Just the Basics

Starting with the basics

You know it’s funny everytime we learn something new that we sometimes develop this desire to get right to the “fun stuff” subsequently moving past all the “meat and potatoes”. Firearms is no exception to this theory, nor should it be. It’s important to find a firearms instructor that recognizes this and encourages it by ensuring students understand and demonstrate the foundational firearm skills to begin with.

Safe Handling of a firearm

The four rules of firearm safety are really the core foundational elements when handling a firearm. To me, they’re so important that I picture them written on a stone tablet like the 10 commandments.

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded. …
  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. …
  • Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it. …
  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot.

Even with magazine out and no round in chamber, a firearm must always be considered as “loaded” and handled consequently.

One of the most common mistakes is that the user incorrectly unloads a firearm out of sequence. Instead of the user removing the bulk of the ammo by removing the magazine first, they instead “rack” the slide, ejecting the round from the chamber while inserting a brand new round into the chamber because the magazine hadn’t been removed first. Don’t be this person! There’s a reason why I call them “no takebacks”, because once you pull that trigger, there’s no taking it back. 

Practice, Practice, Practice

It’s your responsibility entirely to know how to be safe and efficient with your firearm. If you don’t feel comfortable practicing by yourself, use whatever resources available to equip yourself with the knowledge to be able to practice on your own. Yes, you’re hearing that correctly! You don’t need to hire a firearms instructor every single time you want to learn your firearm. In fact, foundational skills like stance, grip, holster draw, and sight alignment all can be done safely at your home once the ammunition has been separated and the firearm has been cleared and double checked. 

Efficient and Effective 

If you have to “re-learn” your firearm everytime you remove it from the safe, you haven’t spent nearly enough time “learning” it in the first place. How effective do you actually expect to be if you had to use it? In a life or death situation, your fight or flight response kicks in and your fine motor skills become severely diminished, do you honestly think you’d become efficient and effective? I don’t know where this fallacy is derived from, but a lot of firearms owners really think that they will just somehow know how to effectively handle their firearm when the time comes.

Start with the basics…

Instructor Derek is self-defense instructor located near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin just south of the Illinois border. You can learn more about Instructor Derek by visiting his website www.instructorderek.com

Hands on CQB

Going “hands on” in Close Quarter Combat environment CQB is reality you should prepare for.

When closing the distance to defend an assault becomes the better option, it’s important to know how to control your adversary. This is why it’s crucial to diversify your self-defense “tool belt”.

As a Jiu-jitsu instructor at Devine Jiu-Jitsu Lake Geneva, its natural for Instructor Derek to incorporate these techniques in his firearms training.

Here’s an example of a student performing a wrist lock takedown from the standing position.

Please keep in mind these techniques can be dangerous even in a matted dojo, so use caution and learn from an experienced instructor before attempting to perform a technique.

Here’s a video by BJJ Fanatics with Márcio “Macarrão” Stambowski demonstrating some wrist lock techniques.

The Most Deadly Jiu Jitsu Wrist Locks For The Street (Self Defense) by Márcio “Macarrão” Stambowsky

It comes down to maintaining a balanced skill set practiced often enough to become reactionary through your muscle memory.

Here’s some more images of Instructor Derek going over certain aspects of clearing a residential structure.

Do not attempt these techniques on your own. Having genuine guidance and supervision to ensure the safety of all participants is the most important factor and should be done with the help of experienced instructors.

Instructor Derek is self-defense instructor located near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin just south of the Illinois border. You can learn more about Instructor Derek by visiting his website www.instructorderek.com

AR15| Ambidextrous Safety Worth it?

Instructor Derek | Ambi Safety Worth it?

When it comes to the ambidextrous safety, the question is if the upgrade is actually worth it. Are there significant advantages for adding this feature to your stock AR15?

Let’s hear what Instructor Derek thinks about the using a ambidextrous safety on a AR15.

Check out Instructorderek.com for more firearms and self-defense information.

Instructor Derek | Ambi Safety Worth it?

Basic Carbine Course (Level 2)

Carbine Course 2

Basic Carbine Level 2 builds on the fundamentals of defensive shooting presented in Basic Carbine Level 1. After a brief review of key topics taught in Level 1, the Basic Carbine Level 2 course adds additional ready/shooting positions while introducing new techniques, including use of cover, shooting on the move, pivots and turns, and delivering effective shot placement. The class finishes with a live-fire performance test.

