Friday, September 30, 2016

Review - AAR NAPSI Instructor Development Course 9-22-25-2016

Thursday . . . September 22 was “the day”!  The day that years of development, testing, tweaking and just plain old hard work reached its conclusion.  NAPSI conducted it’s very first – of many to come – “Instructional Methods and Procedures” and “Foundations of Defensive Pistol Instructor Development” courses.  It was a very good four days.

The purpose of this AAR is to fully describe the NAPSI coursework, the requirements to become a NAPSI instructor and then to lay out a full AAR of the four days of instruction.  As Kirk would say . . . Buckle Up!

First – why even bother developing a new set of coursework.  Well . . . to be perfectly honest . . . the answer is simple – Need!  The harsh reality in today’s training world is that the majority of folks looking for a carry permit are interested in taking a single solitary course, period!  In our (the founding members of NAPSI) opinion there are few courses out there that provide a solid foundation of defensive shooting to their students.  There are very solid “shooting sports” courses, some “out there” tacti-cool courses, some very good shooting only courses . . . but not many that cover things from parts of a SA Revolver to the foundations of defensive shooting.  That was missing in our opinion and that was our focus as we developed our coursework.

Next, and equally important, is actual instructor development.  Teaching an instructor how to actually teach solid coursework.  Providing them the training to effectively present our material to their students.

Finally, to develop a “product”.  In this case the “Foundations of Defensive Pistol” and the associated “Foundations of Defensive Pistol Instructor Development” coursework to teach the instructor candidate how to teach the actual course.  It’s easy to see how developing this coursework spanned years.  We wrote it, taught it to peers, rewrote parts, taught it to peers, had our own development conferences with the founding members to work on and polish it, taught it to beta groups, tweaked again, more development conferences . . . all to get to September 22nd.  It’s been a good journey.  It’s been a challenging journey.  And, it’s been a worthwhile journey.  We are proud of what we have, what we have done and on Sunday afternoon, September 25th . . . we were very proud of our first four new instructors – Jim, Kenny, Sean and Jim.  So let’s talk about the process.

Before any instructor candidate was considered, they had to actually attend a “Foundations of Defensive Pistol” course.  We’ve held a number of them in the Midwest in Iowa, Missouri and Illinois.  Why?  At the lowest level – how can you teach what you haven’t taken?  And at the opposite end – what better way to decide if you want to teach a course than to take it first to see if you and it are a fit.  From the corporate side – it’s a “qualifier” . . . if you’re not serious enough to take the course, you probably aren’t serious enough to actually teach it.  It is NOT our intent to find out how many instructors we can create.  It IS our intent to create solid, focused and skilled instructors to teach our coursework.  Taking the course seems like a minimal effort.

Next we expect an instructor candidate to be actively learning.  We expect them to be taking coursework annually.  As part of the instructor application each individual was expected to list their existing teaching certifications as well as list what coursework they had taken with us paying special attention to annual training.  Our belief is that if instructors are not taking coursework . . . they are not growing, not learning and will probably not be a good fit for NAPSI.

Personal references are also a must – we require three.  These are folks who will be able to vouch for the candidate and hopefully be able to vouch as to their teaching and shooting ability. 

An individual resume is also expected.  Who is the candidate, what are their skills, their level of training, their goals?

The instructor candidate must have a current certification in some level of first aid – from a Red Cross First Aid cert to an EMT – some level of training is required and must be kept current.

All of this is followed by an individual interview by two of the founding members of NAPSI.  These averaged an hour or so with a list of about 20 questions that we asked and listened to.  It was our opportunity to get a “feel” for the candidate, see how they responded when put on the spot and allowed us one more level of evaluation.  Both interviewers were required to approve the candidate for them to move forward.

And finally, a shooting test.  30 rounds, 15 feet on a LETargets SEB target with passing score of 80% being required. 

