4 Mar 2016 – Coaching and instructing are vital for the future of shooting. Why don’t we take them more seriously?
Most target shooting clubs train their members in-house. Most of them do so in accordance with the NRA competency training scheme; most of the smallbore clubs do it in-house, with experienced shooters teaching on a 1:1 basis as the law requires.
And that’s perfectly fine. Or is it?
Consider this: what happens when your experienced coaches are unavailable, for whatever reason? How do your new members get regular access to proper coaching – and by coaching I mean something more than basic safety training, which any competent shooter should be able to impart, or an overview of a particular discipline. I’m talking about in depth technique training, individual feedback and coaching, and developing firers’ skills to the level they’re comfortable at.
Recently I made a freedom of information request for some course training notes from the MoD. They responded with almost 2,000 pages – some of it being purely applicable to military scenarios and the military method of instruction, and some of it being how to train coaches and coaching technique. It’s invaluable stuff – if you care about this sort of thing.
But that’s my point: do we care enough about coaching and training new firers? What do we have in place for training coaches to a known standard? How do we know coaches are passing on worthwhile knowledge, instead of, to coin a military phrase, local fads?
It was suggested to me a little while ago that the NRA has withdrawn all of its coaching qualifications. I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen an NRA Club Instructor course advertised.
In contrast, the NSRA does have a clear coaching hierarchy, as laid out on its website – and from a look at its coaching course calendar, there are courses being delivered at those various levels. This is good for the future of the sport – though I’m not sure about the requirement for a clean CRB check (or DBS check, in new money) for all quals beyond Club Instructor. Your FAC or SGC are far better indicators that you’re not a wrong’un than any of the various child protection vetting schemes ever will be, given the 24/7/365 police monitoring being implemented against us. We may have swapped liberty for security, but perversely, that can be shown to work in our interests in very limited situations.
Here’s another point to consider. Aside from the NRA competency card scheme, do we in the fullbore world have any formal continuation training for club-level shooters? Granted, the NRA is running its own “introduction to” discipline days, and has expanded that in conjunction with some of the Bisley rifle clubs. But beyond that, are new shooters mostly left to get on with it – and expected to organise their own further coaching if they want to progress?