Sunday, February 06, 2011

Teaching and Shooting: It's All Good

To my great surprise, I discovered today that teaching an "Introduction to USPSA" class is a great way to get some range time.

My training technique is "Tell, Show, Shoot" approach.

  • First I tell the students what they will be doing on each stage of the Life Fire Excercises;
  • Then I show them what it lo0ks like ( in slow-time, preferably, so they can see what is happening"
  • Then the each come up to The Line and emulate what they have had described, and what they have seen.
This approach has multiple values as a training regimen. It becomes crystal clear to each student what must be done to solve the "shooting problem", and it re-enforces the concept that one need not shoot quickly to perform well.

In fact, the mantra (is there is one) is that "the fastest shooter doesn't necessarily win the stage".

And the apotheosis is :
Q: what is the most common mistake mistake made by new shooters?
A: Shooting too fast.

In fact, the fastest shooter sometimes DOES win the stage, but that's only true when the "fastest shooter" in only quick, but accurate. And experienced.
But that doesn't really deliver the message, so for "new shooters" we emphasize Accuracy.

And we tell them that "speed will come ... when you someday discover that you can shoot as accurately at a higher speed".

It's true, but for 99% of us, it's not true. The exceptions do NOT prove the rule; rather, they are a distraction for those of us who must work to achieve proficiency. So we don't teach it: we teach accuracy, and if every shot isn't an "A-Zone" hit, we reinforce that by saying "Shooting To Fast ... Slow Down!"

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Running a class is a wonderful way for us to get a Reality Check on our own skill set. We tend to think that we are so experienced that we can do no wrong, but in truth that is is bogus thinking. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to dial it down to whatever percent (80%? 50%?) and let the hits fall where they may. Or misses ... if nothing else, it may prove that the best purpose we serve as Instructors is to provide a bad example. There's nothing like standing in front of a class of earger students, and admitting that you missed the freaking target.

Reality check? No, it's a valid test of their ability to score a target which includes a miss. If you have taught the class right, the students do not miss the target. Sometimes, your (*my?*) own fallibility is the best training tool available.

If you are a trainer, it may be a very useful technique to demonstrate that experienced shooters can get caught up in the excitement of the moment, and ... "Shoot Too Fast".

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It has been a while since ARPC (Albany Rifle and Pistol Club) has been able to conduct an "Introduction to USPSA" class. But with the improved weather and the uncommon fair weather we have experienced as a consequence of the "Global Warming" phenomenon, several (six) people chose February in Oregon as a good time to take the class and learn what they need to know before beginning IPSC competition.

We have a training manual (online) which is down loadable in Oregon. Not everyone chose the option of going through the manual, and completing the exercises before the class. Fortunately, the gun-handling skills of the attendees was excellent, on the average, and there were no problems in the class.

People who shoot in competition ... or want to do so ... tend to be (if I can make an observation) intelligent, responsible and competent, so we had NO problems during the training. I was pleased that everyone who attended was able to focus on competition issues, and not on basic gun-handling skills. Or, in other words, nobody screwed up to the degree which would have required me to flunk them from the class.

We got through the one hour of classroom instruction okay, and the surprises of actually going through the live-fire drills was decidedly more rewarding than problematic. As I had no demonstrator, I was "forced" to act as the demonstrator myself; this solved the problem of "describe, SHOW and experience" and also served to allow me some "Range Time" of my own.

The thing is, I shoot in competition because I love to shoot. And everyone in the class demonstrated their own personal devotion to "Let's Go Shoot Some Cardboard".


At the end of day ... okay, I'm not going to say that everyone had shot enough to satisf them, but we had a lot of fun and everyone shot safely. What else are we here for?