The Cornered Cat
The cost of training

The cost of quality, professional firearms training can be a significant problem for some people… something I know personally all too well.

When I first started shooting more than a dozen years ago, my husband and I had five young children at home, and our family lived entirely on my husband’s low-end salary. Not an easy life, just the one we deliberately chose in order to rear our own homegrown children. Neither time nor money were easy to come by in those years, but when I decided to keep a defensive handgun on my hip, I made the decision to do whatever it took to get good training. A family friend purchased my first class for me, as a gift and as an encouragement. Bless him!

After that, I worked my tail off to learn as much as I could possibly manage, despite our financial circumstances. I scrounged and I wheeled and dealed and I just plain worked at finding ways to do it. I owe a deep and abiding debt to the friends who worked out three-cornered barter deals with me to get me into classes. I sorted and recycled brass, worked grungy weekend jobs, traded babysitting with friends (since I had five and most have two, those swaps always took far more of my time than a straight across swap could have done). To save money on ammunition, I learned to reload even though I hate reloading. I volunteered as an RO so that I could be the fly on the wall in other people’s classes. I started writing articles for magazines so that I could beg for comp-spots in classes that weren’t quite filled. Then I turned around and used my “spare time” (hah!) to volunteer and help train others so I could pay my karmic debts as well as my personal debts of gratitude. And I remain very, very grateful to several specific people who saw my plight and took pity on me and helped me learn what I needed to learn.

Gun people are some of the best, most generous people in the world. If I state this more strongly than others might, it’s because I have more reason to know it than others do.

All of the above means that I do understand how hard it is to get training when you’re broke. I know something about not being able to buy classes outright, and having to get there “creatively.” I know about having to make hard choices and I know about the guilt that goes with making those choices. I know about being crunched for time and not having the resources you’d like to have in order to get the training you think you need. I know how embarrassing it can be to ask friends for ideas, and I know how eagerly good people will help when they see that you’re serious.

Finally, because I have had such depressingly thorough experience at being broke, I can tell you this much with brutal honesty: If something is important to you, you can find a way to do it, no matter how broke you are. If it’s not, you can always find an excuse not to.

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