Why Precision In Training Language Matters

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Who uses training language? Teachers and instructors definitely use training language, but so do students. Those who teach or instruct are conducting a transfer of knowledge to their students. Generally this involves some training language whether they know it or not. Students ask questions, help each other, and take notes throughout classes. All of these exchanges on training subject matter will use training language to some degree.

Precision

Precision might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think about communication, but it accurately describes how anyone should converse in a learning environment. As you probably know, precision and accuracy refer to two separate concepts. Accuracy refers to your ability to hit, or closeness to the target. Precision on the other hand refers to how reliably you hit the same spot. You can be precise while not accurate. If I group all my shots far off the target I was not accurate, but I was precise. Accuracy and precision are different concepts, but having precision makes finding accuracy a lot easier.

Learning new concepts is much like marksmanship. In marksmanship we measure our success based on our group size and closeness to the target. When we have a precise group, we can adjust the sights to get accuracy. In our training on the other hand, it is a little harder to adjust. How does a student go from doing something precisely wrong to performance that is both precise and accurate? This is where precision in training language gives us an advantage. Precise language means we are better able to understand exactly what the student is talking about. When you understand where the students mind is going, it is much easier to correct them.

Inherent Meaning and Connotation

Another reason precise training language matters is that in most subjects words are carefully selected for their underlying connotation. Different words with the same meaning can carry different connotations, and ultimately the words we choose can help or hurt what we are trying to teach.

To use a simple marksmanship example, we can talk about slings. When you use a sling to improve your shooting with a rifle you can make the sling “tight” or you can make it “snug.” Both words convey the same basic meaning, but snug implies something different than tight. When someone hears that their sling should be “tight,” they are more likely to take this to an extreme that contorts their position and defeats the purpose of the lesson. “Snug” has a slightly different connotation that often results in more accurate employment of the sling. In this way, choosing one word over the other can make a big difference in the message conveyed.

Training is a complex world where many concepts overlap, and sometimes even contradict each other. When everyone uses precise and consistent language to describe things it helps prevent confusion.

Ease of Communication

If you look at flying, you will notice that a standard language is used: English. Standardization simplifies communication. Imagine putting 20 pilots and air traffic controllers into a room. If they all speak different languages you might get them to understand each other eventually, but it definitely slows down the process.

A similar concept applies in training. If you take only students who already speak English, and have them all use different terminology (training language) for everything, you will certainly slow down the flow of ideas. Where the flow hasn’t slowed, you’ll probably find assumptions and inaccuracies. You see this all the time in many martial arts systems where commands and techniques are always referred to in the language of the system’s origin. In my karate class for example, I always use the Japanese commands and terminology because it is the universal language of the system I teach.

Training language without precision on all sides of the discussion loses its value very quickly. If we aren’t going to refer to things by certain names, and use those names all of the time, we might as well not use names for anything. Precision in training language, on the other hand, accelerates learning. For those that instruct, remember that the words you use matter. Likewise, students should pay careful attention to the language used when receiving instruction, and make sure to implement the same terminology in your discussions with peers.

How do you use training language?

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

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You have been told since your youth that “practice makes perfect.” What you have been told is wrong. In reality practice only makes permanent. Or maybe more accurately practice makes less forgettable. On the other hand, perfect practice does make perfect (or closer to perfect at least). The real difference is that a deliberate effort to practice every repetition correctly will make it easier to perform correct repetitions. But practice crappy technique and you’ll only achieve “perfection” at crappy technique.

Annie Murphy Paul wrote a great article on this myth of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’. She points out how you must be deliberate in your practice, or you shouldn’t bother practicing at all. If you are not deliberate, you end up working only on your strengths. Good practice will involve self-evaluation and a targeting of those things you perform poorly to bring them up to snuff.

The best pianists, they determined, addressed their mistakes immediately. They identified the precise location and source of each error, then rehearsed that part again and again until it was corrected. Only then would the best students proceed to the rest of the piece. “It was not the case that the top-ranked pianists made fewer errors at the beginning of their practice sessions than did the other pianists,” Duke notes. “But, when errors occurred, the top-ranked pianists seemed much better able to correct them in ways that precluded their recurrence.”

Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/01/25/the-myth-of-practice-makes-perfect/#ixzz1l2PwCLED

This little tidbit about pianists can be directly applied to almost anything. Especially combatives training. When we find weaknesses in what we are doing, we should put a little extra effort into trying to address those weaknesses. It reminds me very much of the old adage about the beginner training until he gets it right, and the expert training until he doesn’t get it wrong.

I have been applying the same theory in my own training. My reloads have been slow and unwieldy, so I have been putting a lot of time and effort into streamlining them. What I have found is that when I make a major mistake, slowing down and really focusing on the correct way to do what I screwed up is a good way to help get over the speed bump and hopefully prevent the mistake from coming back.

To me, deliberate practice comes down to a focus issue. Some people practice a lot. They might spend hours every day practicing, but without laser sharp focus on what you are doing in order to make every rep perfect, you are doing two things. First, you are building a very well practiced bad habit. Every bad rep you practice is one more rep to fight against when you need to go back and break your bad habit. The other thing you are doing is wasting time.

Twenty minutes of deliberate practice is worth far more than twenty hours of halfhearted crap practice.

The take away message from all of this is that shorter, more focused training sessions are probably more ideal than long, aimless ones. Have a plan when you practice, and make the session short enough that you can focus on every rep.

Do you practice deliberately?

4 Tips For Breaking Bad Habits Before They Break You

I’m not talking about smoking, nail biting, overeating, or any other common bad habit in life. I’m talking about the bad habits that have formed in our technique or our training practices.

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We fight like we train, so everything we do under the pressure of a real fight becomes an automatic reaction. Your automatic response to an attack will be exactly what you have practiced the most in reaction to that stimulus. If you practiced the best possible response perfectly, you have nothing to worry about. But if you practiced something that is ineffective, wrong, or just different than your ideal response, you now have a habit to break.

Breaking habits that we have created through training can be similar to breaking other habits we develop in life, but there are some key differences.

 1. You need to practice the correct method 2 or 3 times the number of reps you have practiced incorrectly.

Every bad repetition you have ever done will count against you. The longer you have been practicing the incorrect technique, the harder it will be to fix it. If you truly want to break a habit and replace it with a new one, you need to practice this new skill 2 or 3 times as much as you have practiced what you are trying to replace.

This is a daunting task and will require a significant commitment. If you have been practicing something long enough, you should determine if the habit is even worth trying to replace. If your habit is something you can live with, it might be easier to avoid change all together.

But don’t shy away from breaking a bad habit just because it is old. Doing something wrong for a long time doesn’t mean you have been practicing it every day. I’ve heard this excuse numerous times teaching people to shoot rifles. Holding a rifle a certain way for twenty years doesn’t mean you practiced it that way every day for those twenty years. Suck it up and make the change because you are wrong, and the habit is correctable.

On the other hand, the skills I am practicing in my dry fire routine will probably become permanent over the next 20 years of daily practice. I must make sure I am constantly course correcting so I don’t make a habit of the wrong thing.

 2. Consistency is key

The more consistent you are in your practice, the easier the change will be. Inconsistency has two problems. First, it will make reprogramming your habits take longer. Second, it can result in confusion. Your body automatically responds how it has been trained to. Having more than one response trained and “at the ready” can lead to confusion as to which to do when a situation demands an immediate reaction. Merging two reactions in one is never a good thing.

 3. Make it conscious

 In order to do something consistently correctly, we need to make it a conscious effort. This breaks the automatic process by which our body normally reacts. By actively thinking about what we are doing, we can change it. Without consciously attempting to make this change, we will instead end up falling back into our old habit, preventing the correction we are trying to make.

 4. Start slow

Part of making something conscious is to start slow. Slow down your repetitions so you can control every aspect of the movement. You want to make every little detail of what you are doing perfect. Anything less than perfect will create more bad habits that will need to be broken. Practice in itself does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. Practice only makes permanent. Get every rep right.

Breaking habits is a difficult proposition. If it was easy, hardly anyone would smoke, people wouldn’t overeat, and everyone’s draw stroke would be perfect. Habits can form very easily, but they are exponentially harder to break as time goes on. The best way to break a bad habit is to avoid creating it in the first place. Failing that, take the above advice and keep going. Forming new habits is just a matter of time.

Have you formed any habits in training you are trying to break?

Breathe Like Your Life Depends On It

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Do you breathe?

Breathing is a part of everything we do, from Sudoku to weightlifting.  In some activities, how we breathe is far more important than in others. Breathing a certain way will generally not improve your performance in Sudoku, but it is absolutely crucial when you hit the weights.

