A good instructor should know why he teaches certain techniques instead of others. If he uses a particular stance or grip, if he favors a particular type of reload or process for drawing the gun he should understand and be able to communicate that to students.
Some instructors go beyond that, though. Rather than explaining what they do and why, they insist students comply. Some even throw temper tantrums (or throw other things) when students choose a different approach. Some examples:
- at the end of class, students shoot a test (similar to the F.A.S.T.) … even though he easily beat the required time for “expert” rating and got all his hits, a student was told his score didn’t count because he was shooting from an isosceles-like stance instead of the instructor’s preferred Weaver stance.
- a student was purposely putting his magazines into his mag pouches backwards from the way the instructor taught… when the instructor complained and the student explained he preferred it that way after trying both methods extensively, the instructor pulled all of the students magazines out of his pouches and threw them on the floor.
I’ve got a pretty simple rule in my classes that I tell everyone at the beginning of day one: I’ll show you what I do and tell you why. Every time you don’t do it right, I’ll try to correct you. But as soon as you tell me, “Dude, I’m not going to grip my gun that way,” I’ll stop bugging you about your grip. You’re an adult. The lesson plan isn’t a bible. Take what you want and leave the rest.
The easiest example is how to drop the slide during a slidelock reload. I certainly have a strong opinion on the subject. I discuss it in class. The majority of folks choose to do it the way I teach and demonstrate. But every class or two I get a student who insists on racking the slide manually. When I see it, I point it out. Sometimes, it’s just habit and something he genuinely wants to change. Sometimes, though, he’s made up his mind and doesn’t want to change. That’s perfectly fine. He’s heard my reasoning. He has his own. They’re in conflict. He makes a choice.
It doesn’t bother me as an instructor because it doesn’t hurt me. I’m not offended. I don’t somehow lose out when he disagrees with my approach. My reload doesn’t get worse just because his is slower. My job is to explain my approach and then help students learn it… not indoctrinate people and force feed them Kool-Aid.
This past weekend I attended the Rangemaster Combative Pistol class taught by Tom Givens. Tom teaches people to overhand rack during a slidelock reload instead of using the slide release. Do you know how many times Tom told me I was doing it wrong? Zero. Do you know how many sleepless nights Tom will have because I didn’t do it his way? Also definitely zero. I learned a number of things from Tom’s class both as a shooter and an instructor. That is the goal, both from the student’s standpoint and the instructor’s.
Train hard & stay safe! ToddG