Deliberate Practice, Not New Gear, is the Way to Get Better at Anything, Especially Firearms

Too many people get way to obsessed about buying new gear to get better. Or they think simply having a firearm is a magical wand that whisps away all danger. Or even worse, their pride inhibits their practice because they only practice what they’re good at and don’t ever try anything new.

Practice is the key to getting better.

Not just practice, but “deliberate practice” is the key to getting better.

The above linked article provides strategies on how to practice deliberately, which will maximize the effectiveness of the training you do take on.


This is very true, have you read this yet? I get something new out of it everytime I read it. Its pretty much the zen of shooting and really gets into the mindset part of things.


I haven’t read that one yet. I’ll add it to my cart and get to it when I work through some of my current books. Thanks for the recommendation!


I see people at the range and comp. They look like mall ninja. And they shoot like one. Having a title doesn’t make you good either. I’ve seen cops at comp shoots. You expect them to do well, well, you would be wrong. Nothing, and I mean nothing beats practice. Not a $6000 gun, not a $1000 sight, not $500 body armor, or a shiny badge. Not even $50 a box match grade ammo.


Very well said.


Most cops cant shoot , they shoot once a year at annual qualifications. It is all about practice but tailoring gear to your shooting makes shooting more efficient and enjoysble so you are bound to train more.


Lots of dust on this, but it’s as true today as it was 2 years ago.

I see it in competition where some folks confuse things and think it’s the bow and not the indian. Or so it seems. Maybe ego gets in the way? But I’ve seen very good shooters with production guns and some with $4k guns that just weren’t that good. But there, gear moves one into a different division and maybe they want to shoot against other race guns. I never got into their heads to any degree. Some people have some real “I’m super great” attitudes because they’re fast yet can’t hit the side of a barn if they were inside it. I never understood how lousy hits and fast shots with an expensive gun meant more than fast good hits with a much less expensive gun. But what do I know?


Decades ago when I was a LEO I saw cops that had to have a “special” private range session so that they could pass basic qualification, and that qualification just wasn’t that difficult. One of these officers told me outright that if he didn’t need to carry the firearm as part of the uniform he wouldn’t. Not too bright IMO. I looked at the handgun as an insurance policy that was there to get me home intact and hopefully never to be used.

This same dept’ had all of us carrying .38/.357 with the thought that if an officer was out of ammo we could throw him some of ours. Right, like that would happen. Let’s see, he expended all of his ammo with no effect, can’t qualify and wants to waste my ammo load (18 rnds back then). I cared enough about my fellow officers and myself to practice and never qualify below 298 out of 300, and I’m going to compromise my life by throwing him my ammo? Not going to happen. There was just no excuse for the lack of minimal expertise. This same dept’ had a range in town and it could be used by the general population or the officers at any time.

I remember a bunch of years back where 2 police officers used their handguns against someone at the Empire State Building in NYC. I remember some bystanders got shot and at the time I asked the obvious question, “By who?”. It turned out that the cops shot the bystanders. I don’t remember the perp being hit at all in the fusillade. That’s about what I expected and why I asked the question.


My grandfather was a cop for 30 years and said the samething. He went shooting I think once a month at least , lifted weights, and did rec. boxing and stuff to keep himself fit for duty, it sounded like the lack of prepared officers was something that really bothered him about the job. He loved his wheel gun and 870 …different era though. Think he retired in '89.or '91. I remember we would go down to the local barber and he would tell us cop stories while we got a hair cut , he really bled blue.

I remember him pissing off local a Oregon cop one time while they argued over the North Hollywood shootout, he said those cops shot like crap and it showed and that lazy cops are an issue, had those cops actually trained the perps wouldve been put down quickly. The local cop argued and got pretty uppity about it, felt my grandpa wasnt basing his opinion on reality and felt he needed to show more respect for the fellow officers that got gunned down.


Yeah, back when I was a LEO (mid ‘70s) we had wheelguns. Mine was my competition revolver. I would have liked to carry my Browning, but couldn’t due to dept’ policy. Semi-autos weren’t yet an accepted “thing”. I never had to use my sidearm, but if I had my Browning my ammo load would have been 37 rounds vs 18. I never heard anyone state after a shooting, “Gee, I wish I’d had less ammo.”. Back then I also tested my ammo on my own. Not in gel but in soaked newsprint that was soaked in a bucket overnight to make sure it was pulp. In those days ammo pretty much sucked but good stuff could be found.

