"From Behind the Line" (FBTL) is a text written by Jim Crews, a firearms instructor, on technical notes and commentary on what he has learned during his classes taught on the road. JC makes clear up front that this text is not a how-to on firearms instruction (FI). However, some valuable insights can be gained from what an instructor has seen. I make clear from the start that one cannot learn firearms use or FI from reading a book. Any book. Although well-written books can help give a student more info and background, it is the hands-on training under the coaching of a good instructor that makes all the difference. Put another way, at one point I thought I knew what shooting was all about. Then after some serious training I realized I didn't know squat, I just knew enough to delude myself.
OK, enough about me.
There are a wide variety of useful tools for FI. Dummy guns with useable sights are one whose use is explained in FBTL. Reactive targets are another. Some detailed explanations of the pros and cons of each target system are explained, along with some gunfighting principles. Also, administrative and logistical concerns are talked about which many may overlook.
For example, steel targets can be a useful training tool, but are not an end-all. Steel must be allowed on the range where the FI is occurring. Steel must be of the correct design for the FI in question. For example, pistol and rifle steel are not the same thickness. Steel targets are heavy and need appropriate stands for best effect. Spray paint is necessary for recoating steel. Steel is two-dimensional and does not offer the learning advantage of shooting on 3-D targets. The reactive nature of steel may reinforce bad shooting habits such as looking for the hit. Any steel target system used is best brought by the instructor running a class, else he be at the mercy of whatever equipment is/isn't available on hand.
Many problems seen in FI are described. Believe me, there are a lot more mistakes and problems in shooting than can be experienced by just learning the NRA training method. Diagnosing problems is described in FBTL at length. My personal experience, though, is a student or instructor should never feel that they know all the tricks of the trade. Either Mr. Murphy has attached himself to me at the hip or people who go and do just see more hiccups, problems, fubars and outright strange phenomena than their fair share.
A recurring theme through the book are notes on common mistakes that students make. These are useful points to ponder, not just for instructors but for anyone who wants to improve their own shooting. As one example, 3-D targets often fake out newbie students. Most shooters only train on flat 2-D targets, such as the common USPSA silhouette. So it's no surprise that many will aim A-zone A-zone A-zone all the time it is available. On a 3-D target that doesn't work well if it is canted away from you at some angle. What would normally be a square hit through the vitals is now a peripheral hit that only skims the surface and misses all the "plumbing".
Numerous notes on specific problems of common firearms such as the AR-15 series and others are covered. One of the biggest points one should learn reading these sections if you didn't already know is that all gun designs have their idiosyncracies, and any chosen for serious social purposes should learn them in advance.
I see most gun people think they can learn what they need to know just by reading the gun rags or surfing the internet. I'm sure everyone here has noticed that many internet bulletin boards have way more noise than signal. It's hard to communicate to gun people that some folks actually see and do way more shooting than they do. The sad fact is that a great deal of info dies with the people who learned it at great effort. That leaves the rest of us to rely on secondhand accounts of What It Was Like.
Personally I wish more instructors would put their info down in print like Jim Crews has. Also, I'd like to see more books published on FI in general.
To any familiar with FI, this text is a good review and reference for training. Like I said before, it will not make you an instructor any more than buying a piano makes you a pianist. But, as one of my colleagues says, many of us coach friends and family and introduce new shooters. This is a useful reference especially for fledgeling instructors. This text is also useful to those hosting FI at their local range, or for range owners who need to know more about all the prep work necessary for a class to run well.