The Cornered Cat
Online “training” class

From my email box: “Kathy, what do you think about online concealed carry training classes? Are they a good idea?”

My response:¬† When I was a little girl riding in the back of my grandpa’s car, sometimes somebody would cut him off in traffic. Grandpa would sigh and mumble, “Where’d that guy learn to drive, correspondence school??”

Somehow, I always remember that line whenever the subject of online training comes up. And I say this as someone who is heavily invested in helping others learn as much as they can via the web. It’s not as though I’m against the idea of learning stuff online! I’m all for it. Only I also believe that we have to understand and respect the web’s limitations.

Because you have seen my website, you know I spend a lot of my days educating people on the internet. Why do I do that? I do it because I think good¬† information — about handguns, about concealed carry, about self defense — is critically important for someone who intends to save her life with a gun.

Websites like this one can provide important information, but at the end of the day, it’s only information. As important as good information is, defensive handgun use is just like any other physical skill in one important way: memorizing information about the skill is definitely not the core of the learning process. The core of the process is physical learning, teaching your body how to actually do the skill. Physical learning best takes place in the real world, on the range, in person, under the watchful eye of a qualified other.

You can no more learn how to defend yourself with a gun from a website than you can learn how to waterski or play baseball that way. At best, on a well-designed site, you can learn the rules of the game and perhaps pick up a few tips to help you refine skills you’ve already learned in real life. (To be clear, let me repeat myself: those are all good things! That’s why I have spent so much time building this website. Online learning is good and necessary. It just isn’t all there is to the process.)

At the end of the day, online concealed carry “training” classes fill exactly the same niche as reading the booklet and taking a written test prior to getting your driver’s license. Passing the written test might prove that you know the rules of the road, but no way in the world will it teach you how to drive.

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