Shortcuts to Shooting Success?

by
posted on May 9, 2022
firearm with book

The Problem
You are a corporate executive who has become interested in personal protection with a handgun and handgun shooting for recreation as well. Your time is limited, and the level of your shooting ability is dismal, to say the least. You have taken some classes at the local range, but they are more like organized shooting sessions than courses that actually teach you anything to improve your skills. All the instructors at the range agree: There are no shortcuts to learning how to shoot well. Each is firm in their conviction that shooting skill can’t be bought and must be earned by shooting lots of ammunition. You must pay your dues, so to speak, to earn your way to becoming a good shooter. Are they correct? Or are there shortcuts to developing the shooting skills you desire? Cost is really not an issue if results become evident in less time than you have been led to believe.

The Solution
Shooting skills are actually easy to learn if you can find a teacher who knows how to shoot well and can communicate what they know to you in a shorter period of time than it perhaps took them to learn the same or similar skills.

There are a few of these accomplished individuals around. Once you meet one, it will become self-evident. They won’t have to tell you how good they are, it will become blatantly obvious. Not only can they communicate effectively with their students, they can also demonstrate what they just communicated on demand.

The first thing to do is research instructors, trainers and teachers who specialize in the type of shooting at which you want to become proficient. Next, check out their reviews and references to see if they correspond with your needs. Read any of the published work they may have written to see if the message they were conveying was clear and made sense. Finally, determine if they are good enough at what they are doing to make a living doing it. That last point doesn’t guarantee the quality of the instruction that you will get, but rest assured anybody in the firearm-training business has got to be experienced in order to stay in business for any length of time.

Once you have narrowed down the field to a half-dozen or less, connect with them to see if they give shooting lessons as opposed to classes. Once the basics of safety and handling are learned, a shooting lesson is more efficient in developing shooting skills, because the timeframes are measured in hours as opposed to days. Usually, a single subject or several closely related subjects are addressed so as not to oversaturate the student with too much information to absorb at one time. For most students, a shooting lesson enhances understanding, which increases retention of the subject material, which, in turn, improves performance.

Listen to how they communicate with you. Is what they are saying clear, concise and believable? Does it make sense? Or does it create more questions than you had to begin with?

Ask questions about their teaching methodology. Ask what they are teaching, how they teach it and why they teach their lessons the way they do to elevate their students’ performance. Ask how they relate their techniques pertaining to shooters’ vision, biomechanical and mental aspects of shooting.

The idea is to have a conversation with a knowledgeable person who communicates what you want to know in simple, easy-to-understand terms that make sense.

The proof of success comes in many forms. Shooting a Bullet-Hole Drill—in which all shots are fired into a single ragged hole at 10 feet—is not unusual for a student to accomplish in their first lesson when coached by a competent instructor. The coach/teacher/instructor who can communicate the message safely, simply and successfully is well worth the time and money spent enabling you to more than surpass the level of shooting the locals at the range have spent a lifetime achieving.

Yes, there are shortcuts to shooting success. You may have to work with different instructors, all of whom will likely have different viewpoints to see what one(s) work best for you. The key is finding teachers who are capable and open minded to teach to an objective without being saddled by convention.

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Colonel Rex Applegate

For me, one of the many bonuses of this gunwriter business has been the opportunity to meet and become friends with a number of the firearm enthusiasts of an earlier generation; legendary figures such as Frank Hamer Jr., Bill Jordan, Bill Toney, Col Walter Walsh and the subject of this column: COL Rex Applegate.

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