Speed and accuracy are the great equalizers on the range. They provide a simple, factual reference on your performance. Almost every pistol competition you shoot has an element of time in its scoring. In USPSA (United States Practical Shooting Association) your hit factor is determined by the number of points you score divided by the time it took you to shoot them. In IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) you’re scored off of your total time plus time added on for inaccuracy and penalties. The holes in the target are the second, easy to measure, indication of your performance.
It almost always pays to be faster in competition, and to have the skills to be faster in real life is never going to hurt you. The question I am constantly asked by my fellow competitors, other shooters, and clients on the range is how do I get faster? The answer is not what people intuitively want to hear. What they want to hear is there is a genetic trick, one simple drill, or a ten minute a week solution. The reality is much different. The three major components of increasing your speed are Reference, Repetition, and Efficiency.
I define reference as measurement. Reference answers two questions that you need to ask yourself if you want to get faster, “What is fast?” and “How fast am I?”. Look at the skill you are trying to decrease your time in performing, a draw, a reload, a certain classifier, a Bill drill or whatever and see what a truly fast time is for that action. People who are fast will gladly share their times with you, or you can simply research them online. Knowing a quarter second reload is not possible is step one. Secondly, you need to have a record of your time performing this action. This is where recording your data from practice sessions, using a shot timer provides you with hard data to measure your improvement. Remember, that which gets measured gets improved.
Repetition helps you develop that neural pathway that makes actions become subconscious. By subconscious, I mean you are increasing the myelin on the appropriate neural pathway increasing they transmission speed by up to 400% in some cases. That takes more then ten minutes a week… The saying that practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent is true. You have to put in the hard work of doing something correctly, over and over again. That is just a hard fact of getting better.
The second aspect of repetition in training is what can you repeatedly do? The ability to do something correctly and quickly but only one time out of ten is in fact counter productive. You are building myelin on incorrect neural pathways nine out of ten times which will not help you out. Slow and precise is of far more value than fast & inaccurate nine out of ten times. Practices doing something correctly until you only do it correctly. If you want to get faster, slow down until you can’t do it wrong and build from there.
Last on the list is efficiency. Are you moving the shortest distance – or was there a shorter way to get into position? Is your technique precise – or is there a means or eliminating excessive movement? Is your equipment always in its proper place – or do you have to hunt for it? Do your eyes see the sight picture and sight alignment every time – or do you still need to look for it? When you decrease the number of ways things can go wrong, you increase your chances of doing it right.
If you want to get faster, here is my three step process. One – Get a timer and start measuring. Two – get some training and feedback on refining your technique – and then do it over and over and over again. Three – eliminate everything you can from every aspect of the drill, skill or stage you are shooting until only the scoreable elements remain. Lastly, If you can figure out how to do all that in ten minutes a week, activate some secret genetic code that does it for you, or myelin development machine, please – let me know! Otherwise – getting faster is simply doing the work, correctly, consistently and frequently.
~ Rowdy Bricco