Tim and A.J. take you through the process of making the most out of your practice sessions and how to practice with a purpose.
The Purposeful Practice Workshop is a comprehensive program based on the art of developing skill with the handgun. Lots of students come to a course, see and shoot several drills and exercises, leave the class and have no idea how to incorporate what they’ve seen into a structured practice routine. This workshop bridges that gap. We start by discussing metrics and how to use them and push forward to creating and validating your own practice.
Fundamentals of performance shooting
Setting anod using metrics
Validating your practice
Dry fire/live fire integration
An open mind with a desire to learn!
Notebook (You are definitely going to want this!)
Reliable handgun suitable for practical use. (If you have questions about whether your gun is suitable or not, please do not hesitate to contact us!)
At least 3 magazines/speed loaders, more for single stack or revolver running less than 8 rounds
Holster suitable for competition, carry/duty use
Way to carry at least 2 magazines/speed loaders on your person. (A belt mounted magazine pouch/speed loaders carrier is HIGHLY suggested)
Reliable ammunition for your handgun (1 day: 500rds. This is a minimum requirement. The more ammo the better!)
A belt suitable to carry your handgun and ammunition
After some serious catch-up work, our 2021 books are open! We are currently accepting 1911/2011 full builds, limited a la carte work, and select polymer gun work. Please see our “Gunsmithing Services” pages for a comprehensive list.
OTHER THAN CHAMBERS CUSTOM RDSM INSTALL, we will not be taking on any new orders for 2020 delivery. In an effort to catch up to our current work load, and due to unforeseen events, we have decided to not take on any more work for 2020 until we can get closer to our desired lead times on all projects. We will also be making some significant changes to our available services for the future.
“What if I already have an order in?” Great! You will not be affected by this in any way, shape, or form.
“We talked about a project but I haven’t sent it yet. Does that mean I’m out of luck?” No, you have been included in our “current project” book and your project will proceed as normal.
“Can I get on the list anyways?” Yes, we will still take your order, but we will not be able to fill it until 2021.
“I have questions that haven’t been answered!” Please feel free to call the shop at 928-458-7794 or send us an email ay email@example.com and we will be happy to answer all of your questions.
We all get frustrated with shooting sometimes. Me probably more than others. It took me a lot of years to learn how to deal with frustrations. Coming from a defensive/combative oriented shooting background, the answer was “Too bad. Fight through it!” As I progressed and matured as a shooter I came to the realization that most times, “Fighting through it” was often not the right answer, and in fact was more detrimental to my progression of skill and emotional state. We are not talking about emotionless correction here. This is past that point. This is where we’ve made the same 20 emotionless corrections and we are still not achieving the desired result. So what do we do? I’m glad you asked!
1). DELIBERATE (PERFECT) PRACTICE
If it is early on in a session, dry or live fire, I will try to apply the idea of deliberate, or more deliberate to be exact, practice. I will become hyper focused on refining every bit of the technique down to the minutia and make it perfect. What this looks like is best described in an actual occurrence. Typically, this happens to me while doing 6-reload-6 in dryfire. Often, I will start messing up the reload as I am trying to perform it at the edge of my capability. After I’ve messed up or missed the reload two or three times, I will stop and go into micro-mastery of the reload. I will ensure that every portion of the reload is perfect for 5-10 reps at a pace I can guarantee perfection. After that I will return to my 6-reload-6, but I will ensure the reload is executed perfectly for the next several reps. Using this technique, I can salvage a dry fire or range session from being a complete waste of time.
2). PACK IT UP
You heard me. End the session right there. Nothing good can come from frustrated reps. Your technique WILL suffer. You will be executing bad reps, and because you’re mad you’re probably gonna do a lot of them really hard (ask me how I know). At the end, after you’ve “fought through,” you will have myelinated more bad reps, prepping yourself for failure the next time. There is nothing wrong with ending a session early once in a while if it just isn’t happening. I have driven an hour to the range, gotten there, shot 10 rounds, unloaded my gun, packed it up and drove the hour home. I knew in those 10 rounds that nothing good could come from that session. Yeah, I lost two and a half hours on that session, but I saved 290 rounds, tons of frustration, and who knows how many hours to correct the damage I could have done to my shooting. The next day, I started fresh.
