One Size Does Not Fit All

26-Dec-14 – 04:28 by ToddG

After being offline for so long this year, I’d forgotten just how often people insist that there is only One Way when it comes to shooting. It’s not the guy who says “this pistol works best for me” that bothers me. It’s the guy who insists it will work best for everyone if they’d just give it a try. The same is true for techniques from drawing to reloads to pressing the trigger.

NoBlurb_atheists2For some crazy reason, there are enthusiasts out there who go from being shooters to being apostles. They’ll proselytize their One True Whatever to the point where they care more about creating converts than they care about stuff like, you know, shooting better.

It’s even worse when it’s an instructor trying to shove his personal favorite down his students’ throats. Hey look, if you love the Zippenfaster 9000, shoot the heck out of it and show your students how awesome you are with it. But if you spend more time bugging them about changing guns than you do teaching them how to shoot the ones they brought to class, you might be a moron.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your gun, your grip technique, your preferences are the same as someone else’s. Maybe your eyesight, your grip strength, your lifestyle is different than the guy standing next to you on the firing line. It’s perfectly ok to have your favorite. It’s awesome that you’ve figured out what works best for you. For you. But unless you really understand why it works for you so well and unless you understand why it might not be the best solution for other people with different gear and different priorities, don’t be so quick and so sure that it’s universally the best.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

(cartoon from

  1. 12 Responses to “One Size Does Not Fit All”

  2. Todd:

    I think a lot of one-size-fits-all attitudes come from military (and perhaps police) training, in which, like most government activities, one size is always deemed to fit all. After you have been trained that way, you tend to think that way.

    There are ex-military trainers who aren’t that way, of course–particularly if they come from those few units that prize independent thought.

    In any case, you are absolutely correct–and it is correct about a lot more than just shooting. One size fits all never works for a lot of people on a lot of things.

    By SteveJ on Dec 26, 2014

  3. AMEN! Well said.

    I hope you are doing well.

    By Michael Peckerman on Dec 26, 2014

  4. Todd, do you think it is easy to see instructors like that or can we sometimes be mistaken? Is someone challenging use to look at it another way being dogmatic? I for one found that I didn’t do certain things as a new shooter because no one brought them up to me.

    I agree with SteveJ but sometimes it goes both ways. Sometimes, for a variety of factors, military or police training goes from one size fits most to one size fits all. It is the instructors job to find a way to custom fit the training to students so they can continue to progress in their training. Sometimes it’s the system’s fault and sometimes it’s the instructor’s.

    The odd part is I was often accused of being the dogmatic trainer because I would try to go beyond what the lesson plan said. I kept giving the officers, “something to think about in case it applied to them”.

    As it turns out sometimes people telling you that you’re being dogmatic is a defense mechanism. Lazy instructors told me that because they just wanted to do the minimum and go home. Some officers told me that. Often a few month latter I would see them shooting and could see they took my advice.

    Sometimes just bringing up ideas outside of their system to think about pisses them off. And sometimes they are actually listening but just need time to think about it and see if it fits into how they are doing things. I found the people who gave me the most negative reaction to what I was saying ended up using the idea at a higher percentage than people who really didn’t care either way.

    I don’t mind being that annoying instructor who keeps asking, “Why”.

    By justonegun on Dec 26, 2014

  5. justonegun — If I’m understanding you correctly, it sounds like we’re talking about two different types of instructors. I’ll use myself and one of the staples of my technique/program as an example: the press-out.

    The press-out is a big part of what I taught in AFHF. We did a lot of drills that either focused specifically on that skill or at least gave students a chance to incorporate it. I’m a huge believer in its usefulness. I advocate the technique with quite a bit of enthusiasm to say the least. 😎

    On the one hand, I really hope that students will try to use the technique while they’re in class. After all, they paid a not-insubstantial amount of money (tuition, travel, ammo) to come learn from me. If they throw out a big chunk without even trying it, that’s unfortunate.

    But if they give it an honest try and don’t like it, I don’t insist they do it. I’ll try to offer other options (some press-out’y and some not). At the end of the day it’s the student’s decision. It’s not my job to make tons of mini-Todds. They don’t have to adhere dogmatically to every single thing I do myself.

