Practice Makes Prefect.

Thinking a bit more about last week’s post, I’ve had a fair amount of firearms training so far (250 or so hours at the moment, with more to come), but I haven’t had homework after a class. I’ve never been handed a structured practice regimen after a class was finished and been told “Ok, here’s some things you can do you improve your skills after I leave town.”

Homework works for college students, so why won’t it work for gun students?

We go to gun school to learn good habits / get rid of bad ones, and yet when gun school is done, there is nothing handed out that would make practice a habit for us.

“Ah-ha!,” you say, “That’s because if you go to gun school, practice should be a habit for you!”

“Should” is not “is”. I don’t practice as much as I should, and I hardly think I’m alone in this. Anything to help get my lazy butt up off the couch and dry-firing or going to the range (especially things that work on an indoor range) will increase the value of returning to gun school after the class is over.

And yes, I get that homework is not fun (as someone who has a thirteen year old who has to be browbeaten to do homework every night, believe me, I understand this,), but achieving and excelling at set goals?

That’s fun, and also rewarding.

Just Another Good Guy With A Gun.

Eight people were injured last night in a stabbing attack at a mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota. The stabber was moved to a permanently horizontal resting position by a quick-thinking and appropriately-armed off-duty cop.

St. Cloud Police Chief William Blair Anderson said the suspect, whom he did not identify, was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction.

Oh, did I mention the stabber was asking his victims if they were Muslim or not before he attacked them?

Amish. I blame the Amish for this.

More importantly, this attack was stopped by someone at the right time and right place with the right skills and training to save lives. My more progressive friends will say “Ah ha, but’s he’s a cop!”, to which I say “So? I’m trained better than most cops. I spend weekends at matches that teach me how to make the shot in difficult situations. Cops should HOPE to be as well-trained as I am.”

The average beat cop never has to draw his weapon, which is a good thing indeed, but they also have to deal with dumb stuff like domestic violence calls and stupid people. I am more than willing to let them handle that stuff, as long as I can keep doing my job, which is keep my family and friends safe.

 

Analyzing Your Performance With Video

I had a chance to play around with the Max Michel Shot Coach app this weekend with Jeff Street of Step By Step Gun Training.

I likely. Here’s a demo video made by the Shot Coach app people to show you what it’s like.

For $5, it’s hard to go wrong, especially if you’re in the business of helping others shoot better. While it’s designed for competitive shooting, it works really well with just about any firearms-related activity. The more you know about how to get shots on-target quickly and accurately, the more this app will be of use to you. As for myself, thanks to this app, I found out that while I was lifting my support hand up nice and high when grabbing and clearing my cover garment, I was letting it drop down to waist-level before extending out my pistol, leading to slower first shots.

Whoops.

Check it out for yourself, you may be surprised with how it helps you.

Thanks For Playing, We Have Some Lovely Parting Gifts For You.

I’ve taken a few classes from a few firearms instructors who flew in, taught a two-day class, then flew out of town. This is pretty much the standard for the itenerant teacher these days, and it’s a good way to get a good grounding in the instructor’s style and make it your own.

Or is it?

There is a LOT of information stuffed into a two-day class, and I’ve found, at least for myself, that if I take away two or three items that I can apply to my shooting style, the class, for me, was a success. This implies, however, that I can apply those items to how I shoot, because let’s face it, there is not many opportunities for people go out and practice tactical shooting. Access to outdoor pistol bays and backyard ranges is limited for most people, and so learning how to draw, move and shoot from a tactical firearms instructor means little if the students in the class have limited opportunities to practice what they’ve been taught?

So what’s the solution? Well the obvious one is to build more outdoor ranges, but that’s getting harder and harder to do. Another solution might be for the instructor to come prepared with lessons and practice drills that can maintain the student’s skills, but ones that can be shot in an indoor range that doesn’t allow for movement or drawing from a holster. Claude Werner’s got a bunch of them in his book, maybe you can steal a few and turn them over to your students.

Getting the students to practice lessons that can augment what they’ve learned in class has two advantages for the instructor: It improves the quality of the students that they’re teaching, and it builds brand loyalty: Customers who practice a teacher’s methods tend to want to take more classes from that instructor.

Do you want to teach a class one time, or create students for life?

The choice is yours.

The Default Setting Is Fun.

funfunfun

Thinking a little more about yesterday’s post, one of the biggest issues that Gun Culture 2.0 has is helping people get serious about shooting. Gun Culture 1.0 didn’t have that problem because the shooting is the culmination, not the beginning of a hunt and a poor shot could be overcome with a closer stalk. Getting people to do more with their gun than just go to a range and make noise is a challenge, because blasting away and making noise IS A WHOLE LOT OF FUN. Taking a class and finding out how much you suck?

