Wikitionary (yes, that’s a word and a thing) defines “busman’s holiday” thus: “First recorded in 1893 in the UK. The idea is that a busman, to go off on a holiday, would take an excursion by bus, thereby engaging in a similar activity to his work.”  Whenever I hear it, I channel to the Mark Twain quote I first heard from my old friend and colleague, the great police trainer Ed Nowicki: “If you love your job, you never have to actually work a day in your life.”

The Evil Princess and I are off to Rogers Shooting School in Ellijay, Georgia for the next week, to take their advanced handgun course.  Why? I learned a few things when I was a little kid, to wit:

If you aren’t good at taking orders, you probably won’t be good at giving them…

…if you can’t read, you can’t write…

…and if you don’t learn, you can’t teach, at least not very well for very long.

During first quarter 2016, I was able to spend a week learning at the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association annual conference in Chicagoland, and three days at Tom Givens’ superb Rangemaster Tactical Conference held this year at the Memphis Police Academy in Tennessee.  I taught at both, but at the Rogers school, our only scheduled “training for US” in 2nd quarter 2016, I get to be purely in student mode. We’ve ordered a case of ammo per day for each of us. WOOT!

We’ve been wanting to take Bill’s legendary course and skill test for a very long time, and a confluence of scheduling finally allows it. I’ve known Bill for decades, shot against him in his heyday when he was on the “pro tour,” and don’t remember ever beating him. Those are the kind of people you can really learn from in the given discipline. Ain’t gonna even try to predict how I’ll do, but if I get my Annual Humility Requirement all in five days, well, that won’t be a bad thing either. I’ve always learned more from screwing up than I did from doing things right, and learning is our purpose in going.

What about y’all? Any training plans for this year? Observations on training in general? Discussion is welcome here.




  1. Because of some of my experiences, I tend to be over-critical at some concerts (parents were professional musicians), or during church services (far too long behind a church sound board!).

    When you’re taking a course like that, how hard is it to shut down your critical voice, or your inner instructor, so you can just learn? I’ve often wondered when someone is a well-known trainer/instructor of any kind, how difficult is it to just enjoy or learn something?

  2. Bob, I’m there to learn, not to argue with the instructor. I’ll occasionally as questions to clarify things, but only criticize if there’s a safety issue.

  3. I attended a great AR101 course and learned a lot at the Rangemaster event earlier this year, but still trying to schedule some more in-depth training. Juggling to attend at least one of the following before the year is over: Marty Hayes and you on teaching the legal elements, your instructor course with David M., or an advanced handgun with John Farnam. There’s more than one way to skin a cat.


  4. “I’ve always learned more from screwing up than I did from doing things right.” If you add to that “always admit when you’re wrong” and “always apologize when you’ve been a d**k” you have a pretty darn good code to negate any machismo that your hormones might otherwise lend you to. Mas does that and I try to as well. (I’ll let others decide how well I do it.)

  5. /nods. That’s what I expected. Rather like being a writer: everything is useful. Maybe as a bad example to be filed away for later, but everything is useful. Enjoy!

  6. One of the best pure shooting courses I ever took was Bill’s course in Elijay. Hope to get back some day, since it was too long ago, and I could use the refresher. Others may have a ‘Rogers Range’, but they often don’t run it the way they should, slowing it down instead of making people keep up with the speed at which it was designed to run.

    Are you taking the shotgun class he runs along with the pistol course? If that’s an option, it’s well worthwhile, too. Enjoy what should be a good time!

  7. You always come to understand a subject better, and in a different way when you teach it to someone else. I always tell anyone I’m instructing, “Pay attention to what I’m telling you. I know what I’m talking about. I’ve screwed up every way possible, and if you listen I’ll save you time and frustration.”

  8. I’m planning to go for another instructor rating this year. Not sure which yet, but Rangemasters, and ICE Training Defensive Firearms Coach are high on the list.

  9. No travel for training this year. And unlike the nineties, there are so many good choices that it is hard to choose. I figure in due for an Ayoob tune-up, having taken LFI-I in ’93, you might have changed the curriculum a bit since then. That was a life changing class in so many ways. And you made the mistake of giving me an application to ASLET which opened a new world of training to me.

  10. Peter, you were an asset to ASLET and have been an asset to every such organization you’ve worked with since. Glad to see you here!

  11. I am training hard this year. I just finished the MAG-30 with David Maglio and am working to prepare for MAG-IC and the Deadly Force class.

    To Bob of Greene County – I really understand you. I played the flute very well and competitively up to college and you know the endless critical input I got from erudite people finally won out and I stopped playing. But I did have a priceless lesson after being invited at 16 to a Master Class taught by Thomas Nygenger. Several of us – students, were hanging around outside the practice cubes and there was someone playing the Strauss, Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks extremely slowly, like dead slow, and very deliberately. One rather arrogant student said …”who practices like that” like it was laughable and who steps out of practice cube but the Master. Glad I had my mouth shut. I really do my very best not to rehearse mistakes, like practice makes permanent…

    I am just going to keep at it and you know the most difficult part is managing the 6″ between my two ears…

  12. Late last year I retired after 27+ years as a Law Enforcement Firearms Instructor. I can truthfully say I learned something at every class I ever attended. Sometimes from the instructors, sometimes from other students. In fact, at the last class I attended (Dec. 2012), I learned several things, one of which was one of those smack-yourself-on-the-head things.

    On the long drive home I wondered why that specific thing hadn’t come up before, especially in some advanced classes I’d taken. Sometime later, I realized it had been expected behavior as a natural extension of fundamentals in those classes. (And, I expect, I’d been doing without conscious thought.) Which brings up the old saw about NEVER ASSUME, especially while instructing. A bit of explanation as to why one goes into seemingly obsessive detail might help you seem less OC.

  13. Mas, if anybody in this world deserves what you’re referring to (very accurately, I might add) as a busman’s holiday, it’s you! The Rogers School is one of those (and the Mag 20/40.LFI) that I only lack the funds for – the need and certainly the desire – is there. I am planning on attending Tom Givens Rangemaster TacCon one of these years as well. I’m retiring in July – who knows.

    Mas – you and the EP are gonna do great. Have fun, you two!

  14. I plan to be at MAG-80 in Harrisburg in August. I am really looking forward to the class and I know I will absorb much knowledge. Hope to see you then.

  15. Glad to hear of your upcoming ‘Busman’s’ holiday…you two enjoy yourselves! I just signed up for Mike Seeklander’s Competition Handgun 1&2 courses for May. Was hoping to see the Mag-80 come to Sacramento this year, but it looks like the 40 is returning this fall (of which some of my close friends are enrolling). Hopefully there’ll be enough Mag-40 grads in the area for a 80 class in 2017? 😉

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