On a discussion forum there's a topic regarding persons under 21 needing a permission letter to attend a training class despite being a legal adult at the age of 18, Iowa code requires persons between the ages of 14 to 21 to have parent or guardian permission to handle a handgun for training which is why we have such a letter ( the Instructor/Letter in question was not us/ours), someone chimed in that Iowa code does not require a student to fire or even handle a firearm. This is true, however different classes and instructors have different requirements and viewpoints on this matter. The NRA Basic Pistol Class has a firing portion and this is viewed by many to be the bare minimum in available classes. While we do offer our own curriculum that includes live fire instruction it is not to be unfair, it is not to justify cost, it is not for chest thumping over how many rounds we have students fire at our classes. It is to provide two things: improving the students ability to handle their firearm and show them what they can and can't do with their current skill set.
I recently attended training at the Tactical Defense Institute where I took their Pistol II & III classes. About half way though Pistol III you go through a Live Fire House (LFH) which contains a number of targets, apparently targets such as THIS are common throughout the LFHs. I was presented with this target and was able to place a shot just above the right eye socket of the "bad guy" holding my "wife" as a hostage. The student after me placed his first shot dead center into his "wife" and then placed a shot on the hostage taker. In one of the other LFHs, five out of eight students shot the hostage, two did not take a shot citing that they were not confident in their ability to take the shot.
I do not expect a newly armed person taking the classes that we offer to make this kind of shot under stress. I do not expect to create such a person in one day of training. The students at TDI last weekend had three days of top tier instruction and a good portion either shot the hostage or did not take a shot. There is nothing wrong with not being confident in taking such a shot if one knows that they do not possess the skill set required to make that shot after just clearing a house and the added pressure of having an instructor and sometimes another student behind them watching their actions.
If one has never fired their gun before, what do they know about their skill set? What kind of faith do they have in their abilities? Have they even fired the gun they are now pointing at someone with their loved ones directly in harm's way?
When students leave our classes with a certificate of completion, we are enabling them to be armed should they meet a deadly force encounter. I don't like to quote movies, however "A man's got to know his limitations" If our students are not aware of their limitations they may make an ill fated decision in a time of stress. I want my students to know what they can or can not accomplish with a firearm.
It's not about being top shooter, it's not about bragging rights, it's not about a free hat to whoever has the best shot group, it's about instilling knowledge in one's abilities and producing a student that will be confident in his/her abilities to put shots on target or to know that they should not fire given certain circumstances.