What does “No technique works if it isn’t used” mean?

Response by Kathy Jackson

17) No technique works if it isn’t used.  

If that sounds simplistic, look at some specifics: Telling friends about your diet won’t make you thin. Buying a diet cookbook won’t either. Even reading the recipes doesn’t help. Knowing about Alcoholics Anonymous, looking up the phone number, or even jotting it down won’t make you sober. Buying weights doesn’t get you muscles. Signing a piece of paper doesn’t cause a cease-fire, even if you make lots of copies and tell every anchorperson on Earth. Endlessly studying designs for spacecraft won’t put anything in orbit.   

Larry Niven’s Laws, 2002 Edition         

It’s amazing how many people think that buying a gun will enable them to protect their own lives at the moment they need it. But it won’t, not if …

Sitting in front of a computer screen reading an article about self defense might help you figure out your own internal dynamics well enough to solve some of these problems – if you follow up your reading with careful, personal thought about how it applies to you.

Watching someone else do the skills on a video might sometimes help you figure out ways to do the things you want to do – but only if you follow up by making the effort to teach your hands how to do the things your eyes just saw. Watching someone else play the piano on YouTube does not make you a piano player.

In the end, the only way to get up to speed with your gun-handling is to, you know, actually handle a gun. Load and unload your gun often enough that loading the gun doesn’t take all your thought, or even most of it. Practice a smart, safe drawstroke often enough that lazy holstering habits won’t bite you in the leg after they blow a hole in your holster. Practice fast, accurate shooting at realistic targets. Shoot from various distances, from various positions, while moving or kneeling or standing or crouching, while your targets are moving or partly obscured or dimly lit. Practice your skills intelligently enough that you build efficient responses to danger, responses that you can call on even when you’re tired, frightened, overwhelmed, and taken by surprise.

You want the gun to save your life? It won’t. It can’t. It’s just an inanimate object.

Watching other people use guns on YouTube won’t save you, either. Your favorite shooting celebrity isn’t going to be there to save your life when you need it. You will.

Ultimately, it all comes down to you and your skills. Not the skills you’ve read about somewhere. Not the skills you’ve seen others demonstrate. Not even the things you were able to do once, on a lucky day at the range a few years ago. The only skills you can rely on are the ones you’ve practiced often enough that you can do them in your sleep without half trying.

Get to the range on a regular basis. Practice solid, reliable techniques that hold up well under stress. Practice them often enough that you can free your mind to think about other things while you’re shooting, so that your brain can solve the survival problem while your hands do what they know must be done. Practice the right things, often and well.

And every so often, learn something new, and practice that.


Commentary by Erik Kondo

1. All Hyper-Links in the above article were added by me.

2. Practice them often enough that you can free your mind to think about other things while you’re shooting, so that your brain can solve the survival problem while your hands do what they know must be done.”

The basic idea here is that different parts of your brain process input and output separately, thus creating the ability to multi-task. Inefficiency and errors occur when the wrong part of your brain processes Input and  Output. For example, the emotional thinking of the Monkey Brain as opposed to the critical thinking of the Human Brain.

Marc and Rory have created a model based on their version of the Triune brain theory which divides the brain into the Human Brain, Monkey Brain, and Lizard Brain. The expansion of this model is Rory’s book ConCom: Conflict Communication A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication.

I have created my own model that divides the brain into the Strategic Brain, the Emotional Brain, and the Functional Brain (e-booklet download available here]. For comparison purposes, the Strategic Brain is similar to the Human Brain, the Emotional Brain is similar to the Monkey Brain, and the Function Brain is similar to the Lizard Brain. But the models are distinctly different.

The purpose of my model is to help explain Kathy’s sentence above. Using my model, I translate her statement as the repetitive practice of certain tasks (the basic skills of shooting) allows the tasks to be processed by the lightning fast processing of the Functional Brain, thus providing your slow processing Strategic Brain availability for high level decision making and cognitive processing such as who to shoot, when to shoot, where to shoot, and why to shoot while also controlling your Emotional Brain.

If your Functional Brain has not had enough practice to develop the ability to process basic shooting tasks, your Strategic Brain now must handle the processing.  The problem is that your Strategic Brain “thinks”  too slowly to be effective for basic shooting tasks in a fast moving gunfight. And your Strategic Brain is known to shutdown under stress and/or from being over taxed, thus allowing the Emotional Brain to dominate processing. The end result is you are controlled by the Fear or Anger of  your Emotional Brain which is highly likely to either get you killed or sent to prison.


Commentary by Toby Cowern

 This is an intelligent and much needed counter argument to the ever increasing ”high speed low drag’ ‘operator’ firearm training awash in the marketplace. Good, solid foundation skills well practiced are FAR MORE needed than a collection of ‘parlour tricks’. As an added bonus having good basics and keeping focused on them will go along way in keeping a ‘Hicks Law’ problem at bay…


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