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Until one has mastered the fundamentals of grip, trigger control and muzzle alignment, nothing is going to significantly improve marksmanship. It took me many thousands of dollars and lots of ineffective coaching to figure that out. A spiffed-up trigger, hi-dollar sights, the Glock vs. everything else argument and 9mm vs everything else debate didn't make me a better shooter. Multiple trips through an expensive gun school only resulted in moderate improvement. Until someone (David Bowie of Bowie Tactical Concepts) was able to impart to me exactly what was wrong with my technique in a way that I understood and was able to incorporate, nothing was going to help me become anything more than a mediocre marksman. Until someone taught me effective muzzle alignment to the target (Robin Brown aka Brownie) and acquiring an effective sight picture, nothing was going to improve my accuracy at distance.

Unless the gun is a poorly-made POS, it will do its job as long as I do mine.

If you are having troubles, seek out someone who can actually fix them. If what you are doing isn't helping, keep looking.

Rant complete.
 

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ooh, another must have an instructor thread :wink:
See post 5, we're of the same mindset on where this subject will lead PA

I can state unequivocally that without the extensive formal training and skills I've been imparted through mentors, I wouldn't be shooting as well as I do, and keeping in mind that "well" is a relative term, just how much proficiency does one need other than some square range two handed while their feet are bolted to the macadam/. :wink:
 

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See post 5, we're of the same mindset on where this subject will lead PA

I can state unequivocally that without the extensive formal training and skills I've been imparted through mentors, I wouldn't be shooting as well as I do, and keeping in mind that "well" is a relative term, just how much proficiency does one need other than some square range two handed while their feet are bolted to the macadam/. :wink:
Yep, same song, different day :smile:
 

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Smokey the bear says "only you can prevent some proficiency". lol

Unfortunately, I believe Mikes thread title is accurate. Self assessment and corrective measures aren't for people who don't have the fundamentals firmly ingrained to begin with.

Like last Sat, the 19 year old who'd never shot a handgun who was given 3 hours of instruction and then handily kicked her uncles butt who has been shooting for decades but never sought a professional to solve his errant basics.
 

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Or, as Ron White says, "You can't fix...STUPID!" And, agreeing with Mike, it's a LOT faster (AND far less expensive) to get good training in contrast to you're own trial-and-error until your groups ...tighten-up! :yup:
 

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Or, as Ron White says, "You can't fix...STUPID!" And, agreeing with Mike, it's a LOT faster (AND far less expensive) to get good training in contrast to you're own trial-and-error until your groups ...tighten-up! :yup:
Affectionately referred to as "muddlers". Muddling through shooting sessions hoping one day the gun fairy suddenly bestows proficiency. :gah:
 

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Mike, this is meant to support what you said 100%. I have posted this before, but it is apropos. A Navy Senior Chief SAMI (Small Arms Marksmanship Instructor) taught me, and a petite female Ensign, to shoot expert with the 1911 using the pencil technique. I was a great revolver shooter, but had struggled with the 1911 for years. The female Ensign had never fired a gun before. The pencil technique is tedious and frustrating, but I've never experienced so much improvement in so short a time. I think I would have never qual'ed expert with the 1911 without that session. I went on to compete credibly with the 1911 on a Navy team. On the team, we had match-upgraded 1911's with better sights, triggers, stippling, etc., but those things only made things marginally better. Of course in competition, "marginally" makes the difference between winning and not. To your point, it's the fundamentals that count.
 

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I imagine that it is possible to get to a very high level of competency without the services of a professional instructor. After all....one simply has to try a whole lot of trial and error, and eventually the monkeys will generate Hamlet. The ammunition required for that shouldn't be too much more than the price of a small apartment complex.

What I can report is that for me, time spent with a great instructor makes a larger difference in the ability to put round on target than anything else I have tried. I did a Larry Vickers pistol course last year....the improvement in my shooting DURING the two day course was more drastic than what I saw over 18 months of shooting every week (plus one live practice session at the range every week and dry fire with a trainer four days a week) with a local IDPA group. What I learned in that course still benefits me every single time I go to the range - and gives me the tools to maintain and hone what I've learned.

Let me say that again....600 rounds and two days with a great trainer made more of a difference to my shooting than 12,000 rounds spread over 18 months of consistent self-directed effort. It's not (just) about practice. It's about practicing the RIGHT things.

This is not to say that all instructors are equal. I have taken training from a couple people that were fair-to-middlin'. While I always learned something, the value of what I learned in that training was only about 20% of what I learned in truly first-rate training. I've taken four courses that I would classify as truly first-rate: 2-day pistol with Larry Vickers, 5-day Rifle 270 with Bill Halvorsen at Gunsite, 2-day low-light pistol with Pat MacNamara, and 2-day carbine with Larry Vickers. None of that training was inexpensive, all of it involved at least a bit of travel & staying away from home, and all of it challenged me. Every bit of it was worthwhile. This is not to say that there are not a lot of other great instructors out there...simply that I can personally vouch for those three because of the outstanding results that I saw from their instruction.

If it makes any difference, my goal for the next couple years is one great firearms course every year. 2017 is an advanced handgun class with Larry Vickers. 2018 will hopefully be a carbine class with Clint Smith. After that - I have an itch for some long range bolt gun training....

As an aside, many first-rate instructors travel extensively to teach - if you are patient, you can probably find a class that one of them is teaching within a reasonable distance from wherever you call home.

