Defensive Handgun 101: Get Trained

A student engages a target at a Cornered Cat Defensive Handgun Class. A student engages a target
at a Cornered Cat Defensive
Handgun Class.


Training is an important part of being both a gun owner and a concealed weapon permit holder. For responsible gun owners, having professional training is a must, and for concealed carry permit holders getting that training on a regular basis is essential.

At GunUp the Magazine, we recommend taking at least one defensive handgun class a year in order to stay up-to-date on basic handgun laws, skills and techniques. Being proficient and knowledgeable is important in any defensive situation.

Of course, not all defensive handgun classes are equal. And while prices vary greatly, there are schools in every area where shooters can go to hone their skills that will be both affordable and valuable. We’ve compiled some of our favorites from around the country to give our readers a starting point when looking for defensive training:

Kathy Jackson, The Cornered Cat

Kathy Jackson, or “the Cornered Cat” has spent over 500 hours taking firearms classes from other excellent instructors, including Jim Cirillo, Ken Hackathorn, Tom Givens and Massad Ayood. She teaches at the Firearms Academy of Seattle but travels around the country to teach defensive handgun courses.

Kathy offers both women-only classes and coed classes that are great for a variety of shooting levels, but her Defensive Handgun classes are focused toward shooters who are new to concealed carry. These classes cover stance, grip, trigger press, shooting on the move, different carry types and the self-defense mindset. They provide 18 hours of class time.

Kathy also offers the Cornered Cat Purse Class, a one-day class that is designed for women who intend to carry firearms in their purses. Kathy uses role-play and non-firing dummy guns so that women may experiment with different kinds of purse carry and find good ways to access the guns in their purses. There is also a small amount of range time that allows each woman to draw and fire using her own carry purse.

There is a Women’s Holster Seminar that is unique to Kathy’s collection. It is a three-hour classroom-based course that explores different holster options for women; including both on-body and off-body carry techniques. In the class, students will discuss how to carry in various situations with a strong emphasis on finding a practical and comfortable carry method that fits each woman’s wardrobe and lifestyle.

Learn more about Kathy’s classes at

Gunsite Academy

Paulden, AZ

The famous Gunsite Academy located in the high desert in Paulden, Arizona was founded by the legendary Jeff Cooper and remains a must-visit for many firearms enthusiasts. On their vast property, Gunsite is able to offer some of the best defensive firearm courses from firearms instructors with impressive law enforcement and military resumes.

Gunsite Academy Gunsite Academy


Their most introductory course, Pistol 250, is a five-day experience that combines classroom and range work to give students a grounded platform in marksmanship, gun handling, and a defensive mindset. Exercises include low light and live fire simulators.

Gunsite also offers a five-day Close Quarter Pistol class that is designed to prepare students for violent confrontations and sudden attacks. The class combines empty hand self-defense, mindset, force-on-force scenarios and improved gun handling to prepare students for real world encounters.

Among Gunsite’s course offerings is also their two-day pocket pistol class. This allows students to put their favorite pocket pistol or revolver through extensive range drills and simulators to help them thoroughly understand the strengths and limitations of their firearm. Using range drills and in-depth coverage of different carry and concealment methods the course helps students become more adept with their pocket guns.

Learn more about Gunsite’s course offerings at

InSights Training Center

Bellevue, WA

InSights Training Center proved fast-paced and informative courses from professional instructors with a variety of backgrounds, including law enforcement, military and the private sector. Their classes are mostly based out of Bellevue or Issaquah, Washington, but some of their seminars are available as online courses.

InSights’ General Defensive Handgun class provides valuable overall instruction on gun handling, including drawing from the holster, performing reloads and malfunction clearances, and important in-depth information on the defensive mindset. Combining classroom and range time over a two day course, General Defensive Handgun can help those who are familiar with their firearm become comfortable with day-to-day handling and concealed carry.

Among InSights’ course offerings is also a Defensive Revolver course, similar to General Defensive Handgun but designed specifically for revolver shooters. The course covers both full size and pocket revolvers, and includes the same information in their General Defensive Handgun class but provides detailed information about the use of a revolver as a defensive firearm.

InSights also offers a two-day Street and Vehicle Tactics class that helps students better understand how crimes are committed, and deals with self-defense while traveling or in your automobile. They go over how to prevent confrontations, dealing with confrontations once they have started, and post-crises management including interaction with emergency and law enforcement personell.

Availabe, also from InSights, is a simple Pepper Spray Seminar. For those who do not want to carry a firearm, or travel to areas where it is illegal to do so, having knowledge of how to use pepper spray can be invaluable. The three-hour seminar covers how pepper spray works, when it can be legally used, what to do if you get sprayed, how to carry it and different kinds and sizes available.

Learn more about InSights Training Center at

Originally published in the January 2014 issue of GunUp the Magazine.

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