Lessons Learned & Taught at Rangemaster’s Advanced Instructor Course

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.

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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.

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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.

“I am a VERY lucky girl” by Shelley Hill

I just wanted to share how lucky I am. I have had the opportunity to train with many outstanding firearms instructors. I would normally say “there are way too many people to mention” but that is not the case.

I would like to THANK a few special people who have helped me along the way. Obviously, there are many more influences and many hours of NON-fire education under my belt but today is all about the peeps on this list.

Lets start with Brian. Brian has been by my side every step of the way. This man is my best friend. My truth bringer. My adviser. My loudest cheerleader. My biggest reality check. My enormous support system. My love.

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Brian and Sean introduced me to pistol and rifle classes back in 2011. Their positive instructing style and excellent coaching built the framework for me to WANT to continue down this path. Thank you Brian & Sean!

Training with Sawman was my first professional class outside of Brian and Sean. Thanks to Brian and Sean, my gear was squared away, I was a fanatic when it came to safe gun handling and if I had a malfunction I cleared it. My fundamentals were a work in progress but solid, I was managing my own ammo and making good hits. I was the only girl on the line for 2 days and I was very comfortable in my own skin. This was an amazing experience and I learned a ton! Thank you Saw!

Claude was the first coach to put me in a position where it was a “pass or fail”. He was very sneaky and a few years ago he invited me to the range to “be a student”, which in turn, would help him with a class he was putting together. Little did I know Claude had planned on running me through the NRA’s Defensive Pistol Qual from Pro-Marksman through Distinguished Expert! I PASSED and not only earned some patches but also gained confidence. Thank you Claude!

Lee. What to say about Lee? A couple of years ago I was working very hard to pass the FBI Qual and was pretty public about my experience. I had signed up for Lee’s Critical Pistol Skills and was excited to get some guidance from THAT WEEMS GUY! It was a hell of a day with shooting from near to far, fast and slow, movement and decisions. He then announces that the “end of day test” will be the FBI Qual. I just about cried NOOOOOOO! Well guess what? I PASSED! I later found out that the night before that class, Lee set all of his class notes to the side and REWROTE the entire curriculum to fit MY TRAINING NEEDS so I would pass that dreaded FBI Qual THAT DAY with him by my side. Lee now takes credit for being my best coach and teaching me everything I know! HEEEEE! Thank you Lee!

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Now we come to Tom & Lynn. They have guided me and given me so many opportunities to grow. They are a huge support system that focuses on YOU being the BEST that YOU can be to protect yourself and your loved ones! I have made the Women’s shoot off at Tac Con 2 years in a row and when you see the genuine happiness that they feel for you, and your accomplishments, it will make you feel UNSTOPPABLE! Among other things….The Given’s are good for your soul. Thank you Tom & Lynn!

I had never thought this path would lead me to become an instructor but here I am. I have been helping Brian run the line, RSO and his AI for 4 years now. Carl has been my guide through all the NRA Instructors courses that I have chosen to take. I will share a little secret….I am dyslexic. I feel more comfortable shooting a qual than I do taking a written test. His knowledge of working with dyslexic clients made my experience so so so pleasant. Because of him, I feel like I might have the confidence to obtain additional Instructor Certs as well. Thank you Carl!

Tiffany & Aq opened their hearts, knowledge and range to me. They welcomed me into their class and opened my eyes to so many awesome ways to reach people. They solidified my want to help less experienced students get good solid training as their FIRST experience in a professional class. Thank you Tiff and Aq!

I want to circle back to Claude. As you read, a few years ago Claude invited me to help him on a class he was putting together. As it turned out, all those years ago he was building that class for ME TO TEACH! Brian, Claude and I have been teaching Personal Performance in March and October at our Dahlonega range for a couple of years now. This is a 3 hour class for women building accuracy skill sets and reaching personal goals. Our latest PP class was March 2019 and 2 weeks before this class Claude informed me that he built it for me, I was to take the head instructor’s role and he and Brian will assist me! EEEEKKKKK GHADS! This was an awesome experience and I am already working on my presentation for October’s PP!

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Today is Wednesday, April 10th, 2019. Claude moved in with Brian and I a little over a month ago. This may be short or long term…either way, we are blessed. We laugh, we cook, we support, we do household chores, we solve the worlds problems but the best part of it all is that we are a family. The education I am receiving from Brian and Claude 24/7 has no price tag. I am a VERY lucky girl and yes, it’s OK to be jealous. HEEEE!