Friday, September 02, 2011

Some former students make you proud. Others...not so much.

I took a woman out to the shooting range today. She was someone that I took out a couple of years ago and taught to shoot a handgun. Back then, she did well and I thought that she'd do ok. But then she apparently fell in with some other shooters of the type this are all too common around here--the "Bubba" type who has no technique (unless one counts bad habits) or ability but nonetheless considers him/herself a great shooter. It was immediately evident when we got to the range and she quickly showed me that she'd forgotten everything I'd taught her about safe gun handling and range etiquette. She was constantly sweeping the whole place with her pistol which was at least unloaded but had the action closed so that one could never be sure. After all this time, she still hadn't bought a holster for her gun, even for range use, so she was just holding the pistol in her hand while trying to do other things.

That's unacceptable, and I had to pull her back off the line in front of the other shooters for a talk and a safety refresher. She was a little better after that but then she decided that she was going to stop periodically and search for all of her brass, making all of the other shooters wait while she sought out every last 9mm case from among the gravel. And it's not as if she even reloads. One of her "bad influence" shooting friends does and she's holding us all up while trying to ferret out the cases for him.

And her shooting? Hoo boy. All that stuff I'd taught her about grip and stance and focusing on being smooth instead of fast had gone right out the window. Now she was jerking the trigger spastically and repeatedly missing an entire paper plate from 7 yards as she rushed to empty her magazine like there was a prize for finishing first. But what was even worse was that now she's a know-it-all, and she brushed off my efforts to get her back on the right page by reminding her of the techniques that I'd taught her initially. "Look, I'm not new at this any more," she said.
"Maybe not," I replied, "but you're not good or safe any more, either. What happened?"

As it turned out, after shooting with me and learning the basics the right way, she took an abbreviated CCW course from a local gunshop and range that I consider to be less than sub-par. They'd emphasized that there is no right or wrong way to hold your pistol so long as your way is comfortable for you, and of course the whole concept of high, tight grip and a concerted push/pull with your dominant and support hands was put on the shelf in favor of some sort of "dead fish mambo" grip that was letting the pistol flop around and dip the muzzle with every jerk of the trigger. And apparently jerking the trigger works better than a smooth but purposeful movement to the rear, at least in Cletus' gun training and taxidermy school.

But Cletus must be right, because he charged her money and gave her a certificate while all I did was impart some of the lessons that I myself have learned over the years from numerous credentialed instructors and professional training programs. So now Calamity Jane here forgot everything that I taught her and went with the "if it feels good, shoot that way" doctrine. And she shoots like dog shit while annoying and/or scaring everyone else on the firing line. It's enough to make you wanna cry like that sad indian on those old TV commercials.

And God help the rest of us, because now she has a CCW and carries that pistol in public. The only saving grace is that she carries it jammed way down in her purse and buried under whatever else is in there and I don't see her managing to get it out any time soon in a crisis. On the other hand, I shudder to think that I might be around her when she decides to dig out her keys or a candy bar. Yikes!

I've taught a lot of people to shoot safely over the years, but in this case, I think that I've created a monster.

Oh, and just for an extra poke in the eye, the FAL isn't working right either. I give up; I'm sending it out to someone else to work on.


  1. I think we all know someone like that. Ungood.

    Sorry to hear about the ongoing issues with the FAL, though.

  2. Some people never learn, you buy 'em books and they eat the cover.
    BTW, I have found some (and you may already know this) good video's on youtube showing how to take apart and "fix" everything from mowers and cars to guns and stoves. Saved my butt more than once.

  3. New shooter's can learn bad habit's early on or later. Simple fact of life. As for the FAL, sometime's it is better to shop out a repair job.

  4. You did what you could. I've had a couple flight students like that where finally I had to just say "take up golf" no matter what I teach you, there is a large smoking hole in your future.

    You can only do so much.

  5. That sucks... on ALL counts...

  6. No good deed goes unpunished.

    Sorry about that.

    Most of the shooters I see on the range are casual shooters. The idea of going there to practice and not have fun is kind of alien to them.

    To go workout with the serious purpose of getting better at fighting is boorish to them. They would rather just have fun.

    Expect that from 95 percent of your students.