Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blackwater Blog Weekend: Overheard At The Range

I swear I am not making this up:

ME: "OK, now, nobody panic, but I just found this grenade pin in the Suburban and I don't see the grenade. I'm sure it's nothing."

Todd Jarrett: "Now, you got one of them bad bullets Dan made, here, so this one went a little low on you . . ."
ME: "You haven't seen that? That's the liver shot! Bas Rutten taught me that!"

ME: "I'm going to go home and tell the IPSC club, 'Hey, I really find I shoot a lot better when Todd Jarrett is yelling instructions in my ear and handing me magazines. Can this be arranged?' I think that's a reasonable request."


The most interesting thing about Todd Jarrett, to me, is his teaching. I don't know whether Jarrett has ever read "the research" as school administrators put it, but he does all the right things. The man is a professional educator, not a shooter sharing some tips.

  • He's constantly positive. He'll take your diagnostic group, explain what caused each flyer (if he doesn't know, then you got a "bad bullet") and then give you his estimate of your "main group." Thus, with a flyer in the head and another at the navel, he figured I'd really shot a group of about 3.5 inches right in the upper chest on one exercise. Another shooter was struggling with plates. He missed five. He set up and took forever before toppling the last plate--and only the last plate. What did Jarrett say?
    "OK, now what did you do right on that last one? I'll tell you if you don't tell me."

  • He's energetic. The man is going all the time. No class time is wasted. At most, you get enough of a lull to load magazines while he sets up the next stage. This can be a little overwhelming when he's really moving along, especially with ear protection in, and you wonder sometimes how you're expected to make it through the longest stages remembering what comes next. The answer is that Jarrett will be running beside you, his hand on your belt, yelling out what you do next.

  • The class is always doing something. Jarrett does demonstrate, and as he says, being the instructor means you shoot as much as you want. But you will feel busy every moment, and watching him demonstrate is an active time. Everyone is learning by doing, and setups are done with an eye toward maximum reps for everyone. We've burned through a LOT of ammo.

  • Every shooter in the class, regardless of ability, has a small but measurable goal at all times. There's one aspect of your stance or grip that Jarrett has been reminding you to watch, or there's a benchmark in terms of rounds on target, time, or accuracy. Today I was trying to get a full magazine out on target during 2-second drills. Some others, who were more comfortable with the draw, were trying to get a head shot with the last round. Some people were trying to get four rounds on target, others were just trying to keep all hits in the A zone. Each had his own indvidual goal, and each knew his goal.

  • Aside from positive feedback, Jarrett clearly structures the class to make sure people end each section on a high note. He systematically builds confidence in students that way. If you struggled with the stage where you had ten things to think about at once and the movers and the plates drove you nuts, you still have a couple of simple close-range drills to do before dinner. They're not exactly easy stuff, but they're stuff you can do, and you end on that confident note. Good teachers do this because they understand students--that is to say, people--as well as their subject matter.

So the real question here is this: "Can I write this trip off as a professional mentoring opportunity?"


Matt G said...

"So the real question here is this: 'Can I write this trip off as a professional mentoring opportunity?'"

You've convinced the hell out of me. This is all about shooting, but it's also about working with divided attention, which I would reckon teaching is.

KD5NRH said...

He's constantly positive.
How gutsy would he have to be to tell somebody holding a loaded-and-ready pistol withing muzzle-contact distance that they're hopelessly incompetent?

Xavier said...


A great teacher is hard to find....

Anonymous said...