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Old September 25, 2013, 02:54 PM   #1
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How much can you learn just from reading/videos?

Alot! I just started getting into handguns this year with the purchase of my first ever handgun, a beretta 96a1. At any rate ive been reading and watching videos of others who are instructors or just very gun savy, i watch and take notes of things id like to try when i get to the range. This has been excellent being as im training myself and dont have a mentor per say.. But my shooting has gotten unbelivably better in say the past 6 months. So here are the things i was doing wrong and have overcome with the help of youtube and forums like this one! Props to TFL for being a great source of FIRST HAND knowledge. Anyway i started with my grip, the thumbs forward was comfy but i was still wondering.. do i really need to do this 60/40 support hand doing the 60. I found for me using only a firm handshake grip with both hands does best for me at the moment. Next was trigger control and it was tough but after dry fire exercise i looked up i wss breaking the trigger easy without moving my sights. After that i corrected my flinch/ anticipating recoil with only watching one video that explained very well how to break the trigger with a clear mind, not thinking about EXACTLY when to break the trigger, but let it break when it wants to just keep your focus on the front sight and keep even pressure going while pulling the trigger. But hey! Im getting better and learning not only to shoot but all the handgun lingo im unfamiliar with, coming from not being able to hit a 12x12" at 10 feet to now hand size groups at 50 feet. So yes reading helped me a ton! P.s. most of my posts are from a cell phone and lack paragraphs.. sorry! Stay safe everyone!
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Old September 25, 2013, 03:45 PM   #2
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It sounds like you have learned a lot about how to do things, and have had it well demonstrated for you, and you have changed for the better. You have observed what has been available to you and done your best to replicate that. All that is kind of good.

I say "kind of good" because what you still are lacking is someone observing YOU. Trust me, self-observation is not very accurate. When I used to run, I never ran as fast as I did when another was with me; when I trained in martial arts, I never learned how to strike until I received a strike from someone else. You have grown a lot from your observances of others, and receiving their advice and one-way training. I would recommend from this point forward, you should get professional training from a GOOD instructor. You have shown you can learn and grow and be better. In short, you would be a great student with a professional trainer.

It is easy to say "get a good instructor" but quite a bit more difficult actually getting one. Search for one carefully, and get one with LOTS of positive feedback and great credentials. And even if you find someone who is only as good as the guy on the YouTube video, the advantage is you will be receiving the other half of the training: observation, correction, and hopefully encouragement BY an instructor.

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Old September 25, 2013, 04:03 PM   #3
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Great post Louca!

I could not agree more with Louca. There is no substitute for experience, and learning from those with skill and experience. Enjoy the process!
"Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do." Benjamin Franklin
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Old September 25, 2013, 04:24 PM   #4
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Thanks for the great post lou! I agree a trainer would be great!! But for now on my budget i can only afford to practice,practice,practice! If i do decide to go for my permit to carry or get into some kind of competition i will definately seek out proffesional training! Thanks again!
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Old September 25, 2013, 04:44 PM   #5
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But for now on my budget i can only afford to practice, practice, practice!
OK, you know your budget and I do not want to interfere with that. But I want to be sure you have something in perspective. If you think about the expense of shooting these days, for the cost of just a couple boxes of factory ammo, you may be able to hire an instructor. Even a 1-hour session could put you miles ahead in your training.

I got training once from a shotgun instructor. I split an hour instruction with another guy so we each only got 30 minutes of time. We took turns video taping (yeah, back in the days of VHS video!) each other's half-hour session. I have watched the recording several times after that. Since I was a beginner, it let me see over and over again the basics I had to learn. Oddly enough, basics are still the things we all need to master.

And finally, if you cannot afford a trainer, at least shoot with people who are a LOT better than you, and learn from them and let them observe you and make comments to you. It is way less than having a professional instructor, and you may actually pick up some bad things from them, but some things may be very helpful. All the best!

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Old September 25, 2013, 07:03 PM   #6
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My mother acually picked up a ruger sr40c and aquired her ccw in minnesota,ohio and north dakota. Every time i visit her she gives me a ziplock bag full of 40 s&w wich is about 130 rounds surprisingly! So ammo cost isnt a factor, only the rent, car and girlfriend lol they seem to be the hole in my wallet but saving for proffesional training seams an investment worth making. Thanks again!
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Old September 27, 2013, 01:33 AM   #7
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at least shoot with people who are a LOT better than you, and learn from them and let them observe you and make comments to you.
This is pretty good advice. If you're shooting regularly anyway see if there is a competitive league you can join. Most all of them welcome new members and as mentioned you can learn a lot and make some friends too.
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Old September 27, 2013, 08:29 AM   #8
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Imagine what it was like trying to learn this stuff, on one's own, before the internet.
But, getting involved with others, who are serious about shooting, is an inexpensive way to improve.
Are there any local matches in your area?
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Old September 27, 2013, 08:55 AM   #9
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There are three types of learners.

