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.

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