I had a student for a private lesson recently that had never touched a firearm and was pursuing a career in law enforcement. It took a little extra work to unlearn what social media gun schools had taught him, but we got past it. Once he was there, I was able to make some lasting impressions on him. Safety, gun handling, accuracy, and speed were greatly improved. But, when he lost focus a bad habit kept sneaking in…needless movement, and I ignored it. Why? With a gentle reminder it went away, I had taught him correctly, but he needed to reinforce it with practice. He had the essentials but hadn’t made them permanent yet, and he left happy and confident.
I hear people parrot the phrase slow is smooth and smooth is fast all the time, but they forget a key component to it, the economy of motion. We talk about stacking tolerances in your favor. Sloppy tolerances will function but not as efficiently. One needs only look at any high performing athlete to find my meaning. They only do what is required to complete their task. They are the embodiment of efficiency. Tom Givens says, “The only thing that runs out faster than ammo in a gun fight is time” so let’s not waste it. No, you don’t need to be a speed demon; just don’t waste time. In fact, sometimes you need to slow down.
Back to the athletes. Look at any of them, BJJ, wresting, shooting, running, driving, boxing. The masters have eliminated anything that does not directly help them accomplish their goal. Their goal is the same as ours, winning. Not just surviving. For us, wasteful movements are just as bad as wasted bullets. The only way to become efficient is through purposeful perfect practice. This makes our skills permanent, freeing up the brains ability to focus on other important tasks, like assessing the threat. Breaking our practice down into Micro drills (a term I heard from Scott Jedlinksi) allows us to fine tune what is needed and what is not. Micro drills are simply isolating a single component of a skill and working until you can’t get it wrong. Ideally using less and less effort as we eliminate the extra or waste.
I like buying new guns as much as the next person. My wife firmly believes my collection is obscene. However, you cannot buy skill. Sure, there are things you can buy to improve your abilities, but you must already have those abilities in order to achieve the real gains those purchases avail. Red dots, triggers, custom guns, etc.… bring something to the table but are generally not necessary. In addition, they are frequently a waste of money that would be better spent on training, ammo and practice. I have talked briefly about it previously and will make write a more in-depth piece on it in the future; dry-fire is free and there is a reason why all the high performing shooters in the world do it. You can do it almost any where and it works.
In the end shooters need to practice eliminating fruitless movement of the body and the gun. Only then will we have mastered a skill; and it is a continuous process. Our goal is getting the gun out, placing effective and accurate rounds on target to win the fight. These are the only things we can control so why wouldn’t you want to be as efficient as possible.