Training: Keep it Simple

With all of the training options available to carry permit holders, it is sometimes daunting to decide which approach is best for us. The current ammunition shortage simply adds to the difficulty. But as it is with most things in life, keeping things simple is often the wisest course.

To illustrate, a friend of mine is a second degree black belt in Taekwondo and several other martial arts disciplines. He’s retired now, but during the 1980s, he spent time in some of the more dangerous areas of Asia and the Middle East, so he occasionally had to use his self-defense skills.

But unlike fights portrayed in Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris movies, he relied on two or three basic moves: A front snap kick to the groin, a reverse punch, or a back-fist to the face. No flying through the air or spinning back kicks. However, he had practiced these simple moves literally thousands of times. And that is the key: repetition.

Whenever a sequence of physical activity is extensively repeated, an interesting phenomenon occurs.  After 30 repetitions, new neural pathways begin to form in the brain. At 300 repetitions the first actual connections occur, and at about 3000 repetitions the neural pathway “response cycle” becomes virtually automatic, bypassing the cognitive process. We call it “muscle memory” but in fact the brain controls everything.

When I asked a Navy SEAL that I know how many rounds he’d fired in his life, he replied, “About 2 million.” This is why SEALs are so deadly. They react instantaneously to a threat. They waste no brain “processor time” trying to decide what to do.

But neural pathways are “semi-permanent” and degrade without continuing practice. Most of us have neither the time (nor the bank account) to blow through a million rounds of ammunition. Then again, a carry permit holder does not have to be a Navy SEAL. However, we do need to practice. The key is the kind of practice.

An eager young student recently called me, chomping at the bit to do some “tactical training, you know, running and shooting, combat reloads, that kind of stuff!” Sure, such training is fun, but the reality is that few permit holders will ever in their lifetime be in an extended firefight. The typical armed confrontation lasts mere seconds, and seldom even requires firing a shot.

Now, I am not disparaging any of the really excellent training facilities that are available. And practicing things like reloading is fine. But the better training organizations now offer training for permit holders that mirrors situations that we are more likely to encounter in real life, rather than on “paramilitary” or “combat” scenarios. Competitive events that focus on defensive shooting exercises (IDPA, IPSC, etc) are excellent ways to build our skills and confidence.

But the one skill that CCW permit holders should practice most is the one they often practice the least: drawing the gun. After all, if you get your gun out fast enough, you might not need to shoot. If don’t get your gun out quickly, your shooting skills are irrelevant, since you might already be dead. As a bonus, you can practice drawing at home, and for free.

First, triple check that your gun is UNLOADED!

Dress in your normal clothing. Based on your occupation, the season, and the weather where you live, your clothing could include a suit, a heavy coat, or shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Note: this exercise may result in you changing your method of carry.

I will not go into the exact sequence, since it will vary depending on clothing, location of firearm, etc. But the essential elements are: safe placement of the support hand, keeping your finger off the trigger until the gun is fully extended, and most important of all, remembering to practice actually pressing the trigger, every time. If you don’t, when you’re on “auto-pilot” in an actual confrontation, you could fail to shoot, since your brain will have been trained to NOT fire! This has actually happened, both to police and civilians!

Keep it simple. Then practice until you can draw your gun consistently, quickly, and without thinking. It may save your life.