It’s a pet peeve of mine when teaching: the student who doesn’t pay attention and constantly holds up the class needing special attention.
We’re not talking about a class being confused because the instructor was unclear. We’re not talking about a student who once or twice over the course of a weekend asks for clarification. We’re talking about That Guy.
That Guy is so busy texting, talking to other students, and playing with his gear that time and time again he’ll walk up to the firing line, raise his hand, and ask, “What are we doing?” Or worse, he’ll walk up to the line and shoot a completely different drill, forcing the instructor to stop class to get him back in line with what everyone is supposed to be doing.
Now I’m the first to admit that in AFHF and especially AFHS the drills get described quickly. A typical exercise will be something like:
- Three high cap or four low cap mags of 2-5 shot bursts to the 8″ circle from the holster. GO!
If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to miss the instructions. But the solution is pretty straightforward: when the instructor is giving instruction, you should be listening. If the instructor is talking, you probably shouldn’t be playing on your phone, pestering other students about your favorite brand of AR magazine, or doing pretty much anything else that blocks the instructor’s signal from reaching your ears and your brain.
Not only is it annoying to the instructor when he has to explain everything twice, but it’s extremely inconsiderate of the fellow students. If the other ten people on the firing line all know exactly what they’re supposed to do, wasting time hearing it again just because of That Guy starts to get old real fast. At a class last year I actually kept track and That Guy cost the rest of the class almost half an hour over the course of just two days. There’s a lot of shooting and learning that could be accomplished in that half hour instead. The other students quickly got tired of hearing me yell “CEASE FIRE!” just to get That Guy on the right track over and over again.
Of course, some might think the best response to that problem is to let it burn itself out… let That Guy do what he wants and ignore the fact that he’s not shooting the right drills, not ready to go when it’s his turn, etc. The problem with that is the high degree of “Monkey See, Monkey Do” that occurs in classes. If a student is shooting a drill and notices that the guy next to him is doing something different, he’ll often assume he’s in the wrong and start doing it That Guy’s way. Or he’ll stop and want clarification from the instructor. That Guy’s mistakes spread like a disease.
As an instructor, though, you also have to avoid falling into the trap of thinking everyone is That Guy. If half the students on the line don’t understand a drill, it may be time to rethink how you explain it. Maybe it needs to be demonstrated slowly. Maybe just one or two students at a time should shoot the drill to make sure everyone is on the same page. One trick I’ve used for particularly complicated or confusing drills is to ask students afterwards to explain the drill back to me. Sometimes, the way the students think about the drill and understand it is much different than the words I used to explain it… and their description is more efficient, easier to understand, or just plain better.
Dealing with That Guy depends a lot on the individual. Sometimes he’s just scatterbrained and needs a reminder to pay attention. Sometimes he’s an arrogant jerk who needs to be told to shape up or leave. One of the best solutions I’ve found is simply to pull That Guy off the line when he makes a mistake, or wave him off from participating if he’s not ready to go when the rest of his squad begins. “If you’re not shooting the right drill, you’re not going to shoot” or “If you’re not ready to go, I can’t make the rest of the class wait” usually suffices to get That Guy motivated and back in phase with the rest of the universe.
Don’t be That Guy.
Train hard & stay safe! ToddG