How to get Training on a Budget [2024]

training on a budget

Training is important, though it quickly falls away when times get tough. With prices skyrocketing, ammunition shortages looming on the horizon, and election season approaching, budgets are getting tight. Luckily this doesn't mean that it's time to hang up our guns. There are a variety of ways that we can continue honing our skills without paying an arm and a leg. Today we'll cover some options to both widen and deepen your knowledge while maintaining a reasonable budget.

Online Training on a Budget

There are multiple places where you can get quality training online. While these may not get your Bill Drill to two-seconds, they can help you grow in other aspects. I've taken a handful of online lessons and courses, and I'm absolutely better for it. Here are a few places to check out, though this isn't all-inclusive.

Citizen Safety Academy

In early 2023 I sat through the Citizens Safety Academy Effective Assistant Instructor virtual course. Taking place of six self paced hours, Aqil and Tiffany cover a variety of topics useful to assistant instructors. From room configuration, to managing wayward students, and more, even non-shooters will benefit here. I highly recommend this course for anyone who instructs. You can read my full course review >>HERE<<

The Complete Combatant

Brian and Shelly Hill are well known in a variety of firearms circles. For years they've been offering multiple online courses for both scheduled classes and private lessons. These range from the decision making process, to distance from threats management, and more. While I haven't had the opportunity to take a class with the Hills, I have shared the range with Brian in the past.

Two Pillars Training

John Hearne is one of the staff instructors with Rangemaster. Through Two Pillars Training he offers a variety of webinars that he announces through social media several times a year. Regarded as one of the finest modern thinkers in the defensive firearms world, you'd do well to listen to what he has to say.

Lone Star Medics

Caleb Causey is one of the more well known medical focused instructors in the gun space. While we love to make comments about hydration, he's got more than just jokes. Lone Star Medics often offers free courses in Texas, and provides regular, inexpensive, virtual training events.

In-Person Medical Training on a Budget

Everyone loves gun stuff. Shooting, dry practice, gear, and more are the focus of our time and money. However, medical skills come in handy far more regularly, even when guns don't come out. Here are some ways to keep those skills sharp on a budget.


The Red Cross, and The American Heart Association offer classes on both CPR and AED use all over the country. These happen on a frequent basis, and are extremely inexpensive. In some cases, you may find classes offered for free.

training on a budget
My wife practicing infant CPR during a recent class we attended

For several years my workplace offered free CPR/AED certification despite being a white collar job. You're far more likely to need these skills, so don't neglect them.

Stop the Bleed

Stop the Bleed is another great place to get some medical training. A lot of people carry a tourniquet now, but fewer know how to use them, and even less know how to use them properly. I can't tell you how many times I've seen confident people inappropriately apply a tourniquet. If it's not on there right, people can still die. So go get some proper instruction. Stop the Bleed has classes in most cities, often hosted at hospitals, and tuition is usually free.

Dry Practice

I won't get into the details of effective dry practice here, as that is a topic for another day. That said, we can work a variety of skills without ever firing a shot. From the drawstroke, to reloads, and target transitions, there's a lot to train. Using tools such as snap caps, Mantis, CoolFire, and more, we can help keep things interesting as well.

Mantis Blackbeard X Featured Image

That being said, we have to keep our form top-notch to avoid building training scars. Despite the lack of recoil, keep your grip tight, I know the consequences of that failure all too well. Abide by the safety rules to avoid catastrophe, and stay focused as well. Dry practice may be free, but that doesn't mean and can't become costly in more way than one.

Live Fire Range Training on a Budget

So far we've covered online training, medical, and more. I know everyone wants to hit the range, so here are some ways to pinch pennies while still busting caps.

Project Appleseed

Project Appleseed is a fantastic program that is widely available, and relatively low cost. The name stems from American lore of Johnny Appleseed, traveling our new nation, planting apple seeds from coast to coast for everyone to enjoy. Now change the apples to rifle marksmanship fundamentals. While Project Appleseed offers a variety of material, the bulk of it are known-distance, 25 Meter rifle clinics. These focus on the fundamentals of marksmanship and are primarily shot with .22LR rifles, typically the Ruger 10/22.

training on a budget
Instructor demonstrating proper prone technique in a Appleseed 25M course

Mixed in with this you'll find lessons about the Battle of Lexington & Concord, and the founding of our nation. These courses often run under $100, and are friendly to both kids and adults. I sat through one locally just over a year ago, which you can read about >>HERE<<. You can also check out everything Project Appleseed has to offer >>HERE<<.