Get past all of this . . . and the person became a member of our very first Instructor Development course.  We had a dozen-ish inquiries where applications were sent out.  Four followed through.  And we were happy with that.

Our first Instructor Development Course was hosted by Pistol Prep Academy in Atlanta, IL under the ownership of Annette Chapman.  She has a great training facility and has hosted the majority of our development conferences.  We began promptly at 8AM on Wednesday the 22nd . . . and finished 7PM-ish.  Let’s call it a “solid” day.

The first two days of the course focused on the “Instructional Methods and Procedures”.  There are two primary goals of this set of coursework – to teach the instructor how to teach according to NAPSI guidelines.  And, to essentially introduce the candidate to the corporate culture of NAPSI.  Both are important.  Both are necessary to develop a cadre of dedicated, educated, focused and mutually supportive instructors.  If we all aren’t on exactly the same page, if we aren’t all headed in the same direction . . . we will fail.  It is not our intention to fail, so we are investing two days up front to develop our instructor candidates into fellow team mates.

“Instructional Methods and Procedures” consists of four chapters, each with specific areas of focus as well as a number of Appendices meant to round out the coursework.

Chapter 1 – Ethics

We’ve all seen far too many “instructors” put speed and dollars ahead of solid instruction.  It is our expectation that a NAPSI instructor follow our general list of ethical guidelines, that they adhere to our Code of Ethics, that they interact with students in a respectful way as well as with fellow instructors.  And finally, that conflicts with either students or fellow instructors are resolved “peaceably”. 

Chapter 2 – Standards of Cirriculum

We have developed seven tenets of a Defensive Shooting Program.  They get us on the “same page”.  We expect candidates to follow them as well as maintaining high standards of training, high individual standards, high levels of proficiency and that courses be reported and documented in a timely fashion.  It’s hard to expect adherence to corporate expectations if we don’t teach them – hence Chapter 2.

Chapter 3 – Policies and Procedures

We are a corporation, with a well-defined corporate culture.  This is where that culture is taught.  From the use of the NAPSI name and images to training material, roles and responsibilities, corporate hierarchy, the use of training teams, instructor fees and range operation.  It’s a busy chapter meant to more fully define the culture that is contained within NAPSI.

This is about where day one ended.  Well . . . kinda ended in “Chubbies” over a couple adult beverages and some great burgers.  On the NAPSI side, we all walked away from the day pretty happy with how it went . . . from the candidate side we drained them pretty dry but they all left with their head still in the game and looking forward to day two.

Chapter 4 – Methods of Instruction

This is a huge chunk of information . . . big, enormous, lots and lots of data.  General topics covered the function of training, plausibility principle (H/T to Rob Pincus), principals of adult learning, types of learners, variables that affect learning, skill development, other theories of teaching, being confident and competent, types of communication, keys to teaching a new skill, instructional aids, evaluating student performance and working with students with disabilities.  An action packed day!  We wrapped up talking about course check lists, how to organized your course, marketing and promotion, running a successful business and various course templates.  We ended the day heading back to our B&B and to a home cooked meal courtesy of Tracie.  Honestly, I cannot thank her enough for taking care of us – home cooked breakfasts, home cooked meals in the evening . . . MMMMMMmmmmmmmm!!

And so ended our “Introduction to Methods and Procedures”.  One thing to keep in mind here . . . not only did we need to develop this portion of the coursework, we had to develop the coursework to actually teach “Introduction to Methods and Procedures”.  That is the only way we are able to ensure that the next time we teach this course (after the first of the year), it will be taught in a consistent fashion.  At the end of the two days as the NAPSI SITs gathered in the living room of our B&B, we had a chance to assess of first two days.  Bottom line we were more than pleased.  We found a few areas that we will tweak – but we all agreed that things had gone well and we were looking forward  to the candidates teaching the “Foundations of Defensive Pistol” the following day and we were all looking forward to the range work on Sunday.

