Breaking through barriers
This is a discussion on Breaking through barriers within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; One of the students in the recent Philly class [ George ] mentioned in his review that he "felt more connected" to his firearm after ...
June 2nd, 2007 11:10 AM
Breaking through barriers
One of the students in the recent Philly class [ George ] mentioned in his review that he "felt more connected" to his firearm after just two days of training in the ITFTS course.
I got to thinking about this statement recently, and in a discussion with a gun writer last night we talked about breaking the barrier from mentally holding/using a gun to the gun becoming just an extension of your arm and hand.
I noted to the gun writer that after I had attended SIONICS in 81, I had broken that barrier because their instructors imparted certain skills to me as well. It has been 26 years since then and until I heard George make that statement, I had not given it any thought as it was just something that had happened a very long time ago.
For the most part, the skill that breaks that barrier would be the ability to run the gun with no conscious thought of it being in your hand or how it got there from the holster. By using skills that do not require your direct focus on the firearm in anyway to make the hits.
It doesn't happen for everyone, but it happens enough that it is worth noting the results.
I know people who can run the gun very very well using the front sight press or modern technique skills. I've had students who were superb shooters with numerous modern technique professional shooting schools and practice behind them who could make their guns run very fast and hit anything they wanted to for the most part. I'm sure many get past the barrier as well with these skills, but what we are seeing in the ITFTS courses is that people of all levels attaining this ability and moving through that barrier in short time frames.
Often heard statements after two days of training in the courses go something like this:
"felt more connected"
"RUNNING THE GUN ON A VERY PURE SUBCONCIOUS LEVEL"
"I WAS OUTSIDE OF MY SELF DOING THE THINGS I DID"
"YES THIS IS "ZEN" "
"Zen And the Art of Quick Kill Maintenance"
"I don't remember having the gun in my hand, but I know I did because I was making the hits"
All of these comments reflect breaking through that barrier between just holding/using the gun proficiently [ or very proficiently over years of practice ]to subconsciously running the gun and getting things done on autopilot with the various skills imparted as the situation may dictate based on time/distance restraints.
What I find truly interesting is that people with excellent handgun skills who take the course then break through this barrier of just running the gun without thinking about it or ever noticing the gun in their hand during the training after just two days.
I feel the training in various threat focused skills imparted/pushes people through that barrier and past anything they've experienced before, as it did for me some decades ago now.
Part of this has to do with the speed of presentation and getting rounds off immediately from below eye level and from at or just above hip level. The hip shooting skills sets like 1/2 hip/EU/ED and Quick Kill from the hip on multiples gets people to push themselves.
Just this last class in Knoxville, at the end of the pistol weekend, the last hour we had everyone on the line using EU/ED and it took on a competitive nature. Everyone could here someone else getting their round off on threat first. Being human, and with the RSO's spurring them on, everyone started to push the envelope and worked to be the first on threat. It created some interesting times for everyone.
One student who was a great modern technique trained person and could snap the gun up and make small grouping with speed all weekend could not beat a woman who hardly ever shoots with the EU/ED exercise above. In fact, Jamie was kicking butt on everyone. I attribute this to her being able to break the barrier quickly due to no baggage from previous training and practice. She did not have an ingrained 4 count drawstroke, and would scoop the gun up and out of the holster with such economy of motion as I had shown her that she was smoking on the line with speed to first hits over and over. Jamie had been introduced to these skills in the last class and had not practiced them since until this last trip to Knoxville, but she remembered her training and kicked butt on everyone nonetheless.
"The mind is the limiting factor" My signature line has more significance than people realize. Coupling the threat focused skills as well as freeing the mind to solve the problem without cluttering it with focus on the gun in anyway takes confidence in ones ability to make the hits when needed. That confidence comes from pushing past a comfort level they are familiar with, and students quickly see that "running the gun" with threat focused skills really get them to break past the barrier between holding/using a gun as a tool and the gun becoming an extension of their body thats used subconsciously to solve the problem at hand.
Once that barrier is broken mentally and one has the skills at their disposal, they are futher down the road than they ever imagined they could be. It happens in just days for many of the students and I'm reminded again when I hear the comments and see the results that that is exactly what happened when I trained with my mentors a long long time ago.
It's rewarding to see the barrier broken by students, and now that I'm aware of whats really happening, the goal is to get students to step through that barrier and never look back before they leave the course. If they only step through the barrier briefly in one or two exercises/drills using a few techniques, they have experienced something they can take further with practice until it becomes second nature to "run the gun" from the holster to hits on threats in any situation, and thats going to be a huge step forward for most.
Last edited by AzQkr; June 2nd, 2007 at 11:18 AM.
