Last week in a small town 25 miles north of Raleigh, North Carolina a woman was shot in the head by her ex-boyfriend. Sad to say but somewhat typical in domestic abuse cases. The sadder part to me was the woman was armed and it did not need to happen the way it did had she only spent some time on LEARNING to use the tool she selected and learned about the tactics of armed self-defense.
In NC there is a minimal training requirement to obtain a CCW, eight hours with some live fire. Certainly not training but enough to provide political cover should something go awry as it did this time. The courts and Law Enforcement were fully aware of the dangers the woman faced in fact the woman’s family said she spent hours on the phone talking with both parties in the Legal System that may have been better spent training and practicing. The court of course provided her with a bullet proof protection called a Domestic Violence Protective Order. We involved in armed self-defense call it a piece of paper.
The Legal System provided the woman with another piece of paper, a North Carolina Concealed Handgun Permit. Again just another piece of paper.
The woman went out and obtained two handguns.
While certainly at this point the majority of people believe the woman should be able to defend herself but they were wrong. When attacked the woman, who had little to no skills with the gun much less a solid defensive mindset, pulled out her little gun and fired one shot striking her assailant in the leg muscle and then the gun failed to eject because no one had taught her how to clear a malfunction. The woman ran with the assailant in pursuit ending it with a bullet to her head.
This is wrong on so many levels and it could have been perhaps avoided or perhaps she could have escaped and if need be been able to get the gun back into the fight quickly had there been a more serious level of training.
Just to be clear, a restraining order cannot protect you, a Concealed Carry permit cannot protect you, and even a gun cannot protect you. Only you can protect you and your loved ones and the only way that can be accomplished is to learn. You have to have the right mindset, you have to have the best skills and a reliable tool.
It all starts with the mind, that you will not be a victim and you will make it a priority in your life to ensure you have the skills needed should you be called on to defend yourself or others.
Minimal training is not training. It should start with taking a beginning class, learning about the gun, sampling many guns so you can make an informed purchase.
After your introduction to handguns and your purchase you should practice with the gun so you can manipulate it without any conscious thought through the use of dry practice, then go measure your ability with a narrow focused course of live fire.
At this point you are ready to take a class that will give you the needed skills both in mind and in armed self-defense and go further with obtaining your permit. Please, please, please . . . do not just take the minimum required by law. Do not assume because you were in the military 20 years ago you know what to do, nor assume because you punch holes in paper at the range monthly that you are now capable of defending your life.
Program your mind for success, take training regularly, dry practice daily, shoot and measure the effectiveness of your practice . . . and repeat. Only you can defend yourself and your loved ones and it takes more than a piece of paper.
Whenever we talk to new shooters or people who are looking at guns for the first time there is often a huge disconnect between what they’ve heard from the myriad of experts versus the reality. We often refer to a lot of those stories as ‘Old Guys Tales’. Much like the proverbial old wives tales, Old Guys Tales are perpetuated generation after generation, sworn to as if it were the Gospel but are almost always factually wrong. Go to any gun forum on the internet, walk into any gun store in America, heck even take a class from an amateur instructor and it is virtually guaranteed you will hear one of these misconceptions within the first 15 minutes.
Everyone seems to want to focus on the gun in their search for the Holy Grail of gun fighting. I taught a student a couple of months ago, former military, who had come in to requalify for his CCW, clearly a person you would believe knew how to operate a handgun. Time and life however marches on, as had the skills he had 30 years ago. During the qualifying course of fire he barely qualified with two guns and failed with a sub-compact .45 ACP. At the time he stated he wanted to get a different gun and come back so he could add his new gun to the permit. A month later he came back with a sub-compact 9mm 1911 with the belief that this new gun was the solution to the problems he had with the sub-compact DAO. We set up the 15 yard course of fire and he goes to work . . . and fails to qualify. You see it was not the gun, it was the shooter. Certainly some guns will be easier to manipulate incorrectly and still make hits but in the end, accuracy comes from the shooter, not the gun.
