Sunday, March 1, 2009

Training in the Rain

Another great day of training, this time the added element of rain, to spice things up. This is a bimonthy five hour training session held on Sunday. Usually the training alternates between scenarios and drills. This week we ended up doing scenario training. Since it was raining we put away the paper targets and got out the steel poppers and bowling pins.

There were a minimum of twelve people today participating in the training, which was a pretty good number considering the weather. The previous training session was cancelled due to torrential rain which was understandable.

Today we started off with setting up some poppers in conjuction with bowling pins. The bowling pins were dispersed amongst the poppers in a alternating pattern whereby we had to run up each stage delimited by rubber tires and first knock down the bowling pins without hitting any poppers then knock down the poppers, tall ones only.

The first set up consisted of three indiviual stages, stage one being two poppers and two bowling pins about 17 yards from the shooter. The key to being successful during this scenario was to know your gun. The people shooting with pistols that they were'nt familar with took the longest, and most rounds, to knock down all the bowling pins. This was a common problem through out the day but by the end of the day people were getting the hang of it.

All the stages were timed to add an element of stress. I know I was getting a bit of an adrenaline running through me because my mouth was getting dry in anticipation.

After that first course we all repeated it but we had to run around first and set up all the poppers first, that got our hearts pumping a bit but it had a calming effect on me allowing some concentration on the task at hand.

Next was some shooting on the move through a maze of poppers and bowing pins. That was pretty fun and challenging. We has to walk through three poppers set up on alternating sides, run to the next set up and knock down two poppers while walking straight towards them and then run around a tire and engage three more poppers walking parallel to them from right to left.

Next up, a four, four, three while on the move. First four consisted of walking diagonally while engaging four poppers, then walking head on and engaging four more poppers, then walking parallel left to right and engage three poppers. We had to continually be on the move and if we missed some of the poppers we just had to keep moving.

Next up, a variation of Kyle Lambs Tri-Lambda drill (Not to be confused with these Tri-Lambda 's). One while using both hands to shoot. One using an off hand draw then shooting with support hand, then switching to master side, one hand only, then finally using both hands to finish off the last three poppers. During each transition we had to do a reload.

Next up shooting bowling pins off of a fence. This was a competition of sorts, we shot in pairs against each other. I managed second place only afer tie breaker shoot out. I was so close!

Over all, it was a very good, yet rainy day. As the rain got heavier and heavier so did the mud caked on our boots!

The instructor, Jeff, had us practice our tactical reloads a lot and always maintain a tactical mindset whenever we did a scenario. A lot of good ideas were passed along like practicing tactical reloads in the dark to develop a better proprioceptive awareness when manipulating your firearm system and it's components.

Also, Jeff wanted to (this is the theory part) reinforce our neural pathways for such movements as tactical reloads and speed reloads by building up our myelinated sheaths along certain pathways which is commonly referred to as "muscle memory". It has been found that practicing the right motion over and over is beneficial, practicing the wrong or changing the technique will not build the necessary pathways and effect the necessary physiological changes.

Here's an excerpt from another blog regarding training athletes:

The essence of the New York Times article was an examination of the scientific study of sports "talent." It bounced back and forth between this Russian tennis coach and a study in US universities in which researchers were examining the physiological basis for athletic prowess, the roots of "talent." The Russian tennis coach emphasized fundamental drills. The US universities studied the myelin sheath which encircles nerve cells. The science says that myelin is added to nerve cells when they are repeatedly stimulated. Myelin is basically fat and its purpose, as explained to me in my college science class, is to make the neurons work better and faster. So, if you repeatedly stimulate one neuron over others, than neuron becomes better. To place this in the context of sport, that is the foundation for what we refer to as motor memory.

The more complicated aspect of motor memory is, if you stimulate the wrong neurons, you reinforce improper mechanics. Think of it this way, if you permit kids to throw, hit or field with wrong mechanics, you create the neurological environment in which their bodies back up improper mechanics – they encourage or reinforce more fundamental errors. So, not only do we miss an opportunity to perform a service for these kids, we actually do them a disservice.

So, that was our day. Another combination of practical shooting and tactical mindset with a little physiological theory, thrown in by Jeff during the "break" as to why you want to practice a movement over and over correctly to reinforce and stimulate phsiological change to produce the desired coordinated outcome faster and faster.

Anyway, keep on practicing...

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