So remember, bad reps never helped anyone in practice. Know when you can stop, refocus your attention, and get good reps in, and know when its time to call it a day. “Know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.”
Ok, so the class isn’t new, but we’re posting it here for those who haven’t heard of it. We’re headed to the Impact Shooting Center in Cleves, OH to teach our two day Performance Handgun Class. Performance Handgun is our premier performance based program. We get into the weeds of performance and how the make you faster and more consistent in your shooting, whether it be combative/defensive or competitive. Registration can be found here: https://practicalperformance.org/product/performance-handgun-3-4-oct-2020-cleves-oh/
So you spent two days in a classroom, took a written test, shot a 25 round qualification, and got your Concealed Carry Permit. Now what? If you’re a responsible (and reasonable) person, you’ve probably realized that this is no where near enough training or practice to strap your smoke-wagon to your leg and be ready for whatever the gods have in store for you. But like most, you probably don’t really know the next step. Here’s a quick guide:
1: Sign up for a class with a real instructor! This is a fast track to shooting success. Depending on your fundamental skills, you may want to start with your local NRA instructor. AND THAT’S OK! You will go much farther, much faster, if you get some solid shooting fundamentals under your belt before going to someone to learn how to draw quickly and reload on the move. Learn to shoot tight groups on demand. Try shooting “The Test”: From a ready position, fire 10 rounds into a NRA B-8 bullseye target at 10 yards, in 10 seconds. Score the target. When you can put 7 out of 10 rounds in the black, on demand, you’re ready for some skills training. There are a lot of great instructors out there, both on the local and national levels. Just because a teacher/instructor is local, doesn’t mean they’re not good at what they do. Likewise, just because an instructor is on the “National” level, doesn’t mean they are that good. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the worst classes I’ve ever been in were with “National” level, former “cool guy” instructors. Get with someone you have seen shoot if you can. You’ll be able to see their techniques and skill level right away, and if they can’t shoot, they probably don’t need to teach. If the class is good, you’ll be able to walk away with a list of skills and drills to practice. Don’t expect to leave a two day course and be Wild Bill Hickock. Take notes, video, pictures, etc. of things you need to take back home with you to practice. You’ll probably never learn as much in another class as you will in your first. Shooting skills take time.
2: Buy 1000 rounds of ammo: You need to practice! If you’ve taken a course with a good instructor you will have a blueprint of things to focus on. This is where the real work is done. Take the things you have learned and refine them. Practice is an art, and there really are better ways than others to do it. Maybe you took a class but were overwhelmed and didn’t take notes…Not to worry, there are some really great resources out there to help you practice. Obviously you’ve got us at http://Practicalperformance.org to help you along the way. If you haven’t been to http://Pistol-training.com then you’re missing out. The late, great, Todd Green assembled tons of great content about practicing as well as drills and free printable targets to go with them! Save it to your favorites because I have no doubt you’ll be back there again. Around 2010 I was really in a shooting plateau. Pistol-Training.com, and Todd specifically, really pushed me out of my comfort zone and over my plateau. Mike Seeklander at http://Shooting-performance.com is also a great resource for drills and information. Mike’s books are also great plug-n-play programs to jumpstarting your own practice and training programs. I have used Mike’s books and videos as well as attended his classes and there is a wealth of information for your use. I’m pretty sure he’s even allowing folks to download some of his e-book versions for free right now.
3: Get medical training: Not only to help others, but to help yourself as well. CPR and AED classes are great and easy, but look to some classes that are more trauma oriented. TCCC may be more than you really want to get into, but there are some great First Responder and Individual Trauma Care courses out there. Here’s a secret: You have a higher likelihood of using these skills than any of your fighting skills. Keep up with them.
