It’s one thing to buy a firearm, stow it in your bug-out bag or emergency kit and think you are prepared for the worst, but purchasing a firearm is just the first step. Taking a firearms training course is an excellent investment in building your skill set. Courses on handguns, shotguns and rifles are offered in everything from beginner to expert skill levels. Not only will these guys and gals teach you proper weapons manipulation, but they will also focus on safe gun-handling practices under stressful situations. Consider one of these 11 training facilities, and their highlighted courses, when you want to up your game.

See below for more information on the firearms trainers and courses:

1. Haley Strategic (haleystrategic.com)

Course: D3 Castle

This is a home-defense course tailored around protecting yourself or loved ones during a home invasion. The class includes home security analysis, defensive and offensive planning and deterrence, force-on-force exercises that test cognitive mental processing, target identification, weapons manipulation, communication and movement while under duress.

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Prerequisite: Basic weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 1,050 carbine, 300 handgun
  • Tuition: $900

Course: D5 Handgun

This handgun course approaches handgun manipulation fundamentals from the standpoint of human biomechanics, ergonomics and mental processing. It was developed for beginning as well as intermediate and advanced shooters.

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Prerequisite: Basic weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 1,500
  • Tuition: $800

2. Sig Sauer Academy (sigsaueracademy.com; 603-610-3400)

Course: Handgun Orientation (Handgun 101)

This comprehensive course provides hands-on training and the basic knowledge necessary to safely handle, load, fire and maintain most types of revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. Instruction includes both classroom and range time.

  • Duration: 1 day
  • Prerequisite: None
  • Estimated Round Count: 50
  • Tuition: $195 (includes loan of equipment and ammo)

Course:  Defensive Shotgun

This is an intensive course where students become familiar with proper shotgun manipulation in real-world defensive situations. Instruction includes an understanding of the limits of the shotgun’s range based on the type of ammunition used, malfunction clearance and live-fire drills.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Prerequisite: Basic weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 250
  • Tuition: $395 (includes loan of equipment)

3. LMS Defense (lmsdefense.com)

Course: Pistol 1

This class teaches weapon manipulation, marksmanship fundamentals, combat stress management, shooter movement and use of cover, fighting from unusual positions and concealed weapon tactics. It is a fast-paced, challenging course that will better enable students to use a handgun for 24/7 self-defense.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Prerequisite: Basic weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 600
  • Tuition: $400

Course:  Carbine Clinic

This is a low-stress but challenging course designed for new carbine owners, weekend shooters and those who want a refresher course. Students learn safety, basic carbine setup and deployment, rifle marksmanship fundamentals and core defensive carbine skills.

  • Duration: 1 day
  • Prerequisite:  Basic weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 300
  • Tuition: $200

4. Way of the Gun (wayofthegun.us)

Course: Performance Carbine & Pistol

This is an intensive course that will provide each student with plenty of tools to reach their shooting goals with both carbines and pistols. The subjects covered include in-depth carbine and pistol drills, concealed-carry techniques and low-light shooting.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Prerequisite: Advanced weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 600 carbine, 600 pistol
  • Tuition: $525

5. Chuck Taylor’s Small Arms Academy  (chucktayloramericansmallarmsacademy.com; 928-710-7099)

Course: 2-Day Defensive Handgun

This course deals with basic handgun skills like loading and unloading, weapon-check procedures, proper grip and stance, sight picture and alignment, trigger control and weapon presentation. Over the course of two days, it advances to speed and tactical reloading, malfunction clearance, stress management and target engagement tactics from point blank to 15 meters.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Prerequisite: None
  • Estimated Round Count: 300
  • Tuition: $279

Course: 2-Day Advanced Tactical Skills

This course builds on the 2-Day Defensive Handgun course and teaches close-
quarters self-defense skills, enhanced marksmanship, weapon retention and recovery techniques, force-on-force
scenarios as well as vehicular defense
and deployment.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Prerequisite: 4-Day Advanced Defensive Handgun
  • Estimated Round Count: 600
  • Tuition: $279

6. Gunsite Academy (gunsite.com; 928-636-4565)

Course: 150 Defensive Pistol

This is the course that introduces you to the “modern technique” of the handgun, and it includes instruction on basic safety and weapons-handling procedures, basic range procedures as well as marksmanship skills. It’s perfect for a beginner or as a refresher course for more advanced shooters.

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Prerequisite: None
  • Estimated Round Count: 800
  • Tuition: $1,125

Course: Active Shooter/Terrorist Response For Civilians

This in-depth course covers criminal versus terrorist attacks, the criminal/terrorist attack cycle and response options, single-shooter attacks as well as large-scale, multi-venue attacks. The advanced skills taught in this course include shooting on the move, precision shooting in a crowded environment, engaging moving targets and preventing mass casualties.

  • Duration: 5 days
  • Prerequisite: 250 Defensive Pistol
  • Estimated Round Count: 1,000
  • Tuition: $1,795

7. Alias Training & Security Services (aliastraining.com; 757-215-1959)

Course: Ken Hackathorn & Larry Vickers 1911 Operators

Vickers and Hackathorn team up to teach a course specific to the 1911 platform. Instruction ranges from the differences of shooting a 1911 versus other handguns, troubleshooting and recommended changes for each student’s 1911.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Prerequisite: Basic weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 800
  • Tuition: $625

Course: Pat McNamara & Mike Pannone Handgun TAPS/Covert Carry

The TAPS course applies to civilian self- and home-defense. It encourages a continuous thought process on behalf of the shooter and demands accountability for his or her actions. The Covert Carry program is designed to exercise and refine the skills necessary to access and effectively use a concealed handgun with a high level of speed and efficiency.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Prerequisite: Basic weapons-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 1,000
  • Tuition: $625

8. Stoic Ventures (stoicventures.com; 408-641-9448)

Course:  Multi-Gun Movement & Application

This course is designed for the shooter already proficient in shooting, but lacking in the practical applications of “shoot, move and communicate.” Students will be challenged to employ the firearm of their choice in several less-than-ideal training environments.

  • Duration: 1 day
  • Prerequisite: Basic weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 300
  • Tuition: $275

9. Rogers Shooting School (rogersshootingschool.com)

Course: Urban Rifle/Carbine

The program has two components, a short-range close-quarters phase and an intermediate-range (200 yards) phase. Half of the instruction is directed on the Rogers school’s short-distance range using M4 rifles chambered in 9mm. The remaining instruction is conducted on an intermediate range.

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Prerequisite: Advanced weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 1,600
  • Tuition: $800

10. Shootrite Firearms Academy (shootrite.org; 256-582-4777)

Course: Concealed Carry

This course is designed to teach gun safety and handling, combative marksmanship and responding to various deadly threats quickly and decisively. It focuses on shooter movement, combative mindset, environmental awareness and avoidance, all with an emphasis on concealed carry.

  • Duration: 14 hours
  • Prerequisite: NRA First Steps or equivalent
  • Estimated Round Count: 600
  • Tuition: $400

11. Massad Ayoob Group (massadayoobgroup.com)

Course  MAG 20/Live Fire

Culminating with a police-style qualification course, this course teaches the use of a handgun under extreme stress, drawing from concealment, two-handed stances, shooting from cover, one-handed stances with either hand as well as speed reloading with an emphasis on fast, accurate shot placement.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Prerequisite: Basic weapon-handling skills
  • Estimated Round Count: 500
  • Tuition: $400

This article was originally published in the SURVIVOR’S EDGE™ Spring 2016 issue. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.