Day 3 – Foundations of Defensive Pistol

Again, remember that to present this material to candidates two pieces of coursework are required.  First is the coursework the candidate will use to teach this to their students.  The second is the coursework that allows NAPSI to teach this coursework to instructor candidates in a consistent manner.  It’s simply not a matter of throwing together a power point or a handful of drills – it takes real effort to put “meat on the bones”.

This day is entirely in the hands of the candidates.  There are seven classroom lessons.  These were distributed in bits and pieces to the candidates and they were given time to prepare and then then were required to do a “teach back” to those in the classroom.  There was a lot of material . . .  an introduction to revolvers and semi-automatic pistols, firearm safety and safe gun handling, an introduction to holsters, belts and off body carry.  This was followed by an introduction ao ammunition, range safety, care and cleaning of handguns, the fundamentals of defensive shooting, mindset and selecting a defensive firearm.

This was a full day with hours of candidate taught lessons and immediate feedback provided by follow candidates and the SITs.    This is the rubber/road interface where an instructor candidate must simply step up and show what they’re made of.  Again, we were pleased with the results.  This ended the classroom portion of the coursework – Sunday, the 25th would be the range day.

Day 4 – Range Work

First out of the chute was the instructor candidate qualification shoot.  30 rounds, 15 feet with a score of 80%, they could “drop 6”.  We allowed about a 50-round warmup.  I loaded three magazines with a total of 40 rounds and shot my own personal qual target.  Honestly, this is one of my expectations of every instructor I teach.  You need to shoot the qual course first . . . and you need to pass – period.  I shot an extra 10 rounds since we didn’t want to give away the actual course of fire but I was happy with the result – I dropped 4 out of 40 for a 90%.  Not bad shooting it cold.

After the warmup Chris called the course of fire.  Two passed out of the box . . . and two required a reshoot.  Not unusual, it is amazing what shooting on demand in front of peers can do to one’s accuracy.  At the end of the day everyone had “met spec”.

Next came the teaching of the live fire drills.  There are three primary lessons – an Introduction of Defensive shooting, Use of Cover and Concealment and finally a final shooting qualification course of fire.  There are 18 live fire exercises.  One builds on the other until the final qualification course of fire.  Each candidate was assigned a specific drill, or portion of a drill.  They were evaluated on their teaching ability with live fire, they were corrected, encouraged and expected to be able to demonstrate their ability to safely and correctly teach the assigned shooting drill.  Again, we were very pleased with what we saw.

Once the range work was complete there was the 1-hour final.  Ten essay questions that demanded that the candidates be able to articulate what they had been learning over the past 4 days.  Honestly, I had my doubts of making this an essay test – but I was personally pleasantly surprised.  The answers were clear, well thought out and definitely showed that we had four candidates deserving of receiving their NAPSI Defensive Pistol Shooting Coach certificate.

Passing out their certificates, final pictures and a heck of a wind/rain storm ended our first Instructor Development Course.

Looking back . . . the work has been worth it.  The hours and hours writing, testing, peer review, development conferences, the hundreds of hours and probably thousands of dollars of personal investment by the founding members has delivered exactly what we had hoped, a Foundations of Defensive Pistol course we are all proud of, and an Instructor Development set of course work that will insure that those who wish to teach this coursework to their own students will provide simply the best to their student.

Jim, Sean, Kenny and Jesse – congrats on your completion of the very first Instructor Development Course.  Thank you for all your hard work!

For those interested in following in their footsteps – we will be posting a 2017 schedule soon, keep an eye out.  In the meantime, you are welcome to contact us any time.  We will do our best to answer your questions.  Contact information can be found at 

Training - The "Drive, Touch, Press" Drill

A video for you consideration . . . Isn't that "snappy" . . . a video no less!! :) One of the things I do as an instructor is to try to help a shooter fix their "foundational" issues . . . stance, grip, where they touch the trigger, how well they hold their grip through the firing sequence, how they drive their firearm to the threat . . . the foundations of their shooting. The drill I use for that is the "Drive, Touch, Press" drill. And this is what that looks like . . . see what you think . . .

