There is a Story afoot . . .



A story has attacked me . . . not sure where it's from, but I have been posting chapters as they come out of my fingers. Yes, I am still posting on firearms training and my new topic of basic prepping - all links are to the right of the blog, newest posts first on the lists. Feel free to ignore the story posts - they usually start with a chapter number. But, feel free to read the story as well and comment on it - I like how it's turning out so far! Links to the various chapters are at the right under . . .

The Story

Bill

Monday, August 25, 2014

Review – NRA Basic Shotgun Instructor Course 8-23,24 – 2014

 

The Hawkeye Area Council is trying to boost the ranks of our Rifle and Shotgun Merit Badge Counselors as well as RSOs. To that end last weekend I held the previously reviewed rifle instructor course. Three of the 6 leaders returned with one additional leader for a weekend NRA Basic Shotgun Instructor course. The camp was full with a new Woodbadge crew and some local teen leaders coming in for a weekend COPE course so space was at a premium. The solution – one of the outdoor pavilions near the pool. It worked well – equipped with electricity and lights and large enough to shelter us from a steady drizzle/rain for the first half of the day on Saturday.

One of the cautions of teaching instructor courses “back to back” is that both candidate and training counselor can find it easy to pass quickly over “shared knowledge” between the two courses. “Well, we already covered that last week . . . let’s just move on.” And . . . . that’s a “cheat” on both sides of the table. So, with that caution placed clearly at the table, we worked ourselves through the lessons – setting aside the range work for the following day.

One of the things I like to emphasize is the commonality of words between firearms . . . front sight, rear sight, trigger, trigger guard . . . you get the idea. Learning them once, and a solid description of the individual terms, spans virtually all the firearms an instructor may be called upon to teach. Then they can focus on just those that are unique to the firearm in front of them. It helps build confidence in the skill set and that is a good thing.

With only four candidates, each got a great deal of individual teaching time – parts of a break action, bolt action, pump action and auto-loader were discussed. Ammunition – its individual components and different types. How that ammunition affects different types of barrels and the unique types of barrels to handle different types of ammunition. Chokes, gages, actions . . . . plenty of “meat on the bone”.

Of course each presentation where a firearm was picked up began with “ALWAYS” . . . a good habit for scouters to drill into young minds just beginning a lifetime sport of shotgun shooting.

We pressed well into the day finishing near 5 PM with the Iowa heat of summer completely back in force. What remained was the range work, perhaps the most challenging part of teaching the shotgun.

After the previous weekend of focusing on sight alignment, sight picture . . . the move to shotgun shooting and shooting a moving clay was “interesting”. Honestly, I’m not what I would consider a “shotgunner”. As president of the local Ikes – I know what a real shooter looks like when it comes to shotgun shooting and believe me I have a long way to go. Still, I’ve been schooled by some of the best in the chapter – including the local trap coach so I can “step up” if the situation requires it – it’s just not my “thing”.

We have a great single-station trap range for the scouts. We met the camp ranger there where he had brought camp shotguns – the one’s the scouts shoot (in adult size), the ammunition they use and a battery for the thrower. Our gun of choice for the day . . . a 20 ga. With “training” rounds for reduced recoil and ¾ oz of shot. Yep, it looked like it was going to be an interesting day.

While I’m sure everyone is saying “but, but, but – 12 ga, more shot, better chance of success . . .” – and that is indeed how it’s taught – these scouters needed to see, feel and experience what their scouts do. So, 20 ga it was, for all of us.

We set up two groups to roll through the range. One instructor, one student. We did it in 5 to 10 round groups with each and every group of rounds introduced as though it was a new shooter and candidates switching rolls between groups.

My first task was to introduce these “been hunting all my life” shooters to, what I consider, the proper way acquire a target “on the wing”. Rather that write words, one of the guys filmed how I teach it . . . here’s the link to the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mNbEanm_hQ&list=UUuUxW628Xeq9VNOp1hhGfxg

Of course the first task for me . . . shoot the first 5 rounds. No pressure . . . like I said, not a trap shooter, and when I do I shoot standard target loads out of a 12 ga, not a 20 ga. Ah well. I had one of the candidates walk me through the drill – take a stance, no gun, practice the position, he launched a bird – I followed with my hand, said BANG . . . and then he moved on to dry fire with the 20ga. Finally, my 5 rounds, live fire. Got 4 out of 5 with the last one being allowed to pass the arc simply to demonstrate how difficult that shot is. I’ll take it.

