Self defense gun training classes or instructors in my area

I finally received my custom-made holster for my EDC gun that I purchased many years ago. I was about to begin my journey for conceal carrying when I purchased that gun but didn’t mostly for personal/family-related reasons. I have been carrying my gun in that holster for the last few days but only at home and around the curtilage of my home. I will only carry outside of my home after taking one or more classes, and especially when I feel confident and that I’m efficiently or competently trained. Many years ago I took a CCW class that’s required after you apply for a CCW, but I took it before applying. I was quite naive and very hopeful back then, going the extra mile just to get a CCW. So I’m not looking for that kind of class. I’m looking for more intense and in-depth classes that will prepare me for the kind of situations that require it, not ones like the one I took that provide minimal training (because they’re mostly designed to fulfill the minimum CCW requirements in my county). I would like to obtain certificates for every class I take. I know one older man who trained with Jeff Cooper, and he taught classes man years ago. But I would like to have a certificate for every class I take for several reasons. Can anyone around the the Southern CA region recommend a school or a trainer located near Brea in Orange County? Orange County Indoor Shooting is the closest range to me. Since I’m a caregiver, I have limited time and I can’t travel too far. I don’t patronize Raahauge in Eastvale, so that place is on my no-go list. I appreciate any recommendations.


Dude just start carrying, and train mentally for now, get training materials and practice dry fire skills, and then go get actual training when you can afford it.

It’s EDC, keep it on you, it’ll save your life one day. You can never get enough training, and because of that there isn’t enough training on the basis you’re always behind the curve.

Get educated, train the best you can, get used to carrying so when you do take a instructor class you’re already prepared and have somewhat of a place to work in, because if you take an advanced class, and you’re still in the basics, you’ll probably be slowing yourself and the class down.

Start practicing now, get reps in and everything of the like now, so that way you’re taking the right direction, and when you get to a trainer, they’ll correct your training scars, and continue from there. This is a journey and a process.

The materials are out there, you have USCCA into the fray episodes, Gun Talk Media First Person Defender, USCCA Protector Academy, USCCA books, Warrior Poet Society Network as well as the ASTN YouTube channel with the series Stop The Threat.

Here’s the USCCA’s Editor of Conceal Carry magazine going through some training, as you can see even he’s not truly ready for it.


Thanks for your suggestions. I regularly watch some of the YouTube channels you mentioned. I came very close to shooting someone in self defense and that changed my life forever. That’s why I joined USCCA. I’ve been a member for 5 years and I’ve taken a few in-person classes in the past, not just pistol but rifle and shotgun as well. I admit that I feel rusty and need to resume practicing my skills or reacquiring many of them because it’s been a long time since I took any class. I view many YouTube gun channels and also pro-2A lawyer ones. I also read a lot about this subject. I’ve taken as many USCCA on-line training courses that my membership allows. But I live in a very restrictive, anti-gun county. That alone is reason for me to take as many in-person classes that I can. Massad Ayoob talks about the major advantages of taking in-person courses if and when you need to go to court to defend yourself. That’s why I want certificates or receipts that show proof. A jury will understand that I’ve taken steps to be a responsibly armed citizen. That’s especially relevant where I live. The more classes, the better. Certification is not just to benefit my skills but for my legal protection as well. I unfortunately live on the outskirts of this horrible county, so I need to be one step ahead of those who want to prevent me from defending myself. I don’t want to be that person who carries just because he can. I want to carry because I am responsible, confident and effective in knowing when and how to escalate and deescalate lethal or less than lethal force.

