When Speed Matters ... Using the Safety or Not ?
Practice should focus on achieving unconscious competence. That means an individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. Some will refer to this as “Muscle Memory” or I like to call it, “Motor Programs”. Either way the definition is the same and to achieve it one must devote time and effort for that perfect practice.
For me it starts at the foundation, which is safe weapon handling. If you fail to manipulate a weapon system safely then you are only a danger to yourself and others. For those who carry a long gun the proper manipulation of the safety is a key ingredient. The key word is “proper”. I see shooters use their safety catch but in the grand scheme of things they tend to place the weapon on fire way too early and place the weapon back on safe way too late. In some cases I hear the dreaded theory that it is faster just to run the weapon with the safety off. Initially people ponder this and it can make a bit of sense. Speed is economy of motion right? The safety is just one extra step in the process and by not manipulating it you will be faster???
Lets break down the process. We have to identify the target before we can shoot it. After we identify the target we need to present the weapon to the target. As we present the weapon we pick up the sights and trigger, pretty soon the sights fall in to place and we press through the pressure wall of the trigger. So we can present the weapon, align the sights and start to press the trigger. Three things working all at once and most of the time done while moving, breathing thinking etc…. We are performing several fine motor skills all at the same time. So why can’t we fit the safety somewhere in this process and still be fast?
Truth is I am faster when I use the safety than when I don’t. The video that accompanies this article will attest to it and more than 50% of the time I demo the same drill that is in the video during a class I am faster using the safety. Though I shouldn’t be that surprised. I have hundreds of thousand or even millions of reps manipulating the safety as I present the weapon. It is unconscious competence, I don’t have to think about it. When I try to skip the step of using the safety it actually slows me down.
So how do we accomplish this? First off we must live on the safety. With and AR platform my thumb lives on the safety, the AK platform my index finger lives on the safety and so on and so on. By living on the safety you don’t have to search for it. Second, after we identify the threat and begin to present the weapon the safety is disengaged. Back to multitasking. We never lose time, it is simply doing two things at once. Like wise, when I am done shooting the weapon goes back on safe prior to returning to a ready position.
J Michael Plaxco talks about speed in his book, Shooting From Within: A guide to Maximum Performance, Speed will increase through practice; it is a byproduct of proper training and technique. You don’t have to try to be fast. As your skill increases and you are able to execute at the subconscious level, speed increases naturally.
So it comes down to reps and proper technique. So stop worrying about the speed. Focus on the technique; stay true to the principles and the speed will come.
Apex Shooting and Tactics LLC is deeply rooted in a method of training that is safe, effective, relevant, and encourages a continuous thought process that will demand accountability. Safe and effective techniques, tactics and procedures are the foundation of our student learning objectives. Escalation of training and intensity will vary depending on number of students and their skill levels, though the core of the course will always remain the same.
Apex Shooting and Tactics LLC is owned and operated by Andrew Blubaugh. Andrew has over 15 years of Military, Private Security and Law Enforcement experience. Andrew is a fulltime police officer, member of a county wide SWAT team and the primary firearm, tactics and use of force trainer for his agency. Additionally, Andrew spent 4 years as an adjunct instructor for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and continues to instruct with Chris Cerino Training Group and Rifle’s Only.
The cadre at Apex Shooting and Tactics are selected based on real world experience, ability to perform and instruct. We pride ourselves with being students first and instructors second.Check Apex Shooting and Tactics LLC out on Facebook! Facebook
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