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Of Zen and Training

If you are pursuing training in firearms for yourself personally and/or professionally, bring the right mindset.  An Art teacher back in high school gave me a book, or I bought in on his recommendation, I can’t recall.  It was called, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.”  I will do my best to paraphrase it and save you time of picking it up.

When we approach situations/instruction, we want to approach it with a beginner’s mind.  Putting aside past experience and knowledge.  Not to the detriment of the situation, mind you, but so that we can approach what is presented to us without a strong bias.


Instructor: “So we are going to work on some reloads like this…”

 Student’s Thoughts: “Pfft, I don’t do them like that…”

Ya, you already missed the boat and are wasting everyone’s time at that point.

There is innovation that takes place in every industry, everywhere around us.  It isn’t just smaller cell phones, it is within the firearms industry, also.  Often we find ourselves so rooted in our experiences, at best, or worse yet, clinging to what some article in a gun rag or blog says without ever confirming and validating the information with our own training.

 I have been guilty of this myself and have witnessed it in fellow students as well.  Going through a vetting course for a job; we were doing a week long CQB class.  It was something new and by new I mean, not a 20-year-old doctrine.  It covered the gamut of unarmed strikes, weapon (AR and pistol) strikes as well, as shooting and maneuvering, of course.  Well, this rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.  If you come from a 5-10-20 year career of kicking doors with the Military or a SWAT team, you don’t like people saying you’re wrong.

Keep in mind, they weren’t being told you are wrong, they were presented other solutions to the problem.  The internal conflict comes when we knowingly see a better solution, even if just situationally, but refuse to acknowledge it.  Because we feel, by acknowledging this new method that isn’t ours, as in some doctrine we have built a dedication to, we feel all those thousands of hours and repetitions are a waste of time.

 This isn’t the case.  But we need to recognize that if we were a race car driver and we happen to be driving a mini-van…  …when someone presents us with a Ferarri, you don’t say, “No thanks, I like my captain’s chairs in this one.”

 Time continues to march; and what we would like to do, is maintain an adaptability.

The next course you go to may not teach anything revolutionary, frankly, it may just teach a sum total of bad habits for shooting (if it isn’t a reputable course).  But with the Zen mind, we don’t toss them out at face value (unless they are just grossly unsafe).  We take them, try them, try to understand the how and why behind them.  Then, having done this, we match them up with what we do know and have experienced.  At this point, what is their value?

My wife returned from a 3-Day Pistol-Instructor Development Course last year.  After talking to her about her experience there, I think her biggest takeaway from the class was a long list of what not to do.  The instructor spent a sizable portion of time talking about other instructors and why their methods weren’t as good…  As a competent instructor, you don’t do this.  Good instructors, in any field, don’t teach “The Way.”  Good instructors teach, “A” or multiple “Ways”.

 Regardless of your skill level, competence with weapons is a journey and not a destination.  Extremely skilled people are extremely skilled because they continue to train and seek knowledge.  That learning curve is really sharp when we start off.  Trigger control, sight alignment, sight picture…  We start working these and we progress.  Further down the road, the gains aren’t as large, but they are always there.  And don’t be afraid to revisit, re-evaluate or experiment.

I recently changed how I draw spare rifle magazines from my belt.  Rounds to the rear vs. rounds forward.  I asked myself, “Why am I performing this the way I am performing it?”  “Because that is the way I have always done it…”  Not a good answer to tell yourself.  So I took a technique, I have tried it, compared it, and articulated to myself why I am using one over the other.  Find your own answers.

 Regardless of where you are on your journey, you will find little-hidden gems.  The broader the exposure we have in the community the better.  You may have had someone describe how to perform something 100 times.  But the next person that describes that same technique to you phrases it differently and it clicks!  The brain is crazy like that…

Keep down that path, personal safety and security is a cornerstone of independence.

Stay armed and stay proficient…


About Ivan Loomis

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Ivan Loomis is the Founder and President of Ivanco Incorporated. Ivanco Inc specializes in Custom ARs as well as firearms training in North Idaho. Ivan has spent his entire adult life in martial pursuits. With over 8 years in the military, some time with the San Jose Police Department and a number of years doing contract work in the middle east, he has amassed a a collection of experiences and knowledge he is passionate about sharing. Ivan spends his free time at his local Crossfit gym and on adventures with his wife and two young boys.

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One comment

  1. People are reluctant to change/something new, if it doesn’t work go back to what does…If it is better than the original way then you’re that much better off.

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