What is one thing I advise potential defensive shooting students?
Avoid “checklist” shooting classes. What do I mean by “checklist” classes? Those where the instructor provides a long list of the things that you will (ostensibly) learn in his/her class, implicitly (or explicitly) inviting you to compare how many things he teaches versus how many things another instructor does. It’s a variation of the “mine is bigger than yours” game played by adolescents of all ages.
This topic came to mind recently when I read a review of a “tactical carbine” class someone had taken. The student – gushing with praise over how great the class was – had a long list of things that the class had “learned” over two whole days. My teaching experience happens to include that type of rifle class, and I know for a fact that there is no way to adequately cover even half of his long list in a single two day class. Note the term “adequately.”
Just getting proper explanations (lecture portions) of the techniques he listed would take a couple of days, let alone a single repetition of each technique by each student. (A single repetition, you understand, doesn’t even begin to develop a skill.) In this case, the sheer quantity of techniques presented would have necessitated a “demonstration only” type of curriculum for many of the techniques. Heck, just doing a proper sight-in procedure with a dozen (or more) students will take a good portion of a day, and sight-in was one of the things he listed!
Beyond that, even those things that were actually treated to live fire would not have allowed time for any feedback from the “instructor.” Without feedback, without critique, how do you know how you’ve done – and how to increase your skill? Isn’t that why we train in the first place?
The student who runs his finger down a checklist (see why I use the term?) of things he “learned” in a class will come away impressed – but no more capable. There is a difference between developing a skill (which is what you should be doing in a shooting class) and simply being exposed to the topic (which is undoubtedly the experience of this fellow.) Sadly there are some, both teachers and students, who don’t know the difference.
It’s that old quality vs. quantity equation all over again. In the immediate area we have a couple of shooting schools; one is of the checklist variety, while the other is more concerned about what their students actually retain. The former trades on quantity, while the latter is concerned with quality. Guess which one I recommend when locals ask me which is the better?
When you’re shopping for schooling, what you really want to know is if the teacher covers his/her material thoroughly, and is concerned that the students actually make progress – not how many items are on the checklist. It make take a little more effort to find such a school, but your effort will be rewarded.
Unless, of course, you just want to compare your checklist against your buddy’s. In that case, there are lots of places that can take your money, and they’re a lot easier to find!
-=[ Grant ]=-
- Posted by Grant Cunningham
- On July 2, 2007