Anyone that has been reading these tips for any length of time will know that I think employing speed in training is a little like handling a poisonous snake: inadvisable for the most part.

The reasons I think this way centers around the nature of training itself, the removal of inefficiencies and the installation of efficiencies. It’s difficult to do either if we are operating at capacity. In fact, most of the shooters that I see going as fast as they can… aren’t able to do anything remotely close. Have you ever watched someone fumble a mag change (or any other manipulation) very badly? It’s painful to watch.

The reason for that is because as a spectator we can see all that’s going on in “real time.” The shooter’s perspective is very different. They are quite literally “behind the curve.” There’s a lag between their processing and their performance.

See the danger in that? All direct operational ramifications set aside… consider the downside of moving faster than what you are doing in training.

What you are doing is starving the process of thought, and that isn’t the worst of it. In teaching the professional market, I run across officers that barely “qualify” for twenty years or longer! Most of the people in this category exhibit the same panicked, (almost frantic) movement when handling the gun. If something goes wrong in the smallest way, they become a victim of it. If a holster doesn’t cooperate or a magazine doesn’t release, they are incapable of “fixing” the problem with anything approaching logic. That’s because we’re always training whether we mean to or not.

These poor folks have just been “trained to train,” the wrong way. They are practicing panic and have gotten very good at it (that saying never gets old to me). Much worse, they’ve taught themselves to become absent when they are shooting almost as if thinking were the lesser part of it. It very much isn’t.

The inverse of that person is the one that almost seems bored as they shoot. They often have a neutral expression, move with a fluid, “unhurried” pace, and if something goes wrong… they fix it. What’s very interesting is that these people are most often the fastest on the range and almost always the most accurate. This is because they’ve trained in the opposite direction their panicked colleagues have: toward control.

One of the hallmarks of the controlled shooter is that they have identified where they can go fast and where they need to slow down. A good friend of mine, we’ll call him “Willie” is the picture of this. When he needs to move, it’s with as much speed as he can pour into the effort. When it comes to shooting, he “slows” again, making all of his capacities available to the shot, or better said, the thinking around the shot. Willie isn’t slow. He’s very fast. He’s fast in the controlled way, the right way.

Slow Challenge

The next time you’re at the range, give this a try: Determine a skill that you’d like to improve on. It really could be anything but to make it interesting, choose something with a little complexity. The draw stroke is a perennial favorite but rifle/pistol transitions, mag changes, malfunctions, etc. all will work.

Give yourself a set amount of time to train and stick to it. Determine your best SLOW time at the outset of your session and then put the timer away.
(Your best slow time is when you do the drill exceptionally well but slow enough to be aware of every nuance in the movement/shot.)

The rest is simple: for the remainder of your training period, keep doing the drill you decided on and never exceed your “thinking” speed. Never consciously “go faster.”

At the end of the your day (however long that is), measure your speed again but don’t go fast, do exactly what you did the entire session. Spoiler follows: You’ll be faster.

You’ll also feel much more in control (or present) in the process. Because you’ve just trained yourself to be. You’ll have taken a step toward normalizing a state of control versus a state of panic.

Congratulations and welcome to “better.”

Until next time, train smart.


Author Bio

Duane “Buck” Buckner

After spending 25 years in the USCG, Duane “Buck” Buckner is now the U.S. Director of Training for Aimpoint. The Aimpoint Training Division conducts training courses for military and law enforcement agencies up to the Federal level as well as for the prepared civilian. Buck is widely known for his emphasis on brain psychology as it relates to combat and survival.


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Posted by Duane Buckner, Aimpoint US Director of Training on Jan 31st 2023