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Thread: Are Classes the Only Way to Become Proficient?

  1. #21
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    Away, away, away, down.......
    Quote Originally Posted by Eyesquared View Post
    2. I no longer believe in the "if I get one golden nugget out of the training, it's worth it" mindset. In my mind this is a coping mechanism. If someone is truly serious about training they won't have time to keep messing around with new techniques all the time. It's almost as bad as constantly switching guns or jumping back and forth between different sighting systems.
    I disagree with this. People at the top level of almost any pursuit are constantly testing new techniques or refining what they currently do and making changes. They also tend to continuously seek the next thing equipment wise that could give them a performance advantage.

    The difference between the galant and the goofus is the high level galant can quantify what he is gaining (or looking to gain) by experimenting with a new technique or trying new hardware and will readily cast aside something (technique or equipment) when they find something else that is better.

  2. #22
    Site Supporter David S.'s Avatar
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    Sep 2011
    A few years ago, Arik Levy interviewed a couple dozen high level competition shooters for his Firearms Nation: Shooter's Summit. As I recall, a few of them said they never received any formal instruction during their formative years. I vaguely remember this included Steve Anderson and Robert Vogel. They identified the standards required to make GM, broke them down into components, and worked their asses off in live fire and dry fire to meet those standards. They both teach now, so I'm sure they'd both acknowledge it's not the most efficient way, but it can be done.

    If you can find the resources, I suppose you could figure out the marksmanship and gun handling, especially with the internet resources currently available.

    Competition skill validation seem pretty straight forward: Practice things you suck at. Go to match - see if you got better. Repeat.

    Tangentially, I suspect personal defense skills are much harder to validate without some sort of organized group, training, or going and looking for trouble.

  3. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by GJM View Post

    1) Smart people often are burdened by their “smartness,” and believe their intellect in one profession or endeavor translates to others.
    Liberal application of neurotoxins takes care of excessive brain cells and fixes this problem. I have used single malt scotch with a great success.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Givens View Post
    Choose your trainer wisely
    That is the point. By 2021 people who wanna take classes ought to know who to go to for what. Unfulfilled expectations and frustrations are prevented before signing up. I've had one meh class in last 5 years, and I took that one mostly because I had a coupon.
    “Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Caballoflaco View Post
    I disagree with this. People at the top level of almost any pursuit are constantly testing new techniques or refining what they currently do and making changes. They also tend to continuously seek the next thing equipment wise that could give them a performance advantage.

    The difference between the galant and the goofus is the high level galant can quantify what he is gaining (or looking to gain) by experimenting with a new technique or trying new hardware and will readily cast aside something (technique or equipment) when they find something else that is better.
    Most top shooters will tell you there is a time and a place for experimentation. They will try new techniques or gear at the beginning of a shooting season and decide how they feel about them. Almost all of them will not make drastic changes for the majority of the shooting season. They may refine their execution of technique or tweak certain things during the season but they won't dramatically change things like how they grip the gun or how they reload.

  5. #25
    Hobbyist JAD's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
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    Most beginning shooters do a bunch of stuff wrong, even if they’re avid video watchers. They benefit from in person instruction at a G250 level to avoid practicing bad habits which can be hard to correct later.

    After that people seem to get a level ton out of a few specific instructional circumstances — Rogers, Cain, and White stick out to me — that appear to accelerate their technical skill acquisition pretty profoundly.

    For me, my post-250 instruction has been very focused on defensive aspects of shooting, rather than technique. I don’t think that would be impossible to duplicate with videos and books and stuff, but it seems like it would be harder.
    Ignore Alien Orders

  6. #26
    Site Supporter Cory's Avatar
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    Jan 2016
    I have never taken a shooting class. I was in the Army National Guard, and was taught some bad habits on pistol shooting during MP school. I later got my own handgun and starting shooting on my own. Eventually I was showing others basic form. Then I wound up teaching a couple really basic classes. But had pretty much zero training myself.

    I found PF, because I wanted to learn more. This place is the motherload of info for shooting. From here I wound up stumbling onto the names of countless experts and consumed every video and article I could. Then I started dryfiring.

    Todya I'm a USPSA C class shooter. I believe I could be an A class shooter, but I don't put in the time and attention to get there. If I dryfired everyday, and live fired every week I'd be there. I can't live fire that amount, and don't dryfire that amount.

    But. I recently took a combatives class with @Cecil Burch. I learned a ton about a topic I was not even remotely as informed about. It really showed me a major benefit of a class... the experience. I had some basic ideas and concepts about grappling and could grasp a few ideas and thought I understood them. I did not understand them. There is a je ne sais quoi about going through the motions that will reveal the truer nature of things. Knowledge gained the hard way is truly owned.

