Teaching By Humiliation In The Gun Community

BY Herschel Smith
7 years ago

After embedding the video below.

Bob Owens says the following:

Dearly departed AR-15 guru Pat Rogers had a special patch he would give out to students who failed to properly seat their AR-15 mags and commenced to shooting, only to watch that loaded but not locked magazine hit the dirt.

In other words, teach by humiliation.  Um … no.  If you’re a U.S. Marine you might get beaten up for not doing something right.  But we American gun owners are in a different category inasmuch as we are evangelists for the cause.

The way to add to the roles of new gun owners is to teach them, encourage them, be patient with them, and gently correct their mistakes.  There is no quicker way to eviscerate the ranks of gun owners than to make it an “us-four-and-no-more” boys club of folks who know everything, or think they do, and those who get ridiculed.  If you want to be on the outside looking in with your rights gradually stripped, do just that.  Ridicule those who don’t understand.

I was watching a video of 3-gun competition once with Rob Leatham [Edit: it might have been IDPA or some other competition] shooting and heard him and others ridiculing some participant (behind his back) who was shooting more slowly, wouldn’t have won, and yet was probably learning and having fun.  The thing to do would have been to befriend him and encourage him, not embarrass him.

I was quite turned off at Rob when I heard that.  Really.  I was completely repulsed.  I will have a hard time ever watching another one of his videos for that reason.  Disciples are made, not born.  Teachers who teach by humiliation aren’t teachers at all.  Our community doesn’t need them.

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  1. On January 30, 2017 at 11:11 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    “When the role is called up yonder I’ll be there … ” ;-)

  2. On January 31, 2017 at 9:03 am, Fred said:


  3. On January 31, 2017 at 11:23 am, BlakeW58 said:

    Evidently, Rob is one of those special people who was born with his ability to draw fast and put rounds on target accurately in a very short amount of time. Wait, Mr. Leatham spent hours and hours practicing in order to reach his level of competence?

    I’m a computer guy by trade and I cannot tell you how many times someone has been unable to figure out something. Then, it turned out to be a very simple problem and the user was somewhat embarrassed. When dealing with such things, I always try to take the attitude that I wasn’t born with my ability to work with computers, I’ve just learned and become very proficient over the years.

  4. On January 31, 2017 at 12:16 pm, Archer said:

    I’m a computer guy by trade as well. I make it a habit of giving congratulations and “Nice job!”s to people who manage to figure things out on their own, and be extra kind and encouraging to people who don’t understand the dang things.

    I also make it a point that while I’m good on computers, there are probably many aspects of their job that I just couldn’t do, either by training or temperament. As an example, when I was supporting realtors’ systems, if they’d get frustrated with their lack of computing skills, I’d fix it and applaud their understanding of marketing and contracts. “That’s your thing,” I’d say, “and I couldn’t do that. I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

    One of my favorite quotes is often attributed to Einstein, but probably wasn’t from him. It goes (IIRC), “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing it is stupid.” I can’t teach to mastery over the phone in 10 minutes, but I can give some tips and answer questions, and bring someone from hating computers to (at least) being tolerant and competent with them.

    In short, I try to be professional. There’s nothing professional about humiliating someone who hasn’t yet learned any better, especially when they’re coming to you for that knowledge. That’s not teaching; it’s shaming. And it’s the surest way to make sure someone doesn’t come back.

    And as we’re trying to expand the ranks of competent gun owners and 2A supporters, driving people out for the “crime” of being new and untrained is a mistake we simply can’t afford to make.

  5. On January 31, 2017 at 1:52 pm, BlakeW58 said:

    Another thing I do is when I enter the resolution into our help desk system, I never ever put in anything that makes the user look stupid, no matter how egregiously dumb their mistake was. There is always a way to write something innocuous that does not reflect badly on the user.

    Anyway, to say I was slow when I first started shooting IDPA and USPSA is an understatement. Everyone was very encouraging, however, so I continued. I am by no means fast and never will be. However, I have achieved a level of competence with my sidearm I would not have otherwise attained without the encouragement I received.

  6. On January 31, 2017 at 6:39 pm, Duke Norfolk said:

    Sneering elitism is always ugly.

  7. On January 31, 2017 at 7:07 pm, Caleb Giddings said:

    Did you know Pat? Did you take a class from him? If not, you should probably shut the fuck up about his teaching practices and run and cry back to your fucking safe space.

    Similarly, I’ve actually had Robbie tell me I suck at shooting. He was right. You know what I did? I HTFU and practiced harder so that next year, he said that I sucked less. That meant a lot more than getting some condescending heat pat and being told how great it was that I tried my best.