    Another example going in the opposite direction: I’ve been to Rogers Shooting School four times. The first time I went I did everything their way because I wanted to give it a try and see if it worked better for me. By my fourth trip, I’d already figured out what worked best for me and what didn’t. I do some things their way and I do some things a different way. No one at Rogers ever came over and told me that my score didn’t count because I was resetting my trigger in a different manner than they teach.

    I think you’re perfectly right that a good instructor asks himself “why?” about every technique he teaches. If he can’t understand why he’s teaching something, he’s just a parrot. There are far too many of those in the training community, some at very high/famous levels. They cannot tell the student “here’s why.”

    At the end of the day, some instructors want to see everyone doing it exactly the way they do it. And other instructors want to find a way that helps the student improve. The two aren’t always the same.

    By ToddG on Dec 27, 2014

  6. A very simplified example:

    I run a very aggressive thumbs forward grip. My dad, knowing that I’ve taken a few classes, asked me for some pointers. When going over the basics of sight alignment/picture, trigger press/reset, and grip, it was discovered that due to arthritis in his wrist, he can’t get very aggressive with his off hand.

    Doesn’t matter what kind of info we have telling us that an aggressive thumbs forward grip will help control recoil, his wrist simply can not bend that far forward.

    I explained to him WHY covering as much of the gun, with hands, is important, and how to get the best out of his situation (thumbs still riding the frame, but off hand torqued way less than you usually see).

    He’s not going to be starring in any Magpul Dynamics vids anytime soon, but it’s much better than the “leaning as far away from the gun” stance and cup and saucer grip that he started out with.

    By Eli on Dec 27, 2014

  7. And the person who probably has had more influence on shooters in the last 25 years (Brian Enos) basically said nuances in your technique may change every day.

    Sure, practice makes you better…but where is the money in telling people to go to the range and get to work.

    By Matt on Dec 27, 2014

  8. First I find your post to be spot on. Second, I am glad you are writing more frequently these days and hope you continue to do so. Your post on software vs hardware was also quite helpful. Thank you for sharing that. I have a friend who has had life changing medical issues that have made him step away from shooting. I am going to share that article with him and hopefully it can be the nudge needed to come back to a life long passion for him.

    I hope your recovery continues and that you continue to share your thoughts with us on a regular basis. They are much appreciated.

    By Chris on Dec 28, 2014

  9. Chris — Thanks very kindly. The best advice I can give re: your friend is to let him know you’re there to help IF AND WHEN he is ready. Even the most well-meaning and closest friend can, at times, be more a reminder of the good ole days than an invitation to get back into the world.

    I hope your friend feels better and finds the best path for himself.

    Stay safe!

    By ToddG on Dec 28, 2014

  10. As a committed theist, this article sums up how I always felt about my religious experience. Of course, it’s also how I feel about my shooting hobby as well.

    Thanks for sharing.

    God bless,

    By David B. on Dec 29, 2014

  11. A great perspective from my buddy Cecil Burch:

    By ToddG on Jan 2, 2015

  12. Bringing up Rogers raises the question of what comes first–a pragmatic refusal to enforce a dogmatic “One True Way,” or an objective, measurable performance standard? Rogers has both, as I understand it, and it’s likely a lot easier to tolerate someone’s different way of doing a give task when you can see him meeting the same objective standard as others.

    If the standard is something murky like “be able to defend yourself on the street,” there’s effectively no objective standard, so how do you give any feedback? You judge students on their execution of the technical details of your chosen technique, because at least that’s standard, measurable and demonstrable. That’s why a karate kata competition is judged by how crisply a punch snaps or how sharply someone yells “KIAI!”

    By Donnie Gwinn on Jan 2, 2015

  13. I’ve been an outspoken advocate of the one-size-does-NOT-fit-all position for decades, and it is one of the hardest things to get through to many people. We are not all the same, we all have different needs, different situations, different concerns, etc. For some high capacity might be important, for others it is a hindrance. C3 might be a better choice than C1 for some. A revolver might be a better choice than an autoloader, or a mousegun might be the best choice for the job.

    By David Armstrong on Jan 12, 2015

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