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Old November 29, 2012, 08:52 PM   #1
Jammer Six
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Note: I started this thread in response to another thread, where this post would have been off-topic.
I teach five handgun classes: Intro, Basic, Advanced, Defensive and Advanced Defensive.

I could go on all night about curriculum.

There is no standard, as demonstrated by the NRA safety rules vs. The Cooper Four safety rules.

The curriculum comes down to who's paying and who's subsidizing. It comes down to money.

When you're being paid a wage by a range, and you're using that range, that range's weapons, that range's ammo and that range's classroom, your curriculum is what that range says it is.

When you're out at the end of a Forrest Service road, or out in the back of your property, using your weapons and your ammo to introduce a new shooter to weapons free of charge, the curriculum is what you say it is.

Everything else is in between those two extremes.

You'd think the most freedom would come in teaching private lessons, and to a certain extent, you're right. But you still need a range, a classroom and ammo. And whoever provides those is going to want a say.

The methods you use, the rules you enforce and the way you enforce them all spring from those variables.

What passes at one range won't pass at another. It's hard to teach The Cooper Four in a classroom with an NRA poster on the wall entitled "The Safety Rules" with the NRA Three. The Red Line is rarely even noticed at inside ranges with target carriers, and cease fires are rare. The same line on an outside, fixed-target line is emotional death during a cease fire.

Going to a new range where you haven't taught before, and taking a brand-new student into one of the bays, and then flipping the lights out to teach low light is guaranteed to attract attention.

The hardest class I've ever taught was a woman with a smashed face who said "he said he'd kill me if I left him. I left him last night, and I need a gun."

The easiest class was a group of young girl scouts.

If I had my way, and unlimited money, I'd buy land, and bulldoze a simple, four lane range about 50 yards long.
"Huh?" --Jammer Six, 1998

Last edited by Jammer Six; November 29, 2012 at 08:58 PM.
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Old November 30, 2012, 01:22 PM   #2
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If I had my way, and unlimited money, I'd buy land, and bulldoze a simple, four lane range about 50 yards long.
Working on that, ran out of money before I could buy the tractor.

Oh well. I hear you about the scouts though. 1 to 2 times a year we take Boy Scouts to the range. The range we use is nice enough to lend us the class room for the evening and they give us a number of lanes for the night all for a really good price. We've been ok with covering rules our way as long as we adhere to the ranges rules as well. But then again, we are offering a courtesy service and no one is getting paid (and the range is hoping to increase their future customer base ... and it's working ).
597 VTR, because there's so many cans and so little time!

Last edited by Frank Ettin; November 30, 2012 at 04:29 PM. Reason: off topic
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Old November 30, 2012, 08:06 PM   #3
Frank Ettin
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This really isn't a thread about the rules of safe gun handling. Let's keep this thread on track.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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Old November 30, 2012, 08:10 PM   #4
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Never gets boring !!

The easiest class was a group of young girl scouts.
I find this interesting as the easiest and most enjoyable group I have ever taught, was an adult female class, participating in the "Ourdoor Women's" Skills Program".

The least enjoyable class was a Boy Scout troop. One even stole some of my conical projectiles. ....

I start out every class, teaching the four basic safe gun handling rules with heavy emphasis on muzzle control. ...

Keep teaching and;
Be Safe !!!
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.
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Old November 30, 2012, 09:17 PM   #5
Jammer Six
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Speaking of curriculum, the one thing that all branches of shooting have in common is the beginning. The one thing they all need is the ability to go to a range and train safely.

That range may be out back, that range may be downtown. Different kinds of ranges (pistol, rifle, skeet, trap, shoot-house, bottles, Hogan's Ally style ranges, the fantail of a destroyer, military fixed ranges, civilian fixed ranges, indoor ranges, low light houses) have different rules.

England drives on the left. The United States drives on the right. It really doesn't matter which side of the road you drive on, as long as everyone else at that location is obeying the same set of rules.

So the first thing I teach (and the first thing most instructors I know teach) is range safety, and how to go to a range and practice whatever it is you want to practice safely. If you can do that, you can set any shooting goal you wish, and start working towards it.

There are few common denominators between the disciplines, but there are some. The need to train safely is one. The fact that the round will go where the muzzle is pointed when the weapon is fired is another.

In my experience, it's fairly easy to put the cart before the horse, or at least throw the cart and the horse at the student at the same time, and, again in my experience, it's usually a mistake.

