Warning: This Training Tip will require a multi-step process to properly “Retrain Your Brain!” In order to get the full effect of this entry, you will need to follow the hyperlinks in the proper order as indicated below.
First – Watch “Backwards Brain Bicycle Video“
Several months ago I came across this video called “The Backwards Brain Bicycle.” It is fascinating look at how the brain works.
Second – Read “Train With The Best”
The correlation between learning to ride a bike and learning to shoot a gun goes way back for me. I learned to ride and shoot at about the age of 5. As I got older, I started to compete on a bike and with a gun, but by age 12, I started to really focus on bike racing. In 1988, at age 16, I reached the pinnacle in bike racing by competing and qualifying as one of the top 8 riders in the country. You can learn more about this journey in a previous post called Train With The Best.
It wasn’t until much later in life, (when I was forced to take a formal firearms class to get my carry permit) that I realized I had the “knowledge” to shoot a gun, but I didn’t have the “understanding” on how to apply that knowledge to protect myself and my family. My Dad had taught me to shoot, and I was “OK”, but I had developed bad habits or “ruts in my brain” that were hard to break. I’d learn a new technique, and just when I thought I had it down, my brain would fall back into an old rut at the slightest distraction or stressful scenario.
Third – Read “Automaticity”
Over time, as I took more classes and applied that knowledge to help others, I was able to build new, stronger neural pathways. That eventually led to a level of “Automaticity” or the ability to do things without occupying the mind with low-level details, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. Once your brain no longer has to think about how to get the firearm into the fight, how to control recoil or to put multiple shots on target quickly, it is free to focus on the scenario or task at hand. This leads to better “emotional control” which is another very important aspect in determining “Who Wins” (see below diagram from John Hearne) a gun fight.
Fourth – Sign up for an Intermediate or Advanced Class
In basic classes, (those most common in permit to carry classes) where students are only focused on obtaining a minimum level of marksmanship to meet state mandated minimums, there is usually little to no stress or time constraints. Should students choose to take more advanced training, where more complex tasks or techniques are introduced and results are timed or measured, we see them reverting back to previous “ruts” or bad habits. The switch is usually instantaneous. It occurs once the level of stress or complexity has reached the point where the brain becomes so focused on the scenario or task, that it can no longer allocate any resources to apply newly learned skills. This is where training clichés like “you will not rise to the occasion, but fall back to the highest level of training you have mastered” and “your body won’t go where your mind hasn’t been” come from.
Finally – Read Firearms, Fitness & Personal Protection
This short blog posts focuses on the importance of Physical, Mental and Spiritual Fitness. The bottom line is that we train first and foremost to be better prepared to physically protect ourselves and our families, but just as important we need to train to protect ourselves legally, financially and morally from the aftermath of a self-defense incident. Training to “Retraining Your Brain” is not easy, but failing to do so, could cost you your physical and financial freedom, or be the difference between life and death.