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How the ‘selfie’ approach to self-assessment benefits students and trainers

It’s exceptionally encouraging to show someone what it is they are doing that’s leading to their success


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This article is reprinted with permission from The ILEETA Journal

“I didn’t drive 7 hours from New Jersey to lie about your finger being on the trigger!”

This quote from an instructor I greatly respect caused raucous laughter from a hardened collection of law enforcement pistol instructors at a recent developmental class. The topic being discussed was the benefit of video in firearms training.

The learning point cunningly concealed in his stand-up routine was the all too common disbelief from shooters who don’t/won’t realize their error and assume that you’re mistaken in your observation. They are after all skilled experienced professionals, how dare you suggest they would ever put their finger on the trigger...“Oh look, in that video, it appears an awful lot like my finger was on the trigger.”

The power of video assessment

Video is a great tool. Not only can it help to show a student what you’re seeing, but it also allows multiple reviews in close-ups and slow motion. This flexibility creates the opportunity to hone in on idiosyncrasies that may be missed in the live-action, full-speed execution of techniques on the range.

The use of video assessment doesn’t require a great deal of equipment. You’re never more than a few feet from a digital camera nowadays. A modern cell phone is more than capable of being put to work as an educational tool.

For inexperienced shooters or small groups during developmental instruction, a video can save a thousand words. It’s far easier to show people from an external perspective what it is they are/are not doing. Video is not only a tool of correction or negativity though. It’s exceptionally encouraging to show someone just what it is that they are doing that’s leading to their success.

Be your own instructor

If you don’t always have the luxury of someone to work with you when you finally get to practice at the range, consider the use of self-assessment. Tripods are inexpensive and cell phones can be mounted on them just as easily as a camera. There is no need to invest large amounts of money to make this viable.

Whether it’s assessing your effective use of cover relative to the target, getting the students’ perspective of your demonstration, or simply looking for areas of deficiency that have crept into your assumed unconscious competence, taking the time to watch yourself at work can be enormously enlightening.

The use of a camera can also allow assessment from angles that would normally compromise range safety for an observer. There’s no reason your camera can’t be forward of the firing line. If you’re confident in your accuracy the camera can even be next to or underneath your target for a truly unique perspective!

Vince Lombardi once said, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” If we intend to lead others and set standards, we need to be certain that we are striving for our own pursuit of perfect practice. Self-assessment is an essential part of that process.

NEXT: Using video analysis to improve shooter performance

Leon Reha’s police career began more than two decades ago in London. He served as a patrol officer, a trainer and as a member of the elite Metropolitan Police Specialist Firearms Command. Now residing in the U.S., he oversees the firearms training division of a police academy. He is an advanced Force Science analyst, a SIG SAUER academy instructor, and a regular training conference attendee and presenter.