On occasion, there is some dispute over the validity for shooter self-coaching. The argument tends to be real coaching versus books or other training materials. I fully affirm that shooters need professional instruction but equally believe that every shooter must be capable of self-coaching.

Every year, tens of thousands of peace officers qualify with their duty weapons. Too many of those same officers will return to the range a few months later only to be carried through the qualification process by lazy, overly indulgent range staff. A foundation of marksmanship is almost never laid and therefore, years of shooting leaves no residual knowledge which can be translated into improved skill. In other words, Officer Bob shoots the same every year, or whatever results circumstances can rend on any given range day. Think about it. We all know that shooting is a collection of perishable skills. Accuracy and handgun operation suffer from neglect. Readers of The Perfect Pistol Shot know that marksmanship can be intellectualized and reasonably preserved but even so, maintenance is necessary for continuing competence.

I realized with law enforcement and even with Marines, that varying amounts of training is lost the instant the student leaves the range. In order for a shooter not to continually be at “baseline,” he must learn to self-coach. Shooting while someone corrects you is different from shooting when alone. For cops, that may be deadly. Every shooter must be able to analyze shots fired and take corrective action–even if the impact of the rounds cannot be seen. Such skill can be acquired but the pursuit of self-coaching is like that of accuracy; it requires dedication.

The self-coaching shooter can instantly respond to a missed shot even on a dark, rainy day in the middle of an open field. To know why you missed without someone shouting directions at you, is the essence of marksmanship–intentionally making your bullets strike your intended target by reason and skill. Can you do that?

Self-coaching begins with intellectualizing marksmanship. It’s not sufficient to learn what to do, you must understand why. People who can only “drive” their shooting are in trouble when their shooting fails to work. The true marksman is also a shooting mechanic who can translate results into corrective action. Master your shooting. It is within your ability if you’re willing to treat marksmanship like a study instead of a passive hobby.

The new book on defensive handgun operations is coming after many delays. It turned out well. Interested readers can sign up for advanced information at www.practicsusa.com