Posts Tagged ‘practice’


I’ve seen shooters at all levels that struggle to some degree with “flinching,” or what we commonly call anticipation. This is evident when you look at a target of a student and see the rounds striking the lower left area because just a split second before they fire, they “flinch” and the final aiming point and muzzle dips and turns resulting in a low hit or miss. (Opposite for left handed shooters)

New and less experience shooters, or those who do not practice regularly struggle with anticipation. The primary causes of anticipation are: Fear or uncertainty, improper grip, and lack of practice or training. The good news about “flinching” is that it is curable with a little bit of work.

Fear or uncertainty is usually the first thing we need to address. Everyone has an aversion to pain and new shooters and those who are inexperienced or do not shoot frequently enough are afraid of being hurt by the handgun when it discharges, cycles, or both. There is also quite a bit of anxiety or uncertainty that also needs to be overcome. To be a good shooter you have to tolerate a bit of discomfort, but that can be minimized and managed by a little bit of practice and confidence.

I tell all of my students that the “scary” noise and the mechanical actions happens faster than they are able to perceive it, and none of it happens until micro-seconds AFTER the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun on its way to the target. So getting the perfect shot in the right place happens before any of the things we are uncertain or afraid of, actually take place. So getting the round to hit what you are aiming at is a simple application of the fundamentals… and then the “scary stuff” happens.

I know this information is not comforting to the timid shooter, so let’s analyze the second part of this problem. More gun than you can handle! You need look no further than Youtube for endless videos of idiot boyfriends handing their girls or guy friends extremely large caliber hand cannons, offering no training or advice and then laughing hysterically when they get hurt. These videos breed stereotypes and fear among potential new shooters. Hollywood doesn’t help either when they wrongfully depict a handgun discharging and sending the shooter flying backwards. If you are a timid, new or inexperienced shooter, start with a small caliber handgun and build confidence before picking up something larger. A defensive caliber does not have to start with a point four (.4-) to be effective. (Uh oh… I just said calibers less than .40 are good for defense… Brace yourself for the hate mail)

I have handguns available to rent for my courses and they are usually .22LR or 9mm. I also use steel frame handguns that are a little heavier to help mitigate some of the recoil. Starting off with something manageable helps assuage some of the fear or uncertainty. When they are expecting a civil war cannon bang and all they get is a sharp pop, shooters realize that handling a firearm is not that difficult after all. It only takes a couple hundred rounds for confidence to soar and after seeing how well you can shoot a small gun, most shooters are eager to step up to something bigger. So if you are learning to shoot start small.

The second part of the flinch equation is an improper grip. I teach and strongly advocate the 100% or thumbs forward grip. Shooters of all sizes, strength and skill levels have had great success using this grip. Using your Google-fu you can find dozens of articles on this style of grip and its numerous advantages. This two handed grip style will give you the maximum skin to surface contact on the handgun as well as the best position to manage the cycling of the slide during recoil. If you page through the Home Defense Gun (.net) site you can find an excellent video that demonstrates this grip. If you are improperly holding the handgun, the recoil you are absorbing will be felt to a much greater degree than necessary, which will cause pain or extreme discomfort and cause you to “flinch” unconsciously.

The best way to fight the flinch is to seek out quality training and practice on your own. I recommend a lot of dry fire practice if you have a problem with anticipation or flinching. Dry firing means that you develop strong neural pathways (muscle memory) without any of the “scary” stuff happening. By focusing carefully on the fundamentals of proper trigger press, sight alignment and follow through without having to worry about the noise or mechanical action will allow you to grow comfortable and confident. When you do finally hit the range you can apply the skills you acquired during dry fire practice. With a solid foundation to build on, the right grip, and a manageable caliber handgun you will be well on your way to ending the “flinch” or anticipating.

To end the fight against the flinch once and for all you will need practice. Here is a drill I recommend to anyone struggling with anticipation or “flinching.” Take a handful of empty casings and as you load your magazine or cylinder, randomly place an empty casings into the magazine interspersed with live rounds. (Or have someone else load your magazines randomly). As you shoot on the range, you will not know when your gun will go bang or click and if you have a problem anticipating the recoil or flinching, you will catch yourself doing so as the hammer falls on the empty case. When you pull the trigger and there is no bang, no mechanical reaction and you still flinch and drop the front sight down and left in anticipation… you’ll feel really silly. After a few bouts of this behavior your concentration level will increase, and since you do not know when the gun will really fire, you’ll fight the flinch, stay on target and start making good hits. Try this out and post your results, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Once you master the smaller caliber and the fear and uncertainty fades, challenge yourself and pick up the next larger caliber available. Confidence comes quickly with a little practice and training. Once you grow accustomed to the motion, mechanical action and the noise, you’ll start to relish the discomfort you feel and after a while, you’ll enjoy it… from there you’ll be well on your way to being a top notch shooter.

