Of all of the potential barriers preventing people from seeking out quality self-defense training, one of the biggest is the financial cost. At least, that’s what you guys made clear after I posted a video about the importance of self-defense training a few weeks ago. So today’s video offers a few tips to learn how to be better prepared to use your gun for self-protection without spending a fortune.

Full transcript below:


A few weeks ago, I did a video about the importance of self-defense training. The feedback I got from a lot of you guys was that you would like to get some training, but it just costs too much. And I totally understand that. A typical self-defense class is a few hundred bucks, plus ammo, plus travel expenses if the class is out of town, and I know not everybody can afford that, even if it’s just once every few years. I don’t think that a lack of disposable income should disqualify you from being able to be better prepared to use your gun as a life saving tool. So today I’m going to talk about a couple of ways to approach training even if you don’t have a ton of extra cash laying around.

First, I should make an important distinction. There is a big difference between not training because you truly can’t afford it and not training because you don’t think it’s worth the money. If you’re in the latter camp, I don’t know if there’s much I can say to convince you otherwise. Most instructors aren’t getting rich off of teaching classes… I think the prices most of them are asking are fair. But a lot of people look at the cost and think, “hey, I could buy another gun for that.” I understand that temptation, but I promise, getting some quality training is going to be far more valuable and rewarding in the long run and it’s definitely going to make you better prepared than adding another gun to your collection. Even if you’re just shooting primarily as a hobby, shooting is a lot more fun when you’re good at it. So, when someone tells me they have a handful of pistols, but they’ve never had any training, that usually means they can afford training, they would just rather have more toys to put in the safe.

Now, if going to a good shooting class is really financially out of reach for you, there are some alternatives. One of the best is to get some private lessons. There is still a cost involved, but it’s going to be a lot less than most classes. An hour or two with a qualified shooting instructor might cost you $100 or so and you’ll probably go through 100 rounds, but having all of that individual attention can take you a long way. If you supplement that with some good reading material and dry practice, you can probably get the majority of the benefit of a one or two day class.

Speaking of dry practice, that is another low cost way to work on your shooting skills. It doesn’t do much good if you don’t have some kind of baseline training to show you how to do everything correctly, but once you have a grasp of the fundamentals, dry practice can help you get the mechanics of shooting and gun handling programmed into your brain’s subconscious. Justin Carroll recently wrote a couple of really good articles about how to dry practice effectively that we have posted on our blog, so be sure to check that out if you want to know more.

Shooting is an important component of self-defense, but there’s really a lot more you need to know than just how to pull a trigger. Understanding criminal behavior and how use observation and awareness to your advantage are just as important. There are also legal aspects of self-defense you need to be familiar with, and plenty of other topics. Outside of training with someone in-person, the best single low-cost resource I have found that covers most of this stuff is the book “Fighting Smarter: A Practical Guide for Surviving Violent Confrontation” by Tom Givens. It is a really excellent, comprehensive overview of just about everything the average person needs to know on the topic of self-defense.

If you’re interested in expanding that knowledge on an ongoing basis for free, there are lots of other books and videos and resources available, but for today I’ll just mention a couple of my favorite podcasts. There’s Ballistic Radio hosted by John Johnston, which you can download or listen to live on Sunday nights and there’s also the American Warrior Show with Mike Seeklander. These shows feature interviews with guests from the self-defense training industry and the full archives of both of them are available to download for free. John and Mike both do an excellent job of tracking down some of the most knowledgeable people in the world on topics that are relevant to shooting and self-defense. I highly recommend both of them.

There’s really no true substitute for learning how to use your firearm defensively in person from a qualified instructor, but if you can’t do that, there are more options and resources available today than there ever have been. There’s also more bad information out there than ever, so be picky about who you listen to, but there’s no reason you can’t be reasonably well-prepared to defend yourself without going broke.


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  • John

    Really good advice… Chris, you need to convince some folks from the Rangemaster/TPI/Shivworks think-tank network to offer some courses on Lucky Gunner’s home turf in the Knoxville area. The region could benefit from some great courses being offered. Sometimes proximity/distance is a larger deterrent than cost.

  • RJW

    I have had a NRA basic course in my local area and even though I am not a novice shooter I did gain knowledge from it. Have been wanting to take there NRA in the home and outside the home classes but unfortunately I am one of those who can’t afford it. Also don’t get nearly as much range time as I would like (work, family, ammo costs, etc.). But I do try to read up as much as I can and dry fire practice. Also can’t find a range in my area that allows drawing from holster, to many idiots sweeping everyone to there left or right when they draw. I find no problem in drawing and keeping the muzzle down or down range during the draw, just have to think it through and not try to be some old west gun fighter.