Competitive Shooting as Immersion Learning | USCCA

Immersion learning is an educational approach that teaches concepts by placing learners into an environment that focuses on the exposure to — and absorption of — knowledge through multiple, layered experiences. One of the most recognizable and effective uses of this technique is learning a foreign language. Students are placed in an environment (such as a home, a classroom or even the native-speaking country itself) to learn firsthand through constant and direct exposure to the language.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I completely agree that immersion is an excellent way to learn. In fact, my college taught language exactly this way; on the very first day, from the moment we walked into class, only the language being taught was allowed – English was forbidden. This methodology was an excellent way to learn new languages. Looking at learning gun safety/shooting skills through immersion is an interesting exercise, and there are likely many similarities.

There are, however, a few important differences between language immersion, and shooting immersion. One key difference, I think, is how quickly we shift context. In competitive shooting, the “student’s” immersion is fairly brief compared to say, an hour of language immersion in class. Moreover, the shift from one context, shooting, to another, observing/not shooting, vs. speaking French and speaking English is significantly more dramatic.

The ability to “absorb” a lesson strikes me as very different as well. There are at least two distinctions here. For one, language is something that we are genetically predisposed to acquire, while shooting is not; sure, French isn’t the same as English, but we’re born with the innate ability to learn either. The second is difference I see is rate of absorption. If I were being rigorous, I’d find a research paper to cite, but suffice it to say colloquially here, I’d be willing to bet that our brains better acquire skills and knowledge when the rate of acquisition is slower, and occurs over a longer period of time as opposed to an intense and brief session.

Finally, a big difference is repetition. Learning language by immersion, we are, if not continuously, at least for long periods of time, fully surrounded by our learning environment. In classes, we repeat this process 3-5 times a week. Living in a foreign country, it’s hourly, or daily at least. There is a lot of repetition going on; in fact, I’d posit that it’s a continuous feedback loop. The frequency of repetition in competitive shooting is much lower.

So I’m not disagreeing that competitive shooting provides some level of immersion – it does force students into a kind of “sink or swim” situation – but I do think there are some very significant differences compared to language immersion learning that need to be accounted for to get more out of competitive shooting as a learning experience.