I haven’t done a gun post in awhile. First an update, if you remember back in March I posted the Wish List about a lucky guy who’s wife was going to buy him his first concealed carry gun. It’s official Buffella, is the lucky guy. I’m not sure when he’s going to get the new gun but I bet he’s looking forward to it. When I get a pic I’ll post it.
Humans learn things in stages. When it comes to learning a physical skill we lean in steps. First we develop head knowledge, then familiarity, proficiency and hopefully automatic response and mastery.
Head knowledge is just that, intellectual acquaintance with a subject. You can read a book or a magazine about how to shoot or maybe even have someone tell you. Until you put it into practice its just theory. I’m not dismissing theory, you need a good starting point for anything you do, but you have to move to the next step.
Familiarity is the stage where you start trying to do the theory. In shooting a handgun you start practicing the things you’ve learned, like gun safety, proper draw, stance, grip, sighting, trigger control and follow through. You get familiar with the gun and how to handle and use it.
Proficiency is when you’ve been practicing for awhile and you’ve taught your muscles how to do the same thing each time. For instance, every time you draw your week hand grips the strong hand the exact same way. There are any number of little differences in technique that effect accuracy. Proficiency is the stage where you have mastered your technique and can execute it consistently on demand.
Automatic Response and Mastery is when you have disciplined your body to the point that the muscles can automatically perform the task you require without your mind telling them each step. You can engage any target from 1 to 50 yards and hit it without thinking yourself thru each step. This is where the handgun user wants to be.
In order to use a handgun under stress, you need to progress to at least the proficiency level. Anything less and you will be a danger to yourself and others. The only way to get good with a gun is to practice. I’m a big believer in lots of practice. If you’re serious about transitioning from head knowledge to Mastery you’re going to need to pull the trigger 200 or more times a week until you get it.
This is where dry-firing comes in. Unload your gun and drill yourself through each step of the alert/draw/stance/acquire/shoot/reload process. Make sure you pull the trigger each time. Work yourself through the process in sets of 10 or 20. This will help your muscles learn what their supposed to do without burning ammo. Also you will be able to get practice more often in smaller doses and you will be less likely to get bored. When you go to the range, which should be weekly, you will transition to live fire practice easily and you will soon see an improvement in accuracy, and eventually speed.