    You want a participation trophy for your next match?

  8. On January 31, 2017 at 9:16 pm, steve fisher said:

    Truth dude

  9. On February 2, 2017 at 7:12 pm, mandaloin said:

    You deserve an award for how thoroughly you did not grasp the article.

  10. On February 4, 2017 at 6:46 pm, RealitiCzech said:

    A special patch, even.

  11. On February 4, 2017 at 6:47 pm, RealitiCzech said:

    I’m guessing you are the target market for Yeager classes.

  12. On January 31, 2017 at 8:01 pm, Lorem Ipsum said:

    If you’d ever attended one of Pat’s classes, you’d have seen said patch was far from humiliating, and in fact considered almost a badge of honor amongst alumni. There’s a reason after his passing so many of us used them for things like social media avatars.

  13. On January 31, 2017 at 8:30 pm, steve fisher said:

    You have no clue what or why behind that patch if you have never taken a class with pat you would not understand.

  14. On January 31, 2017 at 8:56 pm, Jim Santoro said:

    Using a dead guy (who therefore cannot provide a response) as an example, and improperly, since you also did so without knowing ANY context about the whys and wherefores of the existence and award of the Moosecock.

    You gutless, done nothing, know nothing, non-rate poofter.

  15. On January 31, 2017 at 9:04 pm, steve fisher said:


  16. On January 31, 2017 at 8:59 pm, David Newman said:

    You’re totally off base on your statement that Pat Rogers taught by humiliation. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Had you spent 10 minutes talking to the man you would know that the passage of knowledge and success of his students was all he cared about. I personally saw him help a student in a carbine class who was a soup sandwhich. Not a single bit of humiliation was evident.

  17. On January 31, 2017 at 9:04 pm, Daniel Easterday said:

    Pat Rogers knew more about teaching firearms than you ever will. For you to sit there and judge him is fucking pathetic. You are so far out of your lane that you’re on a different fucking highway, and you need to shut your fucking cock holster before someone who knew Pat better than I gets involved here. For you to take out of context something that he used as a teaching tool to get people to remember a technique and criticize it? Yeah, eat a dick dude. When you have done as much for the Military and LEO community as Pat did, you can step the fuck up and spout off. Until then, get bent. By shit talking one of the industry greats, you have guaranteed that many in the firearms community will never fucking touch you.

  18. On January 31, 2017 at 9:10 pm, steve fisher said:

    Believe me I’m holding back.

  19. On January 31, 2017 at 9:05 pm, Paul "Hero" Riddell said:

    In Pat’s own words, “This patch is not to humiliate you, but rather to show you…to remind you the nobody is infallible. No matter how many times you’ve done this, no matter who you, no matter how pretty you are, we all make mistakes. I wear one on my armor every day because every day, when I come out here, I make a mistake. On the range, it’s an embarrassment. But, if you do it for real, it could be the difference between you having a good war story or having a memorial overpass named after you.”
    Pat was in the business of teaching gun fighters. His only intention was to do his best to make sure that if you ever had to use your weapon, he was gonna hear about it from you and not from someone telling him that one of his students was killed.
    I received one on the first day of my first class with him. It was my first carbine course, as well, and was standing along side cops, military, and some generally serious badass guys as well as some regular guys like me. I wear it with pride because I know that he cared enough about his students to do everything in his power to make sure they made their mistakes on the range and not in the real world.
    I’ve been drilled and grilled by Pat, Steve Fisher, Jeff Gonzales, cops in classes, and students that were friends. I’m no gunfighter, but I know I never will be if they don’t take the time to drill in to me what I need to know. I’d rather have that than some gentle “hey buddy, do you need a hug? How can I help you get better, little guy?” bullshit.
    When I go in to classes, I know that I better put on my big boy pants and toughen up for the shit storm that’s gonna hit me if I fuck up. This isn’t tennis. People fucking die if they get this shit wrong.

  20. On January 31, 2017 at 10:19 pm, Steve S. said:

    I had a MC on TD2, but I don’t think Pat had the patches then (2005). Couple months ago I MC’d and said out loud “Did we not cover push/pull on TD1?” Guys around me thought I’d lost it :-)

    I’d give my right nut for a patch, but I’d give damn near anything to have Uncle Pat back with us.

  21. On January 31, 2017 at 9:15 pm, Sean Shepherd said:

    Congratulations on stepping on your dick with both feet. How things progress from here depend entirely upon you.

