Friday Fundamentals – Progression (Part I)

I’ve been encouraged to restart the Friday Fundamentals series and I think that’s a good idea. My upcoming series of articles about the J Frame revolver and how to get the most of it will be a good platform since the J frame can be unforgiving of poor fundamentals. People who learn to shoot a J Frame adequately can usually learn to shoot other handguns well. But first, let’s have a philosophical discussion about learning the fundamentals.

Bottom line up front, as is often said in the business world.

Most training classes are a condensation of much more training, practice, and skill development on the instructor’s part than their students will ever experience or be able to make use of. Only a few instructors use the term “feeding them with a firehose” but that’s what most training usually turns into, whether the instructor understands it or not. That philosophy doesn’t reflect the way adults learn.

dot progression target

Distilling many hours, years, or decades of experience into a single half day, full day, or weekend class isn’t setting the students up for success. That’s especially true when at the end of the class, the instructor gives a certificate to the students and tells them they’re now ‘trained.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. ‘Indoctrinated’ would be a much better term. The lack of follow-on practice curricula is a major weakness in the training industry. It’s one of my major pet peeves about the way training is conducted.

The NRA Training Department progression of Basics Of Pistol Shooting, Personal Protection In The Home, Basic Personal Protection Outside The Home, and Advanced Personal Protection Outside The Home are really the only exception to this situation in the industry. Some instructors will contest this and say they offer a series of classes. My rebuttal is that if the first class requires a holster, the students have already been led to the hydrant and positioned in front of the firehose.

More on this next week.

4 responses

  1. Really appreciate your perspective on adult education and firearms. The notion of using a holster in a class as being an information overload for some students is to often overlooked.

    Looking forward more Friday Fundamentals.

  2. Another concern regarding getting more people to train is the initial cost. I cannot find a basic pistol course of any type for less than $125 and that is for 3 hours of instruction at an indoor range with a maximum class size of 10. A very basic class that includes cleaning the gun, basic safety and some basic shooting fundamentals should be offered for around $50 to get folks interested. Not unlike inexpensive introductory flight lessons.

  3. As I teach a basic pistol class, this resonated with me. I struggle with trying not to cram too much information into a five hour class. I definitely try to emphasize to the students, that their certificate really symbolizes that they have only been introduced to handgun marksmanship. Their journey of training with a handgun has only started.

  4. While waiting for your Pistol Practice Program to be available again as a download, I’ve been searching for a progressive (step-by-step) training process to use for training my young adult daughter how to shoot a pistol. While I have developed competent pistol shooting skills over a lifetime, including structured training and self-taught skills, when it comes to training another I have a lot of questions. In my search for the best process for teaching pistol shooting skills, I’ve found loads of information and skill building drills. What’s lacking is what do you do to teach a specific component of the pistol shooting skill set and in what order do you teach it. What I’m looking for is a detailed step-by-step (progression) that takes a non-pistol shooter, with their enthusiastic commitment, and develops them into a safe, competent pistolero.

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