Here's a closer look at the "Drive, Touch, Press" drill . . .

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Training – “What we have here is a failure to kamooooon-icate . . . “

Communicate:    to convey knowledge of or information about

to transmit information, thought, or feeling so that it is satisfactorily received or understood

So I’m leaving my client’s offices and headed to Ernie’s store to see if he has any SKS Stripper Clips.  He’s outside suckin’ on a cigarette and sees me coming across the parking lot.

“Damnit Bill . . . you missed the whole point!  Rob gave us a call and chewed my butt!!”  and so began the conversation about my Facebook post about two specific drills I shot for the Combat Focused Shooting course I took a few weekends ago.  The conversation with Ernie showed an interesting and disjointed process of . . . the purpose of the drill . . . how it was explained . . . what the goals were . . . what my goals were . . . my mental purpose while shooting the drills . . . and what I chose to write about.

“What we have here is a failure to kamoooooon-icate . . .”

First – let me allow you all to read the post that started this all . . .


OK . . . just a bit of braggin'. . . I spent this past Sunday training with our local PD. They had brought in the Combat Focused Shooting course from Rob Pincus with local instructors Ernie and Mike. Both are LEOs. These photos are two different drills. The first (one with drawings on it) was intended to show your accuracy as your speed increased. First target was the Red "1" circle. The drill was 5 rounds spaced 1 second apart at a distance of 9 feet. (The one flyer off to the left was from an earlier drill) Got all 5 within the circle.

Next drill was 5 rounds, 1/2 second apart on the Green "3" circle. Again, the shooting gods were on my side.

Finally the last drill was 5 rounds on the Blue "5" circle as fast as you could press the trigger. Gotta say I was pretty happy with the results.

Next drill - "Around the world". 6 rounds - one per circle. We did this 4 times. You drew once while moving to the side, drove to the target and fired the round. You did a complete scan for other bad guys, stepped sideways in the opposite direction, drove out and fired again . . . repeat until you missed or completed all 2 targets. Got'em all. smile emoticon:) Next drill, same as above but you could use as many rounds as you needed to put 1 round in each circle. Again, got them all with the first shot. Third drill, same as the last . . . and once again I shot it clean. The final drill, again same as above - but we were to push out time and do it as fast as we could and still get the hit. Again, the gods were favorable - and it was a clean round.

 4 drills, 24 rounds . . . and zero misses! I'll take it!! smile emoticon:)

It was a long, hot and very rewarding day! Thanks to Mike and Ernie for their time, it was a great course!

Communication is a complicated thing.  From the instructor’s POV there is what I want to say and then what I actually say.  From a student’s POV there is what I heard and how I interpret it.  The two may not resemble each other in the slightest.  When I have my instructor hat on I am fond of asking the question “does that make sense??”  That allows a student the opportunity to think and respond to what I am asking and it allows me a chance to hear what they understood from what I said. 

In coursework – especially coursework that is taught by multiple instructors – what you should expect is that “the course” should be taught the same each time regardless of the instructor.  In this case I was going through the 1-day Combat Focused Shooting course taught by two local instructors, Ernie and Mike.  I’ve taken the 2-day version from Rob Pincus and the 1-day carbine also from Rob.  Rob’s company has an instructor development process that is very rigorous and it produced what I expected – consistency.  What I heard from Ernie and Mike was exactly what I heard from Rob.  The flow, the drills, the “words” to explain the “whys and how’s” were essentially the same.  THAT is how it should be.  Good coursework that is taught by multiple instructors should come out the same, regardless who teaches it.  THAT is the job of the instructor – and those who taught them.

That said . . . what also plays into the mix is where the student’s head is while they are tking the course.  Here’s what was going on for me.