Honestly, the results were satisfying. Most had not learned to “sight” a clay the way I taught it but all worked with it throughout the whole session. And all were surprised and very pleased with their increased performance. There was one who had yet to shoot the qual course so as he broke the first 5 in a row I began scoring him. Final score, with his first time with a 20ga with “training rounds”????? 20 out of 25 . . . not too shabby.

Once the preliminary rounds were past, we began working on picking out bits and pieces of the stance, grip, follow through, instructor coaching student . . . then switching and repeating – student now instructor and instructor now student. Within a couple of hours things were running very smooth, good words were being used – all the things I look for as a TC. They were “comfortable”. I hate comfortable . . .

So, a bit of a change up. An instructor really needs to experience what their students do. They need to understand the frustration of new shooters. And, frankly after 45ish years as a shooter – it’s hard for me to put myself “back there”. There’s an easy way to do that on a trap range . . . have everyone switch to support hand side shooting. For me, shoot left handed – actually, that was the case for everyone.

Now you’d think that would be difficult – actually it’s not because once you mount your gun, all you need to do is “cover the bird”. While the results wasn’t near what you would expect from shooting “normally” – and we only did one 5-round course of fire – everyone hit at least one clay, one fellow hit 3 out of the 5 . . . not bad!

So, a cleanup at the end – both grounds and guns . . . and we were done.

Good course, great work by the candidates, much was learned and “firmed up” on all sides. As it should be when we teach and take coursework. Hawkeye Council is now the proud owner of 4 brand new Shotgun Merit Badge Counselors and the NRA is sporting 4 brand new Shotgun Instructors!!

Congrats to Gary, Chuck, Derek and Colby . . . great job guys!!

 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Commentary–Changes are coming to NRA Training

 

. . . . and I have some concerns.

There has been a running discussion going on in the NRA Instructor and Training Counselor communities about the move of the NRA to a “blended” training model of training for new shooters. The NRA has consistently and adamantly rejected online training. Only a few short years ago Charlie Mitchell released a training update to trainers and Training Counselors stating their position in no uncertain terms. Now, seemingly without warning, the training department released news that over time virtually all programs were moving to a “blend” of online training and face to face range work. Needless to say this has generated a number of concerns that currently feel like a jumble of thoughts. The purpose of this letter is to create some focus to the discussion from the trainer side and to express the concerns I have heard in a single summary.

The concerns fit into a number of different categories – concerns for the student, concerns from a trainer’s point of view, concerns from a training counselor’s point of view, concerns from a state recognized training point of view and finally from a business point of view. Let’s address each in turn.

Concerns for the Student

Student training.

I’ve been a trainer for over 40 years . . . from the NRA programs to complex software products to a broad range of topics during my 21 years in the military. In all situations the need to insure a student learns the “knowledge, skill and attitude” to successfully learn the product or skillset was paramount. And the NRA coursework is certainly no exception.

The NRA’s own Basic Instructor Training leads the way in teaching new instructors how to be successful as an instructor. And, when teaching a skill of any kind they refer to TPI – total participant involvement. There is a need and an expectation that trainers will immerse, fully involve their student in the learning process. In fact there is a specific lesson where the loading and unloading of a handgun is taught using four different methods.

First, a candidate, using demonstration only – no verbal interaction, loads and unloads a firearm.

Second, the process is repeated by a second candidate only this candidate uses only words, a firearm is not used at all.

The third candidate uses a combination of the first and second – demonstrating the loading and unloading of a firearm while fully describing it.

Finally, the fourth candidate uses method three and then brings a student forward and walks them through the process as well – in full view of the class.

The purpose of this type of training – TPI – is to increase retention and learning. A physical demonstration and walking a student through it as well insures the absolute maximum retention.

Another premise of this demonstration is that different people learn in different ways. Some will learn and retain by simply hearing the words – others are tactile learners and actually need to touch what they are learning about.

Finally, depth of experience can add to the learning mix. Most trainers have specific “stories” that they use to emphasize individual parts of the coursework – all have value in that they provide specific examples to strengthen individual areas that are being taught – be it the safety rules, parts of a firearm and the components of a cartridge and how it all works together.

