I hadn't realized how much I missed this opportunity to familiarize "New Shooters" in the arcania of Practical Pistol shooting in the past six months, but to my joy I discovered that I had as much fun yesterday (October 3, 2009) as I did during my first instructional experience in June of last year.
Mac only identified one student (Corbin) when he notified me that a class was scheduled for October, but one is enough.
I was surprised -- and delighted --- when Luc ("Luke") and Gerry showed up for the class. One is enough for a good class, but having other attendees allows them to get to know other people in approximately the same situation. That is to say, they're new to competition in this oddball sport, and discovering that they're not the only people who are interested in IPSC/USPSA competition allows them to share their questions and experiences.
The standard syllabus includes:
- practicing basic range commands: "Make Ready", "Unload and Show Clear", as well as knowing when the shooter session begins and ends ("Range Clear");
- Engaging a single target;
- Engaging multiple targets, and mandatory reloads;
- Engaging multiple targets, reloads, moving to secondary shooting positions;
- Engaging multiple targets from behind a Bianch Barricade;
- Fault Lines - "In the Box", "Out of the Box", and neither "IN" nor "OUT" of the box (stage procedure definitions);
- Immediate action to clear jams;
- Scoring, role of Range Officer, and Assistant Range Officer ("Score Keeper")
- forward-falling poppers;
- strong-hand/weak-hand shooting;
- stage walk-through, and the value of understanding the nuances of a stage before shooting the stage.
Two of the students had studied the Columbia Cascade Training Manual (see link to the document at the CCS website, here) and had completed the worksheet. One student had not read the manual or completed the test. That he did not have the information needed to answer the 20 questions on the test, but still performed adequately during the live-fire portion of the class, proved that reviewing the test in class helped train people who don't have the advantage of having read the preparatory materials. In fact, after an hour discussion of the test questions the live-fire exercises showed no difference of actual gun-handling or stage-engagement ability between the two students who had read the material and completed the test, and the single student who had not been exposed to USPSA training documentation at all.
I hope that the student who has not read the manual will take the opportunity to do so before the test-match next weekend. We cannot teach all of the basic concepts in class, due to time constraints. We expect the students to read the manual before the first exposure to competition, both for their benefit and because we want to make sure than miscellaneous Safety concepts have been provided even if they are inadvertently overlooked during the three-hour live-fire instruction portion of the training.
It was no surprise to me that I found each of the attendees to be responsible, safety-conscious and skilled gun-handlers. We saw
Generaly speaking this was one of the most rewarding classes I have taught, given that it was not one-on-one training and I did not have an assistant to demonstrate each stage (I was my own demonstrator, and I fired a total of 12 rounds in demonstrating the stages.)
I brought my camera with the full intent to film the attendees, for their own benefit during the class. In the actual event, I had no time to use the camera. It wasn't really necessary, but I would welcome the opportunity to film a class some time in the future. I think it is (or would be) a valuable training tool, but perhaps more usable if the resultant videos could be used during the class rather than posted on the Internet for everyone to see. It's not a way to embarrass students, but a tool which they can use to improve their performance. But that is for a future date, with perhaps a smaller class and a dedicated photographer. Perhaps I can convince SWMBO to come along to perform that function.
Women in USPSA Competition:
One of the attendees (Gerry) noted in conversation that he would like to get his wife interested in USPSA competition.
Actually, she is already interested, but she is hesitant to enter training and (after that) competition because she doesn't feel comfortable in the milieu, although they have watched IPSC/USPSA competition at the ARPC club.
SWMBO has been available for the past several years to introduce women to USPSA, and to help make it clear that "Girls Can Do This". Although SWMBO will not, in the near future, be able to provide an active role-model in USPSA competition (because she has Lung Cancer, and cannot 'move about' without an oxygen tank on her back), she may be able to fulfill the duties of a "Demonstrator" for this very limited set of scenarios.
More important, she can server as a Role-Model to show prospective women competitors that competing in USPSA is a viable proposition for women as well as for men.
I know that SWMBO loves USPSA competition, and misses it more than you may imagine. Perhaps it would be valid to set up a class with only prospective female USPSA attendees, with a contribution by SWMBO to be limited to one or two demonstrations, and perhaps an opportunity for female attendees. to discuss the USPSA experience.
This last concept is very much off-the-top-of-my-head, but I am confident that we can define a situation in which she will be not only capable, but willing to participate.
It depends on her physical limitations, and the demand for a lady instructor. It may not be possible to set up until late next spring but I know that new lady participants are more likely to be convinced by another lady shooter than by anything I can say.
What about it? Are there men out there who would welcome an "Introduction to USPSA" class which was oriented toward Lady Shooters if there was an established Lady Shooter available to take an active role in the training?