The AAR is a Lying Crapweasel: A MAG-20 AAR

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.

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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.

Game changer.

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:

  1. A 300 on the qual (to beat my 290) with my full-size Sig P320 in 30 days, and then,
  2. 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.

Major take-aways

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.

Calendar of Events: A Girl and A Gun Temple

Follow our Google calendar and join our Facebook group to keep up-to-date on local women’s shooting events.

The Temple Chapter of A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League has Girls’ Night Out on the 1st Tuesday of the month at Temple Gun Club in Temple, TX, at 6 p.m.. We also host a members-only 3rd Saturday event. We develop weekend events and special training sessions that are members-only events.

You do not have to be a member of AG&AG to participate in our GNO event, but we highly encourage signing up. You get great discounts with local firearms trainers, on AGAG events and merchandise, and with more than 100 national-level vendors. A Girl and A Gun members are invited to attend a yearly Training Conference and other members-only events and training opportunities at local, regional, and national levels.

Follow our Google Calendar and join our Facebook chapter page to see what we’re all about, and join our chapter to have access to weekly training e-mails, the exclusive Shooting Journal, and monthly training challenges led by Becky Dolgener, facilitator and instructor with Texas Personal Defense Training.

NRA Refuse To Be A Victim Seminar Slated for February 25 in Temple

Crime prevention seminar helps students build personal safety toolkit.

Texas Personal Defense Training will offer the National Rifle Association’s award-winning crime prevention and personal safety seminar, Refuse To Be A Victim®, on February 25, 2017, at Ratibor Country Grill. This event will run from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., with lunch on your own to follow. Cost is $40 for attendees, and $30 for members of A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League.

Becky Dolgener, NRA Instructor, said the class is a natural next step for Texas Personal Defense Training.

“Our focus is helping women—and all Central Texans—to place more value on their own safety,” Dolgener explained. “What we started when we brought A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League to Temple is just the beginning, and it caught on in a big way with lots of local women wanting to share their love for firearms. Whatever gets people thinking about their safety, we’re all for it.”

Dolgener launched the Temple Chapter of A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League in June 2015. The group hosts multiple events each month at local shooting ranges, introducing women to the shooting sports while emphasizing education and safety. The group’s core membership is made up primarily of NRA-certified Range Safety Officers, who assist at events. While Refuse To Be A Victim seminars aren’t firearms classes, Dolgener says they’re essential to her mission.

“Our goal is to help our students build their safety toolkit, and that requires looking at personal safety strategies from lots of different angles.”

Developed in response to nationwide requests for crime prevention seminars, Refuse To Be A Victim teaches methods to avoid dangerous situations and prevent criminal confrontations. Seminar participants will be presented with a variety of common‑sense crime prevention and personal safety strategies and devices that may be integrated into their personal, home, automobile, telephone, technological, and travel security.

Since 1993, Refuse To Be A Victim has been endorsed by law enforcement members throughout the United States for its positive impact. With more than 7,000 instructors, seminars have been held in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nra-refuse-to-be-a-victim-seminar-tickets-31262990446 for more information. Please note: this is NOT a firearms training program.

The 4 Rules of Gun Safety (VIDEO)

Know the 4 Rules and live them. Every. Single. Moment.

There’s no such thing as “too safe” with firearms, because a single mistake could be deadly. Here are a shooter’s Four Commandments:

  1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded. Always. Every time. Even when the slide is locked back and it’s been checked and double-checked open and clear. Remember that our repeated actions are committed to muscle memory, so our natural handling of any firearm should include pointing it in a safe direction, and:
  2. Never let the muzzle cover (gun point at or sweep) anything you are not willing to destroy. This includes parts of your own body and anyone or anything who may be in the path of your drawstroke from concealment.
  3. Keep your finger out of the trigger guard until your have sights on your target and you are ready to shoot. This eliminates 90 percent of all unintentional discharges, since the gun can’t pull its own trigger. Practice keeping your finger high up on the frame until you’re ready to fire.
  4. Be sure of your target and what is behind it. Not sure if there’s a house or a car on the road on the other side of that berm? Don’t fire in that direction. Planning your home defense approach? Drywall and siding will not stop an errant round, so who is in that next room? And, you know what? Let’s add a fifth rule just because we absolutely should:
  5. Keep all firearms out of the hands of unauthorized persons. Little hands, criminal hands, any hands that aren’t yours. Because, ultimately, you’re responsible for every single round that leaves your firearm, no matter who fires it.