In the realm of self-defense, breathing is always very important. Most martial systems put a strong emphasis on how and when to breathe. Marksmanship for both pistols and rifles relies on a slight respiratory pause prior to breaking the shot.

 One thing that often gets overlooked in most self-defense circles is how your breathing impacts your state of mind. When you breathe in, your mind and body tends to be in a weak state. When you breathe out it is in a strong state.

 Inhaling causes your lungs to fill with air. Your center of gravity rises, and your mind is less focused. Your reaction times will be slower than if you are exhaling.

 Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? This can only happen when you are full of air. This is yet another reason that we want to spend less time breathing in.

 We naturally tend to breathe in when we are startled. You have probably experienced this walking around a corner and crashing into someone, or reaching for a door handle as someone walks through from the other side. You are startled, you breathe in, and your mind scrambles to recover and regain control of the situation.

 In the office, being startled like this has relatively little cost to our well-being other than a bruised ego perhaps. On the other hand, reacting this poorly to being startled on the street could be the fine line that separates life and death.

 To combat this, we want to build a reaction of exhaling when startled.

 Practice exhaling

 Practice responding with an out breath on some sort of stimulus. When you exhale, you want it to be controlled and forceful. Think of this as an immediate dump of all extra oxygen in your lungs. There is a finite beginning, middle, and an end to our breath. It should end abruptly.

 Reinforcing

 Once you have some practice with this type of breathing, a great way to reinforce this is on the street or in the office. I used to work in an office building that had many blind corners, and plenty of people who would always cut these corners closely, even on the “wrong side” of the “road”. This led to many startling near-collisions and created the perfect environment to practice reacting calmly. When startled in this type of situation, an out breath and some smooth footwork allows you to regain your composure and continue on unimpeded.

Training your body to react calmly and decisively when startled will improve your likelihood of survival on the street. Most of the time you can avoid the situation entirely by being aware of your surroundings. When this isn’t possible, how you react to the unexpected can be the difference between life and death.

Making Good Mistakes

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Do you make mistakes? Have you ever dropped a mag, fumbled a reload, had a malfunction? Have you ever done the wrong technique in a kata or zigged when you should have zagged? If not I need to shake your hand because you are a god.

If you do make mistakes, how often do they happen in training, and how do you react?

If you just stop and restart from the beginning, you are robbing yourself of precious opportunities to train yourself to respond to these mistakes. Take advantage of your mistakes and work through them. Remember you will fight as you train, so train as you fight. If you drop a mag on the range when you are trying to reload… keep going. Grab the other mag on your belt or pick it up (but be careful of muzzle discipline!). If you normally throw your hands in the air, curse yourself and reset to the beginning of the drill, then that is exactly what you can expect when the lead is flying. Learn to recover as cleanly and quickly as you can.

We are all human, so we can expect to make mistakes. Sure we will be laser focused with the addition of adrenaline, but our fine motor skills and judgment can be negatively affected. You will screw up eventually. Hopefully you won’t screw up when you really can’t afford to, but there are no guarantees. If you compete you probably will make a mistake in a match eventually. It’s a matter of probability.

From a similar perspective, I was taught as a student of Karate to always make the best mistake I could. If I was practicing a kata and did the wrong technique, I was always supposed to make sure I made that particular instance the best instance of that technique I could. Making a mistake shouldn’t stop you in your tracks and cause you to give up or restart. Make your mistake the best possible mistake you can. Then move on.

This same principle can be applied to your defensive firearms training. If your gun runs dry, it’s a perfect chance to practice reloading. If you have a malfunction, it’s a perfect chance to practice dealing with it. The same thing should apply if you screw up a reload. Don’t give up, just get that gun reloaded.

Take this concept with you and apply it to your training. Hopefully practice will make perfect some day and you won’t ever make a mistake. Call me when that happens so I can bow down to you. Until then capitalize on every mistake you make. A mistake in training is far better than a mistake on the street. And learning to recover from your mistakes can often make the difference between life and death.

Do you work through your mistakes? What kind of mistakes do you make in training?

When To Take Risks In Your Training

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Training is risky business. Any physical activity comes with some amount of risk for physical injury. Sparring even more so. No matter how careful we are training with our firearms, even dry-fire comes with some inherent risk – we must always be careful. Simply setting foot on the range has its own risks that we cannot control.