The bottom level of the triad is the tool. A real shooter should be able to pick up any gun and make the hits. They might not make a perfect first hit but the remaining shots fired will all be practically perfect. I shot the aforementioned gun before my student tried to qualify, put seven rounds inside a three inch circle at seven yards rapid fire. It wasn’t that hard to do with the action of the gun.
The caliber argument can simply be resolved with ballistic gelatin testing using the FBI Standard. With the new design in bullets today the 9mm is as effective if not more as the other common handgun calibers. Some bullet makers are more consistent in terms of penetration through different materials without over penetration. In terms of lethality the correctly placed 9mm will do the job. The myth that the larger the bullet the better is bunk. If you are going to stop the bad guy there are only two ways of doing that if when you present your gun he decides to stay a fight. You have to hit the Central Nervous System or the organs such as heart and lungs that will bleed rapidly leading to the loss of consciousness. All of the records show, there is no such thing as stopping power from a handgun so the bullet size is to a large degree irrelevant.
So in selecting the tool keep in mind two critical points, pick a gun that will function flawlessly every time you press the trigger and pick as large of a gun you can conceal. Any criteria beyond that is simply handicapping yourself.
Skills are certainly more important than the tool.As mentioned, a shooter should be able to pick up any gun and shoot it fast and accurately. The smaller the gun and the heavier the bullet your accuracy and speed WILL fall off, that is a simple fact. Little tiny 1911’s chambered in .45 ACP require constant attention to the condition of the gun and a perfect grip. Any failure in grip WILL cause a malfunction of the gun. Any failure in the grip WILL cause inaccuracies during rapid fire. That is not to say that a highly qualified shooter cannot shoot these guns, but the average shooter stands no chance of doing as well than they would with a full sized 9mm.
Full size guns are easier to quickly obtain a perfect grip. Full size guns will not muzzle flip as much as the tiny gun. Lighter bullets have less recoil and muzzle flip. Those are factual statements proven in testing. Should someone see your gun by accident, it is not against the law. You do not have to carry a wee, tiny sub gun to conceal a gun.
Train under stress, regularly, either in competition or under physical stress that will increase your heart and respiration rate. Demand accuracy from yourself. When you shoot your gun do so in a manner that scores your effectiveness. DO NOT just go to the range and throw bullets at a piece of paper. Aim for smaller and smaller target placed farther and farther away. Analyze your errors, have an instructor analyze your errors and then GO HOME and DRY PRACTICE.
We stress dry practice. It is pretty darn boring. You can do it wrong which in fact makes it worse on you if you didn’t do any practice. Practice dry VERY SLOWLY. Dry practice programs your neuro-pathways so you remember on a subconscious level, how to grip, where to place the gun, how many pounds of pressure on the trigger to fire the gun, where to place the gun on the target so you can make ACCURATE hits FAST.
How will you learn these skills? From the YouTube video? How about gun mag articles? While certainly you can pick up some tips but real training, really learning skills comes from taking professional instruction. There are a ton of instructors in America today, so which ones are professional? How do you pick an instructor? A professional instructor teaches full time, it is not a part-time job done on Saturday and Sunday. There are several really good schools out there but of course that requires travel and time but after all you are learning skills that you are literally betting your life on so you would think some expense would be appropriate. Far more instructors teach GROUP classes rather than individuals. In group instruction you reduce your cost but you also reduce the contact time with your instructor, which is why you went to take training, to spend time with an instructor. Schools will almost always teach groups. Group classes are going to a large degree minimize the amount of material they present due to the sheer size of people they have to watch.
Skills are important, they have to be committed to subconscious memory so during stress you will perform as you have trained and practiced.
The Mind is the Weapon. What is the best way to win the violent confrontation? Don’t get into one. This is accomplished in a myriad of ways. Situational awareness simply means knowing your surroundings, who is around you and how can you get out if you need to. It does not require you have your head on a swivel, it is a simple act of being focused and not being distracted. Give this a try, get on a busy freeway and try reading a blog article on your phone. Virtually guaranteed being distracted will cause you to get into a violent confrontation with another car.