From what I remember of that shoot out the cops (who typically suck at shooting) were up against crooks who actually could shoot. It was also rifles vs handguns. The cops also made some huge tactical errors that cost them. One unhooked the strap on his holster and lost the handgun in a collision. There were some other lessons to be learned but I forget them now. I think one of the take-aways was if the cops can’t shoot then give them more ammo capacity. Another was the FBI protocol for bullet penetration. One spin off of that is todays MUCH better performing ammo. I wonder if better training is part of that? I don’t remember that as being a take-away so I doubt it. So the problem was “fixed” with hardware and not by fixing the software, exactly the topic of the thread. But lots of folks just throw money at a problem because it’s easy to do and there’s plenty of $ to be had just by raising taxes. It gives the illusion to the citizenry that something has been done and that the people they elected care.


Dont know much about it to be honest. That was just what my grandpa said.

The only thing I really know about that robbery is that I like thier gun selection.


Obviously dosnt apply to all cops, this shot was pretty far out there.


I got a couple race bows what of it. :rage:


I always encourage competition participation. Not that it should replace self defense training but you get faster and more accurate. Adds a minimal amount of stress while shooting as well.


:rofl: Race bows! I like that! I was wondering who would pick up on that word.

Mac we had troops going over to the sandbox shooting with us for precisely the stress factor it introduced. One of them was overheard to say that it was the closest they could come to the stress of combat without actually being in combat. The stress hits everyone differently. Some don’t feel it at all. It took me quite awhile to where I could tune it out completely and just shoot my best.


I don’t really get stressed when shooting matches. I’m going to place where i place. I got a few D Class trophies and don’t expect to win any in C Class in the he next year. So it’s not very stressful for me. the stress is the reason my wife won’t compete


I’m in C class and working on moving into B in Action Pistol. In Steel Challenge the same. I could do much better if I’d move my butt, but I physically don’t want to. Not too bad for someone almost 70 years old. Shooting I can do, moving not so much. Us old timers try to squad together. One of the last matches one of the regulars commented to the effect," Oh yeah, here’s walking Brian.", or some such. Yup, that’s absolutely correct. I make up for it with accuracy and speed of actual shooting. I think I’ll have a problem making it above B class. But I’d like to get to A class. I’m working on moving faster under medical supervision. But it doesn’t happen instantly. What will happen will happen. I take solace in the fact that I shoot a lot better than many much younger shooters and coaching them to get them better. But if we ever have a zombiepocalypse as long as I don’t run out of loaded mags I’ll do pretty good. Folks who can move would want to be with me since all they need to be is faster than I am and that’s pretty easy to manage.

Yeah, at one time I thought I had something to prove and had stress, but my shooting is good and now I just relax and let it happen and I’m faster and just as accurate. Maybe age does that, or is it experience, or expertise? I don’t know. I just know this old curmudgeon is still shooting. For years an older gent than many of us was shooting his 1911 in .45 flavor and I really enjoyed squading with him. He was 84 and if he can do it so can I. There is hope for me I thought. Then he had a stroke and missed a bunch of matches then rode in with another shooter. Then at his last match it was his turn up and didn’t know where he was. I haven’t seen him since. I don’t know why I mentioned that.


I’m C class and would like to win one or level 2 matches before moving up. The problem with C Limited class is that a lot of guys shooting limited started in another division and figured out how to sandbag classifiers.


:smiley: I was shooting single stack years ago, but my eyes weren’t good enough to distinguish between no shoots and the target to it’s rear. It was frustrating to lose 30 points when I had no control of it and thought my shots were good. So I gave up shooting competitively. Then I retired and had all sorts of time and decided I was going to start shooting again and damn the divisions. I was putting together a Carry Optics gun before CO was a thing. I figured, “Damn it, I’m going to shoot even if I’ll be shooting a non-competitive gun in open division.”. I had the gun pretty much all assembled when USPSA announced Carry Optics. So I shot in that div’ for awhile. Then they opened PCC and I moved into that immediately. I haven’t looked back. I love PCC division. Started shooting a KelTec sub2000 for a few years, then saw an opportunity to buy a Swiss gun for more than I wanted to pay, but at a substantially reduced price from other Swiss guns. I’ve been shooting the B&T GHM9 ever since. I SBRed it so that I can shoot it in competition for score. Since I just don’t travel out of state to matches it’s no more of a hassle for me to shoot a SBR than my old full size sub2k. But if I have a mind to (I suspect I never will) I can take it to NH. I don’t know if Mass allows SBRs in their state or not. But I can’t see me traveling to either of those states, and I definitely won’t travel further.