Thoughts on Standards
My Fellow Shooters, Personal Protection Devotees, and Americans,
As many of you know, K and I are students first of our profession. We seek out and attend training, coaching and mentoring from experts who share lessons learned in situations where failure is not an option, as it would likely mean death of themselves or their friends.
These experts, time and time again, have made us understand how they prevailed, and it was rigorous attention to fundamentals, trained over and over to high standards, then more training to maintain those standards.
Now, most of us do not, cannot devote that kind of time, the resources, and energy to achieving the highest levels of the ability to defeat any and all adversaries, let alone maintain those abilities forever. Defending oneself and family or community with firearms, combatives, or alternative weapons is a perishable skill.
All that being said, there are definitely realistic goals one can achieve in the confines of our day to day lives. Those goals should be realistic, but not easy.
I know, it’s easy to say, “have standards,” but what should they be, and how can one be accountable for them?”
Well, to address the second part first, I recently shared an article by a friend and mentor, Jeff Gonzalez of Trident Concepts, about the concept of “Earn it Every Day.” The article (found here; https://www.tridentconcepts.com/2018/09/08/earn-it-everyday/) talks about having an attitude of working to attain excellence every day. No, it doesn’t mean grand, news making results that change the world. Rather, small but consistent efforts to be better in all aspects of your life, including defensive arms, as a matter of habit and a lifestyle.
And does one establish standards? For students who have trained with us, you have heard us articulate the importance of dry fire and electronic shot timers. Either of these, but especially when used in concert, are a convenient way to practice and track your performance, and neither require an overwhelming commitment of time.
Utilizing the Par Time feature of all modern shot timers, you can set start and finish times for any of your basic shooting skills, such as a draw to presentation, a magazine change or magazine exchange, one hand draw and presentation or just one or two hand presentation alone. Begin to execute your chosen skill set on the 1stelectronic beep, and finish (a perfect rep) before the second tone goes off.
Start with generous time limits and record your successes. A simple training notebook will do. Just spend 10-15 minutes a session, 2-4 times in a week, recording your successful rep times in each of the chosen skill sets. Then put everything away and let the progress migrate to your subconscious.
Remember, it’s not about simply being faster! It is about increasing efficiency.
The next time you revisit any of the skills you practiced, break out your notebook and refresh your mind on what you achieved, and commence the next session by reducing those par time intervals. Not by much, but enough where you have to push a little bit to consistently achieve “perfect practice” and flawless repetitions. Again, don’t spend a crazy amount of time on this, but do record your efforts, and work back through your chosen skill sets over the next few sessions.
It’s also a good idea to occasionally to test your progress with a live fire performance of individual skills. Progress doesn’t require a crazy amount of ammunition and dry fire is the best and most economical way to grow. But a live fire session, every once in a while, will validate the improvement you are seeing and recording.
Yes, this is a process and one you will never perfect. But by following this process you can see improvements over time and identify time intervals where perfect practice starts to break down. You will hit points of failure where you cannot (yet) be consistently successful at achieving perfect repetitions at that time interval.
When that happens back off a little. When you find a challenging time at which you can be mostly consistent, call that your Standard, and from that point forward revisit, practice, and work to maintain it. Do this for each of your skill sets.
Will you always succeed at that Standard? Likely not, but if, in your practice session, you do succeed most of your repetitions, pat yourself on the back and move on to one of the skills you do not succeed at very often.
It is those latter skills that need your attention, and you must avoid the all too human tendency to keep practicing what you are good at. Murphy’s Law is unforgiving, and when “The Day Chooses You,” and you are confronted with a real need for your defensive skills, it will undoubtedly be the skill that isn’t your best.
It’s a never-ending process, and how much effort one can devote to it will be a balance between how important you feel it is and the demands of the rest of your life. Please, however, no matter what level of commitment you decide on for yourself and family, consider it an investment in your safety, their safety, and potentially the safety of your community. Investments have to be contributed to in order to grow.
Thanks for reading and keep practicing!