Thursday, April 19, 2012

Training – I’m the best!! No . . . REALLY . . . . Just Ask Me!

I was originally going to say that I was going to “tip-toe” into this topic. Hell with it, I’m to old to “tip-toe” any more, besides, when I do my feet hurt.

I have noticed a disquieting trend of late with in the “Instructor” (more on the quotes in a minute) community of a “my way or the highway” – “that other instructor sucks!!” attitude. Enough so that I feel the need to comment on it.

Let’s chat about the quotes above – what is an “Instructor” anyway?? Bottom line, it’s a person who shares HIS/HER knowledge with a “student” who is someone looking to learn from the “Instructor’s” knowledge or skill set. Period. End of Definition.

Is the value of a certain Instructor’s knowledge or skill higher than that of another’s? Nope. That is a decision to be made by the “student” – and NOT the instructor. Is the Instructor “better” than all other instructors? I suppose it depends on the size of their ego. Mine is pretty damn big – yet I certainly understand that other Instructors possess skill sets I do not. So, again, this evaluation of who is the best is best left in the hands of the students.

Does the Instructor possess a skill set so evolved that their techniques are simply “right” while everyone else’s is “wrong”? – see above . . . ego . . . head size . . . . manhood size . . . testosterone / estrogen level . . . . Again, the only one who can effectively evaluate whether the Instructor’s skill set that they are attempting to teach enhances the student’s skill set is . . . the student.

Over the past 40 years of learning gun handling from more instructors than I care to count, I have had many that I would list as “exceptional” . . . and many that I would list as “poor”. Yet, from each and every one I learned something – however small. Since I have been slogging through the NRA Instructor classes for the past 2 years, their primary goal for their instructor courses comes to mind – to teach the “knowledge, skill and attitude” to make the person an effective instructor. The most important of these? Attitude. As an Instructor I should be willing to learn from every situation, every mistake, every success, every failure and every other Instructor out there to further my own personal skill set. Nor is the student left out of this equation either – if their attitude is poor, their level of learning will also be poor.

And yet, today in the Instructor arena there seems to be more and more judging of other instructors by other instructors. It goes something like this: “They” do it wrong, “They” are unskilled. “They” will teach you poorly. While “I” will teach you the “right” way. “I” am a much better instructor. 

I suppose this is simply human nature. Heaven knows I am certainly judgmental, no denying that at all. And of all the skill sets a person can learn, the weapons handling certainly lends itself to chest thumpin’ testosterone drippin’ muscle flexing types. Yet for me, where things start to go sideways is when one Instructor starts to condemn another Instructor because they don’t do or teach things the “right” way. I do not see how this can serve the shooting community, the Instructor community or those of us who are life long students. In this instance, in this situation I will make an exception and clearly state my opinion of Instructors who participate in this behavior . . . .
. . . . they are wrong.


  1. Good post. Everybody learns a little bit differently from everybody else, so one instructor's teaching methods may leave the student blinking with incomprehension, whereas the guy (gal) down the hall, teaching the exact same subject matter, may flip that AHA! lightswitch. Doesn't mean the first instructor was bad. Just not that students' style. The only truly bad instructors are those who go out of their way to make sure you know that you (the student) are inferior and its only by the magnanimous grace of The Instructor ( can hear when they speak the caps) that they will learn the pittance they are allotted that day.

  2. And students WILL vote with their feet and pocketbooks... Not only that, the proliferation of the internet can give one an EXCELLENT understanding for a particular instructor/school's attitude!

  3. Yep, I agree. I am much more a "digest at my own pace" kinda guy. I need to take stuff home, chew on it and then incorporate it. All kinds of learners out there, that's for sure!

  4. And yes, students do vote with their feet. Another benefit of the Internet is that it's hard to hide if you are "one of those" instructors. AARs are invaluable to new students.

  5. Good point, and you have to remember to instruct to the 50th percentile, knowing you're going to lose the outliers both above and below the median...

  6. The most important thing I learned as an instructor is different people learn in different ways. Recognizing the differences, being flexible and teaching people as individuals is essential to learning.

    1. Agreed. And everyone seems to "hear" differently as well. Two people can easily hear the same words - yet "hear" something entirely different. My favorite phrase while teaching . . . "Does that make sense??"

      Seems you must live near by - don't be a stranger! I liked your blog and notices you shoot at SureShot - literally just around the corner!