Instructor firing pistol

Why you need training.


Instructor firing pistol

This is a recycled and expanded Facebook post I made a while back.

Disclaimer: I’m a firearms instructor.

One day you say to yourself, “I want to be a better shot.” So you load up your guns and ammo and head to the nearest rock quarry to “practice.” You set up some bottles and cans and blaze away. Right? Wrong.

Perhaps you realize that you have some basic faults, and you know you need someone to help correct them. So you call uncle Phil. This guy has been shooting since he was knee high to a grasshopper, and gets his deer every year. He’s the perfect guy to help you, right? Wrong.

An instructor can watch you shoot a string and diagnose your problem. He or she can then make a correction for you. It’s not a one step process. Fixing one problem usually uncovers another. By the end of the session, your instructor should have you squared away. Your instructor will also recommend a series of exercises you can perform on your own to reinforce proper techniques. This diagnostic/correction/reinforcement isn’t something you can get from reading books or watching videos. Uncle Phil may be able to do it, but unless it’s something he does on a regular basis, it’s doubtful.

Books! Videos! There are hundreds of books on the subject, and thousands of hours of video on YouTube, so just read and watch, right? Wrong.

Like anything in life, to be adept at shooting takes practice. To be proficient at it takes more practice. To be expert at it takes, well, a whole LOT of practice. After all, practice makes perfect, right? Wrong. PERFECT practice makes perfect. If you have imperfections in your fundamentals, grip, sight alignment, trigger squeeze, etc., practice without correcting them only reinforces bad habits. And it’s far easier to develop proper habits than break bad ones.

Instructors get to see shooting mistakes over and over (and over and over and over) so the diagnosis is quick. We also know what the fastest fixes are. And we generally have several different ways to fix something, because not all shooters are created equal. We know how to work around physical limitations, equipment idiosyncrasies, and personal learning styles.

The cost of instruction is quickly offset by your savings in ammunition and frustration. One class normally gets a student where they need to be. Beats a bunch of trips to the rock quarry with uncle Phil.

When you go shooting, have a goal in mind. Don’t just practice the shots you’re good at, spend the majority of your range time on your weakest areas. If you want to plink cans, fine. Shooting is supposed to be fun. Just save your plinking for before (preferably) or after your training session. And once you start training, TRAIN. Stick to your routine. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t able to do as well as you want to do right away. The reason you’re out there is to improve, isn’t it? Keep at it and you’ll reach the level you want.

Take a partner when you go to the range. Besides the obvious safety factor should something happen to you, your partner can watch for any problems creeping in to your shooting. Let them know what your instructor had to correct in your grip, sight alignment, trigger squeeze, draw, whatever, and have them call you out if they see you backsliding.

And you’re thinking, “John wrote this because he’s trying to increase his business”, right? Wrong. Whether you come to me or another instructor, I just want you to be the best shot you can be and get the maximum enjoyment out of our sport.


The Tactical Pirate

View posts by The Tactical Pirate
President and lead instructor. Follow me on Twitter, and check out our blog.

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