I personally feel that beginner firearms classes are going about training their students in the worst manner possible. When you try to get a new shooter to manage and control 10 things at once, it is like telling a first grader to solve trigonometry equations before they even know multiplication, angles, fractions, etc. The standard for teaching people how to shoot a firearm has remained relatively unchanged for decades. These students are taught proper firearm safety and all the fundamentals before being taught how to shoot. The current way of teaching the fundamentals to new pistol shooters, is FUNDAMENTALLY flawed.
Let me start by going over the fundamentals of marksmanship and the order in which they are taught. In order, a new shooter is taught stance, grip, sight alignment, and sight picture before even learning how to pull the trigger. In essence, from my perspective, the students are indirectly being taught to fear the recoil before they even learn to shoot the gun. To me, this process is counter-productive. Not only that, but they are given all the options and opinions and reason why to do this and that. It is alot to take in and then apply properly.
When the students get to the trigger control fundamental, they learn that there are so many details about it. They are told where to put their finger, how to apply pressure, how fast to apply the pressure, and in what direction. Yet again, these students are being swamped with knitty-gritty details that are really only theories said by people that others trusted and followed a little too faithfully. Insisting that students micromanage their movements like this only increases anxiety.
After learning all the conditions and theories on the perfect trigger pull, the students are met with the confusing ordeal of follow-through. The terrible thing about this "fundamental" is the fact that it is conditional to the type of shooting you are learning. If you are learning basic marksmanship or precision, you are told that this fundamental is defined as you pinning the trigger to the rear until after your sights are back on target. But, if you are learning defensive shooting, you learn that follow-through means that you are back on target and ready for a follow-up shot. This isn't the only "fundamental" that has multiple meanings, depending on what you are being taught and who is giving the instruction.
After the fundamentals have been covered, the students are expected to go and shoot, with fine precision being the goal. I feel that the current process of teaching is incredibly careless and does more harm than good. I am not the only own who has seen this, though. There are more and more schools out there that are starting to cut out alot of these "fundamentals" from their curriculum. Places like the Sig Academy teach pistol shooters in a more simple way, and their students end up shooting way better by the end of it. They skip all the stance/grip lecturing and go straight to teaching sight picture and pulling the trigger. Much more simple, efficient, and practical. The fundamentals they leave out are ones that are subjective to the situation, and therefore are not something you need to concern a beginner with. They don't need to learn all the details of grip and a proper stance when they are merely learning how to put a round where they want it to go. This is the way it should be in the first place.
I like to tell new shooters that their responsibility is to simply aim at the target and pull the trigger without moving the gun. This is something I took from Rob Leatham, but it perfectly spells out the message for new shooters. We can always build on other things like a good grip and stance later on in the class. Let us set the foundation for skill development that is important and make it easy to learn. Let's stop trying to teach students to be pistol snipers before they even learn how to shoot.
Do It Rite
Alaska-Based Youtube Vlogger, Retired Marine, gun enthusiast, and passionate firearm and gear evaluator.