by Steven Cline
The Deadeye Method

There is some debate on standardized testing in schools.  Specifically, there are complaints and accusations of “teaching to the test.”  I admit to being confused as to why this is.  It is only reasonable to teach students addition and subtraction if that’s what they will be tested on.  If your history class will be testing you on Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride and the subsequent fight between the British and Colonialists, is it not reasonable to teach them about “One if by land, two if by sea”?  If your economics class is going to test you on the merits of free market capitalism, should the professor teach you about the (false) benefits of Communism instead?  It’s not even a new idea.  I recall in both Military (AIT and OBC) and Law Enforcement (KLETC) having teach to the test moments.

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In both military training and the state law enforcement academy there was teaching to the test. In those cases, the instructors knew there was a badly worded question; a question Cadets, Privates, or Lieutenants repeatedly answered incorrectly because of something which led test takers astray.  Usually, the problem was a word or phrase.  As a result, one heard, “If you see…, it means….”  I’m okay with this behavior as well.  It would be better if the question were removed.  But should the curriculum require the question be asked, why not make sure the student has the knowledge to correctly understand and answer the question?  In summary, I see arguments against so called “teaching to the test” as frivolous.  More clearly, I see teaching to the test as desirable.  Teaching to the test makes even more sense when we consider saving our lives with the use of firearms.

F is for Flat-footed

Pay attention! Dont get caught unaware.

The justified use of deadly force test will involve several categories of knowledge.  It will start with situational awareness. The bad guy is looking to rob, rape, or kill.  You should be on the lookout for the that guy.  He will act in certain ways; the test is for you to know what those behaviors are and recognize them.  You can’t spot those behaviors unless you have been taught them.  If you haven’t been taught to the test, you might just earn an F for being caught Flat-footed.  The test will continue with knowing when you are legally justified in using deadly force and how to articulate that justification.

F is for Felon

Don’t get locked up!

Tom Givens famously observes that there is nothing subtle about someone trying to kill you.  I agree, yet we still see people shoot when they were not justified in doing so.  Michael Drejka’s shooting of Markeis McGlockton comes to mind.  I cannot believe that Drejka was properly trained when he shot the unarmed and retreating McGlockton.  Because Drejka was not taught to the test, he failed and received an F for becoming a Felon.  I submit that justified use of force is a subject which must be studied regularly and is like marksmanship practice.  Speaking of marksmanship, all self-defense tests could conclude with a measurement of your ability to draw and shoot.

F is for Flat-lined

Don’t get dead.

Justified use of deadly force requires the reasonable perception of the imminent risk of being killed or maimed.  Imminent means right now: not in some hypothetical future or a time that has passed (to paraphrase Andrew Branca).  To survive the deadly force encounter you might need to draw your gun and shoot it accurately in a small amount of time.  This requires quality training and significant practice.  If you haven’t been taught these skills and practiced them diligently, how could you ever expect to pass that part of the test?  You could fail this part of the test and earn an F for being flat-lined.

In conclusion, it only makes sense for the defensive firearms instructor to “teach to the test” given that we know the manner in which the test will be administered.  Teaching to the test isn’t just advisable, it is downright mandatory.  Refusing to teach to the test virtually guarantees being caught flat-footed, becoming a felon, or being flatlined.