  22. On January 31, 2017 at 9:17 pm, steve fisher said:

    Fuck him

  23. On January 31, 2017 at 9:32 pm, Andy Lander said:

    Not Cool!!!! Did you ever meet the man? Did you ever go to his classes. Do you know anything about this man whatsoever? What Cooper did for defensive Pistol Pat Rogers did with the Carbine. Kimberly Guilfoyle from Fox news referred to him as the real Captain America.

    Getting a Moosecock was by no means demeaning. I never dropped a mag in his class, but after he died I called up Blue Force Gear and begged them to send me one. Please don’t open your mouth about things you do not understand. You will not do well in this industry as a so called “Instructor” if you continue to do so. Actually that ship may have already sailed!

  24. On January 31, 2017 at 10:04 pm, Andy Lander said:

    PS this is what relevant people in the industry think about Pat. Location Magpul booth SHOTSHOW 2017. http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/01/18/ten-years-magpul-pmag-shot-2017/

  25. On January 31, 2017 at 10:06 pm, James Anders said:

    Fuck this clown.

  26. On January 31, 2017 at 10:08 pm, Steve S. said:

    Dude! Pat was a very kind individual, ALWAYS was willing to answer a question and help a student out. His classes were a laugh riot. He made fun of himself more than he did of his students. You should break your fucking fingers and never type another word about someone you obviously no nothing about.

  27. On January 31, 2017 at 11:38 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    So for my response to most of the commenters, you can read: http://www.captainsjournal.com/2017/01/31/teaching-by-humiliation-in-the-gun-community-part-ii/

  28. On February 1, 2017 at 11:55 am, Fred said:

    I never did play high High School football. The coach, John Harvel, worked with me in the weight room. He always had a kind word in the hallways and would ask me if I wanted to try out. The cheerleaders were even nice to me. I would hang out with them in Spanish class. Of course they were trying to learn Spanish and I had other plans but you get my point. Nope, never did try out for the JV team, bunch of fucking assholes, every single one.

  29. On February 1, 2017 at 2:29 pm, Jack Crabb said:

    Herschel, after reading all of the comments and your linked Part 2 follow-up, I understand why you have not enabled comments. (As an aside, I’m glad to see that you have banned certain commenters, as they must have been “seminar commenters” and not regular readers of Captain’s Journal.)

    I do have a respectful, serious question. Why do you continue to link to Bob Owen’s site? Years ago he outed himself as a copsucking statist, seemingly against some of the very things for which you stand. I refuse to give him hits, and I am truly curious as to why you do. Lest you thinhk I am being critical, I am not; merely curious.

    Thank you for all that you do. I make sure I read your blog every single day.

  30. On February 1, 2017 at 2:34 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Thanks Jack. Good question. I won’t in the future.

  31. On February 1, 2017 at 2:45 pm, Jack Crabb said:

    Wow. Not the response I expected, but thanks (for the reply and the response).

  32. On February 2, 2017 at 9:26 am, Fred said:

    I was over Owens from the first time I found his material.

  33. On February 2, 2017 at 12:54 pm, Jack Crabb said:

    You’re smarter than me, Fred. It took me quite a few visits. LOL

  34. On February 6, 2017 at 4:47 pm, Col. Douglas Mortimer said:

    Remember the “cops shouldn’t carry Glocks” thing he wrote in the LA Times….?

  35. On February 6, 2017 at 5:56 pm, Fred said:

    No, but not just police. He almost always closes with a “the state can do no wrong’ ending.

  36. On February 1, 2017 at 3:29 pm, David Newman said:

    Mr. Smith,

    I ready your rebuttal with locked comments and don’t understand why you don’t simply clear the record and state that you incorrectly categorized Pat Rogers and his teaching methods incorrectly and that you regret your error.

    A measure of a man’s character is when they can admit a mistake and how they move past it.

  37. On February 1, 2017 at 3:51 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Because I would not teach new shooters that way (not that I teach classes, I teach only my immediate and extended family), and would use a different approach with new shooters as I said. My concern is “evangelism” of the gun community in the article.

    So to repeat, the article addressed techniques for new shooters, or new competitors. Not experienced shooters like you or someone who would talk his course(s). I reject such methods for new shooters. A different approach is needed. This has nothing to do with guns. It has to do with pedagogy. But now I’ve already said that about fifteen times. Or maybe it’s more. I’ve lost track now.

    A measure of a man’s character is how he walks with God, how his children view him, and how his work colleagues view him. Pedagogical technique and differing opinions is not the measure of a man.

    But notice that I’ve responded to your comment instead of deleting and spamming it like I did the others. Because you were kind in your demeanor and respectful in someone else’s house. I also consider that a measure of a man.

