Part One of this article contained some sage advice from FTA members and veteran trainers Warren Wilson, Dave Spaulding, Ed Monk, and Cecil Burch. Part Two continues with more wisdom derived from experienced trainers who “have been there and done that” when it comes to dealing with the rain during classes on multiple occasions.
Rob Beckman (www.americandefensetraining.us):
One of the biggest challenges as an instructor is safety and this becomes even more important during extreme weather conditions because it's during those times that people rush and forget the basic firearm safety rules. That being said you cannot choose the time or place when a violent attack may take place so training in these extreme weather conditions allows you to understand how your equipment will function and also the additional awareness that must take place in non-optimal conditions. Take for example training in the rain, you will get wet, whatever you are walking on will become more slippery, and your sights may or may not look the same as you are aligning them before the shot. An instructor should understand the conditions on the range and if they are too severe to delay the training until it passes.
If it's safe to be on the range, extra care should be taken to have a spot where students can dry off and keep their gear as dry as possible. Wet hands increase the chances that a firearm may slip or the water could cause a malfunction in the firearm or ammunition. When on the range we always encourage students to wear sturdy shoes and this is even more important during the rain because that extra support may help them prevent a twisted ankle or falling down. Reminding students of the basic firearm rule at the beginning of every range session is good but during a wet range session make sure you tell them what to do if a firearm slips out of their hands, a magazine falls, or they lose their footing during a drill. Saying those things can become monotonous but when safety is involved no one will even complain about being safe.
Brian Hill (thecompletecombatant.com):
Bad weather poses several challenges for instructors during class. I use the three C’s to help make decisions in advance and prevent possible problems during classes.
Weather interferes with being fully present during training and impairs the ability to process information and prioritize tasks. Safety violations become a real hazard, so I make sure not to overwhelm the students with directions and to be concise as I can be. I remind everyone that performance levels may drop along with focus and to prioritize trigger discipline and muzzle discipline.
Rain jackets are notorious for having tabs and strings hanging off them, making holstering the pistol dangerous. I make sure to run several not-so-dry practices to organize and ensure a safe process.
My range is in the mountains, where the mid-30’s and rain are typical. Hypothermia is a threat; therefore, I monitor for the signs that accompany low core temperatures. Cotton is a poor choice for outdoor activities and will drop body temperatures quickly. During the summer, rain jackets can trap heat during exertion, creating overheating. I give more breaks and move to shelter if available. If lightning is present, I suspend all shooting until it is safe to start again.
The teacher will have to adjust to the situation and follow a plan that helps them mitigate the risk while continuing the training process or canceling the class.
Kemit Grafton (email@example.com):
Firearms training in rainy weather presents some challenges for the instructors. First and foremost must be safety. In central Oklahoma, afternoon thunderstorms are a common occurrence. My main concern is lightening in the vicinity, if so, you should seek shelter and maybe wait the storm out. Many times the thunderstorm passes through and we can resume training. For the classes I teach, which are mostly basic handgun, we have a covered shooting line so it offers protections from the rain. However, the targets and range area are not covered.
Depending on your purpose for the course, targets can be a challenge in wet weather. If the purpose is a basic handgun orientation and scoring is not a big concern, then you can use 24-inch metal plates. We use these for our basic handgun orientation courses. These need to be set between 10-15 yards to prevent splash back, but close enough for the students to be able to see and hear the shots hitting. Plastic backers can work as well, but we find the audible from hitting steel gives better feedback. Paper or cardboard targets usually don’t stand up to wet weather. Covering them with clear plastic trash sacks help but are not an ideal solution. Again, safety should be a primary concern, if you cannot do this in a safe manner, then maybe you should postpone the training.
Steve Moses (www.ptgtrainingllc.com):
When it comes to teaching on ranges other than your home range, reconnaissance is your friend. Scout the range that you will be choosing well in advance and look for areas that will likely give you trouble during or even after a heavy rain as well as any close-by structures that might prove to be an asset. Check out the surface where students will be standing as well as the area immediately in front of the targets. Is it possible to move portable target stands to an area where students can shoot from cover? It is not uncommon in Texas and Oklahoma for the rain to blow sideways during fronts, which can make even shooting from under cover quite unpleasant.
Beginner classes are my biggest concerns as students are often not only inexperienced but in many instances anxious and quickly overwhelmed. Having on hand dry practice training aids like BarrelBloks, MagBloks, Dummy Rounds, and Type 3 Malfunction Rounds can allow the trainer to get much done inside of a dry classroom. Note: All four firearms safety rules are still in effect. Dry practice must be done facing an impenetrable wall and all ammunition (including that of the trainers) must be removed from the classroom.
This concludes this article on Dealing with Challenges in Rainy Weather. The amount of valuable knowledge that can be found within the membership of the Firearms Trainers Association is incredible, and this is hopefully the first of numerous articles covering some significant challenge when it comes to successfully conducting a firearms class. Have an idea for such an article? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if it might be a fit.
Steve Moses has been a defensive firearms trainer for over 27 years and is a licensed Texas Personal Protection Officer with 7 years of experience performing as shift lead on a church security detail for a D/FW area metro-church. Steve is a co-owner and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group, LLC based in Dallas, Texas. Moses is a retired deputy constable and spent over 10 years on a multi-precinct Special Response Team. He owns multiple instructor certifications, including Rangemaster Advanced Handgun Instructor and Defensive Shotgun Instructor, Red Zone Knife Defense Instructor and Adaptive Striking Foundations Instructor, Modern Samurai Project Red Dot Sight Instructor, and State of Texas Personal Protection Officer Instructor. Steve holds a BJJ Brown Belt in Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu. He is a content contributor for CCW Safe and writes weekly articles on various subjects of interest to concealed carriers. Moses shoots competitively and holds an IDPA Expert rating. Steve is an annual presenter at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference.