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

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Just the Basics - Zeroing a Stevens M53-B

 

I find I’ve gotten a bit attached to my little Stevens M53-B. As I recounted in the post working with the scout on his Rifle Merit Badge, this has been in the back of my safe for a long time. It’s had little care frankly and though a consistent shooter, it’s zero was obviously off and it was in bad need of some lovin’.

Over the past week I used a bit of Rem oil and 0000 steel wool to remove the light surface rust that was scattered about the barrel. A nylon brush and denatured alcohol took care of years of GSR buildup in the chamber/ejection area as well as on the bolt. And, numerous passes through the bore with a brass brush and some Hoppe”s #9 followed with clean swatches produces a clear barrel with very pronounced rifling.

I’m in the process of evaluating Fireclean – a product being heavily promoted by Larry Vickers and one who’s primary purpose is to treat the surfaces of a firearm, especially any exposed to GSR to insure as much of the GSR is ejected from the firearm as is possible. The info being present is well worth investigating and using I’m using it on a host of my weapons this coming year. I’ll set aside further comment until after I’ve run a few thousand rounds through them to see if I notice a real difference.

So, I headed to the range today with a very clean M53-B and the intention to zero it in while there. I also took a Stevens 87A with a 4-power scope and a plan to wring out new sights that’s I’d installed on my carry Glock17. It was going to be a busy trip!

For this post, I’ll focus on the M53-B. The first task was to just remind myself where it was shooting. I set up a training target at 50’, set my bag up and sent 5 rounds down range. High, right was where it hit.

20150124_123520 (Medium)

For me, I set Windage first. In this type of firearm the rear site is actually seated in a groove much like a semiautomatic pistol’s rear sight. Adjustment is handled in a similar manner. I wanted to move the rear sight in the direction I wanted to move the rounds – to the left. Taking a larger diameter roll-pin punch and a small ballpeen hammer and gave it a solid “tap” on the rear sight’s right hand side. Another 5 rounds went down range. The result indicated I had move about ½ the required distance. One more “tap” was applied, another 3 rounds down range and I was centered on the target.

Rear Sight M53-B (Medium)

20150124_123708 (Medium)

Elevation is adjusted by loosening the screw holding the rear sight in place and moving the Elevation Adjustment Bar forward or back depending on your required need. For me, moving the rear sight so it rested on the rear most notch dropped the rounds so all fell easily within the 4th circle. (each circle is 3”, the center dot is ½” and the grids are ¼”). My final 5 rounds were “fired for accuracy” on the 5th circle. A nice group of 3 and two “flyers”. What I discovered is that this particular firearm was configured to use a “6 o’clock hold”. The bead on the front sight needed to rest just below the dot on the target. The ¾” group on the 5th circle provided ample proof the rifle was nicely zeroed . . . the two flyers are good reminders that ALL THE FUNDAMENTALS MATTER!

Let’s talk a bit about that – the fundamentals of rifle shooting. I’m working on a much larger post on the subject – but for today, a few brief thoughts.

First – old guns like this (or brand new ones for that matter) are great training tools to teach the fundamentals. You don’t need a $5,000 sniper rifle to be a great rifle shot – you need solid fundamentals. An old gun like this, selling on most gun sites for about $150 – are great teaching/learning tools. The best part is that they are unforgiving – period. Sight alignment slightly off, trigger press not straight back, jerk the last little bit just to make it go bang? You’ll have a “flyer”. On my last target, after two adjustments for Windage and one for elevation I had three rounds within ¾” and two “flyers”. These flyers were not due to the gun – they were due to me. Either my breath management got the best of me (which was the case) or I was impatient (also had a role to play) or I jerked the trigger (that was NOT the case). The bottom line is that the lowly .22 and a moderate distance of 50’ can teach you volumes about how you shoot a rifle, what you need to work on and allows you to correct that at little expense.

So, while it may be fun to take your $5,000 sniper rifle to the range and blast away at 100-500 yards, unless you have the fundamentals, the foundation well laid – you’re just burning ammo and dollars. Find an old rifle, give it some love and let the old girl teach you a thing or two.

I also took the time this past week to repair a Model 87 that had been sitting in the safe for way too many years. An hour of love and it was ready to hit the range. This rifle has a special place in my heart. It was my dad’s and when I was 12 or so my mom took the rifle and me to be fitted with a 4x scope because I just had to have one. It has seen many years of sitting waiting for a squirrel to climb out on a branch and find its way into a pot of stew. It too had not really seen any real range/field time in many years.

20150124_130246 (Medium)

With a scoped firearm that is well and truly zeroed, excuses really fade and your own individual shooting skill is laid bare on the shooting bench. It can be humbling. As can be seen the first 5 rounds held a 1” group, the second showed a true lack of focus, the 3rd had two very tight groups and the 4th finally came right in. The 5th proves that you must make every shot, one shot at a time. Basically, this gun has not been zeroed since the fall of 1962. It has held zero for over 50 years. I think I’ll keep it.

The take aways for today . . .

Find an old rifle, give it some lovin’ and then enjoy adding it to your shooting rotation. She will teach you tons and you’ll be a better shooter for it.

Fundamentals matter . . . always.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Training – Shoot a quarter . . .

 

From the Boy Scout Rifle Merit Badge book . . .

k. Using a .22 caliber rimfire rifle and shooting from a bench rest or supported prone position at 50 feet, fire five groups (three shots per group) that can be covered by a quarter.

As a trainer I often hear a “phoo – phooing” of instructors that “just teach scouts”. I suspect most of this “down their nose” attitude comes from the fact that they’ve never actually taught a scout or any younger-ish person a skill as complex is putting 5 rounds into an area the size of a quarter at 50 feet. (yes, my error, seems the requirement has dropped to 3 rounds per group – I missed that). So let’s take the opportunity to look at my range morning today from a couple different points of view.

The Scout . . .

A 12 year old male scout is a bit like a Labrador puppy . . . small for their feet, not fully under their own control, absolutely filled to the brim with boundless energy. And, they don’t always think before they act. For example, while it was “warmer” today it was still on the chilly side, about 38*F and windy. So, naturally he shows up with a hooded sweatshirt and tennis shoes. Our range still has snow around the shooting benches and is fairly wet. Within the first 10 minutes his feet are more than a little wet and getting cold. If you’ve spent time around scouts you’d know this is pretty typical. With around 15+ years around these critters I was just happy he had on a hooded sweatshirt and shoes rather than flip flops!

That said, scouts are great training aids for instructors. They are probably the most challenging students I work with simply from trying to get them focused. Their “bits” just never stop moving! Still, if you are unable to get them to the point where they can accomplish their final goal – shooting a quarter – you will more than likely lose a shooter from the sport. It is all on you – the instructor. So how do you get a new shooter to that point? There is a process – and it works for all new rifle shooters, not just scouts. Let me walk through my process.

Use a single shot rifle – period! I have a “clunker” in my safe, an old, beat up Stevens Model 53-B.

20150117_120243 (Medium)

I’ve not refinished it or done any real work on it for a specific reason. Many times new shooters believe equipment wins the day – newest rifle, best sights, longest barrel – and the gun becomes an excuse for not shooting well. My old Stevens does a lot to set those thoughts aside.

As for a single shot – it slows a new shooter down so they can work on the fundamentals and not just the process of making the rifle go bang as quickly as they can. In fact this particular scout has a new Ruger 10/22 rifle that he brought. It was just impossible to slow him down so after a couple 5-round magazines worth of rounds down range I had him case his new, shiny gun for my clunker.

Eye dominance. This particular scout is cross eye dominant, a fact I’d determined on a past range trip. My suggestion here is please, don’t fight this.

20150117_102559 (Medium) 20150117_102533 (Medium)  

His best option would be to simply learn to close his dominant eye and shoot right handed – but being 12, it’s not within his ability yet. Or, have him switch shooting hands. Again, please don’t do this – again he’s just 12 and has done everything else right handed during his whole short life. The fight is simply not worth it at this point in his shooting career. My solution – just put some masking tape over his left eye on his shooting glasses. Less fighting mechanics means you can work on the foundational stuff. He’s 12 . . . plenty of time to make other choices as he gets older.

Position. This is the foundation of all things – and deserves a majority of your time. We spent a lot of time “dry fitting” the rifle to him. I use a shooting bag, have him firmly pull the stock into his shoulder and then use his support hand as a “fine adjustment” for elevation under the stock. His cheek is welded to the comb of the stock and his open eye lays behind the rear sight insuring proper sight alignment. Again – 12 year old scout – Labrador puppy. Ever see a lab puppy sit still? So be patient here. THAT is the gift to the instructor from such students . . . they teach you patience. Take advantage of that and refine this part of your instructor’s skill set.

20150117_104427 (Medium)

Trigger Press. Trigger press is that very last fine tune that you need to work on. Here’s what I mean.

20150117_110240 (Medium)

The bottom target is all the “foundational” work. Getting his head in the game. Moving from the 10/22 to the Stephens. Reminding him what sight alignment, sight picture is. Look at the upper left target – his last of the rounds on this target. What I asked him to realize is that his elevation was right on the money . . . the moving back and forth was primarily trigger press. We visited the target between every 5-round engagement. We chatted about what he saw, what I saw, how it could be corrected. You simply must do this with new shooters. If they just make holes from a distance and never have a discussion of things that they are doing that work vs those that do not . . . they will never grow as a shooter and will leave the range much more discouraged than when they arrived. Talk to your students. Acknowledge and praise improvements – and explain areas they need to work on. From his first engagements on the center target to his final engagement on the last upper left target, notice how he is tightening things up. THAT is your job – to get new shooters to understand that.

By this time we had expended around 25 rounds and ½ hour. With new shooters, especially young shooters, you have an hour. That’s it. After that they’re bored, cold, tired, hungry . . . you name it. Keep that in mind and don’t push it!

A change of targets . . . and a change of focus. Trigger press. To increase accuracy, trigger press is the key IMNSHO. A nice slow, smooth, straight back trigger press – accuracy increases quickly. Jerk it – you’ll never improve. For the next 5 targets, that was the focus – a slow, smooth trigger press.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RGCao9ua98

One other take away from the short video – trigger finger discipline. Notice the scout moved his finger towards the trigger, then as he settled he moved it to the stock, refined his position and then touched the trigger. I see these as little wins – self correction without me opening my mouth.

As you can see by the targets, his groups began to tighten. Upper left first, upper right next, center, then . . . lower left. By this time he is on the edge of being done. We’ve been on the range for right at an hour. He’s cold. His feet are wet. Another opportunity with student . . . to teach them how to “settle their mind”. We talked about how he was sitting, to keep his feet flat, good position with his rifle, sight alignment, sight picture and finally trigger press. I reminded him of one shot at a time. His result – his first “quarter”. 5 shots, all within touching distance of a quarter. To say he walked up and back to the target on that one would be an understatement. At that instant he realized he was fully capable of “shooting a quarter”.

Shoot a quarter

His last round of 5 opened a bit, but nothing serious. And his range trip was done.

Take-aways. As instructors it is just fine to make demands of our students. Yet patience will move them nearly as quickly. My old clunker rifle is a good reminder it’s not the gear – it’s the shooter.

And, finally, if you get the chance to work with a new, young, Labrador-ish shooter – take it. You will learn as much, or more, than they. And you’ll both step off the range a better shooter.

Go . . . shoot a quarter . . . and see what you learn!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Just the Basics . . .