If this all seems too basic and a little overzealous, review it anyway. Post it where you shoot. Better to be paranoid about safety than to let your ego cost a life. Even Hickock45 thinks safety is important enough to produce an entire video about it.

3 Cardinal Virtues of Good Firearms Instructors

Good firearms instructors aren’t all that hard to find if you know how to spot a good one.

Taking on the role of firearms student might be intimidating, but rest assured: it’s intimidating no matter what your level. That’s why it’s so important that Every. Single. Instructor. Continue to be a student on another instructor’s firing line. Here’s how you spot an instructor you want to train with.

Good instructors never stop training

Kathy Jackson of The Cornered Cat knows a thing or two about mindset. While investigating the perspective of a firearms student, she reveals that people often don’t know what they don’t know until they push themselves to learn more. And, there’s always more to learn. Sometimes, students become more advanced learners or even instructors and, at some point, they decide there is no more they can be taught. Those people are dangerous.

Shooting skills are corruptible and perishable. A slight wobble in a solid grip could, with enough “practice,” morph into a really ineffectual grip without a skilled eye applying his or her own best practices to correct it. An instructor’s sloppy re-holster when demonstrating on the line sends the wrong message to his students about re-holstering safely. Every instructor needs to continue to be a student under a variety of good teachers. Anyone who says otherwise has just decided to stop learning and growing as a shooter.

Good instructors understand that practice only reinforces training

Last weekend, I was a student in Karl Rehn’s “Beyond the Basics” class at KR Training. I am always humbled by the opportunity to learn from truly skilled instructors, and to gain a new perspective on training and new techniques that will benefit my students. This class provided ample opportunity for both (as well as helping me figure out that I had developed a bad grip habit that could have really derailed me if Karl hadn’t pointed it out). Karl compares skill development to digging a “hole” in the brain, a sort of a well where you put all the training and practice. These are the skills you’ll revert to when under stress, such as in a defensive situation. The more you practice, the deeper the hole becomes and the more ingrained your shooting skills. For better or worse, when you practice, you’re reinforcing whatever habits you already have. That doesn’t mean you’re improving as a shooter, and it’s disingenuous for an instructor to tell you to practice without telling you what to practice.

Hundreds of round downrange, plus range fees, can get pretty expensive. Spending that money on a couple of hours with a good instructor, however, can help you pinpoint exactly what you need to work on and how to practice most effectively. Sometimes, the exact right practice to reinforce good habits and skills doesn’t even involve range time.

Good instructors are safe instructors

If you don’t have the Four Rules of Gun Safety memorized, post them somewhere in your home so you see them enough that you do. But, that’s not enough. A good instructor spends a good deal of time ensuring that everyone follows the rules, all the time, and then they do the same ad nauseum. If you see an instructor not practicing really annoyingly exaggerated safety habits (H/T April Strong of Holding Strong in Cheyenne, WY), it’s time to find a different instructor. If the teacher doesn’t show respect for the deadly weapons in his or her charge, that’s a failure on the most basic level and points to an overall lack of respect for firearms.

If you’re ever uncomfortable or feel unsafe in a firearms class or on a firing line, don’t be afraid to address it right away, or just leave the area. Your safety trumps any social constraints about rudeness. Be sure you let the instructor or safety officer know why you left or what made you feel unsafe; it’s the only way they’ll have a chance to improve their safety practices for later classes. A good instructor will thank you for bringing it to their attention.

Women’s Shooting League Features Personalized Training Focus

A Girl and A Gun-Temple welcomes new shooters to the League’s signature event, Girls’ Night Out, at 6 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month at Temple Gun Club. Email agirlandaguntemple@gmail.com for more information, or join the group’s Facebook page, Temple TX A Girl and A Gun.

A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League’s new Temple chapter began hosting events in June 2015, with an influx of new members who just can’t wait to learn more about shooting sports and gun safety. Facilitator Becky Dolgener said the launch attracted ladies of all ages and backgrounds who all had very specific reasons for seeking out the group.

