Listen More, Talk Less: Getting the Most from Firearm Training

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posted on September 4, 2020
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One time I was working with a film crew out here in the desert Southwest. These folks were a long way from home and not at all familiar with my part of the country. So I made them a brief little talk about rattlesnakes and how to keep from being bitten by being cautious and watchful. Almost to the man, their response was to start telling me snake stories from back home. All of which, though it might have been interesting, had little to do with my trying to keep them safe and healthy long enough to get our work done.

I have noticed this same phenomenon quite regularly on social media. A qualified trainer or firearms authority will be offering some very good piece of information about an important technique or skill that could be life saving. Instead of asking questions to clarify and learn, those responding on social media usually start telling stuff about themselves and what they have done.

And we’ve all sat in a class with someone who never raises their hand to ask a question, but always to tell something. A person like that can often ruin what would, otherwise, be a good learning experience. It’s almost as if people like this think they are junior instructors instead of students. And then, of course, there's the "old guard" who are convinced that no young whipper snapper is going to teach them anything of value: “Hell, I was packing a gun while they were still in diapers!”

It’s as if we have forgotten that it’s OK to ask questions and learn. It’s perfectly all right to say, “Tell me that one more time,” or “Would you please show that to me again?” 

This not a mark against one personally, nor is it an indication of a lack of ability. What it is an indication of is a student who is dedicated to learning and improving their craft. Let’s face it, there are very few experts when it comes to personal defense and defensive firearms. We are all students — at different levels, maybe — but all students. We learn by listening, watching, and reading.

That’s why I, and many other shooters who are my age, still take regular training classes. And I will frankly admit that I steal good ideas wherever I can find them — even from young whipper snappers. I may be jealous of their youth, but I’ll steal the technique in a minute if it makes me a better shooter or fighter.

The important thing for all of us to remember is that we learn by listening, not by talking.

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