Despite these risks we still continue to train. We weigh these risks against some sort of benefit and decide to train anyway. Some risks are too great and we avoid them. Where should YOU draw that line?

The amount of risk you should take in your training needs to be balanced against the risks you encounter on a day to day basis. The average person who carries a pistol for self-defense will encounter far less risk in his daily life than a switched on high-speed low drag operator who seeks out trouble.

I have heard a story or two originating in the special operations community where operators would not call a cold range while shooters went down range to change targets. You could walk down your lane to have another shooter shooting at targets to either side of you. Is this too risky? Given the environment these operators work in, probably not.

Their jobs require that they be put in situations where they may need to make a shot that close to a fellow operator. They are put in these situations to preserve our freedom when they carry out missions overseas. Operators train so that they are proficient enough to be comfortable and capable in these situations. For them, the risk of being downrange while a buddy keeps firing is nothing compared to the risk they encounter in the field.

But would the average self-defense shooter want to be down range while others are shooting? Probably not. The risks involved would far outweigh any benefit of practice you might get while trying not to splatter your friend’s brain matter all over his target. This would not be a skill you are likely to need to survive everyday life, so why take the risk?

Operators take these risks because the cost of not taking them is less confidence and poor performance in the life threatening situations they willingly enter every day. For a civilian shooter who is training to defend themselves, we are not mitigating any risk in our daily lives by taking these kinds of risks.

On the other hand, we take risks just by going to the range. Splash back from steel targets, explosive firearm malfunctions, and the riffraff on the next lane over all make going to the range risky. We still do it (and should do it) because not practicing means we will be incapable of acting when we need to.

The same goes for physical training in general. We can pull muscles, tear tendons, and break bones in hard training if we are not careful (and sometimes even if we are). Not risking those injuries puts us in a weak position when we need those skills to be there.

Ultimately the amount of risk you assume will depend on the amount of risk you encounter in real life. If your profession takes you into harms way, I fully expect you to take on more risk to reduce the impact that real life hazards might have on you. When the training has significantly higher risk of injury or death than the threats you prepare for, you might need to reconsider your training.

How much risk do you take in your training? Post a comment and share!

Work With Your Partner, Instead of Against

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In my years of training, I have worked with a lot of different partners while practicing just about everything. While working with partners, I have observed a few things that consistently result in getting the most value out of working with a partner.

The one thing that seems to be lost on too many people is that you get more out of working with your partner than you get out of working against them. What I mean by this is that it is your responsibility as a good partner to scale the amount of resistance, speed, and contact based on who you are working with. Partner training is for mutual benefit, it is not a competition, so don’t treat it as such.

Being a Bad Partner

If you want to be the worst partner you can be, you will do everything you can to shut down your partner. You will make it difficult for them to succeed by using any superiority you can muster to prevent them from practicing the prescribed technique. If possible you will injure your partner so they can’t continue training, or make them fearful to continue practicing with you.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that by preventing your partner from practicing what they intend to practice, they aren’t going to improve. By making things difficult right from the get-go, they have no way to make gradual improvement. And by hurting them, you can frustrate their ability or desire to continue training, especially with you.

Being a Good Partner

To be a good partner it comes down to avoiding the above traits. A good partner scales the difficulty for their partner. Especially if you are technically or physically superior to your partner, it is your responsibility to gradually increase the pressure. You want to challenge your partner, but never overwhelm them. Your partner will only improve if they can overcome the resistance. Similarly, if you intend to get stronger by lifting weights, you won’t accomplish this by stacking them so heavy on your chest that you can’t move them.

A good partner tries not to hurt their partner for two reasons. Firstly, an injured partner who can’t train means that you cannot train. Bummer. Secondly, if you take advantage of your partner and constantly hurt them, they may become too timid to train with you. Especially when working with a beginner, pain can lead to fear. Fear results in poor technique or avoidance in general. Even worse, the fearful partner will avoid training with you, which is often more to your detriment than theirs.

In my youth when I was training to fight in competition, I spent roughly 30 minutes a week free sparring nonstop. I learned a lot during this training, but only because I was working with a good partner. We worked on speed, technique, and strategy, but left the majority of the contact out. This allowed me to work on incorporating new skills as I was learning them without fear of injury. Sure it would take a few tries to take a new skill and make it work against a live opponent, but I could work on it knowing that my opponent wouldn’t capitalize and try to hurt me. Working with a partner is a great way to improve your abilities, but only if you make every effort to work together.

