Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Hand Jive

ImageVery little about fighting with firearms relies on instinct. We’re taking a mechanical device, the firearm, and practicing until it becomes an extension of our mind and body, performing any task required as easily as catching a ball. The problem with “catching the ball” in a fight is that conditions are less than ideal. It won’t be a perfect pitch, you’re moving on rugged terrain, it’s dark and someone’s trying to kick you in the crotch. Success depends on practice, and slow practice is a key element to the learning process.

Reloading an empty pistol isn’t difficult – old mag out, new mag in, and cycle the slide to chamber a round. Performing a reload in the dark with slippery hands and lying sideways on the ground still requires the same sequence, but if you haven’t truly learned to reload and have the ability to improvise, your performance will suffer.

Learning a specific skill requires thousands of repetitions. Learning a skill set, performing multiple actions at the same time takes much more practice. Try this simple experiment. Slap your right hand on your right thigh twice, then slap the left hand twice on the left thigh, then right hand/right thigh three times and finish up with one slap with the left hand on thigh. Repeat this beat slowly, developing a good rhythm. Now speed it up, going faster and faster, picking up the rhythm. Don’t stop between one sequence and the next. Before long you’re off beat, slapping at the wrong time with the wrong hand in total confusion. The faster you go the worse it gets.

To do anything fast you have to start slow and repeat it thousands of times. With firearms the best way to get these repetitions is through dry fire practice. The results during dry practice will be better if you do it slowly. Don’t get me wrong; at the range I perform everything at the speed I would if my life depended on it, as quickly as possible without making mistakes. But, my dry practice is slower than I talk, and I’m told that’s very slow. During dry practice I’m attempting to develop good clean lines with no wasted motion. Take the empty reload. I’m focusing on little details, like positioning the magazine properly in my support hand as I pull it from the pouch, inserting and seating it smoothly into the pistol, and then cycling the slide aggressively, returning the support hand to the pistol all while keeping the sights on target and maintaining visual awareness. I do all this at like ¼ speed, or slower.

Efficiency relies on consistency. Consistency, performing the same actions correctly every time regardless of the circumstances, is the result of slow and repetitious practice. Efficiency – the absence of excess – makes us fast.

This formula applies to every action in a confrontation – especially considering we need to be moving, communicating, using cover, and shooting as needed. The mind and body have to function together. Practice accordingly.


June 21, 2012 - Posted by | General Training

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