How To Practice

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https://www.facebook.com/TEDEducation/videos/1489398127740055/

 

  • Repetition of an activity creates myelination by adding and changing the myelin “sheath” covering axions in the brain. Like insulation on electric wires, myelin prevents energy loss of electrical signals from the brain through neural pathways, making the action easier and more efficient to perform.
  • The specific number of repetitions or amount of time needed is unknown, largely because skill is more dependent on the quality and effectiveness of the repeated action through practice. Myelination will occur over time with any repeated action, including those you didn’t intend.
  • Effective practice is mostly about performing a given action/task correctly and often enough through numerous sessions for myelination to occur and then be sustained. Good practice needs to be consistent and intensely focused.
  • Effective practice is focused and targets specific content and weaknesses that work up to and are at the edge of one’s current ability.
  • Regularly conduct short, focused sessions with minimal distractions.
  • Start slowly or in slow motion and build quality, correct repetitions. Remember, myelination occurs with any repeated action, including those you didn’t intend.
  • Gradually build speed of quality repetitions, building up to and/or just beyond the edge of your current ability.
  • Multiple short sessions held regularly are best.
  • Visualize performing skills correctly between sessions. Mentally performing the task correctly is another form of practice.
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Training Scars: Brass in Pockets

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The “found brass in pockets story” is a popular old saw offered as a warning against developing bad habits or training scars. The story goes that some police officer was found dead with spent brass in his pockets. Being of the era when revolvers were common, the doomed-but-nameless officer unintentionally stuffed his brass into pockets while reloading during a protracted, long-ago fight, thus slowing him down and sealing his fate. Details are rarely offered, but the boogeyman to avoid is unintentionally developing a bad habit and to only do things exactly as told or you’ll suffer the same fate! Boo!
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Simulators For Training?

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A primary flaw of simulators like the Weaponeer were/are there aren’t enough of them around in routine use to make an actual difference. The Army’s EST 2000 suffers the same problem. Dry practice remains the best “simulator” based on availability and price, but only if you can get people to actually do it regularly and care enough to pay attention when they do.

Improvements via training require regular, programmed, on-going sessions. Instruction serves as an introduction, and may be adequate for tasks/skills that aren’t time-critical, but this ceases to be training after ideas are introduced.

Even lousy physical fitness programs commonly found in military and police PT use recognize that about 3-6 sessions each week are needed for improvement. Skill development for tasks that must be trained – like shooting – are no different.

The Weaponeer could have accomplished the designer’s intent if trainees used it 3-6 sessions a week for the duration of basic training. Instead, recruits get shuttled through it once so the Drill Sergeant can check a block and that’s it.

Weaponeer: A US Army Rifle Simulator from a Bygone Era

Basketball Shooting Coaches

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The difference between winning and losing, and anonymity and stardom, can come down to shooting.

Some teams don’t even have a dedicated shooting coach. “I think some teams don’t because it’s such a new concept,” says Philadelphia 76ers shooting coach John Townsend. “There was a time not every team had a strength and conditioning coach, and it’s just grown and now most teams have at least two. I think eventually it’ll continue to grow for shooting coaches. I try to get to know all the shooting coaches. You have to root for them. The more teams that have shooting coaches, the more likely it’ll be that it’ll continue to grow.

It is fashionable in some circles to deride developing higher-level fundamental skills. The claim that working on basic, fundamental shooting skills in isolation won’t prepare their use when needed in a particular context. This is the opposite of how effective training actually works. Basketball is a fluid game with players constantly moving and shots taken quickly from varying, unknown-in-advance places and situations.

Practice in context would require scrimmaging with nine other players. Yet, even players good enough to make it to the NBA find dedicated work on specific shooting skills in isolation outside of the applied context is improving their overall results. Because that is how skill development works.

The full article:
https://theringer.com/nba-shooting-coaches-kent-bazemore-kawhi-leonard-8660e9939680

The Lie Against Competition Shooting

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“Not long ago, I supervised a standoff situation where our officers were placed in positions to engage a dangerous suspect. Several officers were armed with M4s. Bystanders were thickly mixed-in! Range to suspect was between 10 and 30m. Happily, our situation was resolved without our officers having to shoot.

As a precaution, I asked all officers to report, with their red-dot-equipped M4s, to the range the following week. I set-up a situation with parer targets that exactly duplicated the situation with which were confronted a week earlier.

Given generous time, stable, braced firing positions, and stationary targets, not one of our officers was able to deliver required shots, even after several attempts! When asked about sight settings and zeros, most officers were not prepared to answer definitively. Some didn’t even understand the question! An examination of the M4s present revealed that, in most cases, the red dot and the back-up iron sights did not agree. Some were not even close!”

http://www.ammoland.com/modern-sporting-rifle-zeros-or-lack-of/

This episode echoes many similar episodes I’ve experienced in the military as well. It isn’t unusual to find personnel in an instructor capacity (drill sergeants, etc.) just as confused.

