Practicing What I Preach

“Yeah, maybe he can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk?”

In a word, no.

I know many of the things needed to hit the X but, like so many others, doing them, shot after shot, is quite something else.

But I made some progress this week and it’s important to look back and try to figure out why.

Monday evening I watched a couple of episodes of StarGate with my (triply-checked) unloaded 1911 in my lap. Without paying much attention to it, I cocked the hammer and pulled the trigger a great many times. During commercials, I would raise up the gun, put the red dot on a blank area of the wall and move the trigger as straight back as possible and watch to see if the dot would move with the trigger motion.

I can’t say that I saw any particular improvement during the evening. I’ve always thought I was pretty good at releasing the hammer when the chamber is empty. It’s when there’s a live round in there that things change so I’ve always had mixed feelings about the value of dry-fire.

But last night at the league, I saw the benefit. As I raised the gun for the first Slow Fire shots of the evening, I told myself, “Okay, your hand knows how to release the shot without moving the gun. All I need to do is keep the dot in the black [my wobble] and let my hand do what it knows.”

My first target scored 77-0. Not a very good score for many but, for me, in Slow Fire, that was among my better scores.

“Okay,” I said to myself, “this might be working. Let’s let the hand release the shot and just keep the dot in the black. Be patient. Wait for the shot to be released. It will happen or, if we get tired of waiting, we can put the gun down for a rest and try it again.”

I scored 84-1 on the second Slow Fire target and that is good for me. There was one round down-left and out of the black – a jerk – but all the others were in the black.

“Maybe I’ve got this knocked!” I thought.

But you know what comes next, don’t you?

74-0 for the first Slow Fire of the NMC.


Over-confidence. Didn’t continue to execute on the fundamentals. Forgot to do what I had just been doing. [Doh!]

The next target is Timed Fire, one of my favorites where I do better because, I’m certain, I don’t have enough time for my brain to mess it up, but just enough to get the sights back on the target for each shot. The only trick to add is moving that trigger straight back and letting the hand release each shot.

90-1 for the Timed Fire. Now we’re cookin'.

86-1 in Rapid Fire. Ok, I can live with that.

73-0 (oops: a jam and an alibi string, lost an X – the shooter scoring my target said he could see me jerking several of the alibi shots) and then 90-3 (that’s the way – look at the Xs, thanks for reminding me I can be a “jerk”) in the Timed Fire match.

And 83-2 (let’s do that again but better) and finally 76-0 (another jam and an alibi string – boy, those can really hurt!) in the Rapid Fire match to end the evening.

The NMC score was 250-2 with an aggregate of 733-8 (81.4%) for the evening.

Dry-firing with the gun in the lap trains the lower part of my arm. Doing that practice with Jack, Samantha, Daniel and Teal’c worming their way around the universe keeps the brain (marginally) engaged and out of the loop on the trigger work.

My aggregate score was a personal best and I’m convinced a good part of it was for two reasons: First, my hand knew what to do. And secondly, and perhaps more important for me, my brain trusted and let my hand do the work.

The brain has to figure out the lessons and skills the body needs to learn, oversee the body’s practice enough to be sure it does them correctly, but when the time comes for the performance, the body has to know, and the brain has to let it work.

Those that can, do. Those that can’t, teach.

Brain teaches. Body does.

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