 

More that a little while back I came up with the idea of taking many of my blog posts and moving them into a book.  Last night, about 11:30PM, the end to that process was finally realized . . .

Book Cover

I’m an engineer by nature and by training.  One of the core beliefs of an engineer is that you need to learn the “basics” first . . . then you can move forward to your specific field of choice.  You learn that math, physics, chemistry, reading, writing, speaking, program management, economics, computer skills – to name just a few – are part of your fundamental understanding of the engineering world regardless of your final destination be it electronic, electrical, mechanical, computer, industrial, bio-medical.  Without a knowledge of these basic building blocks of your foundational knowledge base – you will never be the engineer you want to be.

I carry this belief over the the world of defensive shooting as well.  Much of the training available today seems to want to take you to the “end point”, the run and gun point, the “tacti-cool” point . . . leaving much of the foundational information to be learned on the shooter’s own time.  I get this – it’s not near as interesting learning the nomenclature of different firearms, the history of gun powder, why “eyes and ears” are important . . . along with a multitude of other little details.  Everyone wants to make it go BANG! as soon as possible.

Yet, I hold to my belief that to be a well rounded shooter, the foundation, the fundamental elements of being a defensive shooter are important.  That is the purpose, the goal, the reason for this book . . . “Just the Basics – A Guide for the New Shooter”.

There are a number of folks who reviewed the manuscript – Jim, Kelly, Darin, Shelby, Chris – thank you for your thoughts, ideas and friendship.

A very kind woman, shooter and trainer shared with me her publisher’s name and advocated for the book – a big “thank you” goes out to Kathy Jackson, a well respected trainer and author in her own right.  Thank you Kathy for giving the new kid a hand up!

A book never gets to market without a publisher.  Skip Coryell of White Feather Press was good enough to give me this debut chance – I hope it lives up to all of our expectations.  Thanks Skip!

And finally, to the folks that stop by and read the blog – thank you!  One of my pleasures in life is to teach.  I hope all of you that come by pick up a nugget or two once in awhile – and that you share that nugget with your fellow shooters.  We grow best together – being safe, training with a good partner and making sure we are learning throughout our  entire shooting career!

Thanks to all – enjoy the book!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Training – Don’t Touch It!!!

 

On the various gun blogs and FB groups, there have been two rather dramatic stories of negligent discharges that injured off duty law enforcement officers. One holds the position of Chief of Police and the other a Sheriff’s Deputy.

There has been the typical ragging on these officers – much of it well deserved. And for the Chief there has been the “pooh-phooing” of an issue I have recognized as a real problem for years – the drawstring adjuster that is found in most jackets and cold weather gear today. Let’s take a look at the videos first, then I want to probe a bit deeper into this topic.

First up . . . the Chief . . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrJMQupYxaw

Second – the Sheriff’s Deputy . . .

http://www.wafb.com/story/27754567/off-duty-officer-accidentally-shoots-self-in-otr?clienttype=generic&mobilecgbypass

Lots of meat on those bones, so let’s start at the beginning . . .

What’s the purpose of your defensive weapon that you carry on your body or in your off-body carry purse or bag? Simply put, it’s a tool that can be rapidly deployed and is capable of deadly force should your life, the life of your family or someone in your charge be in immediate, imminent danger - if you don’t use your defensive firearm, you’ll go home in a ZipLoc.

How about your holster or off-body carry purse or bag? Their purpose is to make sure your defensive weapon in on your body, that it’s securely held in the same position each and every day and that the trigger guard is protected while your weapon is in its holster.

When should these two components part company? When you need to FIGHT!! When you’re in a safe area so you can unload for cleaning or in preparation for putting your weapon in a secure storage location. When you’re at the range and on the firing line. Otherwise . . . leave your loaded defensive firearm in your holster . . . PERIOD!!

