Gun manipulation can become reflexive (second nature). It's a matter of diligent practice.
In learning a physical skill, we all go through a four step process:
- Unconscious Incompetence: We can't do something and we don't even know how to do it;
- Conscious Incompetence: We can't physically do something, at least consistently, even though we know in our mind how to do it;
- Conscious Competence: We know how to do something and can do it properly consistently, but only if we think about what we're doing and concentrate on doing it properly; and
- Unconscious Competence: At this final stage we know how to do something and can do it reflexively, on demand and without having to think about it.
Practice needs to be thoughtful and disciplined. Practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice make perfect. And practice makes permanent. So if you keep doing something badly over and over, you will not get better at it. You will only become expert at doing it badly.
A class helps you know how to do something, and you can properly begin working on going from doing it right every time by thinking about it to doing it right reflexively.
At the third stage, you need to think through the physical task consciously in order to do it perfectly. To move on to Unconscious Competence, start slowly, concentrating on doing each step of the task perfectly. Strive for smoothness. As you get smoother, you will also get quicker. Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.
Going from Conscious Competence to Unconscious Competence is usually thought to take around 5,000 good repetitions. The good news is that, in the case of shooting, dry practice will count. The bad news is that poor repetitions don't count and can set you back.
If one has reached the stage of Unconscious Competence he will still need to practice regularly and properly to maintain proficiency, but it's easier to maintain it once achieved than it was to first achieve it.