“I asked every woman there why she came, and most of them want to learn more about shooting in a safe and supportive environment,” she said. “Luckily, that’s just what A Girl and A Gun is all about.”

Founded in 2010 by Austin-area firearms instructor Julianna Crowder, A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League has grown to more than 85 chapters across the United States with more than 4,300 members. League events include educational clinics, one-on-one coaching from instructor-facilitators, and an emphasis on getting more women involved in shooting sports.

“Local women need a resource for personalized shooting instruction and safety education, both for themselves and for their families,” Dolgener said. “The Temple Chapter of A Girl and A Gun will meet our members where they are; we’re going to start by providing expert instruction in gun safety, safe and effective concealed carry methods, and proper handgun selection.”

But, the group’s offerings don’t stop there. AG&AG members are encouraged to participate in the shooting sports, and Dolgener says the group seeks out learning opportunities for local ladies to learn about sports such as 3-Gun, International Defensive Pistol Association-style shooting matches, steel shooting, skeet, and sporting clays. As the group gears up for the AGAG National Conference in April, the group will focus on foundational clinics such as gun cleaning and maintenance, gear and gun selection, and drawing from holster, maintaining the group’s dedication to safety and education.

A Girl and A Gun-Temple welcomes new shooters to the League’s signature event, Girls’ Night Out, at 6 p.m. the first Tuesday of every month at Temple Gun Club. Email agirlandaguntemple@gmail.com for more information, or join the group’s Facebook page, Temple TX A Girl and A Gun.

SMART Steps to Getting More Out of Training

What’s your reason for training with firearms?

Here’s how you can apply SMART goal-setting to your pistol training and actually become a better shooter.

What’s your reason for training with firearms?

Maybe you’re a target shooter who wants to improve accuracy or speed. Maybe you’re a competitor looking win competitions. Maybe you’re someone who carries a gun for self-defense, and you’ve realized that hefty responsibility requires training. Maybe you’re an instructor who realizes that training is never finished, and you actively seek to learn more in all disciplines.

Whatever your reason for wanting to improve as a shooter, you had better have one. Not many successful people have gotten there by accident; successful people have a plan of action, and they work to make it happen. Stop waiting for your skills to magically materialize, and instead do the work to improve. Here’s how you can apply SMART goal-setting to your pistol training and actually become a better shooter.

Specific

“Become a better shot” is not a specific training goal. Let’s say you’ve decided that you’re focused on pistol shooting for self-defense purposes. Your goal might be, “shoot 90 percent or better on the Texas LTC qualification test.” Once you’ve determined what your focus is, and you know what it takes to get there, you can more easily set specific, step-wise goals.

Measurable

Obviously, calculating a percentage of your total rounds which hit their mark is a measurable goal. But, what if you “just want to get faster” at drawing from concealment and accurately hitting your mark? That requires a shot timer, and it wouldn’t hurt to take video so you can critique technique and make sure you’re not sacrificing technique and safety as you work to increase speed.

Attainable

It’s unlikely that a new shooter will qualify for an Olympic rifle team in their first year, but placing in the top 20 in a local Steel Challenge match might be realistic with adequate training and practice. For the defense-minded, if you’ve already earned your LTC (License to Carry) in Texas, you should have been required to shoot with 70 percent accuracy in the qualification portion of the class. Improving that score to 90 percent could be realistic with a specific plan of action.

Relevant

Set a goal that’s important to you. Why is improving a qualification score by 20 percent important? Why do you want to increase your target presentation speed from concealment? Both speed and accuracy will benefit anyone interested in carrying a firearm for self-defense. You may (hopefully) never have to employ those skills in real life, but you’ll be more confident and better trained having developed them.

Time-Limited

“Someday” isn’t on any calendar I’ve ever seen. Give yourself a hard deadline for meeting your training goals, and stick with it. Write it on the calendar, and then figure out what halfway to your goal looks like. Write that on the calendar halfway to your deadline. We know through research that practicing skills the right way more frequently works better than infrequent marathon practice sessions, so schedule daily or three-times-weekly practice sessions once you’ve trained and learned those skills.

Set a goal today, and if you need training, set it up now. There are ample opportunities to train with firearms in Central Texas, and we’re working every day to bring you more. Whatever your goal, train SMART, and train for real life.