For 19 years, I served as chair of the Firearms Committee for ASLET, the American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, and spent a few years on their Ethics Committee as well. ASLET’s motto was Qui Doscet, Disket (hope I spelled that right). From the Latin, it translates roughly to “Who teaches, learns.”
Having been involved in adult education for pretty much my whole career, I can say that truer words were never spoken.
I was reminded of that after returning from a 17-day tour in the Southwest, with a couple of days spent teaching in a lecture environment in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the rest at hands-on Massad Ayoob Group classes in Sierra Vista, Arizona, pausing only to fly east to testify at an officer-involved shooting trial. The brilliant Marty Hayes covered for me at class while I was away at court, for which I will be eternally grateful.
There were lessons of the importance of using the right equipment. One shooter in the first-level MAG-40 class came to grief with constant gun malfunctions, until we determined that he had been shooting reloaded ammo he bought at a gun show. I had to explain to him that gun show reloads are to ammunition what crack whores are to women. Lesson learned for him; lesson reaffirmed for me and the rest of the MAG teaching staff.
One shooter in the second-level MAG-80 class was shooting an expensive Wilson Combat .45 caliber semiautomatic. It worked flawlessly for him with the factory hardball ammo he’d brought for the class. At qualification on the last day, however, he switched to Federal Gold Match mid-range semi-wadcutter ammunition. This is deliciously accurate stuff, and because it’s a soft load, he thought its mild recoil would be an advantage in the double-speed qual.
And it would have been…except that this ammo is loaded so light, it won’t run a standard 1911 style pistol like the Wilson that’s set up from the factory with a recoil spring designed for full power ammunition. Without going down to a 14-or-so-pound recoil spring, it just isn’t powerful enough to reliably cycle the gun. He still managed to qualify despite all the jams he had to clear with the unforgiving clock running, but he lost his chance to be top shot in class. Lesson learned for him, and reaffirmed for the rest of us.
Learning is a lifelong process, and “the gun” is sufficiently complicated a topic to constitute a “life study.” I’ve always learned more from mistakes than from the rare perfect performance…how about you?