Bad Habits are Habit Forming

My buddy Nick had an interesting realization the other day. We were working on one of then nuances of his thumbs-forward grip and he was off his game.  A and C zone hits, at a pace and range that should have been A-A every time (we keep track of our metrics for certain baselines).

It took us a while to figure out why he was dropping his follow-up shot on an IPSC target every time. We analyzed his trigger, his support hand, overgrip, toes, nose, all of it, and finally realized it was his left elbow drooping. This is an old, old habit he learned from someone who picked up their shooting habits from too many Hollywood movies, and it’s stuck with him for several years.

Now, it’s really hard to explain the ergonomics of body posture… so I’m not gonna. It’s something I can only really do if I’m looking at someone, so I can see the muscles at work.
This led me to ask him why he started doing it, and he admitted that his dry fire practice for the last few weeks had been lacking much purpose or focus. A few draws here and there, ‘pew pew’ at the TV, some reloads, call it good. He wasn’t standing there thinking about every motion– he was just going through the motions.

This led me to the realization that if he’d just skipped dry fire practice for a few weeks, he probably would have been better off than his lackluster effort at it. With only two weeks of this ‘bad’ dry fire, he’d managed to resurrect a very old shooting habit and it had a visible and adverse affect on his shooting ability.

For us, any day– even a bad day– is a learning opportunity, so we talked it through. He and I agreed that when it comes to practice, less can be more if you do it perfectly. Five perfect repetitions is more beneficial to you than fifty sloppy ones.

The takeaway became if you’re going to practice, make it good practice. Bad practice habits give you bad shooting habits, and bad shooting habits stick with you much more readily than good ones.

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