So, when talking to folks who have never been to formal training that did not involve everyone wearing the same clothes and addressing others as "Sergeant" or "Sir", I've found some... odd ideas.(There's also a Gun Skool Thoughts, Part I.)
I thought Part I was okay, but Part II was bang on!
I found that the points made by the author were pertinent and important. So you should go read it.
As you may have noticed, I have used the word *(I)* a lot already, and I will be using it all through this article; the reason is that I will be discussing my personal experience as a firearms trainer.
I've been instructing in a class named "INTRODUCTION TO USPSA" at my local club for the past six years now; sometimes nobody registers, my largest class has been 15 students, but the perfect class size is about 7 members. That's enough for them to learn from each others' mistakes ... which is a powerful learning tool.
(I've talked about this a LOT over the past few years. If you're heard it all before, this is a good point for you to move on to a much more 'fresh' topic.)
Because of that I considered the cited Clue Meter articles to be worthwhile to anyone who wants to learn any part of the shooting sports, and is trying to evaluate the worth of the training that they receive there. I was personally gratified because, except for the comments of the people who go through this four-hour course, I have never had the course evaluated. I have received professional instruction on "How To Conduct A Training Course", but generally speaking I have developed my own curriculum and teaching techniques.
The course consists of a lecture segment, which rarely ends at the scheduled one-hour time-limit. There are two many points of competition rules and safety to cover, and frankly not everyone who registers for the course are as well versed in safe gun-handling as they should be. Sometimes we spend a lot of time on 'remedial' training. Many attendees have received little or more training, and many have little experience in competition which requires them to draw their pistol from a holster.
My opening comments are along the line of introducing myself, explaining that:
"I received my Intro to USPSA training in 1983, I am a B-class shooter in the few divisions in which I compete, and I'm not very good at it. But I am experienced; I'm a Certified Chief Range Officer, and my instruction will be to show you what the rules are, what they mean, and how to get through an IPSC match safely."We don't talk about Defensive Shooting Techniques, although we talk a lot about what the safety rules and why they exist.
On occasion, I use real-life match experiences to illustrate why rigid rules are necessary, and I have a visual aid explaining the "Seven Deadly Sins of IPSC Competition" .... which are one-line blurbs which are the only outline of the class.
As we begin, I ask each person to stand up, introduce themselves to the class, and tell us a bit about their experience with firearms and firearms competition. That only makes us all personal 'best friends forever', but helps me to evaluate the level of expertise that I can expect from each person.
I also tell them that this is an 'open forum' discussion; if they have questions, they should let me know. I sometimes ask them to remember the question and ask me again after I've finished my thought; usually, though, the questions are immediately pertinent and give the impression that this is not a tightly structured class when The Instructor Knows Everything ... but rather a discussion among peers.
AFTER we have hit the main points, and all questions have been answered, we take a 15 minute break. Then we go into the prop room and pull out target stands, a half-dozen IPSC targets (which the club ... Albany Rifle and Pistol Club in Albany, Oregon) generously provides, also some steel targets, shooting boxes, and any other props which seem reasonable for the second phase of the lesson:
LIVE FIRING EXERCISE
This is the part that takes so long. Everyone gears up. (I've already told the class that, while the RANGE doesn't require everyone to wear protective glasses while on the range, I do personally require everyone to wear them during the class session ... which starts at "Hello").
Gearing UP means getting a holster, magazine carriers, loaded magazines all secured on a sturdy belt which fits through at least three belt loops. This is a rule, which is not ever enforced in USPSA but I teach it because ALL rules are important.
We start out learning the Range Commands.
LOAD AND MAKE READY:
They stand in a shooting box before one target, and at the command the acquire their pistol, load a magazine, chamber a round, safe and holster their pistol.
At the sound of the electronic timing buzzer's beep, they draw and fire one round at the target.
Then they unload and show clear ... and we repeat the command.
They then repeat the same exercise. This allows them to learn and understand the basic range commands.
Each exercise becomes more complex, and includes more competition elements:
- Engaging multiple targets
- Mandatory Reloads
- Movement between shooting positions
- Shooting with strong-hand or weak-hand only
- Engaging reactive (steel) targets
- Shooting targets at near distance (7 yards) and far distance (20 yards)
- Different starting positions (hands, holding objects, starting facing uprange, barricades etc.)