Athletes in every sport, across the board, spend countless hours perfecting muscle memory. Whether honing a jump shot on the basketball court to hit that last-second game-winning three-pointer, spending hours in the batting cage refining a homerun swing, or drilling combinations on the heavy bag to ensure a 1st round knockout, making it count when the pressure is on takes muscle memory. While the idea of making your body do something over and over again until it is perfect isn’t exactly brain science, there is a great deal of legitimate science that further proves why athletes that train their muscle memory to perfection achieve success. It’s called neuromuscular efficiency, and there’s no reason it can’t be applied to the shooting sports. In fact, it is, and you should take the time to work it into your own personal training regimen.
What we’re talking about here is how to create neuro-muscular efficiency. Simply put, how to make your brain talk to your muscles as quickly and effectively as possible. To understand how to do this, one must understand how that works. Muscles grow stronger as a result of neuromuscular junctions. In workingman’s terms, muscles get stronger because the connection between the muscle and the brain improves.
Ever hear that old saying “use it or lose it?” Or the training version of the same sentiment, “tactical skills are perishable skills?” It’s absolutely true, and neuro-muscular efficiency is why. When you practice a skill properly, executing the technique correctly over and over again, your brain’s connection to that particular body movement gets stronger. This allows you to summon that body movement more efficiently. The efficiency comes from repetition. Likewise, lack of practice causes those neuro-muscular connections to fade.
Two Muscle-Memories Drills for Shooters
Pistol Draw Drill
A simple drill that can be done at home by those interested in perfecting muscle memory for self-defense, is the pistol draw drill. As always, ensure that your pistol is unloaded. Draw your pistol from the holster and assume your preferred shooting stance. Then, holster your pistol. Repeat this, for a cycle of 50 repetitions. Yes, 50 times. Things to focus on when doing this drill are your grip when first making contact with the pistol, as well as the angle at which you bring it up your side before pushing it out. It is also important to note that you must have your pistol holstered in place where you will always have it holstered in place. This will allow you to create a lasting imprint with your muscle memory, ensuring that your hand gets to the pistol grip instinctively, regardless of how stressful the situation.
Transitioning from long gun to pistol must be done smoothly. This is a critical drill to master, that can save lives. The only way to perfect the transition is to practice it over and over again with the weapons you own and plan to operate with. You’ll need a long gun with a sling and a pistol with a holster setup. After ensuring that your weapons are both unloaded, begin from a standing position with long gun on target, then slowly transition from the long gun, sweeping it out of the way and to your side while drawing your pistol. If indoors, try choosing a solid object such as a door to direct your aim. Remember, the goal of this is to build muscle memory connections into your shooting so that the transition is smooth. Go slow. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.