitions depending on the time they enter the course, but once everyone is in, note that everyone has been safety checked individually, that you as an instructor have been safety checked, and if no one did safety check that you remind them to always check everyone in the facility including the instructors and assistant instructors and any support staff etc. Then, start the next block of instruction which would be a quick and easy win on stance.

Safety

A good part of safety relates to the actual setup of the classroom. The purpose of this safety blog is to give a baseline measure of comprehensive safety introduction in your class.

Goals

We want to make sure there is no damage to any person or the facility. We want to make absolutely sure that no one gets hurt catastrophically or even minor injury. We further want to ensure that the facilities you are utilizing are not damaged.

A second goal in a safety blog is to ensure you establish your, for lack of a better term, authority in beginning the tone of the class so people are comfortable but yet they understand there is no compromise related to safety.

Environment

The key aspect of the environment setting up your training area is controlling the entrance and exit points. You want to make sure you have visual (and even auditory) awareness of the exits and entrance of the training area. This ensures you can see when someone leaves and reenters and is in need of an additional safety check.

Footing

Ensure that your area is not slippery and allows for people to move and not slide and fall to break a hip, etc. Of course use common sense and make sure there are no tripping hazards etc.

Lighting

Ensure there’s adequate light particularly in the beginning of the class to ensure people are familiar with the surroundings and are comfortable.

Visibility of the Class to Outsiders

Use discretion on how the class can be perceived from any outside eyes. If there’s any open windows in your training area make sure that anybody viewing your class will understand it is clearly a training class when your students adopt the firing positions even with the SIRTs. You just want to make sure nobody gets the wrong idea and thinks that people are adopting a firing stance and doing something other than proper training.

Ensure No Live-Fire Tools Enter Your Area

This is an absolute must and it’s a very basic tenet in NRA classes but make sure absolutely there are no live-fire tools. The safety checks below are to be absolutely certain that you check everybody, there’s buddy checks, self-checks and most of all the students feel comfortable checking the instructors to make absolutely sure there are no live-fire tools in the designated training area. The designated training area is the square footage that is blocked off for training with the entrance and exit points delineated. Generally speaking it’s the room (generally a larger open room) where you are conducting your training. If someone leaves to go to the bathroom make sure they’re safety checked coming back in. Quick tip: You might find one person is particularly good at doing the safety checks procedure described to the left. In other words, sometimes one person just stands out in the class that is more aggressive of ensuring the safety protocol is followed. As you can see in the example class attached herewith that person was “Boots.” He’s heads up. He even checked the cameraman “Britt Lance” to ensure he wasn’t carrying as well. (And he checked me, my queues, when I left and came back in to get a new data card.) Anyhow, such a person is good to focus on and reward because that kind of diligent safety will ensure there is no catastrophic incident and will keep training safe and sustainable. End note.

Safety Check Procedure

First off ask everyone that is in the classroom if they have a live-fire tool and if they do inform them we’re going to take steps to remove it from the facility. Ensure they feel comfortable because if they carry a gun that is awesome. We want to promote concealed carry. Yeah they probably should have read the material better and know better to not bring it but please do not make them feel stupid or ashamed or otherwise uncomfortable. We want to make sure that you start off on the right foot of a comfortable learning environment and further, you don’t want to ask the question in a way where they might not fess up they’re carrying a gun. Who knows, they might have a backup gun like an ankle holster or a pocket 380 they just simply forgot about but all of a sudden the question stimulated them to remember. Either way asking them right off the bat is the first step.

Demo a Quick Body Check

Pick the nearest student and demo a quick body check as shown in the video in particular focusing on the waistline, front pockets, cargo-pant pockets if any and a quick grasp along the ankles. Also check under the arms in case they’re carrying Miami Vice style as well as the small of the back. It’s a good idea to remove edged weapons as well. Even though this curriculum is not force on force (where they’re role playing and purposefully breaking the firearm rules for purpose of training), it’s a good idea to get in the habit of just removing all weapons which is a good safety glide path for force-on-force training if your students progress to that level of training.

After you have demoed the quick self-check and how to check a person, ask the class to buddy check so they check the person to their left and to their right real quick to ensure there’s no live-fire tools on them. Thereafter, line everyone up and do a full check yourself to ensure no one has a live-fire tool.