    With shooting, that could be a match where you are over confident about being able to do a reload before a clam closes and you botch it. You learned by getting embarrassed. But you could probably learn far faster if someone was giving you a mix of experience, and direction toward the infinite learning resources on the web.

  7. #27
    Member MVS's Avatar
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    Apr 2014
    Quote Originally Posted by Doc_Glock View Post
    Thank you for the reply and please take no offense at my lack of enthusiasm for in person training (I actually have read and gifted your Concealed Carry book which is excellent). For classes personally, you and Gabe White are on the short list of ones I want to make happen some day.
    As someone who has taken almost countless numbers of classes, especially if you consider all the extra LEO classes I took after the academy, you will not find very many classes run as efficiently as these two gentlemen. With absolutely no disrespect meant toward Tom, Gabe Whites class made me think of Tom's classes on steroids. Other than in the movement section, by necessity, there is almost zero down time.

  8. #28
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    Nov 2012
    Erie County, NY
    Classes and practice. Most folks punch a square target and that's it. Not to belabor the point but Tom picked up a flaw I would never would have seen and improved my shooting. When I screw up, it's that flaw and I go back to what he showed me.

    Second, there is more that holes in the target. I found FOF a crucial part of my knowledge base and have done quite a bit. Now, I had friends who said we could get airsoft but unless the exercise is well thought out and supervised, it's boys with toys.

    I've had two classes over the years with guys I thought were a waste of time. Most have been very useful. Not much quality training around here, it seems - maybe I haven't tapped into it.

    I also read the books as the more you know, the better.

  9. #29
    happy sharps enabler Totem Polar's Avatar
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    Aug 2013
    This is sort of my wheelhouse, since I’m well over 20k direct contact hours teaching applied psychomotor skills to students. My take: to progress you *need* to be a dedicated autodidact. And, at first, you need guidance as to what progress actually looks like. The ideal mix is solid, intensely focussed bursts of *expert* instruction frontloaded at the beginning, followed by long periods of self-directed work on the concepts, once one knows what the concepts are.

    As a P-F relevant hypothetical, I’m trying to imagine any self-directed course of defensive shooting study that can provide, say, the same “paradigm shifting without a clutch” learning experience as one’s first ECQC. Sure, AFTER the first ECQC, if a student wants to grab some training partners and bang it out in a garage a few nights a week from then on out, great, but you have to go through the intellectual, emotional, and synaptic experience gathering phase first.

    You have to have a good framework to know how to determine what you don’t know before you can self-teach efficiently. After that, have at it.

    ”It's important to remember that ALL news media is a consumer product. Just like soda and fast food, they don't have any incentive to make it good for you, just addictive enough for you to keep coming back for more.”

  10. #30
    Site Supporter Kanye Wyoming's Avatar
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    May 2017
    Northwestern SE PA
    It's a great question. My two cents are these. If 1 is rank beginner, 6 is reasonably competent and 10 is world class proficiency, pretty much anyone who is willing to put in the study and practice can eventually get to 3 or 4 or 5 in anything on their own, whether it's the violin, or the pistol, or woodworking. Maybe 6 or 7 or even 8 if they're really determined and genuinely gifted. Without instruction and coaching, though, most will have developed flaws that preclude them from advancing much beyond that, or won't be clued in to the tools and techniques that lead to substantial advancement (you don't know what you don't know, as someone below mentioned). Good instruction and coaching - whether it's in the form of twice weekly violin lessons or a pistol class or two each year - is what enables someone who is motivated and who practices diligently to advance additional levels over time. Hell, even the greatest violinists and opera singers and athletes in the world have teachers and coaches in order to maintain themselves at a 10.

    Most of us can't afford to fly in Tom Givens or Gabe White to accompany us to the range every month. So I'd say being able to take a class every so often with one of them, or with others at that level of world class instructing and coaching proficiency, is a blessing. Even if you're at a level where you only get that one golden nugget, and everything else is reinforcement of what you're already doing right, there's substantial value in that reinforcement. I always go to the annual conference and sometimes regional conferences in my particular professional specialty. I'm at a pretty high level of knowledge and experience and occasionally I'm a speaker at these. Notwithstanding, I invariably learn a few things of value, and almost as valuable is the reinforcement that I'm on target when it comes to some complicated stuff. As opposed to the early years when at every conference there were always 2 or 3 panicked "oh shit" moments when I realized I'd been doing something completely bass-ackwards.

    Can you become proficient without classes (or other mode of instruction from an expert instructor)? Maybe, maybe not, but even if yes, not as proficient as you would be with expert instruction and coaching.

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