  38. On February 1, 2017 at 5:06 pm, David Newman said:

    Thank you for the reply. I believe that a conversation is best had when both parties remain civil. When we exchange information we both grow. For example I had to Google Pedagogical. lol

    I get your point. Harsh training methods can drive away those who we as a firearms community would likely benefit from joining our community as beginners or at least view our community more favorably even though they may not take up the shooting sports. I would say that had you experienced a class with Pat you would harken to his method and teach new shooters exactly as he did. He was gracious and welcoming. Although very skilled and experienced he never presented an elitist attitude. The first thing he would do when he saw someone would be to great you with a smile and say “how can I help you brother”. If he volunteered to do something for you and you tried to thank him he would say “no problem, easy day.” I don’t think he knew a stranger.

    I agree with your additional assessments regarding character. I’m sure that by now you’ve heard from many supporters of Pat Rogers in an attempt to right a perceived wrong that was at this point was pretty clearly not you taking actual claim with Pat’s teaching but incorrectly using a piece from an article out of context describing the Moose Cock ritual and assuming that it described the Pedagogical teaching method that you intended to cover in your article. For those who don’t know the Moose Cock was awarded with much hilarity if you forgot push/pull and had your magazine drop out or something equally as disastrous. The patch served as a reminder not a punishment. Just search You Tube for examples of MC awards.

    If anything you now know the great heart and character of Pat Rogers and the deep felt impact that he had on so many people and that many of us still mourn his somewhat recent passing and are quick to defend him.

    For those that don’t know Pat he’s the warrior sized leprechaun under the EAG banner in my pic.

    I never had the privilege to earn a Moose Cock patch but I did have the honor of knowing him and that will have to do. Watery eyed as I write this. Allergies must be acting up.