Checking the Instructor

At this point it’s fun to ask the class the question.

Instructor (you): Okay has everyone been checked? Are we 100 percent sure there are no live-fire tools?

More times than not everyone will nod and say, yeah, even though you have not been checked. This is a good time to inform them that one of the No. 1 killers in force-on-force type training is an instructor, in particular after lunch in law enforcement where they put on their live-fire weapon and came back and bypassed the safety check chokepoint. This is a great learning opportunity point to make sure your students always feel comfortable to check the instructor in particular if they take other classes around the country perhaps not from you and perhaps from people who may not have as diligent safety protocol in place.

Conclusion

It should be noted that this safety protocol really doesn’t have to take that much time. It can go by fairly smoothly and quickly. Further, when you engage in a strict structured safety protocol, you are communicating to the students that you know what you’re doing, this is a professional class and you very much are concerned and are taking proper measures to ensure their safety. This is probably one of the strongest messages and lessons you can convey to your students.

Describing and Discussing Safety

After you have cleansed the area and ensured there are no live-fire tools, now is a great time to talk about the fundamental firearm rules and have some total participation and involvement with the SIRT pistols.

Hand Out the SIRT Pistols

You can hand out the SIRT pistols by having your students go up to a table and pick up one of your pistols. If you supplied holsters, fantastic. Otherwise, the students can hold them in their hands. You may want to go over the rules before handing out the pistols, but I prefer to get the pistols in their hands so when I describe the rules they have a tactile feel to immediately apply them. Furthermore, if they do break the rules (remember the applied fundamentals is likely at least their second class after a **** basic pistol or similar type of class), that’s a good opportunity to not embarrass anyone, but to point out that already some rules are broken where fingers are on the trigger and the muzzles were pointed at other individuals (or otherwise objects they were not willing to destroy).

Of course, it’s a good idea to preface, to grab the pistols and tell them they cannot go boom if they’re not familiar with them. In other words, they’re inert devices; however, treat them with the absolute same respect as a live-fire tool where your finger is off the trigger and you’re not pointing it at anything you’re not willing to destroy.

When people are back in the center of the room along the firing line or in a L-shaped like pattern (see video), you can now begin talking about the fundamental NRA Rules.

It’s a good idea to read the NRA Rules verbatim and it’s your choice whether to include the 4th Rule regarding a target and what’s behind it (the NRA Range Rule) as part of your fundamental rules, or just a range rule to cover. Your choice.

Never load the pistol until ready to use.

This is a good time to note that when you conceal carry it’s okay to load the pistol where it’s chambered, etc., and it is indeed ready to “use;” not ready to shoot, but ready to use when an imminent threat is presenting a life-threatening danger where you do not have reasonable means of escape and can use deadly force pursuant to your local state laws.

It should be noted another variant of this rule is always treat the pistol as if it is loaded. Again, this is more your choice, but each variant of this part of the rule has a strong message of respecting the firearm.

Keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.

This is a big rule, super important and one that is very easy for beginners to violate. In fact, probably the biggest learning objecting of the Applied Fundamentals Class is drilling in this rule in the 3-hour block of instruction you have with your students. The Applied Fundamental is all about that verb word “apply.” Although we’re talking about point shooting, using the sites, trigger control, a bit of movement, etc., all of these applied fundamentals evolve around the proper trigger-finger discipline of keeping that finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. If there is one single thing that you’re going to teach and leave as a knowledge nugget for your students, it’s this skill which was not only shown in a simple PowerPoint or spoken, but your student had hours of repetition with your watchful eye to ensure this safety skill is deeply instilled into their psyche.

Never point the pistol at what you’re not willing to destroy/always point the pistol in a safe direction.

Of course, this is a relative rule because when you draw from seated you’re going to sweep your leg and a lot of times drawn the muzzle is pointed at yourself by definition. But again, this is a good time to communicate to the students that to just simply keep that pistol pointed in the safest direction possible. Generally downward, or if you feel comfortable instructing it, to a high port position or by a high temple. Generally speaking, a **** like front position with the pistol pointed downward is a generally safe direction and allows the pistol holder to maintain good control of the pistol.