Basic Carbine Level 2 is taught at our Private Range. This 6-hour course is designed to enhance a shooter’s ability to deploy a carbine under varying conditions while maintaining a focus on using the carbine as a personal protection firearm. After finishing Carbine Level 2, students will have a deeper understanding of how mindset can maximize the carbine’s advantage, and better prepare you for our more challenging carbine courses.

All Instructor Derek courses are built on the core concept of reality-based training using high stress scenarios and other stress inoculating methods to achieve performance as close to fight or flight body response as possible.


  • Reacting to high stress incidents
  • Engaging threats while on the move
  • Engaging threats from turns and pivots
  • Malfunction clearing and efficient reloading
  • Use of cover
  • Shooting until the threat is stopped
  • Balancing speed and accuracy
  • Dealing with the police and other legally armed citizens


  • Eye and ear protection
  • Carbine (AR-15, M-4, or AK) with sling
  • Minimum of 3 magazines and a magazine pouches
  • 150-300 rounds of quality ammunition
  • Weather-appropriate clothing


Students must be at least 18 years old, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. The student or parent/legal guardian signing the waiver must have a valid government issued I.D. *Must have successfully completed Basic Carbine Level 1 or receive instructor permission through assessment.


Students who cancel or reschedule a minimum of 72 hours prior to the start of a class will receive a full refund. No refunds within 72 hours of course commencement.

Interested in registering? Please check our eventbrite to see if there is a class scheduled or complete the inquiry form on the firearms course page.

Basic Carbine Course (Level 1)

Beginner Carbine Course 1

Beginners welcome – no experience necessary for this class.

Carbine level 1 begins the foundational skills to familiarize yourself with a rifle and its actions. Carbine Course 1 is the first in Instructor Derek’s series of semi-automatic rifle courses geared toward personal protection. Carbine Level 1 is a basic course that is appropriate for individuals that have no carbine experience as well as for those who have some carbine handling experience but are interested refining their skills and becoming more proficient with the AR-type platform.

This 6-hour course is available in a 1-Day Session at Instructor Derek’s outdoor private range.

Participants will review gun safety and discuss equipment considerations, ammunition, and accessory setup for AR-15 rifles.  From there, students receive an in-depth lesson on the fundamentals of rifle marksmanship, which includes an instructor demonstration followed by student dry-fire practice.

For the remainder of the training, participants head to the range for a variety of tactical shooting drills designed to improve their rifle marksmanship and to help develop a warrior mindset. These drills will also develop the confidence needed to successfully use a rifle for self-defense.

At the end of the course, participants will complete a validation shoot to measure their ability to apply fundamentals of marksmanship. The validation shoot also serves to identify areas of strength as well as areas that the shooter needs to improve on before progressing to additional levels of training.

All Instructor Derek courses are built on the core concept of reality-based training using high stress scenarios and other stress inoculating methods to achieve performance as close to fight or flight body response as possible.


Eye and ear protection

Carbine (AR-15, M-4, or AK) with sling

Minimum of 2 magazines with pouches

150 rounds of quality ammunition

Weather-appropriate clothing


Students must be at least 18 years old, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. The student or parent/legal guardian signing the waiver must have a valid government issued I.D. 


Students who cancel or reschedule a minimum of 72 hours prior to the start of a class will receive a full refund. No refunds within 72 hours of course commencement.

Interested in registering? Please check our eventbrite (here) to see if there is a class scheduled or complete the inquiry form on the firearms course page.

Eddie Eagle & Firearm Safety for Children


The Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program is a gun accident prevention program that for over 30 years has helped keep kids safe. The program was developed by a task force made up of educators, school administrators, curriculum specialists, urban housing safety officials, clinical psychologists, law enforcement officials and National Rifle Association firearm safety experts. It began in 1988 with one mission: teach children four simple, easy to remember steps so they know what to do if they ever come across a gun. In 2015 the NRA introduced a fresh, new Eddie and added some friends—his Wing Team. Though Eddie has evolved, his mission has not. Now celebrating its 30th anniversary, Eddie and his friends are still focused on telling children that if they see a gun, they need to Stop! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell a grown-up.