Train hard, stay safe.

Scott S

Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool! For more information please visit our website at: or find us on Facebook. For more firearms, safety and personal protection articles, videos and sound advice visit my friends at or search for Home Defense Gun on Facebook.


Despite what I’m doing it always seems like I have something I need to carry. Be it a folder, grocery bag, holding a door, holding a phone or my daughter’s hand, I usually have something in my non-gun hand. If you carry a concealed weapon, you should take great care and practice making sure you always have your primary or gun hand free in case you need to access your weapon. Keeping your gun hand free limits your options on how much you can carry and usually means your off hand is occupied. For the article I’m going to use the phrase off hand. I know the more common description is “weak hand,” but I prefer to keep the work weak out of my vocabulary. You may be less skilled, but you are not weak!

I bring this topic up because I want you to think about how much time you spend shooting one hand only? Very few instructors offer courses where you are required to shoot your handgun with your primary hand only, not to mention your off hand only. Most training course emphasize good marksmanship which is achieved by a solid stance, grip and the other applied fundamentals. This is a great way to learn, but how you learn to shoot is going to be very different from when you have to shoot to survive. Outside of some advance police pistol training I do not see one handed shooting in very many curriculums.

Whether you attend my basic handgun or one of my more advanced courses, I make all of my students shoot with one hand for several reasons. The first reason is to show them it is possible. You should see the looks I get from students when I tell them to let go with one hand. After some initial apprehension, the student always shows intense concentration and they shoot exceptionally well with one hand only. Just when confidence starts to increase I have them put the gun into their off-hand only. Again, more looks of horror and doubt followed by encouragement, concentration and success.

In my Offensive Pistol course we up the ante a bit by giving the student a life size doll which completely ties up one hand, forcing them to access, withdraw and shoot the target with one hand. This is important because like I mentioned at the beginning of the article, we are always carrying or holding onto something. In a real life encounter we may have our off hand occupied, or if we are with a loved one they may be latched onto one of our arms in panic. In the event you are involved in a gun fight and become injured and lose the ability to fight with one hand, having a skillset you have trained will make a life-saving difference.

While shooting with one hand usually requires a bit more concentration when practicing, you will find that over time you can make very accurate hits. In practical or defensive pistol training we need to remember that we are not looking for the same level of accuracy as someone who is participating in a marksmanship competition. While we should always strive to shoot faster and try to make our rounds touch each other, in a real life environment we should strive for, “Combat accuracy.”

There are varying definitions of combat accuracy so let me explain my perspective this way. When shooting I want my students to get their rounds into a soccer ball size area of center mass. When shooting with one hand, and shooting quickly this is not difficult to achieve with a little practice. As your skill increases you will be better able to control the recoil and get those rounds closer together, but if you can put your shots into a soccer ball size area you will be effective against a lethal threat.

To close out the article I want to give you a tip you can try that may make shooting with one hand a bit easier. Sitting or standing where you are shake your arms to loosen up a bit. Now raise them up in front of you and notice how your hands are naturally pronated or angled towards the center line of your body. This is the common way you rest your hands on a piano, or computer keyboard.


This is a very natural position for your body. Now, keeping your hand in that position, simply add the handgun. You will notice that the handgun is also pronated or angled slightly inboard towards your centerline. This should feel natural and comfortable, but be careful not to over pronate and end up going full gangster as you hold the handgun. The gun should rest naturally at a 45 degree angle. (See photos)


From this position you can easily see your front sight and achieve a good sight alignment and picture. Shooting one handed from this position also allows you to stand square to your target instead of turning sideways and exposing your vital organs.

The other thing to avoid is over rotating your hand the other way so your handgun is sitting straight up and down or about 90 degrees. If you rotate you’re the gun you will feel additional tension in your forearm and wrist which will cause you to fatigue faster and will make mitigation of recoil more difficult. If you notice with your hand in the pronated position, the grip panel is facing downward, allowing gravity to assist you in by counteracting the rise of the handgun during recoil.

Next time you head to the range, make sure you spend some time outside your comfort zone. Spend some time shooting with one hand and apply some of the techniques I’ve mentioned above. When you have adequate control, shoot faster but maintain accuracy. Build your skills and confidence and then shoot with your off hand as well. If you carry a concealed handgun, make sure you carry in such a way you can access and draw your handgun with one hand as well. This skill is vital to your survival. It pays to be one armed man!

Be safe, and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is a tool!