Knowing the law is a must. If you cannot articulate the four basic requirements of when you can use deadly force most likely you should not be carrying a gun on the streets. In almost every state where I’ve reviewed their laws it boils down to four things, the bad guy has to have the ability to cause you or another grave bodily injury. The bad guy has to have the necessary proximity to the victim to employ that ability and it is imminent. The bad guy has to have shown the intent to cause said injury. You have no way out, all other options have been explored, using the gun is the last res AND a reasonable person in the same or similar circumstance would agree that deadly force was required to stop the threat. Not that difficult until we start running scenarios with photo realistic targets in a threat recognition exercise.
Just because you have to present your gun does not mean you have to shoot. It is not against the law to present the gun if you believe it is going to happen. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SHOOT! Bear in mind however that should you present your gun the three criteria still have to be in place. Pulling your gun to get some guy to move away from your car is a guaranteed ride to the police station for brandishing.
We use threat recognition exercises, using photo realistic picture designed to force you to quickly make that Shoot/Don’t Shoot decision. We provide you with plenty of cover to get behind which could increase the time you could take to make those decisions. If you have to shoot we make certain your gun will fail. The entire intent of the exercise is to drill home, under great stress, when you can use deadly force. It is a mental exercise with some shooting involved because in the end the Mind is the Weapon and it is the most important aspect of the Armed Self-Defense Triad.
Last week I taught the CCW range day with a new student who had taken the class day a couple of months earlier. I had wondered to myself why he had taken so long to finish the class and was pleasantly surprised that he had taken those two months to dry practice . . . and it paid off for him perfectly. He shot well all day and scored very high on his qualification targets.
Dry practice is an integral part of the learning process of the use of firearms and for most shooters it is seldom if ever done. Almost every movement you would make with a gun can be dry practiced to increase your speed and your competency, from simply being able to acquire a correct grip to all of the physical manipulations you would ever need to do. It is in effect the fastest way to neural pathway programming and unconscious competence under stress.
Simply going to the range and throwing a couple of hundred rounds at a piece of paper will quite often do you more harm than good. That is not practice; that is wasting money and often engraining bad habits. It takes 300 to 500 repetitions to engrain a physical skill to memory. A skill that has been engrained poorly will often require 3000 – 5000 repetitions to eliminate and reprogram. Fortunately for the vast majority of amateur shooters they don’t have very many engrained habits, good, bad or indifferent.
For new and old shooters a great way to start dry practice is to reinforce the correct grip. Start with the gun laying on its left side (reverse for left handed shooters). Quickly pick the gun up with the right hand placed correctly on the back strap and place your left hand high on the side of the gun with your left thumb indexed towards the target. The higher the left hand the better control during recoil. The right thumb should essentially be inert and resting on top of the left hand.
This is best,
The finished grip should look very similar to this,
When you look down on your grip the left thumb should look pretty much like your trigger finger. Practice this dry 25 to 50 times per session two or three days per week until it becomes second nature.
THE TRIGGER PRESS
When we watch students shoot and we see seven o’clock misses it is almost always applying too much pressure to the trigger or shooting from off the hard spot. In fact you can almost point to trigger control as the cause of all misses. What we hope to accomplish in dry fire is to program the mind to know exactly where the hard spot on the trigger is and exactly how many pounds of pressure it takes to break the trigger. The hard spot is the place on the trigger where all play or slack has been removed. Firing from off the hard spot will almost always lead to a six o’clock miss.
Stand with the muzzle of the gun almost touching a wall so you can readily detect any movement as you press your trigger. Practice this 50 times or more a week, frequency of practice is always better than less frequent longer sessions. After you can do 50 presses with no visual movement begin to balance objects on the slide or front sight until your mind can apply just the correct amount of pressure to the trigger with no movement of the front sight. For those with DA/SA guns about 65% of your trigger presses should be done in the double action mode, ditto for any live fire shooting.
Once your mind knows how much pressure to apply it can do it instantaneously with virtually no movement of the gun, thus you are becoming unconsciously competent with this manipulation of the trigger.
THE EXTEND/FIRE FROM THE RETENTION READY
The retention ready is the position where the gun is after you have drawn and rotated to target. The gun should be near your chest with the slide directly below your dominant eye. Once the muzzle is on the target you take the play out of the trigger and rest the trigger guard on the index finger of your support hand.
