Today, I want to share a little ‘brain hack’ or perhaps a ‘paradigm shift’ that should help you.
The other day I was at the range when I heard someone tell an experienced shooter, “just go slow.”
For anyone learning something new, I agree, they should approach learning new skill sets, slowly.
However, when someone can already safely and confidently manipulate a firearm and understands what to do and how to do something, I share the same sentiments as the best shooters in the world.
One shouldn’t think about going slow. Instead, they need to see more, i.e. they need to see what they need to see.
Let me explain…
See What You Need to See
World Champion shooter, JJ Racaza, was the first to introduce me to the concept of seeing what I needed to see.
While drilling during a class, he really liked my speed but many of my shots were off target.
I asked him if I should slow down to get my hits.
To my surprise, he sternly said, “No. I don’t want you to slow down. I want you to see more.”
At that time, I thought he meant I had to focus on improving my processing speed and my ability to see faster.
While that was part of it, I didn’t completely understand the importance of “seeing what I needed to see.”
A Different Way of Thinking
It wasn’t until I practiced with my friend Rossen Hristov from Tactical Performance Center that everything made more sense.
We were getting ready for a competition and practicing until we couldn’t get things wrong.
I was having trouble getting all my hits consistently, and said out loud, “I have to shoot slower to get my hits.”
Rossen heard this and immediately echoed what JJ told me.
This time, it completely clicked.
By “seeing what I need to see”, I will adjust my speed accordingly to get my shots on target–and this might mean slowing down.
However, the key difference here is perspective. How we think about our shooting.
When we think go slow, we will be slow.
By seeing more, we aren’t thinking “go slow.” It means to be more disciplined and make sure our sight alignment and sight picture are acceptable before we break a shot.
In the beginning, for many shooters, being more disciplined about our sights may slow us down, but we aren’t thinking slow.
These days, unless I’m learning a new technique, tactic, or drill, the word “slow” no longer exists to me in shooting.
It’s All in Our Head
As I mentioned earlier, it’s a ‘brain hack’ of sorts.
Everything starts with our mind. You may have heard that shooting is 90% mental.
(The percentage is obviously made up, but the point is that shooting at peak performance has much more to do with our minds than our bodies.)
Here’s an example. Pistol recoil will not knock down any adult, yet, why do we always push back against recoil, i.e. recoil anticipation.
It’s our mind playing tricks on us, so to speak. We know recoil won’t knock us over, but our mind still tells us to push back.
We need the mental discipline to train this reaction out of us.
If we want to shoot fast, we can’t think slow and we can’t go slow.
To get fast, we need to perform as fast as possible while still seeing what we need to see.
Stop thinking and going slow if you are not learning something new.
To Shoot Fast, You Need to Practice Shooting Fast
Some instructors have a common rebuttal against going fast. They say that one will pick up speed naturally if one is required to shoot fast.
Yes, I agree. One will speed up naturally especially with an adrenaline spike.
But, that is no reason not to practice going as fast as one can.
To these instructors, I pose a question:
Do you think Formula 1 race car drivers practice going 50% to 75% of their speed when practicing because they will naturally reach 95% to 100% of their speed during a real race?
If they did that, the results would be disastrous. I know–I raced cars for a while.
If someone always shoots at 50% to 75% of their speed, do you think they will be as accurate shooting at 95% to 100% of their speed if they don’t practice near their limits?
The answer should be obvious.
These days, I understand why those with much more experience say the physical act of shooting is simple while the mental game is the most challenging.
This little mind hack has helped me, and I hope it helps you, too.
Let me know what you think in the comments section below!