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The Instructor Development Series

This is the first of a series of Instructor Development articles that are written to help Firearm Safety and Defensive Instructors broaden their knowledge base and open their minds. Each article stems from actual experiences and discussions that I have encountered in instructor development courses over the last several years. Those that have worked with me know that I am not afraid to go down the occasional "rabbit hole" and explore the "why behind the how" in classes. These article (and most of my previously published articles) are inspired by those discussions. If you are NOT an instructor, I will bet folding American dollars that you will still find value in this series. Read and enjoy... continue your education as YOUR families' first responder.

As always.... I am part of your training team!

Teaching Through the Eyes of a “Gun Guy”
By Klint Macro, Founder of The Trigger Pressers Union
Too often firearms instructors take for granted the knowledge and skill sets that they have honed and developed. They forget how long it has taken them to reach the point of where they are as educators. Many of us, at times, look at what we do as “gun guys” or as “gun girls” or “gun people” and not as people who are new, often misinformed, and afraid…. our students. This is an easy mistake but a mistake none the less. As with any mistake, if we recognize that we are making it, we can fix it and grow from it.
Fear Is the Narrative Du Jour
“Everyone has a backstory” Artwork by Jennifer Macro

Early on in my career while on the firing line, just prior to loading up, I asked the class, “is everybody comfortable?” A very blunt woman in the class, stated very clearly, “F&*k no, I am afraid of this damn thing, and this is the first time I ever shot it! I am scared s*%tless!” While most of the class engaged in an uncomfortable chuckle, I realized that I was not expecting that answer AT ALL. I never considered that as a response. We were on the range, we were gonna shoot…. I mean EVERYONE loves to go to the range, right?

Moving forward, I took more time and care to learn more about my students prior to the start of class. I learned that so many of my students were afraid of their firearms, they thought their gun might explode, or that it would go off on its own. Many of them fought with spouses or family members, maybe even lied to them about purchasing it, owning it, and having it in the house. This fear and “emotional baggage” is greatly ignored by even the most experienced instructors.

Keep in mind, EVERYONE has a back story. There are reasons that each of your students are in your class. For many of them, those reasons are not pleasant. Take for instance our “post COVID” clientele. They are mostly adults, many of them previously “anti-gun” or perhaps very indifferent to gun ownership, and the events of the last year or so has scared them more that “the gun”. They are facing their fear and inhibition and have taken a step towards Liberty in exercising their own Right to defend self and those that they love. That is admirable.

My personal professional wakeup call was when a student hugged me and said, “because of what you taught me I will NEVER be victimized again”. I knew then the great responsibility that I had as an educator. We must not only teach but we must lead and empower our students. It is a righteous mission, but keep in mind, most of your students are not excited to be there. They NEED to be there. If we empower them and motivate them then they will likely continue with their education and become ambassadors of Liberty.

I have a rule for myself, and I hold “my” instructors to this standard. We cannot guarantee a positive outcome in a class, but we can damn sure facilitate a positive experience. Remember, each student may have completely different goals and different ways to get there. As educators, it is your job to help them do this.
Trigger Finger Discipline
“This happens NOWHERE in nature”

Nowhere in nature do humans pick up objects with their index finger straight and above the object. Trigger finger discipline must be learned and applied. Do you remember how many times the person who taught you to handle a firearm reprimanded you, scolded you, or gave you a smack for putting your “booger hook on the bang switch”? Most of us do not. This unnatural act must be learned, practiced, practiced, relearned, practiced, and practiced again before it becomes learned and intuitive. Once it has, then you can pick up your cordless drill with the same finger placement as your Glock; but be patient with your students. I know plenty of “experienced shooters” that still have difficulty with this skill set.

As an educator we must facilitate repeated opportunities for our students to learn and practice what we teach them. Know that MOST students are going to have difficulty with this seemingly easy skill. Give your students opportunities to fail without risking safety. Before you load them up with ammo, do some sort of handling check in a zero-consequence simulation. This may be a comprehensive dry handling exercise with a checked and double-checked unloaded firearm, perhaps a virtual range session with a SIRT pistol that cannot ever put a hole in something, or maybe have them come to the High Compressed Ready position with a cleared firearm at slide lock and demonstrate their 2 handed thumbs foreword grip while demonstrating proper trigger finger discipline. We can make teachable moments out of failures in this context. If you come down on them like a bag of hammers and throw them off of your range on first infraction, then you are probably forgetting the time, effort and energy that you invested to learn the skill. If they fail to demonstrate proper trigger finger discipline with a LOADED gun, without giving yourself the opportunity to vet them, then YOU may have just put your other students at risk.

We must teach our students to keep their trigger finger somewhere other than the trigger until they have consciencely identified a target/threat and made the decision to shoot it. I suggest that 99% of the time (and in the context of most every “first” class) this will be high above the trigger area with the trigger finger straight and laying across the seam where the slide and frame meet. Touching something tactile will ultimately give them the ability to identify this index point without visual stimulus. This place may be the aforementioned “seam” or depending on hand size or gun design, perhaps the back of a takedown pin or the ridges of the slide stop, or maybe the corner edge of the ejection port. We ultimately want to teach our students to RUN their gun with as little visual stimulus as possible, the tactile index point will help with consistent “non firing” trigger finger placement.

