When Pride Hinders Learning

Pride. It’s a confusing subject. We all have it at times, and at other times, we probably need more of it. It’s common to tell our children we’re proud of them while also calling pride one of the 7 Deadly Sins. We tell a family member that they should be proud of an accomplishment while telling them that humility is a virtue. It’s a lot of mixed messages.

Here’s the thing, pride isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We should take pride in our work, in our children, and things like that. When pride becomes arrogance, that’s when it becomes a problem. Great, so how does that fit into learning how to be a better Protector? Thanks for asking…..

Things You Hear on the Range

I was at the range this past Friday and Saturday. I usually use active hearing protection, which means that gunfire is muffled, but other sounds are amplified. This keeps me aware of things going on around me, dangers, and even injuries. It also lets me hear a lot of things being said on the range. Some of them are funny. A few are complimentary. Some are just dumb.

For example, some things I heard this weekend included:

  • Dumb: “That’s 7 yards. Don’t bother practicing past that distance because you’ll never convince a jury someone further away is a danger.”
  • Complimentary: “Great group. You’ve gotten a lot better.”
  • Funny: “I need a more powerful gun, so I won’t have to worry about where I hit them.”

Case #1: Minor Pride Issue

Two younger men were in a lane 2 down from me. Since they didn’t have active hearing protection, they talked extra loudly to each other, making it tough for me to not hear their conversations. I could see that accuracy was not their strong suit. They were good at shooting fast, just not hitting what they were aiming at. Then the conversation went this way: “These Glock are powerful, but they are all over the place.” “If I put a laser on this, I’ll never miss.”

The truth is, that Glock wasn’t all over the place, the shooters were. Glocks may have their faults, but watching the shooting and the results, it was clear that this was an operator error. I watched their mechanics, and they weren’t good. The arrogance here isn’t outrageous. A lot of people think that buying an optic/laser/new grip/new barrel will magically make them a better shooter. It won’t. You can buy things that aid you, but the basic mechanics have to be there. If these guys would let go of some arrogance, they’d realize they need proper instruction in the basics. It would make a huge difference.

Case #2: Bigger Pride Issue

A couple took the lane next to us. The guy had some tattoos (Gadsden flag etc.) that made me think he was probably a “gun guy”. I watched his first 10-round string and realized I was incorrect. He fired the 10 rounds at 7 yards and then brought the target back. After counting 8 holes, he said “Either I put 3 in one hole or I missed the target with 2.” Looking at the pattern of the 8 holes left no mystery. He just missed.

A few magazines later, he passed the gun to his girlfriend. She was clearly inexperienced. I listened to him “teach” her things. He was saying the right words in most cases, but having watched him shoot, it was clear he was just repeating things he’d heard in videos.

I try not to “help” random people at the range. If they ask for help, I am happy to give some. But I don’t just poke my nose in unless there is a safety issue or something like that. In this case, the woman was bordering on unsafe. She didn’t have good grip mechanics and every time she fired a shot, the gun jumped and waved around to the point that I thought she was going to lose her grip on it. So I mentioned to the guy “Hey, if she had a higher, more thumbs forward grip, it would help her recoil management.” He nodded and went straight up to try to talk her through that. The problem was, his grip wasn’t that good either, so not much of an example.

A little later, I said, “Hey brother, I have some softer shooting options (like my Sig P322) that she may like to try”. This was when the pride went to arrogance. He shook his head. “No, she likes this one.” I gave it one more try, “Shooting something less powerful can give her a chance to get her mechanics down.” More head shaking. I can teach her to handle it. I wasn’t going to push further. He couldn’t teach her because he didn’t know. It was all theory to him.

Our guy finally pulls out a Glock 17 and starts shooting it. After each magazine, he’d study the target, send it back out, and make the same errors. He finally told his girlfriend “This Glock is messed up.” Now he’s blaming the gear. The groups looked the same as with the other gun, so I’m pretty certain it wasn’t the gun.

Arrogance Is a Barrier

Take pride in what you do. Wanting to do better is pride. Refusing to acknowledge our own shortcomings is arrogance. You can’t fix the issue if you deny the issue is there. Arrogance needs taken out behind the building, given the Ol’ Yeller treatment, and buried. Does that sound harsh? Good.

It’s not just shooting either. It is true in most areas of our lives. No matter what you are learning, whether it’s medical aid, tactical movement, or verbal de-escalation, go into training with an open mind. Listen and watch. Not everything you hear or see will work for you but learn them enough to let your brain make an informed choice instead of having arrogance shut it down and never give you the choice.

A Caveat

I understand that some people may read this and be intimidated by the idea that others may see them on the range and judge their lack of skill. Please don’t let that be the thing you take away from this. Sure, there are people who will do that, but most shooters don’t care. They’re just out having fun like you are. Since I do this professionally, I tend to notice these things. Like I said, I rarely stick my nose in unless I’m invited. We ALL started at some point. And there are days I get distracted, and my technique gets sloppy. It happens. Quarterbacks throw touchdowns and interceptions, often in the same game.

If you’d like to learn how to shoot or shoot better, we’d be happy to help you out. We promise there will be no judgment, but we do ask that you leave arrogance at home. Contact us and tell us what you want to learn next.

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