Using rimfire substitutes in your live fire is a step up from dry practice. Here we get actual confirmation of our performance, and a little bit of recoil. Costs stay down thanks to the low price of .22LR ammunition, and even the cheap stuff works relatively well. Getting a training version of your gun is fairly easy as well to help keep reps consistent. From the Glock 44, to Taurus TX22, or S&W M&P15-22 and more, there are a lot of options out there.

We can work our draw to first shot, target transitions, reloads, and a variety of other skills while still saving money. Rimfire isn't a replacement for your normal shooting, but it can help supplement things.

Training with Local Instructors

A lot of people get caught up in the mindset of "local classes are bad". I love training with national level instructors, and I've spent literally tens of thousands of dollars on tuition, travel, and more over the past several years in the name of training. That said, just because someone is a local doesn't mean they aren't worth working with. Check through groups you trust or other shooters for recommendations. Show up to some matches and see what higher level competitors have to offer. You'll be surprised what you find. My first USPSA club was run by a former National Champion shooter who offered inexpensive classes on the side.

training on a budget
Here you can see me in the background of a local instructor's basic pistol class

Checking for certifications from trusted sources is another good start. Rangemaster, Modern Samurai Project, Gunsite Academy, and more certify instructors all of the country. While passing qualifications aren't necessarily indicative of teaching ability, they're certainly a good point of reference.

RSO for Matches

Act as a Range Safety Officer for your local matches. Seeing a couple dozen shooters run through a course of fire will teach you more than most expect. This gets you time watching multiple people attack a problem, set up gear, and handle their gun. You'll see a lot of things to avoid, and likely a few tricks to try on your own. RSO'ing helps out those in the community, and costs you nothing but time.

RSO/AI for other Instructors

Much like helping out in a match, assisting other instructors is a great way to grow. As of this writing, I've helped out at the Thunderstick Summit, with Tom Givens, and a handful of other instructors. You get to not only watch the instructor in their process, but the other shooters as well. This isn't to say it's an easy day however. I nearly keeled over during Thunderstick from the work I was putting in.

training on a budget
Observing two students while acting as an AI for Tom Givens in a shotgun instructor development course

With each experience you'll want to get marching orders from the lead instructor. You're here to help, not run the show, so let them tell you how they want to best make use of you. Maybe you'll be hanging targets and sweeping brass. Other times you'll be helping students on the line for safety or refining technique. If you think a task is beneath you, reevaluate your position, because it likely isn't. Put in the time, it'll pay dividends in the future. While you're at it, take the Citizens Safety Academy Assistant AI course.

Wrapping Up Training on a Budget

While things get tight, we may have to modify our training budget, but that doesn't mean we have to eliminate it. These are just a handful of examples on how to grow without shelling out a bunch of cash. Even if your bank account is comfortably fat, you can still benefit from these options. I try to attend one of these courses or act in one of these roles every year. You'll learn a lot without spending much.

Support My Work

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Writing isn't my full-time profession, and nearly everything I do comes out of my own pocket. Between ammunition, tuition, range fees and more, expenses add up fast. If you like what I have to offer, consider making a donation to my Patreon.

Every bit helps bring more work like this to you, and contributes to shortened timelines or more in-depth work on my part. You'll also have more direct access to me, offering suggestions for future projects, looking behind the scenes, and getting early access to some content. You can find my PatreonĀ >>HERE<<

About Daniel Reedy 399 Articles
Daniel holds instructor certifications from Rangemaster, Agile Training & Consulting, and the NRA. He has received training from Craig Douglas, Tom Givens, and Steve Fisher among others. He also has experience competing in USPSA, CAS, 3 Gun, and Steel Challenge. In his free time Daniel enjoys petting puppies and reading the Constitution. His work is also published by AmmoLand, Recoil Concealment, and Air Force Times. Daniel has also written and edited for The Kommando Blog.

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