How to Get Free Training

| January 8, 2016 | 2 Comments

In 2014 I got about twenty hours of quality fight-focused training without paying for it. Last year I got about twenty-four, again without paying a dime. It was not job-related as far as my day job goes, though I can’t say it isn’t job-related where my instructing and information-production business is concerned. But none of it was paid for by In Shadow In Light either. None of that roughly forty-four hours of quality combat training was paid for by anything or anybody. I got it all for nothing as far as cash outlay is involved.

You could have gotten the same kind of quality training for the same price if you had wanted to. If you want to now, you still can.

It continues to puzzle me as to why more people don’t take advantage of this fact: Instructors such as myself do not charge those who host us for classes to take the class. So taking my case (which I do hope some of you will), whoever has a range (it doesn’t have to be an official range either—private land that has clearance and a backstop and a way to get targets set up there will work in a lot of cases) and who will arrange a date and time and help me gather enough students to make it affordable for me to go to that range and run a class will get the best I can give them by way of training for nothing but the time they expend setting the class up and maybe talking it up to others around them and on forums they frequent.

Here’s a rough outline of the process using me as an independent instructor and Suarez International as a training company as examples:

  1. Contact me or a particular SI instructor. If possible have one or more classes in mind that you want to see run at your range or indicate that you want to set up a private or customized class. Note: Private classes are not just for individuals. They can be for small groups. However, private or customized classes will cost more on a per-student basis than something from the established course list.
  2. Discuss with us what you want to do. We will let you know what might or will be required for the class or training you want to be done. (An obvious example: Classes on fighting in and around vehicles will need a vehicle or two to work in and out of for the class.) We can also let you know if a minimum number of students is needed for us to bring the training to you. (I would like to not have to worry about that—I think every travelling instructor would say the same—but that is not the way reality works. So don’t be surprised if or when we have to specify a minimum attendance number for a given class.)
  3. Set up a place and time where the instructor can come in and run the class. You will want to schedule time at whatever range you want to have the class at. You will also want to verify that the range will allow the kind of class you want to host to be run there. (Example: Some range administrators will blanch in horror at the thought of movement. Others will have caliber or range restrictions or limit certain weapons to certain areas.) Note that some ranges will ask or demand a place in the class even if they don’t send anyone to fill it. Let the instructor know if they do. Most of us will accept that.
  4. Once the place is set and the time is agreed to, I put that on my calendar and the SI instructor will set up the class through SI HQ. Note that you will be asked to provide directions to the range and two or three places where students coming in from outside the area can stay overnight.
  5. Start talking it up. Even SI’s voice only reaches so far and mine is not as loud as theirs. Instructors will do what they can to get the word out—it’s in our best interests after all—but you have a voice too and you need to be using it. It will help all of us if you do.
  6. Assuming all goes well, show up, sign in, and start training.

That’s the process. That’s the way you do it. That’s the way I got and still get my own continuing education. That’s the way you can begin and continue to train at lower cost.

What could you do if you didn’t have to pay for every class you took in a year? How much more training could you get if you hosted one or two classes where you are? What kind of return might you get for just the amount of time it takes to set it up and a little effort to make sure it goes through well?

Think about it.

When you decide to do it, you know where to find me (and others).

Have training, will travel. So who’s up for a class?

I asked Erik Pakieser from QSI Training to provide his thoughts on being a traveling instructor, and things that a host should consider. Here’s a checklist, and some things he considers as an instructor before agreeing to a remote training session. – Shepherd

Logistical questions

  • Number of students and experience level
  • What is the cap for attendance in this class?
  • What is the minimum needed to make it worthwhile?
  • Will any students need loaner/rental equipment?
  • If so, who will provide it?
  • How will the students be vetted?
  • Time available for the course (including breaks)
  • Transportation for instructors to/from range, dinner, airport, etc.
  • Any issues with state gun laws we need to be concerned about

Range questions

  • Who owns the range
  • What are their insurance requirements?
  • Will the owner require their own RO to be present; if so, what will their role be?
  • How is access to the range controlled?
  • We will have exclusive use of the range facility during the class?
  • How many people can be on the line at a time?
  • What is the maximum/minimum range to shoot?
  • Can we use steel targets?
  • If so, are they provided?
  • Are there any limits on their use?
  • Are paper target frames provided?
  • Are paper targets provided?
  • Are barricades provided (if needed for the class)
  • Can we shoot at night?
  • If so, what is the latest we can shoot?
  • Can we control the lighting on the range?
  • Are there special limits or rules on the use of the range?
  • Drawing from holster
  • Movement with a firearm
  • Hot range


  • What is the minimum the instructor needs to make to have this be worthwhile?
  • What does the instructor need for a deposit? (usually 50% up front, non refundable)
  • When will final payment be due? (I would want it before we start the class)
  • Will students pay the sponsor (who will then pay me) or pay me directly?
  • Procedure for a student who demands a refund
  • Who is paying for:
    • Range rental fees
    • Targets, staplers, pasters, and other consumable items
    • Instructor transportation to the locale
    • Instructor transportation to and from the range (if not provided)
    • Instructor meals
    • Instructor lodging

About the Author:

CR Williams is the author of (so far) four non-fiction books: Three volumes of the ongoing "Gunfighting, and Other Thoughts about Doing Violence" series and "Facing the Active Shooter: Guidelines for the Armed Citizen Defender". He has also made entries into the fiction arena with recent releases of "Live Fire" and the first volume of the "An Even Break" series. He currently runs classes from either his home-base area in Central/South-Central Alabama or wherever anyone wants to host him for a class. An active and ongoing student of the fight in all its aspects, he continues to work toward his goal of making you the very best defender of life and loved ones that you can be.

2 Comments on "How to Get Free Training"

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  1. CR Williams says:

    Mr. Pakieser’s list may look more frightening to a first-time host than it really is. In point of fact I and other instructors I am familiar with include most if not all of these items in our planning and calculations for course fees. I, for example, deal with all the payment questions and a number of the range questions on my own and figure to handle my own logistics. If there is something specific I need to know, I will ask you. What I will not do is send you a list like this. Neither will SI unless they’ve changed their process from when I hosted them last year. Take the list as an advisement if you wish but don’t expect to have to fill it out like a test. Contact us and we’ll help you as much as we can. It’s in our interest as well as yours, after all.

  2. CR Williams says:

    Repeating this because it’s early in the year and it does take time to set courses up: You DON’T have to fill out some kind of checklist for most of us and you WON’T have to deal with all the details in Mr. Pakieser’s list. Instructors and schools that I am familiar with, including me, work this out ahead of time and include it in our calculations and then in the course fee we will quote you. Don’t let the list he provided make you anxious. We’ll help you with all of that. You don’t have to do it alone.

    If you want to take good training from some of the best instructors out there without leaving home or paying for it, hosting is the way to go. If you start now with contacts you could be on the range as soon as the middle of this year. What have you got to lose by asking?

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