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Old March 1, 2013, 07:35 PM   #4
Frank Ettin
Join Date: November 23, 2005
Location: California - San Francisco
Posts: 9,300
Originally Posted by Powdersmoke
A few years back I decided that a semi automatic CO2 powered BB pitol would be a good way to get some extra pistol shooting practice cheap. ... The net results were, I got to where I could shoot like ganbusters with the BB ..... This did not seem to translate into any huge improvement in my center fire handgun shooting however. I even taught myself some bad habits...
A good illustration of the adage: Practice doesn't make perfect; only perfect practice makes perfect. Also realize that practice makes permanent, so if you keep doing something wrong over and over, you simply become an expert at doing it wrong.

Quality pellet, BB or airsoft guns, or dry fire, can provide very valuable practice. But one needs to concentrate and work at it, as well a augmenting such practice with live fire exercises.

Now that you've acquired some bad habits you will want to work diligently to overwrite your incorrect programming with correct programing. To do this you will want to practice slowly and deliberately concentrating on doing everything exactly right each time. Pay close attention to what you're doing and how you're doing it, and work hard to make each repetition perfect. That can be very boring, but it's the way to become proficient.

In learning a physical skill, we all go through a four step process:
  1. Unconscious Incompetence: We can't do something and we don't even know how to do it;

  2. Conscious Incompetence: We can't physically do something, at least consistently, even though we know in our mind how to do it;

  3. 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

  4. 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.
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.
"It is long been a principle of ours that one is no more armed because he has possession of a firearm than he is a musician because he owns a piano. There is no point in having a gun if you are not capable of using it skillfully." -- Jeff Cooper
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