Those who learn by reading,
Those who learn by watching others,
The rest of us, who just have to pee on the electric fence.

Seriously, there is nothing like hands-on experience, that kind of experience that you get by being hands-on with a knowledgeable and competent instructor.
Dennis Dezendorf
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Old September 27, 2013, 11:43 AM   #10
Frank Ettin
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Originally Posted by PawPaw
...Seriously, there is nothing like hands-on experience, that kind of experience that you get by being hands-on with a knowledgeable and competent instructor.
And that is the real bottom line.

Some people might learn less from reading or watching videos, and some might learn more. And books or videos can be useful supplements to any training program.

But if you really want to learn, seek out good, in person professional instruction.
"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 September 27, 2013, 03:27 PM   #11
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Disclaimer: I earn my living by teaching people how to shoot. Some of the instruction I sell comes in the form of books (Lessons from Armed America and The Cornered Cat: A Woman's Guide to Concealed Carry). Some of it I give away on various websites, most notably And some of it I sell via weekend professional firearms instruction classes that I offer all over the country throughout the year. In other words, I have made my living by writing about firearms for the past several years, and have done the same thing as a supplement to other income for more than a decade. During the same time frame, I have worked personally with hundreds of hands-on students, helping them learn the things they needed to learn about using handguns for self-defense.

Also, when I started teaching people in person, I did so as a volunteer, with absolutely no expectation that it would ever become a paying, professional vocation. I did this because I believed (and believe!) so strongly in the value of personal training that I was willing to pour myself and my own resources into helping other people get that benefit.

Based on my expereriences, a few thoughts:
  • You can (and should!) learn a lot from reading articles, books, and magazines.

  • You can't learn everything that way. The limitations inherent to written forms of media are absolutely insurmountable in a few key areas.

  • You can (and should!) learn a lot from watching videos.

  • You can't learn everything that way. The limitations inherent to visual media are absolutely insurmountable in a few key areas.

  • You would not try to learn how to waterski, how to perform gymnastics, or how to hanglide by reading a book or watching a video. Shooting skills are no less physical than these endeavors, and equally require a certain amount of hands-on physical learning.

  • Professional firearms training provides a huge, significant value for students. It also requires a significant investment of time and money -- an investment that is absolutely wasted without ongoing regular practice.

Some people will never believe any of the above. Too bad.

Kathy Jackson
My personal website: Cornered Cat
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Old September 28, 2013, 02:00 PM   #12
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You are one of the people who has the insight to learn a lot from the books/videos. I suggest you find a local club with idpa style matches. You will see what more experienced shooters are doing & it will give you the motivation and the feedback to help you get better. Pay attention to who you let "instruct" you at a match. Some of the more vocal folks are just that. More vocal.
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Old September 28, 2013, 06:51 PM   #13
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I have found videos and books help to an extent, but you need hands on to really understand what the books and videos were saying.

Also, the more experienced you are, the more the videos and books will help.

For after you have some experience under your belt you will see and understand more of what is offerend in them.

“To you who call yourselves ‘men of peace,’ I say, you are not safe without men of action by your side” Thucydides
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Old September 28, 2013, 07:11 PM   #14
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If you are discriminating and take a logical and reasonable approach to the process you can learn a LOT assuming that you also do a lot of careful practice and testing on your own to incorporate/test what you learn from your research.

You can learn it faster and much more easily from good instructors.
Do you know about the TEXAS State Rifle Association?
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Old September 29, 2013, 11:23 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the advice! I just started this thread because i found it amazing how much actual skill is involved in shooting a handgun efficiently. I mostly shot rifle my whole life deer and varmit hunting, have shot alot of pistols but never thought anything of it when i wasnt a very good shot because it was always a new gun and we usually loaded em up and pop off everything we bring in about 20 minutes. So when i took my new beretta 96a1 out and took 10 shots to hit a milk jug 15 feet away, it puts things in perspective. Just trying to show you dont NEED a personal instructor to improve your shooting alone on your own time. I wouldent trust everything i read or see in a youtube video and i agree shooting with others can help if they are much better than you. And if you do wish to get into the skill level of competitive shooter you will indeed need a instructor. But for shooting milk jugs reading will do amazing things.
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Old October 6, 2013, 11:15 PM   #16
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One more on reading books, articles, new reports, court cases, etc.... The more you learn and the more you know the better you'll be able to defend yourself in court should you ever be the defendant in a self-defense shooting. Because the court will judge you for what you did and the decision that you made with what you had to make it with. Documenting your training and documenting your information gathering will educate you on the realities of a deadly threat encounter and in court you will be better equipped to convey these facts to the jury.
"Detached reflection cannot be demanded in the presence of an uplifted knife." by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335, 343 (16 May 1921).
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Old October 7, 2013, 05:42 PM   #17
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Unless its a stress fire situation with adrenaline pumping, you will not shoot the same. Closest you can get is using "simunition" at a training facility, shooting your exact firearm against someone else. Like paintball using your firearm. Otherwise target shooting has little application in real world stress fire situations.

