I had the honor and privilege of being asked to help teach a rifle tactics class this past weekend and of course I jumped at the chance. It was a class I had taken myself a few years ago myself, and I was interested to see it from the other side.
I think I was able to help out each of the students I worked with in some small way (overall I’m sure they learned a lot more from the other instructors), I have to say I probably took as much away from the class as they did – and maybe more than I did as a student. A few of my observations:
- Gear matters. I saw lot’s of folks that came in with gear that they weren’t sure of or didn’t know how to run. Taking a class as a way to test how well you will run your gear under pressure or adverse conditions is fine. But I think you will get alot more out of the class if you show up with a basic understanding of how it works and more importantly how everything works together. Can you draw your pistol when you have your chest rig on? Which way should your magazines be pointed to work for your body mechanics. How do you change the batteries in your red dot. All things you should know before you show up to class if you want to get the most out of the class environment.
- This may seem counter to my first learning, but I saw almost every student get stuck in “gear target lock.” Target lock is a term used to describe the unfortuante situation when a fighter or bomber pilot gets so fixated on their targe that they fly right into it. I saw the same thing with gear. Some strudents were so fixated on making their gear work that they didn’t try things in different combinations or without pieces of gear to see how that would work. My reccomendation is to have a game plan for the gear combos you want to try out and if there is something you want to try that you don’t have – ask the instructor. It’s highly likely they will have it or can ask someone else who does to bring it along for you to try. Don’t just stick with one setup for the whole class – try out a few different things, unless its a combo that you’ve already taken through a class or two and that you know works for you.
- Mind set matters. Know what you are there to do and come with an open mind. The most important part of all of the training I have taken part in is the mindset it helps you develop. You don’t need to arrive with a “warrior mindset”, but you do need to know why you are taking the class, what you expect to be better at when you leave and focus on making sure that happens.
- Fitness matters. This is going to piss some people off, but you need to be in “average” shape to get the most out of these classes. It was 10 hours standing in the sun and shade with only one break to eat. I’m not saying that you have to be able to run a 6 minute mile in full battle gear to get something out of a training course – but know your limits and if you do sign up for something beyond them, adjust your expectations of what you will get out of it. No one is a good shot if they are dehydrated, are suffering from the hear and have low blood sugar.
As I said at the end of the class, you can buy firearms and put them in a safe and they will last you forever. You can do the same with Ammo – put it in a can with desiccant and it will last for generations. But training is the one thing that is immediately perishable. So the next time you are thinking about getting that shiny new gun, or some more range ammo, sign up for some training instead. Then get yourself ready to get the most out of it.