One of the things I've seen many, many students do is try to hold everything in their brain at once. It's hard to safely pick up a weapon for the first time when you're trying to keep the differences between internal, external and terminal ballistics in the front of your mind at the same time, and how the twist of a barrel affects the accuracy of the round.

(When I was still working as an assistant, I actually took a weapon from a student on the firing line when he looked down the barrel. When I asked him what the hell he was doing, he told me he was trying to figure out what the twist of the barrel was. He had too much information for what he was doing, and not enough information about what he thought he needed to do.)

So as the curriculum(s) I teach progressed, they became shorter, and there became more of them. I like to teach short, bite size classes rather than the two day marathons that the NRA prefers, and that some ranges prefer. I like to teach one thing at a time, and if I had my way, when it came time, I'd teach a student to draw and holster, and then the student would go do that until he or she was good at it, and then come back, and we'd add something else.

In my experience, one of the worst things an instructor can do is throw everything from the NRA Three and The Cooper Four at a student, along with multiple calibers and styles, revolvers and semis, and multiple techniques at a student in one four hour lecture, and then take them out on the firing line, put revolvers in one bay, Glocks in another, 1911s in a third, and H&Ks in a fourth.

Add a few things like flashlights, reloads and jam drills, and even if you leave the lights on, someone's going to get shot.

Twenty years ago, I taught my wife how to shoot, and started her off with my 1911. That was a mistake. My ways have changed, in no small part as a result of watching what works and what doesn't.
"Huh?" --Jammer Six, 1998
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Old December 1, 2012, 09:08 PM   #6
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Paul Howe, at CSAT, talks about building shooting systems on fundamental and reinforcing blocks. I agree! Safety and marksmanship are fairly basic things. You can do a lot with those, if you consistently apply things like Cooper's rules, sight alignment, and trigger squeeze!

You can't do "advanced" things if you cannot apply the basics correctly. So, the basics should be taught and reinforced at every opportunity, IMO.
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Old December 1, 2012, 09:51 PM   #7
Jammer Six
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What I haven't figured out how to do is motivate students to train.
"Huh?" --Jammer Six, 1998
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Old December 3, 2012, 05:49 AM   #8
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The curriculum (program of instruction in my circle) has to drive the train. The level of students ability has to be matched to the POI. Again its always the crawl walk run philosophy.

1. Weapons will be regarded as loaded at all times
2. Never point your weapon at anything your are not willing to destroy
3. fingers are off the trigger unless actively engaging a target
4. always be sure of what surrounds your target

ARE ALWAYS USED even in advanced schools - i dont know of any tactical reason to not use them

I add:

5 eye protection will be worn on the firing line
6. hearing protection will be worn on the firing line
7. If an unsafe act is observed anyone may and will call a cease fire
8. No smoking while handling explosives or loading ammo.

Again no tactical reason no to abide by the above

But.... some curriculum will run afoul of most range safety programs and waaaaayyyy afoul of NRA safety standards. so that effectively renders the curriculum worthless until another facility is found or constructed.

curriculum is just papers until it can be taught.
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Old December 3, 2012, 07:32 PM   #9
Jammer Six
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Actually, the statement that these rules "are always used" is not quite correct.

That is a paraphrased version of The Cooper Four, and they are not taught in NRA classes. The NRA has a slightly different, separate set of three basic safety rules.

There is no "tactical" reason to use either set of rules, because they are safety rules, not tactical rules.

What I meant about training (I'm a civilian instructor) is that I haven't figure out how to motivate students to join a range, any range, buy a weapon, any weapon, and then buy the ammo and come back to the range twice a week and drill on basics for a year or so.

On a side tangent, if I were a new shooter, I'm not sure I'd decide on NRA classes if I had the chance to make an informed decision.

A two day marathon that includes a segment on "why we own guns" is not only not necessary to take that first trip to the firing line, it also puts a bunch of crap in a student's head and forces them to decide which pieces of information they should be thinking about when they pick up the weapon for the first time.

Not to mention that I try to teach apolitical classes-- I'm not interested in their politics, and I'm sure they're not interested in mine. Using an Intro class as a bully pulpit for a political agenda sours me agains the NRA.
"Huh?" --Jammer Six, 1998

Last edited by Jammer Six; December 3, 2012 at 07:42 PM.
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Old December 3, 2012, 11:31 PM   #10
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On the NRA thing we are in complete agreement .