At this point you slowly extend the gun towards the target and press the trigger at the end of the extend. It’s important in dry practice to do this slowly so you can engrain the technique of steering the front sight to hide the desired point of impact.
This one thing will greatly improve your speed and accuracy on the range. Remember to place the gun in the correct position, do not worry about the left hand of the grip until you reach full extend. The left hand will fold correctly on the gun if the index finger is in the correct position before you extend. The right arm is accelerating forward and as you close in on full extend apply the brakes with the left hand and PRESS.
The object is as always tracking the front sight in your peripheral vision while steering it to the correct spot on the target. I practice this three or four days a week for about 10 minutes and attribute this skill to being able to get a round on the target from the holster in under 1 second.
DRAWING FROM THE HOLSTER
The first step is to grip the gun while placing your left hand over your heart, as if the two movements are one. The grip on the gun should be a shooting grip, which is high on the back strap, three fingers around the grip, trigger finger alongside the slide and that pesky right thumb high and out of the way for when the left hand joins the gun.
The next step is to pull the gun high, as high as your heart if possible physically. The muzzle is still down and has not rotated to target as yet and the trigger finger is on the frame of the gun, not on the trigger guard. With many concealed holsters pulling slow will not work well so you should learn to snap the gun out of the holster in a rapid movement.
Once the gun is high enough rotate the muzzle onto the target and position the gun in front of your chest directly below your dominant eye. The left hand would then slide over with the left index finger resting in the correct position under the trigger guard. I do not try to grip the gun with the left hand this close to my chest at this position because it is awkward and normally you have to begin to extend the gun before the left hand can close onto the grip.
It will look similar to this but I prefer the gun directly below my right eye and obviously if you are left eye dominant the gun position will be even further over in front of your chest.
How fast should you be able to get the gun into the retention ready position? If you can do this is 0.5 seconds and can extend to target firing accurately in 0.75 seconds that means one round on target at 7 yards in 1.25 seconds . . . which is pretty quick.
Obviously you never practice at home with a loaded gun. In my practice areas there are never, EVER and live ammunition. I unload my gun in my office, as it is the only place where I keep live ammunition in the house and I tell myself out loud three time that “the gun is empty”.
I then take my gun in holster to where I am going to perform my dry practice drills. As I try to practice every day for 10 minutes I have found it is easiest in the morning right before I prepare to leave for work. Doing this the same time every day will make for a more dedicated practice session and makes it safer as it becomes a routine.
At the end of my practice session I take my gun back to my office and load it for the day. After loading the gun I announce loudly three times that “the gun is loaded”.
There are many other things you can practice dry but these are the basics. If you consider this that everything you would do in a training session at the range you can do dry your shooting will improve dramatically in a very short time.
Keep in mind that you are engraining in your mind habits that you will fall back to in a violent encounter, make your best effort in dry practice to do every step perfectly because once engrained it is very difficult to change. Even though we have neuroplasticity it can take months to change a bad habit.
OFF TO THE RANGE
Now I get to go put holes in paper, timed and scored to see how well my dry practice is working. While shooting is a lot of fun it is not really practice. It is simply measuring the effect of your practice.
When I get to the range I perform certain skills to warm up and then I start testing myself through a variety of drills. Generally speaking I shoot the same drills all the time as they are a measure of my progress. I normally end the practice session with a room scenario which requires all of the skills I work on during the day.
There is a distinct difference between training and practice. Training is instruction you receive from another person showing you ways to do things. Practice is what you do on your own time, practicing what you received from the instructor.
Many people believe that going to a range and firing the gun is practice. Without training what are you actually practicing? In far too many instances all that is accomplished is to engrain in your mind the wrong way to manipulate the gun. Some believe that they can watch YouTube videos and that is training however what are you going to do if you have a question about the technique being shown? Most often you surmise or assume something and then go out and engrain yet another bad habit.
Pretty much anything you are taught in training can be practiced dry at home. Practicing a physical activity is programming the neuro pathways so you can perform the action at full speed without consciously thinking about it. It’s much like learning to drive. If you were to attempt to consciously recognize every sensory input you receive while driving, then consciously think of the appropriate response you would have multiple accidents before you ever arrived at your destination. Learning to shoot a gun under stress is very similar and that is why dry practice at home is a great tool that unfortunately is seldom utilized.
