Today I held a One-Day CCW class. One of the students, a younger one, was attentive throughout the class. He maintained a professional air; he was poised, appeared confident, and was extremely polite when addressing the class.
He performed very well while at the range, and shot as I sort of assumed he would shoot: tight groups, solid reloads, and perfect muzzle and trigger discipline. In short… he was not someone who required my attention.
As he was leaving, he thanked me for the class and for Artemis. He then offered the following:
“This was my first time shooting live rounds.”
“Through that gun?”
“No… through any gun. I’ve never fired a live shot before.”
“Holy crap!!! Your skill sets were amazing! Where did you learn that?”
“I’ve taken your Pistol Series courses at Artemis, and I am currently taking Transitions. I just haven’t tested into 4M yet because I want to be confident that I am able to perform at the same level with the other students.”
“Um, you are ready to test, trust me. Your manipulations on the range were flawless and your shooting was outstanding.”
This is not the first time I have seen this. Throughout our tenure training civilians, especially doing CCW classes, we occasionally have clients who have trained with us in our group or private classes for a number of months before taking the actual CCW class. During that class we learn they have never actually fired a live round downrange. To an observer, however, they shoot as though they have been shooting for years.
While I would like to say this is a direct result of the expert instruction we provide… and to be sure, our instructors do, in fact, provide expert instruction, it is a real testament to repetitive training.
Imagine doing a single thing ten thousand times. By the ten-thousandth time, you will be extremely proficient, and most likely able to perform the function in your sleep. Through our classes, especially the Transition class, you perform weapons manipulations over and over and over again. The constant repetition creates Mastery at Skill at Arms.
Contrast this to a couple of our renewal students today.
They have been to our CCW course in the past, and were completing their CCW renewal training with us as well. They were older, and listening to their conversations in the lobby during the breaks, they are definitely “gun guys”. They held court in our lobby pontificating about the nuances of certain calibers over others and spoke of their robust (and opinionated) knowledge of certain firearms manufacturers.
On the range they were… shall we say… somewhat underperforming of the “John Wick Standard”.
As Kavon would say, “Watching them shoot was the equivalent to eating a soup sandwich.”
Now to be fair, they weren’t “unsafe”. They kept the muzzles pointed downrange, but fingers crept to the trigger when they shouldn’t… and when the trigger press did happen, it was slapped as though it owed the shooter money.
Neither of these shooters showed the least amount of self-consciousness. This level of shooting was par for the course for them. I casually asked them how often they shoot.
“Oh, we go to the range at least once a week.”
“I see… do you coach each other?”
“Oh, we’ve been shooting together since the mid-80s. We don’t need to coach each other. We know what we are doing.”
“Oh, I agree. You guys were very competent. Did you see that kid shoot?”
“The military guy?”
“He’s not military. He works for his father’s upholstery company.”
“Really? Just looking at him and watching him shoot we figured he must be military.”
“That was the first time he ever shot live rounds downrange.”
“What?!? That’s amazing!”
“All of his training has taken place on our simulators under the eyes of our instructors. The first time he held a firearm in his hands was at Artemis.”
“Are you telling us we should take some of your classes?”
“What is your reason for having a CCW?”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you have a CCW to simply exempt you from state laws, or are you renewing your CCW because you want to have access to your firearm to survive a deadly encounter.”
“Well, obviously to survive!”
“Then I suggest you do what is necessary to be more like him. Doing what you are currently doing is accomplishing the exact opposite.”
Training is not just simply the act of learning a new skill. Training takes and, in fact, requires a self-evaluation that is constantly taxing the ego. The minute gunfighters believe they have “trained enough”, they cease being gunfighters and reenter the world of recreational shooting.