Monthly Archives: July 2009
It’s a simple truism in teaching adults: they want to have fun. Being a good instructor is partially about being able to shoot, partially about being able to impart knowledge, and partially about entertainment. Keeping students engaged, excited, and motivated is a key responsibility of any instructor. The more fun a shooter is having, the harder he’ll work and the more he’ll just plain enjoy shooting.
So from a student’s perspective, remember that working on the things you’re not good at is the only way you’ll get better at them. And from the instructor’s perspective, think about how you can make your lessons more interesting, more challenging, and more fun. Trust me, the result will be not just happier students, but better shooters.
It got me thinking.
I’m able to self-motivate, but I know that I do a better job when I’ve got an instructor there pushing me. They’re able to watch me and pick up things I need to work on. They’re able to push me to go a little bit harder, a little bit more. I know this from my martial arts training that when I’m in boxing class, the way my coach pushes me? I can’t get that when I’m just working out at home. I get so much more from the coach/instructor being there.
I know there’s debate on if gun skills are a martial art. I would argue they are, but that’s a topic for another day. The point is, martial arts tend to be taught on a regular basis. You sign up, and it’s something that you regularly undergo. Maybe you attend 3-5x a week, every week of every month of every year. There might be one-off seminars now and again, but for the most part the training is constant. Some classes are instructional classes, some are just practice/work sessions where you aren’t taught anything per se but you learn because you’re practicing earlier teachings under the watchful eye of the instructor/coach. But with gun skills, every school I look at tends to do things on a one-off basis; more akin to the seminar format. Sure there might be various classes you can attend, the classes may escalate in knowledge and skill, but still the classes are just a few hours or a weekend dump of information, then off you go to fend for yourself. All of your practice is done independently, and there’s no watchful instructor eyes to help you.
Why aren’t there any gun schools that work on a more perpetual training approach? Apart from the military, of course. That is, maybe yes you go to class once a week and learn some skill, but then you come back to the school/range and work on those skills under the watchful eye of the instructor. This allows them to see if you really picked up on the skills, make corrections, improvements, and really ingrain the skills. Why isn’t that done? I could see much advantage to it.
My guess, it’s a market thing. Is there a market? Can you justify the cost? Of course, it’ll be expensive to deal with all the ammo. So I do figure that cost is one big factor here. Nevertheless, I think there could be a clever way to deal with that. Maybe the skills are something that can be exercised in dry fire or with things like cheap Airsoft guns. Or it doesn’t have to be a weekly matter; perhaps you just come once a month. For instance, you have class this week and learn some skills then go home and work on them. You come back next week for a practice session and work things out. After that, who knows… maybe you make practices a weekly thing, or wait until class next month (I’m talking about sessions with a coach/instructor, not your own independent practice).
I guess I just have experienced a lot of direct martial arts instruction and see the benefits of having an instructor there to watch over you, even if it’s just a practice session (not a teaching session). So I wonder why that cannot or is not done for firearms instruction (outside of the military). And if it was done, I guess I predict we could have a lot of awesome gun handlers.
Just wondering aloud….
You want to be prepared for war, prepared for a mugging, or prepared for your next IDPA match … and that is why you practice so much. Right?
Wrong. You practice because you enjoy shooting and you enjoy the results of the practice. Practice, for most people, is fun. But therein lies a trap. Too many shooters choose to practice only the fun stuff. Shooting at longer distances, for most pistol students, is unfun. Shooting strong- and weak-hand only is unfun. Doing just about anything that is hard, or that we’re not good at already, is unfun.
There’s no question about that. All living things are pretty simple: we seek pleasure, we avoid pain. To work on fun drills brings pleasure so we work on those. To work on the things that we like, that give us great groups and results on the target, that’s pleasing to us. Things that won’t please us because it’s hard or because we know the results won’t be immediately gratifying, we don’t work on it. It’s just how we are.
But if we really want to be good, we must work the unfun stuff too. What we have to program our brains to think is that the fun will come in time. So maybe you’re not good at 25 yard shots with your pistol. It won’t be fun to work, but you have to focus on the long term outcome because you know that will be fun. I mean, won’t it be fun to be shooting with your buddies and have everyone shoot at 25 yards and there you go whipping out the fastest and smallest groups? You know that will be fun.
We must always work to find a way to turn the unfun into fun. That’s what will separate the good from the great, in shooting or anything in life.
I’m embarassed to admit it, but I’ve had a TomTom ONE 130 for a while and haven’t used it. My older sister and brother-in-law gave it to me as a Christmas present, and it’s been sitting unopened in my office for ages.
Because I just haven’t had a calling for it. I like using maps. Maybe it’s the Boy Scout in me, but I’m cool with just using maps. Plus I enjoy having my own sense of direction. If I get lost, I’m usually able to navigate my way out just using some reasoning and sense of direction. I prefer to rely upon my wits instead of some device, because speaking as a software engineer well… let’s just say I know what bugs are. Wife and I have gotten along this far in life without a GPS. We ask directions, we use maps, we know how to navigate the land, and frankly if we do get lost we don’t mind driving around a bit more because hey… it’s just all part of life’s adventure. It’s fun!
