Rangemaster Instructor Certification at KR Training, April 27-29

LINCOLN, TX – Following up on a whirlwind 7 days of training at the A Girl and A Gun Women’s Shooting League National Conference, I spent April 27-29 at KR Training for the 3-Day Rangemaster Instructor Development & Certification Course.

This was an intimidating class for me, but I put it on my 2018 goal list and made it happen, thanks to Karl Rehn of KR Training. In this sold-out class, Tom Givens taught a class of 18 students the finer points of adult learning theory, deadly force law, and how to identify, correct and communicate solutions for shooting skills issues among our students. While most of the material wasn’t new to me, Tom’s expertise and years of experience informed the way he relayed that information and his expectations of us as instructors. In addition, he emphasized the importance of qualification tests to verify that learning has occurred in a firearms class. After three days, 15 of us successfully earned Rangemaster Instructor Certification, based on objective qualification courses of fire and a comprehensive written exam.

This class was a light-bulb moment for me as an instructor. Course curriculum development usually starts out like any other goal-oriented project planning timeline:

  1. Identify a stated goal or learning objective
  2. Work backwards from that to identify the layers of skill needed to achieve that goal
  3. Develop a plan for teaching those skills in a way that works for most adult learners

Moving forward, I’ll first identify the qualification or test that I’ll employ to verify that the course objective has been met, and then begin building curriculum to meet it. In effect, I’ll be teaching to the test. But, it will be a test that lends itself to the development of skills applicable in the context of real-world defensive scenarios that are most probable given the current body of statistical information.

In other words, I’ll be training my students for real life. Sounds familiar.

This course was a pivot point for me as a self-defense industry professional. My firearms focus has always been self-defense, and I’ve been blessed with level-headed mentors (Kathy Jackson, The Cornered Cat, and Karl Rehn of KR Training) who’ve taught me that people need practical training that applies to their everyday lives and the protection of the same. For my students, what will change is that I’m going to make sure they’ve internalized the lessons and met the goals we’ve set together. For my own instruction, I’m going to seek out classes that require that same verification. I owe my students and myself the opportunity to demonstrate either mastery of a skill or the need for remediation. Without putting skills to the test, how can we be sure that learning has occurred?

Our lives are worth protecting, and our skills give us the means to do it effectively, without endangering anyone else in the process. That’s our minimum standard as gun owners, because as Kathy Jackson likes to say, “A gun is not a rabbit’s foot that keeps the bad guys away.” Indeed. It’s a tool. It’s our JOB to make sure we have the mindset, training and skills necessary to use that tool safely under extreme stress. Let’s get to training.

 

2 Ways Your Smartphone Can Improve Your Shooting Performance

Use your smartphone to help you improve shooting fundamentals and spot problems before they become bad habits, and you’ll never be without a training partner on the range.

Success in shooting isn’t measured by how many rounds you put downrange. It is measured by accuracy and, in the case of competitive and defensive shooting skills, by the speed at which you do it. If your practice isn’t perfect, though, all you’re doing is reinforcing bad habits that you’ll have to overcome through training—and even more rounds downrange. Use your smartphone to help you improve shooting fundamentals and spot problems before they become bad habits, and you’ll never be without a training partner on the range.

Take Videos

Once you know what proper stance and grip feel like, and what a smooth trigger press feels like, you can generally call your shots when you flinch or slap the trigger. But, what if there’s something else going on with your grip that you simply aren’t noticing? What if you’re sweeping the muzzle with your weak hand, or sweeping your own body when you re-holster? Set up your smartphone to take video while you’re shooting drills; it takes seconds to review the videos and perfect your form and safety for the next range (or dry-fire) practice session.

Time Your Shots

Shot timers are gadgets that sound a super-annoying “beep” signaling that it’s time to start your drill (or stage, for competitive shooters). They usually cost over $100, but your smartphone is a great stand-in with the right app. Surefire and Taurus both make iPhone shot timer apps that even show you how long you take between shots (splits), and can store several practice sessions in your phone memory for comparison. There look to be quite a few more free shot timer options for Android phones, but keep in mind that apps aren’t competition-level timers. You could even pay for timer apps with a range officer telling you to “Make Ready” before the buzzer, but you won’t get the most accurate shot timer of all time in a free (or even $10) smartphone app. We think having the app is better than no shot timer at all.

Next time you go to the range, set up your phone to be just the training aid you need to give you unbiased feedback on how you’re training. Use a journal to record what your app and video tell you, and then find out more about tuning up your gunhandling so you’ll continue to see improvement in both accuracy and speed.

3 Low-Cost Ways to Improve Your Shooting

Formal pistol training can get expensive, but here are three ways to improve your shooting that won’t require a second mortgage.

Formal pistol training can get expensive, but a few well-chosen classes and a dedication to both live-fire and dry-fire practice can help shooters at every level improve skills without a huge expense. Here are three ways to improve your shooting that won’t require a second mortgage.

Get Free Training Advice

The mark of a true professional is willingness to share their methodology. But, before you start trolling YouTube and watching lots of derps do it wrong, start reading. Many of the world’s top instructors and champion shooters are also published authors, but buying all those books could get pricey. This is where it pays to find books at your local library. You will find certain reference books you’ll want to purchase for your own library, but reading them first for free will help you figure out which books best suit your goals. Also, some of the best educational material—especially on mindset and gear—is out there for free in blog form. Just make sure you find the best shooting blogs from reputable sources, like the ones we feature in our blogroll.

Print Your Own Targets

A simple “pistol training drills” search online turns up more printable targets than you’ll ever need. Most are free to download and print, so your only expense is printer ink. If you can’t find exactly the target you need for a specific drill, there’s no law that says you can’t make up your own. Use a large piece of cardboard with a small square of masking tape (aim small, miss small). What’s important is to remember that those splatter targets and self-healing spinners might be fun, but they really aren’t necessary for building skills. Set a goal for your target (all hits on a 1-inch square) and then increase distance to increase difficulty.

Surround Yourself with Like-Minded Shooters

You’ve probably heard by now that in five years, you’ll be most like the people you surround yourself with today. Develop friendships with shooters who are more advanced than you are and who are willing to share some pointers. If you’re wanting to participate in a specific sport, join social media groups dedicated to those sports and start asking questions. Find nearby matches and go watch, but don’t stop there; competitive shooters are like missionaries for their sports. Tell them you’re interested in learning more, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’re welcomed into the fold. Plus, it’s always more fun to go shooting with a group of friends than to go it alone.

Learning a new skill on a budget requires some resourcefulness, but it can be done. Maximize your return on investment by starting with some professional training. Remember: if your range time is reinforcing bad habits, all that ammo is going to waste. Make every round count, and train first for more effective practice later.