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Learning to be A Gunfighter Part III – Slow is Smooth; Smooth is Fast

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Mike Connor, NRA Certified Pistol Instructor

Veritas Training Academy

Take your time in a hurry” – Doc Holiday describing how to win a gunfight.

The reference and the above saying must be applied in order to become an effective gun fighter. You master each skill by developing perfect muscle memory. You develop perfect muscle memory by practicing slowly at first.

In article #2, I quickly realized that a one hour private lesson was not going to be sufficient enough for me to become skillful with a pistol. I practiced my dry firing at home and went back to see Mike Magowan a few more times.

Practice does not make Perfect…Practice makes Permanent. Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Permanent” ……Mike Magowan

In other words you can create a bad habit if you are practicing any technique incorrectly. Practicing with a qualified, experienced, instructor really is key – It prevents you from developing bad habits. I supplemented those lessons with independent range time and once I began to master my basic marksmanship skills I went back to see Mike again.

Now he introduced drawing from a holster, getting on the sights during punch out, and reloading. I cannot stress enough, how going slower in the beginning allows the shooter to develop correct muscle memory. It wasn’t until I could perform those skills slowly with near perfection that I was allowed to speed up!

One thing I did repeatedly at the indoor range and sometimes still practice is: Mike’s simple shoot & reload drill. There are multiple skills involved here. Start very slowly, be precise, and develop perfect muscle memory.

  • Set your target to 21 feet distance.
  • Load 2 magazines with 3 rounds each. Place one in the gun & one in a mag pouch/pocket
  • You can either draw from the holster or punch out from third eye.
  • Get on your sights as you drive them out to your target focusing on the front sight
  • Depress your trigger smoothly and shoot, trying to take that perfect shot 3 times
  • RELOAD: Bring the pistol up into your “workspace” as you release the spent magazine (letting it fall to the floor) and reach for your spare mag with your non-firing hand
  • While remaining in your “workspace” insert the fresh mag into place and rack your slide
  • Get on your sights as you drive them out to your target focusing on the front sight
  • Depress your trigger smoothly and shoot, trying to take that perfect shot 3 times

Stop! Take a breath and assess your performance. Reload 3 & 3 – repeat. Don’t speed up until you’re SMOOTH. This is a skills development drill and a much more useful way of going through 50-100 rounds of ammunition rather than loading up your mags to capacity and blasting away.