I suck. Where do I start? Where do I go from there?

SmElly

Regular Member
#1
I have a rifle. I have a pistol. My ability to implement them (even on a low stress, flat range) is beyond unacceptable, and I'm a bit overwhelmed since there are so many things that need improvement. What's my first move?


I know this community is full of skilled individuals. But at some point you were me. If you could coach yourself back then, what would you tell yourself?
I'm looking for a good starting point, but extending advice beyond step one would be much appreciated as well.
 
#2
First step would be to get some professional instruction. If I had the opportunity to train with anyone as a beginner I would look at an organization that not only teaches you the fundamentals in detail, but very importantly shows you how to train on your own. A good example of this is the Tactical Performance Center (TPC).

Between focusing on pistol or rifle first, I would choose pistol. Once you learn pistol and the principles needed to shoot one well, rifle is easy to learn.
 
#3
Start with pistol, focus on the fundamentals. Dont get sucked into flashy range theatrics, buying new kit, or gizmos that may seem to offer improvement. Spend that money on training ammo and quality instruction.

As far as a plan to follow on your own- look at Mike Seeklanders Defensive Handgun training plan. Not being a shill- but Ive never seen a better built training plan with all of the coaching cues built in. Encompasses dry and live fire, mental drills, and visual drills.

Hell of a time to enter the training arena with ammo being scarce/expensive; and brings me to my final and most important point I can offer to any new shooter- DRY FIRES! Lots of Dry Fires!
 

Mossens

Newbie
Network Support I
#4
I was a terrible handgun shooter after 10 yards before I took a 2 day handgun class with Steve Fisher. Professional instruction is invaluable. During the class I hit a silhouette target 8/10 times at 50 yards. Before the class, I couldn’t hit a B8 size target regularly at 15 yards. I still have a long way to go, but good, professional instruction will forever be my recommendation.
 

Mike G

Austere Provisions
Moderator
Vendor
#6
Your profile says Texas but that state is the size of some countries so it doesn't help a ton. I would look for a regional to national name for an beginner pistol class. Accept that you may have to travel a bit to get good instruction but don't wait to go to the perfect class on the other side of the country to start your learning. Consider reaching out to Matt Shockey who is active on P&S and ask him for a suggestion in the state.

Shrek has a class in Texas in October. I've taken a few classes with him and he does a good job with Coach's Eye software breaking down fundamentals. The other benefit is you have information on your performance you can take with you and review over and over to improve. You won't get a ton of info out of the one day class on non-fundamentals of hitting the target but that portion will be very in depth. After that you will need some help on manipulation of the gun (reloads, malfunction clearance, etc) but this is a pretty good way to build your base.
https://sobtactical.com/classes/texas/

If that class doesn't work out or even for the next few classes you take keep these things in mind. You want to learn fundamentals at first. Don't fall for the high speed branding. You don't need to worry about shooting around vehicles, or CQB, or really even low light before you get the fundamentals solidified. I would shy away from classes where the round count is over 500 rds per day or really even 400 per day for the first few classes. Some instructors try to cram way too much into a day and they don't allow for time to adequately discuss a topic but instead will put the student on the line shooting high round count reps in large volume so they don't have to actually teach or so they feel like they gave the student an "experience" instead of actually teaching. Look at the background of the instructor and feel free to post up courses you are looking at here. There are a lot of people who have taken an NRA instructor course and can satisfy the requirements for a CCW permit but are not able to shoot higher than a 60/100 on a B8 at 25 yards.

A good gun with quality sights or RDS, a good holster, mags and mag pouches, ammo, and range items like targets and tape is all you should really worry about for a little bit... well and a trauma kit and some trauma training but that goes for everyone.
 

Default.mp3

Regular Member
#7
I would say also look heavily at competition shooting. If you're introspective and able to understand how to properly apply what you discover there, it can be a great boon. Go in without an ego, willing to take advice, and willing to help out (taping, scoring, etc.), and you'll be able to pick up a lot of things. Start with something simple like Steel Challenge, and once you get comfortable with the range commands and being safe, I would move on to USPSA.

There are a lot of things in competition that do not cross over to the practical use, but there are even more things that do. You just have to understand the time and place for the balance of speed and accuracy and when you need to lean more one way than the other. Competition helps you build mastery of gunhandling and understanding your own limits; once you learn that, you can then go on autopilot while problem-solving when dealing with realworld scenarios.

For example, Steel Challenge is a flat-footed draw, with single hits on targets, some of them quite big. But it's still forcing you to go fast on the draw and to get that first shot off, then resetting your sights as you transition between targets.

I've taken my fair share of classes, and while helpful as audits for defense/duty oriented tasks, competition has pushed me further, faster, than classes have as a way to improve.

The thing about classes is that once you get past that initial hump of being a totally new shooter, their efficacy drops off dramatically without practice, as they can only give you the tools to improve, and you have to put in the work yourself afterwards.
 

Mike G

Austere Provisions
Moderator
Vendor
#9
I will second the competition component depending on how much baseline knowledge you have. Some people can struggle with competition because they don't have enough baseline skill. That being said, I have never been to a competitive event that wasn't welcoming and had plenty of people willing to offer pointers and help. As long as you have enough skill and mental bandwidth to be safe and process info competition is a great component of a training plan.

