The Cornered Cat
Respect, Trust, Growth

This post is mostly for new instructors, but the rest of you can read it too.  😉

Sooner or later, most new defensive firearms instructors come to a startling realization: some people are really, really stupid. I’m talking monumental stupid. Epic stupid. Stupid beyond stupid. Black holes of stupid that actually suck all the stupid from the surrounding environment and collapse it into one gigantic pulsating ball of superconcentrated stupid. Stupid!

Unfortunately, some instructors never get over that phase. They never learn to respect their students for who they are, what they’ve learned in life, or where they are in their personal journeys. In the most unfortunate cases, they even graduate to thinking everyone is that level of stupid.

Don’t be that guy.

Look at your students and realize that every single one of them is an adult human being who ended up in your class because they wanted to learn how to do things better and more safely. Even the slowest among them is smarter than you about something. Maybe a lot of things. Even the ones who flounder, who are clearly out of their element, are smarter than the ones who stayed at home on the couch. Even the ones who have to be reminded over and over to keep their fingers off the trigger are better off than the guys posting on the internet about how they don’t need to learn anything from anyone.

Every single one of your students is on a personal journey that you know nothing about, and each of them has trusted you to help them on that journey. When you think about it, that’s freaking amazing. That trust deserves your respect and sometimes even your awe.

If you don’t treat your students with professionalism and respect, your students will not respect you. How could they? Your lack of respect for them shows that you don’t understand the awesome responsibility they’ve entrusted to you.

If you don’t trust your own teaching skills, neither will your students. Trusting your teaching skills means that you give them the information, model it, let them do it and tell them how they’re doing — then let it go. It’s theirs now. They have to make it their own in order to grow. If you don’t trust that process, neither will they. You have to let them grow.

Trust is hard. It’s especially hard when you have a student who seems tough to reach.

But that’s when it’s most essential.

4 Responses to Respect, Trust, Growth

  1. Old NFO says:

    Great point Kathy, and it definitely makes a difference in how your instruction is received AND the followup training.

  2. larryarnold says:

    Back in the day I was running a NRA Personal Protection class. A lady came in with a dinky, really old Czechoslovakian 6mm (.25ACP) pistol. I swear the trigger pull was longer than the slide. Horrible mousegun.

    About here, when I’m telling the story, instructors will jump in with, “No way, tell her to get a real gun.” and “Not me. In my class I require [whatever].”

    My standards are that:
    1. The gun meets any requirements of the class. (Ie. Texas CHL class requires .32 or greater. NRA Personal Protection only requires a handgun.)
    2. The gun and ammo are mechanically safe to shoot.

    Hers was, so I allowed it. The lady got to the point of mostly hitting the grocery sacks we were using as targets.

    After the class I got the rest of the story, through tears. Her husband had recently lost a long battle with cancer, which ate up most of their assets. About the only thing he had been able to leave her was the pistol, as it was too useless to sell. So she wanted to learn to shoot it.

    One time I’m really glad I kept my mouth shut.

  3. Larry – great story. You never know where people have been to bring them to your door. That’s a great reminder for us, too, that a LOT of people are terrified to even ask ANY question… and when they do, it comes out so bass-ackwards that our first conclusion is “wow, you’re an idiot.” But I love your story – it puts everything into perspective.

    Kathy – another excellent reminder. But wow, people really are stupid. Can’t I just hate them all a *little bit*? (kidding) Thanks again and keep up the great work!!

  4. keads says:

    Great post Kathy!

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