By conducting face to face training, we as Instructors and Training Counselors, can watch, evaluate, correct, reinforce and adjust the words and techniques to fit a specific class, a specific student to insure they are truly learning the “knowledge, skills and attitude” of what is being taught.

A further question arises out of the NRA unwillingness to trust us to be consistent in the classroom and find it necessary to convert that portion to online training. Yet there is no resistance to taking these same instructors and placing them in charge of finishing the live fire portion of the course on a range. How does this make sense? If we are untrustworthy in the classroom, why then are we deemed trustworthy on a live fire range?

Student evaluation

Our evaluation of how well a student or candidate is doing is an ongoing process throughout a face-to-face class. With the change to “blended” training, training updates so far say words like “the instructor will evaluate the student to insure they have learned the material”. We are further told we must have processes in place to accomplish this. What? After all the emphasis placed on adhering to a “gold standard” we now are expected to come up with our own individual set of training standards to make sure a student has learned the material – and then we’re supposed to fix what they haven’t learned. On a student by student basis? This seems like an area fraught with danger and I suspect the two extremes will be reached quickly. “Got your paper from the NRA saying you passed the on-line course? Great, you’re good to go – let’s hit the range!” to the instructor that says “You know, I simply don’t trust the on-line course. Come to this pre-range class, we’ll go over things and then we’ll go to the range.” Neither option is good for the student. As has been proven over and over, face to face is the best teaching model. It might not be the easiest or least complicated – but it is the best. And isn’t that what the NRA has always been about – providing the absolute BEST training available?

Concerns from the Trainer’s Point of View

As a trainer, an experienced trainer – I expect to actually train students. One of the things that drew me to the NRA was the depth of the training offered – both as a student and as a trainer. A broad range of skill sets – including how to actually train students – presented by well vetted and trained trainers. As I said earlier, I’ve been a trainer for over 40 ears and found the NRA program to be excellent.

I’ve been expected to turn out an exceptional “product” – a well-trained new shooter. Someone who is safe, skillful and truly understands the significance of the tool they have in their hand.

To learn these skills I’ve taken a broad range of instructor training from the NRA including Pistol, Rifle, Shotgun, PPITH and PPOTH. Add to that the additional requirement to become a Training Counselor and the time and expense to complete this process and been significant . . . and very worthwhile.

Now however, we are being assured that by removing the student from the classroom, sitting them in front of a computer and letting them go through an online course they will perform the final keystroke and have every bit the same amount of knowledge as they would have gained by sitting through one or two days of face to face training.

Frankly, this is insulting beyond words, profoundly wrong-headed and a disservice to both existing instructors and future students.

Evaluation of the student is ongoing throughout a face to face course, fine adjustments in how an individual student hears or learns something, more of an emphasis here and there – all combine to make sure a student “gets it”. And all of this is lost when going to an on-line course.

Concerns from a Training Counselor’s Point of View

One of the primary reasons a student takes training is “desire”. As a Training Counselor what I look for in a candidate is their desire to teach folks about the safe use of firearms. And what I find is that most do not take the step to becoming instructors without that root desire to share knowledge, to make new shooters safer and more skillful.

There is so much more to that part of the formula than just standing in a lane on a range with a student and watching them send rounds down range. It’s about building trust, building relationships, about bring the candidate into a cadre of skilled trainers. Making them part of something bigger and unique.

What are they to be part of now? Why should they learn all the skills and skills sets they need to know today to become an instructor if their only function will be to essentially do a “range check” to make sure they can safely send rounds downrange? And if they are still supposed to invest the time and money to actually learn the basics, are they going to learn the basics well enough by simply watching videos – and then be able to verify the next generation of shooters have also learned what they should have learned by watching the same videos?

I believe this switch to blended learning will greatly degrade the base knowledge of new shooters. By casting off the knowledge and skills passed on by training provided face to face by skilled and experienced trainer – “corporate knowledge” will be lost with each successive class of shooters. I do not believe this will be in keeping with the “gold standard” that is provided by the NRA as it is structured today.

Concerns for a business Point of View

This seems to be one of those items that is continually set aside with a phrase like “we want to keep our focus on the student”. I understand that – but, there is always a business component.

