Big Name Instructors are Great, but Try a Local Guy

If I told you about a firearm instructor that…

  • Served as a police officer
  • Had taken hundreds of hours of training with highly regarded training providers
  • Had years of professional experience in instructional design
  • Holds multiple patents
  • Is a college professor at a private university
  • Operates out of a private training range that is clean, safe, well-equipped, and comfortable
  • Recently constructed a purpose built, multi-media equipped training building that can comfortably house 15-20 students adjacent to the range
  • Has multiple common firearms on hand to try
  • Is NRA certified to train both individuals and other NRA trainers
  • Has taught thousands of students, young and old, over the years how to shoot safely and proficiently


You might think I am talking about a big name instructor but I’m not. I am talking specifically about Dann Sternsher at G4 Personal Safety but there are many instructors like him around the country that are ready to help you become a better shooter. Dann just happens to be one of trainers with which I am most familiar. You see, while you are waiting for the next big name instructor to come through your area, there may be a quality, local instructor right under your nose and you need to find him.

Reasons to Seek out a Local Trainer

It all comes down to time and money. Big name instructors are great. They are often well known for a reason and, hopefully, that reason is that they offer quality instruction. However, you may not always have time to wait for those big name instructors or the cash on hand to pay their course fees. Local instructors often offer training at a frequency and cost that make it possible to train under a critical eye more often for less money. Many local trainers will have affordable courses scheduled monthly or even multiple times monthly.

You want to get your wife up to speed on her new handgun but taking her to the range turns you into a drill instructor and her into an ice princess? Call the local guy.

You need a certification so you can apply for a concealed carry license? Call the local guy.

You need some one on one time to sort out your grip? Call the local guy.

You purchased a new reloading set up and you aren’t sure where to start? Call the local guy.

You just need a tune up to knock the rust off? Call the local guy.


How to Find a Local Trainer

If you want to find a quality instructor that trains near you, the best place to start is the NRA Instructor Search. Most reputable instructors will be NRA certified – even the high speed guys. Once you have a name or two, start searching online to see what others are saying about the courses. Ask your shooting buddies or the switched on guy at the gun shop (the guy who gives good advice, not the one that says you just have to rack the shotgun to scare off intruders). Ask around on your local gun forums. Check the instructor’s websites for a professional appearance and recent updates. These steps will help you separate the peppercorns from the rabbit turds.

What I Look for in a Trainer

I look for several qualities in a local trainer:

  • They offer courses at a reasonable price compared to others in the area. I am willing to pay for quality but the local trainers should know their niche and price accordingly.
  • They stay in their lane. I stay far, far away from trainers who train beyond their skillset or experience. I admire guys who don’t claim to be anything other than a solid trainer. You don’t have to know cutting edge tactics to critique my draw stroke. If they are going to teach tactics beyond shooting, they better have the background to do so.
  • They are committed to training themselves. A quality instructor never stops training their own skillset. Look for a trainer with recent certifications and a track record of continued learning.
  • They are effective communicators outside the class room. If you call a trainer to inquire about a course and you can barely understand them on the phone or they are unprofessional in their interactions, you can bet that will spill over into the classroom.

If you are serious about training, locating a high quality local instructors can be one of the best investments you make in your skill development. You can certainly continue to train with the well known instructors but it can be wise to fill in with a local guy from time to time.


6 Responses to Big Name Instructors are Great, but Try a Local Guy

  1. MoltElevator9 November 25, 2014 at 07:13 #

    This is a great post! I finally got serious about getting some more in-depth training this year and found a great local guy through one of the Traverse City, MI gun shops. I had practiced a bunch by myself, but never had any formal training beyond the basic CPL classes.

    With a family (pregnant wife) and owning a small business, though we looked at traveling for classes, it just wasn’t feasible to spend a bunch of time away from home. Hence, I decided to try something local and signed up for a 1 day rifle class. From there it snowballed.

    I ended up doing five classes over the spring and summer starting with a 1 day rifle class, then a 1 day pistol, followed by 2 day pistol, 1 day shotgun (this could have been a 1/2 day, it was brutal), and finally a 2 day advanced rifle/pistol class. I learned more attending these classes than I ever could have imagined, made some new friends, and feel extremely comfortable with my tools should I ever need to use them.

    In all, for $1050 plus ammo, I got real training by a really wonderful instructor (with overseas experience, local LEO experience), and got to stay home with the wife and newborn. What a win-win situation.

  2. txfilmmaker November 25, 2014 at 11:43 #

    In Conroe, Texas (North of Houston). The Conroe Shooting Academy with Steve and Donna Vandermolen are as good as they get.

  3. Petro45acp November 25, 2014 at 13:46 #

    In Northern Virginia, FPF Training ( by John Murphy. Great training from a solid instructor.

  4. Dann in Ohio November 27, 2014 at 10:03 #

    Your words are humbling and appreciated…

    Dann in Ohio

  5. David From Alabama November 29, 2014 at 07:37 #

    Great article. All the big name instructors had to start somewhere. We are blessed here in Alabama to have several outstanding local training groups (Talon Defense, Lighthorse Tactical, Way of the Gun- Frank Proctor). Look around, ask some folks for their reviews and you may find some valuable training at reasonable prices.


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