Have you had to work with bad partners? What made them such bad partners? Post a comment and share your experiences with us!

When Is the Toolbox Too Big?

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It is common in the training world to hear people refer to adding tools to their toolbox. This metaphorical toolbox contains all the techniques (and their variations) that you have acquired and carry with you in your daily life. Your toolbox may contain tools for your shooting, clinch work, knife fighting, stand up, you name it. People have bought into this toolbox metaphor so much that they brag about how big their toolbox is.

My question, however, is when is this toolbox too big? I like to have plenty of tools in my shed, garage, or workshop, but do I really need to carry around every tool I have ever owned?

Training is merely a matter of repetition. The more practice you get at a particular skill, the sharper that skill is. Continuing the toolbox metaphor, this means that whether we have one tool or two-hundred tools, we need to keep them all sharp if we intend to use them. The problem here is that in the modern age, time seems to be at a premium. Unlike your workshop tools, you can’t pay someone else to sharpen your skills for you.

The larger your toolbox, the heavier it is. It is hard work to carry around all those tools when you might only need a few. Every variation of a tool we carry adds weight to the tool box. How many different size Phillips head screwdrivers can you really use? Keeping only the tools needed to get the job done makes finding one in a hurry a lot simpler. If you need a screwdriver, how do you decide which of your Phillips head screwdrivers to use? It will almost always be the first one you get your hands on.

Violent confrontations are high pressure and high speed events. You don’t have time to select a variation of a skill – you need to know what you need and have it be instinctual. Like the screwdrivers, the more variations of a skill you have, the harder it is to recall and employ the correct one under pressure. You are more likely to simply employ the variation you are most familiar with, whether that is the variation you would consciously choose for the task or not. You will naturally default to what you have trained the most. If you train multiple ways of performing a skill, you risk either not having a clear default, or wasting your time training skills you cannot recall under pressure.

Hopefully we’re now in agreement that the size of the toolbox needs to be managed. If we are to shrink the toolbox how do we decide what to keep and what to leave at home?

Maximize coverage while minimizing overlap

We need the broadest set of skills that will cover every task we may need to perform while decreasing the overall size of the toolbox. When talking about actual tools, this can often mean finding tools that can perform multiple tasks. I don’t need to be fluent in twenty different methods of reloading a pistol. I don’t need to master every grappling system that exists, and I don’t need to be able to throw fifteen different punches.

Instead you should focus your efforts on keeping what works the best. When you find a better hammer than the one you currently own and use, replace your hammer. Save it somewhere, but only carry with you the best tools you have access to. Constantly train and refine, but rather than try to keep every tool sharp, pick the ones you really plan on using, and store the other ones. You should always be trying to find the best combination of tools for you.

“Hold That Thought, I Need to Warm Up”

In pretty much every athletic endeavor, the participants use some sort of warmup activity prior to participating. This warmup has two primary purposes. The first is to loosen up and ready the body to maximize performance and prevent injury. Second, the warmup allows the body to start getting into the groove that is used for that activity, helping to recall the body mechanics employed.

In martial arts warmups are often employed, and for good reason. Throwing a high kick completely cold is a great way to cause some major muscle and tendon tears. Injury can slow down even the most well-coordinated training plan. Mitigating the risk of injury through warmup is a good way to keep ourselves training.

Shooters often warm up before testing themselves too. By shooting or dry-firing prior to testing yourself, you generally improve your performance.

How could warming up be bad?

On the street you don’t get a warmup.

The problem with warmups is that you don’t always get one. Real life is unpredictable, and you cannot choose when you might get attacked. Similarly, you cannot stop your attacker and ask them to hold on a second so you can warm up. This might be a good defensive strategy if you think your attacker might die from laughter.

How can we address this in our training?

Training flexibility should be high on your priority list. The better your flexibility is, the less likely you are to get a pull while you are fighting sans warmup. If you are training for the purposes of self-defense, you need to know what your limitations are likely to be when you aren’t warmed up. Some part of your training should include training within those restrictions, even while warmed up. An example of this is by removing high kicks. High kicks are impractical on the street anyway, but even more so if you won’t get a chance to stretch before you get attacked.