Scott S

Founder – One Weapon Any Tool Firearms Training

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The ability to respond to threats quickly and effectively is based on pattern recognition or schemas. A schema is a “scenario,” or a pattern of events your brain recognizes based on training, experience or pre-programmed mental rehearsals. Having a host of these developed patterns or schemas gives you a thick file folder to draw from. The more experience, training, or mental role-playing you do, the more patterns you will be able to recognize.

Have a lot of schemas stored in your brain is important because your mind and body recognize these patterns and develop sub routines or responses based on how much experience, training or mental rehearsals you have developed. If your brain is a large file cabinet, you have a drawer in the cabinet that stores information about threats to your safety. In that drawer there are dozens of folders each containing specific information about a threat event and the instructions, or rather the exact sequences of neurons that need to fire and the chemicals and hormones necessary to create an effective response to the threat stimulus.

What is intriguing is that a lot of these schema or folders cross reference each other. A human body articulates in certain ways and even when using a tool as a part of the threat sequence (gun, knife, etc.) it does not change how the human body articulates when attacking. These patterns of movement are also information you store in your schema file folders. The way a person moves also triggers responses, for example, when you see someone cock their fist back to throw a punch, your brain fires the necessary sequences to initiate a subconscious startle / flinch response and you throw your hands up to protect yourself… how you respond after that depends on your training.

There is a branch study here of human behavior and body language that I’m not going to touch on in this article. I bring it up to point out to you that facial expressions, movements, and overall behavior in life can reinforce and “thicken” the data in your folder. I will be doing some articles on behavior and body language soon, so keep following the One Weapon Any Tool & Home Defense Gun Blogs.

One of the best ways to build schema is to go through training scenarios that imbed the proper pattern recognition and response sequences into your subconscious mind. The military and police forces are a great example of how this works. During a police academy or a military boot camp, you are shown visual, audible and physical cues of how an enemy soldier or suspect is going to attack you. You open a new folder in your file drawer and your mind starts recording this information for later use. You are then taught how to respond to the threat pattern or behavior and that information also gets recorded and stored in the file.

A common explanation of this is when an infantryman is taught to respond to an ambush by an enemy. They are given a briefing about counter-ambush tactics, they assemble and go practice their responses by going through the motions of how they should respond, followed by dry runs carrying all of their equipment and weapons in a patrol formation. Finally after the instructors are satisfied the infantrymen are proficient they simulate an ambush attack (apply stressors like gun fire, smoke, simulated explosives and chaos) and allow the men to respond effectively.

They placed data into their files during the briefing, added in muscle routines, created neural connections, strengthened those connections via repetition and then applied the learning under stress to flesh out a complete file. While this is a generalization of a training scenario, you can see the steps used to create a schema for the soldiers. Should they ever encounter an actual ambush, their brain (file cabinet) will go to the threat section (file drawer) and open the ambush (file folder) and respond. The key takeaway from training, those who take training and those who conduct it, is to make sure they curriculum you teach will build a schema your student can create a mental folder around and that your training fills that folder with good information and responses. Bad training can create neural pathways as well and a bad information in your folder can get you killed. Vet the training you take!

If you ever study or talk to anyone who is a part of the Special Operations community they will tell you about a nearly constant cycle of training. From basic, to advance, to specialized, to combat workup and then onto combat, they come home for very brief time frames before they begin training again. They are constantly training in every arena available so when they encounter a threat and their brain opens the file folder it is stuffed full of data that is acted on, unconsciously and near instantaneously without taking the long road through the brain called conscious thought.

The other way to build a thick folder is to have experience. They say that experience is the best teacher but getting experience isn’t easy. Most of the things we learn in life are taught to us by experience. We all learned not to touch a hot stove cause we were told not to, got close and discovered that for ourselves, or we just touched it. Experience can breed self-correcting behavior usually because of the negative consequences associated with it. Not all experience is negative. In a life threatening encounter that you survive is one way you build and learn from positive experiences. Doing something well and right is rewarding especially when reinforced with positive affirmation.

When recognizing threats or danger the more experience you have is better. Police officers who grew up in rougher neighborhoods start off with a much higher recognition of threats and danger signs than those who did not. Not to say they are better officers than the ones raised more affluent areas, it is just the rougher neighborhoods taught them at an early age to be wary of certain people, times and places.

Survival becomes more important at an earlier age to some people and as a result their folders get created and filled with data faster. Later in life they have more schemas to draw from and can respond faster and more effectively.

Mental rehearsal is the third way you can add data to your file folders. Research has found that running through scenarios in your mind or mental practice can be up to 80% effective when applied under stress. Mental rehearsal alone will never make you 100% proficient, but it does help and work. Here is how: By imagining a scenario in your mind and going step by step in detail through the events and your actions/responses causes neural connections to form and fire sequences/networks of the neurons necessary to perform the actual actions.

