How many firearms instructors does it take to change a light bulb? I’d reckon about 25.  One to change the bulb and a couple dozen more to stand around saying, “My technique would have worked better for that!”

Few of us in this field agree with each other on every single element. It’s easy to think, “I’ve got it down now, there’s nothing else I can learn,” but that dooms you to fossilization.

Two old friends whose knowledge and judgment I respect, Michael DeBethencourt and Mike Boyle, recommended I read “Beyond the Muzzle: the Firearms Instructor and Shooter Development Guide.” I’m glad they did.  The author, Greg Bettis, is a retired big city detective and a very seasoned defensive firearms instructor.  The tactics, techniques, and procedures he recommends in the book are state of the art, but as the 1911 Colt on the book jacket signals, he hasn’t lost his sense of history and “what works.”

The book lives up to not only its title, but its subtitle. There is gold in the book, and some 24-karat quality is found in his advice to instructors on approach and mindset. He advises, “The instructor must deliver to the heart of the matter and the heart of the hearer. Do not talk over the head of your audience by trying to use fancy phrases or firearms industry slang garnered from ‘tacticool’ publications. Be yourself. Speak to them as if talking one-on-one in the warmth and comfort of your living room.”  He makes points too many instructors miss, for example, “Pulling the trigger is the easy part once the decision is made. Teaching what happens before and after that decision point may be the toughest part of being an instructor.” Amen, Brother.

On the practical side, “Beyond the Muzzle” has lots of good tips on teaching important lessons on a low training budget. Bettis includes multiple suggested courses of fire which teach and test skills with a minimum expenditure of ammunition and range time.

He also has some novel approaches. Speaking of trigger control, Bettis writes, “You can press, even jerk the trigger (yes, I said jerking the trigger is fine) as hard as you want, as long as it moves straight to the rear with no sideways influence … Stand to the side of the shooter, open baton and insert small end into trigger guard and onto face of trigger. Have shooter grip and aim, saying ‘now’ when the sights are aligned to satisfaction…I hold the end of the baton with one hand while the other end rests on the trigger until I hear the command. I then use the fist of my other hand to strike/hammer the baton rearward firing the gun. This demonstrates that jerking/slapping/jamming the trigger will result in a hit on target if the trigger moves straight rearward with no sideways pressure.”

I need to try that. “Beyond the Muzzle” is a definitely worthwhile read, especially for those who teach. And remember, you don’t need a business card or certificate that says “instructor” on it: if you ever teach anyone you care about how to shoot, you are already an instructor, and have a responsibility to live up to. You can order “Beyond the Muzzle” on Kindle or Hardcover.


  1. To me, it appears that Jeff Cooper, and others, have brought the art of self-defensive firearms from a barely adequate level to a very high state of near perfection. Instructors seem to all agree on the basics, but slight differences occur as we fine-tune our nuanced techniques. This is perfectly normal, and we need to remember that perfection does not exist in this world. Allowances can be made for slight differences in technique, depending on personal taste, and different scenarios.

    It is difficult to always have rock solid rules for every situation. I remember someone on this blog commenting about shooting pistols during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005. He had practiced letting the empty magazine drop to the ground during reloads. Well, as he stood in the polluted water of flooded New Orleans, and shot at looters, he did as he had trained. Those magazines were lost in the moving water. And, he did not want to reach around in that polluted water trying to find the magazines. All sorts of harmful substances could be in that water, like chemicals, gasoline, and sharp, moving objects carried along by the current. He had encountered something unexpected, and his practiced technique was maybe not right for the new situation.

    Normally, if we entered a garage where cars are repaired, and saw a large man pressing a screaming woman against the wall, we would assume he was the aggressor and she was the victim. John Farnam once encountered such a situation during a training scenario. But, appearances were deceptive. Turns out, the woman had entered the garage with a large knife, and threatened people with it. The large man had disarmed her, the knife was on the floor, and he was restraining her from doing any harm, until the police arrived.

    The point is, we can train, but life may throw us a curve ball, so, that requires a different response from the one we have practiced over and over. Flexibility is required.

  2. ” One to change the bulb and a couple dozen more to stand around saying, “My technique would have worked better for that!””

    I laughed out loud. Sorry, I think. 8>)

  3. Mas:
    Want to share a tip about those metal clips you mentioned letting guns and/or holsters fall. Dropped my snubby thru my summer shorts in front of a crowd once. No harm done, lots of shick though.

    Cured it from happening again. Clear DAP under the clip. Couple days to cure and it won’t ever happen again. Try it, you will like it, cheap too.