I also think it’s because most of my driving is done locally, and I’m pretty familiar with Austin’s roads. I really don’t need some device to get me around. I think once or twice I’ve thought “gosh, if I had a GPS it would have been easier to find this, but I found it without the GPS so… eh.”
I do think GPS technology is really cool. When I think about taking long trips into unknown areas, I think a GPS could be useful. Since they have functions like finding landmarks, hotels, gas stations, ATM’s, and those sorts of things, that’s a great deal of usefulness, especially if you’re in unfamiliar waters. One reason I want an iPhone is just for this sort of thing. Heck, TomTom is supposedly bringing their software to the new iPhone. Being able to fully get around, maybe find a hotel from the road, call it to see if they still have rooms and at what price, and so on. All useful things.
So anyway, since we have a funeral to attend and it’s in some middle-of-nowhere town Texas, I figured this would be a useful time to pull out the TomTom and see what it could do. I’m currently getting it configured, updated with all the maps and such (man, that’s expensive), and getting it ready to go. Since I’m a software developer, I can’t help but look at it from a programmer’s perspective, and they did a lot of nice things. I do think the Mac desktop client app, TomTom HOME, is a bit clunky because they didn’t write it as a Mac-native app (is this Java?). Little things like that which look like popup buttons have behaviors like combo boxes. Little things like that. Oh, and crashing too.
We’ll see what comes of it. So far it seems pretty neat.
Updated: Well, that didn’t last long. I’ve been running the updaters on it, going through the forced upgrades and such. I think everything is good, but then I remove the device and get a flashing red X. Look it up on their website, I need to disable Spotlight on the device. OK, that was dealt with. I try again, still flashing red X. So I use their instructions to uninstall then reinstall. Do this a few times. Still nothing but a flashing red X. In fact, the downloads vary. One time I got all of the applications and voices and other files, but now all I get is the application. I wonder if the fact the HOME application crashed one time while updating things somehow hoarked stuff.
I don’t know… I’m fed up. I’ll try calling their tech support in the morning.
Updated 2: Got on with their tech support, and spoke with “Gary” who was friendly and helpful. Gave him my information, explained the problem. He said since I had tried all the usual things without much luck, that the next step was to reformat. So I did that. Went into Disk Utility.app and did a nuke and pave… reformatting the TomTom’s internal drive. Then hooked it back up to the HOME desktop software, it recognized things were empty, it downloaded and reinstalled the main application and USA/Canada map (which takes a long time over that USB cable; I wonder if it’s USB 1 because it’s mighty slow). After that, it ran a few more updates to get all the updates. I also had to manually reinstall the voices. But after that, all seemed better. In fact, it seemed better than it was originally as a lot of other options in the HOME software became available.
So, while I got off to an inauspicious start with the device, in the end it seems to be working well. Nuke and pave, is there anything it can’t cure?
Oh, I’ll make one suggestion for Mac users. As soon as I reformatted the TomTom’s drive, the first thing I did was disable Spotlight from searching on it by going to System Preferences, Spotlight, Privacy, and adding the “INTERNAL” drive to the list. But I also did a secret little thing. Launch the terminal and:
$ cd /Volumes/INTERNAL $ touch .metadata_never_index
And that’s all. What this does is creates an invisible “secret” file named “.metadata_never_index” that the Spotlight mechanisms will look for as a hint to never index this volume. I opted to do this because for some reason at time I’ve noticed the Spotlight Privacy panel will forget volumes listed on it, so adding this secret file ought to be good insurance to keep Spotlight from ever touching the volume. Here’s hoping.
Then once all the Spotlight stuff was disabled, THEN I did all the updating and so on.
Now if I can put my geek/programmer hat on….
I must admit, I think the way the TomTom folks designed things is pretty slick. They let you drive everything from the desktop software and manage it all from there. While I think the GUI is very non-standard, it’s simple enough to understand and get by, and that’s what’s really important. I do think sometimes it could be better about flow; this goes for both the desktop software and the TomTom’s device software too. That is, sometimes you do something on a screen and want to keep working on that screen, but instead it exits you out to some earlier point in the process and you have to click click click click click to get back to where you were. For instance, in the HOME desktop software, there’s no way to just load up all my computer voices at once… I have to load one voice, then it exits me back to the main voices panel, click click, load next voice, etc.. Or on the device, I might want to change the alarm status for points of interest; it’s naturally a list, let me check and uncheck things as I want to then “Done” to accept the changes and exit or “Cancel” to discard all changes and go back to the original setup… but instead once you click something to (un)check it it takes you all the way back out to the main nav screen and you’ve got to click around to get back to the list. Fine if you’re working with one item, annoying if you want to work with more than one.
But I do appreciate how they did things as a device. It’s just hardware with a drive. That you can totally nuke the drive and the desktop software knows how to download and install and get it all going again, that’s great for disaster recovery and simplifying many processes. I like how they did that.
Really, from a geek perspective I like how they put it all together. We’ll see how my actual experiences go once I start actually navigating somewhere with it.