Going to the range is great fun but in reality the purpose of actually shooting the gun is to measure the success of your practice. No one wants to go to the range and never hit what they want or are forced to aim off of the desired point of impact to compensate for the inability to manipulate the gun correctly. Try this, go to a busy public range on a busy day and watch the amateur instructors telling their family members or friends to aim a little high and right . . . it is shocking to me. Compensating for bad skills is never a good idea when learning to use a tool that might at one point be needed to save a life.
Skills are taught and practiced, live fire drills are used to measure the effectiveness of the training and practice.
If you were to practice your skills just one hour a day that equates to only 2.3 days of practice per year. Is that enough practice to bet your life on? I know you probably have friends who you perceive to be really good with a gun but are they really good instructors? Good enough to bet your life on?
We recommend taking professional instruction from an instructor with credentials that mean more than Not Really Anything. An instructor who teaches for a living, not a hobby, an instructor who takes instruction from others on how to be a better instructor. We recommend that you take training at least annually.
We recommend that you practice daily, dry at home and at least once a week or month you go measure the success of your practice. If you want to learn to shoot very fast and very accurate start with learning the Fundamentals perfectly, learn how to shoot very accurately under no pressure and then learn how to shoot fast. When you are there, fast and accurate, learn how to do it under extreme pressure because if you are going to rely on that tool to potentially save a life you will need to be accurate, and very fast AND it will be under extreme stress. If you’re not really willing to put in the effort stop kidding yourself about self-defense and put the gun away, only take it out to go play with at the range because if you do not have the skills to save a life you will not be able to safely perform when required.
I’ve been using this line for several years while teaching because it appears that many people still fall for the empirical statements about guns. For the most part when someone says this is the BEST, or the MOST ACCURATE gun ever or the MOST POWERFUL cartridge it is pretty much guaranteed they are giving an opinion and are most likely WRONG. Much of this wrong information is passed from those who write on forums/blogs on the internet and since they write on the internet they are self-pronounced experts. I teach the use of firearms, I do it a lot, almost four days a week all year long and I’m not an expert, just a well trained and practiced individual. With that experience I have seen a ton of guns, most chosen for all the wrong reasons and based solely on Old Guys Tales. There are literally hundreds of these OGTs and like most tales they need to be seen in the light of reality.
OGT: Women should carry tiny lightweight revolvers because they are light and simple and never, EVER fail. FACT: I find this OGT to be literally offensive to women because what the tale state is that women are weak and stupid. The fact is women can shoot pretty much any gun any man can with the proper knowledge and technique and as has been proven over and over in my classes the ladies are often much better students and shoot better than their male company. I can count on two hands the number of people I know who can perform defensive shooting drills effectively with a revolver. When the revolver fails, and eventually it will (Google “revolver cylinder lock failures”), you cannot fix it, the failure then becomes life or death if it happens when you need the gun to work. It is a 200 year old design and the simple question you should ask yourself is, are there any 200 year old technologies you would bet your life on?
If you’re one of those OGT revolver believers try these drills and see how well you do.
Place one round in the gun. At 10 yards draw and fire three rounds into an 8” target in 6 seconds . . or if 10 yards is TOO much,
Place one round in the gun. At 7 yards draw and fire two rounds into an 8” target in 3.5 seconds.
Now tell us how a revolver is the best gun for women or for that matter anyone.
OGT: The .45 ACP is the BEST round and will literally knock people to the ground.
FACT: There are not ANY handgun rounds that will knock someone to the ground. It is a low pressure 100 year old designed cartridge. To be able to have enough energy to knock someone down the shooter would also be knocked down, simple laws of physics apply. The myth of the .45 was developed in WWI when it replaced the .38 Special and has been passed down for three generations. Due to the weight of the bullet it often has excessive recoil which hurts the shooter from getting subsequent rounds on target quickly. Put into a tiny, plastic semi-automatic it gets even worse. If you ask the ER Doc what caliber was the person shot with they will most likely tell you they have no idea because the damage is the same regardless of caliber.
