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Old February 13, 2012, 07:06 PM   #1
sigcurious
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Instructors: teaching ability/compatibility

An observation at the range today got me thinking about instructors and new students. There was an instructor/student pair in the lane next to me, and the student was consistently shooting high. It's hard not to look over when the target hanger gets shot that much. During the hour or so they were next to me the instructor was unable to get the student to bring his shots down.

Towards the end the student was looking pretty discouraged, and I can't help but wonder if a poor instruction experience just steered a potential shooter away from the hobby.

How is a new student to differentiate between lack of ability in shooting from being a novice and lack of proper instruction?(whether due to inherently poor instruction or just a mismatch of teaching and learning style)

Have any of you guys had a similar experience, where for whatever reason, the instructor was not helping at all?

I ask because I've been thinking about getting some 1 on 1 instruction, but as a former trainer(skiing & snowboarding and sales) I know sometimes a student and instructor just don't match(which seemed to be the case I observed today). In my past, if I could not connect with a student or employee, I could get them with someone that could better help them. But at the rates private instruction goes for, I'd dislike being locked in with someone who wasn't able to help me hone my shooting skill due to incompatibility.
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Old February 13, 2012, 08:09 PM   #2
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When you find an instructor(s), check out their resume, then get a hold of some if his/her past students, call them to get some sort of idea how the instructor is.
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Old February 15, 2012, 12:38 AM   #3
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Since the student was having trouble, did the instructor shoot a couple of rounds with the student's firearm on a new target to check the POI? What caliber and model was this new student shooting? Did the instructor load the student's magazine with any snap caps? Did the instructor stand behind the student to check the student's aiming process? Was this an instructor or the lead instructor for the course? From the info you have posted, the RSO in charge of the range or another instructor should have had another qualified person assist this new student and instructor. What qualifications did this 'instructor' have - by which organization are they certified? Some claim to be an instructor with no certification by a recognized organization.

Hitting high could be due to several factors. Being able to identify problems from poor shooting form/techniques comes from spending time on the range shooting and working with other shooters. Watch the entire form of the shooter during the shot then look at the target to verify POI. Change out the target often - no more than 10 shots per target.
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Old February 15, 2012, 01:11 AM   #4
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Not a very good instructor. There are a things the instructor should have checked to determine what was causing the high impact, and then, depending on what the instructor determined the problem was, several ways to help the student get on target.

At some point in a lesson if a student is having problems making hits or holding groups, I make it a point to take the student's gun, and shoot a group for them while they observe. It demonstrates form, but most of all, it instills confidence in them that the gun shoots to point of aim and that it is accurate. Once they know the gun shoots well, then they realize that the problems arise from something they're doing improperly and they're much more open to advice on how to correct their technique.

It's critical that the instructor understands what kinds of problems shooters, especially new shooters, encounter and how to identify and help correct those problems.

In a fairly short amount of range time, a good instructor should have a non-disabled new shooter who is using a working and properly sighted pistol that's a reasonable fit for the newbie, shooting to point of aim and making reasonable groups at 5-7 yards. If not, then the instructor needs instruction.
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Old February 15, 2012, 05:07 AM   #5
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sigcurious you made an excellent point that sometimes student and teacher just do not "click".

We all have the capability of being "bad students" too by simply not listening (guilty!)

I'd ask around gun clubs and shooting ranges for references. Especially ask good shooters.

Plus you can ask, even a recommended teacher, for a money-back guarantee if you just aren't getting anything out of the first training session.

I've done that. If you aren't learning - I don't want your money.

Good luck!
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Old February 15, 2012, 05:59 AM   #6
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The "Instructor" could have just been a friend?

Twenty second sight alignment check, using a red gun (plastic) cut the back sight out (comes as a solid bar) thin the front sight out (too wide) paint front sight white, rear black.

Find master eye, show student proper grip, two hands, (not to be done on line!) have student aim "Pistol" place your eye in line with their eye, move red gun till you are looking at their eye, with back sight in the middle, swing front sight up, till sights are aligned, their eye, your eye, sights in the middle.

10 minutes to type/describe it, 20 seconds to demo it.
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Old February 15, 2012, 06:12 AM   #7
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Your question:
Quote:
How is a new student to differentiate between lack of ability in shooting from being a novice and lack of proper instruction?(whether due to inherently poor instruction or just a mismatch of teaching and learning style)

The answer is really very simple.
Proper instruction, or training should always have the following:

1. Stated objectives, and why they are relevant/important
2. Materials required
3. Time required
4. Methods of instruction
5. Tools used to determine if objectives are being met
6. Common errors/problems/pitfalls, and how to recognize and correct them
7. Question and answer module
8. Review, assessment, and summary

If time permits, a "teach-back" should be included for each distinct module of instruction. Students should be tested on important concepts and fundamentals as they are being taught before moving on to additional material. When additional material is being presented, every effort should be made to incorporate what has already been presented, to tie concepts together.
Good instructors will start from the "simple" concepts and use these as building blocks to present more complex ideas and actions. An association should be made with the (new) material being presented and existing pyschomotor activities most folks have already been exposed to.

