I recently fielded this phone call.
Me – Fortress Defense.
Them – Yeah, is this Fortress Defense?
Me – Yes.
Them – You’re the shooting teachers?
Me – We teach defensive firearm usage, yes. What can I help you with?
Them – How much does it cost?
Me – How much does what, specifically, cost?
Them – Your classes.
Me – We offer a number of different classes at different prices. What is it you’re looking to learn?
Them – You offer tactical training?
Me – [Through gritted teeth] We offer concealed carry, defensive rifle, long range rife, shotgun, executive protection, emergency treatment of gunshot wounds, and a number of other courses. All of our classes are based in the reality of fighting with guns. So, what is it you’d like to learn?
Them – …well, how much do you charge?
Me – [No longer interested in the conversation] Our publicly offered Level I Handgun Courses in IL and IN are $365 this year.
Them – Shit! That’s way too much money!
Me – Really? How do you know that?
Them – I see classes for half that all over the internet.
Me – You should take one of them, then.
When we strap guns on and venture out in public, we’re saying this to everyone within range of our muzzle: I have the ability to make life and death decisions while using your family as a backstop!
Knowing that, the right question should be: Is our training relevant to the situation?
Generally, our clients are above average in intelligence and come to us already aware of the importance of proper training. They’re not interest in gimmicks or fads or buzz words – They’re interested in learning what they need to know to prevail in the fight of their life, as well as the aftermath. They understand that, although informative and time well spent, their NRA or CCW class was simply not enough training for the responsibility they’ve undertaken. Of course, every now-and-then I get a call like the one above from someone who probably means well, but simply doesn’t understand the gravity of what this whole carrying guns thing is about.
As a professional Instructor, I understand my responsibility to my students. It begins with me knowing as much as possible about the subject matter, which requires continuing education. It requires me to provide assistant Instructors who are equally as responsible and well-trained, which requires a large investment of time and funds. It requires us to locate range facilities which will allow us to train properly, and that requires travel expenses and fees. It requires communications, insurance, webhosting, equipment, targets, rental guns, and a host of other costs in order to provide students with the best experience possible.
On top of all that, I also understand that my responsibilities to my students don’t end when they leave the range. The reality is that when one of my students is involved in a defensive shooting and they wind up in court, I’ll be subpoenaed. I may have to drop everything and trek cross-country to testify at the trial. And that, with lawyer in tow, gets expensive really quickly. Not to mention that I’m supposed to be making some sort of living doing this.
So, when someone suggests to me that I charge too much, I’m often left reconsidering these factors – My conclusion, always, is that I don’t charge enough!
Being legally bound for the rest of my life to every student I teach is going to require the student to pay. It helps assure that they are not there on a whim or treating anything so serious as a hobby. Being morally bound to every student and every person their gun comes in contact with for the rest of my life keeps me from treating anything so serious as a whim or a hobby. That means large investments of time and money on my part.
If the Instructor you seek out doesn’t understand that, then there are probably a lot of other important things they don’t understand, as well. In which case, you’ll probably be getting exactly what you pay for.
This is about life and death. It needs to be done right, not “on sale.”
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