The trap of specialization is rampant in martial training, whether it is empty hands or tools. The belief that a narrow focus is the path to mastery will often lead to the problem of “functional fixedness”.
In David Epistien’s book “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” uses the 2008 financial collapse as an example of over specialization. He says “legions of specialized groups optimizing risk for their own tiny pieces of the big picture created a catastrophic whole.”
Many believe learning to be linear, in other words a modular progression, and some favor the circular, a continuing cycle of review and depth, both are important, nevertheless a holistic approach, or the master key has the benefit of a quick prioritization of important information allowing adaptation to a new skill. Therefore I am constantly seeking new learning experiences in shooting, and when Claude Werner offered me the chance to take his revolver class, I gratefully accepted the chance to broaden my skill set. I have had several revolvers in my classes, and I sometimes carry a J frame as my workout or gym gun. I need to be proficient, and accountable with any of my choices.
If you haven’t had the chance to train with Claude Werner you should correct that as soon as possible. His depth of knowledge, mastery of craft, and teaching skills are a rare commodity in the training world. His instructions are precise, accurate, and his corrections are insightful. One of the true hallmarks of high level performance is effortlessness in execution, and the efficient application of the fundamental skills. Claude is able to shoot with the ease that most people are able to walk. This class was well organized between marksmanship, manipulations, efficiency, and precision.
One of the more intimidating aspects of revolver shooting for some is the double action trigger. Heavier and longer than the striker fired guns that are so popular today, the uninitiated will try to stage the trigger, or shoot single action only. Claude clearly explains, and demonstrates the nature of keeping the trigger in constant motion while improving the sight picture for a precise shot. We shot a mix of targets ranging from large circles to small circles the size of the ocular area at different distances. We were able to squeeze out quite a bit of precision, and speed out of the revolvers. There were many takeaways, but you will have to take the class to get that information.
As always the fundamentals of shooting are the same, grip, sights, trigger, and follow through, except the grip is different, the revolver points differently , and the sights can range from excellent to barely usable. A proper grip is essential, especially with the J frame. Claude was vigilant in correcting both the height, and the manner of gripping the revolver. Never fear, Claude has a way to make your snubbie sights visible, and usable too. I was reminded what it is like to be new to a firearm, and how much we ask of our clients with an unfamiliar tool. This also helped reset my beginners mind set, which is the true advantage of training with a broad range, furthermore it gave me the ability to look at these skills with a fresh perspective.
The revolver fills a particular niche in my personal protection strategy, either at the gym, deep concealment, or a pocket gun in a heavy winter jacket. Several side benefits from the class were better trigger control, and a deeper focus on the sights during a longer trigger press. These are the reasons why, but more importantly, I am a professional instructor who should have a wide range of knowledge, and skill for my clients. I will put aside my personal preferences to learn as much as possible about my craft, thus widening my ability to look at all information in a new light. It is a great class, and I highly recommend it.
We will be hosting Claude’s Operator Revolver class at our range in Dahlonega so keep an eye out for announcements! See you on the range!
Shelley and I had the great honor of presenting at the Active Self Protection‘s National Conference September 25-27, 2019 located at Living Water Ranch located in Manhattan, KS. This unique event, that is also known as “Bullets and Bibles”, donates all of the proceeds to the Flint Hills Foster Teen Camps.
“In addition to the summer camp for teens, they also do Homes of Hope. When foster teens reach 18, they age out of the system. Many find themselves immediately homeless on their 18th birthday and without the life skills and support system to rise above that challenge. FHFTC proves room and board, along with support and training in basic life skills to ease the transition from foster child to adult. They stay on-site and learn about budgeting, hygiene, cooking, cleaning, job skills, etc. This is a tremendous resource for them and they get to go through this transition with caring adults and counselors to point the way.”
Now this is a cause we can all support! All of the instructors donated their time to this worthwhile program. I have found that being compassionate and generous is a boon for the giver. According to Jason Marsh and Jill Suttie of the Greater Good Magazine (Science Based Insight for a Meaningful Life at UC Berkeley), “When we give to others, we don’t only make them feel closer to us; we also feel closer to them.”
Over 100 shooters supported this event with its worthwhile cause, but there was something unique about this group. All were kind, generous, and interested in personal protection, but that is not what set them apart. Chuck Haggard of Agile Training & Consulting, put it succinctly, “Everyone there was a new shooter”, meaning none of the traveling instructors had seen them before. If you attend enough training classes you get to know the “hard core training junkies”. Tom Givens of Rangemaster believes that there are roughly 5,000 or so people that train consistently, and we all get to know each other. This was 100 new shooters under the tutelage of top instructors, for some of them, it was their first training class ever.
