What no one mentions is that it is not just 10,000 hours of practice for the sake of racking up time to get to the magic number. Blindly practicing your craft may cause the required time to double, triple, or just put mastery out of reach all together. Focused attention to practice is required. An attention to the movements and the thought process is required for the nuances to be revealed. The human brain has developed over thousands of years with the ability to focus on activities and our environment that is quite different from the scanning abilities developed by prey mammals. Animals such as deer and giraffes are hardwired to scan environments quickly and broadly to uncover lurking predators. Humans have the power to watch and extrapolate complex processes and even experience the same feelings as those we are observing. If we couldn't relate in that way then movies and plays would be tremendously boring. Achieving Mastery is open to almost anyone; research has shown that talent has little to do with it. Often there is some natural inclination involved but those who we perceive as musical geniuses and athletic gods have merely discovered their natural aptitude and followed the steps to mastery. The ability to be masterful is in everyone, the human mind is hardwired to adapt and overcome. It's up to you to choose your craft, focus, and follow the guidelines to Mastery.
Even at the point of Mastery there is always something new to learn and even masters must continue to practice. Most of the skills we pick up through life are perishable, as you might imagine shooting is no different. You'll most likely never forget the basics, maybe even details, but the muscle memory wears away with time. Muscle memory is the primary mechanism for training with handguns, it isn't rocket science after all.
If you are reading this article then you have chosen to master the pistol. We are glad to have you on board. But keep in mind that these guidelines apply to any activity, especially combative arts.
In the realm of firearms training you may want to focus your training on pistol, assault rifle, or long-range rifle. Proficiency of all three is preferable to ignorance; focusing in on one does not mean that you cannot master them all. There is a wide range of styles and firearms to choose from and the best way to discover them is to simply ask. Go to the local gun club, shooting range, or gun show and strike up a conversation. You'll find that more after than not these people are more than happy to chat about their chosen styles, and sometimes they have strong opinions about which is better and why.
Regardless which style you choose it is wise to purchase a pistol analog like the SIRT by Next Level Training, especially if it is your first experience with a handgun. A pistol analog will give you the opportunity to practice without worry. Most of these products emit a harmless laser and make no sound. Even for experienced shooters it is an invaluable training tool for practicing trigger control, draw speed, accuracy, and more. Remember that these skills are perishable, without regular practice you get rusty.
Find the right mentor and apprenticeship. This doesn't need to be a formal relationship but the general idea still applies. Learning from a person who has been there and gone through the process of mastering the pistol can reduce the learning curve immensely. You can go onto the web and find a plethora of videos, some credible, some not, to learn from. Surely you can get the basics and maybe some advanced skills through the internet but to achieve true mastery there is no substitute for working one on one with an instructor. This is a crucial step in the learning process, the absorption of raw information and the practicing of new skills develops new synaptic paths in the brain. The closer you get to the 10,000 hours of consummate practice the more those paths connect to others and you start to free associate and develop new strategies and methods, ultimately creating your own style.
After you have absorbed as much as you can from your mentor and apprenticeship you must free your mind, alloy it to be bold and make connections between different disciplines. Pistol mastery is a martial art like any other and is compatible with all other combat styles. Many martial arts combine well, most notably Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai Boxing to make the foundation of MMA. Again this is where the pistol analog comes in. Training multiple combative styles, and pistol defense with a pistol analog allows the practitioner to try new techniques without the threat of injury.
It is in this final process that the most significant gains are made. When you free associate and allow you body to find it's own path your craft, your pistol, becomes an extension of your body. You have reached Mastery and you can begin to take on students of your own.
These three steps are the same for everyone who we consider Masters of their crafts throughout history, Mozart, Bruce Lee, da Vinci, and others. Some had the benefit of starting as children, but that is not a requirement of mastery. We often assume that their mastery is a talent, they are uniquely gifted, but they only had the benefit of finding their craft early, studying with Masters, and they allowed themselves to be bold. You have the same opportunity, especially today when the world is son connected. I encourage you to experiment, learn, and pass it on. In the end all we have is our experiences.
Josh is an avid outdoorsman, prepper, and athlete. He has authored many articles on various related topics and is working on his first work of fiction.