Occasionally I will hear or see a conversation about how important is it your instructor be able to shoot. Is it important? The answer…absolutely! If they cannot demonstrate the tasks then find another instructor.

Adult learning

Presuming we are speaking of adults, we all learn differently. There is no single method for teaching that will cover all learning styles in a class. As an instructor you must be able to connect with each student; which means you must use the principle learning styles. If you cannot connect with the student the chances of altering or changing their behavior; which is learning grows less and less. If you cannot reach the student, they will not learn.

Don’t make excuses

Now, you can cry and complain about the previous statement. You can make excuses such as I am only going to target the majority of the class, spend my time more wisely. Or, you can even go to the extreme of they need to adjust to my teaching style. Even better, the student is not trying hard enough. If you hear your instructor utter these phrases or appear to have this attitude then find another instructor. They have only demonstrated to you how weak they are as an instructor. I don’t care how popular they may be, how many YouTube followers or Facebook likes they have, they are not an instructor.

Preferred learning styles

What does this have to do with can your instructor shoot. Demonstration is one of the principle adult learning styles. You have SEEING, reading, hearing and DOING. You will notice how the first and last styles are capitalized. In my experience over the years these two represent the vast majority of the adult learning styles. I have amazed a huge volume of blogs that we share with all new students. I typically will spotlight a few blogs relative to the class and email them in advance as homework. Having this information in advance has helped many students get primed for the class. Then in class they listen to the lecture or brief first. Everyone needs to listen the instructions (see previous blog for details there). They need to be easy to understand and simple to complex.

Standards equals change

That leaves seeing. The instructor must step in front of the class and demonstrate the skill or task to the audience. If not, they will loose out on the ability to reach the majority. Again, you can argue with me all you want, but this is reality. Our goal as instructors is to affect positive change in our students. To see those changes, you will need standards. Folks are quick to beat their chest and claim they can teach without demonstrating. It is easy to make this claim when no one is watching or there are no observable, measurable and repeatable standards at stake. Put them to task and it is a different story.

Breaking it down

If you only had the ability to write your instructions down, you would reach maybe 5% of the class. If you were only able to speak your instructions you would reach maybe 10% of the class. If you were only able to demonstrate you would probably reach 40% or more of the class. Yes, these numbers don’t add up, they don’t because true learning is a multi-sensory environment. When you combine the reading, listening and seeing together you set the stage optimal learning conditions. The last learning style I mentioned was doing; which reaches about 45% of the audience.

Trial and error

Doing is imitation, they need to imitate you and your actions. If they have nothing to see, their accuracy will be reliant on reading and hearing or about 15%. Not the best odds, but then again I’m not surprised. Without standards folks can make claims, but truthfully that is their student learning capacity.  At some point, through reading, listening and seeing the student needs to experiment on their own. Through this trial and error process they finalize the learning, they close the gaps the previous learning styles left open.

Calling yourself an instructor is easy. Truly being an instructor is all together different and should be reserved for those who truly understand the adult learning model.


4 thoughts on “The Importance of Demonstrations

  1. JW Owen says:

    You have hit the nail on the proverbial head dead center. In my line of work where we teach up to 60 Recruits at a time “demonstration” is given for each module we advance through. It is required of all our instructors. No “do as a I say” ONLY allowed! Conversely there are great shooters out there that can demonstrate a ragged hole all day long but don’t have the people skills to bring an inexperienced shooter along the path to becoming a successful self confident shooter. In my opinion a good firearms instructor should enjoy bringing struggling shooters along until they reach the “ah-ha” moment. Besides when the lights do come on an instructor should be glad he or she was part of flipping the switch.
    Just my thoughts!

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