4: Get some hand to hand skills: It’s no secret that I despise H2H. That being said, I still practice and get training in it. Seek out training and trainers that are willing to train multi-disciplinary skillsets. Thus far, the best person I’ve found for this is Craig Douglas at http://Shivworks.com. Craig’s classes incorporate hands, knives, guns, and the often overlooked verbal and recognition skills. Be prepared, you’re gonna work in these classes, but you’re going to learn a lot. If you have the means, get into a jiu-jitsu gym. I don’t think disciplined jiu-jitsu is the answer, but I can say without a doubt that those with rolling experience tend to fair far better than those with little to no experience in wrestling or fighting. And if you’ve already got some jits skills, learn to throw blows. Standup boxing I think is a very overlooked fighting style that truly sets fighters apart. A wrestler who can box is far more dangerous than one who can’t.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Some of you may find that not all of this is within your ability, either physically or, more often than not, financially. That’s ok. Do what you can with what you have. Remember, dry fire costs little to nothing.
Now, grab your gear and get out there and practice!
Over the last week of December each year, I set a new list of goals. Setting goals can be a tricky endeavor if not approached correctly. It’s very easy to set a goal because it sounds good, and it is what you want. But that goal can have so many variables that are out of your control that it ceases to be realistically obtainable. So lets talk about some key points with goal setting.
What do you want? : Firstly, you have to want to achieve the goal. I mean REALLY want to achieve the goal. If the goal has no real value to you other than lip service, your chances of achieving it are most likely pretty slim. Goals should be important to you, and you should want to achieve them.
Is it obtainable? : Has this goal been achieved by others? I’m by no means saying that you shouldn’t set a goal that makes you the first to accomplish something, but there is a direct correlation between knowing a goal is achievable and being able to achieve it. For years it was thought that man could not run a 4 minute mile. After Sir Roger Bannister finally achieved it, several others were able to break the 4 minute mark within the same year. KNOWING a goal is achievable is a huge step in achieving it. More on this later.
Can I control my achievement of the goal? : This is where we get into the ideas of outcome based goals vs. process based goals. Outcome based goals deal exclusively with a specific result. A process based goal is focused more on how you are achieving the goal rather than the result. For example, if I said “I want to make Grandmaster in USPSA.” That would be an outcome based goal. If on the other hand I were to say “I want to shoot no less than three days a week.” That would be a process based goal. There is a time and place for both types of goals, but I tend to gravitate towards process based goals. Again, we need to be able to control the outcome of your goal. Setting goals that are based on variables outside of your control can quickly lead to failure. For example: You set the outcome based goal of “I want to win the Western States Single Stack Championship (WSSSC).” Great, but we have some issues. While this goal may be achievable for you, there are variables outside of your control that can prevent you from being able to achieve it. Things like Rob Leatham (who has won it almost as many times as its been held) showing up and having the match of his life. Or maybe as you’re leaving you get hit by a huge snow storm and hit a buried rut and jack up the engine in your truck (true story). It’s hard to set outcome based goals for things like matches and them be anywhere within your control. I prefer to set process based goals that will aid in the achievement of what may be an outcome based goal. I.e. “I want to dry fire no less than four days a week for 30 minutes, live fire no less than three days a week, and shoot at least one local match a month in order to prepare for the best results at WSSSC.” Yep, its pretty wordy. It’s also process based, very specific, and almost totally under my control.
Goal setting can be tricky, especially if you don’t know where to start. Using what we’ve discussed above, you should be able to get started on setting some achievable goals. Later on, we’ll talk about long term and short term goals, daily goals, and how to make all your goals work with each other. Until then, good luck and stick with it!
On Monday, Scott Jedlinski and I will start the first leg of the Modern Samurai Project West Coast Tour (https://modern-samurai-project.myshopify.com ). As some of you know, over the last year I have been unable to achieve the Black Belt Patch in a class. I have witnessed all but two being earned in that time. This is a frustrating situation as I’m about 80% passing it in practice.
Recently I attended a Steve Anderson (http://www.andersonshooting.com) class. To say my performance was not up to par would be an understatement. To reiterate how poorly it went, individuals who took that class who I often shoot with in matches AND who have been in my classes even commented, asking what was wrong with me. This was very demoralizing to me. It DESTROYED my self image. And that may not be a bad thing.
