The firearms training industry has some incredible instructors—quality people that conduct quality courses. There is much to be learned from them. Unfortunately it also draws people with a variety of significant personality problems—especially those that make false claims of being former Special Forces, lie about their experience, and/or teach tacticool courses that are often unsafe and are entertainment, not training.
If you are looking to become an instructor or to take intermediate to advanced firearm training classes, the first thing you should understand is there is no organization that monitors claims by firearm instructors to determine if they are true—even the organizations that offer certifications. Sadly, the industry has numerous people that regularly lie about their experience. Equally as bad, the industry is filled with people teaching things that are just plain wrong, that they have no training/certification to teach, and/or that are entirely inappropriate for civilians.
The most common lie by firearms instructors about their background is Stolen Valor, claiming that they were in combat when in fact they never were. Instead, their military service, if any, was spent in a non-combat role. Other lies include giving false information about the quantity of classes/students taught and claiming to teach classes for law enforcement officers, federal agents, military personnel, and security officers.
So why do these charlatans make their false claims? Generally the same reason politicians do; you would be unlikely to hire (elect) them if you really knew the truth about them. They conjure their lies to deceive you into thinking they are something they are not. They count on the fact that VERY few people actually bother to research anything, despite how easy it is to do today. They also count on many of their lies being difficult to research.
Do Your Homework
If you were searching for information on an instructor whose class you were considering attending and saw the Google result above, would you still want to give them your money? Perhaps you mark it off as some kind of misunderstanding and keep looking. How about you then discover an arrest for larceny? Perhaps you mark that off too since it’s only an arrest, not a conviction. You see the instructor claim to teach law enforcement classes, but those classes are NEVER listed on their upcoming events. Further, nothing in the tiny bit the instructor tells you about themselves indicates any reason why law enforcement officers would need to, or even want to, take any training from them.
Maybe they claim to have been teaching firearms for the last decade. Here’s a trick for seeing how long their Facebook page has existed, check the creation date by clicking on “Info and Ads” on the left column.
You keep searching for information about the instructor, but you’ve reached the end of what can be found without spending a significant amount of time. Congratulations, you’ve unearthed another Ghost Instructor!
A Ghost Instructor is one that seems to have no past beyond what THEY tell you about themselves. They are the charlatans of the firearms instruction world. They’ll brag about what awesome instructors they are and maybe the classes they have taken. They are probably a pathological liar, telling so many lies that they aren’t certain of what the truth actually is. Their minimal online presence will be substantially about themselves and littered with pictures of them holding firearms. They are a legend in their own minds!
After one Ghost Instructor took a single class dealing with the use of force, they publicly proclaimed themselves as an expert in the use of force—the very definition of a charlatan…
By the way, don’t trust the number of likes an instructor has on Facebook or other social media. If you’re not aware, there is a thriving market for purchasing likes. Charlatan instructors will purchase a large number of likes to deceive potential students into thinking that they are well established. In one instance, an instructor purchased 5,000+ likes for their Facebook page in the first years they were in business. Over the next several years, their page only grew by a few hundred likes. Facebook has recently been terminating the fraudulent zombie accounts used by the sellers of the likes. This resulted in the charlatan instructor’s page losing around 500 likes—they purchased another 500 zombie likes to make up for the loss and to conceal their fraud…
If you’re looking for an instructor, move on from the Ghost Instructor—find one of the multitude of instructors that actually has a past that they don’t need to hide from you and is honest about themselves, their experience, and their capabilities!
When You Don’t Do Your Homework…
We regularly hear stories from people that unknowingly attend classes put on by Ghost Instructors. The reports include instructors spending a significant amount of class time talking about themselves (primarily embellishments or outright lies…), screaming at students for making minor mistakes, and unsafe drills on the range. Do your research—Caveat Emptor!