When I studied martial arts and was learning to perfect a kata, I would spend time visualizing each move, hand position, foot position and I would imagine the strike or block I was performing as actually hitting or stopping a blow. Going over and over the images and motions in my mind really helped me when it came time to perform. The moves, strikes, blocks, etc. were much sharper and more defined. Daniel Coyle talks about the importance of mental rehearsal in his book The Talent Code. Top talent from all over the world in sports and music use the mental training to hone their skills. It is no different and can be used effectively in personal protection as well.

The reason creating schema is important is to make sure you are prepared to respond appropriately to a threat stimulus. If you are placed into a stressful, potentially life threatening situation and there is no schema for you to draw information from, (if you open the drawer and there is no folder) then you will freeze and your brain will begin running through the Fractional Response Pattern trying to develop a plan using data from dozens of other drawers in your file cabinet. While your brain compiles this information you are essentially frozen in place for seven to ten seconds.

While that does not sound like a lot of time, imagine standing perfectly still and defenseless while someone punches you for seven to ten seconds and you are not allowed to respond. Now give an attacker a knife… how many times can you be cut in seven to ten seconds? Now give the bad guy a handgun and imagine how many rounds he can fire in seven to ten seconds? I’m pretty sure I can empty at least two full magazines in that time frame including a mag change, if not more.

The bottom line is you need to have a plan. You need to have a schema or a folder full of information for the threats you are most likely to encounter. Train hard, train accordingly!

Be safe and remember – Your mind is the weapon, everything else is just a tool!

Scott S – Founder of One Weapon Any Tool Firearms Training.

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If you carry a (semi-auto) handgun on a daily basis, you need to remember that it is a finely tuned machine that requires a certain amount of maintenance and care to function. We want to make sure we take proper care of our machine because the moment we need it… it has to work! Since we have busy lives and some of you (admit it) do not give your handgun a thorough cleaning each time you shoot it, make time in your daily routine for a quick operational check. A quick two minute assessment could save your life.

First, start with a safe and empty weapon. Perform a mechanical, visual and physical check of your handgun to make sure it is unloaded. Grab a cleaning cloth and a couple of Q-tips as well. Once you have a safe and empty weapon, close the slide and visually inspect the exterior of the gun. If you carry concealed wipe the dust bunnies and fuzzy stuff off, especially around the hammer, safety and any recessed portions. Overtime, dust binds with lubricant and can cause a malfunction or stoppage.

Now, lock the slide open and check the rails. There should be a light film of lubricant visible. If your gun is bone dry, you should stop at this point, break it down and properly add lubricant to the recommended areas. If you are unsure where lubricant goes and how much, consult your owner’s manual.

Next look at the recoils spring and barrel to make sure they are seated properly and the guide rod is intact. Now that some manufacturers are using plastic for guide rods, you need to pay attention. Plastic cannot withstand the same punishment as steel. Look down the barrel and also make sure it is free from obstructions. You don’t want any debris or dust bunnies in the barrel either. Give a quick check of the feed ramp and extractor to make sure both parts are intact. Finally look down into the magazine well and make sure that area is also clean and free from obstructions. Now you can begin a function check.

A function check is a quick easy way to assess the features of your handgun to see if they are working. Depending on the model of handgun you have, not all of these will apply, but follow along and tailor the function check to fit the needs of your particular semi auto handgun.

Close the slide and de-cock or engage any safety features associated with your handgun. Once the safety is engaged, pull the trigger and make sure the gun does not dry fire with the safety mechanisms engaged.

Starting from your carry position- striker fired, hammer down or cocked and locked, check the trigger pull and listen for the audible striker functioning. For guns with a hammer, watch the hammer fall and on both types, keep the trigger buried to the rear after the first press. Now, keeping the trigger buried, cycle the slide which should reset the striker or cock the hammer into single action. Now, slowly let out on the trigger and listen for the reset. If you have a handgun with a hammer, now press the trigger a second time to test the single action trigger pull.

Now that you have a ready and functioning handgun, holster it and grab a magazine. Just like the handgun, give it a visual inspection and make sure it is also clean and free from dust bunnies and debris. Make sure it does not have an excess of lubricant on the magazine. I have seen a few well intentioned handgun owners over lubricate their firearm causing the excess oil to get onto the magazine and gum it up. Now we can check the feed spring. I always like to pop a couple of rounds off the top of the magazine to make sure they slide easily past the feed lips and the spring tension is sufficient enough to push the next round into place instantaneously. Now, replace the couple of rounds you pushed out and make sure the feed lips retain the rounds properly.

