Hip Pocket Training

When reading course descriptions for the classes I offer at Hillside Brass, they reflect general more than specific training objectives.  Also, our classes often start with a gauge of where the student currently stands in their firearms training. When making class introductions I also ask each person to make a statement about what they want to learn from the class.  These are intentional teaching methods, skills that I have acquired throughout my years as an Army Officer.  In the Army I learned to make use of every single moment of time that I had available to train and I still apply these principles today.   

The Army calls this “hip pocket training”, referring to the fact that an effective leader keeps a mythical list of notes in their pocket to pull out at any given moment and train.  From this I learned flexibility in my teaching style, and that every training situation or scenario is different.   I learned that I must quickly recognize what my audience needs to take away from the class, gauging each student’s current ability level and making on the fly adjustments to ensure that everyone gets the most from it. 

I learned that when an Army Non Commissioned Officer (or Officer) conducts a training class, (whether in a formal classroom session or a hasty “hip pocket” class), it is critical that they conduct their assessment quickly and build a baseline upon which to further their student’s training.  In the dynamic world we are currently living in, this type of learning is critical, and instructors that can grasp this concept are crucial to those taking the course. A picture of this is an Army leader huddling their Soldiers around them in the edge of a field during some down time.  During this quick training huddle the leader might go over some of the basics of tactics or positions. It could serve as a refresher training or something that has not been covered in a while.  This impromptu teaching will keep the Soldiers sharp and current on a particular topic. 

I have utilized these “hip pocket training” skills frequently in my work as a private firearms training instructor, but also in my daily work as a police supervisor and father.  I do my best to take advantage of every opportunity given to me to train, coach, and mentor.  This style of teaching and coaching has served me well, and I would encourage everyone to attempt to master this, and watch your team grow.  Whether with your family at home, with subordinates in the workplace, or, in my case, with students at a firearms training company, I challenge you to not let a single moment available to you for coaching go to waste.  Maximize your training time and your students will be rewarded!

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