New to training? first time visiting davenport guns? Read this first.


Welcome to Davenport Guns, and thank you for considering us for your firearms and self-defense training.

This guide is intended to help you understand our training philosophy, and choose the course or method of instruction that is right for you. We know that choosing the right guns, gear, and training can be intimidating and sometimes confusing for new shooters. Even those with years of hunting or recreational firearms experience under their belt sometimes need some help navigating the very different world of armed personal protection.

That’s where the Davenport Guns training department comes in. Our highly trained, experienced, and certified firearms instructors can help you find the answers that you seek, and help you build the skills you need to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Scroll down to see our training philosophy and course guide.


Director of Training
Davenport Guns, LLC
Training Philosophy

Firearms and self-defense are serious topics with life or death consequences, but that doesn’t mean that training can’t be enjoyable, uplifting, empowering, and inclusive. Guns are certainly a political issue, but you’ll find our curricula and classroom discussions free of politics. Self-defense is an inherant human right that belongs to all, and we welcome everyone to learn how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Our training is modifiable for persons of any ability level. Our only requirements are that you have the requisite skill and knowledge to safely participate in the class or training event that you are enrolled in.

“Avoiding Negative Outcomes is the goal of all training” – Claude Werner

There are a lot of positives aspects of firearm ownership, and the defensive utility of firearms is hard to deny. Firearms ownership is a right we hold in high regard, but with rights come responsibilities and accountability. Handling any deadly weapon always carries an element of risk. Mitigating that risk to the lowest possible level requires us to understand possible Negative Outcomes, the mistakes that lead to them, and the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP’s) we can put in place to avoid those mistakes.

In his book Serious Mistakes Gun Owners Make and the Decisions That Led Up to Them, Claude Werner lists the following Negative Outcomes for gun owners:

  • Shooting yourself
  • Shooting someone you shouldn’t have, either intentionally or unintentionally
  • Getting needlessly arrested
  • Getting shot by police officers responding to a call for help
  • Leaving guns where unauthorized persons can access them, resulting in tragedies
  • Frightening innocent people around you
  • Endangering innocent people needlessly

Mr. Werner defines three factors in poor decision making that leads to bad outcomes:

Mistakes that gun owners make fall into three categories: legal mistakes, imprudent mistakes, and mechanical mistakes:

Legal Mistakes

  • Unjustifiable shootings, which can include warning shots
  • Brandishing a weapon or threatening people without justification
  • Intervention in criminal events not happening to the gun owner personally
  • Chasing criminals after the end of a confrontation
  • Undesirable police interaction

Imprudent Mistakes

  • Mistaken identity shootings
  • Lost and stolen guns
  • Poor judgement
  • Allowing Unauthorized access to firearms

Mechanical Mistakes

  • Unintentional Discharges
  • Downrange failures (i.e., shot an innocent person while shooting at criminals)

Werner, C. (2019). Serious Mistakes Gun Owners Make and the Decisions that Led Up to Them

Preventing Negative Outcomes is more than just choosing a gun and learning how to use it. Understanding the law, building a solid foundation in good decision-making, developing the proper mindset, developing technical skill that can actually be delivered in a fight, building soft skills for self-defense, and learning self-defense skills beyond the gun are critical avenues of study. Davenport Guns offers courses that cover all of these bases and more.


firearms courses for Beginners

If you have never touched a gun in your life, or have very little experience, or it has been a very long time, consider these introductory firearms safety courses. These courses may vary in length or price, some may include the firing of live rounds on the range, some are held in the classroom only.

What these classes have in common is that they are purpose built for people who are brand new to, or are considering the possibility of, firearms ownership. These courses cover the principles of safe gun-handling, responsible ownership and storage, and basic marksmanship techniques.


Like most of our training, these courses can be scheduled for private groups of 5 or more, or hosted at your range or facility. Call (563)277-3227 or email



Understanding the law

There are well-established, if not well-understood, laws that govern the ownership, use, transportation, and transfer of firearms, as well as the use of force in defense of self or others. Ignorance of these laws could lead to life-altering outcomes; what you don’t know could in fact harm you very badly.

Our Iowa and Illinois concealed carry permit coursework includes gun law, and use of force law information for the corresponding state. These courses are designed to meet and exceed the training requirement for a state concealed carry permit, and cover many different topics.

