Coaching with DryFire
"Coach", "Instructor", "Teacher"?
It doesn't matter what we call ourselves - if we attempt to impart knowledge or help someone to acquire a skill, we are teachers.
Teaching, like shooting, is a skill that requires certain natural ability, the right sort of personality, an understanding of the psychology of learning, and, of course, some knowledge of the subject you are trying to teach. Many teaching skills can be learnt but not everyone makes a good teacher.
People who are brilliant at a particular skill, or in a particular field of knowledge, sometimes make terrible teachers - they know nothing about how people learn, they make assumptions about people's background understanding, they have no idea how to structure material to match the pace at which people learn and they have no presentation skills. In short, many of them are poor communicators.
The best teachers have certain skills, some innate, some learnt:
- Sapiential authority - they know what they are talking about and the audience knows they know. This is straightforward - you just have to know your stuff.
- Charismatic authority - they have interesting personalities, they sell themselves as well as teaching their subject. This is harder to learn - but it can be done!
- Presentation skills - boring your audience is never a good thing! Presentation skills can be learnt.
Along with this goes the ability to present something in different ways and at different levels so that it sinks in no matter what the intellectual skills of the student.
In schools teachers also needs the authority and skills to keep a class in order (stopping and glowering is a good start!) - something we don't have to worry about when teaching skills to adults.>
Think back to your school years, which teachers do your remember? You remember the ones you liked, who knew their subject, who explained things in a ways you understood and who kept control of the class so everyone could learn.
"Those who can, do, those who can't, teach."
This is utter nonsense because many of those who "can" make the worst teachers!
The author of this page watched a champion veteran FITASC shooter taking a relaxing round of English Skeet and turning every clay to dust.
"How did you do that?"
"No idea, I just point at them and they break."
The best teachers can teach almost any subject - they tend to be the sort of people who acquire knowledge quickly and convert it into the stages of learning necessary to impart it to someone else.
Skills are slightly different from knowledge, but you don't have to be the world's best welder to teach welding or the world's best shooter to teach shooting - instead you teach the steps in acquiring the skill and spot the faults students make along the way. One of the rewards of teaching is when the pupil outshines the teacher!
... and we thought Andrea did it just for the love of it! No shooting while drinking of course!
Andrea Roach, Wordcraft's Managing Director, knew nothing about shooting until Wordcraft took over the development and marketing of DryFire. She learnt the basics of shooting with DryFire, got her shotgun certificate, had some coaching and is now a qualified BASC shooting coach.
Mike Lake, the inventor of DryFire, was a teacher in hs early career and was also a qualified rifle instructor. He still goes into schools, by invitation, to give talks and lessons on a variety of subjects.
Many of DryFire's international distributors are themselves coaches.
A happy bunch of young shooters. (... and yet another bottle - this job has its perks!)
Learning by doing
People learn best from other people - there is no replacement for a good teacher.
Having been taught a skill, people learn by doing because it's the "doing " that builds muscle memory and fixes things in the mind so they become "instinctive", requiring little or no conscious thought..
Mike's introduction to clay shooting followed a familiar pattern: initial visit and enthusiasm, acquisition of certificate and shotgun, a few lessons then disappointment when scores plateaued very quickly.
Mike has never been a patient person ("if a job needs doing, it needs doing now!") and he didn't like the idea of waiting from one week to the next for a lesson and more practice - what was required was intensive practice: hundreds of targets between one lesson and the next. That's why DryFire was invented.
Exit one rabbit!
Why use DryFire?
There is one glaring reason why coaches should encourage the use of DryFire:
Practice makes perfect
None of us is born a brilliant shooter (apart from George Digweed).
The acquisition of any skill is simple:
- learn a bit,
- practise a lot,
- learn some more,
- practise a lot,
- master it,
- get better over time.
It ain't rocket science
Let's be honest, most of us never fully master any skill we attempt to learn - many people aspire to be premier league footballers but very few make it - in fact we have so few "premier league" footballers we have to import them from the rest of the world!
The author of this page has, over the years, acquired a number of skills. For example, he can "knock things up" from wood in his workshop but he is a long way from being a cabinet maker. He can "knock up" computer software to test new ideas - but he is a long way from being a professional programmer.
As teachers our role is to get people started, to help them develop the right skills, to spot when they are acquiring bad habits and to help them overcome those frustrating plateaus of achievement when scores fail to rise.
