I was privileged to be the Guest Speaker at The Mingle 2018, a firearms community networking event this past Saturday. My topic was Myths, Misconceptions, and Solutions in the Firearms Training World. There is such a myriad of examples that I have decided to start writing #mythsandmisconceptionsmonday. I would like to acknowledge the influence John Farnam, Greg Hamilton, and Craig Douglas have had in the development of my fascination with the topic.
The misconception that resonated the most with the audience was Training is not an event, it’s a process. Too often in the training community, we put on a training event and our clients then leave with the impression they are ‘trained.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. Training is only the preparation for practice.
Regardless of how fundamental or how complex the training is, practice afterward is essential. The practice will then prepare the client to apply those skills reflexively. Without subsequent practice, the skills will soon be lost. Practice can also prepare the client for training at a higher level. The NRA Training Department’s progression of Basics Of Pistol Shooting, Personal Protection In The Home, and Personal Protection Outside The Home is a good example of a training process that involves clients over a period of time.
The NRA recognizes the necessity for practice after a course by including in every training course syllabus a follow-up program for the clients to follow. The follow-up Skill Development Exercises consist of a series of repetitive drills that reinforce the skills taught in that class. The Marksmanship Qualification Program is yet another possible means of practicing and furthering a client’s skillset.
We instructors often complain that our clients rarely come back for additional training. Perhaps that’s because we don’t do a good job of educating our clients that they have started on a journey, not reached a destination.
Well stated, and I would hope a large number of Instructors think about this. I’m reminded that several schools, to include the venerable GUNSITE, Thunder Ranch and Rogers Shooting School publish practice regimens, both dry and live fire, to continue developing proficiency.
One dilemma is the nature of defensive weaponcraft; it is a skill/attitude which is rarely, if ever used, and not rewarded or practiced on a daily basis. Think about it: as an American adult, after some investigation and perhaps evaluation, I am issued a
“carry permit, ”. As an American teenager, after some training and evaluation, I was issued a “Drivers License”. I practice the driving skills daily, and the incentive is high(back and forth to work,freedom of mobility, etc.) and punishment for doing it “wrong” clear: tickets, insurance penalties, eventually loss of “permission”.
I practice weekly because I value it. We should give some thought to how to encourage and reinforce practice.
I tell every THSC client, they have bought a piano, taken a lesson, but they are not Liberache (sp). It fall son deaf ears.
^^Ronnie is still trying to teach me to play Chop Sticks!
It was an absolute pleasure having you as our guest speaker at The Mingle 2018 on Saturday. I have been thinking about your presentation and more than a few things really made an impression on me. Thank you for continuing to make us all think a little deeper…..
It is partly a matter of what all good teaching is about: getting beginning students to recognize that they overestimate their skills (the Dunning-Kruger Effect). Push your students to the point that they get a feeling for their present limitations, with some sense of humility, but also with the knowledge that shooting is a process of learning and progressive improvement for those who will practice, reflect, and then practice some more.
This is one reason I think bullseye competition is so useful in developing basic shooting skills. Does bullseye directly reflect the real world of self defense? Largely, no, it does not. But it presents students with clear-cut demands and few opportunities for lame excuses. One cannot make progress without actually coming to grips with the fundementals of trigger control, proper grip, sight picture, rhythm when making mutiple shots, etc. A single season shooting in a series of matches in a winter postal league is invaluable -and we haven’t even mentioned the valuable feedback from other shooters.
In fact, I’ll go out on a limb here, and admit I encourage all defensive pistol students to try at least one other shooting sport. Want to know what speed is all about? Take up trap, skeet, or hunt upland birds -you’ll learn to “take your time fast.” Precision, when needed? Go to rifle, or bullseye. Along the way, the lesson will be driven home about the need to practice. There is no substitute for feeling your “style” fall apart under pressure to encourage practice, and no teacher wants to hear of that happening to a student in a deadly encounter. One or the other arm will instill the necessary humility to keep the student practicing.
Go back a generation, and you’ll find it was very common for shooters to be active and highly skilled with long arms as well as handguns. This is much less common now. It is a serious loss of diversity.
I agree completely with the idea of experiencing other shooting sports and activities. There’s a great deal to be learned from such cross-pollination. In addition to being certified by the NRA in six training disciplines, I have shot IDPA, USPSA, GSSF, Steel Challenge, Rimfire Steel Challenge, trap, skeet, and competitive smallbore. They were all valuable to my growth as a shooter.
The most succinct treatment of the topic that I have seen. Gonna have to use it for my own training in other arenas.
I certainly enjoyed reading this article and the responses.
I hope to work on some of this at practice sessions.