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Posted on April 2, 2019 by in Dave Spaulding

Dealing With “That Guy” And Thoughts On Celebrity Instructors With Dave Spaulding

Dealing with “That Guy” and Thoughts on Celebrity Instructors With Dave Spaulding

FTA co-founder Dave Spaulding has over 35 years of experience in law enforcement and federal security and received the 2010 Law Enforcement Trainer of the Year Award from the International Law Enforcement Training and Educations Association. His work history includes SWAT, narcotics, patrol, training, and investigations. Dave served as an adjunct instructor for the Tactical Defense Institute and Heckler & Koch International Training Division. A prolific writer, Spaulding has written over 1400 articles and two books (DEFENSIVE LIVING and HANDGUN COMBATIVES). Dave is a great guy and most willing to share valuable insights learned over the years with other firearms instructors. I took advantage of this fact to pose two questions to Dave:

  1. How should firearm instructors respond to that one person who thinks he knows more about the subject matter than the instructor does and frequently challenges the instructor, tries to provide teaching tips, or wants to let everybody know how he can do it better (commonly referred to as “That Guy”)?
  2. What is your opinion on certain “Celebrity Instructors” who lack any true real-world experience but are frequently seen on YouTube teaching techniques and tactics that may range from laughable to dangerous?

Dave immediately stated that dealing with “That Guy” is not as simple as it seems as “That Guy” can take different forms and may have different motivations. “That Guy” may constantly question because he needs to be convinced that the material presented is valid; “That Guy” may be an acolyte of another instructor who is there to convince others that everything that his instructor says should be taken as Gospel; and “That Guy” can just be a jerk who believes that his perspective is truly superior to the Instructor’s. It would benefit the instructor to correctly diagnose the cause and then deal with it accordingly.  

If “That Guy’s” motivation is simply that he wants to constantly be shown why something works, Dave moves that student to the end of the line by stating that he needs to move another student to “That Guy’s” current position so he can pay more attention to the needs of this other student, and “That Guy” does not need the amount of coaching that others require. Once “That Guy” is at the end of the line, he typically becomes relatively harmless.

A more challenging version of “That Guy” is the student who believes that his beloved instructor has the key to the universe.  It is not unusual for “That Guy” to be disruptive the entire class, and he must be more directly dealt with. Dave will often invite “That Guy” to perform one of the more challenging (but not impossible) drills in front of the class, which typically proves to “That Guy” that he is not the entity that he thinks he is.  Ideally, “That Guy” will be humbled and Dave now his full attention. This is a good time to explain that there may be different ways to attack a problem and suggest that the reason that many students take multiple classes is in order to pick up any pointers that might make them a better version of themselves.

Finally, there is “That Guy” who just wants to be heard, loves his own voice, and whose ego is such that he wants to take control of the class. “That Guy” needs to be shut down. If necessary, the instructor should explain the downside of any questionable technique or tactic in front of the entire class.  In most instances, the instructor who can perform on demand and show superior skill and technique to “That Guy” will shut him down. It is also important that the instructor demonstrates each skill and technique he or she is teaching for other reasons:

  1. It may increase the confidence level students have in the instructor and material presented.
  2. It is a critical part of adult learning (instructors should explain the action to be taken, then demonstrate that action, and then have the students perform the action in order to maximize learning).
  3. It is personally beneficial to the instructor as the pressure to perform demonstrations throughout the class may act as a welcome stress inoculator for the instructor.

I then requested Dave’s thoughts on “Celebrity Instructors”. It is now possible to become a celebrity quickly without having meaningful experience, and social media has exacerbated this problem. Some of the techniques and tactics being taught address Close-Quarters Combat (“CQB”) skills and tactics. Some “Celebrity Instructors” have never done any real CQB but are teaching some of the most dangerous aspects of combat. Dave stated that every level of acceleration dramatically increases the level of danger for these students. When bullets are flying both ways, everything changes and that he believes that someday someone is going to get injured or killed as a direct result of acting upon their prior training. Dave summed it up very well by describing this trend in the following words: “We are seeing the Ill-Informed being led by the Stupid”. Dave will not teach CQB classes despite his considerable experience clearing structures because in his words “in the Real World, things almost never go as planned”. Instructors without that same background teaching a regimented program based solely on shooting static targets that don’t move and don’t shoot back are likely doing their students a disservice. Everything changes when bullets are inbound. He said that most of these instructors’ posted bios clearly show a lack of prior training and real-world experience, and that many of these CQB classes are little more than fantasy training. My personal take on Dave’s comments regarding “Celebrity Instructors” is that the rest of us should take heed and stay in our lane when it comes to instructing. Serious instructors should refrain from teaching any topic they are not legitimately qualified to teach.

After interviewing Dave, my only regret is that I have yet to train under him; however, I have already enrolled in a Dave Spaulding class to be held later this year. I recommend that other instructors do the same. To view his course schedule click here.

Steve Moses


Steve is a long-time defensive weapons and instructor based out of Texas who has trained hundreds of men and women of all ages for more than two decades on how to better prepare to defend themselves and their loved ones. Steve has completed over 80 private-sector and law enforcement-only defensive weapons and tactics classes, and has trained civilian and law-enforcement officers in six states. Moses is a reserve deputy, former member of a multi-precinct Special Response Team, competitive shooter, and martial artist. Steve has written numerous articles for SWAT Magazine and other publications. Steve is a licensed Texas Level 4 Personal Security Officer and Instructor who was Shift Lead on a mega-church security detail for seven years, and has provided close protection for several former foreign Heads of State. He is currently an instructor at Relson Gracie Jiu Jitsu/Krav Maga in Tyler, Texas and Director of Training for Palisade Training Group (