  4. This is part of why it would make sense to take training from very different sources. Yes, some folks present a VERY comprehsheive programme of insruction, but NO ONE does it all perfectly. Any chance I get to listen to watch, take instruction from, “someone else” I will take advantage if possible. Reading a lot and watching some of the fine (along with some of the not-so-fine) instruction that is availble out there is a good thing. Reading a lot of different folks is also great.

  5. Thanks for the suggestion Mas, I ordered a copy to read. You are right on the money when you said that you can always learn more about instruction. I’m currently reading your 2nd Edition of Deadly Force and it is a well written and insightful guide for everyone who is interested in self defense and teaching new shooters. Kudos to you sir, for sharing your knowledge, expertise, and experience.

  6. Took your recommendation on this one and added “Shooter’s Guide … J-Frame” and the “Dynamic Training…” book set.
    Now if I can just put all their knowledge into application.

  7. This is off-topic but I cannot resist making this point:

    We all know that the media here in the U.S. is terrible. They feed us their preferred narratives-du-jour but will conspire and collude to suppress any news that runs counter-narrative. Look how they suppressed the news about Hunter Biden’s laptop. Look how they suppressed the video footage pertaining to the true events of January 6th.

    Here is an example of a current suppression effort. Check out this news report from the Sun in the UK:

    Now, got to any of the big U.S. media sites. The New York Times, the Washington Post, etc. and click on their World News Page. How much coverage of this story do you see?

    The amount that I saw was 0.0%.

    Truly, the American people are getting “The Mushroom Treatment”.

    Question: How do you grow mushrooms?

    Answer: You keep them in the dark and feed them bull$h!t. 🙂

    • @ nicholas kane – “…lots of articles…”

      If I am not mistaken, you are located in the UK. Perhaps, in the UK internet versions of the NY Times and Washington Post, there are “lots of articles”. However, that does not seem to be the case for the internet pages shown here in America.

      When I go to the American version of the NY Times web site, and look under the “World” headline, I still see 0.0 stories on this subject. I visited the Washington Post site again. Nothing on the front pages but when I drilled down to the World – European News sub-page, I finally found a single story that covered the protests.

      The article that originally linked to was in the Sun in the UK. So, the manipulation seems to be selective. I suppose that there is not much point in suppressing this story in the UK. You “chaps” are right next door to France and can hardly miss this news. On the other side of “The Pond”, however, reports on these protests are clearly being minimized.

      Interesting! Apparently, the so-called mainstream media manipulates their narratives by nationality and/or location. No doubt, specific “narratives” are being crafted to suit each theater of operation. Truly, propaganda efforts are very advanced in today’s World. our modern media propagandists make those of earlier times (say the efforts of Pravda in the USSR or Joseph Goebbels, in Hitler’s Germany, look downright amateurish.

  8. With regards to the republican attempt to repeat Comeys stunt of pretending they’d discovered something on someones laptop. Guess what? Trump was president for 2 months after this ‘revelation’ and never lifted a finger to prosecute anyone.
    The provenance was a who’s who of republican dirty tricks.
    The New York Posts reporters were so excited at becoming the new Woodword and Bernstein that none of them would put their name to the article.
    I’m frankly mystified at the republicans attempting this again. No one who wasn’t going to vote republican already, believed it in 2020. They won’t now.
    Think it’s the limelight hoggers, Green and co just grabbing it as an excuse to pose. As usual we will have the ‘investigation’ that consists of constant lies with no result. Where were the penalties for Benghazi or the e-mails?
    Hunter doesn’t even work for the government so congress can do nothing to him.
    You notice the dems aren’t making a big issue of denying it. ‘Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake’.

    • nicholas kane,

      Voting doesn’t matter anymore. Rudolph Giuliani believes the 2020 election was stolen, and I believe him. Yes, I trust his judgment.

      This morning, from 9:00am–9:10am, Eastern Time, Dan Bongino was on The FoxNews Channel. He said we already live in a Police State. To prove it, he pointed to the political arrests and imprisonments which Democrats do to Republicans. He noted the January 6th demonstrators/rioters being kept in jail without trials for more than a year, the Mar-a-Lago raid, and Dan said Donald Trump will be arrested this Tuesday the 21st. Dan Bongino has a show on The FoxNews Channel tonight at 9pm, Eastern Time. I assume he will repeat his claim that the USA is now a Police State.

      America, as we knew it, is over. Your side won.

