I generally avoid making absolute statements, but in this case, I have full confidence in the absolute of the statement: “every firearms instructor is wrong.” At one point or another, the instruction you receive from a firearms instructor will be wrong, be it at an in person class, an online video, or written article. Every reputable instructor has given and will give bad advice – yes, I am including myself in that statement.
At one point or another, all humans give bad advice, no matter how much of an “expert” they are.
This is not a bad thing, but rather, something we must all be aware of when pursuing instruction in shooting technique.
Shooting technique is constantly evolving
As we become more familiar with firearms and as firearms technology evolves, shooting technique changes. Every so often, someone experiments with technique, finds something new, and begins to teach it. Sometimes, the technique doesn’t really provide anything overly new, it’s just different. Sometimes it’s a revolutionary new method and quickly gets adopted by the community. Sometimes it seems to work, but ultimately it is discovered to be less effective than other technique.
Handguns were originally shot one handed, and that was considered proper technique. Obviously, as a community, we don’t teach that as a primary shooting method anymore.
Don’t ever assume a particular shooting technique will remain the best.
Different techniques are used depending on the situation
There’s an incredible amount of diversity amongst firearms, calibers, and applications for those firearms. For an extreme example, a 9mm AR with a red dot is used differently than a .308 AR with a large magnification scope. While they’re both considered ARs, the ideal operation and use of the two similar firearms are used in incredibly different circumstances. Or to narrow things down, using an AR-10 for a DMR style application to quickly hit steel targets at long distance involves different technique than using the exact same rifle to put tight groups in paper at long distances.
These variations in firearms and variations in techniques create an incredible amount of diversity in how we use our firearms. At one point or another, an instructor will be teaching a technique for an application, when there are better techniques available for that specific application.
We’re all human and we all make mistakes
Firearms instructors are not gods. We’re all human, and we all make mistakes. Ask any instructor if their technique has changed over the years and they’ll say yes, or they’ll lie. No shooting instructor had everything right from the beginning. If the instructor is worth anything, they will have been shooting for a while before starting to teach, but they still aren’t infallible.
Instructors will cling to techniques even though better techniques are available. Instructors will simply have something wrong. Or instructors will have tried something new and it turns out to be a less ideal technique.
Every instructor will give bad advice at least once.
Why is this concept important?
Does this mean we shouldn’t ever take a shooting class? Or course not. If anything, this means we should seek out more instruction from more instructors. It is important for shooters to diversity their education and learn from as many instructors as possible.
When presented with conflicting shooting technique, ask the firearms instructor why he/she thinks their technique is better than what was taught by the other instructor. (Just don’t be rude with the phrasing.)
Don’t ever take a shooting instructor’s word as gospel – no matter the instructor’s reputation. If he/she is a skilled and reputable instructor who backs up their skills with practical demonstrations, then give the instruction some extra weight.
Don’t ever fanboy out and believe everything your favorite instructor says is always correct.