Sunday, 10 September 2017

Qualification vs Ability

“Well, I took a course once?”

Phase Line Green Tactical Shotgun Course

There is a bit of a trend towards mandatory training courses for the sake of mystical level of qualification. We see it regularly with “Advanced First Aid” or “Intermediate Pistol” as if the rudimentary concepts will change based on your level of training. Many clubs will require a “Holster Qualification’ before allowing you to use a holster at their facility. I understand the concept of reduction of liability and fully support that, this conversation is about the difference between qualifications and abilities.

Qualification is either the process of qualifying for an achievement or a credential attesting to that achievement. This means that a prerequisite minimum standard must be demonstrated to consider oneself qualified. A beginning shooter takes a weekend handgun course and gets a certificate stating they met the standard for the course. They have a piece of paper.

"Train to a minimum standard: get minimum results"

Ability can be defined as competence in an activity or occupation because of skill, training, aptitude or experience. This means that the person is proficient at the activity; not an arbitrary standard. An experienced military shooter has multiple tours, military courses and years of experience behind the gun. They have demonstrable expertise.

What does my qualification mean? It means you have demonstrated the minimum required level of skill or knowledge once during a test or certification. It does not make you an expert, instructor or subject matter expert.

Does this mean qualifications are not important? Nope. Qualification courses are part of the road to developing a skill. They are a necessary part of the process for many organizations to reduce liability.

How does this affect me? When selecting an instructor or subject matter expert, look more for ability than their inventory of qualifications. The majority of good instructors has a plethora of qualifications but they do not refer to them except in curriculum vitae.

I have absolutely zero botheration with people taking various course to fill their ‘ME wall’ with framed certificates. This is a good time and allows for the full enrichment of your life. A collection of certificates does not necessarily translate into ability though. This does not mean you should be on the internet commenting in specific thread, proffering advice to novice shooters or recommending medical gear. 

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