“YOUR PERMIT CLASS IS NOT A SHOOTING CLASS”
Today, as a shooting instructor, I messed up. No, it is not what you think. No one was hurt or injured. I messed up in my approach on how to help a new shooter. At the beginning of my permit class, I always go around the room and have everyone give a short introduction of themselves including their name, the gun they brought to shoot (caliber, make, model), and tell me about their experience in shooting. Some students have been shooting all their lives, some just shot their handguns for the first time two days prior to class, and some are just cracking open the case their gun came in for the very first time right there on the firing line.
I have them all give a quick bio of themselves so I know what to expect and I can understand the skill level of those attending. It aids me in assigning them shooting lanes and which groups to have them shoot in. For example, I do not want to put all the newcomers in the same group shooting at the same time. I like to spread them out so that they can all receive adequate instructio Students can feel a lot of things if they are new to shooting and all of a sudden it is their turn to shoot and they step up to the line and shots start ringing out and brass starts bouncing off the ground and across the table in front of them. It can be stressful for some people. I try to search these students out and help them the best that I can. If it is really distressing to them, I have been known to to let them sit it out or leave and come back after class to get one on one instruction so they can finish up their permit requirements. This has always worked in the past. I have always been very good at noticing these students and helping them. Today, I had a group of students that just needed the shooting portion of their permit class. They had taken the classroom portion from another entity so instead of having them for the full eight hours and getting to know them, I had them for just the last four hours. We went through safety and shooting fundamentals and the range rules, all something that should have been gone through in the classroom portion of their class but was not. I had them go through the introductions and then on to the shooting. I handed out the shooting lane and group assignments the best that I could based on the limited information that I had, and then we proceeded to fire the qualification rounds. One of the gentlemen in the class was very unsure of his gun and it was very clear right away. He broke some safety rules (which everyone does as they are learning) but I right away got him straightened out on that.
He seemed nervous and apprehensive. I worked closely with him even having him wait until after the other students shot and then had him finish his drill so I could focus solely on him, but he was still having a hard time. I would help him by going over the list of things to remember as he prepared to shoot—stance, grip, sight picture, and trigger press. Sometimes he would get it right and sometimes it was like he just could not remember. About half way through the shooting portion I was standing next to him (as I do for all new shooters) and instead of firing one round at a time he let loose with a volley of three rounds that ran from the bottom of the target holder to the top of the target. Right then and there I called for a break. I pulled him aside and had a chat with him. He apologized profusely and stated how nervous he was. He told me that when I was helping him with how to do things that it was all just too much, that it made him anxious. After the break, we all went back to finish the shooting portion. I am happy to say that he did improve immensely by the end of class, but I had to adjust my approach to instructing him. Instead of going down the list of things that needed to be done I encouraged him when he got things right and that seemed to do the trick. Though I still feel like I cheated him out of the first half of the class. I will help any student that needs the help. I will stay late after class, I will reschedule, I will do whatever needs to be done to help you become a confident shooter and help you through a permit class. But what you need to know is that your permit class is not necessarily a shooting class. It will teach you the laws, the safety rules, the mindset, and make sure you know how your gun functions; but it will not get you dialed in and turn you into a super proficient shooter. If you want that or you are very new to shooting handguns, you really need to look into continuing classes or even a private class before you take your permit class. Do not get me wrong I will do what I need to do to help you, but you have got to invest in yourself and be willing to do your part as well. -Todd Eccles -Patriot Defense -1-13-19