NACCI Instructor Development Course with Gary Quesenberry

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This article is a post class review of the 2017 Instructor Development Course taught by Gary Quesenberry for the National Association of Concealed Carry Instructors (NACCI).

Never trust an instructor that claims they know enough.  If they say they do not need to continue to learn themselves, run away.  An instructor should openly demonstrate or publish their on-going education or development.  If they aren’t doing so, it seems like a good indicator they have stopped their own learning process.

This is why you will see our outfit here at Practical Defensive Training, LLC publish our training histories on our instructor page (click here).  We want our students to know how serious we take our own education.  This enables us to bring high-quality knowledge and skills back to you students.

NACCI Sponsored Instructor Development Class with Gary Quesenberry

The NACCI is dedicated to improving the quality of concealed carry training.  It was founded in Kentucky and is now expanding to include other states.

Full disclosure… as of writing this article, I have served as its president of this organization in 2016 and 2017.

One of NACCI’s main focus areas is developing instructors skills. Holding special training events with outside experts helps us in this endeavor.  Our 2017 special training event was lead by Gary Quesenberry.

Who is Gary Quesenberry?

Gary Quesenberry is recognized in the civilian world mostly  as a competitor on the History Channel’s show “Top Shot”.  He appeared on season 3 of the show as well as the “Top Shot: ALL-STARS” season and was a fan favorite.  The pro-gun community was extremely disappointed in History Channel’s discontinuation of this show.  It was fantastic.  Thankfully, you can still purchase the series on iTunes.

Here is the background most people do not know.  Gary has over 20 years of Law Enforcement and Military experience.  He specialized in both foreign and domestic Counter Terrorism training.  He is an Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm.  Gary has developed basic and advanced tactical pistol concealment training courses and was a lead firearms instructor with the Department of Homeland Security.

Gary is also the owner of the Q-Series holster company.

Key Instructor Development Concepts

Some of the key concepts taught are listed below.  Each of these lessons is based off of best practices in the firearms instruction industry.  Hopefully, they are as useful to you as I found them to be.


Gary introduced a primary tool used in adult learning, with the EDIP tool/acronym.  EDIP is an acronym for the terms “Explain, Demonstrate, Imitate and Practice”.  When utilized by the instructor, the formula is effective at conveying the full message of a particular skill, concept or drill to the student.

First, as the instructor, you explain the goals, steps/parts and witchiest of the drill or concept.  Next, you demonstrate the drill or concept.  This is a watch out moment for the instructor, as you must be able to proficiently perform the skill you are teaching.  Next the student imitates what the instructor demonstrated.  Finally, the student is to practice the concept/drill several times in order to internalize and gain understanding.

One quote from Gary that hit home was, “There is a difference in knowing how to, and teaching how to”.  Within the EDIP tool, there is a fundamental assumption.  The instructor/teacher must not only know how to perform a task, they must be able to relay the information in a manner the student can understand.

I know some fantastic shooters who are naturally gifted… a select few have the ability to articulate the motions and manipulations they do in to a coherent message to a student.  The teacher/instructor must be able to bridge the gap between ability and articulation.  This also sets a standard that a firearms instructor must be careful not to teach beyond their ability.

Fundamentally Sound Priorities of Shooting

Specific to firearms instruction was the communication of the Fundamentally Sound Priorities.  As Gary stated, “Sight Management and Trigger Control are the fundamental priorities, Everything Else is secondary and helps enable the priorities”.

We all have discussed the fundamentals of shooting.  Grip, stance, sight picture and trigger press are taught in every shooting curriculum I have ever seen.  However, in a situation where there may be a defensive gun use, you may not have the best chance for a proper stance or proper grip.   Gary’s straightforward remark of, “when your in a gunfight, the grip you got is the grip you get” perfectly sums up the notion.  A clean trigger press while maintaining a proper sight picture will allow you to hit accurately on your target, which makes them the fundamentally sound priorities.  Everything else is secondary and only helps to enable those priorities.