Go to a match or two and get to know the locals. Ask around and see if there is a league night. I see this less with steel challenge than USPSA but this will usually be driven by local interests. A monthly match is usually 5-7 stages, our local league night is 3. League is also more relaxed although safety in still very much enforced.

Steel challenge, USPSA, and 3 gun are all a good time. IDPA isn't bad either :p. Steel challenge as mentioned earlier is probably the lowest bandwidth and 3 gun is the most. I see a lot of people show up for 3 gun because they want to do it all and they suck equally at all three platforms.

Once you have been to enough events that you have made a few friends see if you can get them to record your stages in exchange for returning the favor. This is a really good way to get some self diagnostic work in. Another option is to buy a tripod and go pro and set it up but this can become a distraction pretty easily. The goal is to see your mechanics not make cool videos for social media. Don't worry about this until you get settled in enough that you have some freed up mental space to think about handing your phone to someone, until that point you need to focus on following the range commands and being safe.
 

nyeti

Moderator
Moderator
#10
Get some solid professional training. Trying to unlearn all the bad habits you will teach yourself or get from “helpful” people who may not be qualified to be handing out instruction. The initial cost will easily be absorbed by efficiency in learning and not spending more down the road to fix your problems.
Solid diagnostic instructors are tough to find but worth the effort.
After you anchor the fundamentals on a very solid foundation you can decide what you want to focus on, either sport shooting or defensive shooting or some combination of both.
 

PM07

Moderator
Moderator
#11
I will add to the solid professional training suggestions with this , thoroughly vet your instructors. Look at their backgrounds, look at their SM stuff if available, talk to students who have taken classes, and read through any class AARs available for them. Step 2, define your mission. What are you trying to get better at, skills for competition or self defense or both. They are not mutually exclusive but as was stated, it all starts with learning the correct basic fundamentals. Once you have those solid fundamentals, then add dry dire to your daily routine. Dry firing bad habits just make those habits worse and harder to unlearn. Get Refinement and Repetition by Steve Anderson.
 
#12
What is your fitness level?
Guns and skills are great but ....
Secondly vet the a class and/or instructors.
I have attended a class where the knowledge of the "guy teaching"was surpassed by multiple students. He over promised and underdelivered. Now he is out of business.
I worked a class by a great (SME) instructor where the students skillset would have been better served by developing their level of competence by some time with a " local dude " to spin them up for the class with the SME. The class could not cover many topics due to the lack of skills of the students, as well as tyrannical range rules. For example moving and shooting was "against the rules" we ended up doing it but the safety officers were over the top nervous, even with a 1 SO on 2 student ratio.
 
#13
Professional training - from the right instructors!!!! That’s key. I don’t need testosterone. I realize you are a badass or I wouldn’t be in your class. Choose your instructors V-E-R-Y carefully. Not all are created equal.

Ones I am familiar with

Shivworks / Craig Douglass

Haught. Anything Haught

Green Ops

FPF Training

Massad Ayoob - for anything “use of deadly force”. You need this information.

Justified Defensive Concepts

Reston Training Group

And from my FNG (fucking new guy) to training optic - FORCE ON FORCE. As much force on force training (hand to hand and firearms) as you can get.

Also shooting paper is next to useless. Dryfire (with the right habits), and shooting under any form of duress (someone with shot timer, someone yelling commands that engage your brain) is key - based on what I have experienced.

Good luck, you are going down a great rabbit hole.

Barry
 
#15
If you are in TX and close enough to him Karl Rehn over at KR Training would be a good go-to for getting yourself kind of up to speed where you are more confident about taking courses from some of the intermediate to higher end instructors. He also hosts some good instructors down at his place so you have that option. If you are willing to travel the sky is the limit on the amount of training with high end instructors you can get. If you get to the point where you are looking to specific instructor and Karl doesn't have him or her (don't discount some of the ladies man...) then look at my place up here in OK to see if I have who you are looking for on the schedule.

Primarily like others here have said seek information (P&S is a good place for that) to find what and who, then invest in yourself and get professional training to at least the point you have some better tools and knowledge to help yourself get better. And know yourself well enough to know when you should be seeking professional instruction again after that.
 
#16
Professional training - from the right instructors!!!! That’s key. I don’t need testosterone. I realize you are a badass or I wouldn’t be in your class. Choose your instructors V-E-R-Y carefully. Not all are created equal.

Ones I am familiar with

Shivworks / Craig Douglass

Haught. Anything Haught

Green Ops

FPF Training

Massad Ayoob - for anything “use of deadly force”. You need this information.

Justified Defensive Concepts

Reston Training Group

And from my FNG (fucking new guy) to training optic - FORCE ON FORCE. As much force on force training (hand to hand and firearms) as you can get.

Also shooting paper is next to useless. Dryfire (with the right habits), and shooting under any form of duress (someone with shot timer, someone yelling commands that engage your brain) is key - based on what I have experienced.

Good luck, you are going down a great rabbit hole.

Barry
OH, and for anything grappling Paul Sharp. I’ve taken pistol from Paul as well. Great day of training.