Practice is something we preach about here at 248 Shooter on a regular basis. However at a recent class I was in I realised that Practice can actually kill.
I grew up in the town that the NY Rangers practiced in. As a benefit of that we had a really great Ice Rink just a half a mile from my house. All of the town kids learned to skate on that rink and some of my fondest memories took place on the ice there. Until I got into high school and played hockey. Our team and actually many of the kids from local schools had a huge issue with right turns. Why? Well the rink that we all were so fond of only let skaters go in a counter-clockwise direction around the ice. Everyone was so used to going left that we had developed a weak side unintentionally.
I know spare us the childhood memories Shooter, what has this got to do with getting killed from practice? It’s simple, muscle memory and training are designed to allow your body to move and think for you in a high stress situation. Much like my preprogrammed desire to turn left if we practice and train at ranges that do not let you move and shoot you are likely to stop to reload.
Think about that for a second. You train at your range in a fixed stance, with a shelf of bench in front of you, with nobody shooting at you, often firing once every 3 seconds at the fastest with a focus on trigger control and shot placement. Ask any police or military, do this in the real world and you’re dead.
We were performing a move and shoot drill when the person ran out of ammunition. Instead of taking cover or continuing to move the person stopped right there and reloaded the magazine standing fully upright. The instructor to his credit didn’t embarrass the person but did use it as a teaching opportunity. The instinct this shooter had built was when you reload you stop look at your weapon draw your magazine and then reload. We all had been instructed from the beginning to reload on the move or find cover. Those instructions however did not overrule the trained in mindset of how they had always handled a reload.
Many ranges, scratch that, all but a few and only during training will allow you to move and shoot. This is where training at home with snap caps becomes useful. Practice your draw and make sure you can do it in your regular clothes. I see people at classes with fancy drop leg rigs. Your not wearing that to Target and likely not around the house either. Stop training like your a commando when that is not the situation or gear you’re going to be in or have when trouble comes knocking.
Practice reloading your mags on the move and behind cover in your house. Develop a plan for how you plan to clear your home of intruders. Execute and practice that plan with an empty weapon or snap caps as often as you can.
Developing the right muscle memory is the key to safety. Developing the wrong muscle memory and techniques is likely to actually do you more harm. While trigger discipline and weapon proficiency needs to be practised on the range, and should be every chance you get. Make sure you follow that up with practical movement and training at home that more realistically mimics your real world needs.
Range time is expensive and ammunition is both expensive and hard to find. Use the home practice techniques to better equip you for a real work situation and the best part is it is free.
If you do not own a set of snap caps I would highly recommend getting some. They are great for home practice. Also loading them in your magazines between live rounds is a great way to simulate am malfunction at the range.