You talk about stranger danger, Internet safety, fire drills and more with children…so why not include gun safety? The program makes no value judgments about firearms, no firearms are ever used, and it covers an important topic that needs to be addressed with kids. Like swimming pools, electrical outlets and matchbooks, firearms are simply treated as a part of everyday life. With firearms found in about half of all American households, it’s a stance that makes sense.

A special kid-friendly webpage, called The Eddie Eagle Tree House is also available. This experience allows children to discover Eddie’s video and lesson individually, or it provides an interactive element for groups and families to talk through together. Visit www.eddieeagle.com to learn more.

Neither Eddie nor any members of his Wing Team are ever shown touching a firearm, and there is no promotion of firearm ownership or use. The NRA does not make any sort of profit off the program, nor does it intend to. The goal of the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program is to help prevent accidents and keep children safe.

Meet Dr. Lisa Monroe

Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program instructor guides were created by early childhood curriculum specialist Dr. Lisa Monroe of the University of Oklahoma. Dr. Monroe’s accolades and accomplishments span for more than two decades, including multiple published works, presentations and grant projects. After a thorough review, she stands behind the Eddie Eagle GunSafe® program as something that should be taught in schools. Dr. Monroe shares her thoughts on Eddie Eagle and the accompanying instructor guides she created in three testimonial videos: 

About the Curriculum

Dr. Lisa Monroe created the Eddie Eagle curriculum guides with discussion questions and activities that allow teachers to cater the program to their students’ needs while still emphasizing the main safety message. Both parent and educator guides are available for age groups ranging from pre-kindergarten through fourth grade.

Creating a Message that Resonates

With five different characters and personalities represented, our hope is that all children will be able to see themselves represented in the Wing Team. Other relatable themes such as friends, sports, problem solving, peer pressure and doing the right thing make the Eddie Eagle video a teaching tool that children will latch onto and remember.

Advice for Non-Gun Owners

Even though you don’t own a gun, you may know someone who might. And it’s imperative that you prepare your children so they know what to do if they ever find a gun.

Talking to Other Parents

There are lots of questions when meeting new parents: Do you have a swimming pool? Will you be home? Any food allergies? But often it’s not the norm to discuss if there are firearms in the home. The moms share some advice on how to address this delicate topic.

The Eddie Eagle Video

Eddie Eagle and the Wing Team encounter a gun in a place that they didn’t expect. Eddie helps his friends decide what to do to stay safe by reminding them of his favorite song. The Wing Team makes the right choice, but they still have some questions about gun safety. So they look to adults they trust for answers. Pre-k through fourth grade children will find this video engaging with its catchy songs, dance moves and entertaining dialogue-but most importantly, they’ll know what to do if they ever come across a gun.

So before taking off today, let me introduce you to Eddie Eagle and his gun safety tips.

Firearm Safety


June is National Safety Month and Glock‘s annual “Follow the Four” safety pledge campaign is now fully underway. The campaign encourages each firearm user to follow the four basic rules of gun ownership.

This is the most basic safety rule. If everyone handled a firearm so carefully that the muzzle never pointed at something they didn’t intend to shoot, there would be virtually no firearms accidents. It’s as simple as that, and it’s up to you.

Never point your gun at anything you do not intend to shoot. This is particularly important when loading or unloading a firearm. In the event of an accidental discharge, no injury can occur as long as the muzzle is pointing in a safe direction.

A safe direction means a direction in which a bullet cannot possibly strike anyone, taking into account possible ricochets and the fact that bullets can penetrate walls and ceilings. The safe direction may be “up” on some occasions or “down” on others, but never at anyone or anything not intended as a target. Even when “dry firing” with an unloaded gun, you should never point the gun at an unsafe target.

Make it a habit to know exactly where the muzzle of your gun is pointing at all times, and be sure that you are in control of the direction in which the muzzle is pointing, even if you fall or stumble. This is your responsibility, and only you can control it.


Firearms should be loaded only when you are in the field or on the target range or shooting area, ready to shoot. When not in use, firearms and ammunition should be secured in a safe place, separate from each other. It is your responsibility to prevent children and unauthorized adults from gaining access to firearms or ammunition.

