This week, the Mag Life Podcast is excited to bring on Jimmy Rodriguez of the Average Joes Firearms Training group! Jimmy and his AJ crew have dedicated their services and time to providing the most accessible firearms training to new and experienced shooters alike. Average Joes seeks to build strong local communities of responsible and competent gun owners.
Jimmy joins Daniel Shaw as they discuss the story behind Average Joes, the importance of encouraging beginners to train, changing the current gun culture, and preparing for future generations.
Host: Daniel Shaw
Guest: Jimmy Rodriguez
Introduction/Timeline: Eric Huh
00:39 What is Average Joes Firearms Training? Who is it for?
Daniel starts it off by asking Jimmy what Average Joes is all about. The concept behind Average Joes Firearms Training is centered on simply getting average law-abiding gun owners to go out there and train. As any trainer knows, the act of even getting people out to the range can be quite the task. Often times it’s flat-out intimidating for new shooters to train, whether it be ammo costs, not knowing where to start, or not wanting to appear foolish. Average Joes is about bridging that gap between new and experienced shooters.
One of the major ways in which they do so is by dismantling the barriers to entry. Jimmy sets up Average Joes range days to be financially affordable to the average gun owner and does not harp on round count requirements. The range sessions are set up to maximize the capabilities of the attendees, so often times they will shoot whatever people can afford at the time. Additionally, range sessions are organized around the area code of those attending so that Average Joes can focus on building local communities of gun owners who want to train together. In this way, a range day is not simply a “meet and forget” event, but rather a starting point to connect to other like-minded people who encourage training long term.
At its core, Average Joes Firearms Training is about instilling the fundamentals for students and always building upon them. Even when more advanced drills or techniques come into play, the fundamentals are never replaced or forgotten about.
“We don’t ever feel like you move on from the fundamentals. You’re just refining them and getting better at them. So that’s really all it is, it’s just fundamental training… And because we have different instructors, every range day is different. What you’re learning on pistol day is gonna be different from the last range day and the one before that because the instructors in there are different.”
By making every range day a unique experience, Average Joes can maintain interest among participants while also offering new valuable skillsets each time. The instructors come from a wide variety of backgrounds including military special operations, law enforcement, competitive shooting, or just plain civilian.
06:01 Training Goals and Instagram Shooters
Jimmy notes that oftentimes his fellow instructors get asked questions regarding very minor details about training techniques. Ultimately, they end up asking students, “What are you training for?” Jimmy has observed that it is very easy for new shooters to get swept up in the social media fervor of flashy range theatrics. Your individual day-to-day requirements do not necessarily line up with the latest, trendiest Instagram reel footage.
“What are you ultimately training for? Is your sub-second draw really going to make a difference in the real world?… Is doing a reload this way versus this way really going to make a difference?… If you’re training specifically just to go fast and look cool on Instagram? Then yes, go that way, if that’s what you’re training for. But just be realistic about what it is you’re training for and be honest with yourself.”
Daniel asks Jimmy, what has he observed people have been doing on social media in regards to training footage. Jimmy noticed that while most shooters on Instagram know to say the right things, they are overwhelmingly leaning towards looking flashy for the camera. And this is a byproduct of social media’s influence in the training world. Most people are simply regurgitating what they perceive to be the trendiest thing to do from their newsfeeds. Average Joes is hoping to counter this culture by reinstating actual productive range sessions that focus on proven methods.
On the whole, both Daniel and Jimmy agree that sheer popularity of social media firearm content has had a positive effect for the 2nd Amendment. Every cool gun pic or training footage or funny meme post helps normalize the use and practice of firearms. Every time someone misuses a gun from something careless such as a negligent discharge, that turns people away from the idea of gun ownership. The more helpful information and inclusive attitudes that can be promoted, the better.
13:24 Becoming an Average Joe
In terms of the actual structure of Average Joes, Jimmy explains outside of the 10 instructors, there is no real “membership” process. To be an Average Joe, just be an average joe! Pay for the range fees and show up to train. Jimmy further elaborates, saying a new shooter isn’t going to be asking a Youtube influencer, rather they will seek advice from someone they trust. Oftentimes, that can come in the form of a neighbor, a friend, a family member, and the like. This plays back to the mission of Average Joes, which is to build a community of competent shooters who can then take this knowledge back to the people closest to them.
Average Joes is based out of Dallas, Texas, but they do travel across the country to help build communities of firearm trainers. Together, they’ve been to Arizona, San Antonio, Seattle, Las Vegas, Mississippi, and Miami. The mindset for doing range days in other states is the same as it is for their local area: to build communities.
“Getting all of these range days going across the US or supporting other range days that we’re going [to]… is where we can go and support [communities], help them grow it, help them develop, answer any questions they may have… maybe collaborate together to make things better.
And then at the end of the day, when we leave, that community is still strong because the leaders of that community are still there.”
The importance of building up local leaders cannot be understated. Those who are from that area are the ones that understand the people’s needs, the local gun ranges, the availability of resources, the local trainers, and the local competitions.
The outreach of Average Joes has even extended past the US border. Their range day footage is covered online with the addition of occasional shooting challenges. Jimmy reveals they’ve had people from the Middle East, Europe, and South America participate in these online challenges.
18:21 The Future of Average Joes
As far as what the future holds for Average Joes, Jimmy is seeking to refine what the group already does so well. For 2022, there will be 4 range dates that have already been locked in. Range days will have vendors to sponsor the events by offering firearm demos and giveaways of high-end products that most new shooters would not have access to. Attendees can also expect more quantity of fundamental courses such as pistol and carbine as well as special guest instructors.
22:24 Expectations for an Average Joes Range Day
Daniel asks on behalf of the listeners, what should one expect coming into an Average Joes range event? Jimmy explains, as before, the cost will be around $30 with some minor charges. This would be just enough to cover the range fee and other equipment they may require. Nothing here is really pocketed as profit on their end. For actual courses, these will be around $200 for full-length, 8-hour courses. Any way you slice it, these are drastically affordable options for firearms training.
23:40 What are common misconceptions that prevent new shooters from training?
During much of Daniel’s time as a trainer, he’s encountered a wide variety of excuses or perceived barriers to training that many new gun owners come up with that halts their education. He asks Jimmy if he’s seen similar instances.
“[New shooters] feel like there’s a sort of prerequisite if you will. And they feel like they don’t meet that criteria or that level of proficiency to go to a course. They feel like they have to be ‘good’ enough to go to a course… Well hey, the course exists because you’re not good enough, right? That’s the idea. Like, it’s to get you there. That’s the whole purpose of the course… Don’t wait ‘til tomorrow to start what you could start today.”
27:11 Why do you do this?
Daniel asks Jimmy why he does the Average Joes training project. As made clear, he does not serve to make any significant profit gains from this work. Jimmy replies, “For my son.” He explains that while many of us do things to make our current lives easier, it is ultimately what we do after our existence on this Earth that matters the most. The legacy of ensuring future generations are made safer and stronger is the “why” we get up in the mornings.
Jimmy and Daniel have both traveled to third-world countries and have seen the worst in humanity. Witnessing truly horrific circumstances that force people to fend for themselves. One day that will come to America as no civilization ever lasts forever. It is that rationale that motivates Jimmy to continue to provide accessible training options for his fellow Americans. Freedom is always on a fragile line, where any major catastrophe could take it away. Preparedness is the only thing that will ensure your survival after the fact.
Daniel asks what people out there can do to help Average Joes grow. Jimmy simply states people just need to go out there and train. By doing so, they can help spread the good message of the 2nd Amendment and help encourage the culture of training.