  39. On February 1, 2017 at 9:18 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Yep, to all of the above. I think this was a misunderstanding all along, perhaps on my part as well.
    I’m glad that you had such an anchoring experience with Pat, we all need those experiences in life in every endeavor. I apologize for making the recent readers believe that my intent was to equate Pat’s method with humiliation with HIS trainees. I have absolutely no idea how his trainees looked at this experience.
    So let’s pull the thread for a moment on my point in all of this. To do that I’ll use my daughter as an example. She recently moved back closer to us and we went shooting – this time it was handguns. She has her CHP but it had been a while since I had seen her shoot. It’s CRITICAL to me that she know how to do this right. Her safety depends on it. If I get into a throw-down with some nefarious guy and I don’t happen to have a gun (a very low likelihood), then I’ll use a tactical knife or die, in which case everyone will be better off because of the insurance money.
    But my daughter – now that’s a different story. She needs to do this the right way. So we shot several hundred rounds at the range that day, and I was having a particularly good day with my S&W E Series 1911. I have to use a 1911 rather than a double stack pistol because my knuckled are gnarled up and swollen with arthritis. My daughter shoots a 9mm. I was hitting good that day, much better with .45 ACP than she was with 9mm I tried to help her a little bit with stance and grip, but she got a little pissy with me and I gave up for the moment.
    Then it happened. During cold range, she turned and said, “I don’t understand why I’m shooting so badly.”
    BAM! I had her. I let her tell me she wanted help. I met her where she was. Her stance was weak (a sort of semi-modified Weaver with weak knees), her elbows were bent, her grip was like she was shooting a revolver, and so on. It was awful. I said to her, “I’m afraid that if you don’t correct your grip and other things, you’ll never shoot any better.”
    She asked me to show her, and from that point forward she had a great day. I met her where she was. Other folks, for example folks at work who are shooters but not as experienced as I am, I am trying to talk them into better or different equipment. But I’ve met them where they are.
    One other fellow at work had around 50 communist bloc guns, and since I don’t shoot communist bloc guns it was harder with him. But I found common ground because that’s what you do when you evangelize.
    But the point is that if I had postured and forced my hand with my daughter she would never have gone shooting with me again. Same with my grandchildren who we worked with several months ago with a brand new Cricket. We meet them where they are.
    Again, I’m sorry if I misrepresented what your experience was with Pat. that was not my intention. My intention was to communicate to my regular readers something we’ve discussed at length before, i.e., how to evangelize new shooters. And again, I’m glad that you had that anchoring experience with Pat. We all need that sort of thing.
    Some of this too has to do with the nature of blogging. I do write more detailed, more explanatory articles and commentaries like the one on the front page now about Christians and violence. But that’s rare because Google Analytics tells me what most bloggers already know. I have readers for 2.5-3.5 minutes at a time. They just don’t stay on for longer. They’re off to other sites. I don’t blame them. If you take a look at Site Meter on other sites you’ll see what I’m talking about. The average time is around 1.5 minutes. My readers’ attention spans is quite long compared.
    So if I had written a 20 minute article explaining all of this, that would have prevented misunderstanding, but no one would have read it. No one. Instead, I use an admittedly click-bait title, say a few words, and let the readers take it away in the comments.
    Every one of my readers is smarter than I am and knows more than I do. If I talk about something tactical, someone comments who has done it more than I have. If I tackled law as it relates to gun rights, some law-trained reader corrects me or adds to it in ways that I couldn’t. I mean it. I have the best readers on the web, and the most serious and thoughtful.
    I really have no earthly idea where I got this traffic from or who I pissed off with that little five minute diddy, but it sure did provoke a shit storm. Normally I see that sort of thing when CTR (David Brock correct the record) shills come in.
    A few more thoughts. I have been a shooter all of my life, but more traditional. I got my carbine training from, of all places, my son Daniel when he was in the USMC. I learned the plates-forward aggressive stance and other such things from him. My point about how he trained his boots was also missed by a previous reader and led me to close comments on the most recent post. It had nothing to do with my creds – I have no creds.
    It had to do with the fact that I understand what it means to be in serious training if for no other reason that my son. When lives are at stake, it was more than patches. People got hurt, badly so, during training, if they failed.
    My son was a SAW gunner. He had one ND in the Marines. They were doing squad rushes, and he tripped over something and pulled the trigger of his SAW sending a few rounds down range. He was taken to the “room of pain.” I’ll let you figure out what happens in the room of pain, but it’s painful. And he never did it again.
    But … and here’s the point … they made him keep his finger on the trigger of his SAW at all times. The Marines had all deployed to Iraq before, and they wanted their SAW gunners to be ready to shoot without any movement or repositioning of fingers at all since they had the only area suppression weapon. It was their choice. That’s what they wanted in order to have the best chance of staying alive.
    In order to do that, they knew that he had to work through the sympathetic muscle reflex to grip with the hand when you’re falling. They trained him until he had it completely under control, but in order to overcome a sympathetic muscle reflex it has to be serious, serious training and time in grade.
    He did well in Iraq, and I know that from interviews I did with other Marines in his company, not him. The way the Marines train they know the moves each other is going to make before they make them. They don’t even have to speak and during room clearing they know who is going to move which way.
    It’s because they trained together, worked together, ate together, played together and literally lived together. Their sergeants made it clear that if any Marine was arrested in Jacksonville, N.C. on a weekend and the sergeant had to come down and get them out, he had better have to get out the entire fire team. If only one Marine got arrested, the fire team failed by separating from each other. That’s why they can accomplish tasks without talking to each other. They know more about each other than husbands and wives know about each other.
    So where am I going with all of this? Well, that’s why SWAT teams can never really be militarized. They can pretend and wear the costumes, they can be given the authority to raid homes, but they can never be that good. Never. They can never be that disciplined. The sympathetic muscle reflex can be trained out, but not for common folks like civilians. That’s why I think it’s important to stay in the lanes. I’ll never be trained like that. I’ll never be that disciplined. I’ll likely always grip when I fall, so it’s important for me to mind my trigger discipline. I know what I’m saying goes against commonly accepted religious pronouncements on the rules of safety, but we aren’t Marines deployed to Fallujah, Iraq.
    So is this important for a SWAT team to understand? Search through my Police category and read about poor Mr. Eurie Stamps. I believe the cop’s name who shot him was Jeff Duncan. They raided his home, a grandfather, looking for someone else, Mr. Stamps got on the floor like he was told, and the cop stumbled over him and his sympathetic muscle reflexes took over. He squeezed off a round and then said this. “Jesus, was that my rifle?”
    And it was, and Mr. Stamps was dead. I and my readers have no patience for those who wander outside the lines, and wrong home raids, raids for minor drug offenses, and so on, infuriate us. All of this leads me back to the idea that perhaps Pat wasn’t doing such a bad job after all, and perhaps a patch was a good technique for teaching this object lesson, especially when he can’t send trainees to the “room of pain” like the Marines.
    If I had taken the time, I could have thought through all of that. But as I said above, no one would have read it. I usually have to wait for the comments to flesh this level of detail out over time.
    In summary, it’s a shame that this turned into such a flame session. I won’t get any repeat readers from this flurry of reads, and so not one of the commenters will drop in and share his thoughts or expertise. So this ends up being a lot of time and effort wasted for what was intended to be a short little post where we discussed the new shooters we were talking to.
    At any rate, I appreciate the kind and thoughtful response above. Blessings.

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You are currently reading "Teaching By Humiliation In The Gun Community", entry #16516 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published January 30th, 2017 by Herschel Smith.

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