Unload your gun as soon as you are finished. A loaded gun has no place in or near a car, truck or building. Unload your gun immediately when you have finished shooting, well before you bring it into a car, camp or home.

Whenever you handle a firearm or hand it to someone, always open the action immediately, and visually check the chamber, receiver and magazine to be certain they do not contain any ammunition. Always keep actions open when not in use. Never assume a gun is unloaded — check for yourself! This is considered a mark of an experienced gun handler!

Never cross a fence, climb a tree or perform any awkward action with a loaded gun. While in the field, there will be times when common sense and the basic rules of firearms safety will require you to unload your gun for maximum safety. Never pull or push a loaded firearm toward yourself or another person. There is never any excuse to carry a loaded gun in a scabbard, a holster not being worn or a gun case. When in doubt, unload your gun!


Treat every gun as though it can fire at any time. The “safety” on any gun is a mechanical device which, like any such device, can become inoperable at the worst possible time. Besides, by mistake, the safety may be “off” when you think it is “on.” The safety serves as a supplement to proper gun handling but cannot possibly serve as a substitute for common sense. You should never handle a gun carelessly and assume that the gun won’t fire just because the “safety is on.”

Never touch the trigger on a firearm until you actually intend to shoot. Keep your fingers away from the trigger while loading or unloading. Never pull the trigger on any firearm with the safety on the “safe” position or anywhere in between “safe” and “fire.” It is possible that the gun can fire at any time, or even later when you release the safety, without you ever touching the trigger again.

Never place the safety in between positions, since half-safe is unsafe. Keep the safety “on” until you are absolutely ready to fire.

Regardless of the position of the safety, any blow or jar strong enough to actuate the firing mechanism of a gun can cause it to fire. This can happen even if the trigger is not touched, such as when a gun is dropped. Never rest a loaded gun against any object because there is always the possibility that it will be jarred or slide from its position and fall with sufficient force to discharge. The only time you can be absolutely certain that a gun cannot fire is when the action is open and it is completely empty. Again, never rely on your gun’s safety. You and the safe gun handling procedures you have learned are your gun’s primary safeties.


No one can call a shot back. Once a gun fires, you have given up all control over where the shot will go or what it will strike. Don’t shoot unless you know exactly what your shot is going to strike. Be sure that your bullet will not injure anyone or anything beyond your target. Firing at a movement or a noise without being absolutely certain of what you are shooting at constitutes disregard for the safety of others. No target is so important that you cannot take the time before you pull the trigger to be absolutely certain of your target and where your shot will stop.

Be aware that even a 22 short bullet can travel over 1 1/4 miles and a high velocity cartridge, such as a 30-06, can send its bullet more than 3 miles. Shotgun pellets can travel 500 yards, and shotgun slugs have a range of over half a mile.

You should keep in mind how far a bullet will travel if it misses your intended target or ricochets in another direction.


You must assume the serious responsibility of using only the correct ammunition for your firearm. Read and heed all warnings, including those that appear in the gun’s instruction manual and on the ammunition boxes.

Using improper or incorrect ammunition can destroy a gun and cause serious personal injury. It only takes one cartridge of improper caliber or gauge to wreck your gun, and only a second to check each one as you load it. Be absolutely certain that the ammunition you are using matches the specifications that are contained within the gun’s instruction manual and the manufacturer’s markings on the firearm.

Firearms are designed, manufactured and proof tested to standards based upon those of factory loaded ammunition. Handloaded or reloaded ammunition deviating from pressures generated by factory loads or from component recommendations specified in reputable handloading manuals can be dangerous, and can cause severe damage to guns and serious injury to the shooter. Do not use improper reloads or ammunition made of unknown components.

Ammunition that has become very wet or has been submerged in water should be discarded in a safe manner. Do not spray oil or solvents on ammunition or place ammunition in excessively lubricated firearms. Poor ignition, unsatisfactory performance or damage to your firearm and harm to yourself or others could result from using such ammunition.

Form the habit of examining every cartridge you put into your gun. Never use damaged or substandard ammunition — the money you save is not worth the risk of possible injury or a ruined gun.


Occasionally, a cartridge may not fire when the trigger is pulled. If this occurs, keep the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. Keep your face away from the breech. Then, carefully open the action, unload the firearm and dispose of the cartridge in a safe way.