The instructor that simply wants to teach a few friends from time to time must still earn enough money to cover expenses. And while that may actually be the majority of instructors – the “first tier” instructors who have made significant investment in training material, firearms, teaching aids like projectors and computers need to have enough “meat on the training bone” to make the continued teaching of the NRA Basic courses worthwhile. The courses must, at the very least, cover expenses. These are the instructors that have built the “gold standard” the NRA talks about. These are the instructors that have built training teams, integrated the NRA coursework into their businesses and present the most visible examples of a NRA training professional.

And these very instructors are the ones that are going to be discarded by the blended training approach.

I also have to ask . . . why weren’t we – Instructors and Training Counselors – consulted, given a heads up, asked to wring out the new program, to participate at some minimal level? There is literally 100s of THOUSANDS of years of experience in the training community. I simply do not understand being left out of the process. One of the key elements in any sales job – and believe me, the introduction of this program needs a sales job – is “enrollment”. The “customer” needs to feel like they are part of the decision, that they were part of the group that decided on what the solution to the problem was. Frankly most instructors and Training Counselors I chatted with feel more like a victim than a partner. That is not a good situation for either the NRA or the training cadre. I have yet to speak with a single Instructor or Training Counselor who was asked to comment on or evaluate this new approach before it was announced at the April meeting. Within days I had commented to the Facebook Training Counselor group with a review and a request to the training department that Instructors and Training Counselors be brought into the process and allowed to review the online course. To date, I’ve received no response. While there may be a select few who have been granted a look at the new material, I believe that the training cadre is more than a little angry. These are the people who provide the “gold standard” and I am simply perplexed as to why they are being handled in such an off-handed manner. It seems obvious our investment, our time, the money we’ve invested to become NRA trainers and Training Counselors means little.

One other element playing here is that while the NRA in no way shape or form presents the Basic Pistol course as a concealed carry course – many states accept it as part of the face to face training time. Those NRA instructors that make the BP a component of their training curriculum will now have to move on to other training material. This may well lead to NRA instructors no longer being considered as a viable trainer for many states. Again, this is the NRA’s training core. I would hope the NRA takes into consideration what the loss of a state’s certification would mean to an instructor.

Final Thoughts

I attended the April presentation by John Howard. I understand the concerns. I’ve read the stories of rogue trainers cutting corners, selling certificates, promoting their own courses under the guise of the NRA. And I heard him when he mentioned the number of law suits the NRA has had to defend against. While I certainly have no personal experience of that level or risk or exposure, I can certainly understand the need to insure a consistent core of knowledge.

With that said, I simply do not understand the “throw the baby out with the bath water” approach that the move to blended learning seems to represent. If there are bad trainers – weed them out. If there is a need to insure a common core of knowledge, offer on-line training for continuing education of current trainers and Training Counselors. Require a certain number of online or face to face CE each and every year to keep your trainer’s certification. I’ve posed the question of holding annual trainer only seminars in different parts of the country similar to what Tom Givens from Rangemaster does. Again, no response.

If the desire is to simply transfer responsibly for training from the hands of the instructor corps to corporate and the online coursework – little I have said will have any effect on your decision.

But, if your core desire is to still be the “gold standard” for firearms training in the US . . . please, please reconsider this path.

Sincerely,

Bill

William Keller

President, Eastern Iowa Firearms Training

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Commentary . . . Ferguson . . . ISIS . . . our future??

 

This imaged grabbed my attention today . . .

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“ISIS Here” . . . and it got me to thinking . . .

One of the key elements that gives ISIS so much power over people – especially those already inclined to evil – is the foundational belief that everyone that believes differently, and refuses to convert, is of no value. It allows those darkest of dark areas of our soul – those insanely evil parts that permit gruesome murder, beheadings, rapes, the wholesale slaughter of youth in ditches, the sale of women and girls into slavery, stoning . . . those parts of us that are typically only envisioned in moves like “Saw” or “Halloween” or “Elm Street” . . . In fact, that such atrocities are considered religious acts cleansing the area of the “kafir” . . . a “voice”, a path to action.

Yes . . . yes . . . I know . . . the majority reject this type of behavior. True enough . . . but what kind of majority? A “Think Progress” poll conducted across 11 Muslim majority countries in September of 2013 indicated that 57% of the population rejected those that chose violence. 57% . . . that means that 43% are just fine with it. Take just a moment to wrap your head around that thought . . . . 43%. Just what does that mean??

