Insight Firearms Training – Covert Teaching Techniques

Sherrie Firearms Training

Covert Teaching Techniques for Firearms Training Instructors
By: Matt & Sherrie Seibert

One thing I’ve learned about Firearms Training instructors is that they have a very special quality.

They are on a constant journey seeking new insights into how they can better help their students Learn and Shoot More Accurately. Just as importantly they are always looking for new techniques for themselves that will improve their accuracy, their student’s accuracy and their Firearms Training capabilities.

Over the last 16 years I’ve been researching how to shoot more accurately and what was more important for me was how to become an even better instructor.

As you know, shooting is really easy. You keep the sights in alignment as you’re compressing the trigger and you compress the trigger so you don’t disturb the sight alignment as the gun releases the shot. That will give you a perfect shot every time; wouldn’t you agree?  So, if shooting is that easy, how come in firearms training it’s been so difficult to teach someone how to shoot with precision accuracy? I don’t know about you, but I used to get very frustrated when I couldn’t get a student shoot accurately. Now, we can get anyone shooting one shot on-top-of-another with consistency in only a matter of minutes.  I would like to share with you one of the secrets I’ve learned over the years.  It is the quickest and easiest way in which you can become a hero to all your students and get them shooting more accurately…instantly.

Creating The Landscape In The Mind

One of the keys of setting up the learning experience is to prepare (prime) your student’s mind so that they are more likely to “spontaneously” follow your every instruction. One of the ways we can do this is to formulate our instructional language patterns so that our students naturally and easily respond to our suggestions and directions without any resistance.  To do this we can utilize “covert” language patterns that bypass the part of their conscious mind that creates an aversion to the firing process and embeds our suggestions directly to their unconscious.
Remember: All learning, all change, and all behavior originates in the unconscious first.  So why not teach directly to the unconscious.  As you continue to read this article you’ll realize just how easily this works.

When you get really good at these powerful language patterns, you’ll stop teaching, and your students will begin learning more quickly and easily. These language patterns are not designed to be scripts. They’re designed to demonstrate the process that we have added into our new five-day advanced instructor course that will make it easy for you to get your students shooting more accurately.

CAUTION: If you try to utilize these language patterns as a script, the focus of your instruction becomes the language pattern, and you will lose track of where your student is in his learning process. Our focus as firearms training instructors should not be on what we’re teaching, but how our students are learning. Learning is not something that you do, it’s something you become and it’s up to us to help our students become the best they can be.

You need to find out what your student’s reality is so you can blend your information on marksmanship into their reality OR you must disturb their reality to allow for a greater understanding to emerge.

Example: I remember as a police officer when I was being trained in riot and crowd control.  I was faced with a wall of people coming at me. It was hard to distinguish faces or any one person. Everything blended together and it was difficult to make any sense of it. It reminded me of being in the ocean and having a wave rolling at me.  I became totally overwhelmed.

This is very similar as to how your students construct their realities during firearms training. When we present information, we need to deconstruct that information so our students are not overwhelmed and can easily make sense of it.

Language Defines the Limits of Our Reality.

When a person is speechless, they’ve reached the end of their model of their world.

When a person is shooting a pistol, and the barrel nosedives due to the aversion of the recoil process, it is because that person is trying to keep their balance because they’re teetering on the edge of their world and reality.

One of the first things we need to do is deconstruct the shooters reality that is limiting them at that time. The reason a shooter doesn’t perform at peak performance is because they have built in limitations. The first step is to deconstruct their reality, so you can create new space for a new reality to be put into place.

The 6th Sense – Awareness

A person’s 6th sense is their sense of awareness. It is awareness that brings to one’s attention the other five senses. Awareness is the operating process used to construct and deconstruct the shooting process. It is through this awareness that contrast is created which helps us make sense of our world. Our job as instructors is to influence our student’s awareness in order to influence the way that they think, feel and behave. To do this we can use covert mind-bending language patterns.

We’re going to focus on what it is, and what it is not. The key to this process is to create a “matter” and “antimatter” mix that will create a void of emotional detachment.  We need to help our students move from a negative emotional state to a resourceful state. Once we have achieved a resourceful state (a positive emotional state) we can then take them into the super-state of detachment. If you eliminate the negative emotion from the shooting process, it will be impossible for them to flinch. Once they’re in a resourceful state you can guide them into detaching from the shooting process. Then they will transform into a biological atomatron and will shoot with machine-like precision.

Using This New Process We Can Influence:

1. How our students think.

2. How they feel.

3. How they behave.

4. We can influence what they do involuntarily, spontaneously and automatically.

To Instruct vs. Influence

Traditionally when we’ve instructed someone in firearms training, we were trying to communicate what is required to shoot an accurate shot. The focus has been on what we’re teaching. The shift in paradigm in using a neuro-psychological approach is from teaching to influencing. Nobody likes to be told what to do, it creates control issues. Control issues are one of the villains of the shooting process. We’ve developed specific covert language patterns to positively influence our students at the unconscious level and bypass any resistance, aversions and/or control issues.

