Deliberate Practice

Practice As Your Daily Goal

There is a thought, to be the best at something requires hard work. The reality is it requires deliberate practice in the form of consistency and effort every day.

Control Your Practice

Take shooting and in specific shooting fast. When a new shooter comes into the world, they are bombarded by so much information it is hard to imagine how they select and process. Between social media and internet videos it has to be overwhelming. A common thread through it all is outcome. What is the outcome or the prize. The majority of the time it is speed. Accuracy is seldom as sexy as speed so it makes sense most new comers are focused on trying to be fast.

Excellence In Technique Through Practice

Trying to refocus their goals on accuracy is not an easy task. It takes some persuasion on my part and humility on theirs. I typically give my deliberate practice speech at some point in our intermediate class and lead off with it in our advanced classes. It goes something like this, perfection is not the goal. Mastery is the goal, but mastery of oneself. To achieve mastery of oneself it begins with consistency. You have to do the right things on a daily basis. Whatever the right thing is, you have to do so often it becomes a habit. Then, through consistency you develop excellence in your technique. Through countless repetitions you discover subtle even minuscule cues that further refine your technique nearing perfection.

Practice Takes Effort

Consistency alone is not the solution, you must apply effort. You must expend conscious exertion of power. Working on accuracy is not always fun, it can be a toil. Meaning, the effort you must put in daily can seem tedious or laborious, but more importantly unrewarding. It is hard to see the tree within the forest for some. They don’t want to put in the hard work, they want to be good right now. Never mind the hard work put in by many others before them to achieve greatness. It is tedious and lacking in glamour.

When Practice Becomes Failure

When you combine consistency with effort it typically equals diligence. One of the reasons we see so many student mentally smoked at the end of a hard training day. They were diligently putting in the hard work to achieve greatness. They may not have been successful, but that is okay because they were putting in their best effort. It is an acknowledgement that despite everything they do, they may still fail. The thought of failing for some can be too much emotionally and they opt to avoid the hard work, to avoid the failure.

Daily Deliberate Practice

When you break technique down to its itemized parts it is the attention to detail on those isolated movements that makes the difference. Speed was never the goal, excellent in technique was the desired outcome. Moving with such grace it becomes a thing of beauty. After all, this what we love to watch, the beauty of our art. Putting in the hard work through consistency and effort is what I believe makes deliberate practice.

Through this approach you discover one day you have arrived at your destination. You don’t recognize the length or duration, you just realize you have achieved your goal.

2 thoughts on “Deliberate Practice

  1. Oscar Lee James III says:

    When training my new artillerymen, I told them we would master the fundamentals first and that speed would come later. You can’t miss fast enough to win a gunfight, no matter the size of your gun.

    Over the past two years, I have been working on being more diligent in both live and dry firing practice. I compete in USPSA to validate my progress. I’ve incorporated a shot timer into my practice sessions. In my most recent training session with Karl Rehn, he commented on my improvement and said “Whatever you are doing, keep doing that.”

    Accurate and fast pistol shooting is a perishable skill. Consistent, diligent, effective practice will yield noticeable results.

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