We as instructors must ensure that the training benefit SIGNIFICANTLY outweigh the risk. Giving students time to learn and practice initially without a round in the chamber may be a way to do that. Having assistants on the range and keeping a lower student to instructor ratio can also make trigger finger discipline and muzzle awareness easier to monitor. If students are aware of their muzzle and keeping it pointed in a generally safe direction, this can lessen the risk. Once we have observed repeated proper handling and observation of “the rules” we CAN hold students responsible but stay frosty; safety is ultimately YOUR responsibility.
The Condescension of Proper Nomenclature
“Sometimes the correct word don’t make no sense”

We quite often speak over the heads of new students by using fancy pseudo-standardized nomenclature. We as gun guys already know what a magazine release is, or what a cylinder release latch is, or what a slide stop lever is, or what grip safety is. Don’t assume that your students do.

I like to illustrate this in my instructor development classes by first asking if there are any guitar players in the room. If there is, or if there isn’t the point is made regardless. I will say, “Ok, does everyone know what a guitar amplifier is?” Generally, everyone indicates that they do. I will then say, “If you encounter a 60-cycle hum, it is recommended to first flip the polarity toggle switch on the rear side of the amp to remedy the problem.” MOST of the class will look at me like I just spoke in tongues. Pretty much every class someone will offer the sentiment that they have no clue of what I am talking about. I will then reply, “do you think Mrs. Johnson knows what you mean or exactly what to do when you say, ‘drop the magazine’?”

It has taken me MANY years to learn, and I recognized this while studying under Rob Pincus, that when we use the “big” words out of the gate we leave our students behind, or we might even appear to talk down to them. Rob is very good at “humanizing” the language before hammering them with the “big” words. Rather than go straight to the “professional nomenclature” maybe use common words and then leave them with the “real” word after they have gained an understanding of the concept. For instance, when teaching to prepare a magazine, rather than say push down on the magazine follower, maybe say push down on the spring-y thing. New folks will get that. THEN say “the “spring-y thing” is actually called the magazine follower and it indeed has a magazine spring under it to create upwards tension”. We have a better chance of helping students retain information by connecting with things they already know. A spring a spring a marvelous thing, everyone knows that!
Special Force-y Ninja Full Speed Demos
“Slow is smooth, slower is more understandable”

Ninja fast, full speed, and even half speed demos are often lost on our students. They don’t know what they are looking at and don’t know WHERE to look. When we use our “mouth words” to explain where our students should look and what we are doing physically, they have a better chance of gaining value from the demonstration.

Demonstrating a gun in a class is an ART FORM. First, from a safety standpoint, if you are demoing REAL guns in a classroom, it is my recommendation to PURGE the area of ammunition and adhere to a “safe direction”. Remember that “risk/benefit” thing we spoke of earlier? One of the many things I love about the USCCA Concealed Carry and Home Defense Fundamentals curriculum, is that I don’t NEED to rock a real gun in class. I can use the giant beautiful pictures and visuals on the power point and save my “real gun” demos for the range.

Wherever you demo, and whatever you demo, be sure that your narration syncs up precisely with your physical actions. Demo ONLY what you are teaching. For instance, if you are teaching how to clear a semi-auto pistol, avoid talking about how to load it, what weight trigger it has, what the twist rate is, how to unload a revolver, or what type of holster you used when you worked private security for Demi Lovato… just demo how to unload a semi-auto pistol and be sure your mouth words match your hand work.

When you demo, do it “stupid slow”. If you think you are going too slow… you probably need to slow down more. Give yourself time for your words to sound and travel through the air to your students’ ears. Let them digest those words and hear what they are seeing.

A demo that isn’t seen by your students is absolutely USELESS. I often run classes in my recording studio in the big room where all the musicians set up and play music. This room is called the “tracking room”. My tracking room has a wall that has black acoustic foam panels on it. I often wear a black polo shirt. I can do AMAZING gun demos in class. I have years of practice. One day I demoed clearing a Glock. It was one of my finest demonstrations if I do say so myself. I was very proud. I just knew everyone in class now understood how to clear a Glock. Later, I received a voluntary email evaluation from a lady that sat in the front. She said, “Black gun, black shirt, black wall… I could not see a damn thing you were doing.”

I made the mistake of seeing the demo from my vantage point and I didn’t consider what the class was seeing. This is a mistake that happens in most classes and during many range demonstrations. Demos are more complex than just syncing the words and actions. Safe directions, distance from students, lighting, contrast of colors, and physical and mental fatigue of the students are all factors. Consider these when planning when and where demos are needed. My best advice is to teach by explanation when possible. This give the students the opportunity to learn through experience, while doing what you are asking them to do, the way you are asking them to do it. Demo when you need to, and when you do, be sure there is maximum value.

In conclusion, take a step back and see, hear, and feel things from the perspective of your students. They sought YOU out to educate them, guide then, lead them, empower them. Avoid teaching administratively. Collect and process information about your students and give them what they need, not what you want to give them.

An educated and armed citizenry is the ultimate check and balance in our constitutional republic and our best homeland defense. Help our fellow Americans be not just armed Americans but responsible educated family first responders.

Stay armed and BE well regulated.



The 5th Annual National Train A Teacher Day will be observed on Saturday, June 18th, 2022. Visit to get more information, volunteer, or connect to an instructor near you who is offering their services on National Train A Teacher Day!