This is noteworthy, and exciting! John Correia, founder and owner of Active Self Protection, has an immense reach on social media, and more importantly, he is a man of faith, allowing him to draw a different community. Bringing this many new people to actively train is what we are all striving for in the firearms training community. Not only that, but the team at ASP, John Correia, Neil Weidner, Chief Marketing Officer/Instructor, Active Self Protection, and Stephannie Weidner, CEO/XO (Executive Officer) of Active Self Protection, built a sense of fellowship, and community that was both inclusive and welcoming. People interacted, and really got to know each other. I noticed a difference on the line immediately, while everyone was attentive, and open, the excitement to all the excellent information being presented was tangible. I think most instructors worked all 3 days, either teaching or assisting in classes, feeding off this infectious enthusiasm flowing through this conference.
Raising money for kids in need, teaching personal protection, and creating a new group of shooters is a success. There are so many people that contributed to this event, giving their time freely, and helping young men and woman improve their lives, let me thank each of you for your generosity. Shelley and I will look forward to attending this conference each year, and spending our time with all of you wonderful folks at this event.
“Virtue is its own reward. There’s a pleasure in doing good, which sufficiently pays itself.” ― John Vanbrugh
Brian: Medical training is arguably the most important training for everyone. Firearms are life saving emergency tools, for ourselves and others, but the chance of having to use a firearm is far less than having a medical emergency.
Sherman House teaches basic medical skills from his vast experience that can help you in an emergency situation. His course offers the skills of accessing and treating with a tourniquet, gauze, chest seal, and compression bandages. His open teaching style allows participants to ask questions, and receive an explanation that is easy to understand. Hands on training and scenarios give each person a chance to learn how to apply the techniques and tools for emergency first aid.
Shelley: I have just celebrated my 32nd year in the medical field working in both the OR and non surgical private practice. As you would assume, I have a vast experience dealing with personalities and different learning approaches and I was very impressed with how Sherm was able to manage all the different levels of medical experience that his students brought to his class.
The morning was set in a “classroom” and the afternoon was “hands on”. The scenarios were fun, stressful, and really made people think about their actions AND reactions. In this 8 hour course he included visual, verbal, physical, and social learning styles which made it easy to learn and easy to retain.
This self described style of MacGyver medicine prepares the average person to respond in a clear, and decisive manner when seconds matter! It’s a great class that could save a life and we plan to host Sherm again and again……….
Brian & Shelley
People like certain techniques, skills, and drills. Inversely they also do not like certain techniques, skills, and drills. How are these preferences started? Learning is often times uncomfortable, and failure is an important part of the process, but avoidance or neglect can become the easiest way to deal with these challenges. The more skillful we become in one area, the more likely we are to avoid areas of weakness, essentially making the gap between skills grow even larger. This cycle will continue until necessity requires us to change, and grow, often times with our ego on the line.
Recently, I competed at our local IDPA match at Ga. Firing Line with a mix of 30 competitors from novice to master level. The stage was limited (no make up shots), support hand only, one to the body, and one to the head, reload, and freestyle one to the body, and one to the head. The targets were mixed partials with one non threat, at 6 yards from the low ready.
The dread was palatable, and murmurs of discontent filled the bay. I heard every possible excuse, and watched a general lack of preparation for the stage. Many just accepted that they would struggle with this challenge. All of this would add up to a self fulfilling prophecy.
I, on the other hand, look forward to stages like this one, because I practice support hand shooting as part of my warm up, shooting 5-10 rounds on small circles. I also shoot qualifications that require dominant and support hand only shooting. I know the pace that I can shoot with one hand only, so I settled in to see the dot, and to shoot the available target area with confidence. When you practice areas of weakness they transform into areas of strength. The welcome feeling of my current level of skill manifesting itself in a timeless sensation, allowing me to just shoot the target. End result is one point down, at a pace that was neither quick nor hurried, allowing me the stage win. This an example of having range in your skill, exploring the fundamentals, and prioritizing the challenges of your skill set. Some shooters lost upwards of 20 points on a 12 round stage, because they had preferred not to shoot with their support hand in practice.
