Modern Defensive Training Systems

MDTS Training

MDTS is a New York based firearms training and personal protection consulting company. We specialize in pistol, concealed carry, shotgun, carbine, defensive knife, less lethal, physical defense and threat awareness training courses. Mobile training courses are available in N.Y. and abroad. Contact us to host a training course at your range or location. Click logo below to see schedule of classes near you.

Study materials


A Higher Education

I was recently asked if I will do instructor certification classes and why I don’t; here’s my take and considerations for those interested in becoming an “instructor”.


The What Of It

What are you are instructing? If your goal is to teach gun safety and basic firearm marksmanship then that’s a pretty narrow lane requiring a limited time investment. However, if you want to provide personal defense training, that’s a broader area of expertise requiring depth and breadth of knowledge and skill in a number of subject. This requires a significant time investment. Being into guns and being able to shoot is great but have you invested the time and effort required to build that kind of knowledge and skill base?

Industry Standards

Doctors go to school for seven to eight years prior to practicing and usually more prior to teaching. College professors, six plus at the best institutions. In the gun and personal protection industry you can go to a two day certification and become an “instructor”. Some people attend one class, let me repeat that, one class and then convince themselves and sometimes others that they should start teaching.

In what other industry where life and death depend on the skills you’ve been taught can you get instructor credentials in one weekend?

Is teaching shooting and self defense that easy? What about what happens before guns come out, the law, body alarm reaction, anatomy, physiology, communication, post-shooting, empty hand solutions, grounded problems, tactics?


Teachers, Coaches and “The Instructor”

What about the ability to actually teach AND coach? Does having the ability to convey accurate information in an efficient manner to different learning types matter? Do things like command presence, how to monitor and manage safety on a range or on a mat matter? What about the ability to coach others to correct mindset and mechanical errors or, better still, enable them to coach and improve themselves. Is that something learned in a weekend or in one class? No.

As gun owners and especially those who are instructors we have a duty, a duty to be more educated.

The more knowledgeable and professional we are with firearms the better we will be at providing accurate info and skills to people who may really have to defend their lives with those skills and knowledge. I probably don’t need to point this out but gun ownership in America isn’t getting any easier, in fact, its being infringed upon every day. The better we represent this industry the more seriously we will be taken as a whole.

Consider this; someone may use what you teach them to protect themselves, good or bad, win or lose.

Is your level of expertise up to that after a weekend certification and a year of part time training? Oh, wait, a couple years of classes means you are good to go. No.


A Higher Education

The kind of education I’m talking about requires a significant financial, physical and time investment, it’s not a one and done endeavor. It requires an understanding of the history, skills, tactics, the how, what, where, why and when encompassing firearms and other personal protection disciplines. There’s more to it than just owning a few guns and being able to shoot. There’s more to it than just guns if you are truly concerned with personal defense.

If you’re in a hurry to get out there and show everyone what you know, maybe you don’t know as much as you think.

Hold yourself to a higher education standard and put the time in, go for that Masters Degree or PHD. Dedicate six to ten years of dedicated training, practice and education in. Then put a couple more years of study into how to teach others and how to coach before instructing. Better yet, consider apprenticing with an established instructor for five plus years (I did a 10 year apprenticeship with SouthNarc before he gave me an instructor cert). Like in academia you will be held to a 10-year-to-credible-opinion standard by other instructors who have put the time in.

An instructors FIRST job is to continually improve & educate themselves and that job never ends.



Consider your motivation. Do you care about people, their skills, safety and well being or do you care about their money or your social media status? Is it your ego that needs you to be an instructor? WHY do you want to teach? It’s an important question and one that should be considered, it will be considered by others. Hold yourself to a higher education standard because what you teach may mean life or death.

Final Considerations

We live in the digital download era where we can download an entire book, encyclopedia or dictionary to a handheld device. We as humans aren’t the handheld devices and computers we so covet. We are incapable of downloading information after seeing or reading it one time. “Seeing it” isn’t good enough. You have to know it and be able to do it and properly show others. Finally you have to be able to teach it and then coach students through sticking points and problems.

We’ve all heard the saying “the best way to learn something is to teach it”. While this may be applicable in some realms it certainly isn’t in the medical field and it shouldn’t be in the field of personal defense either. If I screw up teaching you how to design a spreadsheet on a computer it’s unlikely someone may die. The same cannot be said for personal defense.

If you follow my advice to becoming an instructor remember to treat every single student like your sister, brother, mother or father. Provide them with the best skills and knowledge available because you won’t be there for their gunfight or self defense incident.

Finally, remember, it’s not a “job”, it’s not a social media status, it’s an obligation.

4 Responses

  1. Gary says:

    I’m afraid I have difficulty completely agreeing with you. Perhaps it is just what you wrote about as the “criteria”. Above everything else, I believe an instructor–no matter what he/she is teaching–must be a good communicator. If you can’t get the message across then what good does your instruction do? To be a good communicator you also need to understand how people learn, how to make effective use of presentation media, etc. You also need to understand how to “read” your audience so you can tell if they are comprehending what your are saying.

    Next comes expertise in the material you are trying to communicate. But, that level of expertise must be appropriate to the level of material you are trying to present. Sure, you could be as smart as “Sheldon Cooper” but that does you no good if you are trying to teach basic chemistry to a group of high school freshman. You’ve got to present the material at a level that they can understand it. I’ve seen too many instructors that try to impress their audience/students with how smart they are and not with transferring the appropriate knowledge to the students.

    I am a firm believer in the building block approach to teaching. Start with the basic fundamentals and then build off of them. You don’t need a “PhD” to teach the fundamentals, but you will to teach advanced techniques. Therefore, I believe it is appropriate to have a hierarchy of instructors, with the majority teaching the fundamentals and a fewer number teaching the more advanced subjects. The challenge is getting students to recognize the need to continue their training beyond just the fundamentals.

  2. […] A HIGHER EDUCATION* | MDTS – MDTS Thoughts? googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1470422891214-2'); }); Michael Swisher Reply With Quote […]

  3. Michael G says:

    I found this article very interesting and well articulated. I’ve heard arguments that anyone can teach the fundamentals but they don’t understand that “advanced” techniques are simply the fundamentals mastered. I agree with your recommendation of apprenticeship and can attest to the fact that majority of high profile instructors out there went through some form of apprenticeship and many hours of higher education. Thank you for your insights.
    Michael Green
    Director of Training, Green-Ops

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