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Posted on December 13, 2021 by in Training

Mental Prep For A Training Class

Mental Prep For A Training Class

In last week’s article I discussed how to prep your gear for a handgun class. Just as important as the gear prep is prepping yourself mentally. To get the most from a training course, you should have the right mindset so that you don’t hold yourself back from absorbing as much of knowledge as you can from the instructor. As an instructor, I’ve seen shooters come into a class with the wrong mindset many times and struggle as a result.

First off, make sure you show up to the class with an open mind. Different instructors have different points of view, different backgrounds, different techniques, and different teaching styles. The absolute worst thing to do is dismiss the content being presented because it “conflicts” with the opinion or techniques taught by someone else. There are many ways to accomplish the same objective, your goal as a shooter is to build up your “toolbox” of knowledge and techniques so that you can pull different tools from that toolbox that help you accomplish that objective as effective and efficiently as possible. Learn the techniques presented, even if you don’t agree with or understand its usefulness to you. As your experience and knowledge as a shooter grows, you might discover that there WAS value in what was being taught, but you’ll never experience that if you cut yourself off from learning new material right off the bat.

Second, come to class prepared to fail. You’re there to be exposed to new knowledge and fresh techniques. Don’t expect to be able to master them in the in the short time you have during the class. As an instructor, my goal is to present information to shooters and then move on to the next topic with the expectation that the shooter will take that information home with them and work on it on their own time. All too often shooters allow their performance ego to get in the way of their growth. They try something new, don’t perform as well as they want, and immediately revert to their old techniques because they fear failing in front of their classmates and/or the instructor(s). Trust me, instructors are not judging you because you don’t master a technique or drill after 10 minutes of practice. Keep that ego in check and work the techniques as presented. Allow the instructor(s) to help you with tips/tricks/pointers that will accelerate your learning process so that you can master the techniques with continued practice.

Lastly, take notes and review what you’ve learned at the end of the day. Whether you scratch notes down with pen and paper, type them into your phone, or use some sort of voice recorder, make a record of what you’ve learned and how you can improve your performance in the future. I keep a notebook in my shooting bag that I use to look back on all the classes I’ve taken as a student. Just looking at that chicken scratch jolts my memory and allows me to recall information and techniques that I learned from as far back as 2014 when I first got serious about training.

Shooting is just as much mental as it is physical. Showing up to class with good gear that is ready to perform allows you to focus on the mental side of equation. Bringing the right mental approach to a training class will let you get the most out of the time you have in the class. See you on the range!


Jeremy is an active duty LEO in the Southwest US with over ten years experience. He is currently working as a full time firearms instructor for a major metropolitan agency.

His instructor certifications include firearms (patrol carbine/pistol/shotgun/SPR), defensive tactics, less-lethal, and MACTAC. He holds a Master classification in USPSA Single Stack, and has also competed in IDPA, Steel Challenge, 3-gun/Multigun/3GN, and various other outlaw events. Jeremy is currently concentrating on precision rifle matches and has earned several Top-LE awards at national-level events.