Practice Like It’s Real

practice like its realI had a new Advanced Pistol student a while back. This was a gentleman who was a part-time security guard who I crossed paths with at the shooting range. His objective was to increase his accuracy and rapid target acquistition.

Before the first session with any of my Advanced students, I spend 15 or 20 minutes going over some basic safety rules and make sure we both use and understand the same terminology. During this period, I encourage the new student to ask as many questions as they need to feel comfortable, and so I can give them the exact type of training they desire.

We were talking about shooting and training techniques. I explained that I am a believer in “practice like it’s real”. Your practice and training regime should apply to real-life situations and employ real-life techniques as often as possible.

I explained that I teach my students to reduce the amount of the fine motor skills usually associated with shooting a firearm. I teach how to “aim” not so much by setting up a perfect sight picture, but by presenting the firearm in such away that it naturally aims itself – especially when shooting at targets inside of 10 yards. We use large muscle groups and gross motor skills for everything other than the trigger squeeze.

The student was nodding and agreeing that this sounded great and he was ready to go. There WAS one thing though: He’d taken a class at one time and a great technique he learned was to tape over the weak-eye side of his shooting glasses. He said that it had really improved his accuracy and was only used during practice.

Hmm, OK.

I repeated my philosophy – practice like it’s real. He nodded. I said that while I will sometimes use the tape on the glasses for VERY short periods of time with students having great difficulty seeing the target, it is a crutch you want to shed as quickly as possible.

If you become accustomed to the crutch, you can become dependent upon it.

I said it would be quite difficult for him to ask the intruder who just kicked in his door to, “wait a second while I go get my taped-over shooting glasses so I can aim at you more accurately.”

He nodded again, and said he’d like start with the taped over glasses. I’m thinking to myself, “Fine. I charge by the hour. Take all the time you need!”

So we get into the range, he dons his taped up glasses, and I have him shoot two 6-round magazines at an 8-inch target 7-yards away.

Two hits. No pattern whatsoever to the other 10 shots – they’re all over the joint, up to 12 inches off center.

We exchanged his taped-over glasses with a spare pair I keep in my bag, made a minor adjustment to his grip (he was ‘tea cupping’ a bit) and did a couple dry-fire pistol presentation drills using the techniques I teach.

Two more 6-round magazines: 8 shots on target, and the other 4 were all within 1 inch of the edge (5 inches off center). All shots would have been “center mass” in a self-defense situation.  All without the taped-over glasses.

He was now “a believer” and the lesson progressed very nicely after that. He’ll be putting 12-of-12 on target in short order.

Remember: If you ever are put into a situation where you have to draw your weapon, you want to reserve your mental facilities for determining WHEN to shoot, not HOW to shoot. You want that process to come as naturally as possible.

Use props and other crutches only for short durations to correct faults – don’t become dependent upon them for your regular shooting practice.

One more time: Practice like it’s real.



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