With the growth in off-road recreation there is an increasing demand for quality 4WD training. There is a huge difference in driving a 4WD off-road and driving a passenger car on the street. A great deal of skill is needed and many intuitive reactions need to be re-learned so they are immediately available to safely navigate hills, ruts, mud, sand, snow, water and off camber situations.
Currently anyone can hold themselves out as a 4WD trainer. How do you sort out the back yard want-a-bes from the professionals? Your life might depend on the quality of the training you receive so it is worth investigating your potential 4WD trainers. Knowing how to avoid a roll over might save your life and those of your family. Receiving good instruction up front can save you hundreds of dollars by avoiding the purchase of poor quality or inappropriate equipment.
4WD clubs are a great opportunity to share your enthusiasm with friends, find new trails and provide an agenda to get you out wheeling on a regularly basis. However, don’t be lulled into thinking that a friend or the club you joined will supply all the training you need. Most clubs do not have training as a primary goal. You often learn by trail and error as they drag you through obstacles way over your ability. In 3 to 5 years you will have assimilated enough information to become competent in skills, preparation, environmental impact,vehicle dynamics, and safety involved in this sport. A professional can provide you with the instructional quality necessary to begin your off-roading experience with confidence and advance yours skills over a much shorter time frame.
Perhaps you have the good fortune to have several 4WD Training Providers in your region, giving you the opportunity to compare and choose. To overcome the want-a-be who is looking for some pocket change from his or her weekend hobby or the person who is not fully committed to their task, the first step is to look for a Trainer who is certified by the International 4-Wheel Trainers Association. Trainers who are members of I4WDTA are rigorously tested and must demonstrate a thorogh understanding of 4WD skills, vehicle dynamics, repair, environmental ethics, navigation, first aid, teaching methods, and much more. If the instructors at the school you are considering are not members of I4WDTA you need to probe into why they are not certified and ask a lot of questions. It should be easy to determine if they are I4WDTA certified. Most schools are proud of the hard work and commitment resulting in certification and will advertise it in their brochures and on their web sites. Check out Badlands Off-Road Adventures 4WD Training School..
The second issue is that while some trainers are certified, they are not fully committed. 4WD training is not their primary occupation. You want a dedicated school with a regularly published training schedules. The school should have general liability insurance and all required permits required by Federal, State and local land managers. An I4WDTA certified instructor is required to have extensive First Aid training in an accredited 72 hour Wilderness First Responder course.
And finally, select a 4WD school that has depth of course offerings that you can progress through. Don’t be surprised if your first experience with a qualified trainer turns into a long term relationship with repeated contacts. It’s like that with a good instructor!