But I dont know of a situation where the above rules need to be violated. We flag shooters all the time to be sure but we strive to minimize the practice, Instead of sweeping the weapon across a team members head we sweep the lower legs sometimes :-)

If I were to stop training everytime this occured it would be a looooong day. But still the premise holds we incorporate the above rules into the program - no good reason not to.

With those rules being applied we still have shooters downrange while shooting is taking place (I teach in front of a hot firing line) prior to going on to CQB the instructors "shoulder" the students targets to ensure that the student is comfortable shooting near his teamates and we set off explosives within a couple arms lengths of the assault teams

All of these actions still are done with the above safety standards in place

And to add - that was what I meant by curriculum versus range saftey rules - there are very few places that allow for this kind of insanity(I think even in the military there are only 4 ranges that allow this) so curriculum is moot at that point.

Last edited by sfmedic; December 3, 2012 at 11:56 PM.
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Old December 3, 2012, 11:39 PM   #11
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oh i lost my train of thought (common) As far as coming back to the range I again agree with you - why would someone come back to a range after a few "line fires" ??

I know a guy that runs a range near ft bragg - he came up with a brilliant idea and did what I call "Goal Oriented Shooting" he pulled standards from some police forces / some military units worlwide / usss / fbi etc etc etc

and the way he approached it was to market these standards on the range and to convince the students to work towards a chosen goal with the caveat that the range staff would help them work towards goal success.

he had the expertise locally and the concept brought in new "regulars" by the boatload

everyone needs a mission
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Old December 4, 2012, 12:29 AM   #12
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About Curriculum (I had too many red bulls this morning)

I am old school - when I attended the instructors training courses and the training developers schools the were teaching the old SAT (systems approach to training) I have since got a M.A.ed (adult education and curriculum development) and use NONE of the new stuff - The SAT is the way to go (IMHO) for tactical trainers

its crawl walk run based and has at its core the the concept of teaching to a standard and measuring success with the proven military

Task / Condition / Standard

the hierarchy of documents (what goes into the file cabinet) is common sense

Reference - Self explanatory
Lesson Plan - word for word write up of the class
Detailed Outline - Anyone can teach off the podium with these
Gross Outline - SME Quick notes to keep on track
POI - list of subcourses
Training aids and visuals - Read that powerpoints these days
Testing Annex (Task Condition and Standards)
Support Annex ( to include how many roles of toilet paper on the range:-)

Its very intuitive because thats the way humans think - you build your courses in reverse - what do you want to teach and to what standard? gross outline >> fill in between for detailed >> write it up

The crawl walk run in MMS is also common sense

1. SAF
2. RAF
3. Speed Reloads
4. Tactical Reloads
5. Rhythm Drills
6. Controlled Pairs
7. Double Taps
8. Immediate Action Drills
9. Facing Left
10. Facing Right
11. Moving Left
12. Moving Right
13. Moving in Depth
14. Weak Hand
15. Off Hand
16. Firing Positions Prone
17. Firing Positions Kneeling
18. Low Wall
19. High Wall
20. Step Arounds
21. Indexing Targets
22. Target Discriminations
23. Percentage Shooting
24. Team Shooting
25. Reactive Shooting

simple to complex

Putting into a training application is as simple as:

Exercise One – SLOW AIMED FIRE (SAF)

Description of the exercise:

This exercise is performed from either the holster or the number three position. The shooting is done slowly with no time constraints on the shooter. This exercise is THE preferred method to evaluate the shooters basic fundamentals and is normally the first step in any shooting program.

The distance used during this exercise (15 – 25 meters) force the student to shoot slowly and to take carefully aimed shots and also opens up the shot group to exaggerate the shooters shot group for use in the shot group evaluation process.

To conduct this exercise – The shooters are lined up behind the 15 – 25 meter line facing the target and utilizing a good shooting stance the commands are:

Shooters: From the 15 [out to 25] meter line.
Starting at position 3 [or from the holster]
On the command of Fire [on the whistle]
Shoot One Round [or slow controlled pairs] (Single Tap)
Into the 25meter bull’s-eye [silhouette]

You will continue to shoot on your own [on the whistle]
For a total of one magazine [15 rounds]

Standard to measure success:

The placement of all rounds into the 8 ring at 15 meters or all rounds into the 6 ring at 25 meters using the standard 25 meter pistol bull is deemed as successful.

