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A Reminder for Myself and Other Instructors

A lot of times, we take our own repetitions for granted.  As we’re teaching, it’s easy to become frustrated with students that “just aren’t getting it.”  And since I’m a nobody, instructor-wise, I get a lot of students that are prone to “just not getting it.”  A lot of the top level national guys get students who’ve trained at a high level before.  And so it’s easy to have a line full of switched-on guys that have already built tens of thousands of reps.  We come to those national guys, most of the time, with years if not decades of firearms experience.

As a student on their lines, I love that.  We aren’t held up by a number of students who are just really slow to pick up some basic concept that we started workin on 20 years ago.  And as a student, it’s really easy to get frustrated with “that person” in the class.  You know the one.  The Private Pyles of the class.  We’ve all seen it.  We’ve all been frustrated by it.

But today, I’ve had a stark lesson in why we should never let that frustration show, and really, should soften our thinking on it.

I bought a 1911.

“Big deal,” is of course the correct response to that statement.  But let me fill in some background.  My first handgun was a Sig.  Next, Glock.  Then back to Sig, then through a range of plastic fantastics, settling on an FNS.  Again, “big deal,” is the correct response to that.  But there’s a common thread in my path through the handgun world.  They all had no manual safeties.

So today, I strapped the 1911 into a cheap kydex OWB and start doing dry-fire presentations, because I knew damn well I’d need to start building some muscle memory (or procedural memory as the cook kids want to call it today) around operating that safety.

It has been the most frustrating shooting-related thing I’ve done in ten years.

Let me repeat that.  It has been the most frustrating shooting-related thing I’ve done in ten years.  In the space of a five minute dry-fire session, I caught myself reholstering a cocked/unlocked 1911 in “condition zero” (simulated) three different times.  Were it live ammo, that would have been an egregious safety problem.  It would have been the kind of safety problem that I’ve seen send instructors into very angrily dressing down a student.  I’m not saying those instructors are wrong for doing that.  That safety message *has* to get through.  I get it.  I may do it myself on a second offense.  But I don’t want to digress on to safety.  That’s not my point.

My point is, that building those reps, building that procedural memory, is FAR slower than I remembered, and far more frustrating than I expected.  It has served as a reminder to me of exactly what it’s like to be back at square one as some derp-filled know-nothing.  I have completely and utterly forgotten exactly what it’s like to be back at TD-1.  For me, it was just that long ago.  For some of you, it’s been far longer.  And so this is my message.  Remember.  Remember what it was like when you were first trying to learn.  I’ve just been reminded.  And it stings.  And that understanding may help you better communicate with, and thus teach your students.

–Keith Morgan
KBT Defensive Solutions

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