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You are spot on to want proper live in-person self defense handgun training. In the meantime, there are three books I very strongly recommend you read to guide you on physical skills, mental mindset, and legal knowledge:
Concealed Carry Class: The ABCs of Self-Defense Tools and Tactics by Tom Givens

Deadly Force: Understanding Your Right to Self-Defense, 2nd edition by Massad Ayoob

The Law of Self Defense Principles by Andrew Branca

The first two are reasonably priced from Amazon, the third is free for just shipping cost directly from the author’s site, as linked above. Be sure to get the 2022 2nd edition of Deadly Force.
I recommend all three books to every class I teach. I have had live classes with all three of these top notch instructors.
Studying these three books will put you light years ahead of folks who simply buy a gun and start carrying. You will also be very prepared fot your live classes no matter who teaches them.
As for finding instructors near you, I recommend mining both the USCCA and NRA sites.

You do not have to be a member of either organization to take their training.
Use those sites to find instructors, even if they do not list self-defense classes, and contact them directly to ask about their SD classes. Many make their bread and butter with handgun 101 and CCW classes, but are also qualified to teach the more advanced content you seek.

Good luck!


I appreciate your help. I will get some or all of those books. I can’t take anything for granted, especially when it comes to potential life and death situations. I notice how confident Massad Ayoob and others like him are because the fact that knowledge is power is indeed true. That is one of my goals. I am acquainted with an NRA member who trains and teaches gun classes, as well as attorney and co-owner Steven Lieberman of Artemis Defense Institute. But I’m looking for someone or a school that’s closer to my home. I want to eventually take simulation-based training classes like the one Artemis offers, but I think I’m not prepared for that yet.


@Ernest_G . I see you are on the proper route to be a good and responsible firearm owner and carrier.
Mental preparedness is as important as firearm training.

I also recommend those 3 books, mentioned by @Craig_AR . Those should be a mandatory books in every house. :index_pointing_at_the_viewer:
If you like reading and want to convince yourself to carry everyday, find and buy these two:

  • Lessons from Armed America
  • Lessons from Unarmed America

both written by Math Walters

Regarding classes - you are right - more is better. Especially at the beginning. Try different Instructors, different Companies / Organizations to find best two or three you will stick with. Start slow, with basics, safety is the priority. Once you feel really confident with live, loaded firearm between people, go with more advanced classes.

Create your routine - frequent basic classes (safety, draw stroke, simple drills for accuracy and speed), more advanced classes once per 2 / 3 months (dynamic shooting, shooting under stress, etc).
Definitely the great idea is to attend 2 or 3 days class organized by “big names” :slightly_smiling_face:
I have no clue what you can do in CA, but I personally prefer such classes out of State. This way I can focus on the class, think about my weaknesses and try to improve. No needs to be close to home and work. I like fresh thinking about the current events. No distraction.
After few years I have my own list for such classes - Haley Strategic, Sheepdog Response, Carry Trainer. You will find yours after few years.

Once you become greedy for training… make your routine more intense. You can combine basic classes with more advanced and attend those every week. This will keep you sharp.

If you like challenging yourself - become a USCCA or NRA (or both) Instructor. :love_you_gesture:

Good luck with your journey. :crossed_fingers:


Thank you for the valuable information. I will reread what you wrote. Because I’m a caregiver, I would have to arrange way ahead of time if I wanted or needed to leave my home for a day or more. This is one of the reasons why I put off training and conceal carrying for a long time. That’s also why I’m seeking a school or instructor as close to my home as possible.


In my experience, the certificates I got from the best classes I took are barely worth the paper they are printed on. They don’t do a damn thing for me.

The knowledge and experience does.

Just my opinion, but, if you are doing it for the certificates (and recognition of those certifications for anything at all official), you are probably going to miss out on most if not all of the best training

What have you completed so far?

Do you do any drills at the range, and if so, would you mind listing the drill(s), gun(s), scores and times you achieve?

Most people are best off starting with basic.

Advanced shooting is mostly mastering the basics.

