Don't get me wrong.
Training is critical, and we continually encourage people to seek quality firearms training courses.
We even hold our own classes, and here I am, telling you to stop taking training courses like they're going out of style.
I want you to invest your time, money, and effort wisely.
You see, I'm beginning to notice a trend.
Many people are taking a ton of classes–course after course, but they are not giving themselves time to build proficiency in what they have learned in a previous course.
There is a difference between training and practice.
What is Training?
Training refers to learning new skill sets or improving something you already know.
Training often looks ugly because it's when you push to your limits and explore beyond them.
Training is about change and adaptation.
If you feel like you've reached a plateau, then more training is beneficial because it's all about getting better and adding more tools to your toolbox.
What is Practice?
Practice is the repetition of an activity or skill until it becomes proficient.
Practice is about doing enough repetitions so that you can perform your skill consistently and instinctively. It isn't about learning new things.
As shooters, we want to get to a point where we can perform on-demand, subconsciously.
The only way to get to that point is to practice and perform a skill over and over.
Shooting Classes Fall Under Training
Typically speaking, when people pay to take a class, they are there to learn something new or to improve upon what they already know.
Unless there are special reasons, students do not pay an instructor to practice or drill in front of them because they can practice independently.
I've trained with a lot of different instructors and have taken many classes in the past two years.
I did so, however, not because it is ‘the way' but simply because I wanted to establish baseline criteria for our class reviews.
There definitely were diminishing returns and a high opportunity cost involved in training with so many different instructors.
If I could go back in time and didn't have to take classes for Tactical Hyve, I absolutely wouldn't do it again–even if everything was free, i.e., class, travel, hotel, food, etc.
Instead, I would take fewer shooting classes and invest more time at the shooting range practicing.
Taking Lots of Classes Isn't ‘the Way'
As mentioned, I did that and won't be doing it again. Moving forward, I will be more selective of the courses I take and review.
I thought about why so many people go to courses, but they don't really practice in between the classes they attend.
There are a couple of reasons that stand out to me.
No Time to Shoot
First, classes are the only time some people get to shoot. Some people are so busy that they do not have time to head to a range to practice. I understand this situation.
However, for those who fall into this bucket, instead of taking another class, consider saving your money and working on the marksmanship skills you learned in the first class.
If you lack the experience to self-diagnose, then taking classes every so often without practice sessions in between seems like the only thing to do–but this will most likely lead to lackluster results.
If you take a class, consider going to the same class you originally attended until you build a good level of proficiency.
The second and biggest reason is a ‘beginner mistake.'
Many shooters think there have to be secret techniques and that by going to more classes, they will learn the magic to make them dramatically better shooters overnight.
Sorry, but the truth is there are no secrets. When it comes to shooting, many instructors teach very similar concepts and techniques.
Everyone needs to put in the time and effort to practice if they want to get better quickly. Period.
When people continually take courses without practicing much in between, I notice several things:
- These students are probably not ready to learn more. If someone can't hit a target 10-yards away, consistently, on-demand, using their sights with no time limit, then why in the world is that person taking a class that teaches how to use natural point of aim and hard target focus, i.e., no sights, to hit targets 25-yards away? This usually leads to frustration and discouragement, causing a shooter to quit.
- These students may not fully appreciate and/or even understand what is being taught to them. It's frustrating for both students and instructors. If a student doesn't understand the details of fundamental marksmanship, it's unlikely that they will understand more advanced concepts.
- These students tend to be among the most dangerous, i.e., unsafe. If a student hasn't really practiced and begins to add on new layers of instruction before they have ‘mastered' the foundational layers, accidents can and do happen.
Turn Conscious Thought into Subconscious Action
If you simply want to learn how to shoot a gun safely, then attending a basic handgun class now and then without practicing is might suffice.
But, if you want to be the very best you can be, you need to practice your skills.
As mentioned earlier, practice leads to consistent and instinctive action. You won't really need to think about what to do. You will do it effortlessly.
But the only way to get to that point is to practice–a lot! Even the most experienced shooters invest a lot of time practicing!
And you need to build proficiency in existing skillsets before learning new ones.
Be Smart About Training
We absolutely recommend people get trained. It's necessary, and we continually remind people about proper firearms training.
Nonetheless, please consider what I just presented.
Now, if you already have a good grasp of what was covered in a previous class, then awesome! Take more classes, seek more instruction, and improve your skills!
I think that is the ideal situation.
The next point to consider is to ensure you're training with good instructors.
I know it's difficult for many to decipher who is reputable and who isn't. Our vetted directory of firearms instructors and facilities all over the U.S. will help.
We hope to have it live in the next 2-3 months. It will be a game-changer for those of you looking for solid training.
I run into a lot of people who need more practice and less training.
If you fall within this category, think twice about filling your calendar with classes for the rest of the year.
Use the time to get to the range, and get to work.
If you're an experienced shooter who trains a lot and practices often in between training sessions, then keep doing what you're doing!
I'd love to hear your thoughts. Let me know what you think in the comments section below.