One year, when I was getting ready for our high school basketball season to begin, I remember looking around and noticing that all the players were sporting the same kind of basketball shoes. Beyond those shoes being the latest and greatest “cool thing” to have, the advertisements for this certain pair of sneakers almost led you to believe that purchasing them and wearing them would actually make you a better basketball player. Of course, I didn’t succumb to this particular flavor-of-the-week craze, mostly because I couldn’t afford the high cost of those kicks. But it certainly got me thinking: Wouldn’t it be nice if a pair of hightops could automatically improve my game? I sure wish that were true….
I wish that were true about shooting, too. I wish I could purchase a certain gun or certain ammo and get instant — and consistent — tight groupings. But it doesn’t work that way. In my job as Associate Editor with the USCCA (and because I just happen to like “neat stuff”), I come across a lot of gear, gadgets and gizmos. I am not disrespecting or devaluing said items. They may look cool or do cool things, and I am definitely OK with cool stuff. But, ultimately, these items are not going to do the trick if you want to become a better shooter.
Do you want to know what you really need? You need training.
Just as young kids dream of making a varsity team, they must practice and work hard to perfect the basics and learn the plays … and then continue to build on their foundation of knowledge and skills. So if you really want to get better at shooting, especially defensive shooting, then you need to get out there and work on your knowledge and skills. Soak up all you can. Read books and articles. Watch videos and online tutorials. Maybe commit to setting aside a few hours a week to train by topic or to focus on a certain skill by watching experts demonstrate techniques or reading about practice drills. If you can, dedicate one hour a day to firearms. You will quickly start to improve the breadth and depth of information you know and understand.
And, of course, practice. Mentally and physically work through the motions, the movements and the techniques. Find courses that challenge you or that offer a new or different perspective. Or take a class just to refresh your memory. There’s no harm in repetition. In fact, recent studies claim that on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic (66 days to be exact). One time is just not enough to make something really stick.
If there are no firearms classes in your area, go to the shooting range. Use different targets, different distances, different drills, different guns. If you can’t get to the range, dry fire at home. Try laser training. Take a self-defense course or take up martial arts. Do something! It was once said that “even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward.” So never stop working on your goals. Even if you fall, you can learn from your mistakes or your failures. Use them. And keep on trying.
You know, you can even purchase a few of those cool gadgets and gizmos along the way. While you may come to regret a few of those tactical purchases now and then, I guarantee you will never regret the time and effort you put into learning to protect yourself and your loved ones.