How about at night when our weapon is near your bed should it be needed? Again, I would encourage you to leave it in your carry holster. Here you can see mine, along with my SureFire 6P flashlight on a magazine next to my bed. My defensive carry weapon – a Glock 17 – never leaves its carry holster except for the times listed in the paragraph above. EVER!

bedside holstered weapon (Medium)

As individuals that actively train for our self-defense – or teach a broad range of skills aimed at enabling our students to defend themselves, we all “know THE rules” . . . the NRA “Always” rules, Jeff Cooper’s rules . . . they have become part of our lives. As I am sure it was with the two officers in the stories above. You don’t have multiple-decades of experience between them and NOT have been exposed to “THE rules”. And yet, both of these gentlemen ignored multiple rules with the result being a “ND” – negligent discharge. Why? I suspect they fell prey to one that experienced shooters all too often do as well . . . complacency. We are familiar with firearms, we handle them frequently, we train with them frequently, we teach others . . . we’re “experts”. For many, this seems to bring with it a feeling of invulnerability . . . it could never happen to me!

Reading over the comments on these two events there was no shortage of derisive comments, the “I can’t believe they’re so stupid” comments, an ad nauseum repeating of “THE rules”. The implication being that it happened to “them” because they were stupid but that it couldn’t happen to the poster because they were much more careful. I would simply caution against hubris . . . and make darn sure it doesn’t happen to you!

You’ll also notice both incidents happened during reholstering, when they jammed their weapon down into their holster. In fact accidents happen much more frequently during the reholstering than during the draw. Why you might ask. Again, look at the videos. The reholster did not go smoothly in either case. Both officers fumbled, tried to holster one handed (one was even juggling a package at the time) and were visibly frustrated. NOT a good combination in either case.

The reality for both of these instances is that there was NO REASON AT ALL for their defensive weapons to be out of their holsters. That is, to me, a clear indication of their complacency. They’re experts, they’re professionals . . . tut, tut, no worries. The end result dramatically shows what can happen to ALL of us should we get sloppy.

Caution on the range is even more important. My range trips typically involve a couple hundred rounds of ammunition, countless draws from concealment and EACH AND EVERY ONE is followed by a reholstering of my defensive weapon. The phrase I mentally say to myself and say to every student I am running on the range is “You have all the time in the world to reholster!” And that’s literally true. In the event of an actual defensive encounter where you have been required to use your weapon, why the heck would you reholster your weapon immediately upon firing your last shot? Wait until you know the threat is down and that law enforcement has arrived. Then slowly reholster your defensive weapon or follow whatever instructions the officers give you. There no need to hurry!

Finally, let’s talk a bit about those little drawstring adjusters. These evidently played a part in the Chief’s ND and many posters took umbrage to him citing them as the cause of his weapon going off. First and foremost it was his responsibility to make sure the throat of his holster was fully clear before reholstering his weapon – period! I will give no quarter there at all.

Image 95 Cord Adjuster 2

That said, if you have the little adjuster tabs on your jacket CUT THE DARN THINGS OFF! During a training at the beginning of December 2014 a young woman started to have problems reholstering. Sure enough, a drawstring adjuster was getting in her way. Two of us whipped out our carry knives to cut them off her jacket (with her consent, of course). My way of thinking is that this is very cheap insurance.

Make no mistake . . . THIS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU!!

Unless . . .

. . . you take carrying a defensive firearm seriously each and every day . . .

. . . without fail . . .

Ever!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Training - Course Development Part 3

 

So . . . can you “take it”??

Most instructors I know pass out some form of evaluation at the end of their courses. They are typically a mix of “check the box” to “give me a number from 1-5” to a few spaces where comments can be written. Sadly, most reviews are just numbers or words like “it was an awesome course!!!!!”. Somewhat satisfying by largely useless with little in the way of specifics that a dedicated instructor can latch on to and build from.