Caliber....doesn't matter. Tupperware or non-tupperware....doesn't matter. Your skill as a shooter - MATTERS. The most effective way that I have yet figured out to improve that skill is to receive training from someone who has invested a LOT of their time learning from others. It's telling that Larry Vickers teaches a "Rob Leatham" drill. What you're paying for with the instructor is not his (or her) time to stand in front of you....it is the years of their life that they have invested in to learning from a multitude of sources, filtering the wheat from the chaff, synthesizing the result in to a coherent set of facts, and distilling it all into a digestible form.

I am absolutely willing to listen if someone else has found a method that is equally effective...but so far I have yet to encounter any meaningful rival to the benefit provided by a first-class instructor.
 

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I am absolutely willing to listen if someone else has found a method that is equally effective...but so far I have yet to encounter any meaningful rival to the benefit provided by a first-class instructor.

After 40 years of attending professional course of instruction, I couldn't agree more with the above.

Great post sir.
 

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Well said. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people who care more about having the coolest gun than anything else.
 

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I am absolutely willing to listen if someone else has found a method that is equally effective...but so far I have yet to encounter any meaningful rival to the benefit provided by a first-class instructor.
The only exception I can think of is a skilled, loving father patiently teaching his son. :wave:

That, and being born about 4 miles, as the crow flies, from Sgt. York's farm.
 

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Well said. Unfortunately, there are quite a few people who care more about having the coolest gun than anything else.
The oft cited mantra of "I can't afford training", or "training is too expensive" doesn't hold weight when the same person posts he's bought yet another gun he doesn't need nor knows how to effectively run it.
 

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In the 70s, there were a lot of places to shoot in the desert. There was no Internet and I could not have imagined a shooting coach, nor could I have afforded one. At a very large bookstore, I found one book on shooting. I bought it, and practiced shooting with my 22.

Am I in any way a great shot? Nope. Got instruction in the military, but it didn't include anything beyond what I had read. The CCW class had nothing worthwhile to add.

FWIW, I'd love to go to a "good" school for a day of shooting instruction...but where? As you pointed out, "Multiple trips through an expensive gun school only resulted in moderate improvement."

Another hobby of mine is riding horses. I don't compete, but I like riding and wanted to learn to do it well when I took it up at 50. But the truth is that most of the lessons I took, and most of the riding online videos I've seen and over half the books I read - and with the help of Amazon, I bought and read at least 30 of them - had nothing useful to offer a trail rider. In the end, a book written by a former Russian cavalry officer, a couple of books written by a former British Cavalry instructor, plus time in the saddle with a very spooky horse taught me what I needed to know for riding spooky horses on trails, and teaching the horse confidence. I would have gladly paid for quality instruction, but where? The stuff taught by the local instructors I found, and what was preached in most of the books I read, wasn't only not right, but harmful. A little while back, I threw out about 20 books as being worse than worthless. Too many 'instructors' teach what works for winning shows ridden in front of judges without regard for what keeps a person safe and helps the horse balance well in the real world.

Shooting reminds me of riding, in some ways. There are plenty of shooters (and riders) who just don't care. I suspect most of us care enough to want to take a few good classes. But where to find a "good class"? And since instructors seem to say opposite things - grip tight / grip loose, focus on front sight / target, etc...who to believe? And what, if any, relation does it have to defensive shooting? The military taught me to focus on the front sight, but I'll be darned if I would do that at most self-defense ranges, particularly now that I wear bifocals and can only focus on the front sight with the lower half...

Seems to me one is stuck with listening, then trying out different things and finding out what works for you and your beliefs about defensive shooting.
 

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Affectionately referred to as "muddlers". Muddling through shooting sessions hoping one day the gun fairy suddenly bestows proficiency. :gah:
I now realize that I AM A GOLF...Muddler. Yet, in a sport/game, muddling is (at least) half the fun. Life or death? Not so much...:image035:
 
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Seems to me one is stuck with listening, then trying out different things and finding out what works for you and your beliefs about defensive shooting.

In the last 40 years, I've never had a problem finding highly skilled trainers all over the US. One is only stuck IF they want to be stuck. In your state you have gunsite, and Ayoob is repeatedly found training near your AO. If you only make a cursory search, perhaps one is stuck, but it's self induced.

As to different instructors confusing people with their sometimes opposite opinions as you mention, I've found that to be true, and still found benefit in their courses of fire even if I didn't agree with their ideas. If nothing else, it was explored and some or most of the course discounted. But I was able to discount what was not useful for me because I had a lot of background with previous courses of fire instruction.

Most people don't know what they don't know, and never bother to find out what they don't know. They go through life blissfully unaware.
 

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I agree with both Mike and Bsms2. The greatest instructor on earth and shooting a million rounds won't do a thing for you if you don't have the basics down. Nor will RMRs, Apex triggers and hanging crap off your AR. But, here is where I also agree with Bsms2. I can go to 3 different instructors would will teach me 3 different ways to "shoot properly". In fact, I have done that very thing so I know it's the truth. You cannot do that with new shooters or even more experienced ones. If you have one ex-Ranger teaching you the way he was taught in service, another one repeating "Jeff Cooper says" after every instruction and yet another telling you to "be the bullet", you're not going to get anywhere. You might as well just hold on tight, point the barrel at the target and squeeze a round off because you'll probably do better than trying to do everything those 3 people taught you.

If you can find a good, flexible and consistent instructor, then I'm all for it.
 
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