So, I’ve been lying to my students for a long time now, but only realized it this weekend. If you’ve taken a class from me or come to one of my A Girl and A Gun events, you’ve heard me say, “Remember to brain dump at the end of class.” Well, that’s a stupid thing to do, and here’s why: by the end of a good class, you’ve forgotten 70 percent of what your instructor has taught you. (On a related note: 90 percent of all statistics are made up.) Thanks to Rachel Malone of Texas Firearms Freedom, I now have a better grasp of how all After-Action Reports should take shape for the ultimate student retention. It’s time to admit the error of my ways, and vow to do better. No time like the present.
MAG-20 and the “Ah-ha!” moment
May 20 and 21 I took the Massad Ayoob Group’s MAG-20 Live Fire course from Rachel, David Maglio, and Tracy Thronburg. Lonestar Range and Academy in Florence proved to be a simple and very adequate location for the class, albeit muddy due to some storms that mercifully didn’t stop us from getting in our range time. Tony, the range owner, was very accommodating and even provided coffee (bo.nus.). The weather turned out overcast and cool: just perfect for the 14 of us on the line to learn some excellent techniques that made us focus on why we do things the way we do them. Rachel suggested at the beginning of class that we take notes every time we reloaded mags, and, trying to be a good student, I did just that.
Rachel wasn’t kidding when she said that MAG-20 is like “drinking from a fire hose.” The students in this class weren’t new shooters, but we represented a wide variety of skill sets and experience. I have no doubt that, had I not taken copious notes at EVERY opportunity, I would have forgotten half of what our three highly experienced instructors shared by the time I got home to do my traditional “brain dump.” Mea culpa. I’m betting my fellow students had a similar realization, as I saw some pretty feverish note-taking behind the firing line.
Personal performance goals
The qualifier to pass the course comprises 60 rounds shot at the A-Zone of an IPSC target from various timed drills at 4, 7, 10, and 15 yards. I realized during the two days of training that I was internalizing all of the techniques, but execution was lacking due to a weak support-side arm. Hello, push-ups and grip trainer: here I come.
I didn’t shoot a 300 during the qualifier, but Rachel and top-shot student Jennifer Langsdale—of J&C Firearms Training, and A Girl and A Gun’s Killeen chapter facilitator—showed us all what getting that perfect score looked like. Now, my goals are:
- A 300 on the qual (to beat my 290) with my full-size Sig P320 in 30 days, and then,
- A 300 with my 9mm S&W Shield EDC within 90 days.
I really hope to blow those goals out of the water, but they seem realistic enough—with daily dry-fire thrown in the mix—that I won’t get too head-trashy and overthink them.
Being a student is always a fantastic opportunity to see things from both sides. This was my first MAG class, but it certainly won’t be my last. Every class I take, no matter what skill level it’s meant to address, reinforces my belief that every instructor needs to be a perpetual student. The instructors in this class model that with their own training, and all of my mentors subscribe to the Dunning-Kruger school of thought. That’s why I giggle a bit whenever anyone tells me, “Oh, I don’t really need to take a class. I already know how to shoot.” I’m more and more sure with every class I attend that I don’t “know” how to shoot, and that I won’t teach my students any one incontrovertible way of doing things. I may know some shooting techniques and how to apply them, but the real challenge—as illustrated by this course and my sweaty, muddy notes scribbled hastily while loading mags—is articulating WHY I shoot the way I do (CYA?). And, since I’m always tweaking and changing things, the only thing I “know” about shooting at this point is that this is the way I do it right now, at this minute. As I learn better, I do better, and I am ALWAYS learning better, different, and not-for-me ways of doing things.
What’s your “why?” If you don’t know, it’s time to train. Call or e-mail me, come to A Girl and A Gun Girls’ Night Out (if you’re a girl, obvi), or go train with one of the unbelievably gifted nearby folks at KR Training, Texas Firearms Freedom, or someone else they recommend. If you operate daily on the assumption that you already “know” everything you actually NEED to know about shooting, to quote Sam Jackson from The Long Kiss Goodnight, “You make an ass out of you, and umption.” Time to train, folks. See you on the range.