June 2nd, 2007 06:54 PM
I definitely agree with this. About a month ago I took a fairly intense four day course that involved a lot of fairly advanced shooting skills. I was one of the least experienced guys in the class. Some of the other folks in there had twenty or thirty (or more) years of experience with firearms, while I've been shooting seriously for less than a year. However, I found that I did as well or better than people with far more experience than I did. Part of this was because I've had the opportunity to train with a really good group of guys for the past six months, but a big part of it is because in comparison to some of these other guys I had really good gunhandling skills. I could run the gun without devoting conscious thought to it. When it was time to draw the gun, I could spend time thinking about things like how I'm going to move or where I'm going to shoot, rather than concentrating on clearing my cover garment or getting my support hand in the right place.
Originally Posted by AzQkr
However, I have to disagree with you a bit about needing an instructor to impart any special knowledge to make this happen. Frankly, I think learning how to run my gun from you or any other well known instructor or big name gun school is probably a waste of your time and my money. If I lay down the dollars to train with someone like you, I want to get as much specialized knowledge out of the experience as possible. I want to learn stuff that would be difficult or impossible to learn on my own or with my local shooting group. Learning how to run the gun subconsciously isn't one of these things.
All it takes to learn how to run the gun well is some time and a good backstop for your dry fire practice. Devote half an hour a day to dry fire for a few months and running the gun will become second nature. Maybe a shooter could benefit from having someone show them the proper way to perform the basics (the draw, emergency and tac reloads, and malfunction clearance) but I'm not convinced that a good book or video couldn't substitute for the initial instruction. What's really important is repetition, condition your body and building muscle memory until you can run the gun on autopilot. That's not something that requires and instructor, just time and enough self discipline to keep practicing.
Breaking the barrier and learning how to run the gun subconsciously is something a shooter should do before attending a class with a big name instructor or at a well known shooting academy. Being able to concentrate on the new and different aspects of what the instructor is teaching rather than running your gun will help you get a lot more out of the experience. Not to mention the fact that it's a critical skill if you're ever involved in a gunfight.
June 2nd, 2007 07:40 PM
However, I have to disagree with you a bit about needing an instructor to impart any special knowledge to make this happen
I wasn't inferencing you needed an instructor, but only that it happens in the ITFTS courses often enough to make mention of it.
I agree with the rest of your post, one should be able to become one with their weapon without anyones intervention, however most do not put the time in or have the inclination to get to that point unfortunately.
Good thought process sir.
June 3rd, 2007 09:34 PM
I wrote an article some time ago [ 07-06-2006, 04:14 PM ] on proprioception. It plays a very big role in the students development of becoming one with their firearm.
For the most part, the skill that breaks that barrier would be the ability to run the gun with no conscious thought of it being in your hand or how it got there from the holster.
The above has more to do with the development of these proprioceptors than most never realize. For instance:
One overlooked sense, known as proprioception, is as important, if not more important as the other senses, for normal functioning. Proprioception is "the process by which the body can vary muscle contraction in immediate response to incoming information regarding external forces," by utilizing stretch receptors in the muscles to keep track of the joint position in the body.
Thereby explaining in part the students getting to the point where they are no longer conscious of what they are doing by repetitive actions of drawstroke and trigger control with speed, explained further here:
Thinking takes time, where the unconscious nervous system responds immediately through processes wired to specifically deal with the type and amount of input coming in. Systems like proprioception and other unconscious, yet crucially essential, systems allow the I-function to develop without having to be bothered with all functioning of the body. These unconscious systems allow a lot to get done at once.
The students are obviously developing the appropriate proprioceptors in very short time frames in the classes in order to be able to perform functions such as drawing and firing without conscious thought with considerable speed.
There's more to follow, but for now, lets let the members digest the above and perhaps ask questions about these physiological events that we are seeing in our students and how they work to increase the students subconscious ability to perform tasks very quickly in short periods of time.
Last edited by AzQkr; June 3rd, 2007 at 09:42 PM.
June 3rd, 2007 11:45 PM
The next time you have a class in Az. will you post it here?
"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier
and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the
service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the
love and thanks of man and woman."
-- Thomas Paine (The American Crisis, No. 1, 19 December 1776)
June 3rd, 2007 11:57 PM
I train students privately here in Az anytime they want to come into the area from around the country. I'm about 1.5-2 hours from your location due southeast. I'm leaving for Santa Fe, N.M. in 12 days to train the state insurance fraud bureau det's and when I get back, four days later I'm heading to Fla to train a P.D. there and home again on the 23rd or 24th. Two Chicago PD officers are going to then fly in sometime between the 26-29th for a few days of training and then the schedule is free for a time.
Shoot me a pm and let me know what your schedule would look like anytime after the end of June if you are interested in hooking up and the cost. Bring a buddy and I'll reduce the cost to both of you.
You can also reach me at email@example.com anytime as well.
June 5th, 2007 02:34 PM
Proprioception and kinesthesia, the sensation of joint motion and acceleration, are the sensory feedback mechanisms for motor control and posture. Theses mechanisms along with the vestibular system, a fluid filled network within the inner ear that can feel the pull of gravity and helps the body keep oriented and balanced, are unconsciously utilized by the brain to provide a constant influx of sensory information. The brain can then send out immediate and unconscious adjustments to the muscles and joints in order to achieve movement and balance. Why has the nervous system developed the sense of proprioception, and why is it an unconscious aspect of the sensory system? Proprioception, also often referred to as the sixth sense, was developed by the nervous system as a means to keep track of and control the different parts of the body. An example that enables one to best understand this sensory system is one showing what happens if this sensory system is no longer there.