Practical Application:

Slow Aimed Fire (SAF) is used whenever an accurate well placed shot outweighs the need for speed. Examples of this are percentage shooting and the vast majority of target shooting (paper punching)

I have literally 100s of exercises in this format I have written over the years. would anyone get bent out of shape if i started posting them here?
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Old December 4, 2012, 03:51 PM   #13
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One of several techniques (for training) that I've adopted is to publish a handout for the students. It's not detailed, but serves as a good tool for the student to either takes notes on (when appropriate) and can serve as a memory jog some where down the road.

Another is to shoot a quick, low round count skill assessment drill. I like the 5 shots at 5 yards in 5 seconds at a five inch circle on the timer. It breaks the ice as I do it first, then lets me see where the student is and finally gives me a repeatable drill to show the students at the end of the day that they have progressed.

To back up SFMedic and Raimius, I started reading a lot of books about Adult Learning Techniques. I find that Paul Howe's book (Leadership and Training for the Fight) fits in very well. I'm only about 1/2 way through, as I stopped and went back to take notes.
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Old December 5, 2012, 02:17 PM   #14
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Teaching, no matter the number of students, boils down to the relationship between teacher and individual student. We have to learn how to connect with each student as well as the group as a whole.
Finding what the individual needs are and filling those needs is what make success.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is one model that has been used for years as a standard ruler, to measure curriculum ability to fill student needs.
"Curriculum" should be the very minimum acceptable information required for mastery of the specific scope of the curriculum. It is our job as instructors to take that base curriculum and expand it to fit the needs of our students. If the place you are instructing at only allows one set curriculum without variance, then you need to show them why and where there is a better way. Bring them a new curriculum based on what works best from various methods. If they won't change, then it comes down to you deciding if you are comfortable with doing it their way or moving on.
I have taught EMS, Fire, and LE for years. I have had curriculums, that I thought were more ignorant on the subject than the new students coming into the classes. There is nothing wrong with covering "what you have to", then add "but here is another way that might work for better." You have to teach options.
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Old December 7, 2012, 12:21 AM   #15
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I have informally taught basic firearm safety and handling for 30 years.

When I was 12 years old (1978), I took a week long NRA advanced hunters safety course. Very interesting class for a kid to take. It was taught by a man who was an avid collector and shooter.

When I was 16, I got a job at a summer camp, and the camp had a shooting range with a dozen remington bolt action 22LR rifles. No one at the camp had any idea how to teach students, clean and care for the weapons, so I volunteered. Based on nothing more than my VERBAL statement that I had taken the above-mentioned training class, I became the camp shooting range instructor. I was in charge of teaching 9-14 year olds (in groups of 20-30 at a time) the basics of firearm safety and marksmanship. I was the only supervision present during this training... no adults around (although I thought of myself as an adult). It scares the [email protected] out of me today, and I wonder if those parents back then knew that little Johny and Amy were shooting rifles under the watchful eyes of a 16 year old... At the time I was highly concerned about safety, and I thought about how to properly conduct the class. There was no one at the camp who remembered what the previous instructors had done !

I started with a 20 minute lecture/demo talking about gun safety, what was inside the cartridge and why does it fire, how does the gun work, the basics of aiming the rifle.

I had set out 8 shooting stations, each of which had an old mattress. I had the students line up behind each station (about 3 deep), and had the first child in line lay down on the mattress. I only allowed prone shooting, because in my 16 year old mind, that was the safest. I had each of the 8 shooters practice dry fireing and cycling the action. The students waiting in line behind him/her were given the job of watching for any safety rule violation. After all 8 shooters had practiced cycling and dry firing, I handed out 5 cartridges to each shooter, and talked them through the firing process. Then those 8 shooters went to the back of the line, and the next 8 went into the prone position... repeat until all of the children get a chance to shoot.

In six weeks, I had taught about 1200 children at my little range in the woods. No accidents or significant safety problems. I had one ND by a little boy who had trouble cycling the bolt, and accidently fired the weapon over the top of the berm, but behind the range was many square miles of national forest.

Today I look back and I just can't believe that anyone would allow a 16 year old to supervise a shooting range at a summer camp for kids. But this was 1982, and times were different. Almost all of the adults at the camp were 18 - 25 year olds anyway.

Last edited by btmj; December 7, 2012 at 12:30 AM.
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