Now, insert the magazine well into the firearm and give it a tap and tug to make sure it is seated properly. If the magazine comes out without depressing the release, you need to have your handgun serviced.

Draw your handgun (point it in a safe direction) and charge it. Engage any safety features and safely re-holster the handgun with your finger outside the trigger guard. Now press the magazine release and check to make sure it also functions properly. You should be able to pull the magazine clear of the handgun without it reengaging, catching or feeling any unnecessary friction. Now, reseat the second round that was in the magazine (now the top round) and top off the magazine with an additional round so it is at full capacity. Re-insert it and again listen for the audible click to tell you the magazine is seated firmly. Give it a tug and you are ready to go!    

If you carry a spare magazine (which I highly recommend), perform the same check and place it in your magazine carrier. Lastly, if you carry a holster with any type of retention device, make sure it is working properly as well.

While the narrative is long, this quick pre-flight check takes seconds and will give you comfort knowing your tool is ready when you need it.

Till next time, be safe and remember: Your mind is the weapon, everything else is a tool!

For more information about One Weapon Any Tool or for firearms training in Northern California visit our web site at: or find us on Facebook!

If you are on Facebook and want more information on personal or home protection, visit my friend at Home Defense Gun! An excellent source for firearms, personal protection and related information.


Stay safe

Scott S



Training is Insulation

I’m constantly fascinated by how delicately intricate, yet powerful the human brain is. When I began my journey of becoming a teacher / trainer I never expected to find myself studying neurology. While becoming a brain surgeon is very low on my priority list, we can learn a lot from that field of research, particularly how to get the most out of our training sessions and how to develop a skill faster. One of the recent resources I have come across was a book called The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. I’ve taken a few of the concepts he discusses in his book and applied them to firearms training in this article.

Make no illusions, there is no shortcut to success. Even in firearms training, to be successful at a fast draw time, accurate rapid shots, smoother reloads and weapon transitions, you will have to put in the work. You will have to work hard, and repeat these motions thousands of times. You will struggle, you will fail and you will achieve small successes, which are the stepping stones to the next success. As you practice and train do not let your current achievement become a plateau for you.

The good news about the above paragraph is that ANYONE can excel at almost any skill if you are willing to work at it. The more I study people, coaches, and training methods I’m convinced that natural talent does not exist. No one is born with an overwhelming skill set that makes them good at something. We are all unique and we all gravitate towards what interests us. Our interest turns into a desire to study, work, practice and develop a skill. That ongoing hard work and desire to be the best in the field we are immersed in, mixed with guidance will breed overwhelming success that people call, “talent.”

One example I want to point to is a young lady named Jessica Simpson. At 16 years old she hit the world stage with an amazing singing voice the media credited to her years in the church choir. I’ve seen a lot of good choirs, but none of those singers landed a multi-million dollar recording contract. What most people do not know is that Jessica who had a good voice, spent over five years from the age of 11 to 16 working with a voice coach, struggling, training, practicing and disciplining her voice. No one ever heard the flat notes, or the wavering vibrato behind the scenes, we only saw the smashing success and stunning talent that appeared, “out of nowhere,” that made Jessica an overnight success. Those years spent with her voice coach insulated the neural connections in her brain turning the microscopic threads into superhighways.

When you learn a new skill you make a connection between multiple neurons. In my article, “Training to Fight… Neurologically Speaking,” ( we talked about learning how to ride a bike for the first time, how your brain made connections as you practiced and how it relegated tasks that required focus and conscious thought to your sub-conscious so you didn’t have to think anymore, you just hopped on and rode away.

While I touched on the concept before I want to expand on it now. Keep this in mind as we discuss training and talent: Your conscious brain can process about 40 tasks, your subconscious brain can process 11 million. What that means, is that while you are learning, you are using your conscious mind to grasp, struggle and work through a new skill set. Whether it be a good consistent trigger press, or a crisp drive from one target to another, the first few hundred times you try this… you had to think about it and slowly do it. Over time and through repetition, you can now perform this skill without having to put conscious thought into it.

This became a reality for me one night as a young deputy working a patrol beat. I was in a vehicle pursuit with a domestic violence suspect (who was also intoxicated). The pursuit ended when he crashed into a fence trying to get onto the freeway. I do not have any conscious memory of the following sequence of events: I stopped the car, put it in park, opened the door, took off my seat belt, and drew my firearm. All of those things happened automatically, because I had done all of them a thousand times. When I realized I was holding my handgun it stuck out to me, because I realized that my training kicked in when I needed it. The gun seemed to magically appear in my hand and I did not have to devote any conscious attention or split my focus to achieve that. It happened because I have a super highway, or a densely insulated neural connection in my brain that enabled that sequence of actions to occur.