In terms of population, there’s an estimated 1.8 BILLION Muslims in the world today. 43% of 1.8 BILLION . . . there are 774 MILLION that are accepting of violence against “kafir” to reach the stated goal of the Muslim faith . . . conversion of the world to Islam. That’s a number larger than twice the population of the United States. Breathe that number in for just a bit.

Let’s move our attention to disaffected black youth in our country today. They are – by CHOICE – uneducated, unemployed, restless and jealous of all the “haves” in their community while they see themselves as a “have not”. president (small “p” FULLY INTENDED) Obama ran on a platform of “they have it . . . you want it . . . I’ll take it from them . . . and give it to you!” and he won handily in the black community, because they have been suppressed since first arriving on a boat as a slave in 1700 n’sumthin. They are still slaves today – fully dependent on the largess of the government to put food in their mouth and shoes on their feet. And, if they can get that done . . . piss on it – they deserve it and they’ll just take it.

So am I painting with too broad a brush?

  • If I heard black preachers chastising the looters from the pulpit . . . I’d say I am. They’re not.
  • If I heard black community leaders chastising black men for the epidemic of unwed mothers . . . I’d say I am. They’re not.
  • If I heard black civil rights leaders chastising black men for killing each other . . . I’d say I am. They’re not.
  • Again, if I heard black religious leaders chastising young black women for having yet another child they cannot support . . . or worse – killing it before it’s born . . . I’d say I am. They’re not.

The silence in the black community is deafening . . . and very telling.

Ferguson is simply the latest in a string of black youth venting their frustration.

There is no respect for the business owner . . . because they are the problem. There is no respect for local white officials . . . because they are the problem. There is no respect for the law . . . because it is the problem.

You have a very large segment of the young black population so filled with rage – it lacks only a pinpoint focus to sweep our country.

Gangs have provided some of this focus. They create a “family”, demand and receive obedience and use these young black men for their own gain – be it financial, territorial or simply intimidation. They are very effective. Yet, they are secular . . . tied to worldly things for their approval, gains, place. What if there were an alternative?

What if there were an alternative that . . .

  • Saw whites as an enemy that can be justifiably killed out of hand?
  • Saw businesses as something to be seized and looted?
  • Saw white women as objects to be raped and enslaved?
  • Saw white men as simply something to be killed?
  • Saw banks as opportunities to expand their wealth?

And that all of these actions were fully justifiable and condoned by a common code of conduct?

What if there were a ready-made group that is begging for more members to join their cause to subdue the unbelievers? A group that had a foundational set of beliefs that commended these actions as pious acts and not as crimes against humanity.

A group such as ISIS supported by the Islamic faith.

Is it such a very large stretch of the imagination that the disaffected black youth look at ISIS, its conduct, its goals and finds a common cause in their fight against “the man”?

The black community is at a very perilous point . . . and I believe it could easily slide into madness. A second fight for the soul of the United States could easily pit a radicalized black Islamic culture against virtually everyone else.

Watch the footage of Ferguson, listen to the typical cadre of civil rights leaders, listen to the commentary of the MSM and the voices of the black youth on the street . . . and tell me it couldn’t happen here.

Look at your own communities, the level of unrest and unemployment in the young black population . . . and tell me they don’t blame you, that they don’t blame “the system”, that they don’t feel they deserve more and expect it to be simply given to them.

Look at the orgy of death in the black communities of LA, Chicago, New York, Detroit, New Orleans and tell me that the black youth of today value life, value knowledge and value hard work.

Look at the response of our current administration to the justified shooting of Travon Martin and the information of the on-going investigation into Brown’s killing . . . and convince me that their response is concerned with finding the truth rather than promoting a victim’s point of view.

Tell me why heinous crimes like the killing of Autumn Pasquale and their stuffing of her body in a trash can barely prompted a hiccup in the MSM but the killing of a robber attacking a police officer sets off riots and a 24/7 x 4 news cycle?

Convince me that should ISIS open their arms, share their religion and absolve all killing of whites or any other non-believer – that there are not a significant number of young black men – abandoned by fathers, mothers and society – won’t jump at the chance to take their place in the world.

The black community is playing a very dangerous game. Unless black leaders come forward – YESTERDAY – and get a handle on things . . .

