For a long time, I have told students, “Learn how to do it the hard way.” ...Huh?! What this means is to not always choose the easiest way to practice a skill. I remember many years ago we had ‘Cliff Notes’. My teachers caught on pretty fast and knew when we used them on reports and other papers and of course graded us appropriately. As high school students, we were always looking for the easy way, not knowing how much those non-developed skills would be needed later on. As time went by, I learned these skills, and eventually quit choosing the easy way out.
Returning for more education twenty-one years after graduating from high school, I found I was grateful I had chosen the hard road in many things I had done. Turns out it had been way more beneficial than my youthful self could ever have known. I had been studying karate for years and had accomplished quite a lot just by grinding through workouts and hard training. The discipline I developed held me in good stead through my college studies. While I don’t know exactly how often I’ve used polynomial equations or had to diagram a sentence since then, I did have the fortitude to stick it out, and that translated over to so many other areas in my life.
Many individuals these days try to take shortcuts by listening to the plethora of ‘internet commandos’ or YouTube ‘celebrities’ for potentially critical, lifesaving information. Granted, there are certainly many worthwhile resources online, but any of the legitimate ones will always say some version of, “find a qualified instructor to teach you the correct way to do ...”. Sage advice for sure.
However, people being people, and human nature holding true, they will try to find the easy way (i.e. shortcut) instead of putting in the work, and the ‘work’ really is what is most important. They would rather watch a video or listen to a podcast than actually attend training in person. While technology can, and should, be an asset to your development, it should not be the main source of information. Instead, it should supplement hands-on training. It augments real-life, in person education. It is also a good way to verify what you have learned. I generally feel that if a number of well-known and respected instructors are emphasizing a point, there is good reason to believe it is worthwhile, so pay attention.
A large flaw with relying solely on popular media sources for training, is the lack of feedback from the instructor. This feedback is essential to insure you are performing the skill correctly. Although in-person is best, there are a number of platforms available that can be used for self-assessment. One that I particularly like, and personally use, is the S.I.R.T. pistol with the accompanying L.A.S.R. software (www.nextleveltraining.com). This is a good program for all levels of shooters and when set up correctly, can offer a variety of options for competition and tactical shooters as well. Additionally, it offers several plug-ins and even has some available target add-ons. A huge plus of this program is that is gives you immediate feedback regarding accuracy and trigger management.
Over the years, I have had many students ask, “When are we going to learn ______?” I usually answer something to the effect of, “Can you do _____? Let me see.” Usually their performance is less than stellar, and I will say, “Why don’t we work on ________ first and then we’ll work on ______?” Taking a shortcut when learning physical skills - be it shooting or the martial arts - is a lot like trying to do algebra without first understanding addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division – you’ll be lost in the sauce. The foundation is missing.
Some individuals learn faster than others and that’s okay – slow and steady wins the race. I was not a natural athlete by any stretch, but I tried hard and worked harder and eventually things worked out. As I get older, the workouts are a little ‘tamer’, but the ‘work’ is still there. I will not stop. You do the same. Put in the work. You’ll see the results.
BE SAFE • BE EFFECTIVE • BE READY