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Memory - Program Yourself

Memory - Program Yourself

Pistol skills with Jim Benoit, Cajun Arms, West Chester, PA

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Have you ever observed a really fast competition shooter? Did you ever wonder how they got that fast? The re-loads were so fast that you hardly saw them? They must have practiced a lot to achieve that speed. What kind of practice you may wonder? Well, let me save you time and ultimate frustration by advising against practicing your reloads as fast as you can. You will suck. You’ll be fine if you are static and in a controlled situation, but introduce stress and movement and decision making - you’ll suck.

Don't game it

I’ve watched competition shooters as well as some of our high level students in class “game” an exercise, drill or station. Once they fumble, they are done. Sometimes they induce malfunctions in their guns because they bringing the gun back too early and do not provide enough resistance to the springs. Introduce a stove pipe during a re-load and really watch a shooter fall apart.

If your motivation is self defense, not a trophy, how does one practice? Perfectly. As cliche as it may sound, smooth is fast. Smooth is how you change mags. Smooth is what can save your life.

Perfect firearms training

You need to practice perfectly. Do it in the mirror. (As always, observe safe practices before dry fire.) Your two hands need to work independent of each other. Your strong hand brings your gun into your workspace where you can see it in your peripheral vision while ejecting the magazine. Your off hand needs sweep smoothly to your spare mag, indexing the mag so you know which way is the front. Strong hand rolls the gun so the magwell is easily found without looking. Insert mag. Seat it firmly. In one smooth motion, bring your off hand to the top of the slide and rack it. Re-establish your grip and get your gun back in the fight. Of course you did this while moving unless you were behind solid cover. If you spent less than six seconds doing all of the above, you performed it incorrectly. What you need to do is perform slowly and perfectly. Speed comes with repeated smooth motion.


Just like martial arts, practice for running a gun in a defensive situation calls for many, I mean many, slow perfect repetitions. A new student in martial arts does not take a few lessons and then jump into the sparring ring. Many perfect reps are required before that day comes. And guess what? The speed required will be there when the day does come. The speed of reloads will be there if practiced perfectly enough times. If you learn it wrong or practice it wrong you will be sloppy. Repetition ingrains and programs your brain so a re-load can happen without conscious thought and makes those motions fade resistant. Remember, what you repeat you learn. What you repeat you will do when under stress. Do it perfectly.

So, practice. Practice some more. When you arrive at a live fire class, the instructor will love what they see. Need some help? Contact us for a private lesson or to review the basics with you!

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