Not fun.

I’m still not certain how we can bridge that gap between the joy of shooting loudly and the confidence of shooting well. Kathy Jackson uses a swimming lesson metaphor and it’s a good one, the closest one I’ve yet found to helping people understand how training can make a day on the range more fun than an untrained day on the range.

Taking a walk in the woods is fun, so therefore, people go out into the woods and hunt. Riding in a boat across the lake and chatting with your friends is fun, so people go fish. Going to the range and shooting is fun, so people do that as well. Shooting a competition with your friends is fun, and that needs to talked about more often if we want Gun Culture 2.0 to thrive.

The First Steps Are Always The Hardest.

I am continually amazed at how much bad advice there is out there when it comes to helping people shooting more gooder with a pistol. Yelling “Front sight! Front sight!” over and over again to someone not shooting well means little if the person behind the trigger doesn’t understand that what you mean is “Watch what the front sight is doing in relationship to the rear sights before, during and after you press the trigger.”

We wouldn’t expect a blindfolded quarterback to be able to throw the ball accurately *, so why do we expect people to shoot well when they can’t predict their shots will hit before they pull the trigger?

More thoughts on this over on Ricochet.com.


* Ok, let’s face it, Peyton Manning or Joe Montana could do it, but they’re not human.

Faith-Based Firearms Training

If I myself set the standards for what it would get me into heaven, you’re darn right I’m going to set standards that I am capable of passing. I’d say something like “Don’t use Microsoft Windows, drink light beer or go to an American League game (because the DH sucks) and lo, yours is the kingdom of Heaven.”

By the same token, if I set the standards for when I feel I’m good enough to defend myself with a firearm, chances are, I’m going to set the standards at a point I know I’m capable of reaching. I can hit paper at 25 yards? Dude, I am SO ready!

The problem is, most firearms owners today feel they are capable of defending themselves with their gun, but they have no desire to expose themselves to a revival service (also called a basic pistol class or a match) and have a “come to Jesus” moment on how bad they really are and how woefully unprepared they are to put rounds on-target under stress. The only thing that saves most of them, I think, is that the crooks are even less-prepared to deal with a gunfight, and tend to run away when things go bad for them.

This is not true of an active shooter. Dealing with an active shooter, someone who will not give up until you and a bunch of other people are dead, is taking things to a new level. Flight 93 showed us that even the most determined of attackers can be stopped, but only at a high, high cost to ourselves.

Not sure if I’m ready. And I know I don’t want to find out if I am.

Mind of No Mind

I’m in agreement with Gabe here, though I’ll take it one stop further than he does.

I use some that favor low stances and quick foot work, others that favor circular arm movements, and others that are quick and staccato in movement.

But I do them routinely, like I work dry-firing – the pistol kata – into my daily life.  From mindfulness comes mindlessness…and from a study of patterns comes freedom from patterns.

Thanks to competition, I don’t think about reloading under pressure, I just do it. Yes, I may not do them all the time with my head up in a state of tactical awareness all the time, but the mag goes into the gun quickly and smoothly and my sights are back on target right quickly. You learn in a match how to move quickly and safely with a gun in your hand. You learn what you need to see to get your hits on-target quickly and efficiently. You learn to deal with small amounts of stress so you’ll be able to deal with the stress of a gun fight.

Dry fire is kata. Matches are sparring. Gun fights are, well, gun fights.

What If The Next Rung On The Ladder Isn’t There?

I’ve been on a tear recently about how few people who get a concealed carry permit and then do anything with it, like, oh, I don’t know… CARRY A GUN.

I honestly can’t understand that. It’s like getting a driver’s license and then immediately selling your car and riding the bus for the rest of your life.

It occurred to me this morning, though, that maybe people don’t get post-CCW training is because the post-CCW training offered by their permit instructor SUCKS. Most instructors, I believe, look at the minimum requirements needed to teach concealed carry, get them, and then stop because hey, I’m qualified now. They don’t teach advanced classes because they can’t teach advanced classes. At best, they’ll get an additional NRA cert, like Personal Protection Outside The House, and away they go.

No additional trust images, no evidence of outside learning, no evidence of ongoing education, just hey, NRA Qualified Instructor!

We don’t allow our kids to be taught by a teacher who stopped learning the day they graduated with their degree, so why should we settle for a CCW instructor whose last training class was during the Bush Administration?

The Bush Sr. administration.

This attitude of instructor complacency needs to change. If instructors want better students and more revenue opportunities, they need to be better instructors.