The Cornered Cat
I Don’t Know

For my instructor friends…

Training people how to protect their lives from violent crime is a specialty. It requires ongoing study. It requires a commitment to learn. It also requires a ruthless self-assessment process: what do I know? What do I not know? Am I really qualified to teach the things I want to teach? If not, what can I do to reach that level?

You owe it to yourself and you owe it to your students to be fearlessly honest with yourself about what you know and what you don’t know. Sometimes that’s hard work, sometimes it’s humbling, sometimes it’s confusing. But having an honest understanding of your own limits is always valuable.

Never be afraid of saying, “I don’t know.” Never be afraid of the reality behind it, either. When you say it yourself, “I don’t know” is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language! It tells us where we have room to grow, how we can improve, where we can become more than we are right now.

Treated right, “I don’t know” helps us reach our goals and helps us meet the needs of others. It’s tremendously empowering!

3 Responses to I Don’t Know

  1. keads says:

    I don’t know more than I know. Simple statement, but true. That statement is also a fine response in a class if it is true. If you truly do not know when a student asks a question and offer some ersatz response because you are “the instructor”, you have done the student and yourself a disservice.

    I always strive to go to a class at least once a year. I agree with you on it is a powerful statement. In life I already know I will encounter people that know more and less than I do on any subject matter.

    I am fine with as what Tam said recently teaching the “take the price sticker off of the gun” class. Equally comfortable with our State mandated concealed carry handgun class. Recently certified for NRA PPIH instructor.

    More than that, I don’t know what I don’t know. Right now. That will change.

  2. Dann in Ohio says:

    I’m my own worse critic… I teach NRA courses… Ohio CCW courses… 4H Shooting Sports… and some intermediate level CCW self-defense courses… I probably undercharge for my training… but it’s not my main lively-hood at this point…

    I could probably move on to training even higher level skills… and I may… but I don’t want to train beyond what I am very proficient at… and there are many options for folks out there already… especially in my area… and I really like my smaller group sizes I typically train in my courses where there is a lot of individual attention…

    The gals and I budget for equipment, ammo, and training each year… and with the Tactical Defense Institute, Greg Ellifritz, John Farquhar, David Spaulding, Brian Zins, and Chris Cerino in Ohio… we don’t have to go far to find good training… and it’s a great resource for improving our skills… Jack Mann here in Ohio has been great for empty-hand and self-defense skills…

    Gun skills are perishable skills and I’m fortunate to have a permanent range out back so stepping out for a few minutes several times a week to put some rounds downrange on top of drawing and dry-fire practice is really handy…

    That said, I find youtube videos of dashcam and surveillance cameras excellent resources to watch real bad guys and gals in action… to help think, plan, visualize, and prepare for myself… and to teach my students…

    …and as always, I regularly read and recommend my students read the Cornered Cat and Active Response Training by Greg Ellifritz as terrific resources to stay on top of skills, trends, thoughts, techniques, and information…

    …and if I don’t know an answer… my standard reply is, “I don’t know, but I’ll check on that and get back to you.”… and I do get back to them…

    Dann in Ohio

  3. LDshoots says:

    What I didn’t know….

    We moved three times in the past 2 years and I hadn’t realized how much this would negatively impact the consistency of our training. Finding a new range, learning the hours, differences in commuting time, new work schedules and responsibilities were all more problematic than I anticipated.

    None of these are excuses not to get back to a regular practice schedule but I mention them because I hadn’t anticipated any of these issues. I just assumed there would be several good ranges with extended hours near my new homes because that was what we had before we entered our nomad phase. It was an oversight in our planning and a bigger adjustment than we anticipated.

    We are getting back on a regular practice schedule and I feel better about this, more confident and secure in my skills. But we were in our (I hope final home for at least 6 years) before we were settled enough (mentally as well as physically) to get back into a shooting practice routine.

    Another thing I didn’t know was how much I security I felt at my first range until I went to a new range. I knew the people who worked at my first range. I trusted them and didn’t feel stupid if I had a question about my shooting accuracy or a problem with my gun. I felt comfortable asking them about new guns and renting different guns to try them out.

    Now that I understand some of the other elements (in addition to a clean, well-organized space) I will begin to build a relationship with the staff at the new range so that it starts to feel like “my” range.

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