This will not end well for anyone . . .

Monday, August 18, 2014

Review - NRA Basic Rifle Instructor 8-15 to 17-2014

 

I had the opportunity to train a group of six scouters this past weekend. The focus of the weekend was to complete the NRA Basic Instructor Training (B.I.T.) course and the Rifle Instructor course. And, as always, things were taught and learned by all involved, myself included.

B.I.T. - The biggest take-away from the B.I.T. course by the scout leaders is that as a result, they all felt they would substantially change the way they teach the merit badges. In scouting, merit badges are typically taught by a troop leader/parent/interested adult that enjoys a specific thing that the scouts offer a merit badge for. Myself for example – I enjoy shooting sports, photography, astronomy, amateur radio, canoeing, first aid, computers . . . to name just a few. During the decade plus I was involved in troop leadership, guess which merit badges I taught?? No surprise I suppose. However, just because I “taught” them . . . it didn’t mean I know how to teach them.

That is the purpose of B.I.T. for the NRA Instructor candidate – to teach them how to teach. Honestly, light bulbs were going on all over the place!! One component that I didn’t need to reinforce as much as I usually do is team teaching. Scouters “get” team teaching. But, the process of laying out a course, different teaching methodologies . . . . you could see all six scouters just soaking up ideas during the day. Very nice to watch. As a result, some thought is being given to just offering B.I.T. to the council leaders as a stand-alone training to strengthen their teaching skills. I’ll let you all know how that works out if we decide to move forward with that type of training.

I always find it interesting that B.I.T. is called a 6-hour course. Really????? Honestly, I’ve NEVER gotten through it in that short of time – and Friday was no different. With a start time of 8AM, we wrapped up with a final course review at around 6PM. Long day, but one filled with lots of “good stuff”!!

Rifle Instructor – Anytime you have shooters gathered in one room – in this case 6 of them – you are surrounded by “experts” who have been hunting/shooting “for their whole life”. It’s always like that . . . always. What makes a difference is if they are willing to set aside what they “know” and to be open to old information, new information, a different approach, a different point of view . . . then an instructor can get some real work done. Such was the case this during this course. Again, scouters are used to being exposed to different ways of doing something and this assembly of candidates were more than willing to “play”. They offered no resistance to preparing and presenting different parts of the course work. They freely offered and received feedback from other candidates. And, they stayed focused over two very intense days.

Whether presenting the safety rules, the various parts of different types of rifles (I used a lever action rifle, bolt action rifle, a break action rifle and modern day AR rifle), components of a cartridge, range rules, how to do a range brief down to detailing the standing, sitting, kneeling, prone and bench rest shooting positions – they kept their focus, were intent on complete explanations and gently pushed and nudged each other to do their best. Pretty fun to watch and be a part of!

When I teach shooting positions, I spend whatever time it takes in the classroom to have the candidates present and teach the positions as completely as they can without actually firing a shot. The advantages are numerous. Weather is NOT an issue. It’s usually quieter so it’s easier to ask questions, present the information and offer feedback.

It keeps the energy level a bit lower so the candidates can focus better. Even adults with decades of shooting experience can get a bit wired when sitting on a live fire range. So, by the end of day one everything that needed to be covered prior to hitting the range had been done. They were ready to make some holes on the paper.

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Our council is blessed with a beautiful scout reservation with two camps – one for cubs through WEBELOS and then a Boy Scout camp for not only scouts but corporate trainings as well due to the generosity of the Alsop family. We held our training in the Alsop center that has a great gathering area and bunks for well over 100 folks. It’s a pretty impressive building.

After a brief review we headed for the range.

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Again, we are blessed with a covered range that can hold up to 24 shooting positions. Now that camp has buttoned up for the season, there are only 8 remaining lanes open. We took two and set up a rotation of 3 shooters on each lane. One the “student”, one the “coach” and then a safety officer keeping an eye on things.

I rotated them through four shooting positions – bench rest, standing, sitting and supported prone. Each candidate fired 5 rounds in each position and, once all candidates rotated through each position once, we repeated all positions one more time. They sent a total of 80 rounds down range.