This insulation is called Myelin. Myelin wraps itself around the nerves and aids in the accurate and precise transmission of electrical signals between the interconnected webs of neurons. The more myelin you have around a particular set of neurons, the more precise the movement and the faster it can occur. The way you build myelin is to practice, struggle, and training- pushing yourself to excel when you reach a plateau. You build myelin through hard work.

Before I give you delusions of grandeur about the astronomical capabilities you are capable of, there are two more key elements necessary to breed “talent.” The first is coaching or masterful guidance and the last is dedication through immersion.
Michael Phelps holds 14 gold medals (18 total) throughout the course of his Olympic career in the 2004 & 2008 summer games. While he stands at the top of the world in his sport, he didn’t get there on his own. There was one man who stood behind him as his primary coach and an assistant coach to the US Team, and I doubt most of you have ever heard the name of Bob Bowman. Bowman began his coaching career around 1986. It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that he met a young Michael Phelps at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

During his tenure in Baltimore, Bowman helped to produce 3 individual national champions, 10 national finalists and 5 USA National Team members. In recognition of his accomplishments, Bowman was named the USA’s Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2003. He was also named Developmental Coach of the Year in 2002.

It was also during his work at NBAC that Bowman began coaching 18-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps. Under Bowman’s tutelage, Phelps won five World Championship gold medals and was named the American Swimmer of the Year in 2001 and 2003.
Bowman was named as an assistant coach on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, serving as the primary coach for Phelps. At the 2004 Games, Bowman helped coach Phelps to eight medals, including six gold medals and two bronze. Four years later, at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he coached Phelps to achieve eight Olympic gold medals, which had never been done before in a single Olympics.

Without Bob Bowman, the world never would have heard of Michael Phelps. Without an experienced and dedicated coach, Michael Phelps might not have broken records and earned Olympic gold. Without a lot of hard work, under the watchful eye of an experienced instructor or teacher who pushed, prodded, encouraged, criticized, corrected and maintained the same amount of dedication as the pupil, Michael Phelps would never have made it to the World Championships, let alone the Olympic team.

Hard work and practice only go so far. You need a coach or a teacher to fine tune you towards success. When I started shooting, I thought I was pretty good. I grew up with guns and had spent a fair amount of my own money at shooting ranges throwing lead into paper targets. I found out during my police training that I was actually a terrible shooter with mediocre skills compared to the training staff who had over 150 years of combined experience. Over the next 80+ hours I was corrected, pushed, coached, guided, praised and criticized until I emerged near the top of my class and could consistently shoot in the 90th percentile. That training is ongoing and I’ve logged at least another 100+ hours since then just at work.

Over the last 14 years of continual training at work, on my own, and under the guidance of other top shooters in my area did I really start to achieve what I deemed success at the shooting sports. I could have never gotten to where I am today without top notch instructors helping me. Looking back I realize what I thought was good…was deplorable and I’m grateful for the energy and effort I was blessed to receive. Due to that time, I am now able to step into the role of teacher, counselor and coach for new and developing shooters.

When you seek to develop and become a good shooter it would behoove you to seek a competent trainer and coach. You don’t know what you don’t know and having an experienced eye to watch you, correct and encourage you will help you develop the skills you seek and build good myelin insulation.

Finally you will need to be motivated to succeed. I would be willing to bet that Jessica Simpson was less than enthusiastic about going to her voice coach every time she had a lesson scheduled. I bet Michael Phelps looked at his snooze button more than a few times before his early morning practice sessions… yet both found the motivation to succeed.

The best and easiest way to maintain your focus is by immersing yourself in your chosen sport/career/interest. As a shooter and firearms trainer I am immersed or surrounded by my interest. For example, I carry a gun daily which makes me constantly aware of concealment methods, belts and holsters. At every opportunity to dry practice or live fire practice, I do it. I read about firearms and attend trade shows so I can see what the market looks like and where the future of firearms is going. I read magazines, watch DVDs, and attend classes and try to stay up on trends, tactics and equipment. I buy tools and accessories and test and evaluate them to see if I should be doing something better or can a piece of kit help me do it better. My friends and assistant instructors share the same passions and we can debate endless hours about different firearms, accessories, training methods, techniques, ad nauseam.

I’m motivated to train because I’m surrounded by like-minded individuals who also challenge me, encourage me and hold my interest in my chosen lifestyle of personal protection and training.

There will be friction, there will be failure and success comes in tiny, sometimes almost imperceptible increments. Consider why there are only a handful of top performers in every sport or art worldwide. I truly believe it is because they pressed on even when they did not notice small successes. They pressed on when they mastered one skill and were pushed and guided by a coach or teacher to do better.

