Learning how to use a firearm safely and efficiently requires training and practice. Training teaches what you need to know; practice is when you learn it. It takes thousands of correct repetitions to become competent at the fundamentals of responding to a threat. The mental skills — decision-making — are very demanding, and the physical skills require a complex series of actions. Chunking — combining multiple actions like moving, communicating, using cover, shooting accurately and manipulating your weapon — require even more practice. Practice, and plenty of it, is mandatory. But, if done improperly practice can be detrimental. It’s easy to perform improper techniques, and these mistakes quickly become habits. The best way to ensure your practice is correct is to employ the “Coach & Shooter” method.

In the Coach & Shooter technique one partner performs the drill while the other observes. It’s applied to any practice like marksmanship, manipulations or clearing/searching a building, both live- and dry-fire practice. “Shooter” performs the drill while “Coach” observes. Then you swap roles and repeat.

There’s nothing like a great training class. The learning curve is steep. Sure, you make mistakes, but the instructor is watching and ready to provide corrections, talking and walking you through the process. After class you start practicing. Developing these skills until you can apply them on demand in a defensive encounter, at a subconscious level and with little or no warning. This is only achieved through repetition.