If you’re one of those OGT .45 ACP believers try this drill. At 7 yards draw and place two rounds in a 3” circle in 2.5 seconds. If you can do that on demand consider yourself in the top 5% of shooters in America.
OGT: Carry a gun you can hit with, even if it’s a .22 because a hit with a .22 is better than a miss with a larger caliber. FACT: This is a false argument often used by people who have had no training or real skills. Yes, certainly a hit is better than a miss however unless placed in the absolute perfect place the .22 is only going to really piss off that determined adversary. There are only two ways to stop the determined bad guy, a Central Nervous System hit or rapid blood loss. Unless you are in the top 1% of shooters in the world counting on a CNS hit is a lot like buying $20 worth of lottery tickets each week, it just never pays off. The best way to convince the BG to stop is to put as many rounds as possible, as fast as possible into the upper part of his/her chest and the bigger the wound the more rapid the blood loss. Generally speaking at some point the BG might decide to stop the aggression when they see blood spurting from their chest.
Get a gun of substantial caliber, 9mm, .40 S&W or .45 ACP. Take regular training from a professional instructor and practice . . . a lot. To test your levels of expertise try the Bill Drill. At 7 yards draw and fire six rounds into an 8” target in less than 3.5 seconds. If you miss try it again and then reconsider the fallacy of Old Guys Tales.
In the violent encounter from first shot to last shot is most often 2.5 seconds or less.
If you miss the BG keep in mind you own that bullet and are financially if not criminally liable for any damage it may do. One shot will not guarantee your survival and the odds are more in your favor if you increase distance from the BG. Shoot fast, be accurate and win the fight.
You own a gun, for self-defense. Or you are going to buy a gun, for self-defense. The focus starts based on a need and then it seems to go awry, you don’t know how to shoot a gun safely or accurately BUT you have a friend or family member who is willing to teach PLUS there is the internet and none of them are professional firearms instructors.
.The shooting sports industry is equipment driven, gun sales represent the highest percent of each dollar spent yet training and instruction represents the lowest amount spent. Why is that? If you were to go buy your first race car, clearly a dangerous tool to operate would you not consider learning how to drive correctly from a professional? Yet every year Americans buy $4 Billion dollars worth of guns and only spend $12 per person for training and instruction. Being in the business those numbers do not make any sense.
Self-defense is the use of force to counter an imminent threat of violence. Such force can be either armed or unarmed. In either case, the chances of success depend on a large number of parameters, related to the severity of the threat on one hand, but also on the mental and physical preparedness of the defender. If you are not prepared what will be your chance of success? Simply owning a gun does not mean you are prepared to defend yourself any more than owning a violin makes you musician.
Being prepared means being trained in a professional manner AND practicing your training on a regular schedule until that which you have learned becomes second nature and you can perform it without thinking about it. It also means continuing to train to improve on your skills on an ongoing basis. No, you are not a Special Operator preparing to conduct a mission BUT if you carry or own a gun for self-defense the end result is just the same, your life or your loved ones life will be at risk and if you fail in your mission life can possibly be lost.
If you’ve spent thousands of dollars for equipment, ammunition and other shooting related costs is it unreasonable to spend a few hundred annually for training? Going to the range, standing motionless shooting at a circle on a piece of paper is not training; at best it is practicing bad habits that will be so engrained in your memory and very difficult to unlearn. Learn correctly now. There are many qualified instructors out there and I have personally found I can learn something from almost all of them AND if that one thing I learned saved my life or another life it would be worth every penny I spent on it.
OR you can lock your gun up in the safe because you’re really not ready to defend yourself or others.
FACTS from NSSF
$9.95 Billion spent on guns and ammo annually.
Only 2.39% of that, $237 million, is spent on training.
$493 per shooter spent on shooting, $12 on instruction and training.
I have my favorite gun as do most people; mine seems to change occasionally when something REALLY strikes my fancy. During the Beginning Pistol class we actually go through a modified presentation of the history of handguns including all frame sizes, action types and calibers giving a new shooter a broader understanding of where we have come and why.