There are a lot of boxers with Golden Glove Titles… only a few with a world championship belt. The path to success is getting from one failure to the next. I call this friction, or things that grind against me or obstacles I have to push past to achieve my goals. Friction is hot, it hurts and is discouraging, but it can be overcome.

For more information on the study of myelin and how to develop talent, I encourage you to pick up a book called: The Talent Code written by: Daniel Coyle. The book was the primary inspiration for this article and he goes into much greater depth about all of the topics I’ve touched on above. Daniel Coyle does not discuss the shooting sports, but his chapters on golf, soccer and baseball have strong correlations.

You can do it, you will have to work at it… it’s not going to be easy, but with a good cadre and laser focus you can succeed. Never give up in training, or in a fight!

Be safe, God bless – Train on!
Scott S
Founder, One Weapon Any Tool or on Facebook!

Upcoming Classes:
August 9th is Pistol Craft 1: Basic Pistol in Valley Springs
August 26th is Riflecraft: AR-15
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hard work ahead



As a teacher / trainer I cannot emphasize enough the differences between these two common words. When you go to the range, hang your target and fire a hundred rounds through the paper into the berm, it is easy to get into the mindset that you are “training.” I would disagree with that assessment of your time by calling it “practice,” and here is why.

When I’m looking to learn something new, or improve on a skill, I seek out an instructor who can teach me that skill, hone a skill I have, or push me to my failure point so I know where to work from. Training requires a knowledgeable, subject matter expert who can break down a complex task into a series of steps a student can comprehend and work on. During training, the instructor monitors progress, corrects the errors students make, fine tune your performance, offer criticisms, encouragements and then push you to excel beyond your comfort zone. Training is an evolution where the learner comes out better and more knowledgeable and capable of performing a skillset. Good training is a struggle for the student and should challenge you. You cannot learn inside your comfort zone and there is no amount time you can spend on your own that will truly push you towards excellence.

When your training is over, you take the new knowledge or skillset and “practice” it on your own. Practice reinforces the training. Practice will take those newly formed neural connections and start insulating them until the little invisible thread becomes a super highway, a solid pathway you built up in your subconscious through repetitive, meaningful, challenging work.

While I have drawn a bit of a distinction between training and practice, they really are symbiotic. In order to practice you have to have good training as a foundation to work from. Without training and guidance, you can practice a lot and get really good at the wrong thing or make a superhighway sized neural connection of bad habits. The old saying, “Perfect practice makes perfect,” is very true.

When you do take time to practice, make your sessions short and meaningful. A mere 20 minutes of good slow, methodical practice the right way is far better than 60 minutes of sloppy techniques and imprecise movements. During practice sessions focus on technique and speed will come. Remember, smooth is fast. Practice until the last piece of training you had is smooth and then start looking for the next opportunity to train so you’ll have more good techniques to continue to practice.

Take a moment now and analyze the last few practice sessions you’ve had and evaluate yourself honestly. Is it time for you to seek some training to make sure you are practicing the right things, the right way? If you haven’t been to a training course recently… maybe it is time to take one.


Until next time, stay safe, practice hard and seek training.

Scott S – One Weapon, Any Tool You can also find us on Facebook!


As a firearms instructor it is always frustrating when you schedule a class, reserve range time, gather resources, and then have to cancel. While this is financially detrimental as an instructor, it makes me ponder a bit about why more people do not take classes or think firearms training is necessary or important. While listening to the HandgunWorld Podcast recently, Bob Mayne and Jon Hodoway discussed a few reason why people don’t train and why these “reasons,” are more like “excuses.”  

 First excuse is: I can’t find any ammunition…

During the 2013 ammo crisis this was probably the only legitimate excuse out there. Now that the ammo economy has recovered and we are able to find all the common calibers again, not being able to find ammo means you are not trying very hard. Even .22LR has been seen on the shelves! With the resurgence of production and the decrease in the tendency to hoard ammo, all the common calibers are readily available at near the same cost as before. Sure, you are going to pay $2 a box more than you did in 2012, but times have changed and the overall price increase is not so overly prohibitive that you should avoid using that ammo to build skills.

Now, when talking about ammo, also look at what you already have in stock at home. Every gun owner I know keeps a couple hundred rounds on the shelf, “just in case.” If those boxes of “just in case,” ammo have been sitting there for years now, and if it has been years since you last went to the range or went to a class, then shame on you! Buy some new ammo for the “just in case” pile and take that old ammo with you to a local trainer and practice your fundamentals.

