Does your instructor shoot the course of fire first?

I was chatting at the range the other day and we had a discussion going. Very few of us had been to a class where the instructor shot the course of fire first. What has been your experience ?

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What does that term mean?

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Really? That surprises me. I always do, and I think most of my recent classes the instructor has. The exception might be the USCCA CC instructor cert I recently did… but the course of fire was so very simple I wouldn’t expect it (one target, one zone on that target, x shots from x distance.)

Wonder why they don’t? Maybe they’re not wanting to intimidate any students who are new or nervous. Maybe they’re not confident in their own performance. IDK
Seems to me the value of a careful demonstration outweighs the other concerns.

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It depends on the class. I would much rather explain to the students what the drill is and let them experience the mistakes.

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@Brad are you asking about “course of fire”?
It’s a term used in training or competition to describe the sequence of shots, how many, where, if there are any exceptions, time factors, penalties.

Might go something like “5 silhouette targets to be shot in any order and the steel plate to be shot last. 2 shots on each silhouette, plate to be knocked down. Time penalty to be added to your time as follows: 0 seconds for ‘A’ zone, 3 seconds for ‘B’ zone, 5 seconds for ‘C’ zone, 10 seconds for a miss. 3 seconds penalty for shots in the black area (marked as hard cover)”

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At some classes the instructor will introduce a drill for the students to perform. Then they shoot the drill so the students can see the drill being run.

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course of fire is the shooting that a student does to pass the course.

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@MarkC here’s a thing to consider… I’m an extremely quick visual learner, show me and I understand. I also have very poor neurology for processing audio (yep, had my brain neurology mapped and it’s a real deficit). Tell me and I may not always understand, or I may need to spend a few seconds processing what you said and miss the next thing you say.
When you present information in only one mode (verbal) and not others (visual or kinesthetic) you handicapping the learning capabilities of some of your students. You miss the opportunity to give every student the maximum learning from your class.
This doesn’t mean the students will miss the opportunity to learn from their errors. It just means the errors they get to experience, and you get to coach them through, are the ones they’d normally encounter after they leave the class and when you aren’t there to accelerate their learning.

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That is true that people have different learning styles. It has been my experience that things seem to stick with students better on the range if they have to work through the problem. This can also prepare them to have to work through a problem in real life. Part of carrying a firearm is the processing of information in a dynamic critical incident. So by shooting the drill the students then try to follow the leader and try to match what you are doing not experiencing the mistakes or how they can perform the task. Plus if you really mess up shooting the drill you can lose some credibility with your students.

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I’m a very visual learner as well, however, I’ve seen too many people do dumb things without a bunch of instruction first. (I’ve seen it with instruction first too, to be honest.)

It would be a bit more disruptive, but I think having the range portion in the middle would be very effective. Get instruction beforehand, do the exercise, and then be able to ask in-depth questions after.

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See, now, that’s one of the things that sends me to the range :grimacing:
That said, when I make an error while “on stage” I find it an excellent teachable moment. I use it to discuss consequences for errors, how to recover when things go wrong, as well as why we all need to train harder. Publicly owning my own error or misexecution provides an example for students on how to handle and redress their own. My status in their eyes doesn’t depend solely on the perfection of my skill execution. It also depends on the visibility of my integrity. My ability to take the risk of looking less-than-perfect, own an error, make the process of pursuing better visible gives permission to students to do the same… i want them to be bold, risk failure and be comfortable owning their errors so they can improve.

In my experience, display of integrity is more likely to hold the respect of students than display of perfection or avoiding display at all so as to not risk exposing a mistake.

That said, I need to train hard for what I mean to teach, and shouldn’t teach above my level. It’s one thing I like about USCCAs teacher training - there’s no automatic pass. I am asked to demonstrate my skills with every expectation that I could fail, and be expected to own my error and work to improve. I have to prove not just my skill but my integrity. I expect no less of my teachers.

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I’m glad you are able to see the up side of an issue that might arise. I’ve seen far too many instructors before I started at the USCCA who would let their pride take over and not own their mistake.

That’s one of the reasons I love the USCCA Community! Acknowledging you’re wrong or even that something said has made you reevaluate your position on something is HUGE for your education - and everyone else’s. Knowing I don’t know it all and have a lot to learn helps me keep an open mind and learn from others.

The more I learn about self-defense and firearms, the more I realize I don’t know. And that’s an awesome motivator to continually learn!

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I have shot the COF for students when asked, but I’ve been asked multiple times not to by students because they feel it will make them nervous. While I understand that train of thought completely and was once there myself, I also like for them to realize I’m human and my groups are usually if not always far from perfect.

I have had a student who asks me to shoot it first to “prove” I know what I’m doing, which is fine by me.

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@Jeff4 I’ve never had a shooting student challenge me to prove I’m good enough… that’d be a new experience. :thinking:

Intimidating the students is a legit concern - when I shoot the course of fire first, I generally shoot it slow… the purpose being for them to see what I’m actually doing and hitting maximum speed is not useful in that cause. Unless the course of fire is all about speed. Even then, I may shoot it more than once. “Here’s what we’re doing…” (slow demo) “and here’s how it looks at full speed” (fast demo) “I expect you to go as slow as you need to in order to do it right. Remember that you can’t miss fast enough to make up speed and only perfect practice makes perfect. Shoot at the speed you can do it right.”

There might be cases where that’s not the right approach, but for me it’s worked pretty darn well in both accelerating their learning and not unnecessarily rattling their willingness to try.

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That particular student came in with a poor attitude but left with a good one and we had a productive day, so I was very happy with the outcome. We all know there’s gonna be challenges in training and When he asked me to “prove” myself I didn’t take it personal.

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