Dave Buchannon – Developing Muscle Memory.

You are walking down a busy city sidewalk when the world falls apart about 50 yards in front of you.  A sound like dozens of firecrackers going off causes dozens of pedestrians in front of you to part like the Red Sea.  A man with a large pistol in his hand is running down the sidewalk directly toward you.  You are armed.  As the bad guy approaches, he raises his pistol toward you.  What do you do?

buckyYou’re armed.  So what?  Can you put your hand on your gun safely? Quickly?  Do you know how to do it without looking or fumbling with your clothing, pocketbook, backpack, or wherever you’ve chosen to carry?  If you’re carrying a pistol, are you certain about how it’s loaded… is there ‘one in the pipe’ or do you need to ‘rack the slide?’  Where’s your extra ammo?

That’s a lot of questions, but if you require more than a split-second to answer them, you need to put the gun back in the safe.  I don’t mean to be rude, but you shouldn’t be carrying a tool capable of killing someone until you are solidly proficient in the most basic techniques, first and foremost is how to draw and present your weapon… safely.

Police officers learn to put their hands on their weapons, draw them safely, and move into any number of “ready” positions without taking their eyes off the threat or direction of movement.  Cops can’t hesitate or fumble around because even a half-second delay could result in serious injury or worse, mishandling might cause an accidental discharge.  They learn the same way you or I do, by practicing their “draw” over and over again.

Once upon a time I golfed every week, and even took a lesson or two to improve my barely mediocre game.  The lessons didn’t make me a better golfer, but they taught me that the average person needs 1,000 repetitions of a new movement to develop effective muscle memory.  So it’s reasonable to expect you’d need to practice your draw at least a thousand times before you no longer have to think about it.  Keep that in mind.

Begin with the unloaded gun you intend on carrying and the holster that’s most comfortable (most of us have more than one).  Did I say the gun must be unloaded?  You really only want to do this with a gun that is unloaded.  Have another person check to make sure the gun is unloaded.  Get the point?  Are you sure?  Good. If you live in an apartment, please find someplace else to practice this drill.

There are three rules:  the gun must always be unloaded, even though the gun is unloaded your finger must never touch the trigger, and there must never be anything between you and the ‘target’ or anywhere behind it.

First: place the unloaded gun in the holster and put it on.  Find a ‘target’ with no living things behind it – mine is a light switch that I particularly hate that’s on a wall with an acre or two of woods behind it.  Second: move any garments aside and put your hand on the gun, establishing a good, firm grip.  Third: draw the gun out of the holster and point it at the target (remember, no finger on the trigger).  Fourth: put the gun back in the holster and remove your hand.  Fifth: repeat for at least five minutes.

As you build repetitions with this drill you will quickly get to the point where you no longer need to look at the gun to draw it from the holster.  In short order you’ll get to the point where you won’t need to look it back into the holster.  In fact, try keeping your eye on the target – that’s what police officers are taught.

Keep going, and keep count.  By the time you get to 1,000 repetitions you’ll feel comfortable enough to begin safely carrying your gun outside the home if you so desire.





9 thoughts on “Dave Buchannon – Developing Muscle Memory.

  1. Khal, isn’t it the point not to fire? It’s simply the drawing. You dont want the muscle memory to be firing at the end. You my not want to fire.

  2. Dave, this is a very useful piece about the skills required to effectively use a gun in self-defense. In a future contribution, it would be great if you could specify the training you believe is required so that concealed carry permit holders have the tools to use a gun defensively in an effective manner, while minimizing the risk to those around them and to themselves. Thank you.

    • First of all, hardly any Cops in real life are so trained. Their performance under stress has been discussed here before.
      Second, civilian self defense is primarily about trying to retreat or hide. A weapon should only be used when those modalities fail. Forget syg laws. They largely address other issues. A civilian has no duty to get in a gunfight just because of a threat.
      If there really is a mass shooter active, no one can tell you in advance what to do. Because sometimes the worst possible scenario is unfolding and nothing could make it worse.
      It is a mistake imho to assume that being helpless is necessarily better.
      People often do try to fight back. That is them voting about how they really feel about self defense.

  3. I mean, instructions in schools for active shooter situations often advise throwing pencils etc and maybe rushing the guy. Does anyone talk about the potential downsides of that approach. Like, almost certain death in a futile undertaking.

    • On June 12, 2016, there were an estimated 320 patrons and staff inside the Pulse night club when an attacker entered the building and went on a killing spree that was unrestrained for three long hours before SWAT entered and killed the attacker. At the end there were 49 dead and 53 wounded.

      It might have been worse, if it weren’t for a Marine veteran working as a bouncer who took charge of a group of customers. It is reported that the Marine told the group to open a latch on a nearby door to exit the building, but they froze in a state of panic. The group was told to open the door several times and no one moved and it is assumed because they were scared. The veteran jumped over many people and opened the latch and got everyone he could out.

      Sadly there is no report of a single person, out of the hundreds, inside the night club attempting to stop the attacker. Maybe because the downside was that it would be a futile undertaking. Or maybe it’s because our societal roles have been strongly encouraged to be artistic, sensitive, compassionate, and nurturing. I don’t know…but it is something that I’ve thought about.

      • Actually, mass shootings have been associated with hyper-masculinity in our culture and not the reverse. Other advanced countries rarely have these conversations about arming civilians and they do much better in preventing gun violence. I’ve never known Americans to be accused of being too “artistic, sensitive, etc.” Or, are you making an assumption about the patrons at Orlando Pulse?

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