Instructors are often quick to point out a student’s failings and what they’re doing wrong. Nobody likes to be told that they are wrong. Nobody likes to fail. When you use these new language patterns, you will show more respect for the student’s feelings and their dignity and pride.  You will be more respected and looked up to as the instructor. These language patterns allow the student’s mind to become open to your instruction instead of closing down.

What Has To Occur For Our Communication To Be Accepted By The Student?

We need to create language patterns in a specific sequence to create very special kinds of embedded suggestions that will be accepted by the unconscious mind. To do this you must create the context (when and where) and the frames (who, what, how and why) to create space in the student’s mind in which your suggestions will be accepted. To do this: You Must First Change Their Emotional State!

Interrupting Negative Patterns of Thinking that is Causing the Behavior Problem

If the student’s emotions are out of control, their accuracy is going to be out-of-control. When a shooter is in a full-blown sympathetic response due to the fear of the firing process or performance anxiety due to the anticipation of failure, they’ll have a snowballs chance in hell of following your instructions. Their fore-brain has been hijacked by their midbrain making it virtually impossible to think their way through the process.

The alternative is to interrupt the negative thought patterns and create new ones that are resourceful and associated with a positive emotional state. One of the ways to do this is to spin their conscious mind away from the problem by creating confusion and redirecting their attention. The key is to stop the thought patterns that are causing the negative behavior.

Example: If the student says: “The gun makes me nervous.”

You can reply:  “Who are you now, that is…not nervous?”   

(Please read that again and consider it fully!)

Notice, how that simple question spins your mind outside of where you are?

This opens the door that allows them to explore where they could be, and guide them to where we want them to be which is: “not nervous”.

The purpose of confusion is to create an opportunity for change.  We’ve been taught that confusion is bad and yet it opens the mind up to infinite possibilities.  Confusion allows the shooter to reorganize their existing reality so that a better reality can emerge.

When You Confuse The Meaning of the Problem, The Shooter Tends To
Lose The Problem

There is a strategic and covert way of using language. You can guide your student’s mind to shift their reality and their emotional state from fear into a resourceful emotional state, which gives them the willingness to engage and enter into a state of detachment where they will perform and shoot with machine-like precision.

NOTE: You cannot ask logical questions because you’re not dealing with the logical mind when you’re addressing problems that are emotionally based. You want to open the door so their mind has another place to go.

Below is a dialogue between an Instructor and the student which demonstrates how we can use covert mind-bending language patterns which can change the shooter’s emotional state to elicit a resourceful emotional state that will drive the behavior into peak performance.

PROBLEM: Every time the shooter compresses the trigger they look like they’re passing a kidney stone and they throw the shot.

I = Instructor

S = Student

I: What’s happening when you’re compressing the trigger?

S: I’m nervous.

I: So, you’re nervous. Who are you, that’s…not nervous?

S: What?

I: Ok…. What are you, that’s…not nervous?

S: I’m confused.

I: So, you’re confused and how much better are you feeling?

S: I’m not sure.

I: So you’re confused and not sure, but feeling good, what’s that all about?

S: I don’t know!

I: So, you’re confused and feeling good, but you don’t know why you’re feeling good?

S: “Yes!”

I: So, how’s that nervousness doing now?

S: Well it doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

I: So, it doesn’t feel that bad anymore, but you feel good!

S: “Yeah”

As you can see, we took the student who was in a negative emotional state through a series of questions to collapse the negative state, de-materialized the problem allowing us to create a resourceful state.  The next step of the process would be to overtly direct their behavior while maintaining that resourceful emotional state.  This will give the student the ability to begin shooting without being nervous and their emotional state will eventually evolve into a state of detachment.

PROBLEM:  The Shooter Is Tucking Their Chin Into Their Chest When They Shoot

Tucking the chin into the chest is an unconscious way of protecting the throat.  As you may know, when a shooter tucks their chin into their chest it will cause them to neuro-code their experience negatively, creating an aversion to recoil. (When you tuck your chin into your chest it puts the emotional feeling low in the abdomen and will create an affective (negative) response to the recoil and the firing process…. They’ll flinch!  It also fatigues the eyes and causes their sights become blurry.

If the student is consistently dropping their chin, and you’ve asked them to keep their chin up and yet they continue to tuck their chin; Ask them:

I = Instructor

S = Student


I: Why are you not… keeping your chin up?

S: I forgot !

I: Then, why don’t you forget to forget to bring your chin up, and bring it up instead?

Did you just have the sensation as if your mind just went spinning? You may have felt something happening, but you are not sure what it was. Your conscious mind is trying to figure out what you’re sensing and you’ve reached the boundaries of your reality because there’s no language attached to it. This bypasses the conscious mind and programs the embedded suggestion to, “bring your chin up” straight to the unconscious.

Here is another example:

PROBLEM: The Student Is Jerking The Trigger.

The shooter just jerked the trigger and threw the shot because he was anticipating the gunfire:
I  = Instructor

S = Student

I: So, what do you think just happened?

