By: Jill E. Wolforth
I was originally going to title my article, “The Teacher Becomes the Student” but I thought that might not sound as interesting to some people. However, it is a vital part of my message.
Earlier this week, Coach Wolforth and I took a “Basic Handgun” course. Regardless of your stance on guns stay with me, as I’m going to tie in my handgun training to baseball training. Actually any training.
Most of the individuals in the class were relatively new to shooting, but I think I may have been the only one who had NEVER shot a gun before. I indeed was a rank beginner, a true novice.
There were two hours of classroom, followed by an hour at the range. The class started with basic safety and understanding of the weapon, such as loading the magazine clip. Even with the basic information, I was lost as soon as the instructor said, “O.K., let’s all try to load the magazine.” Here’s why. Even though I understood the directions on how to load the magazine, I didn’t know how to remove the magazine from the gun. Obviously I asked, but two things hit me:
First, as a teacher/trainer, even when teaching the basic skills, we often assume people know things they don’t and although we, personally, have done something or said something hundreds, even thousands of times, it’s very likely there’s someone we’re working with who hasn’t ever performed the skill or heard the information before.
Second, as a student/player, it’s critical we ask about something we are unclear on and get it right from the beginning because missing a basic, initial step can be detrimental down the road.
This became very apparent to me, while learning steps on handling, loading and unloading a gun. Miss a step somewhere in the process and it could be life threatening. Although, as a pitcher, missed steps don’t have life and death consequences, they can be tied to long term arm health and durability issues.
When we got to work with the targets, the ultimate baseball connection came into play for me. We started with one round, progressed to two and finished by alternating with our partner in rounds of five.
Now, once again, I was ignorant. I didn’t know what “a round” was. Did this mean one full magazine? I thought “surely not”. So, a bit hesitant, I asked the instructor, “Does one round mean one bullet?” to which he replied, “Yes”. For those of you who have shooting experience, you probably laugh or find this hard to believe. But think about this from my perspective; the only experiences I have with a “round” have either been a “round of bp” which certainly is more than one pitch or a “round of golf” which is usually nine or 18 holes. I share this exchange to remind you that we all come with our own pre-conceived ideas and perspectives.
After the first couple of rounds, once I’d gotten an initial feel, I really started to pay close attention to my outcome. It became apparent that I was consistently slightly below my intended target. Hmm… maybe like being low in the zone in a game.
We routinely get questions at The Texas Baseball Ranch about command. Many people will talk about “making adjustments”. Shooting a gun at the range, is really about command and making adjustments, so I told myself to apply my baseball/softball teaching. If I were working with one of my students, I would tell them we’re going to change the goal. This time, we’re going to attempt to miss above the target. I applied the same concept to my shooting and NOT to my surprise, it worked quite well.
As a matter of fact, the instructor asked, “You’ve really NEVER shot a gun before?” I simply replied, “No sir” but thought to myself “But I do work at the Texas Baseball Ranch.” 🙂
All kidding aside, there were several valuable lessons for me, both as a teacher and a student. I’ve mentioned a couple already but the final one is this, although I did very well for my first time, I left knowing there was so much I didn’t know and so much practice that would be needed just to be proficient. Read that again. Just to be proficient, not exceptional. We need to remind ourselves of that constantly as the path to success is long and often tedious.
**As a special offer this week, you can get a copy of our “Command Enhancement” program (DVD and manual) for 50% off. To get your copy, simply go to www.CommandEnhancement.com