You can take stressfire courses or get some training at a facility that trains,para-military or P.S.C.,this way if you are in a situation you will know how to shoot,prone,supine,from cover, the bed of a truck, E.C.Q.B. etc..
PARATUS is a great place here in central florida.

Good luck

P.s. get a milk jug that moves fast and will shoot back
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Old October 8, 2013, 05:54 PM   #18
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"Otherwise target shooting has little application in real world stress fire situations." IMO If you dont apply the basics of target shooting in a stressful situation, youll miss. In a "real world stress fire situation" you still have a TARGET and your SHOOTING at it. I think most people under stress do what they have practiced so i think any target shooter who can throw up decent groups on paper at 20 feet would probably do as good as a LEO in a stressfire situation.
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Old October 31, 2013, 08:19 PM   #19
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Try to make friends with the local Police or sheriff's departments firearm instructors. These guys have a lot to offer. Always good to have a cop as a buddy anyway!
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Old November 1, 2013, 12:58 AM   #20
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simunitions comes CLOSEST to real would practice with a firearm. however, these companies cannot introduce all psychosomatic/physiological reflexes in these situatiosn because you know the knife wielding hooker is going to jump you in the alley.

when the brain has no idea its going to happen, the body reacts in a natural way. The above is like playing your favorite Doom, you always know to prepare for the monster in the bathroom next to the hospital room on the 3rd level.

Hickocks book on gunfighting can be summed up thusly.

gunfighiting is just like target shooting. you postition yourself the same, hold the gun the same, draw the same way, aim the same way, and breathe the same way, and pull the trigger the same way.
The only difference is that you have to do it as fast as possible without making those critical areas of control suffer. But most importantly, do it before the other guy does.

I think hickock also said skill at marksmanship or gunfighting isnt needed if you use a rifle at 50 yards, from behind, when they arent expecting a bullet.
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Old November 1, 2013, 09:30 PM   #21
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Jimmy96a1, I agree completely because I just got into handguns and self defense a few years ago(2007). Youtube videos and alot of studying reading and practice. I am very fortunate to have enough property where I can go out my backdoor and practice whenever I feel like it and I have done just that from practicing my draw stroke to shooting tight groups on paper. I am sure I can refine some of my defensive tactics but at this point I do not feel it is necessary although I am taking a Handgun skills class in Dec. to just mainly see if I am doing anything decidely wrong and if I am I will be willing to correct it on my own.
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Old November 2, 2013, 07:05 AM   #22
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You can't watch yourself and that is where a professional instructor shines. In the first two hours of my first class, I picked up two techniques that solved some vexing weaknesses in my skill set.

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Old November 2, 2013, 10:13 AM   #23
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How much can you learn just from reading/videos?

I've found both books and videos to be helpful. I practice with snap caps and feel like it's been time well spent. Of course, practicing with live ammo at the range is an order of magnitude better, but a lot less convenient than your own living room.
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Old November 2, 2013, 09:32 PM   #24
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PAX hits it on the head. I read everything I can and watch shows like The Best Defense and tape the drills. But, until I actually attended a training class given by an instructor who came two years ago from Tucson to give a pretty darn intensive class I realized just how valuable it is having someone watch me. I traveled to Austin to take a class given by one of James Yeager's instructors last year and my Christmas present from my wife will be a trip to either Albuquerque or Tucson to take Mas Ayoob's course in 2014.
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Old November 2, 2013, 10:00 PM   #25
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I've made a lot of progress learning from videos, reading material, and conversation with friends (who have lots of formal training). I've also hit a bit of a wall, and have realized that I need formal instruction to get to where I want to be.

I'd love to be able to tear up the Defoor pistol standards here:
Currently Own: Beretta PX4 9mm, Glock 23 (Gen 4), Glock 19 (Gen 4) x2
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