“Action is faster than reaction, and unanticipated action is faster than both”. – Gary Quesenberry

A story was told to our instructor class.  A Philadelphia police officer was dispatched to handle a domestic dispute after a family member called 911.  As the officer approached the address, he walked around a panel truck and was met with three armed individuals. Two of those individuals already had their guns in hand pointed at the officer.  It was an ambush.  The 911 call was fake, and only meant to lure a police officer into an execution.

Because he was outnumbered and outgunned, the officer submitted to the orders of the thugs.  He placed his hand on his head, got down on his knees and was summarily executed as one of the thugs fired a round into the back of the officers head.

It is a vivid image which created a sickening feeling of anger, disgust and a desire for retribution in every one of us present.

Then the story continues… the ending Gary just told us, was false…

In the real ending, the officer seeing that he was outnumbered and outgunned.  Knowing the murderous intent of the criminals in front of him, he does the unexpected.  The officer does not give up.  His will to prevail over his attackers, his desire to win, his desire to go home in one peace to his family drives him to do the unexpected.  He quickly draws his handgun and puts two rounds in quick succession into each of the two gang-bangers who were already pointing guns at him as the final thug fled.

The bad guys did not anticipate the decisive action of the officer and were not prepared for him to fight back.  The moral of the story is… do not accept your death as an acceptable outcome if the day arises that you are in a gunfight.  Have a mindset to prevail over your aggressor and win.

Kiss – Kick – Kiss

Positive reinforcement is a great tool to motivate students, but you also have to give proper constructive criticism to your students in order to get them to perform at their maximum potential.  The Kiss-Kick-Kiss principle is a tool to do just that, while also providing levity and building up a student’s confidence.

First, you “kiss” the student.  You give them praise.  Point out some of the positive actions/improvements the student is making.

Then comes the “kick”.  You have to point out the areas which need improvement.  This needs to be done in a factual and non-demeaning manor.  If you don’t point out these areas for improvement, you are doing a disservice to your students.

You don’t want to end things on a low note though.  This is where the final “kiss” comes back into play.  You always want to end on a high note.  Point out more positive actions where your student is performing well.  Tell them they did a good job, or they made a great effort.  Make sure they have confidence to move on to the next task and make them feel good coming back to your next class if you are offering other training opportunities.

Culmination Exercises

At the end of a class or block of instruction it is often useful to have a way to tie all of the new skills the student has learned together in a cohesive manner.  A drill or exercise that encompasses the entirety of the skills in a class or block of instruction is referred to as a culmination exercise.

As part of our instructor development course, we had our own culmination exercise.  This required each instructor to develop a drill as a block of instruction. Gary assembled those blocks to build our own handgun skills course as a team.  Instructors, subsequently, taught our fully assembled course. Each individual was responsible for teaching their block to the rest of our class.

We covered everything from dry-fire and slow/precision shooting to emergency reloads, balance of speed and accuracy and managing cover and concealment. At the end, we slowed things down.  Instructors shot one last slow fire drill as a confidence booster to end the course.

Final Analysis

Gary Quesenberry is a fantastic instructor.  Between teaching new drills to our instructors and delivering important instructor development concepts, he shared entertaining stories and moments of comradery.  The enthusiasm he has for teaching and shooting is infectious.

There is a tremendous amount of information Gary covered, beyond what is written above; identifying shooter deficiencies, demonstrating concepts like “Front-Sight-Confidence” and the ability to make solid hits on target without perfect sight alignment and useful drills like his “reset-prep” drill.

One of the final drills we ran incorporated stress of time and increased heart rate; while managing cover, movement and a mix of quick fire and precision fire (not an easy task).  The addition of a 160 pound bag we had to drag the first 20 yards before shooting resulted in significantly increased heart rates.  While this was only a simulation of stress compared to an actual defensive incident, it certainly helped to provide some perspective on performance under stress.  See the video below to watch Gary run this course of fire.

Certainly there are more skills Gary has to teach.  I definitely believe it to be worthwhile to attend any other courses he has to offer.  While this class focused primarily on helping to improve instructor abilities, I would attend a class he teaches on shooting skills for my own edification.

If you ever have the opportunity to train with him, Gary Quesenberry will not disappoint.

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