You know a demographic in the gun world that intimately understands this and doesn’t have this problem? High Power competitors. Smallbore competitors. Pretty much any competitor in any rifle shooting discipline requiring a degree of precision will have a handle on this. It’s the reason such events were created in the first place.

I use this episode specifically because it comes by way of John Farnam, a “name” instructor of the Modern Technique camp that has poo-pooed competitive shooting in the past.

We’re sometimes warned about the “dangers” of competition, even though there is not a single documented incident where competition shooting experience ever caused a problem.

Competitive shooters possess a commodity concerning firearms skill that is rare among public-sector personnel: GAS. It’s a guarantee that a competitive shooter, someone making an effort to obtain improved scores and achieving that result, really does Give A Shit about their skill because they’re motivated to spend free time and money doing it. Hell, they do it for fun!

I worked ranges for over 30,000 deploying military personnel from 2003-2009. My peers were involved in range activity for nearly every service personnel deploying through the Department of Defense during that time. There was not a single problem or concern caused by someone arriving having prior competition experience. Not one.

Personnel having competitive experience are routinely better performers and more knowledgeable than their peers lacking such experience. They had the same tactical/military/police training as everyone else in the unit but performed better by having a heightened capability developed via competitive experience. The same is true concerning physical fitness and those pursuing other sports. Amazingly enough, competitive runners have better run times during unit fitness tests and competitive lifters are notably stronger.

This improved capability happens when one genuinely does Give A Shit and does something beyond required, minimum qualifications and standards. In contrast, every person requiring remedial training was someone lacking competition shooting experience.

Published regulation backs this up. There are many references in military and police policy describing competition shooting as beneficial. There is not a single published regulation, order, doctrine, or policy in any military or police organization suggesting competition shooting is bad or harmful with personnel recommended or ordered to avoid it. None. Not one. Plenty of examples advocating its use as beneficial, but not one saying otherwise.

Competition Shooter, Real World Encounter

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This is yet another example of how competition shooting causes bad habits during real world encounters. Oh, wait…


http://bearingarms.com/bob-o/2016/09/19/man-shot-crossroads-mall-terrorist-uspsa-competitor-3-gun-shooter/

Man Who Shot Crossroads Mall Terrorist Is USPSA Competitor, 3-Gun Shooter

USPSA Shooter,  3-Gunner, and NRA-certified firearms instructor Jason Falconer has been identified as the man who shot and killed a 22-year-old Somali immigrant who went on a stabbing rampage inside a St. Cloud, (MN) Mall on Saturday.

The apparent terrorist—who apparently asked victims if they were Muslims before stabbing them—was engaged by Falconer inside the mall.

Too Successful Training

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The rookie is “obeying” the commands he so often got at basic; also the TEAM training: when one goes down, all go down.

I remember one recruit in the rifle shoot house that did a nice job of clearing all the rooms and hitting the targets high center mass…one of which was UC with a clean 223 hole through the badge round his neck.

I suspect “training scar” issues like this occur more from novice skill levels rather than learning a “bad” habit. When academy/basic training remains the totality of formal learning a person has, they’re more likely to repeat such things because it’s the only response available in a rather limited playbook, especially when there is little to no history of performing under pressure where the results truly matter to them.

Example. We shot a series of surprise courses at CAFSAC in the shoot houses at Connaught, Ottawa. Despite shooting these after the fixed, square range courses (the sort that allegedly cause “training scars”) not a single competitor displayed any such mistake. None of the range officers reported anyone inadvertently remaining flat footed when they should have been moving, failing to use cover, unloading before finding and engaging targets, etc. It’s almost as if being more skillful and being used to performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results matter helps people perform better while under pressure. And they could perform appropriately according to the given context/situation at hand. Amazing!

From John Tate:
You speak of a “limited playbook.” My phrase is tool box/tool bag. And I fully agree.

Once upon a time, LONG, LONG ago, I played guitar and 5-string banjo. The fingering is vastly different. But one learns to change “playbooks.”

Your square range vs. shoot house example illustrates identical adaptation to the environment.

The one quasi-counterexample I would give is a person reacting to an instantaneous and severe stimulus where either instinct or habit takes over before conscious thought. I liken these to “brake pedal moments.” BUT – as you said, “[B]eing more skillful and being used to performing at a higher level while under pressure where the results matter helps people perform better while under pressure. And they could perform appropriately according to the given context/situation at hand.”

All of which goes back to the “train to die” model of only shooting the standard, flat-foot, stationary target qual course.

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