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USCCA’s Defensive Shooting Fundamentals: Teaching Safety and Skill

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In May 2019, I was the first recipient of USCCA’s Linda Harris Memorial Scholarship. The USCCA offered me an all-expenses-paid visit to the Concealed Carry Expo to receive the award — plus a USCCA training class, including ammo. I chose the Defensive Shooting Fundamentals instructor course held in Wisconsin at USCCA headquarters in July.

Arriving at the Range

When I arrived in the airport, my first clue that I was, indeed, in Wisconsin was all those cheesehead hats in the stores I passed on my way to pick up my luggage. I survived the three days of Wisconsin July heat — sunny, low 90s and humid. The weather was perfect for a three-day class.

When I arrived at the range early the next morning, I found that nine other people also believed “if you’re early, you’re on time.” Interestingly enough, the range was located at a vineyard! I immediately made plans to visit the conveniently located wine shop after class.

Once 30 or so people had arrived, we were broken into groups of 10 and shuttled to different pistol pits, which became our homes for the next three days. My group consisted of nine men plus me, the only woman class member.

Getting to know these gentlemen over the next three days was delightful. Our different backgrounds and ages blended into quite a cohesive group. We represented seven different states. One had even traveled from California!

Now for a shout out to the females in the gun world: Ladies, please get out there and get some training! You can do it! Don’t worry if you feel inadequate … you’re not. You are capable, intelligent and worthy. Have 2020 be the year you step up and sign up for a class at any level.

Expert Firearms Instruction

Our instructor team was led by Beth, a USCCA Training Counselor. As lead instructor, it was her range. She was confident, kind, demanding and precise and, apparently, had eyes in the back of her head. She didn’t miss anything. Beth had a delightful sense of humor — hidden for the first day and a half until we all got well into the groove.

Linda Harris Memorial Scholarship recipient Beth Grote (middle) with USCCA training counselors Beth, Deryck and Richard (left to right).

Richard was her right-hand man. He was the perfect backup: knowledgeable, supportive and thoroughly capable of stepping in and running the class if Beth needed him to. The third instructor was Deryck, who assisted when asked and talked when Beth opened things up for him. Everything he said was golden.

I can’t imagine having a better team of instructors for this class. For three days, anytime a question was raised, it was answered fully. Every nuance of the question was covered from all angles. Our instructor team was extraordinary!

Outstanding USCCA Instructor Program

This instructor program includes online learning before the hands-on training. This provides students with a fundamental knowledge base and familiarity with the specific language and scientific background of the body’s reactions to stress. The goal is to teach students to protect themselves and their families by responding effectively using those natural reactions.

As the weekend progressed, we continued to build upon that foundation. Our class discovered not just safety but also the responsibilities of student and instructor. The presentation of the material was delivered incrementally, with students practicing each layer verbally and physically. (This approach to teaching is designed to build a structure of knowledge of safety considerations and running a class for each instructor.)

The class also helped to refine and correct current skills, open one’s mind to a new way of considering challenges revealed by students and help students learn. It’s a desirable teaching theory that the USCCA melds with Rob Pincus’ Defensive Shooting Fundamentals program. Core words for the weekend were “safety,” “intuitive,” “comfort,” “competency,” “procedures,” “balance,” “assessment” and “presentation.”

A Comprehensive, Demanding Program

Unlike any other instructor class I’ve attended, this one was hands-down the most comprehensive and demanding. It pushed me beyond my normal expectations of memorization and verbal presentation of the material as both a student and instructor.

I found the drills less demanding, but I still worked to overcome habits hardwired by many thousands of repetitions (such as my slightly staggered isosceles stance). This program requires everything be done a specific way. The beauty of this is that if a student attends this class in any location, he or she will have an incredibly consistent experience: no variations due to instructor preferences, war stories or personal practices. You’ll get the same class as it was originally designed.

And the wine shop at the vineyard? I was too tired at the end of each day to even think of walking a couple hundred yards to check out the wines. That was an opportunity missed, but someday I hope to be back. This would be a great class to repeat.

If you are interested in a top-notch instructor class, go to this one. It will be one of the best investments you make in your personal growth as an instructor. Thank you to the USCCA and George Harris for this opportunity. Linda’s Memorial Scholarship blessed me more than you know.

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