As is usual for me (and I expect most shooters) – I don’t want to look stupid.  I want to do well and demonstrate that I’m a competent shooter.  On top of that this particular course is being conducted for our local community LEOs – who I help train.  Just a bit more pressure added – I need to demonstrate to them that I’m a solid shooter – otherwise why should they even bother to listen to me?  And finally – I’ve literally spent a couple thousand rounds this year working specifically on my shooting accuracy and trigger control.  All of this is at the front of my brain throughout the entire course.

As you can see – there is a fair amount going on between the instructors teaching and me listening, learning and shooting.  All this affects the ability to “kamooooon-icate”.

So how does all of this relate to the butt chewin’?  First was the expectation that all the drills were to be taught from a very specific POV.  The first drill in questions was firing 5 rounds in 3 different circles.  The first circle the rate of fire was to be 1 round per second.  The next circle was 1 round per ½ second and the final circle was 5 rounds as fast as you could press the trigger.  The purpose was to have the shooter see that as they shot faster the groping typically opens -  all rounds within the 2 inch circle for the first circle and a fist/palm sized group for the last when the rate of fire was as rapid as you could make it is how it usually goes.  And that is how it went for 8 out of 10 of us on the line.  THAT was the lesson – the hits were still effective even though the group opened up.
In my particular case – since I’ve spent so much time and energy increasing my accuracy and controlling my trigger press – what I wanted was to have the speed . . . but I really wanted all the rounds for all three circles to all be within the circle.  That was where my focus was – regardless of what Ernie and Mike communicated.  I was successful at that and I “tooted my own horn” in my post about it.  Which communicated that I missed the whole point of the exercise as far as Rob was concerned (we’ll see if I’m getting this right as far as he’s concerned in this post).  Actually – I do get it, I was just happy I met my goals.

The thing I like about the exchange Ernie had with Rob is that is shows they both care that what they are trying to teach is fully understood.  Good coursework, good instructors hammer on the little stuff.
The second drill that Ernie got tapped on was the “take a lap” drill which I mistakenly called “Around the World”.

There’s a lot happening in this drill.  Single round engagements on 6 circles with movement and a complete scan and assess after each round along with reloads as necessary.  Ernie pointed out I got the sequence out of order.  The first lap you had 6 rounds only and had to stop on the first miss.  Second time you could use as many rounds as you needed to put 1 round in each circle.  Third lap again as many rounds as you needed but you needed to accelerate your pace.  And the last lap was back to a only 6 rounds to complete the lap stopping on the first miss.  (hope I remembered the order right this time)

The question asked at the end was – which lap caused the greatest amount of pressure.  For me it was the very first lap – going back to my desire to perform well.  Typically, it seems the last lap causes more anxiety because the shooter is back to only 6 rounds to complete the lap.  The bottom line for me again goes back to the idea that I’d spent a great deal of time and energy working on both accuracy and trigger press – I expected to complete each lap and I expected to do that with only 6 rounds per lap . . . which I did.

So what does this all mean and why even discuss it.  My point is that everyone comes to the course with their own abilities, their own focus and their own expectations.  The instructors know what they want to teach, hopefully they’ve been trained enough that the coursework flows well and they can clearly articulate each and every drill.
Students also come with their own expectations, skill levels and goals.

How the words are spoken, how things are demonstrated, how the coursework flows are the responsibility of the instructors.  How the words are heard, how the drills are executed and how well the student listens are the responsibility of the student.  What allows these things to mesh is our ability to “kamooooon-icate”.
At some level – we had a failure to kamooooon-icate.  It didn’t affect the effectiveness of the course but it did indicate that my head was elsewhere in a couple of instances . . . and that the instructors cared enough to clear things up.  And THAT is what you expect for a solid training company.

Thanks to Ernie and Mike for your time, I picked up a ton of things to continue to work on.  And thanks to Rob – always good to know you’re watching how things are going.