One of the benefits of formal education is simply learning how to learn.

Students at my high school would occasionally hound Mr. Erpelding, our Geometry teacher, as to why they needed to bother writing geometric proofs. “We won’t have to do this in the real world”, they’d protest.

Mr. Erpelding responded, “Some of the exercises we do force you to spell out what you’re doing to demonstrate higher understanding, an ability to research and formalizing what you know. You’re learning how to learn.”

Earning a high mark in a formal, organized shooting program is the same thing. Holding a Master or Distinguished rating or similar high mark demonstrates that the shooter is a student of the process, able to dedicate himself to a challenge and overcoming it. It’s useless to wax hypothetical about how to perform a task until you’ve put your nose to the grindstone and actually done it at a proven, high level.

Learning how to be a student of a process that yields measurable improvement and taking that journey yourself is more important than the particular path taken. It doesn’t matter if the real, measurable developed skill was learned “out of context” or it wasn’t “tactical.”

What matters is that the individual learns a training approach that actually works. We know it works only if results are measured and those numbers indicate improvement. There is a difference between instruction, training, and practice. Learning those differences and how they can work for you is part of learning how to learn.

Plenty of people will claim prowess and, as the Dunning–Kruger effect has proven, most of them are wrong. Proven success against a known, well-established metric demonstrates which folks have put in the real effort to back up what they say.