Instructor : a person who teaches a subject or skill
: someone who instructs people
Teach : to cause or help (someone) to learn about a subject by giving lessons
: to give lessons about (a particular subject) to a person or group
: to cause or help (a person or animal) to learn how to do something by giving lessons, showing how it is done, etc.
As instructors we fill a special void in the firearms arena . . . that of improving the skill set of (in my case) the defensive shooter. As the definition says – we “teach a subject or skill”. While the actual act of teaching helps the defensive shooter “learn about a subject by giving lessons”. That’s our job . . . our reason for being in the classroom . . . our passion. And growing as a firearms instructor should be a lifelong goal.
So what are three resolutions we – as instructors – can adopt that will further our efforts as firearms instructors in 2016.
I’ve chosen this as being “first in line” for my previous two posts for 2016 resolutions . . . it is no different for instructors. If we are unwilling to actually take coursework to broaden our base and understanding of defensive shooting how on earth can we challenge or expect our students to take follow on coursework? Mind you – I do understand that most do not . . . that those who really do a deep dive in learning to use their defensive firearm are few and far between. But, that simply CAN NOT BE THE CASE for us as instructors. We must stay current. We must be challenged. We must challenge ourselves. We must continue to grow and learn. Period.
If you fit nicely in this “shoe” – congrats! Don’t let up. Roll through the various types of coursework that are out there, make your plans, buy your ammo, reserve your seat and room and then go have fun and learn things. It will certainly make you a better shooter. And it will add to your value as an instructor allowing you to bring what you learn to your students as well as providing a good example to those coming to you for coursework.
I’ve made it clear that coursework and training are two entirely separate items. Training is the “rubber meets the road” part of these resolutions. My suggestion to the new shooter and the experienced shooter was to pick up 1,000 rounds at the beginning of the year and use that for their individual range training throughout the year. For you – the instructor I would encourage you to double or triple that. Solid work on the range on the fundamentals – stance, grip, presentation, sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press and follow-through is critical to your ability to perform these functions for your students and to maintain your skill level as a shooter and instructor. There are no short cuts, no quick solutions . . . simply range work.
Under this I will add my pitch for SIRT pistols and LaserLyte rounds for your defensive carry weapon. (And no . . . I’m not a sales rep for either, I just see a great deal of value in them.) You can add thousands of presentations and single or multiple round engagements for little or no cost. Let’s assume you take 5 days a week and perform 25 presentations with engagements each of those 5 days. Over a year that results in 6,500 additional engagements from concealment. THIS MAKES A DIFFERENCE! Provided you take the time to make sure they are well done each and every time. And, once the initial $200-ish price for a SIRT or $100-ish for a LaserLyte round is covered . . . your only investment is the 20-30 minutes a day that you invest. Cheap folks . . . CHEAP!
Sounds simple, doesn’t it. You’re an instructor . . . TEACH!!! Yet, there’s more to it than that isn’t there. Teaching a formal course . . . where real work and learning can be done . . . takes time and effort with no shortcuts. There are thousands and thousands of “instructors” out there who got a cert from some organization that maybe taught a single course, or “teach” family and friends once a year or so. And that’s it . . .
Or, there are instructors who have again received a cert from some organization, and then another, and another . . . and have taken multiple sets of coursework a year . . . yet simply don’t teach. Or teach a single course or two a year. I find it hard to view these folks as “instructors” . . . but rather I view them as “instructors in training”.
Bottom line, Instructors teach . . . or they’re something else. Period.
So home many courses do you need to teach a year before you move into the instructor category? Now that, friends, is a great question. So let’s chat about that a bit.
Rather than looking at it from a “students taught” POV, let’s view it from a classroom hours POV instead. The caveat here is that you give every class your very best effort – 120% - each and every time you run a class regardless if it’s a single shooter on the range or a full classroom. You give it your all!
Let’s consider a “class” as an 8-hour block of time. If you taught a class a month this would come out to 96 hours a year in the classroom. Honestly, I would consider this a minimum. If you look at that number and wonder how you could ever scratch up a class a month . . . honestly folks, work on your marketing. There are any number of skill sets you can work on other that just some type of starting pistol or carry class. This is exactly what I mean when I talk about building your teaching foundation. At the high end? Heck the sky’s the limit. Remember, it’s not about the number of students – but the quality of education provided to the student. Even simple things – say carry permit recertification shoots – can be solid opportunities to teach a shooter something. Iowa is currently going through the first of the “Non Professional Permit to Carry Weapons” recertification. From this point forward, every 5 years folks with that permit in Iowa must “recertify”. There is everything from the $12.50 on line quickie to something more along what I do – the 1 hour, 70-ish round, review, evaluation and qualification option. I find that the opportunity to do more than simply put holes in paper adds enough value that some folks will pay the extra costs to actually learning something. And I have yet another opportunity to teach.
So, bottom line, make this the year you push the envelope in the instructor arena. Schedule classes, advertise, talk to former students and build your hours in the classroom. Everyone wins here – you become a better instructor and, your students reap the benefits of a more experienced instructor.
So there you have it. Get off your butts – take some new coursework, build your training regimen and then take that result and teach it to those around you!