Sunday, February 07, 2016

Shooting Culture: "Sometimes, you just need to shoot out of the box"

Competition shooting isn't just about "Hitting the A-zone"; sometimes it's about the friends you make.    Nobody talks about that any more.

I teach a monthly class (club sponsored) in "Introduction to USPSA".   My only criteria in accepting new students is that they have previous experience in handgun shooting, and that they care enough about receiving training to actually spend an afternoon in the class.  There is no charge for the class, I present the training just to encourage new shooters (or, sometimes, to discourage those who have neither the basic experience or skills to safely handle a pistol).   The class is advertised as "an ADVANCED class, and students who cannot perform basic gun-handling skills will not successfully complete the course".

SOMEBODY needs to evaluate the two-part skills sets of "new shooters":
(1) basic gun-handling expertise
(2) 'advanced' gun-handling under the stress of time factors

This is essentially a method of allowing shooters to experience "stressful" competition situations, so they can decide for themselves whether they should enter the competition pistol milieu.   It's sufficiently rigorous so that people who can't learn ... are discouraged.  (Not by me, but by their own experience in a setting which loosely parallels the competition environment which they have decided to "try out").

 Those who can learn are encouraged, because they advance their skills sets in a single afternoon of shooting.

Those who cannot learn usually never come back, because they have proved to themselves that they either need to get more training, or they just don't care enough about competitive pistol shooting to learn the skill sets needed to perform competitively.

Fifty percent of my students do not, historically, ever attempt to shoot in a match.
Fifty percent of those who do participate in competition never come back to shoot a second match.

Some of those who pass those two informal "filters" decide that they have learned what they need to know, but they are not really interested in competition.  

A small minority of people who take this class go on to compete, and may or may not continue for more than a couple of matches.

But the people who do come back are hooked for life.  And they learn more every time they shoot a match.

I've said most of that before, but for this month's class I was joined by my shooting-buddy "The Hobo Brasser" who volunteered to help me in the class.   He was not rewarded by the club for his contribution (he's not a member of the same gun club) but he just wanted to get some trigger time in, and this seemed like a good opportunity to shoot without having to pay match fees.  

Hobo's job was to act as the "demonstrator"; for each new training exercise, he would be the first shooter for the stage, and show the students 'how to do it'.  Which saved me a LOT of time because I could provide minimal descriptions of the shooting problem, and he would then show them one way to address it.

This introduced a new 'algorithm' to the training experience, because while I'm focused on the technical aspects of shooting safety and competition shooting, Hobo is a bull-shitter.

He would engage individuals, sometimes most of the class, in dialogue where he would tell jokes and describe competition experiences.  That served to give the class members some understanding of the culture of competition shooting.  I don't have TIME to do that, especially when I have ten new shooters to instruct and run through training exercises.

Hobo was able to introduce new shooters to the 'culture' of the competitive sport.  He has a million
"shooting match" stories, some of which are even true (mostly), and he helped the students to understand that competitive shooting is not such a dry, humorless experience but it's also a culture.

This had absolutely nothing to do with learning to shoot, or deciding whether you wanted to compete.
But it had everything to do with new shooters deciding whether they wanted to take up the sport.

Sometimes, just finding a group of people who share your same values, and the same activities, is more valuable than testing yourself against others to decide who is the best of the best.

Very few of us are "The Best of The Best".

But a lot of us are worth getting to know, and to spend time with.  Most competition at the level I've described involves friends competing with friends.  

This isn't what IPSC or USPSA is about, but it's what Real People are about.


Mark said...

I resemble that!

Anonymous said...

The brotherhood and sisterhood of shooters is a great thing. It is something that non-shooters fail to recognize and/or understand.