You Want To Mess Up
Why should you want to mess up on the range?…. It’s simple. You mess up as much as you can on the range so that you can train those mistakes out of you. We all have bad habits, we all have knowledge gaps, and we all can make poor choices under pressure. The more you train and come face to face with those bad habits and knowledge gaps, the more likely you are to make good choices under pressure. Train hard and often on the range so you can find your weaknesses and work through them.
This doesn’t just apply to your shooting techniques, it also applies to gear. I know there is already an over-emphasis on gear in the firearms industry. Many people feel like the only thing standing in there of achieving perfect accuracy and lightning fast speed is their lack of having the best of the best gear. This is obviously false. It’s all about shooting experience… That being said, if you don’t have any experience with your gear then it’s going to be impossible to know whether or not it will work well for you when you need it most. The only way to find that out is to use your gear in a situation similar to what you expect to need it for. If you plan to hunt with a rifle, then go on a hike with that rifle first. You will find out if you have a comfortable enough sling, solid enough scope mount, and even good enough boots. If you want a shotgun for home defense, then practice clearing your home with it (but of course double, triple, quadruple, CHECK TO MAKE SURE THE GUN IS 100% UNLOADED). Maybe you find out that you need a shorter barrel, or a folding stock, or even a flashlight/laser combo,… You learn about your gear by using it. When you are in an adrenaline filled situation is not the time to start learning new things about your guns and gear. If you want any hope of being able to use your gear well, then that means you need to train!
Just going out and training isn’t enough though. It’s also critical to get good training. Here’s why… It’s not just enough to say, “I took a class that one time a while ago.” and expect to be on your best performance 5 years later when you actually need to try and use those skills that you developed way back when. Shooting is a perishable skill and if you don’t train often then you are losing that little bit of advantage that you would have in that fight, attack, or competition. And even if you train often, it’s crucial to make sure you’re train correctly. If you practice poor form and fundamentals but you do it a lot then you are just ingraining bad habits. It’s really easy to train bad habits into you but really hard to train them out of you. That’s why you want to train with a professional, do some practice on your own, and then come back for more professional training. Think of it like a check up… You want that professional instructor to be able to tell you if your practice is solidifying the good habits, or if you have developed bad habits when left to your own devices. Although not completely necessary, there is something to be said for using the same instructor for your “check up” session so that you are working with someone who already knows you and can train you consistently. That being said, there is something to learning different techniques from different instructors in order to broaden your knowledge base and experience. Either way, train often and when you can train with experienced instructors.