After the class, I was pondering what was going on with my shooting, my gunsmithing, my time, my life. To put it less eloquently, shit got real… After much reflection, I reached the conclusion that I already knew, but honestly had not thought was as bad as it truly was. I have always liked doing lots of things. In a recent interview with Civilian Carry Radio (www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3M6w-u_W9Q) Tatiana Whitlock referred to me as a Renaissance Man. I have always somewhat prided myself on that. Unfortunately, it seems to have finally caught up to me and there are far too many irons in the fire, as it were.
What does this look like? I often tell my wife “When everything is a priority, nothing becomes the priority.” And that is what has happened. My level of participation, as Anderson refers to it, has essentially dropped to nothing in my shooting in order to accommodate other things. I have shot less rounds this year (sitting under 10k pistol for 2019) than in any previous year, and a majority of that shot has been in matches. I have a couple full build, bespoke guns in the shop that have been on the job board for over a year now, and I HAAAAAATTTTE that!!!! As one of my friends used to tell me, “Life gets in the way.” My dryfire routine is non-existent at this point. I dry fired more in Anderson’s class than I had in the past 2 months combined, and there wasn’t a ton in the class.
So, what am I getting at here. It’s time for a re-structure. It’s time to reestablish some form of structure and prioritization to my goals and desires. Over the last couple years I’ve been fascinated with routines and rituals of successful individuals. Not just financially successful, but successful in any of their chosen endeavors. The power of habit it incredible. Recently I heard that it takes roughly 66 days to truly make something a habit, not 21 as is commonly thought.
So on Monday, we begin the MSP West Coast Tour. (That’s right, I just Tarantino-ed you!) Upon my return, we will begin 66 days of habit forming. This will entail an incredibly strict dry fire regime. It will also require a strict adherence to my live fire schedule. I’m hoping a byproduct of this whole process will be more regular posts here. This may be more of a time management exercise more than anything else, and that seems to be exactly what is needed. So, let the prep work begin.
Poor sportsmanship is nothing new to any competitive endeavor. Just recently we watched the newest installment with Serena Williams which progressed into something reminiscent of the Taylor Swift and Kanye West fiasco several years back. Serena did not perform the way she believed she should be performing, blamed an official for HER performance mistakes, and in the end lost the match. At the award ceremony she continued her poor behavior with a display essentially degrading the work and performance of her competitor, Naomi Osaka.
I wish I could say that this behavior was not found in the shooting sports, but it is. Recently, I found myself on the “Osaka” side of this. After a long USPSA match, scores totaled, it came out that I had bested a top 10 USPSA competitor. I was ecstatic. I personally respect this individual, his skill, and work ethic. To him, it was no big deal. You win some you lose some. Then the White Knights showed up (enter Kanye and his cronies). Some of these individuals are my friends. The responses, in essence, were “Yeah, but he had a rough match. His head wasn’t in it. He was thinking about other things.” etc. All of which may be true. AND NONE OF WHICH CHANGES THE FACT HE LOST! Only one individual was supportive of this accomplishment.
I don’t say this to pat myself on the back or as a “poor me” story. I tell this to relate an issue we have as competitors with ego, white knighting, and hero worship. Some people’s ego cannot accept losing. And when they lose, this “reason” is firmly based in something other than their personal performance. In my personal example, this was not the case. The competitor was nothing but gracious and sportsmanly (?) about it. Enter Kanye. Some other individuals could not wrap their head around the fact that a nobody, local shooter, like me could beat a high level national competitor. To right this injustice, they decided to belittle the win. Now, this competitor made no major mistakes in the match, no major malfunctions, no serious score-able errors. He just didn’t have a great match. And guess what, neither did I. But the knights always need to fight someones battles. Mind you, none of them were even close to the top in this match. I believe Steve Anderson would say something about free advise from D class shooters at this point… But I digress.
Finally, some of them could just not handle their “hero” (highest level shooter they personally know) being beaten without some form of excuse. I get it. There’s a reason why the adage “Don’t meet your hero’s.” exists. I’ve done it more than once. So I say unto thee: Be sportsman. Be gracious in both your wins and losses. No one likes a sore loser, or their friends. And no one likes a braggadocios winner. Be humble. And if you do lose, work harder so that you do not lose again.