Let's face it, practice isn't cheap.
How many targets would you like a student to take between lessons to internalise newly learnt skills and to make them second nature? A few dozen? A few hundred? A few thousand?
How realistic, in terms of time and money, is it to expect a student to shoot, say, 500 practice targets between lessons? The National Clay Shooting Centre's charges (2020) are shown below but let's say 60p per target (clay plus cartridge) on average across the country - so 500 targets would cost £300 - plus travelling costs.
500 targets is 20 rounds - and that takes time - it almost certainly wouldn't be done in one day so that means multiple trips to the shooting ground.
Of course, it would be great for the shooting ground if our keen shooter had deep pockets and did shoot 500 targets between lessons - but it isn't going to happen unless our student is a hedge fund manager or member of the local mafia!
Practice isn't shooting a full round - practice is about getting better at the things you are bad at.
It's a great boost to the morale to turn a Skeet station 1 high bird to dust but it's a different matter breaking both clays on station 4 doubles!
DryFire provides intensive practice at very low cost - in fact a complete DryFire system pays for itself in fewer that 2,000 targets! In the end shooting grounds and coaches benefit from shooters practising at home - as they get better they gain confidence, they enjoy it more, they enter more competitions, they buy more cartridges, they take more lessons, they upgrade their guns - everyone wins as people get better.
DryFire encourages shooters to practise those targets they find hard using the techniques they learnt during their last lesson - and it does so by showing them exactly where each shot went in relation to the clay. Even those of us with 20/20 vision find this hard outdoors in many weather conditions!
Your students may not want to dive in the deep end by purchasing DryFire for use at home but Swing allows them to practice many skills at a much lower price.
In England the skies are always blue, the sun is always shining, the weather is always calm and it is always comfortably warm.
... and pigs can fly.
It is no fun shooting on a wet, cold and miserable Sunday morning in December and January (and November and February and ...) It is even worse if it is freezing cold, there is ice on the roads and the snow is coming down.
Coaches need to make money which they only do when they are teaching - whatever the weather - and DryFire makes this possible - in the warm and dry! DryFire takes up very little room - any wall between 12' and 15' wide will do for the laser version. Invest in a decent screen and projector and you have all the advantages of a photo-realistic environment in which to teach.
Andrea checks a student's eye dominance - and she is wearing a DryFire shooting vest!
The author of this page is strongly right handed but he has a very dominant left eye. When using his first air rifle, at the age of about eight, he persuaded his uncle to carve the stock away so he could shoot right handed with his left eye in line with the sights.
It was a mess. By the time he got his first .410 his uncle was refusing to destroy yet another gun so it was time to learn to shoot left handed.
It took quite a long time (months!) but now the author automatically picks up a gun ready to shoot left handed and finds right handed shooting "weird".
There are gadgets to help people to shoot with the "wrong" eye but the one and only long-term solution is to change handedness.
Scores will plummet when changing handedness - and this can make shooters depressed, they give up and return to doing it the wrong way - forcing themselves to use the wrong eye by closing their dominant eye. This can create other problems because closing one eye may cause the muscles of the other eye to twitch and impair clear vision.
With DryFire you can shoot hundreds of targets every evening - the time to change handedness shrinks to days, not months, and scores begin to climb very quickly thereafter.>
Watching a new shooter move the gun between target acquisition and pressing the trigger can be very entertaining!
Apart from not understanding that the human cheek bone was designed to take the shape of a gun stock (why is that so hard for some people?) the barrel will go all over the place, often stopping along the way or going past the target and then coming back!
A coach can see how the barrel moves and can advise on ways to make it one smooth movement from the start of the swing to the follow through.
Gun good movement not only looks smooth to those watching, it feels smooth to the shooter and it feels as if the world has slowed down. Erratic gun movement feels rushed and strained.
The DryFire Universal Gun Assembly (UGA) has a built-in motion sensor and, combined with the Gun Motion software option, provides a detailed display of movement after every shot.
Some shooters are locked in to a particular discipline.
"Oh, I do trap, I don't have time for this Skeet and sporting stuff!"
Changing discipline often requires new skills or modifying existing ones
DryFire makes this process easy so a shooter can become familiar with a new discipline before trying it out at the shooting ground.
We have seen people using DryFire to become familiar with trap shooting and scoring 25 ex 25 on their first outdoor attempt!