Below is a list of guns that have lead or have changed significantly the design and function of handguns. My new favorite is included because I’m writing the article. Would love to hear your comments on these guns and if your favorite is not in there tell me why your favorite has significantly changed the design and function of handguns upon its release.
1836 Colt Paterson
Smith & Wesson Model 10
1915 Colt Woodsman
1935 Browning Hi-Power
1938 Walther P38
1953 Ruger Single Six Convertible
1955 Smith & Wesson Model 29
1965 Smith & Wesson Model 60
1975 Smith & Wesson Model 41
1975 Beretta 92
1982 Glock G17
1984 Sig Sauer P226
2014 Sig Sauer P320
There you have it, almost 200 years of handgun development.
Neural Pathway Programming; AKA Unconscious Competence is when you are on auto-pilot. Correct programming makes you safe, fast and accurate.
Where you aware that when you are cruising down the freeway in normal driving conditions you are often essentially in a hypnotic trance? Thanks to our subconscious perception and neural pathways for driving for us. In fact if we were to actually driving in a fully conscious state there would probably be more accidents as there is so much, perhaps too much, sensory data to process on the conscious level. Your subconscious mind is the key as it never takes a break, it never gets tired it just continues to process inputs and react based on what it has been programmed to perform.
When a professional athlete performs in a more or less surreal method they call it being in the zone. They are cognizant of what is going on around them but they are not focused on that, the mind is just performing what it has been programmed to do.
During our Beginning class we talk about this programming for handling and shooting guns can be done best when we program our minds to do everything correctly. The Rules of Safety must be committed to subconscious memory so without thinking we always point the gun in the safest possible direction, that we always keep our finger off the trigger until we are shooting, that we know what the target is and what is beyond it. The same can be accomplished with the Fundamentals of Marksmanship. We commit to memory the correct grip and once done we do not have to consciously think about it, the grip just happens. Once the correct trigger press and reset are committed to memory we can learn to shoot very accurately, same with sight alignment and sight picture.
Learning to shoot while using economy of motion allows us to quickly get on target and make the shot, over and over. In the beginning learning everything correctly and practicing it relentlessly perfect will greatly increase our ability. But just like programming a computer, garbage in – garbage out, practicing imperfectly will take way more perfect repetitions to correct. Reprogramming is way more difficult than correct programming, thus one of the critical keys in taking training from the right instructor.
I’m currently reprogramming my trigger reset after taking a private lesson from a friend who is a top level IDPA shooter. I asked for help in getting faster and more accurate. I’m pretty fast and accurate for one shot out of the holster, still pretty fast for two and then things begin to drag. I was taught to trap the trigger after each shot and retraining myself to quickly get to the hard spot right after each shot is exceedingly difficult. My split times have been fairly consistently at 0.25 seconds and all I want is consistent splits at 0.20 seconds and you just cannot possibly know how difficult it is to change something that was ingrained with literally 100,000 rounds down range.
Garbage in – garbage out . . . save yourself some grief, avoid the garbage in. Life will be much simpler.
Unfortunately today bad things happen, but they always have. Today we seem to have a lower tolerance for some things and are far too accepting of other things.
In an unfortunate event in Cincinnati a young man pulled an airsoft gun on an officer and was shot as a result of his actions. If you’ve not seen today’s new airsoft guns you will be amazed at how they look exactly like the real thing . . . with one exception, they come with an orange plastic tip so people will know they are not a firearm. For whatever reason this young man had removed the ORANGE tip from the gun.
Also unfortunately today some people remove these orange tips or paint them black so the gun can be used to intimidate others or even commit an armed robbery. From prisons gang members are taught to paint the barrel of their guns orange so they will cause some to not fire on them first.
So imagine while on the way home from work your wife frantically calls you screaming that there is a man in the yard pointing a gun at her and your children. You floor the accelerator and are only a block away. As you pull up you see a young man in your yard with a gun tucked into the front of his pants. You approach with your carry gun in your hand and he pulls his gun . . . do you shoot or don’t shoot?
By the time you have thought about this answer had the gun been real you would have been dead. What choice do you have? Can you make the Shoot – No Shoot call?