While a shotgun is not my #1 choice for home defense, it certainly can be used in that capacity. One thing that came out of the KR Training Defensive Long Gun class was the realities of using a shotgun in a home-defense situation.
Home defensive shooting is likely to go from 3 to 25 yards, or rather, very close range to the longest distance across your house. Measure it if you’re not sure, but most houses won’t be more than 25 yards. By nature, a shotgun shooting pellets will have those pellets spread. Just how much those pellets spread depends upon the shotgun’s choke and the load, even being different across manufacturers and brands.
Old_Painless over at the Box O’ Truth has BOT #44 discussing this very topic. He takes a look at how chokes affect patterns and how different brands of buckshot affect patterns. Conclusion? In general full choke does tighten groups up, but the actual load seems to matter a lot more. The take-home is that you shouldn’t just buy any old buckshot and expect it to behave like you want it to. You need to try different loads in your particular gun until you find the load and gun (and perhaps choke) “pairing” that works to give you your desired results. This is consistent with what came out of the KR Training class. Bottom line is you have to know how your tools will perform.
One nice thing that came out of BOT #44 was seeing that the Remington low-recoil buckshot worked so well. I believe Old_Painless used this product, but I can’t tell (his website doesn’t say exactly, and his box picture doesn’t match the Remington website, but this is likely the same load). Not only is that a tight pattern regardless of choke, but managed recoil is arguably a better choice for home-defense situations. The reduced range of managed/reduced recoil products isn’t an issue in the limited ranges of home-defense situation, it doesn’t beat you up as much, you can manage the recoil and get to follow-up shots faster. Win-win.
In addition to being a drummer, having his own custom drum shop (which puts out some gorgeous drum kits), being a vegan, and an animal rights activist, Rikki is also a black belt in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu.
I’ve always known he was into BJJ, but this is the first time I’ve been able to see him on the mat. (h/t to BW&BK)
I’m not a major Star Wars geek, but I certainly enjoy the franchise and the movies.
Here’s a collection of some (supposedly) rare photos, mostly taken from the original movies. Outtakes and the like.
Note: the website is arguably NSFW. The Star Wars pictures are fine, just things like links/adverts to other pages for bikini clad women and such.
The national minimum wage increased by 70 cents last week – a small amount that is going to make a big difference.
Inflation and the down turning economy is one thing. But, adding the recent hike in minimum wage can be an extra challenge for small business owners.
Some people like Austin resident Jessica Wade worry companies struggling to pay more will have to cut back.
“My biggest concern is that businesses will have to cut back on hours in order to pay one person more money,” Wade said.
I tend to agree with the Libertarian take on minimum wage laws:
Skilled, experienced workers make high wages because employers compete to hire them. Poorly educated, inexperienced young people can’t get work because minimum wage laws make them too expensive to hire as trainees. Repeal of the minimum wage would allow many young, minority and poor people to work.
It must be asked, if the minimum wage is such a good idea, why not raise it to $200 an hour? Even the most die-hard minimum wage advocate can see there’s something wrong with that proposal.
The only “fair” or “correct” wage is what an employer and employee voluntarily agree upon. We should repeal minimum wage now.
A work relationship is a consensual one between two adults (or a minor old enough to make some decisions with their adult guardian). If an employer wanted to offer $1/day as wages and the employee accepted it, what’s the harm in that? Is it not a fair transaction because the two parties involved both agreed to the terms? According to minimum wage laws, apparently not. But what if the employer couldn’t afford to pay that minimum wage? What are they to do? I guess forgo the employee… that could mean firing an employee you already had, cutting back on their hours, or it could mean you just can’t hire one in the first place. How is that any good for anyone involved?
Maybe there’s someone that is unskilled or a risky hire (e.g. a teenager). It’s an investment to train someone at a job, and once you make that investment you want to keep them. So what if an employer was willing to hire someone at a reduced amount, allow them to be trained, and if they proved their worth, gave them a raise to retain them? Is that not fair? The minimum wage laws make that more expensive to do.
Some say minimum wage is necessary so that bad employers can’t take advantage of employees. How is this so? No one is forcing that employee to take the job in the first place let alone stay there if they did take the job. If the terms of the relationship aren’t satisfactory, they don’t have to take the job. If some people feel they have no other choice but to work for such a low wage, well, perhaps working for some low wage, earning some money (instead of none), gaining some skill (instead of sitting around learning nothing), and hopefully working your way to a better rate of pay and job isn’t a bad thing.
Do I think the minimum wage is a sufficient living wage? No, not really. However if two adults consent to a relationship, why are we to tell them otherwise?
The original article continues:
“We pay more than minimum wage, but we try to pay our people well because we have really good people and we want to keep them so that’s always one of our top expenses — payroll,” [business owner Steve] Wiman said.
You see, he has no law that forces him to pay better. He knows that it’s wise to pay well to retain the people that work for him. This is business forces (free market) at work. He understands how business works and behaves accordingly, no need to have some law force him to “pay better than this amount to retain people.”
Minimum wage laws are one of good intentions that doesn’t work.