I understand and agree with your reason for taking classes. My only reason for certificates and receipts are in case I need to go to court for whatever reason related to guns and self defense. Massad Ayoob discusses this in one of his video interviews. The gist of it is that they help to portray you as a responsibly armed citizen, especially in front of a jury that might be ignorant or not as favorable towards the second amendment. I live in one of the worst counties in S. CA, so I need every advantage I can get. It’s been so long since I took a class or even gone to the range. Major changes and challenges occurred during the last few years. I’m basically resuming where I last left off. I know the basics and have the notes from the CCW class I took 8 years ago. I wouldn’t want to take a class like that but maybe an intermediate one where more practice and less theory is emphasized. I do have a paper somewhere that has a list of scores and times for drills I did at a range, but they’re probably about 4 or 5 years old. I surprised myself when I performed the required Failure to Stop drill (one shot to the head, two to the chest center in close quarters) for my CCW class. The first attempt was not bad, but I did it perfectly the 2nd time. I had no training prior to this but I visited an indoor range a few times.


Speaking generally, not to you personally or directly…my general recommendation for someone with your experience would be to begin with a Basic or level 1 class.

IMO, if you show up to an intermediate class and you can’t react to the beep, move laterally, draw from concealment, and hit a 6-8" target at 10 yards multiple times all in a few seconds, while then performing a smooth reload without taking eyes off threat/target, you are going to hold the class up and get less out of it than you would a basics.

Anyone who hasn’t been training/going to classes with years, IMO, should restarted with a basic class.

And that’s a great opportunity to ask around instructors and other attendees for local training recommendations. :wink:


I agree 100%. Maybe I used the wrong word. I meant taking the next level class after the CCW one I took, which really isn’t training but instruction and familiarization with permit carry especially for new people. I saw a few beginner’s classes near me that USCCA sponsors, but they’re way too basic. I would be wasting my time in those kinds of classes. I’m not new to guns but I admit that I’ve lost a lot of skills because I haven’t practiced in years. Maybe private instruction is best because the instructor can assess me and teach/train me in the areas that I’m lacking.


I can’t recommend specific classes in SoCal. But I can strongly recommend taking a beginner level 2 or more day handgun self defense class.

The required classes for getting a CCW in many States often teach you very little if anything. But I took a 2 day entry level class with a quality instructor when I decided to get more serious about self defense and it led to a night and day difference in my skill and comfort level.


Thank you, that’s probably what I’m looking for…a level 2 class. If the required CCW class I took, which lasted for 2 or 3 days, was a level 1 class then the next one would probably be level 2. I imagine a private instructor is a lot more expensive but it would solve a lot of my problems. He or she could focus on specific weaknesses and strengthen the skills I already acquired.

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One instructor’s “level 2” class might be equivalent to another’s “level 1”. I think it more comes down to finding the right instructor and the right class format to fit your needs.

Good luck finding a good fit in your area!


Well, one recommendation I would make is to start dry fire training, draw, draw and fire. Learn self defense law for your state (which is California, so you need to get on that pronto. If you are waiting for everything to be perfect, you will never be ready. Do try the things you can do sans classes. YouTube and the USCCA, both have alot of firearms training you can take from the comfort of the home.


A level 1 or basics class is better than no class, in line with the above post about doing what you can and not waiting.

I took an advanced defense lvl 2 and because I was good she invited me to a multi shooter advanced class. There were only a cpl other shooters in the invite only group. I know we all have to start somewhere but one of the other shooters couldn’t shoot around a plastic blue barrel and hit it almost every time. Not blaming the instructor, at the same time though if its an invitation only type of class you would think the ppl attending would have better skills. Don’t know was $40 too much to pay?

For a true advanced class, depending on the instructor and the local market, one day should be from $100 to $400, so $40 is a deal.


I don’t think I’ve gone to an intermediate or advanced class yet that didn’t have a “that guy” who clearly didn’t belong, did not meet the requirements, and even if not a safety hazard, noticeably slowed the progress of the rest of the class because they signed up for something way over their head and needed help with basic stuff


It was more like an evening 6pm-9pm

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