It’s getting harder and harder to pick what kind of training I want to attend.

Make no mistake about it, however, I won’t stop being a student.

Now I’ll pause to make a jab at anyone who thinks they’ve arrived somewhere because of what they’ve done or who they think they are. The best of the best remain the best because they keep training to stay the best. Losers whine about what they were back when.

That being said, I’ve got a long way to go.

My goal since 2013 has been to become an advanced firearms INSTRUCTOR.. not just a shooter. And an instructor that specializes in the context of civilian use of firearms for self defense.

This goal is taking me down a very specific path… one laden with lots hurdles.

1. I’m a woman.

There seems to be a perception in this industry that women are only good for teaching other women. While at SHOT, whenever I would introduce myself as the training director for the new training division Ballistic Radio has created, the response was typically, “Oh, so you’re going to be heading the women’s stuff?” or “Oh, so you’re going to be teaching the women’s only classes?”

Nope.

I’m responsible for it all.

This intimidates me because when I mentioned wanting to teach co-ed classes the response I got was, “I’m not sure our male students are ready to take instruction from a woman.”

I think they would be… If it were the right woman.The problem is that the “right woman” is going to have to prove herself to be far above reproach in this business.

As my friend Greg Ellifritz pointed out, I’m going to have to be able to out-shoot 95% of the students who walk into my classes and, I’ll be honest, I’m not there…. yet.

But I’m going to be. I am going to be the right woman.

That may sound kind-of cocky. To me, it’s terrifying. I’m claiming that I will one day be better than 95% of the guys on ranges with me. That’s a really ambitious claim and if I don’t do it I’ve made a liar of myself. No one likes a cocky hypocrite, so I’d better get to work!

2. I’m weak.

One of the best things I can do for my shooting, for my health, for my mind is getting stronger.

No excuses.

It needs to happen.

3. I don’t have a bloody history.

I have never killed anyone. I haven’t even pretended I’ve killed someone. I have never had a job where it was assumed I might have to kill someone in the future. I’ve never been in law enforcement or the military. The death I’ve dealt with has been in my capacity as an EMT. Some of it has been traumatic and chaotic, but I’ve never deliberately taken a life.

There’s a lot of people in this industry who seem to have the idea that if you don’t have blood on your hands you can’t effectively teach people how to defend themselves or carry and live with a firearm. I don’t think that kind of experience is particularly relevant to teaching people how to live with guns and develop shooting skills and tactics to save their own lives. Not to mention the fact that just because someone got lucky once, it doesn’t mean they have sound tactics. That’s not to take away from the people who have skillfully and deliberately taken lives who understand and apply superior tactics. It’s said only to illustrate that a kill-count doesn’t automatically mean all that much skill was applied. Nor does that mean the skill is relevant to what we teach in the context of self defense.

The skills used to expertly storms a barricaded terrorist cell with a group of other heavily armed men with long guns and grenades might not actually have much to do with the mother of four who gets accosted in the grocery store parking lot while she’s putting her two-year old in his car seat.

So, I have never killed anyone. I have, however, successfully and safely lived with firearms on my person in a day-to-day context for over ten years. I’ve spent the last seven years of my life as a parent, raising my three children along side firearms safely and responsibly. I’ve taught many other people to do the same. My track record to that end is pretty good. I also subscribe to the safest practices to which I can adhere in order to keep that record going for the next decade.

In order to know whether or not I have sound tactics, however, I have to pressure test in environments that aren’t solely interested in confirmation bias.

That leads me to my two-fold, 2016 plan-of-action. I have two goals for 2016:

    1. Continue to improve as a shooter.
    2. Deliberately put myself into environments/classes that stress my skill and ability to apply that skill in the context of combative situations.

My hope is to take an advanced competition handgun class that pushes my skill as a shooter. I will also take an advanced instructor class this year that I hope will not only push me as a shooter but also give me more ways to relate to my students and pass on the information I am learning. This combined with live and dry fire practice and strength conditioning will keep my mechanical skills moving forward.

The second part is achieved through force-on-force classes, shoot houses and stress and chaos management through my work as an EMT. The ability to think under pressure, manage chaos and make decisions with a gun in my hand or fight, fail and try again, will make me better able to apply the skills I’ve learned to date and put them into context more effectively and quickly.

Finally, from a purely knowledge standpoint, I hope to read a whole lot more both on the principles of teaching and perhaps take a course on the application of self defense law and it’s application in self defense.

I guess if there was a third point to that plan it would simply be to keep on going no matter how difficult the road becomes or what I might face along the way.

I might also try to have some fun and share the crazy ride.

I have my work cut out for me.