      • Americans will never give up our Constitution. Losing is not in our agenda, either. Officials who foolishly behave like the KGB and the Gestapo are invariably finding their own Evil coming back at them in spades. The “Stormy Daniels” saga reminds me precisely of the vulnerable hero-judge Samson and the decidedly underhanded Delilah. Taking advantage of a Philistine-slayer hero through an anti-judge Delilah, like a certain DA is doing, is not exactly intelligent or just. To “Stormy’s” credit, she does apparently like horses, besides horsing around a lot. If she does have a face like a horse, as someone has apparently said publicly, it could just be the common tendency to look like some of her pets, which surely is not all bad. I never find myself looking any part of her for long, anyway. And it is too questionable to stare. Besides, I think horses are beautiful. My main objection to her is the inherent promotion of STDs, STIs, HPVs, HIVs, and other possible abbreviations that are historically associated with the history of prostitution and its derivatives, such as pornography and demeaning. How ironic that Delilahs who seem to have no shame themselves are quick to stoop to profit from the threat of shame to others! It is not Samson who should be removed from the blamed range, but Delilah.

    • I see that the mainstream media folks are not the only ones who can “craft a narrative” to feed to a gullible public. You made a real effort (above) to discredit the laptop at the center of the Hunter Biden scandal. Congratulations! This, despite the fact that it has long since been proven to be a real Hunter Biden laptop with real (and very damaging) information on it. Your attempt to paint the New York Post as “too ashamed” to even “put their name to the article” was skillful too. However, here is what the New York Post is actually saying:

      The proof you offer is no one has been held accountable. I submit that when the mainstream media, the Federal “Deep State”, and the U.S. Intelligent Services (FBI, CIA, NSA, etc.) all “collude” to suppress the information on the laptop (even to the point of drafting a letter declaring it to be their favorite boogieman “Russian Disinformation”), then no one will be held accountable because the entire corrupt system is leaping to shield the evil-doers.

      However, people will believe what they want to believe. The subconscious bias that controls left-wing and right-wing worldviews is so strong, in many people, that logic and reason are powerless to make any impression. I am not the only one to note that those, with a left-wing worldview, tend to construct a fantasy world, divorced from reality, in which to live. Here is one view to support it:

  9. TN_MAN wrote:
    ‘no one will be held accountable because the entire corrupt system is leaping to shield the evil-doers.’

    But the republicans had control of all three branches of government when Trump won. A majority in both houses of congress. A conservative majority on the supreme court and a republican president who appointed a republic attorney general and FBI head.
    And still no prosecutions.
    The republicans have a majority in the house of representatives and it is they who are carrying out the laptop enquiry.

    Try searching on the nyt and washington post on ‘macron’. The reason it isn’t getting tons of coverage is it’s not big news. ‘People start bonfire in street’, isn’t killing and injuring people. The Sun is owned by Murdoch, like Fox News is. So it is of course a pack of lies and exaggerations.

    • @ nicholas kane – “But the republicans had control of all three branches of government when Trump won.”

      This is true but you must take the sequence of events into account. The Republicans only controlled congress for a narrow, two-year window (from 2017 to 2018). During this period, the “Russian Hoax” operation, run by the Democrats, was in full swing. A lot of people, including a good number of RINO Republicans, did not know it was all a “lie made up out of whole cloth” at that time. Some thought that President Trump’s days were numbered and that the combined power of the “Deep State”, Democrats, and the “Attack-dog Media” would surely take him down. Fearful of their own position, many stood on the sidelines or, even, collaborated with the “Deep State”. Courage has never been a hallmark of the Republican Party. Especially, the RINO-Establishment wing of the Republican Party.

      By the time that the proof came out to establish that it was all a “tissue of lies”. By the time the evidence was in-place to act against the wrong-doers, the Democrats were already in power and planning their next stroke. This was, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic and the street riots (plus massive, widespread election cheating) that, ultimately, removed President Trump from office in the 2020 rigged election.

      So, the time sequence is wrong. By the time Republicans truly understood the Machiavellian machinations of the the Democrat Party, it was too late to take action. They were already out-of-power and the Left’s Biden-Puppet was installed along with both Houses of Congress being firmly in the hands of the Left.

      The Republicans only recently took back the House. However, given their history of spineless go-along-to-get-along actions, it remains to be seen if they have the courage to take any kind of meaningful action.

      The tyranny of the “Deep State”, the Globalists, the Intelligence Services, and the media propagandists is very powerful. One does not oppose this tyranny without extreme risk to ones own freedom, fortune, and career. Witness the fate of the January 6th Political prisoners. As I noted, courage has not been a hallmark of the Republican Party for more than a century now. Speaking for myself, I am not counting on the Republican Party to ride in on a White Horse and save America. That is not in their nature.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here