Learning How to Shoot Takes Practice and Patience

posted on March 5, 2021
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We live in a society of instant gratification. Too many people expect to not only learn a skill but excel at it in a very short time. And, too often, they are frustrated when that doesn’t happen. Mechanical skills—and shooting is a mechanical skill—involve hand/eye coordination and take quite a bit of serious practice before they become a successful habit. In fact, a particular move may require thousands of repetitions before good habits set in.

No shooting school is going to make a person a skilled marksman in just a few days. All they can hope to do is give the student a basic foundation, some things to practice, to start them on the road to developing their skills. There is also the element of forgetfulness and that is why a lot of us take multiple classes, even repeating a particular class to pick up the stuff we miss or have forgotten. 

For many years now, I have taken at least one class per year. And in each and every one of those classes, with one exception, I have picked up some technique that improves my shooting. In that one class that is the exception, I did learn not to ever take a class from that person again—so even then it was a learning experience.

I would suggest that you think back to when you learned to drive a car. Every move that you made had to be consciously thought out. You thought about applying the brakes. You thought about trying to make a smooth turn.  But gradually, through repetition, these moves became habits. Although quite a few folks have yet to figure out how to work their turn indicators.

Shooting accurately and proficiently is accomplished by combining a number of small things. Sight picture, trigger squeeze and breath control have to be combined in order to put the bullet where it needs to go. And, once these moves become habit, the defensive shooter must learn to compress the time in which the moves are made so that a quick, accurate shot can be made. Oh, but wait, they also have to learn to get the darned gun out of the holster in the first place. And, there's stances and gripping techniques to learn so that repeat shots, should they be needed, can be properly delivered. It ain’t all that easy, folks.

And that is just learning to shoot accurately. We haven’t even begun to talk about the fighting aspect of personal defense. Tactics, strategy, and planning all need to be acquired if we expect to survive on something other than blind luck.

I’ve never thought much of the shooters who take the position, “I’m something that you can never be.” Some of us have been shooting for many, many years. Some of us have even seen the elephant, as the old saying goes. You, on the other hand, may be just starting to develop defensive shooting skills. Don’t be discouraged. My best advice is to get to some good schools, be serious about practicing what they teach you, and never stop learning and working on your technique. One of these days, some kid will look at you and think, “I sure wish I could shoot like that old timer!”

Be patient and keep learning!


Sheriff Jim Wilson
Sheriff Jim Wilson

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