Also when looking at your ammo supply, ask yourself how much did you shoot last year? If you fired 100 rounds at the range last year, and you have 500 rounds in your, “just in case” pile, that means you have a 5 year supply of ammo on hand. Take your 5 year supply and shoot a box or two every month and replace it as you go. It does you no good to have a stockpile of ammo if you can’t remember how to load, unload, shoot accurately, and handle a firearm safely.

When buying ammo I always encourage people to buy 2 boxes… 1 to keep and 1 to train with. Make ammo buying a habit, just like going to the store for milk. When you pick up some toothpaste and razors at Walmart, get a box of ammo too. Buy ammo on the odd months and go shooting on the even ones. Over time you’ll have a nice stockpile built up, you’ll have a rotating stock you can practice with, and when you want to take a class with a high round count or when money is tight, you’ll have a supply to continue to train with. Start a habit and stick to it.

 Second excuse: It cost too much…

Jon Hodoway asked this question: If I gave you the class for free, would you come? You would be surprised at the number of people that would say no to a free training class. Firearms training is not a priority to this person. They are under the delusion that simply owning a firearm is enough to protect themselves, and their loved ones. They believe their gun is a magical wand they will wave about and make all the bad things in life go away and it requires no practice… mere possession is enough. They believe their money is better spent on acquiring more tools rather than train with the one they already have.

You don’t stay home from Disneyland because it is too expensive, you save, work overtime, scrimp and buy your tickets. Just like training, you save, plan and budget so you can attend at least one training class a year. I recommend at least one course per year in each weapons platform you wish to be proficient in, taking a course a year will be well worth your time and hard earned money.

When you spend money on something it becomes valuable to you. If it costs you something, you will have a tendency to take the training seriously and practice what you are taught so your short term investment will have long term value.

I’ve also had someone tell me the training course cost too much, yet showed me several (very) expensive firearms in their collection. While I support the collection of fine weapons, merely owning them, or having the most tricked out pistol with a Pyramid Trigger and an RMR won’t make you a gunfighter. When I asked how often my friend went to the range with his tricked Glock he stuttered for a moment… Again, it is not a magic wand you can wave around when bad things are happening. It is a tool you need to be proficient with. Instead of buying the latest and most tricked out custom 1911, maybe you should master your stock Glock first.  

So is it really the cost of the class, or how you spend your money?

 Excuse #3: I don’t have time…

This excuse is my favorite one because it really is the dumbest of the group. I know everyone has a busy schedule these days, but time, like money is a priority. You have to allocate it the same way.

Tell me, honestly, how much time did you spend watching TV last week? How much time did you spend on the internet or on social media? Could you have taken a couple of those hours and gone to the range? You can make time to go to the gym 6 days a week, but would it serve you better to spend 5 days on your physique and 1 day on your fundamentals of survival?

You have time, make time, and please stop using this excuse.

 Excuse #4: They can’t teach me anything…

Finding a quality instructor is important. I addressed this in my previous article Why Train, How Often and With Who ( ) What I want to point out in this excuse is that no one wants to admit they may be deficient in a skill. We all laud our strengths, and hide or diminish our weaknesses, it is human nature to do so. A true Warrior though, will take the time to analyze their skillset and seek out the training to be proficient.

Every good trainer has something to offer. It could be a new skill, a new way of explaining a skill you didn’t comprehend before, or a new drill. Sometimes just a refresher of the basics is all you need to re-spark your interest. This excuse boils down to a five letter word: Pride.

Pride will stop you from admitting you need training. Some people are embarrassed to admit they are not as good as they boast. When thinking about your skills are you a mall ninja or trained in personal protection. Are you playing Call of Duty or are you prepared when Duty Calls You?  

It is okay to be embarrassed while learning. Humility is the hallmark of a gunfighter.

 Excuse #4 is closely tied to #5: I grew up shooting a gun…

Jon Hodoway killed this excuse when he asked:

  • Then why aren’t you better at it?

I grew up shooting as well, but it wasn’t until a couple hundred hours under the tutelage of a master level instructor that I felt confident enough to defend myself with a firearm in almost every situation. I embarrassed myself often. I thought I was good at a skill only to have to eat a big slice of humble pie, knuckle down, bust out the basics and train a skill over again until I couldn’t get it wrong.

When I fall to the lowest level of my training, I want to be fast, unpredictable, and deadly!

Now, stop making excuses, book a course and start training like your life depends on it!


Special thanks to Bob and Jon for the inspiration for this article. If you enjoy Podcasts, I recommend the HandgunWorld Podcast. Bob is an instructor for Suarez International and Jon Hodoway teaches for Nighthawk Custom Training.

You can find me at: or on Facebook at One Weapon, Any Tool.

Stay safe, Godspeed!

Scott S