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Train to Fight, Fight to Win!

This is a guest post by Scott Sylvester

train as you fight

Train to Fight

This week’s article is about training to fight. I’ve been studying neurology lately and have been uncovering a vast amount of information about how the brain works, and how little we actually understand about the gray matter between our ears… not to mention how little of the matter we actually cognitively control.

I picked up Incognito by David Eagleman on the recommendation of Aaron Cowen from Sage Dynamics. This book really lays out information about what goes on in your head that you cannot control. The book does give some insights into how we learn and build habits, and I’m trying to integrate that information into training methods used here at the One Weapon Any Tool to build good habits that will enable us to win.

It’s All Hard in the Beginning

The fact is, in life we all struggled with a variety of simple tasks the first time we tried to accomplish them. Remember back when you first learned to ride a bicycle. There were a ton of tasks you had to split your focus on. You had to maintain your balance, apply pressure to the pedals, steer, and fight the anxiety inside you about the aftermath of a potential crash.

The more you tried, the less you had to worry about balance. A few more minutes and apply pedal pressure was automatic. A few more minutes steering with the handlebars was integrated with leaning. Finally your anxiety dissipated because you knew you were in no harm from falling off the wheeled contraption.

But why? Why did it get easier? In Incognito, Dr. Eagleman explains that while your physical body and cognitive mind was in a flurry, your subconscious mind was making thousands of neural connections. The more and faster these connections were made, the easier the tasks became and the less aware you became of the physical exertion needed to complete the tasks.

How does that apply to guns? Glad you asked.

Just like riding a bike, manipulating a firearm has several complex fine and gross motor skills that need to be weaved together to make fast and accurate hits. I teach 7 Fundamentals of Marksmanship in my courses. Each of the 7 pieces make up a solid foundation which will make you a good shooter. Continued application of these skills when practiced properly, and repeatedly require less conscious thought as your subconscious takes over, creating neural connections which puts these skills on auto-pilot.

For example, a proper Isosceles Stance. You have to actually think about putting your feet in a fighting stance position, about shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent and hips tilted forward. You can do the proper stance if you think you way through it. Now, as you rehearse getting into the proper stance over and over, soon, you won’t have to practice any more, you will be able to do it naturally. Once your stance becomes natural you can focus on your grip. Once your 100% or thumbs forward grip becomes natural you can focus on sight picture / sight alignment, so on and so forth.

I am a big believer that hard work trumps talent. Talent has its limits, but someone who studies, strives, works hard and is not afraid to put in the time and training will excel over someone with talent. For a talented person, a skill is easy. For someone who has to work for it, a honed skill is a reward and is valued.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The only difference between you and World Champion Speed Shooter Max Michel, is that he has over 100,000 repetitions. Before he got to 100,000 he started with 1, then 2, etc.

So as you go out and train remember to start slow, get it right and build the proper neural pathways necessary for success. After the first 100 times the first skill become natural and you can start on your next skill.

Take the time to do it right so it will pay off for you in the future. Perfect practice will train you for the fight. When it comes time to fight, you will excel almost like you are on auto-pilot because the core tasks and engrained in your subconscious. Every shooter who is serious about self-defense should strive to achieve unconscious competence.

Remember: Amateurs train until they get it right. Professionals train until they can’t get it wrong.

What sort of training do you do to make you a better home defender? Let us know in the comments.

Scott Sylvester is a firearms instructor and peace officer in California. They still have openings for February 22nd Defensive Handgun. Register today by phone (408) 482-8772 or email: [email protected] Course will be held in Valley Springs.

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