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A Sense Of Sensei

A Sense of Sensei

Two things recently happened on Facebook which got me thinking a bit about the state of the firearms training industry. The first is this post from Duane Thomas about how good is “good enough.” 

Years ago two friends of mine, one multi-black belt, the other a USPSA/IDPA Master, and myself, were trying to analogize USPSA classes to martial arts belt ranks. We came to the conclusion B class is equivalent to a first degree black belt…” 

Which ties in nicely with this chart from John Hearne, about what performance level is considered to be “automatic” and what levels aren’t. 

The second is an off-hand remark made in a private group for Rangemaster Instructors about how just about every other “firearms instructor” group on social media was a wretched hive of suck and fail. 

This isn’t surprising. When I decided to go beyond the bare minimum needed to teach concealed carry and pursue firearms instruction, pretty much everyone I knew said “Become a Rangemaster Instructor,” because, quite frankly, Rangemaster instructors can shoot. The pistol qualification for a Rangemaster Instructor includes passing the FBI Pistol Test at the Instructor level or better, shooting a Casino Drill in under 21 seconds and then passing the Rangemaster Pistol Qualification, which is even tougher than the FBI test. If USPSA B Class is black belt status, then a 21 second Casino Drill is pretty darn close to that. 

(For the record, my time in my class was mid-18 seconds. Sometimes, I even amaze myself…). 

That’s black belt level performance. Not 7th Dan or whatever, but some level of on-demand mastery. More importantly, when you go looking for a martial arts instructor, you go looking for a black belt, or at least someone approaching black belt levels of performance. The problem is, in the firearms industry, those are few and far between. The temptation is to think “Well, he’s a SWAT cop, or a former Marine infantryman. He HAS to be a good shooter, right?” 

Not really

If you want the best instructor possible, look for somebody who’s gone beyond the basics, and knows what he or she can do on-demand. I mean, you don’t see too many Little League coaches in the majors, do you? 

There’s a reason for that.  

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Dang, it would be really helpful if there were standardized skill mastery levels like martial art belts for firearm use! How do we get that started…?

    1. Ask your instructor if they know their USPSA/IDPA classification. Ask them their Bill Drill time, or some other common test like a Mozambique. Heck, ask them how ofter they run a timer in class. I know of at least two top-level instructors (or rather, instructors who are considered to be top level, with huge followings on social media and the like) who never run standardized drills and don’t use shot timers.

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