Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Training or Practice?

There seems to be a lot of confusion when it comes to the difference between training and practice. Training is the introduction of new techniques and theory. We attend classes to get exposure to better ways of doing things, such as a quicker technique to clear a weapon malfunction, or new combative principles, like theories on how to use cover. When it comes to fighting there is a deep well of knowledge out there to draw from, and striving towards perfection is an endless pursuit. It’s also something you can’t pick up from reading or watching a video. I still attend classes to train under other instructors.

Practice is when you take what you’ve been exposed to during training and actually learn it through repetition. You will not learn something in a two, three or even five-day class. Although experts’ opinions vary, they all agree it takes thousands of repetitions to actually ingrain something into your thought process and for the body to perform those actions efficiently. Practice is also where you learn what your personal abilities and limitations are.

Once you have learned something it takes additional practice to retain those skills, and even more to improve them. The problem for most of us is that time is a precious commodity, and there are the costs of driving to the range and the expense of ammo to consider.

The best way to learn and improve most fighting skills is with dry practice. People think this is boring, but those who do dry practice immediately recognize its value. With dummy ammunition or snap caps you can set up and practice weapon manipulations such as empty reloads and malfunction clearances. Use a dummy weapon or just pretend you’ve got a weapon in your hands to practice movement or clearing inside your house or backyard. A few ten to fifteen minute sessions a week, focusing on one particular skill each session, will greatly increase your abilities, without having to drive to the range or buy ammo. At this point in my life I actually do more dry practice than I do live fire. There is a lot of information available on how to dry practice, so we’re not going to get into all the details here, just remember the main concern is always on safety. There is also a lot that can be done with airsoft weapons. (I call them weapons because they launch projectiles and are capable of causing injury.) But with a safe environment and proper setup they offer a viable alternative to live fire practice.

To sum it up, there is a distinct difference between training and practice. The act of shooting is a small part of fighting. You also need to apply a variety of other skills such as moving, communicating, using cover, and techniques for operating in low-light environments. To prepare for violent confrontations you have to blend all these skills into one package. This requires plenty of both training and practice.

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September 19, 2010 - Posted by | General Training

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