Ian Waterman lost his sixth sense along with the ability to feel light touch when a virus killed the necessary nerves. The man still had all the nerves to control muscle movement but had no feedback from the outside world about where his limbs were except that obtained by sight. A normal person is able to move a finger, knowing where and what the finger is doing, with little effort. The normal person could just volunteer the finger to move back and forth and proprioception would make this an easy task. Without proprioception, the brain cannot feel what the finger is doing, and the process must be carried out in more conscious and calculated steps. The person must use vision to compensate for the lost feedback on the progress of the finger. Then the I-function must voluntarily and consciously tell the finger what to do while watching the feedback.
There are five common senses that are discussed and learned from an early age: sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. The I-function, the conscious part of the brain, is very aware of these senses. It voluntarily checks information obtained by these senses in order to experience the environment, and also when a strong enough stimuli has signaled attention to these specific receptors. There are other equally important sensory systems set up that are essential for normal body functioning, but these are not so easily recognized by the I-function because the nervous system keeps the input unconscious. One overlooked sense, known as proprioception, is as important, if not more important as the other senses, for normal functioning. Proprioception is "the process by which the body can vary muscle contraction in immediate response to incoming information regarding external forces," by utilizing stretch receptors in the muscles to keep track of the joint position in the body.
So we see in the classes that proprioceptors are developing the unconscious tasks of many functions related to unconsciously "running the gun". There are many things going on all at once to be able to draw and fire in subseconds from the firearms resting place on our body.
The arm, hand, and fingers working in concert with each other instantly to know how much strength is necessary to bring the weapon out of the holster and how much strength is required to "hold" the firearm in a certain position to accomplish the task required of them in the courses as well as the trigger finger acting independantly to move to the trigger in the fastest time possible and be ready for use at the instant the other proprioceptors send the signals everything is "just right" as well as the larger muscles which come into play with the bodies positioning [ to include upper and lower body ].
The students get to where they are drawing and firing instantly from external input [ in this case the command to fire ], which on the street would be visual and/or audio cues that a task needed to be performed. Everything is coming together within microseconds without hesitation as the body is developing the correct proprioceptors to complete a task without consciously having to think about what needs to be done to accomplish the task asked of them. Much of the success is probably due to their being challenged with speed requirements to accomplish the task asked of them which seems to be developing the proprioceptors faster as with the speed challenge they have less time to consciously think about the action which forces the proprioceptors to kick in and take over subconsciously.
It would seem to suggest that developing the proprioceptors by standardizing the firearm they carry [ each weapon requires different positioning of the hand, fingers and trigger finger along with the guns weight/balance and amount of movement to get the trigger released ], where they carry it on their person, etc would be more advantageous to developing the best unconscious ability to draw and fire when necessary.
In short, developing that "sixth sense" and decreasing the time it takes to respond appropriately to external forces based on visual and auditory cues.
Last edited by AzQkr; June 5th, 2007 at 02:45 PM.
June 12th, 2007 01:21 AM
While proprioception is necessary for learning a type of movement or skill involving muscle, concentration from the I-function is essential as well. Once the skill, such as the appropriate movements of driving or the movements a baby must accomplish to walk, have been conquered and learned the I-function is not as functional during these tasks. The proprioception and motor systems can take over, utilizing a feedback system to accomplish a job that the unconscious brain already has learned. The I-function can go on to do other things, because it would mainly just hinder smooth muscle processes with to much thought and analysis. That is why humans do so many learned things best if not thought about. For example, the harder a driver focuses on what her muscles are doing as she drives, the choppier her movements will be, and the worse the driving will be [ eye/hand coordination ].
"As Waterman attempts to lift objects there is no feedback on how hard to flex the muscles except from what clues vision gives. Studies of Waterman support that through feedback from proprioception the brain is able to calculate angles of movement and command the limb to move exact distances. If vision is taken away, the lights are cut out"
The eyes have to also be trained to judge weights and lengths of objects. The visual input necessary for the function of the appropriate response from the proper proprioceptors to function subconsciously as they should once a skill is "learned" would be analgous to Muscle Memory" . It has been written in this thread above but it is important to reiterate it here again.
Proprioception is "the process by which the body can vary muscle contraction in immediate response to incoming information regarding external forces," by utilizing stretch receptors in the muscles to keep track of the joint position in the body.
When one learns to shoot from the hip and hit what they are looking at, it's primarily the subconscious muscle memory of proprioception at work through repetition and visual input thats developed the "sixth sense" of where the elbow, wrist and hand will need to be. Visual information is important to develop the skills, yet the proprioceptive abilities of the body are the primary function of the subconscious ability to use that learned skill.
Last edited by AzQkr; June 12th, 2007 at 01:28 AM.
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