When I was just a wee lad, my dad taught me that: “there is always someone out there better than you”. The context was sports, but the principle applies to a myriad of topics. It has been quite helpful in life, at work, in training, and in relationships. Knowing that someone is better than I am serves two purposes: first it keeps me humble, which leads to a whole lot of other benefits, secondly it keeps me on the lookout for those better than me that I can look up to and learn from.
This is concept is important when you are looking for a coach. Coach, teacher, instructor, whatever you choose to call them, they have a specific job. That job is to get the most out of you and make you be the best you can be! This means that there are several facets that make up a great trainer, some of those are:
- Organization and Structure
- “Command” the room
These attributes are in no specific order, but the best instructors will carry with them at these attributes at a minimum. Humility is a big one for me. The guys that always has to best you and be right loses my attention quicker than anything. I have a hard time sharing all of the outdoors (or indoors) with a mans ego.
I want to talk about experience real quick. I in no way want to take away from any service man’s sacrifice. There are a lot of guys out there relying on their military or law enforcement background to carry them through being a trainer. Let me tell you, there are a lot of former operators out there running some great training, sadly, for every great one there are three terrible. I hate to say it, I do; however, do not rely solely on their service time to assume they are a good instructor.
Skill is something that may be over rated. Do not hear me say that skill is not important, it is huge! However, it is not everything. Look at professional football. Some of the most successful coaches in the history of the game were not the best players. But, they understood the game. A good firearms trainer should be a proficient shot, but he may not be shooting better than a student, that is ok. What is important is that they extract the best from you.
Everyone in this industry should be beyond reproach in their professionalism. This takes many forms and shapes, but you know it when you see it. As far as I’m concerned, professionalism encompasses all of the above attributes. It is hard to know and understand an instructors professionalism without training with them. That is why word of mouth and reputation is so critical in this business. If you are no good, you won’t last long; word will get out that you are unsafe, not knowledgeable, or just a jerk.
When you are looking for training, first, find what is within a range you are willing to travel to, then start going through the list. Find their website, do they look professional? Do they have videos, reviews, or ratings? Do you know anyone who has trained with them, can you get a first hand account of their training from a former student? Make every effort to validate a trainers ability and professionalism. If you cannot validate, then make the best assessment you can. Sometimes you have to train with a lousy trainer, I have had to do it a few times in order to get required training. It stinks, I know, but sometimes you have to embrace the suck…
What can we learn?
- There is always someone out there better than you
- There are important facets of a trainer that should be considered
- Professionalism is a big deal!
- Do your homework before attending a course