Science tells us that a diamond is a crystal structure formed through exposure to great heat and pressure.
Many of you know, I just completed the Defense Firearms Coach Certification training. It was developed by the same company who brings us Combat Focus Shooting. Innovative Defensive Solutions, LLC hosted two instructors to come to our area to present the training.
The class finished Sunday, late afternoon with a written exam. It is now Tuesday and I’m beginning to gain some perspective. This was the most difficult course I’ve ever taken, and it was designed that way. The pressure was intense. One of my fellow students described it as “Drinking from the Fire Hose”. I went in to Day 1 thinking, despite the warnings, how bad can it be? Granted, and I’m not making excuses, I was not 100% on my game. I am still getting over a sinus infection, hobbling on a broken toe, was tired from scrambling to get final edits on my book back to the publisher…generally my stress level, on a 1 - 10 scale was about 8. By the end of the day, I had redefined my scale.
I left Day 1 feeling demoralized, like an idiot, and thinking I really don’t want to do this. There are almost no handouts, you need to take notes almost at the rate of speech, some of the information was known but presented in a different way and some was completely new. Then, you would have a few minutes to prepare and have to stand and present a small section back to the class and instructors. To throw in a curve, you might be asked to present something you hadn’t prepared. I tend to like my presentations to be thoughtful, polished, clean…I do not like to grab and go…winging it was NEVER an option. I went home seriously wondering if I should return the next day or quit and forfeit the money. I did the homework that night and reviewed for day 2 since I was still waffling.
Day 2, the alarm went off and I dragged my sleepy self out of bed, still not sure if I would actually walk out the door or crawl back in to bed. I went to class. Pride won out, I did not want to give up in front of my peers. Day 2 was better, although still tough. I felt a little less like an idiot when I delivered a teach back that was acceptable, but I was still very stressed by the methodology. It helped to see some of my peers, who I consider very intelligent, stumble, too. I felt less alone. There was also a sense of mutual support forming, we were in this together, and we were going to pull each other through.
Day 3…the range. Outdoors, 20 some degrees, snow on the ground…my skills completely fell apart. I had errors I’ve never experienced before (and will be practicing intently very soon). I seemed to have trouble understanding simple instructions, which frustrated me immensely. I would be told to do something, I would have to look at the person providing the instruction while they restated it a couple times, no comprehension. Finally it would be said in a different way and I got it and was able to do it. That was humbling, but also valuable as it reminded me what it feels like for one of my students to give me a blank look and me to try to find new words to explain it. The range portion was over and we all left to regroup at a restaurant for a late lunch, final teach backs and written exam. Driving there, I had a mini-melt down. But, I was pretty much back together by the time I got to the restaurant. We ate, we taught, we got our exams…36 questions, not multiple choice or T/F, but write out the answer, and we had to get 90%. Not a lot of room for error there. I finished the test, started going back over it and stopped myself. I’ve learned through the years, I tend to change right answers to wrong when I do that. We did our debrief and wished our instructors safe travels back to Ohio.
A word about Jamie and Paul. When I first saw them I wondered. They were very casual, and I’m used to a “uniform”, so to speak, of tactical pants and a logo shirt. Then they started to speak and I quickly realized these were two articulate, intelligent, and I later came to realize sincere and caring, men. I have immense respect and appreciation for both of them. More than they know…at least until they read this. J
I learned more than I thought possible in 3 short days, or long days, depending on your perspective. I haven’t gone back and sorted out my notes yet, but I will in a few days, I’m still decompressing. I like to think my words are not influenced by the end result, passing or failing, and I really believe that. We didn’t know when we left what our status was. By Monday evening, I was fairly confident I would need to re-do something in order to pass, but I had already formed most of the opinions above. Then I got the email telling me I passed. I was not as relieved as I would have thought, by that point I had begun to realize I had learned an amazing amount of information. I was miserable while I was doing it, but I had survived, no one was injured, I was less cocky and much more appreciative of my peers who were incredibly supportive. I’m still a little embarrassed by my melt down, but that is on me. As we heard many times we needed to own our mistakes and fix them. Part of that is admitting it here.
I started out with a reference to the creation of a diamond. I made it through the pressure and heat, and truly believe I’m a better instructor than I was last Thursday. I’m certainly more humble. I still have a few rough edges, but am maybe a little shinier than I was last week. I’m not sure I ever want to repeat an experience like that, but…it was valuable and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity. Amazing how perspective shifts once the pressure is off and you can look back.