GSSF Tip #12-35

Discussion in 'GSSF' started by BCarver, Jun 30, 2003.

  1. BCarver

    BCarver CLM Millennium Member

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    Oct 13, 1999
    Jacksonville, Florida
    This week's topic is hosted by Millard Ellingsworth.
    The topic is:
    How about any specific suggestions for those of us (who aren't yet and probably never will be pro's) who are trying to help / encourage junior shooters? or trying to help / encourage our spouses or other novices? In addition to trying to help us become better shooter...maybe you can help us become better coaches? How do we keep from teaching our sons, daughters, and spouses our bad habits, too?

    Millard's response to the topic:
    First and foremost, coach safety. Be very particular about muzzle direction and when the finger can be near the trigger. When I work with my son, I verbally coach him about muzzle direction if comes more than 45 degrees from the target. Most sports will allow 90 degrees from downrange, but there is no reason, typically, to get anywhere near the “180”. Since behaviors deteriorate under match conditions, coach maximum safety, not tolerable safety. Nothing will end a new shooter’s interest faster than hurting or scaring themselves or someone else.

    Coaching is very different than shooting, just like coaching basketball is very different than playing it. Your first assignment is to make sure that you know what you are talking about. If you fear you have bad habits, make sure you understand the proper technique and can communicate it. If you can’t stop doing it the “wrong” way, make a point of not shooting when you coach. If your student sees you hunching up your shoulders and craning your neck forward, this behavior is likely to transfer regardless of what you say. If they see you milking the grip between every shot or holding the gun with cross-over thumbs, they may just think you haven’t explained that to them yet and they will emulate it on their own.
    Besides, watching you shoot won’t really help them just like watching someone else tossing up free throws in basketball won’t help them learn how to do it.

    Explain the basics, let them dry fire and watch them. Correct the things you didn’t communicate effectively. Then let them shoot while you continue to watch them. Do more correction. Always be gentle and encouraging -- nothing will transfer more quickly than your disappointment. Always take responsibility for their results. If they aren’t doing something correctly, consider that you haven’t communicated it properly or have tried to give them more than they could handle in one lesson.

    Another way, if you are serious about teaching them to shoot well, is for you to be the facilitator more that the teacher. Use a decent book on basic shooting skills and work through the book with your student, letting the author be the teacher and you the interpreter. This can eliminate some friction in the relationship as well. The NRA Marksmanship Qualification program provides a series of drills and levels of achievement that can be fun for a new shooter to earn (and there are even patches and pins that can be awarded).

    The hardest part of coaching is getting outside of your own head and body and observing the student, not the student’s shooting. Look at the hands, the head position the feet and body, watch the trigger finger and support hand. Is the student sweating or biting his/her lip? Do they have trouble reloading or working the slide? Don’t jump past the simple things that don’t seem important to you any more. It is harder to rack the slide or to lock open a gun than you recall. Teach them how to turn their body (and not the gun) and place their hands and arms for better leverage.

    What is most important is that they do things properly. Better scores will come from better practice. The best way to handle that is to make the early challenges very easy so that they get “good” results while they work on technique. If you use GSSF (NRA D-1) targets, start with them at 5 yards and keep them there until they can easily get all B hits or better. Score the targets only as a way of emphasizing improvement.

    It might be obvious, but go slow and watch your student’s comfort level. Their anxiety level will sap their strength quickly. If the range is a long way from home, take snacks and regular breaks, maybe even a book (or a GameBoy). Focusing the eyes correctly on the front sight, holding up the firearm, handling the recoil, and dealing with the anxiety (both theirs and yours) will wear a new shooter out quickly. If they are taking their time with the fundamentals of operating the gun and carefully aiming and releasing one shot at a time, don’t be surprised if they only get through a few magazines before they need a break. Conversely, force a break if the student (or the teacher) seems to be losing focus and just shooting because there is still ammo left.

    What to teach is relatively simple: safety and fundamentals. Until they can completely handle and operate an unloaded gun (or Airsoft replica) safely, no need to go to the range at all. Dry fire practice is probably the most valuable practice anyway. Because it can seem boring to the new shooter, consider an Airsoft replica gun (available at most gun shows or on the Internet) that can give much of the feel of operating the real thing without the same level of danger.

    When they start shooting, start close and coach the fundamentals until they can shoot groups of a certain size. In order to provide some incentive, agree with them about what that size is ahead of time. Once the goal is reached, move the target out and work back towards the same goal again. For an NRA D-1 target, this might be all “Bs”.

    Have lots of target tape on hand and tape after every magazine full. Once they start to hone the fundamentals, feedback is very important. After the first ten holes, it is hard to tell where the next ten went.

    If you can take it, have the student “teach” you. Make them free to comment on your hand placement or head alignment or trigger control. Teaching helps them better internalize the material. They will learn from your mistakes and you just might improve as well.

    The response to this topic is posted by Bobby Carver for Millard Ellingsworth
  2. Rusty Phillips

    Rusty Phillips Moderator Millennium Member

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    Dec 17, 1998

    thanks millard

    are all airsoft glocks created equal?

    is there a particular model / manufacturer airsoft glock i should be looking for?

    what about .177 pellet guns?

    have you bought / played with the "junky" daisy CO2 glock 17L? how does the trigger on it compare to the real thing?

    i have long wished that someone would bring out a true to scale glock .177 pellet pistol with a reasonable impression of a glock safe action trigger (im thinking something like the walther p99 in .177) - it would make a very good training tool i would think....

    heck - how valuable would the walther pellet pistol be to someone trying to learn how to shoot glocks?

    bobby - thanks for choreographing all of this - you da man!