The Limitations of “Muscle Memory” Compared to the Versatility of “Hand/Eye Coordination.”
In my years of trying to get people to re-examine the world of point shooting, I am constantly bombarded with the myth that muscle memory will give you everything that you need to be successful in a life and death encounter with a gun. In other words, if you practice your stationary, two handed, high pectoral, linear, default drawstroke, the muscle memory of that will cover 99% of the life and death encounters with a gun. Even if the physiological effect of not being able to bring the focus back to the sights is present, your muscle memory will facilitate the ability to make the hits. These statements are commonly made by the “Modern Techniques Only” crowd. This seems to be an attempt to convince themselves that their chosen “gunfu,” has successfully covered all of their bases.
Now this is true to some extent, but it is no where near the 99% that has been thrown around on the gun forums. Force on force has facilitated a break away from the 180 degree world and slapped us in the face with the 360 degree reality. As soon as we accept the 360 degree reality the muscle memory myth falls to pieces. I will give muscle memory the credit it deserves. It will facilitate accurate threat focused shooting at the “line of sight” from approximately the 10:30 around to approximately the 1:30. That is it! Even with the use of the “turret of the tank” concept it is still just a three hour position on the clock, until the muscle memory no longer applies. The changes in the arm position and the torque on the body that changes the ability to extend cancel out the muscle memory that many people are so fond of. Since there are twelve hours on the clock and muscle memory only takes care of three of those hours, the 99% myth is wiped out…..and this does not even take into consideration every shooting position that is below line of sight or that is compressed for proximity purposes.
The bottom line to muscle memory is that it is the very first step and most basic form of threat focused shooting. I know that there are point shooting experts that teach these forms and these forms only. In my opinion that is like teaching boxing only up to the point of a jab and a straight right hand. To teach only the most basic of fundamentals and then stop and say “that is all you will ever need” is wrong in so many ways. But that is just me and the way that I look at it from the perspective of an instructor that is and always will be…. a consummate student.
The only way to reach past the most basic of fundamentals is to understand the need to move past the extreme limitations of muscle memory. One needs to set their sights on the acquisition of the understanding of the all important hand/eye coordination. Hand/eye coordination is something that we are all capable of. Some will take to it faster and easier than others, but the bottom line is that if you are not physically or mentally handicapped you are capable of hand/eye coordination skills. Point shooting basics are all about basic body geometry. Hand/eye coordination is just a bi-product off of this basic body geometry.
Hand/eye coordination opens up every single aspect of shooting that was not opened up by muscle memory. It will take care of every direction on the clock, from line of sight to below line of sight and all the way down to the hip, from full extension to compressed positions, and everything in between, with whatever movement is needed inside the encounter
It is my belief that muscle memory takes care of approximately 10% of the skills that you need in a “visual threat locked” encounter. Hand/eye coordination takes care of 100% of the skills that you need in a “visual threat locked” encounter. Once you have these hand/eye coordination skills, they will be accessible at the subconscious level, with the very least amount of access time as possible.
Do not fall victim to the dogma of the past. Do not take someone else word as gospel. Everything that you have ever learned needs to pass the “common sense” test. It does not matter where or who you learned something from, question the common sense of it. Force on force is an absolute must to be in the position to make these informed distinctions.