Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reverting to Your Level of Training

In a previous post about Brendan "Dan" McKown, I mentioned that in an emergency situation, you do not rise to the occasion, but rather, you revert to your level of training. You should re-read the previous sentence, and make sure it sinks in. Let me give you a first hand example.

When I first started competing regularly in bowling pin shooting competition, it wasn't unusual to have to change to your second magazine if you had a couple of pins knocked over and they didn't want to leave the table. (What we refer to as a "Train Wreck") To be competitive, you had to practice mag changes until it became fast and effortless, a part of your "Muscle Memory".

At that time I was using a fairly conventional two-handed grip. As time went by, the shooters continued to get faster and faster, and also more accurate. Maybe a year later it had reached the point where mag changes where no longer important, because if you hadn't got all the pins off the table in six or seven shots at the most, it was all over, and you had by then lost the round. Needless to say, it was no longer worth the time spent to practice mag changes.

About that time I changed to a "Taco" grip, where you have your weak hand on top of the red dot sight. You also shoot more from a crouch, rather than standing more upright.

Sometime thereafter, shooting against one of the faster shooters in the club, we both tried to shoot just a little faster that we should have, and both ended up with "Train wrecks", and we BOTH had to do a magazine change.

In one smooth motion I dropped the magazine, slid in the second one, stood up out of my crouch, and cleaned up the train wreck with a conventional two-handed grip! My muscle memory and training had taken over, as I hadn't practiced the mag changes with my new grip and stance!

I was momentarily dumbfounded, and had to think about it for a minute to realise what had just happened. I had reverted to my level of training!

In something as important as the protection of yourself and your loved ones, you need to take a long hard look at just what your level of training might be.

There are a number of gunbloggers out there who can, and I hope, will further address this issue with posts of their own. As I become aware of them I'll put up links to them for you.

In the meantime, read this again:

In an emergency situation,
you do not rise to the occasion,
but rather,
you revert to your level of training.

It's true, and it could save your life.......


At Wednesday, November 30, 2005 12:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are several sad stories from the police officers killed files that illustrate this also.

The one that sticks in my mind happened to a couple of CHP officers back in the late '60's or early '70's.

A traffic stop had gone bad and had quickly become a furball gunfight. One crook down, one officer dead, but the second officer was only wounded and was behind good cover.

He shot his 6-shooter dry, and was reloading when the second crook, a crackerjack gunsel himself came back to the cover position and finished him off.

As the scene was investigated, they found the executed officer with a fistful of empty brass, and his reloads dropped and scattered by his body.

Level of training.

In those days, the range officers used to let officers practicing with revolvers (the standard sidearm of the day was a .357 revolver) eject the spent brass into their hand, then dump it into the brass bucket, then go to their reloads and reload the revolver.

Of course, when wounded, the officer reverted to his level of training, and palmed the 6 empty hulls. He was still trying to resolve the conflict of empty hulls vs reloads when the crook came back to his position and took the easy shot to kill him.

True story. Was briefed in every police academy I ever attended (2) and many more that I taught.

At Wednesday, November 30, 2005 10:50:00 AM, Blogger Josh said...

The same kinda thing happened to me the first time I shot a competitive pistol match. The slide locked back and I hit the mag release to reload, but as the mag was falling free of the gun, I just about watched my left hand come off the grip and catch the expended mag to place in my pocket BEFORE reaching for a spare on my belt. I had always been very careful with my mags at the range, so I instinctively did that at the competition. I'm still working to correct that and a couple of other bad habits I picked up along the way.


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