S: I’m anticipating the gun fire and jerked the trigger.

I: You don’t seem like a jerk to me.

S: No, (with a smile) I’m anticipating the gunfire.

I: So, you don’t know if the gun is going to fire?

S: Yeah, I know the gun was going to fire, I just didn’t know when.

I: That’s right, you don’t know when the guns going to fire, so why don’t you anticipate that?

S: Hugh??

I: That’s right, anticipate not knowing when.  If you don’t anticipate when the gun is going to fire, you will shoot more accurately won’t you?

S: Yes (with a big smile)
I: Perhaps now you’ll anticipate compressing the trigger more gently now with every shot.

What we’ve done is turn the problem onto itself. The problem was anticipation. Now we’ve interrupted the negative pattern and created a resourceful state and we are using anticipation as a force for good. We seeded the embedded suggestion “anticipate compressing the trigger more gently now” which is the desired behavior and future paced it with “every shot”.

These covert language patterns send the student’s mind into another areas of their brains; thoughts that they have not considered.  It’s because they’ve never considered it, that the new reality becomes a possibility and change is now able to take place.  You can create confusion with these types of questions so that they pull the neurological rug out from under the problem, which opens the door for change.

It’s important to realize you are not looking for an answer, you’re only asking them to try to answer it.  You want to create confusion to break the negative pattern which will change their emotional state. It overloads their conscious mind. (Isn’t that what happens when a person has an aversion to recoil, their conscious mind becomes overloaded?) We’re utilizing a similar process to distract the conscious mind away from the aversion and create new opportunities for change.

Can you feel the gears in your brain turning?  We are creating a doorway. We’re bypassing the filters of the conscious mind that’s creating the negative emotional state due to the aversion to recoil. The negative emotional state is caused because the student future projects themselves into “what’s going to happen” (anticipation) instead of remaining in the present and initiating the visual and biomechanical skills required for an accurate shot. We’re temporarily spinning their mind into a search process rather than focusing on a result. Once their focus is off the recoil of the firing process and the outcome, we can pull them back into the present and add a simple positive suggestion (covertly) that will stimulate their unconscious so we can now direct their behavior.

Consider this: What will you have been thinking that’s good about what you’ve just read anytime but then? And beyond that, how will you be, feeling great that is, having read this anywhere but here?

Question: Did that put a smile on your face?  How did that happen?  Can you see where we put a spin on the language?  Can you spot where we embedded the suggestions that instantly changed your state and put a smile on your face?

Right now, we’re not trying to persuade you of anything. We are opening doors and creating many options so that a least one of them will make you and your students both feel good at the same time. Youalways shoot better, when you feel good, don’t you?….Want to learn more?


The key to achieving peak performance is the 6th sense of awareness. It’s not what you see, hear, feel, smell and taste, although that’s part of it, it is the awareness that allows you to create space in your mind that makes sense of it all. This may seem a little confusing but it does allow us to get anyone shooting 1-hole groups instantly so the skill can be covertly conditioned to the unconscious.

It’s like training wheels on a bike.  It teaches them to keep their balance while steering and not hurt themselves.  Once you have your balance, you can peddle faster, and keep your balance and steer without holding onto the handlebars.

You may ask, “Why don’t you just focus on the problem directly?” The problem with the traditional direct approach to teaching is that the conscious mind gets in the way. It’s the student’s conscious mind that is critical of your instructions; it makes judgments, and filters our communication to meet the model of their world. It’s also the scoundrel that is creating the problem (the anticipation and fear) to begin with.  Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to embed and program our instructions directly to the student’s unconscious without them filtering and distorting our communications? How many times have you told the student: “Don’t jerk the trigger” and it went in one ear, and out the other?  Wouldn’t you like an alternative, communicating in a way that your students will accept your suggestions implicitly?  This new teaching process using covert language patterns along with some really innovative teaching techniques will allow you to do just that.

When we conducted our Instructor Program in November 2010 at the Morris County Training Academy we had an opportunity to demonstrate the power of this new process with an officer who had failed 2 consecutive attempts to qualify.  We worked with him for only 5 minutes utilizing this new process and he qualified with the highest score he had ever shot in his career.  He went from not qualifying twice, to shooting a score of 87% with only 5 minutes of tutoring. The program was such a huge success we have been invited back to New Jersey so that you can attend our expanded 5-Day Advanced Firearms Instructors Course on July 25, 2011.

Now you can learn how to create and implement these powerful new language patterns easily and quickly.  You’ll be able to get even the most challenged shooters shooting with precision accuracy “instantly”.  It really does work like magic !

The results are beyond amazing, and they come with a full money back guarantee*.

We look forward to having you join us in one of our 5-Day Advanced Firearms Training Instructor Courses!

All the Best and Stay Safe,

Matt and Sherrie Seibert

Insight Firearms Training Development

PO Box 12293

Prescott, AZ 86304-2293

Office: 928-708-9208

Fax: 928-776-4668