Outside of the severely disabled, and when I was very harsh environments (100 degree F weather, high humidity / below freezing weather with 30+ mph winds/etc) there has never been someone I was unable to properly instruct on shooting safely and accurately. There HAVE BEEN many student and instructor candidates that have forced me to "dig deep". I find that instructing makes me a better shooter than simply shooting on my own.

Your perspective may not be synchronous with mine.

'Drew
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Old February 15, 2012, 01:11 PM   #8
sigcurious
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To answer some of the questions. I don't know what the instructors affiliations or credentials were. They were both wearing windbreakers with a firearms training organization name on the back, but I do not recall what the name of the organization is. The range I use does have some in-house instructors, however this did not appear to be one of them.

The guns seemed to be the instructors, a colt 1911 most of the time was spent with this and some model of glock(caliber unknown) they switched to towards the end. The instructor did shoot both pistols with good accuracy.
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Old February 15, 2012, 11:09 PM   #9
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First, look for certification from well known and respected organizations. The NRA is one respected organization that certifies instructors. There was a post on TFL some time back regarding the scary instruction of a firearms training facility and their 'instructors'. Check out the credentials of your instructors.

Second, not all instructors charge for their services. Some do it just because they like to see other shooters become safe and accurate shooters.
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Old February 18, 2012, 11:08 PM   #10
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Funny you should bring up ski instruction. I am sure you have heard all the ski instructor jokes.

I have had a few lesson with D-Teamers. I don't think the lessons dod much to improve my skiing.

I am also a NRA instructor. Frankly, the NRA certification is a joke. Shooting was not required nor coaching to get certified. As a coach, you need to try many different techniques, until the student gets it. However, at the end of the day, they have to get it. You can not shoot for them.
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Old February 19, 2012, 12:33 AM   #11
sigcurious
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^Hehe, I'm guessing you're an alpine racer? A couple of the people I used to ski with made the dev team and western regional team way back when. I had thoughts of getting back into racing via the masters program but then ended up living in a string of places nowhere near mountains.

Hopefully I do find a decent shooting instructor though. After making sure they have decent student/instructor rapport and teaching ability, I'd like to get my girlfriend some lessons. Then hopefully she'll be up for joining me at the range more than the one time she's been with me
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Old February 20, 2012, 06:41 PM   #12
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by skifast...
Quote:
I am also a NRA instructor. Frankly, the NRA certification is a joke. Shooting was not required nor coaching to get certified.
In which disciplines please? There has never been any live fire requirement for RSO/CRSO and Reloading. All other courses in the last dozen or so years (maybe longer) have had a live-fire requirement. In the past 4-5 years the NRA has underscored the requirements for instructor candidates to complete the pre-course qualifications - mostly gun handling. In 2009/2010, if memory serves me correctly, they added a specific live fire pre course requirement for many of the basic and intermediate classes.

For example, Basic Pistol Instructor candidates are required to shoot at 15 yards a 20 shot - 6" group on a 9" area.

NRA Basic courses (Pistol, Rifle and Shotgun) cover the fundamentals of shooting for those specific disciplines. It is upon those fundamentals that all other activity and training is based on, and built upon for those respective disciplines.

Shooting on the move, shooting at multiple targets, transitional shooting, shoot/don't shoot scenarios, speed shooting, long distance shooting (>50 yards for pistol, >400 yards for rifle), shooting at moving targets while moving, three gun, - all of these, for success require a solid grasp of the fundamentals of shooting, which is one of the primary objectives of these courses.

NYC Drew.
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Old February 20, 2012, 11:22 PM   #13
Discern
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NYC Drew is correct regarding NRA training for its certified instructors. The students for the instructor class are assessed on shooting ability, knowledge of firearms and NRA material, attitude, classroom teaching ability, range control/safety ability and coaching ability. On the shooting assessment, the candidates shoot revolvers (.38 Special minimum caliber) in double action and semi-autos (9x19 minimum caliber). Shooting is not only two handed but also one handed with strong and weak hand. There are usually multiple students in each session who take the course but do not pass.

skifast, you claim to be a NRA certified instructor. Since you claim your NRA instructor certification is a joke, how about returning your instructor certificate into NRA HQ with a letter explaining your decision?
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Old February 21, 2012, 10:36 AM   #14
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Quote:
Since you claim your NRA instructor certification is a joke, how about returning your instructor certificate into NRA HQ with a letter explaining your decision?
If he received his certification without performing a shooting test then he's ethically bound to do so--and to report the training counselor who certified him without properly conducting the course.
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Old February 22, 2012, 06:33 PM   #15
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I'm fortunate to teach with a group. We typically have four to six instructors on hand at our monthly NRA Basic Handgun classes (which we limit to 12 students). That allows us to have a 3:1 or 2:1 (or better) student to instructor ratio for the live fire and other "hands-on" exercises.

