He was a treasure.
He was safe, accurate and fast. I had NOTHING to teach him, except the basic concept that IPSC competition juggles ACCURACY vs SPEED. It took little time to convince him that he needed to know his own competence, and the decide for himself whether he needed to learn to give up a few points on ACCURACY to benefit his natural talent to shoot quickly with little loss of ACCURACY.
After the minimal "shoot two shots at one target" exercises, to determine his level of competence, I decided to present more challenging exercises.
(When you have only one student, you get to flex his wings and on-the-spot invent stages which are more difficult: it's even more fun when your student is very competent in basic shooting skills, and you get to introduce him to
You can first move the targets farther away from the firing point, make them more complicated with mandatory reloads, and mix cardboard targets with steel targets.Eventually, I began to play "dirty tricks" on him.
Then add movement between different firing points, and eventually make the exercises "Free Form" so the student learns to evaluate the course of fire and determine his OWN "best" solution to the shooting problem!)
I thought that if I made the target challenges sufficiently complicated, I would confuse him .. and he would be too shy to ask questions.
I told him what he "could do", but didn't tell him what he "Couldn't do" on a complex stage exercise.
For example, I put steel targets on the right side of the bay, and a shooting box on that side.
And then I made him run through three stages of engaging those steel targets from the shooting box on the right side of the bay.
Then I set up cardboard targets on the LEFT side of the bay, with a shooting box, and had him run several exercises on cardboard from that shooting box.
Then I capped it off by combining both the cardboard and the steel targets, without moving them, and told him that he had to engage all targets from a shooting box. (There were 2 shooting boxes on the bay, one left in front of the cardboard, one on the right side of the bay, in front of the steel targets).
I didn't move ANY props, just gave him the shooting problem and allowed him to choose the best shooting solution with no prompting, no clues, no hints. The only criteria: engage all targets from a box. And started him on the left side (the cardboard was on the left side of the bay; the more difficult targets ... the steel targets .. were on the right side of the bay).
He engaged ALL targets, regardless of where they were sited in the very large shooting bay, from his original starting position; the left side of the bay. He had enough ammunition in his starter magazine to engage all targets from one position ... as long as he didn't miss.
He didn't miss.
He didn't ask questions.
He just listened. When is the last time you met anyone who actually "Listened"?
He didn't take the bait to move to the 2nd shooting box (closer to the steel targets), and he had 14 rounds in his Glock to engage 5 paper (10 rounds) and two steel (US popper and Pepper Popper .. diagonally opposite of his starting position) and get ALL of his hits!
In a single 14-round magazine!
(I later trained him to take advantage of "dead time", as in "moving from one shooting position to another". He understood immediately that "Random Chance"might affect a reload, or a jam, or anything which might require him to dispose of an "iffy" magazine in the middle of a stage, for the sake of expediency.)
Eventually, I closed the class a little earlier than I would have with a larger class ... I worked him hard, with very little rests between exercises. He never tired, he never faltered, he never lost his concentration. And even when I teased him, he laughed instead of taking offense.
It's hard on a competitor, when he has few opportunities to rest between "stages"I think I gave him as much exercise in 3 hours as he would have experienced in a regular match, with rests between shooters. He had the stamina and the strength to endure the never-ending exercises; and still he got better from one exercise to the next.
Example: I tease students by presenting three targets at 7 yards, until they become accustomed to the "Hey, This Is Easy" mindset.
Then I move the targets back to ten yards, and what was previously an "Easy A-Zone Hit" was a wobbly C-zone near-miss.
This student (I'll call him Neal .. not close to his name) never allowed himself to be fooled by the change of distance from CLOSE to FAR targets .. except for the first time. He got his first miss on a 15-yard target .. and never missed again. I didn't have to tell him he needed to be more 'deliberate' when switching from easy/close targets to difficult/far targets. He got it the first time he missed a target, and he slowed down to 'deliberate' shooting on far targets; they weren't all A-zone hits, but they were all cardboard, all the time.
When your experience as an instructor is trying to get new students to hit the CLOSE targets consistently, it's a joy to see a student with the competence to hit FAR targets, and then watch him toy with the challenge to see how consistently he can get hits without spending too much time trying for the perfect sight-picture.
The biggest challenge in IPSC is to balance speed and accuracy; this man managed to GROK that in the first hour.
I wish all of my students in the "Introduction to USPSA" were as experienced, and as talented. But then, I would be out of a job.
And I must admit .. teaching people how to compete in IPSC matches, safely and (maybe, sometimes) COMPETITIVELY?
That's the best job I have ever had.
They don't pay me to teach this class; it's volunteer to pay back the club and the sport.
But when it comes down to it .. I would pay the Albany Rifle and Pistol club to allow me to teach this class!
I always thought that shooting an IPSC match was the second greatest thrill imaginable.
Now I think that introducing talented people to the nuances of competition might just edge out the Competitive experience.
But don't tell anyone at ARPC ... somebody might take away my Gig!