Teaching Tips- Process Before Product

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: Teaching Tips

  • SumoMe

Written by: Greg Ellifritz


It’s common that instructors will occasionally have frustrated students who “aren’t getting it.”  The students may actually even be proceeding at a normal rate, but feel bad because other students are performing better.  Most instructors find it’s hard to help a student in this situation.  The student’s frustration creates a continuing downward spiral that leads to increasingly poor performance.


Here’s what I do to break the cycle with my students.  Get them to focus on the process rather than the product.  What that means is that rather than focusing on the end results (getting hits where you want them on a target), have the student focus on a single process that will eventually lead to a quality outcome.


An example of this idea could be a student who isn’t getting his hits on target.  Instead of having him continually trying to do better shooting at the same target, I’ll break the cycle.  I’ll instruct the student to stop shooting at the target and pick a piece of blank paper somewhere else on the backer.  I’ll have the student aim at the open space and concentrate on giving me 10 perfect trigger presses.  I’ll instruct him not to worry about the sights or where the bullet hits.  His job is to focus solely on perfection in the trigger press.  After doing that, I’ll move him back to the original drill he was failing and he will inevitably perform better.


It doesn’t have to always be the trigger pull that is isolated.  I might make the student work on 10 perfect draws without firing a shot.  I may make them concentrate on a perfect sight picture as I pull the trigger for them.  I may even have them just shoot into the berm, concentrating on maintaining a solid grip.  Improving any one of these processes will create improvement in the final product.


Process before Product.



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3 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Gary says:


    I agree and do this whenever I can. The most challenging area that I have found is getting a student–usually a female–to understand the concept of looking through their sights, not over them. I use graphics and have visual aids that I use to show how properly aligned sights are supposed to look. However, even after this some students still struggle. I will work with them to have them shoot from just a couple of feet away from the target and then step back and repeat the process until they are back at the original distance from the target. If they still don’t get it, I will have another instructor work with them for a while. Do you have any techniques that have been especially successful in dealing with this?

  2. Greg Ellifritz says:

    One of the factors that exacerbates the problem that you describe is the fact that females tend to take instruction much more literally than males do. When you say to a male “line up the sights and then press the trigger” he generally does that.

    I’ve found that women often take the same bit of instruction as two separate steps that aren’t related to each other. I’ve had female students literally line up the sights, then ignore them as they performed their trigger press.

    That may be what you are seeing when you see your female students looking over the top of the sights.

    Change your language a bit. Say “Line up the sights and keep them aligned on the target as you slowly press the trigger.” I bet you get better results.