I used this exercise to fulfil the Pre-Qual requirement of a candidate being able to shoot a 3-inch group at 50 feet in three different positions. While it would be fine to just have them shoot that drill and bring it with them when they start the class, the advantage of using it as the course of fire for the candidates teaching the various positions live fire is that it adds urgency to the process. As you will see from the targets, they had little trouble and the drill or two where issues arose – the opportunity to learn was greatly enhanced. This is the target I used for the drill:

Target - Rifle Instuctor Qualification 

Each station was provided a single target. Each shooter was assigned one of the circles. These are 3” in diameter with the center being ½” in diameter. It was interesting to see their expressions as I talked about them in class the day before. The idea they were going to shoot these from 50-feet with a little Savage Mark I was more than a little intimidating.

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One of my “have to’s” for an instructor is that they should shoot the very first target on the range of a range day. That does a number of things. It gets the first BANG over with and releases some of the pent up energy we all feel as you head for the range. It lets the candidate know that you can actually shoot (and you better darn well shoot a qualifying score). Finally, it lets you physically demonstrate what you expect from them. Honestly, it’s a win all around.

So, I snug up to the shooting table and have Robert run me through the drill. Practice the position without a firearm. Practice the drill with an unloaded firearm. And, finally, fire the first 5 rounds of the day by command. Here is the result . . .

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Notice the first 4-rounds are within a 1-inch group and then a flyer that stretched the overall size to 2.25”. Still qualifying . . . and it offered a lesson. During the last round I was carrying on a conversation about something that – at this moment – I simply can’t remember. But, the result was a loss of concentration, a loss of focus and a loss of a nice starting group. Heavy sigh. Still – lessons learned and demonstrated . . . and that is, after all, the point of coursework.

The first position on both stations was the bench rest position and generated two target groups that looked like this:

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As you can see, some pretty good shooting. There was a very early opportunity for some “learnin’” with the second shooter on Station one. He was given the center target and as you can see; his group had a very wide swing in elevation. Diagnosis of shooting issues is always interesting to me. This fellow is a former Marine and a good shooter. What the heck?? In walking through my standard questions, it quickly became apparent he was having issues with his sight pictures. The Mark I has a simple V notch in the back and a blade on the front. He’d not shot that particular type of sight before and was trying to settle the top of the blade in the center – vertically – of the rear notch. Once it was clarified that the front blade is centered in the notch but FLUSH with the top of the notch . . . his accuracy increased significantly as you can see by his second round in the lower left corner of the Station 1 target.

And so it went with all positions and shooters . . .

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Sitting offered two different types of challenges. One shooter, once seated simply struggled to bend a knee for additional support. As you will quickly see by the target at station two, his position did not offer enough support for a good grouping . . .

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You’ll notice that while Gary was assigned the upper right target, his grouping was all over the place. His position looked like this . . .

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Obviously it offered little to no stability. We used the time after this round and before the next to find a physical sitting position that would work and offer more points of contact and thus better stability. We final found one such combination and his target then looked like this . . .

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Again, he has the upper right target and as you can see, hit group tightened significantly.

The second shooter simply could not physically get in a seated position on the ground. However, he could easily get into one on top of the shooting table. Once in position, he was able to get a nice group as is seen in the “Sitting” target for Station 1 that had displayed Gary’s initial trouble. Don had the center target.

The ability of a shooter to physically assume a “proper” shooting position is something we all have to deal with. Sometimes it’s age, sometimes it’s through injury. At that point it’s up to the instructor to find a way that a student or candidate can still be successful.

Finally, they all rolled through the prone position with these targets the result . . .

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Things were tightening up really nicely. After a break to hit the head and rehydrate I turned the range over to them and they repeated the same drills a second time. The result wasn’t too shabby at all . . .

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All in all, a pretty good day on the range. Total time was around 4.5 hours. Everyone had improved and gained a much deeper understanding of teaching these shooting positions as well as how to actually execute them as well. Here’s the happy group!

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The range work was followed by a fairly quick lunch back at the lodge and a plunge right into the exam. That was followed by grading, review and exit interviews.

Good weekend! Great job by the candidates. And the Hawkeye Area Council is the recipient of 5 new Rifle Instructors as is a council in Minnesota which sent our one “foreigner” . . . It was nice to have you Robert!

For me one nice thing is that I get 4 of them back next weekend, at the same camp, for the Shot Gun Instructor Training! Going to be another good weekend! Thanks again for coming guys. Below are some of the photos I took over the weekend.