Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Cliff of a stupid kind

Today I went to the pistol range with a few members of my church, all novice shooters who bought their guns and took pistol and/or CCW classes from the same gun shop owner/instructor, a guy named "Cliff".

None of these people has shot much before, and none of them have had training from anyone other than Cliff, so it's understandable that, Cliff being the sole fount of experience in their new-shooter lives, they put 100% absolute total faith in him.

As for me, it was a long day filled with offering suggestions to correct poor form or other mistakes that I observed, only to be told "well Cliff says..."


As a great example, most of them are now trying to "shoot between their heartbeats" because Cliff says that's what shooters are supposed to do. They also limp-wrist their pistols to the point of causing stovepipes (especially in one guy's new Ruger SR40) because "Cliff says that if you grip it too tight, you'll shake and won't be as accurate". And when I told one shooter who was attempting to use the Isoscelese stance to lock her elbows and push out with the dominant hand while pulling back with the support hand, all I got back was: "But Cliff says that I have to stay loose and relaxed."

Now I'm thinking that Cliff must be some sort of a biathalete who is experienced at trying to hit a golf-ball-sized target with a fifteen-pound match-grade .22 rifle or something, because none of the crap that he's taught these people is worth a damn when it comes to putting repetitive hits on a standard paper plate at 10 yards because not one of the four Cliff disciples could do it. (None of them had been taught how to clear jams or perform "immediate action drills" either.) Yet he signed three of them off for CCW permits and the other one is waiting to get into his class.

To Cliff's credit, he's got them all wearing eye protection (which they bought from him, of course) but other than that...I shake my head.

Oh--and they all now carry the same Hornady hollow-point "self-defense" ammo that Cliff sold them, and none of them had ever heard of much less seen a Hydrashock or Winchester Ranger T-Series bullet until I showed them some of my carry rounds.
"What did Cliff tell you about defensive ammo?" I asked them.
"Just use hollow-points," was all that they were told. Hollow-points that Cliff had for sale. Hollow-points that fit into magazines that must never, ever be dropped no matter how empty they are, because, per Cliff, dropping your magazines on the ground is some sort of heretical sin. Therefore, each of them was taught to carefully eject their empty magazines into their hand and put it gingerly in their pocket before touching another loaded magazine. Naturally they looked at me like I was some sort of Philistine as I casually ejected 1911 and Sig mags onto the ground all afternoon long.

"Aren't you worried about damaging them?" I was asked.

The short answer is that no, I was not. Empty magazines are designed to be dropped on the ground because in a gunfight--the reason for a handgun--an empty magazine is of no use to you whatsoever. But apparently Cliff teaches that if you drop all of your magazines, you will not be able to reload your pistol at some point. Yeah, like I'm going to shoot four or five mags empty in a gunfight then call a time out and go back to my car and reload them from spare boxes in the trunk before continuing the battle.

There were more "Cliff-isms" but I honestly can't recall them all. Sad to say, my friends have picked up an awful lot of bad habits and misinformation in a very short time, and it pains me because I like them and want them to survive but it's obvious that I was starting to irk them by contradicting so much of what Cliff said during our outing. I also kind of worry about all of the other people in this community that Cliff has taught or will teach, and it's a large number because he seems to have the advertising budget to get his name and his store/class address out there. (He's also apparently a Bail Bondsman "Fugitive Recovery Agent" as well.) One thing that I haven't seen on Cliff's ads though is a CV of any note. And based on what he's apparently teaching, this does not surprise me.

Shooting between the heartbeats? Seriously? I never heard of Jim Cirillo, Bart Skelton or Jelly Bryce doing such a thing. Maybe that's why none of them ever got as famous or lived as long as Cliff plans to.

Please, folks...if you're going to take instruction in how to handle a weapon with the goal being to save your life or that of your loved ones, please do your homework and choose a reputable instructor with documented experience and credentials. You get what you pay for in this world, and a $69.95 "all-inclusive" CCW class taught by a fat guy who dreams of being "Dog" Chapman someday is probably not the bargain that it appears to be.


  1. Yep, all kinds of critters out there teaching a CCW class - without any idea just what the heck that means. I'm glad you had the opportunity to share some of your experience with them.

    Shameless plug here - I created a "basic pistol course" from posts I have done. It shares alot of the basics with new and inexperienced shooters. Your friends may find value in it. Here's the link:

    I enjoyed your post about Murphy snagging a fry pan . . . . pretty ingenious critter you have there. I suspect he can't wait for New Year's Eve treats!

    Have a great New Year sir!


  2. That report makes me so mad! I'm not the best on the planet but instruction like that does a disservice to the students and the whole legal gun owner community.

    I run across it here too. It makes my blood boil. For people to spend 8 hours with me in CCW classes does NOT give them the ability to efficiently and decisively run a pistol for personal defense. As Jeff Cooper said.

    I still work on the art of running a handgun and long guns as well. I have shot stuff for over 40 years and still have much to learn.

  3. Sounds like you should start teaching a class.

  4. Yeesh, as an instructor like eiaftinfo and Keads, I'm appalled at the Cliffisms you've reported.

    Sorta like the instructor I've heard of around here that gives you a discount and shortens the class below the required time and content and doesn't use a lawyer or LEO for the legal portion - won't his students ever be surprised if they get into a defensive encounter and someone looks into their training backgrounds.

    Good for you for dragging them back from the edge of the cliff so to speak.

  5. The smart ones will figure it out. You've done your part. Just keep doin' it.

  6. Man....I'm not the brightest bulb on the tree, but even I know that dropping a mag isn't gonna hurt it (if it does, mental Posty-Note: don't buy that brand again) and when a Tango's sending heavy metals back up-range towards you, screw the frikkin empty, paw that loaded mag and get back in the fight! Wow.

  7. Some people pick up some strange teachings, goes to show you need to be careful who you learn from. You gave me some ideas for future blogs.

  8. Yet it is perfectly legal for these folks now for CCW. And there is nothing wrong with this? There is nothing more that a responsible gun owner should be doing about this situation?

  9. Perhaps this Cliff is the same guy as the Cliff on "Cheers"? Sounds like him. Check to see if he is a mailman during the day.

  10. Yee Gods... And sadly they DO exist and they DO run training... Hopefully at least a few actually listened to you!

  11. Yeah, I'm going to be counting my heartbeats with a bad guy coming toward me so I can fire at just the right time. Just like I'm only going to shoot him in the leg. Real world, Cliff. Real world.

  12. @ Katherine: Yes, I do have a problem with this sort of thing. That's why I strongly encourage anyone who carries to always get more training from reputable instructors. I try to take a new training class every year just to keep sharp and hopefully pick up a few new techniques, and I encourage others who go armed to do likewise. Most of the ones that I associate with do.