I’ve pretty much migrated away from this approach and have settled on AAR – After Action Reports. These feel comfortable to me primarily from my time in the military. After every deployment, engagement or rollout of new equipment AARs were used to evaluate our successes and failures. And, they provided some of the foundational building blocks that were used to move forward. Most times they were dedicated to logistics, efficiencies or simply performance of the equipment. And, at times, they helped insure that in the next engagement we would do a better job so our casualty count was lower.

In the civilian marketplace AARs usually took the form of Project Performance Reviews. Is the project “on time”, is it meeting the design specifications and are we still on target regarding the delivery date.

Bottom line – if you are not being fed a continual stream of honest, direct and comprehensive AARs regarding your training and performance, you are not being the best instructor you could be. Why? Because the only one you’re listening to in that case is the guy/gal you see in the mirror . . . and we all know how objective they are . . . right?

In the two previous posts on this topic, I posted my AAR of some new coursework I am working on. The first AAR was written after a trip to a friend’s facility in Ohio and can be read here. The second was at another friend’s facility here in Iowa and that can be read here. In both cases I asked for “comprehensive” AARs about their experience. Each training consisted of two days of coursework a “1” level and a “2” level. The second training incorporated material that filled “holes” that were identified in the November training. And, since this was taught to experienced trainers as well as folks that were there as simply students, I got feedback from both groups. Frankly, the student group – unfamiliar with the real idea of AARs – had a tendency to lean towards the “great class, love it, can’t wait for the next stuff coming out”. And while there is not as much value in this type of AAR – these folks will definitely share their thoughts if they think the course simply sucked.

At the instructor level though, I was rewarded with thoughtful, direct, honest feedback that evaluated content, flow, teaching methods and range work. There was a lot of “meat on the bone” that I’ve been able pick through, evaluate and use to make adjustments. There are a couple cautions though that you, as the receiving instructor, need to take into account.

It’s difficult to be a “student” when you’re an instructor – and a number of my reviewers are very high level shooters and trainers in their own right. It’s not easy for them to simply put on a “student” hat and sit through the course without the instructor side of their brain going full tilt! And, virtually all of us who fill an instructor “square” are Type A+++ folks – that too comes into play. Given these caveats . . . I’ll ask the question again . . . “Can you take it?” The feedback, the suggestions, the “I think this was wrong”, the “I like the way I do it better”, the “You simply MUST include” . . . type comments that are given in earnest, in a direct fashion and with a real desire to make sure whatever you churn out is the best offering you can possible put out there to your training market. Or are you the type of instructor that is so fully self-assured that you simply can’t listen to any feedback or counsel given by a peer?

When I look in the mirror more and more I see a C.O.G. – a Crotchety Old Guy that is pretty set in his ways. That said, I’ve seemingly never lost my desire to improve myself. Much of the feedback I received throughout this coursework was face-to-face doing an AAR immediately after the day’s coursework was done. This can be a pretty mixed bag since many times folks are afraid of hurting the feelings of the instructor. And, for some instructors, this may well be a valid concern. Frankly, if that’s the case for you as you roll this paragraph around in your head . . . STOP IT. If you are unwilling to see how you come across, you have no ability to improve. And, if you’re already the best instructor you know . . . you’re “spinning yarns” to yourself! The trick here, in this type of review, is to have someone take good notes while you simply listen and soak it in. I typically sit in what is called an “open body” position . . . both feet flat on the floor and your hands on your thighs. You’ll quickly note that if things are getting a bit uncomfortable for you, your arms will cross, your legs will cross and you’ll start countering their feedback with arguments on why your way is the best way. In this case, when developing new coursework, that’s not the purpose of the feedback . . . to prove you’re right. Listen, observe, take notes . . . but don’t argue.

