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Firearms trainer interview – Paul Markel

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Paul Markel is the host of Student of the Gun. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Paul has written for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds of articles in print. His motto is “Student of the Gun; a beginner once, a student for life.”

We asked Paul seven questions about training and what it means to him.

1) What is the value of training?
Training teaches you how and what to practice.

2) Why did you become a trainer?
It began in the Marine Corps when I was sent to a marksmanship coaching school. I discovered I have an aptitude for teaching and have been at it ever since.

3) What is the emphasis of your class?
My training teaches people to think with a gun in their hands, regardless of the type of weapon.

4) Who is your market?
It’s very broad; police, military, youth, and private citizens who carry weapons. Right now, there are large numbers of armed and concerned citizen who are interested in training.

5) What do YOU do to train/practice?
I do lots of dryfire, it’s an important part of skill building and maintenance. For live fire, I have a one box workout; anyone who signs up for the SOTG newsletter receives it. Recently, I have started doing what I call the ‘compass drill.’ It’s an expansion on the drawing from 4 positions (left, right, front, rear), movement drill many of us have done for a long time.

I also take training from other trainers. In the past six months, I have taken three courses from colleagues. In my mind “The best instructors in the world are the most dedicated students.”

6) How would you describe your training philosophy?
It’s like sculpting a statue; the object is to remove what isn’t necessary. What I want to do is to remove superfluous movements that don’t contribute to accomplishing the drill. “Are we teaching ballroom dancing or are we learning to fight?” How do you do the Weaver Stance when you’ve been knocked on your butt? With regard to stance, I teach the “Don’t fall down stance.”

7) Why should people take training?

  • Training affirms what you’ve been doing right and corrects what you’ve been doing wrong. It’s almost impossible to train yourself. You can practice yourself but not train yourself.
  • Going to training allows students to spend time with like-minded individuals. Especially for those who are new to guns, it provides positive peer reinforcement.
  • Attending a training class forces people out of their comfort zones. When we go to the range by ourselves, we generally practice the things we’re good at and not the things we need to work on; that’s human nature.

We appreciate Paul taking the time to share his thoughts with us. Readers can sign up for the SOTG newsletter and receive the one box workout here.

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