A question we get now and then from newer shooters revolves around when they should take the NROI Level 1, or “RO” seminar. The answer is pretty straightforward, “As soon as you can!” although there are a few qualifications and nuances you might want to consider.
While generally the answer “ASAP” applies, what a student gets out of the seminar can vary based on their experience level. Herein lies the nuanced answer.
We see a wide range of experience levels in our Level 1 seminars ranging from experienced shooters who are either finally taking the seminar, those who have decided to sit through it again to see what has changed, those looking to regain certification after letting it lapse for a while, all the way to folks who have never even attended a USPSA or SCSA match. I’ve even had one memorable student who had never shot a centerfire handgun before but who was curious about competition.
So, a shooter with what experience level is going to get the most out of the seminar? You might be tempted to say either the very new shooter or the more experienced shooter but the truth lies somewhere in between.
The total novice, lacking foundational knowledge of the sport including a lot of common terminology, can easily become overwhelmed in the classroom. Sadly, all too often these students don’t finish the class because it just seems to be too much to take in. We might even see this person leave the sport or, never go to their first match because of the perceived learning curve. Meanwhile, we at NROI want everyone in each seminar to get as much as possible out of that seminar and find the experience to be rewarding as well as educational and that just doesn’t seem possible without a very basic knowledge of our sport.
Because of this problem, NROI has recently implemented a policy requiring that all students have at least one classification in USPSA or SCSA competition to enroll in the class. This ensures everyone in the room has at least basic foundational knowledge upon which to build because they have been exposed to it at matches which helps provide context for what we will cover in the classroom. This saves the limited and thus valuable class time to cover other things and helps the instructor better work with the entire class.
The most experienced shooters are certainly going to get a lot out of the seminar but a lot of that will be in the form of a refresher. They already knew the information, just had it brought forward in their minds. They also tend to get a lot of newer information because the rules may have changed since the last time they were in a seminar. We do very much recommend that current ROs attend a seminar as an audit student, where space is available, whenever possible. Before I became an instructor I attended several Level 1 seminars as a seminar host and I learned something new every time.
Everyone is different, of course, but generally I have found in talking to students after the seminar that those who have been involved in the sport for at least six months to a year get the most out of it. They have experienced enough matches to understand the sport and to get a bit of an understanding of the rules and probably have at least started to learn the range commands. They also haven’t been exposed to so much “local flavor” that they have formed bad habits like improper range commands and a flawed understanding of the rules.
So does the “ASAP” answer still apply? Well, yes it does. The reality is that even if you are a very new shooter who just earned your first classification, if the opportunity to attend a seminar in your area pops up then you might want to avail yourself of it. Folks who have no foundation at all are really better off getting their feet wet in the sport first and catching the next seminar that comes by.
See you in the classrooms and on the ranges!