I would strongly encourage people to not just nonchalantly hold the pistol down by their side. This generally tacitly communicates a lack of competency with the pistol. See the video for demonstration.

Beware of your target and what’s behind it.

This is a range rule for the NRA or a standard rule if you live in other camps, but either way, it’s good to reiterate that all shooters should be aware of their target which is critical in this class when you get to the Progressor Drill. We rarely have the opportunity to shoot in a clean environment with a crisp 180-rule with no liabilities downrange if you’re ever to actually get into a defensive shooting situation.

Probably one of the most under-taught skills in firearms is awareness of moving liabilities (i.e., people who are downrange and generally around an imminent lethal and threatening person). The big picture of this rule is opening the awareness of potential liabilities that can run in the field of fire, or are behind your target. Again, when you get to the last block of instruction with the Progressor Drill, this rule will be practically applied in a very dynamic drill. But all instruction is based on building blocks and, of course, you’re introducing (or reiterating rather) the rule of being aware of the target and what’s behind it; which incidentally includes what is around it that can run/reposition into your field of fire.

Safety is everyone’s business and it’s absolutely important that you communicate, if there is any breach of safety, you will not tolerate any “attitude” from the student. In other words, the student is strictly liable to be safe and there is absolutely no excuse to break any one of these rules. I strongly suggest not having an attitude yourself, such as “I caught you” if they breach one of the safety rules, but rather firmly and kindly note when they have their finger on the trigger inappropriately or when their muzzle is negligently pointed at one of their fellow student’s feet, etc.

If you are confronted with a student who has attitude and is probably that “know it all,” and has some excuse for breaching the safety rules, I would probably take an early break and pull him or her aside and tell them that safety rules are important. It is imperative that you, as the instructor, point them out and be absolutely clear that you are demanding a good attitude towards safety for the remainder of the class. It’s not so much a power trip, but people can disagree with you on some techniques, etc., but again, there is absolutely no compromise when it comes to safety.

Do I really have to cover those rules?

Yes, absolutely grind it in them.  Remember you’re creating students who are going to pass the word on and they need to memorize these rules to tell their friends, family, circles of influence, etc.

Do I do the NRA rules or the Jeff Cooper rules?

Oh boy, do we want to open Pandora’s box here.  I cover both.  The reason being is they may see these rules somewhere else, and you want to make sure they are consistent with what you prescribe.  If you Google firearm rules, the Jeff Cooper rules come up right away.  I find it best to explain that the rules overlap and the fourth rule of beware of your target and what is behind it is a range rule for the NRA accompanied by the other range rules (not drinking on the range etc.)

Demo with the SIRT and Be Absolutely Certain You Have Good Muzzle Awareness

Be sure to talk about “tacit communication” with a pistol regarding muzzle awareness. If the student nonchalantly swings the pistol down by their side, they are not communicating proficiency and safety to other people. Your demonstration will be critical in setting their nonverbal gun handling skill communications. As you can see in the class video, the students naturally adhere a good Sul position during the whole class.

Always Watch for Safe Gun Handling

Be absolutely vigilant checking for muzzle awareness and finger on the trigger. You will most likely catch a student breaking a safety rule. As noted in the video with my actual class, the students where overall very safety competent, but yet they still got the finger on the trigger at inappropriate times (the film caught Boots with finger on trigger!). Set the tone that safe gun practices are very serious, but you’re not making them feel unnecessarily defensive. I’m not saying be touchy feely here, but I’ve seen some instructors scream at students with their finger on the trigger and learning immediately shuts down. The constant repetitions of safe practices is the way to instill these rules without A-hole-like barking with sprinkled in “I caught you” attitude. Be firm, but understand they are learning and you have to keep them in your circle so they take additional classes to continue their safe training.

Important Notes

Click on each item below to view important information.

Be cautious during home training that someone else doesn’t come into your training area. One possible risk is where someone else comes in your area, they are carrying concealed, they go on auto-pilot and draw fluidly firing a round. The better they are, the more likely they can “chunk” the actions Now granted, there are other rules to address this situation, but remember all of these rules are completely redundant. If this unfortunate event happened, be sure to set up your training area with reasonably ballistic walls so the round will be caught and not cause damage to any person. It is a layered independent precaution.