Teya and I have been through a lot of training. With each experience we’ve come to find that every course and trainer has something different to offer. I can’t yet recommend one course or instructor for everyone’s needs, but the Guardian Conference offers a little bit of everything, and I think might be a great place to start.
What Is It? The Guardian Conference is a three-day event that brings in about a dozen of the biggest and most-respected names in the training industry to offer about 30 different classes. For around $600 three full days of training are provided plus lunches, water, and other creature comforts that make the days pleasant. Of all the training we’ve been to nothing else offers so much for so low a price, especially considering the weight and authority that many of the instructors bring; these aren’t random guys from around town. Courses that were available during our experience covered a wide range of handgun skills, unarmed and non-firearm defenses, trauma medical, and legal considerations regarding use of force. You can see the list of classes offered in 2023 and who taught them HERE.
How’s It Work? Prior to the event students answer a questionnaire which, in addition to building a needs/interest profile, also includes ranking the available classes based on interest. Some poor soul then goes through the profiles to ensure they match (for example not putting a brand-new shooter in an advanced class first thing), and fills both your schedule and the instructors schedules to ensure everyone gets the most out of their three days. Classes are two or four hours long so there is time for 12-15 classes over the weekend.
What Did We Like About it? The Guardian Conference is like a one-plate buffet, and you’ve been given the entire menu in advance to consider. There are some things you really want, others you know you’re not interested in, and of course some you may be curious to try.
Filling your three-day plate means you’ll get to try a lot of things, even some things you may have been hesitant to try because it’s only a bite or two of each item. It’s a chance to enjoy favorites and try new things without committing to them. It’s also a great chance to refresh your knowledge of certain topics without feeling stuck in a long course.
Is There a Downside? Have you ever been to a single-plate buffet, discovered you really liked something, but not gotten enough of it? Teya and I found ourselves in that situation more than once in the course. Either a particular instructor really engaged us, or the course was a skill we really wanted to develop, but two or four hours later it was time to move on. The good new is that most of the instructors are so for a living and chances are good you can attend one of their courses later on, just don’t expect it to be so cost effective.
This is a weak negative to have about the conference because it’s essentially complaining that we’ve now been enlightened to something new and want more of it.
Who’s It For? Of the 90 or so students that attended with us we were impressed at the number of repeat students. With Teya and I both having a bit more training and range time than most people we still found we had plenty to learn, and the variety of classes meant we could try something different. For example, rather than work on our draw I took a class on pepper spray and Teya took an introduction to competition shooting.
Logistics are always an excuse to not travel for training. The Guradian Conference is hosted at the Oklahoma City Gun Club just outside of Oklahoma City. Even for us in Oregon that meant only crossing half the country. We were able to find budget airline tickets mixing Frontier and Alaska for $178 per person. Lodging was also very affordable, and the Guardian Conference organizers had worked out a group rate a multiple hotels. Getting a case of ammunition to a place where you don’t have a home address might seem daunting, but it was made easy by a partnership with SuperVel Ammunition. Ammunition ordered with a code specific to the event was shipped to the event organizers who made sure everyone’s ammo was waiting for them at the event. They even handled returning unspent ammunition back to us if one chose (S&H fees apply) or there were other attendees that were happy to take it off or our hands for us.
Rental cars were affordable, available and with so many other like minded participants staying in a central location finding a ride to the range was as simple as asking. Dining options are plentiful in the area The Guardian Conference also had a complete pro shop on site for any special gear needs including loanable guns and gear should someone’s fail. You can read about our gear choices and results HERE.
Of all the training events we've attended, the Guardian Confrence was the easiest to get to, find accomodations, and to get around the area.
Instructors for 2023:
Riley Bowman of ConcealedCarry.com
Chris Cypert of CitizensDefenseResearch.com
Wayne Dobbs of Hardwired Tactical Shooting
Kaery Dudenhofer of KaeryConcealed.com
Bryan Eastridge of Eastridge Training & Consulting
Erick Gelhaus of CougarMountainSolutions.com
Chuck Haggard of AgileTactical.com
Brian McLaughlin of MountainManMedical.com
Mickey Schuch of CarryTrainer.com
Paul Sharp of Sharper Defense
Donw West & Shawn Vincent of CCWSafe.com
AJ Zito of PracticalPerformance.org
Conclusion: The Guardian Conference offers a broad variety of training covering skills and factors that the armed citizen needs to be proficient in or aware of. The instruction is from nationally-recognized instructors and delivered in bite-sized chunks. You may not master any particular skill by attending the Guardian Conference, but you will be more aware and have the groundwork laid for you to continue your education later. If you're new to being an armed citizen this is an affordable one-stop shop that will leave you better off than many who have only attended local-level training. If you're an experienced shooter the Guardian Conference offers a chance to sharped existing skills or try new ones.
We enjoyed our time at the Guardian Conference 2023, plan on attending in 2024, and hopw to see you there!
2024 Registration is now open. Click HERE to learn more.