It also means that if a particular student is having difficulties with something, one of us might be more effective than another in helping resolve the matter.
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Old February 23, 2012, 09:29 PM   #16
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Quote:
During the hour or so they were next to me the instructor was unable to get the student to bring his shots down.
I've never had a student who couldn't correct a major deficiency in half an hour. Cocky students who are too full of themselves to listen? Only a very few, and all I had to do was humor them a little, demonstrate I can, (I probably ought to say "could,") shoot as well as or better than they, and encourage them to shoot better. Intimidated students? Lots of those. They need patience, encouragement, empathy, and .22 caliber guns that recoil less and make less noise.

If someone's shooting markedly high, the first thing to do is veryify it's not the gun—and it rarely is. The second thing is watch what the new shooter is doing: usually flinching and/or not hanging onto the gun with sufficient strength and/or closing his or her eyes while pulling the trigger. The third thing to do is leave the range, shoot dummy rounds in an otherwise empty gun, and demonstrate what the shooter is doing, then demonstrate not the right way to shoot, but a method that's likely to work better. It's easier for people to accept suggestions than criticism, and easier to practice with dummy rounds than live ammunition. Switch from center fire to .22 long rifle? Yep. Switch from a semi-automatic to a revolver or a revolver to a semi-automatic? Yep. Switch to another stance? Yep. Switch eyes? Yep. As soon as the student shows even a little improvement, I've got praise and more encouragement. Short breaks? Yep. More encouragement and praise? Yep. Tell and show and tell and show and tell and show? Yep. Switch guns every five rounds? Yep. Measure groups so the student can both see and numerically measure progress? Yep. More encouragement and praise? Yep.

A student can show up with several deficiencies instead of just one, of course, but focusing on the most noticeable and demonstrating it's correctable makes it easier to deal with the rest.

Would you like to hear the great secret? I've never given a lesson without getting more out of it than I've given.
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Old February 24, 2012, 04:40 AM   #17
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Quote:
Would you like to hear the great secret? I've never given a lesson without getting more out of it than I've given.
Shhhh! Don't tell everyone!!!

Excellent post Standing Wolf. Well said.
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Old February 28, 2012, 11:10 PM   #18
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Basic Pistol, Personal Defense Inside the Home and Firearm Safety. I took my instructor course last year in Columbus, Ohio. There was no shooting requirement.

No I am not going to relinquish my certification.
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Old February 29, 2012, 12:12 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skifast
Basic Pistol, Personal Defense Inside the Home and Firearm Safety. I took my instructor course last year in Columbus, Ohio. There was no shooting requirement....
There's no shooting requirement for Firearms Safety. I became certified in Basic Handgun a very long time age, but we did shoot.

And to get certified for Personal Protection Inside the Home, we first took the underlying class and then went through the instructor's portion, alternately playing the role of a student and acting as an instructor for the various portions. So shooting was involved there as well.

It's true that there is no "requirement" insofar as one would be scored. But one must shoot to be properly certified, and if a Training Counselor decided that a candidate could not handle a gun properly or could not shoot with some acceptable level of skill, he would not have to certify the candidate.

So I can not believe that anyone could be properly NRA certified for either Basic Handgun or Personal Protection Inside the Home without first having satisfied that the Training Counselor that he could handle a gun and shoot it decently. And if somehow someone did, I wouldn't consider him qualified as an instructor.
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Old February 29, 2012, 07:36 AM   #20
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Shooting in a class and being qualified to teach is a non-seqituir.

I have a friend that is a retired Navy SEAL. He taught at BUD/S and SQT. He was eminently more qualified to teach than an NRA instructor. However, he had to take the NRA Instructor course to be able to teach Ohio CCW classes.
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Old February 29, 2012, 07:37 AM   #21
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Personally, I am glad to hear that the NRA does require shooting. As I stated, my instructor class was a joke.
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Old February 29, 2012, 08:10 AM   #22
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NRA will pull instructor's certification if they find he/she is giving out basic pistol credit with no shooting.
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Old February 29, 2012, 08:34 AM   #23
skifast
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To clear up a possible misunderstanding, I am not saying the Basic Pistol course does not require shooting. I am saying that my Basic Pistol Instructor course did not require shooting.

Since the course was taught by NRA Certified Training Counselors and the NRA issued the certification, they would be wrong to pull a certification. It is not the student's responsibility to warranty that the NRA CERTifIED Training Counselors teach the proper material.
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Old February 29, 2012, 09:31 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skifast
...Since the course was taught by NRA Certified Training Counselors and the NRA issued the certification, they would be wrong to pull a certification. It is not the student's responsibility to warranty that the NRA CERTifIED Training Counselors teach the proper material.
If you'd like to provide me by PM with the Training Counselor's contact information, I'll be happy to refer the matter to the Training Department at the NRA.

But we're drifting off topic.
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Old February 29, 2012, 09:53 PM   #25
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Perhaps I should make myself more clear. If the NRA hears of an instructor issuing certificates to students for Basic Pistol training without requiring shooting, the NRA will pull the instructor's credentials.
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