When you are working on your shooting, test yourself ‘cold’ by simply starting without any dry-fire or warmup. Once you measure your baseline, you can now begin your normal practice. If done properly, your “cold start” might even give you ideas as to what you need to work on during your practice session.

Ultimately, when the adrenaline starts pumping, you’ll overcome most of these issues even if you don’t train specifically to mitigate them. I would still recommend stepping back and evaluating your training within the context of fighting without a warmup. Make adjustments so you are prepared for the fight that occurs outside the ring.

How Many Classes Is Too Many?

Last week tgace posted his thoughts about a phenomenon he sees in firearms training. He believes that some civilian shooters are spending too much time getting training. Part of his argument is that the payoff for classes after the first few greatly diminishes. He also argues that individuals should invest more of their time and funds taking classes on other skills, say tactical driving or first aid for example.

I can agree with his arguments to a point. There certainly is a huge need to diversify your skill set. I would agree that before you take your third or fourth shooting class, you should probably try and invest in some training for defensive tactics, knife work, first-aid, driving, or any number of other skills that end up taking the back seat.

I would also agree that the gain from each class can be less than the one before it. If you want the most bang for your buck, you would always be investing in skills you have little or no knowledge of.

I do think he missed several points, however, when it comes to training. Most obviously, different instructors bring different things to the table. Training with different instructors gives us an opportunity to see similar material from different viewpoints, helping us choose what works best for us. I would also like to point out three important reasons why any civilian shooter (or professional for that matter) should regularly take classes on subjects already known and understood.

State of the art

When compared to traditional martial arts systems, the practice of tactical shooting is still in its infancy. New techniques are being developed and refined at a very rapid rate. Any serious shooter should probably take a shooting class every few years to keep abreast of these changes and keep on top of their game.

For the longest time, an overhand manipulation of the slide with the weak hand was the only correct way to handle an emergency reload. More recently many top tier instructors are starting to advocate the use of the slide stop instead in an effort to increase the speed at which the pistol can be reloaded. While this might not be the best change for you, being exposed to it in a class setting is a good way to evaluate these kinds of developments objectively under the watchful eye of an expert.

Testing Ourselves

Pressure testing is an important part of our training. Some classes give us a chance to test what we have been practicing and validate our training techniques. Some would say that competition would be a better way to test our skills, but that can’t always be the best way to test. Some skill sets are not easily testable in a competition setting.

The best example I can give here is Southnarc’s ECQC class, which I have taken twice now. ECQC is an extreme close quarters combat class, focusing on a variety of skills ranging from verbal skills to grappling with guns, and even grappling with guns inside a vehicle (vehicular brazilian jiu-jitsu). No competition I know of will put you inside a vehicle with a Sims gun fighting against someone else with a Sims gun. Sure you can test the components – I could compete in IDPA and MMA and test the pieces – but sometimes testing everything together in a cooperative environment is best.

Get out of the bubble

Most civilians train individually. We may have training partners or even a small group of peers that we train with, but we don’t go to a regular weekly class like we might do to train in something like karate. This means that we as individuals are cut off from regular oversight by an experienced instructor. As a result our training will eventually deviate from what we are taught. Sometimes this can be good, but other times it can cause us to get sloppy.

It is possible to mitigate this by using video or by having a good training partner, but sometimes the watchful eye of an instructor is necessary. If for no other reason, I would argue that regularly having our skills evaluated and corrected by an experienced instructor is worth the cost of attending the occasional class.

So how many is too many?

It should be pretty obvious by now that I’m a strong proponent of regular training with instructors, whoever you are. But how often is enough, and when have we crossed the line into stroking our egos and over-training one skill?

I think this will depend on your goals and resources. If you can afford it, taking a yearly course in every subject you want to be capable in is a great goal. Of course most of us cannot afford that, so we need to find a slightly more attainable goal. I would say if you’ve attended more than two classes in a subject (say combative gun handling and tactics geared toward the pistol) without having taken any training on peripheral matters (say driving, first aid, or unarmed defensive tactics) you are probably getting too deep.

A reasonable goal might be to take one shooting class and one class from these other subject areas every year. Rotate your secondary class every year, but continue to seek instruction on the one topic that really excites you year after year. This should strike a good balance in your training.

How many classes have you taken on one subject? Post a comment and let us know your opinion!

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