“Well, I’m not a Glock guy, but I know some folks like them. I’m more of a SIG guy.” This was a quote recently overheard at a local gun shop. I’ve been hearing and reading similar sympathies for at least three decades now.
The advent of the Internet and social media has benefitted the “1911 guys” the “SIG guys”, “Smith and Wesson guys”, etc. Now, rather than pronounce their affinity or love for one brand or type of gun in person, they can fill their social media pages with pictures and Memes of their favorite blasters.
This is America and it is certainly not sin to have a favorite manufacturer or model of gun. Americans love their trucks, motorcycles, and guns and they are not shy when it comes to expressing their choices. If you want to shoot a hot pink CZ-75, I would certainly not attempt change your mind.
The trouble is that we get so wrapped up in our favorites that we become myopic or closed-minded about most every other choice. Some folks even devolve to the point where they become gun and gear snobs, looking with disdain upon anyone who does not mirror their choices.
Firearms Trainers as “Glock Guys”
The natural progression for gun people is to take the next step and get themselves some form of firearms trainer certificate. They go from being the “gun guy” at work to the “gun trainer” at work. We fully endorse the concept of being a student for life and teaching others is one of the many paths to personal enlightenment.
The previous being said, during my thirty years of being a professional gun carrier, I have encountered innumerable gun guys who became firearms trainers and carried over their “Glock guy” or “1911 guy” bias.
Now every person who trains with them is treated to their dissertation about how “X” gun is the perfect solution to all of their shooting needs. Arriving for training with any other tool immediately puts a student in the peasant class in the instructor’s eyes.
Also, many of the aforementioned “guys” will never “waste their time” with other makes, models, and designs therefore being unfamiliar with their particulars and how to teach a student to master them.
Your Gun versus Their Gun
What the previously mentioned gun folks seem to misunderstand is that it is not about their favorite gun, it is about what the student has in their possession. Yes, I have had students show up for concealed carry classes with guns that were legitimately pieces of shit. In such a case, it is necessary for the coach to help the student make a better choice.
Nonetheless, implying that a student is a fool for showing up with a perfectly functional SIG P226 because you are a “1911 guy” is not the hallmark of a professional firearms trainer. The student doesn’t need a lecture on the merits of the M1911, he/she needs you to help him/her to master the gun they own.
Agencies, Departments, and Military Units
If you are fortunate enough to advance to the level where are you are asked to provide training to an agency, department, or military unit, you will need to be able to teach them to master the guns that were chosen for them.
The department or unit is not going to buy 10,000 of your favorite gun so it is easier for you to teach their people. Striker-fire, traditional double-action with decocker and safeties, single action pistols, even double-action revolvers are all fair game.
I carried a Beretta M9 while on active duty with the Marine Corps, I also carried and M1911A1 at the beginning of my service. The Beretta was never my first choice. When I became a police officer and then a professional bodyguard, I bought my own M1911 and then a Glock pistol.
Regardless, when I was a full-time small arms and tactic instructor for the US Military all of my students were issued the M9. My personal feelings about the situation were immaterial. Soon after starting that job I bought a Beretta M9 and dedicated myself to mastering it.
Professional versus Amateur
If you are fortunate enough to have someone else looking up to you as a firearms trainer or instructor, you owe it to that student to give them more than your tales of the “best gun”. It is your responsibility to be a well-rounded trainer.
No, it is not easy to have solid working knowledge of the numerous makes and models of firearms available, it takes time and dedication. No one is going to force you to do it, you need to have the discipline to learn on your own.
If you are looking for the mark of a true professional, that self-discipline to be as knowledgeable as possible would be a good place start. Remember, a beginner once, a student for life.
Good article. It reminds me of the article where you talk about the five guns every instructor should master.
This is the kind of article we as a gun culture need. It’s as annoying hearing people debate about Glock vs 1911 vs Sig vs S&W vs Taurus vs CZ vs Springfield vs et nauseum as it is to listen to the 9mm vs .45 debates. Personally, I like the .40… 12 rds, hits hard, I’m accurate with my Springfield and my S&W, and I personally like the round. I’m not going to bust someone’s balls for shooting 9mm, and I’m not going to start crap with a “.45 guy” because I don’t prefer the round they use. My only problem with Glock is that so many of the “Glock Guys” tend to be elitist and nothing is as good as their Glock…
Thanks for a great post. I aspire to become an instructor, and if I do, I’ll never recommend a particular firearm, or even type of firearm. I’ll answer questions about pros & cons, I’ll help them run through the rental counter, but the ‘right’ gun is the one YOU feel most comfortable with, and can operate the best.
The article does make a lot of good points about Instructors -needing- to know more than just their preferred type of gun and reminding us to avoid pushing our subjective likes or dislikes on our students. Being ready to teach LE or Mil that are issued guns is certainly valid…. but this old saw is where it misses:
“he/she needs you to help him/her to master the gun they own.”…. while that may be true for the NRA Basic Pistol instructor (using that class for its intended purpose, not CCW…) or the recreational shooting coach, those of us involved in Defensive Training owe it to our students to be able to guide them to the best choices for them (possibly very different from our own preferences for US). The idea that humoring poor purchasing decision (shooting issues, unreliable gun, poor ergonomics, inefficient, etc…) is “professional” is a fallacy perpetuated by instructors trying harder to be their students’ friends than they are to educate… or, ones that may not be educated enough to make a compelling argument that can overcome a student’s pre-class subjective or ill-informed choices. It is also spread/encouraged by “students” who are more hobbyists than anything else. The exception may be the RARE student attending real defensive training that can’t conveniently change guns because of laws (NJ) or budget.
A true professional educator in the area of Defensive Shooting has an obligation to understand all plausible types of firearms that could show up on their range AND an obligation to steer the student to the best choice of gun for them.
Sorry, we don’t take advice from people (especially instructors) who choose not to carry a gun.
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“Yes, I have had students show up for concealed carry classes with guns that were legitimately pieces of shit. In such a case, it is necessary for the coach to help the student make a better choice.” For those with an inability to read beyond the first paragraph