What do you teach the students?

What do you teach the students in your classes, Claude?

That question was posed to me recently by an older gentleman at my gun club.

I teach them how to handle guns safely and how to hit the target, Ray.

He looked at me quizzically when I said that. He’s a competent shooter who can hit a six inch plate at 50 yards with a handgun. I could tell he didn’t understand so I told him a story.

I received a call a while ago from a range I used to teach at, which has subsequently burned down. The call was from the guy working the counter where they sign people into the range. “Can you come down right now and give a lady with a snub nose revolver a lesson right now? She will pay you and she’s willing to wait for you to get here.” It was 20 minutes away so I grabbed my gear and went.

The lady had a very nice 2 inch Model 15 Combat Masterpiece. She had purchased it at a gun shop when her husband died. This was her second visit to the range to ‘practice.’


When I had her do a short pre-test of how she shot, she literally whipped the gun at the target for every shot like Antonio Banderas.

antonio shooting giphy

As it turns out, the range called me because she would put her target at two yards and ‘practice’ like that. Unsurprisingly, only one or two rounds from each cylinder hit the silhouette. The ones that didn’t hit the silhouette weren’t necessarily on the paper at all. When I asked her why she did that, her answer was:

It’s going to be very close [if I’m attacked] so I figure I need to shoot as fast as I can.

After two private lessons, I got her to the point where she could pass the LAPD Retired Officer Qualification Course. Ten shots untimed at a silhouette at seven yards with seven hits being the Pass score. That’s all the training she wanted. She never returned to the range and I never heard from her again.

As my colleague Tom Givens of Rangemaster says, “Almost all of the firearms ‘training’ that people have received comes from TV and movies and it’s all wrong.” There is no better example of the truth of his comment than that lady. Watching Jennifer Garner in Alias shooting her pistol is all the example that new gun owners frequently have as a model of how to do things.


This seems crazy to many of us but until those gunowners see how firearms are actually used and what they can do, real standards are as alien to them as the Dark Side of the Moon.

I’ve started a group on Facebook called 1000 rounds of Live Fire. The idea of the group is to encourage gunowners to be shooters, not just people who keep a pistol in their sock drawer. To kick it off, as I go shooting, I put pictures and descriptions of the practice drills I do. I’m gratified that other members of the group are also putting up pictures and descriptions of their practice sessions. A few members have commented that they aren’t familiar with what structured drills are like. I’m glad the members of the group are providing some good information to the community.

As the late Paul Gomez put it, “Shoot yor [damn] guns!” But have some idea of what you’re doing when you’re shooting them. To that end, I’m going to start posting my drills here as I shoot them.


4 responses

  1. Some great points. I was a regular shooter very close to making master in IDPA when I had to take two years off to recover from injuries to my shoulder, elbow, and wrist and the surgeries to repair them. I was getting good at WHO shooting while my shoulder and elbow were recovering, but when my wrist was worked on that stopped the WHO shooting but I wasn’t strong enough yet to shoot SHO. I am taking this as an opportunity to start of and undo bad habits. I have started dry firing again in small doses and going to the range once a week. Each range session is no more that 50 rounds with plenty of ball and dummy work and 25 yard slow fire. As my strength builds back up I will increase the round count and dry fire time and start working from the holster and developing speed.

    Just trying to follow the advice of you, Paul Gomez, and a few others.

  2. I can’t get over what good advice this post contains. Too many people indulge in making (expensive) noise while at the range. There is no structure to their practice nor in there any challenge to their skills.

  3. LARRY J. CRAWFORD | Reply

    I was told once to only practice good shots. Now the person telling me that was talking about my archery shooting. It was better to practice good shots. He was right I changed the way I practiced. Taking the time to shot each with patience timing and accuracy. The rested a few seconds or a minute depending what I needed to be able to another good shot. It worked great. I developed great muscle memory and strength. I shot P.C.P. When I was on the PD (this was when most depts still carried revolvers) I did the same thing for months before my first competition, I did good with accuracy but sucked timing. Then when face with a shooting situation it was instinct.

  4. […] friend Claude Werner recently wrote an article where he postulated most shooters don’t do any real structured practice with their […]

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