The real meat shows up in the written AARs which usually trickle in within the month following a course. Again, my purpose was to have these folks review new coursework. I received over 30 pages of detailed summaries, suggestions, observations, concerns, praise and ideas. Here, again, you simply must remain “open bodied” and really “listen” to what the reviewer is saying to you. These can be quite an exercise in your individual confidence. If you are expecting reviews like this to tell you how awesome you are . . . my suggestion is to simply not do them and go back to the checkbox approach. That’s not their point . . . especially in my particular case where I am asking folks to evaluate new coursework. But, if you are willing to hear, to evaluate, to discern what your fellow instructors and invited students are saying . . . you will find that – frankly – they can save your butt before you release the coursework to the real world.

Let’s chat a bit about developing some of your own coursework, what my approach was and how it worked out after and what will be the final evaluation before I release the work.

Begin with the end in mind. I generated a “Level 1” and “Level 2” course. The goal was to build 8-9 hour courses that would teach to a specific level with the Level 1 course feeding into the Level 2 course. There was a defined set of skills and shooting objectives that needed to be met for each course as well as the requirement to pass a short 25 question examination.

Write an outline of the course – an opening, the “meat” of the course, range work drills, a final shooting test and written test. Each portion of the course – each “lesson” should fulfill a specific part of our overall goal.

I am fond of Power Point as a “roadmap” of the course, to keep me on track while I’m teaching. The danger here is to use the Power Point AS the course, rather than using the slide bullets to keep you on track while you flesh out each slide. It’s a good idea to continually flesh out the instructor notes part of the Power Point upon the completion of each course

Use your own words and imagery . . . don’t steal it. With a little extra effort you can take your own images, construct your own slides and use your own words on each slide. With the ease of the Internet there is a real temptation to simply search for images and “words” that you feel may say things or present things better than you could. Trust yourself; take the time to craft your own work. It will be easier to teach as well as offering your students true original work rather than a rehash of what other instructors have done before you.

Then, take the time to teach it to both experienced instructors and new students. Wring it out, ponder over it, rehash, rehearse and present it a number of times before you integrate it into your standard course lineup.

Does all of this sound like a pain in the ass?? Yep, it can be. But ask yourself . . . what’s your purpose in generating this coursework in the first place? Do you truly have a different path clearly in mind . . . or are you just looking for a way to take money from customers? Does it matter that the coursework is good . . . or just “complete”? Only you can answer those questions.

So, what did I learn from this AAR process about what we’d created?

The content is good. While the first group found a couple of holes, the second group agreed that the content was solid.

There were a couple thoughts on the lesson flow . . . I’ll chew on that and make some adjustments to see how it goes when the first courses are taught.

In the Level 1 course I will be adding a specific classroom dry fire set of range drills. With the tools available today – everything from SIRT pistols to blue guns – this should generate a higher level of confidence in new shooters and with the Level 2 course, introduce some of the new concepts a bit earlier in the day and off the range.

Both days will be long. That means I will keep a pretty close eye for areas I can tighten up or perhaps simply drop.

For me personally, when I conduct the range work I need to watch that I don’t brush over portions. A couple of the instructors noted that I seemed to be taking advantage of the fact that I was teaching to experienced instructors. In retrospect, they were more correct than I care to admit. When you teach your new coursework . . . teach it at the level of your expected student and not at the level of the talent in the room.

Finally, a number of the instructors prefaced their feedback by giving me a few kudos for being willing to listen to what they had to say. I appreciate that, thank you. But really, if you are developing coursework in a vacuum, with no feedback, no review, no one pushing you hard on the wheres and why-fors . . . I would strongly urge you to bring others into the process to help insure you are turning out the best product you can!

The first class of this coursework will roll out in the next 6 weeks or so. I’ll do final updates, schedule the classes and roll them out . . .

. . . and then take notes, read the AARs for the students in preparation for a full review this fall with course changes being integrated into the 2016 teaching year.

Because good coursework never stops growing, being evaluated and being refined.

So I have a question for you . . . when was the last time you took your coursework and laid it and yourself before your peers and asked . . .

. . . “So, what do ya think?”