Written by Richard Dockery, February 26, 2022
The most important part of building muscle memory and habitual skill is practice. Proper repeated motions that hard-wire action into your mind, bypassing the need to involve cognitive function (which may be very limited under pressure). The problem is, in today’s world, who has the time to practice?…you do! You just may not recognize some forms of practice that will make all of the difference.
Shooting and firearms self defense skills consist of not only the mechanical functions of shooting, but the firearm manipulation and movement skills as well. Once the training of these skills occur, there is a life-span of 3 to 4 weeks before the temporary muscle memory you started developing during the learning process deteriorates, eventually leaving you starting over when you hit the range. Getting to the range during this time span may not be realistic
Dry fire practice can take on many forms. At its most basic level it involves working the firearm action, and pulling the trigger, with no ammunition in the gun. You can use whats called snap-caps (fake bullets) if you like, but with modern firearms, this isn’t always necessary. For Dry-fire practice to be effective however, all form elements, inclusive of stance, sight picture, trigger pull, follow-through, etc must be incorporated. If you are sitting on your living room couch, not taking a proper sight picture, just pulling the trigger, you are wasting your time.
In order to build proper muscle memory, and to make deploying and using your firearm habitual, you need to take a stance, use proper form, use a proper draw cycle, focus on your sight picture, and properly execute your trigger pull…..repeatedly…the exact same way every time, handling your firearm as trained, and as you would use it in a real shooting situation. Variation creates muscle confusion and delays the learning process.
“So how do I know if I hit anything?” Is a question I often hear. The key to hitting where you want is through proper execution of form…which you can tell in several ways. If your challenge has been trigger pull in training, balance an empty casing or a quarter on the barrel. If the quarter/casing moves (or falls off), you need to keep working. Without an object balanced, focus on your front sight and your sight picture. If you execute your trigger pull properly, and are practicing follow-through, your front site will not move. What does it look like after you hear the click? Is it centered and level? Is it still pointing at whatever spot on the wall you chose? You can tell. If its all over the place, time to keep working, (or visit your instructor if you just cant get it stable). If you carry your firearm, incorporate drawing your firearm as trained, finishing with a properly executed trigger pull. Maybe incorporate your shooting and moving skills!
“What about laser trainers?”….yes and no. Laser trainers get you focusing on where the dot landed, and not what you did to get it there…and if the laser is not properly constructed and aligned to your bore, the point of impact wont be where your bullet would have went, which may lead you down the wrong path. Focus on process, focus on executing each step properly, follow-through, and knowing if you did it right. Save shot feedback for the range. If it takes a laser to actually get you to practice, then do it. Otherwise, save the money for ammo.
First things first…Safety! Make sure your firearm is cleared..triple check it! No magazine or ammo. If you are working on magazine changes or with snap-caps then triple check you magazine as well…no live ammo! Holster your weapon and wear it like you would carry it. Rack the slide so you get the full trigger cycle. Pick a spot on the wall, target, whatever…just make sure it is on an outside wall of your house as another layer of safety (florida outside walls tend to be concrete, inside walls flimsy drywall that will allow an accidently discharged bullet to pass through)…and go! Draw, shoot, move, clear the jam (you only got a click), shoot again, reholster. Repeat!
Every day, before you put on your weapon, spend 5 minutes doing this. 3 times, 6 times, 12 times…whatever you can get done in a set 5 minutes. Focus on slow repetion and proper movement. You will find that by doing this you will not only keep your muscle memory alive, but will show considerable improvement the next time you hit the range.
Remember…you only get 1 chance to save your life. Its worth 5 minutes a day?
Femme Fatale ARMS & Training is a woman-owned business that provides education and support to an over victimized and underserved segment of our population. We have programs to build confidence and skill without the intimidating aspects that tend to exist elsewhere in this industry. Our goal is customer satisfaction and loyalty. We’d appreciate an opportunity to show you how we are different, yet still, help you to accomplish your education and safety goals.
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