The price of neglect, or avoidance is a lack of skill, which damages our self image of who we are as a shooter. Find your weakness, forget your preferences, and change your priorities in training. The rewards are competence and confidence, the bastion of a strong self image.
There is a great need in the firearms community for a less than lethal option in dealing with personal protection challenges. Knowledgeable instructors in the area of “use of force” for both less than lethal and lethal options are rare. Chuck Haggard of Agile Training & Consulting is experienced in both areas and is one of the few subject matter experts in the industry on the use of Oleoresin Capsicum (pepper spray). OC is an aerosol weapon that is an irritant (tearing of the eyes and takes away vision, causes pain and inflammation, burns lungs and causes shortness of breath) that causes no long term damage, allowing this unique tool to be appropriate for almost everyone. Chuck has diverse experience in law enforcement, both as an instructor and on the street, martial artist, and presenter. Shelley and I invited Chuck to come to GA to teach his OC Instructor Certification Course hosted by The Complete Combatant. We sold out both days and had 24 graduates.
Chuck teaches a class at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference (Tac Con) called “Between a Harsh Word and a Gun”. This class perfectly underlines what most armed citizens face…what are your force options between these two extremes? OC fits this niche well, offering a less lethal weapon that allows you “to poke someone in the eye LONG DISTANCE” thus giving you a chance to break contact with a minimum of force. Few understand how to use OC, much less are qualified to teach it. Thankfully Chuck offers a course to help instructors develop the competence to teach this subject.
Chuck’s OC Instructor Certification Course is roughly 10 hours and offers an in depth lecture on OC’s history, manufacturing, pros & cons, the different aerosol sprays, their uses, and effects. Managing unknown contacts (known as MUC from Craig Douglas of SHIVWORKS) with the use of inert trainers allows the participants to get some practice in application and see the differences between the several OC delivery systems.
Chuck is knowledgeable, articulate, and engaging in his teachings. He obviously enjoys teaching and it shows through his attention to detail, the class prep time involved and his interaction with his clients. Purely my opinion, but all firearms and martial arts instructors would benefit greatly from taking this class. Personal protection is about options, and OC is a good less than lethal tool. Anyone would benefit from learning how to use pepper spray, and would likely make a great entry level class in personal protection. I recommend you take this OC Instructor course to become a more rounded instructor.
Tom Givens defined his expectation of success in this course in his opening statement as paraphrased, “ The goal of this class is to make someone else a better shooter”.
Advanced Instructor’s Course focused on the academics of training, shooting, target selection and scoring, and adult education. We all participated in different drills, test, and qualifications, but the primary object was also to instruct your partner. Diagnosing different shooting problems is challenging at this level, as most of the shooters range from competent to master level. Teamwork between the instructor and shooter is essential, therefore clear and precise communication is a necessity.
When I coach someone new, I watch what they are doing with my full concentration without a preconceived solution in mind. When I see what does not belong, or stands out, I ask a question such as “tell me about your support hand?” This allows the shooter to focus on the area of concern. Sometimes they can tell me in detail about the problem, but most of the time there is an apparent lack of understanding. Now we can communicate together, and work on a solution as a team. When the problem is solved together, we both share in the success. I find great joy in helping others, sometimes to the detriment of my own progress, but what is truly important is the clearly defined goal of success, “help others become better”.
I watched an extraordinarily good shooter overcome a continuing mental error, or self-fulfilling prophecy, after a brief talk about his skill level now, and following the process of shooting until finished. I could tell by his posture that he was fully engaged with the process, and of course this produced a perfect score. I immediately walked over to him and offered my congratulations. As we talked I reminded him that from this moment on, he is now in control of his shooting by following the process. This is the reason we teach, and I am grateful to Tom Givens for putting the focus on building good instructors.
This weekend was difficult for me personally, as I had suffered a groin pull, that left me unable to move without a cane and brace. After spending 6 months in a wheelchair after my motorcycle accident in the late 80’s, I have a real concern over being disabled. I followed my own advice, and focused on the process during class, allowing me to shoot consistently well. Ultimately, we must be a good teacher to ourselves, making corrections without emotional turmoil.
There are many great athletes that can shoot extraordinarily well, however that does not make you a teacher, instead putting the emphasis on helping shooters meet their goals of success above our own progress.
This class is called Advanced Instructor, and our emphasis must be on teaching and building better shooters. Thank you Lee Weems of First Person Safety for hosting this course. I enjoyed working with all the great shooters that are part of the Rangemaster family, and I look forward to my continued growth as an instructor.