I've been putting together a book on shooting for sometime now. It's got essays, drills, mindset, etc. You can't learn everything about shooting from a book. But you can learn quite a bit. For example, establishing a good, solid direction you need to go in your training. Ever wonder why you shoot at the same level of ability you did 5 or 10 years (and thousands of rounds) ago? Shooting is like every other discipline. You have to really study and work at it. Here's an excerpt from the book: Have you HAD Training? By Expatriated “You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to your level of training.” I’ve been hearing some variation of this expression since Slick Willie was busy making interns famous at a furious rate. I understand the intended thought: one doesn’t just naturally become good at something during a critical incident. You have to train in that particular skill or technique in order to be capable of effectively employing it under stress. Unfortunately it seems we all too often use this statement to give ourselves a false sense of confidence in our ability. We act like because we went to a certain tactical school, we have checked that box and our ability at the end of that course is now our new minimum level at which we will not operate below. Like it’s automatically permanent. We say, “Oh, I had that training” and we don’t realize how accurate we are. Yes indeed, we HAD that training. But we no longer HAVE it. Because we did not work hard at keeping it, at mastering it, at ingraining it into our character, it has been lost. We have not made our payments on the skill and it has been repossessed by time and performance atrophy. Several years ago I heard James Yeager qualify this statement to a point I believe we can rely on: “You will not rise to the occasion, you will default to the level of training that you have mastered.” Now we are getting somewhere. Here we have illuminated the issue: work. Permanence is not automatic. We have to put effort and sweat into owning skills. Certificates of completion can be bought with money; skills cannot. They are paid for in work, in sweat, in lonely, laborious hours of repetition. Yes, even when you don’t feel like doing it. Time is one thing you can’t buy more of, and mastering skill requires time. There is no way around it. So, what is “mastery”? At what point are we competent enough? That’s a question only answered by each individual on his own training path. I would argue that we need to reach a level of ability where our training has us as much as we’ve had it. Where it is so much a part of us, it is difficult to separate it from our standard performance. A point where it becomes substantially difficult to do it incorrectly. Where we feel inordinately uncomfortable violating the principles of proficiency in that skill. In short, it needs to be hard to do it wrong. As an example, think of muzzle discipline. For those of us that have ingrained this safety concept into our very fiber since day one of handling a firearm, imagine for a moment how uncomfortable you feel if you notice someone negligently pointing their weapon at you. Now, imagine how uncomfortable you feel pointing your weapon at someone. It feels very unnatural; it is something you almost have to force yourself to do. It does not just happen. And no doubt you are acutely aware of what you are doing the entire time. You are always aware of where your muzzle is pointing. If this example strikes a chord with you, then that is an indication that you have mastered this level of proficiency and there is a good chance that you will not operate below this level, even under periods of stress. Congratulations. Not everyone has arrived at this point, as all of us could recount experiences of an unwanted glimpse of lands and grooves from the business end. So it then becomes a question of standard. As gun owners, as protectors of those around us, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. It has been said that amateurs practice until they get it right; professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong. While we will probably never reach perfection (we all have at least one or two more misses left in us!), we need to strive for higher standards. And one that continues to get higher over time. That requires work. So, get out there and work. Get some good training and ingrain it into your character until doing it wrong is a rare and uncomfortable occasion.