The Cornered Cat
What does training cost?

I’ve written before about the value of training: here (and here, and here, and lots of other places).

And I’ve talked, in general terms, about its cost: here and here.

For those trying to put together a training budget, though, it’s probably helpful if we simply talk real dollars and hard numbers from time to time. A few weeks ago, doing some research of my own, I went looking for class costs from a variety of places, just to be sure that Cornered Cat’s prices are in the right ballpark. (Answer: they are. For excellent, personalized training from a nationally known trainer, Cornered Cat classes are a bargain!)

Defining our terms

If you’re not already familiar with the firearms training world, some of the prices below may shock you. That’s because there are a million places in America where you can find a shadetree instructor (sometimes with a current certification from a franchise or sponsoring organization, sometimes without one) who’s happy to donate his time or charge very small fees to show people which end of the gun the bullets come out and other basics of gun ownership. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking classes or teaching at this level of instruction. It’s a good place to start.

But it’s also not what we’re talking about, here.

What we’re talking about is roughly two levels up from there. We’re talking about the class(es) that we take after we already know how to pull a trigger and after we’ve taken the brief, state-required course that lets us apply for a carry permit. This type of training, which is optimized for self-defense, is where every person who takes her personal safety seriously should end up.

Yet very few do. And part of the problem is sticker shock.

Sticker shock

Learning which end the bullets come out — in the simplest, lowest level  class — can often be done for free or on the cheap. Sometimes it costs just a $20 donation toward the price of ammunition. Many times, you’ll find that even a formal, well-taught class at this level costs less than $100, or  a bit more than that if the instructor supplies written material.

The class for a carry permit usually costs more than that first class, though not always a ton more. The bulk of the cost of getting a carry permit will usually be found in the paperwork fees that go to the state, not in what we pay the instructor who teaches the state required class. Depending on the state, 1 a simple concealed-carry class rarely costs much more than $100 to $150, and it usually takes less than a full day.

So when we move up to the next level of classes — the ones intended to help us learn how to save our own lives, the cost of those classes can be shocking because it’s often double or more the cost we’ve paid for any previous classes. And (double whammy here) defensive handgun classes often come in 2-, 3-, or 4-day formats, which means they also require a much larger investment of time and other resources.

By the numbers

Ready for some hard numbers? Here they are.

  • DTI (John Farnam) Defensive Handgun – 2 days, 16 hrs, $675 ($337/day)
  • MAG40 (Massad Ayoob) – 4 day, 40 hrs, $800 ($200/day)
  • Firearms Academy of Seattle Defensive Handgun – 2 day, 18 hrs, $385 ($192/day)
  • Rangemaster Combative Pistol – 2 days, 16 hrs, $425 ($212/day)
  • Handgun Combatives (Dave Spaulding) – 2 day, 16 hrs, $400 ($200/day)
  • FPF Training (John Murphy) – CC:Foundation, 1 day, 10 hrs, $175 ($175/day)
  • TDI Ohio – all classes cost $200/day, add $25 fee for classes with night shoots
  • KR Training (Karl Rehn) – 4 hr segments @$80 each ($160/day)
    KR Training – 4 hr carry permit classes $150 ($300/day)
  • Shootrite (Tiger McKee) Defensive Handgun – 2 day, 16 hrs, $400 ($200/day)
  • Insights General Defensive Handgun – 2 day, 16 hrs, $450 ($225/day)
  • Thunder Ranch 3 day handgun, 24 hrs, $980 ($326/day)
  • Sand Burr Gun Ranch – Basic Compact Handgun (BUG) – 1 day, 8 hr, $185 ($185/day)
  • Claude Werner/Tactical Professor – Basic Threat Management – 3 hr, $150 ($300/day)
  • Greg Ellifritz Close Quarters Gunfighting – 1 day, 8 hrs, $175 ($175/day)
  • Gabby Franco – 1 day, 6 hrs, $225 ($225/day)
  • Babes with Bullets (competition shooting for women) – 2 1/2 days, $775 ($310/day)

Of course, there are many other schools and franchises that offer this type of training. It sure isn’t an exhaustive list, just a sampling. The numbers above were pulled at random as I wandered around the web thinking of names to check. They aren’t in any particular order and I’m neither endorsing nor failing to endorse any name on the list.

Note that the fixed-facility classes generally cost a little less than what the traveling instructors must charge. There are exceptions.

So that’s what training costs.

As for its value, allow me to quote Melody Lauer in an excellent post she wrote earlier this week: “… I’m investing in my ability to effectively defend myself in a time of need. That’s something I must do. The stakes are too high. And because I must do it I will find a way to pay for it.”


  1. There are exceptions!

One Response to What does training cost?

  1. Douglas says:

    some thoughts: cost is an issue, with everything we do (unless you are filthy rich, in which case, how about helping Kathy out?). but there are some other factors too. time and distance (which translates into time and money) are also factors. we all have full lives, and carving out a few days to attend training can pose some challenges.

    additionally, what do you need/want to learn, and what are they planning on teaching you? it strikes me that just because you are an award winning competitive shooter does not automatically mean you are a good teacher. likewise for former or present law enforcement or military experience. it’s interesting, and adds to your resume, but it does not guarantee anything.

    if i was to go looking for advanced training, i’d want to know what the class intended to teach me and others before i show up. just slinging lead down range doesn’t necessarily translate into learning anything useful.

    my 2 cents.

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