Any time there is a cartridge in the chamber, your gun is loaded and ready to fire even if you’ve tried to shoot and it did not go off. It could go off at any time, so you must always remember Rule #1 and watch that muzzle!

Discharging firearms in poorly ventilated areas, cleaning firearms or handling ammunition may result in exposure to lead and other substances known to cause birth defects, reproductive harm and other serious physical injury. Have adequate ventilation at all times. Wash hands thoroughly after exposure.


All shooters should wear protective shooting glasses and some form of hearing protectors while shooting. Exposure to shooting noise can damage hearing, and adequate vision protection is essential. Shooting glasses guard against twigs, falling shot, clay target chips and the rare ruptured case or firearm malfunction. Wearing eye protection when disassembling and cleaning any gun will also help prevent the possibility of springs, spring tension parts, solvents or other agents from contacting your eyes. There is a wide variety of eye and ear protectors available. No target shooter, plinker or hunter should ever be without them.

Most rules of shooting safety are intended to protect you and others around you, but this rule is for your protection alone. Furthermore, having your hearing and eyes protected will make your shooting easier and will help improve your enjoyment of the shooting sports.


Before you load your firearm, open the action and be certain that no ammunition is in the chamber or magazine. Be sure the barrel is clear of any obstruction. Even a small bit of mud, snow, excess lubricating oil or grease in the bore can cause dangerously increased pressures, causing the barrel to bulge or even burst on firing, which can cause injury to the shooter and bystanders. Make it a habit to clean the bore and check for obstructions with a cleaning rod immediately before you shoot it. If the noise or recoil on firing seems weak or doesn’t seem quite “right,” cease firing immediately and be sure to check that no obstruction or projectile has become lodged in the barrel.

Placing a smaller gauge or caliber cartridge into a gun (such as a 20-gauge shell in a 12-gauge shotgun) can result in the smaller cartridge falling into the barrel and acting as a bore obstruction when a cartridge of proper size is fired. This can cause a burst barrel or worse. This is really a case where “haste makes waste.” You can easily avoid this type of accident by paying close attention to each cartridge you insert into your firearm.


Firearms are complicated mechanisms that are designed by experts to function properly in their original condition. Any alteration or change made to a firearm after manufacture can make the gun dangerous and will usually void any factory warranties. Do not jeopardize your safety or the safety of others by altering the trigger, safety or other mechanism of any firearm or allowing unqualified persons to repair or modify a gun. You’ll usually ruin an expensive gun. Don’t do it!

Your gun is a mechanical device that will not last forever and is subject to wear. As such, it requires periodic inspection, adjustment and service. Check with the manufacturer of your firearm for recommended servicing.


Not all firearms are the same. The method of carrying and handling firearms varies in accordance with the mechanical characteristics of each gun. Since guns can be so different, never handle any firearm without first having thoroughly familiarized yourself with the particular type of firearm you are using, the safe gun handling rules for loading, unloading, carrying and handling that firearm, and the rules of safe gun handling in general.

For example, many handgun manufacturers recommend that their handguns always be carried with the hammer down on an empty chamber. This is particularly true for older single-action revolvers, but applies equally to some double-action revolvers or semiautomatic pistols. You should always read and refer to the instruction manual you received with your gun, or if you have misplaced the manual, simply contact the manufacturer for a free copy.

Having a gun in your possession is a full-time job. You cannot guess; you cannot forget. You must know how to use, handle and store your firearm safely. Do not use any firearm without having a complete understanding of its particular characteristics and safe use. There is no such thing as a foolproof gun.

Hunting and target shooting are among the safest of all sports. This list is intended to help you make them even safer by emphasizing the basics of safe gun handling and storage and by reminding you that you are the key to firearms safety.

You can help meet this responsibility by enrolling in hunter safety or shooting safety courses. You must constantly stress safety when handling firearms, especially to children and non-shooters. Beginners, in particular, must be closely supervised when handling firearms with which they may not be acquainted.

Don’t be timid when it comes to gun safety. If you observe anyone violating any safety precautions, you have an obligation to insist on safer handling practices, such as those on this site.

Follow the safety procedures outlined here, develop safe shooting habits, and remember, firearms safety is up to you.