Hidden benefits

Competition is a divisive topic in the shooting world. While certainly not for everyone, there are some hidden benefits that are not often discussed.


As a coach in multiple martial disciplines, I have observed the following benefits:

  • The skills necessary to compete must be evaluated. Draw, transitions, accuracy, speed, shot calling, and movement will need to be identified as a strength or weakness.
  • Measurement of the skills is necessary for improvement. How long does it take to perform a skill? Can I hit the target at a difficult distance? Can I shoot from different positions? Can I call my shot?
  • Planning and scheduling for practice becomes a priority. Focusing on up coming competition encourages daily practice.
  • Visualization programs the mind to perform competently and efficiently. Creating a mental vision of the necessary skills and strategies the required for the match.
  • Competition is a measurement of your actual skill. You will perform at the level of skill you have earned in practice.
  • Letting go of things you cannot control. The only control you have is over yourself, therefore let go of trying,and just perform. Everything else is out of your control.
  • Self reflection and the scores give you a baseline of successes , lessons learned, and a plan of action to improve weak areas.
  • A true comparison of skill against other competitors. If your training program is working you will see improvement relative to your level of commitment.
  • Emotional fortitude is essential. Developing perseverance and detachment in the face of performance pressure is the greatest gift of competition. A feeling of empowerment and self-control that are accessible in your daily life, enabling you to meet adversity with self-reliance.

preparation-is-the-keyThe competition is not as important as the preparation. Competitors measure and train, cyclically, preparing for the best performance and mastery of their skill. Changing your thinking process, planning and designing an effective training program, with a confident evaluation of the actual skill level is the benefit of competing. The defensive shooter would be well served by adopting a similar training process, even if they do not compete. Training is its own reward!

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” Marcus Aurelius


In a nut shell…REFER & ATTEND Tiffany Johnson’s NRA Women on Target clinic!

Hi all. I just wanted to share a few things about my weekend spent with Tiffany Johnson of Front Sight Press, Aqil Qadir and their NRA Women on Target clinic.

On Friday, October 12th I drove about 3 hours to Murfreesboro, TN, which is just outside of Nashville, and joined Tiffany and Aqil for an awesome steak dinner and even better conversation.

On Saturday morning I attended their NRA Women on Target clinic held at Aqil’s facility called Citizens Safety Academy. This was a great place, easy to find, plenty of parking and you can tell they take extra time to set up the classroom specific to the course being taught that day. Tiffany lined up extraordinary assistant instructors (AIs) Aqil Qadir, Marvin Smartt and Sherman House to assist her for the day. This was a SOLD OUT class with a total of 10 ladies. If my memory serves me right, I believe there were 6-7 ladies in this class that had never fired a shot….ZERO firearm knowledge. It was a mixture of all ages and levels but everyone had one thing in common…..TO LEARN!


I will skip a “step by step” play of the day so I have plenty of time to hit the highlights. I feel these photos speak for themselves of Tiffany’s attention to detail, stellar presentation and successful day!

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Tiffany left NOTHING out of her classroom presentation. The PowerPoint was a mixture of stunning images, movement and information. It was modern, easy to follow and she was outstanding on her delivery and answering questions. She went over everything that was required of her by the NRA and MORE! Remember that this was a FIRST experience with firearms for over half the class and many were apprehensive and even a bit scared. Tiffany was able to put their minds at ease through the depth of her knowledge and her own confidence, mixed with a bit of humor. This is a sign of an outstanding teacher.


The drive to the range was beautiful and upon arrival you could tell their attention to detail was not overlooked in the firearm’s portion either. They had a table for each student and the AIs worked like well oiled machines putting up targets, they went over the medial plan, safety rules and expectations were re-visited. Once again, the experience of this team was impressive to say the least.


We started our range experience with dry practicing the fundamentals (including loading mags, seating, chambering, etc) and some “one on one” time with an instructor. This not only helped the ladies with grip, trigger, sights and follow through BUT it helped them understand range verbiage, safety expectations and to trust what they are learning. All the while the coaches were watching and making mental notes on all the important details including how to help each student best. We shot everything from 3 yards, everyone followed directions and everyone learned much.

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Tiffany concluded the day with some awesome closing statements, thanking her AIs and students for spending their day in the beautiful TN mountains and solid recommendations to continue training/practicing.  They handed out Certificates of Completion and awarded 2 students the honors of the Top Shot Award and the Conqueror Award, which brought many smiles and hugs from classmates.

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It was a fantastic day and I cannot recommend this team of coaches enough. Oh, one more thing to add before I publish this, I paid for this class. Tiffany had no idea that I was going to participate until the registration came through. I went because I wanted to. I wrote this because I wanted to. It was an outstanding clinic and more people need to know about it. Enough said except…in a nut shell…REFER & ATTEND Tiffany Johnson’s NRA Women on Target class!

Shelley Hill



Here’s your chance…

So here is something different. I was asked to host a live fire class at our Dahlonega range in North Georgia for 12 guys. You would assume, as I did, that it would be a basic shooting class like our Pistol Essentials class. Surprisingly no, it was not for that reason AT ALL!

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It was for a bachelor party. The goal was bonding, memories, and to offer a unique and memorable “pre-wedding” experience. The Groom is alumni and is from GA but most others in attendance were from the Northeast, New Jersey, and Maryland. With a couple of exceptions , they did not own a firearm, nor did they have any experience with shooting. Daunting to say the least, but also a great opportunity to introduce shooting and safe gun handling to a new audience so here was my chance to make a good “first time shooting” impression!

As always, we started the day making sure waivers and registration forms were completed, moved onto the safety briefing, and then the medical plan which definitely had their undivided attention. You could see that this caused a bit of concern for the first timers with an “Oh crap, what the hell have a got myself into” facial expression.

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Being immersed in the gun culture, I realize that most of what we teach can be intimidating to the new client. Loading a magazine, or manipulating a slide is a challenging experience for the uninitiated. I started everything in this class from a table start and skipped any holster work completely. We did a great deal of dry practice, forming a base knowledge of how to manipulate the firearm. The fundamentals of grip, trigger, sights, and follow through were the focus of the day. Using the teaching methodology of “explain, demonstrate, practice, and test“, you could easily see that their progress was steady and verifiable. Three hours later everyone was shooting with an acceptable level of competence. They shot a short match on the timer, testing their progress, and I was very pleased to pass out “The Complete Combat Ant” patches to the top three shooters of the day.

As an instructor, you get the privilege of seeing a client’s confidence rise and smiles on faces with a job well done but rarely do you get see so much excitement and enjoyment from an ENTIRE GROUP of shooters, however this was a new and unique experience for most of them. This class had started with a great deal of apprehension, however we finished with new-found confidence. Several clients said that they enjoyed the experience so much that they are going to go to the range when they returned home. Hopefully this changed their perspective, viewing shooting in a more positive light.

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We must use the approach of “winning hearts and minds” allowing others to experience the world of shooting. Never forget we are the emissaries of the shooting world, we must conduct ourselves as such. Never miss an opportunity to work with new shooters as this may be their only chance at a good “first time shooting” experience!