If you want more detailed and robust training on state specific legal use of force concepts, check out these seminars.

Knowing the law is one thing, applying what you know in ambiguous circumstances, with unclear goals, under compressed time frames is something else entirely. In other words, decision-making under pressure is not easy, and is a skill that can be built like any other. Image Based Decisional Drills (IBDD) is a method of training that can give you the foundation of experience you need to make the right decision quickly. You’ll respond to visual stimuli, make a rapid decision, and ACT, then discuss the pros and cons of your actions, including the legality of your decision.

While this course does include legal use of force concepts, it is not a use of force class, or a shooting class, or a tactics class, it is a decision-making class. This is an area of self defense rarely covered by most self-defense trainers. Don’t let this be a blind spot for you. Check out our IBDD class here:


Want to carry your gun?

Although they have already been mentioned above, if you want to carry your gun in public, we offer concealed carry permit courses for Illinois and Iowa.

These courses meet and exceed the training standards to apply for a concealed carry license in their respective states. Make sure to check out the “Armed Self-defense” section of this guide for courses that will help you build the skills you need to protect yourself on the street.

Like most of our training, these courses can be scheduled for private groups of 5 or more, or hosted at your range or facility. Call (563)277-3227 or email

armed self-defense

 The basics, executed rapidly and skillfully, win fights.

The skills required to defend yourself with a firearm are vastly different that the skills you apply to shooting a neat group in a target 50 feet away on a relaxed day at the range. Our armed self defense classes are built on the idea that defensive firearm training needs to be realistic, relevant and recent.

Our defensive firearms training is based on evidence gathered from actual defensive shooting data. Video analyses of shooting incidents shows us time and time again that there is a set of  skills that, if applied rapidly and skillfully, win fights for armed citizens. These critical skills form the foundation for all the defensive shooting training we do at Davenport Guns.

Contextual relevance of tactics, techniques, and procedures that you train and practice matters! Said another way, the best use of your time is to practice skills that are realistic to the threats you are likely to face. The vast majority of our training clients are non-sworn private citizens, and the skills that we teach are gear specifically toward the needs of those private citizens.

Learning the skills in training can certainly be a good first step, but recency of practice plays a much larger role in how likely you are to be able deliver complex motor skills under high stress situations. All of our classes offer tips for continued dry and live-fire practice of critical skills, as well as drills, tests, and standards to build skill and measure progress over time.

Pay close attention to the pre-requisites for these courses. The first step to defending yourself with a firearm is understanding safety principles, safe gun-handling practices, and knowing how to perform all the relevant manipulations of your firearm

The Defensive Shooting Fundamentals Mini Class was developed by Michael Martin of the USCCA to introduce shooters to the concepts and skills needed to safely and effectively engage in defensive shooting practice. This course is classroom only, but does include hands-on learning:

The Essential CCW Skills series of courses starts the armed citizen on the path to being a safe, responsible, and effective concealed carrier. If you want to build a high level of shooting and gun-handling skill, these classes are for you:

Essential CCW Skills

For our clients looking for a woman-only training environment, we offer intermediate and advanced Women’s Handgun and Self Defense Fundamentals (WHSDF) courses:

These skills won’t be useful to you in a fight if you don’t give yourself the time and space to use them. You need to be able to make sound tactical decisions quickly. Check out our Image Based Decisional Drills class and build the skill to make the right decision soon enough to matter.

Like most of our training, these courses can be scheduled for private groups of 5 or more, or hosted at your range or facility.

For more personalized training, individual private sessions are available. Call (563)277-3227 or email


Skills beyond the gun

Self-defense is a lot more than having a gun and knowing how to use it. Every state has prohibited areas where firearms cannot be lawfully carried. Many employers ban the carrying or posession of firearms. Sometimes, it just isn’t practical to have a gun. Building skill with non-gun lethal and non-lethal tools, as well as emergency first aid is just as important, if not more, than our firearms skills.

While primarily a course on decision-making, the Image Based Decisional Drills course will give you hands-on experience with using water-only inert training OC spray (pepper spray) and knowledge on how and when to use it.

Our defensive knife course with instructor Shane Hoadley is a customer favorite.

Emergency first aid skills are a critical skills for people interested in personal protection.


Tom Givens (left) presenting the Rangemaster instructor certification course certificate t0 Daniel Pierson (right)