About Me

I hold multiple NRA Instructor credentials, as well as SabreRed Pepper Spray. I have my own training company in Northern Virginia, www.FemaleandArmed.com and am focusing primarily on teaching women, especially those who are new to shooting.

I am also the author of 3 books, available on Amazon, and at many major outlets. I am a contributing writer for Combat Handgun Magazine and Women and Guns Magazine.

Thank you for following along with me as this journey continues.

Safe Shooting!

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Thoughts, comments and insights for women who shoot and the men who love us!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect?

Think so?  Only if you practice perfection.  Practice makes HABIT!  If you practice the wrong technique, it will become a habit.  Trust me, habits are hard to break.  I wracked the slide for years by grasping between my thumb and index finger.  It was really hard to learn to cup over the top.  I do it now, but…unlearning the wrong way to replace with the right way?  Very hard!

It is believed that it takes 1,000 repetitions of an action to make a habit.  But it takes twice that to break a habit.  That means 3,000 repetitions to break an old habit and replace it with a new one.  That sounds like a lot of work to me.  I’m lazy, I’d rather learn it right the first time!  

Next time you are practicing, anything, ask yourself if you are doing it the right way?  One reason this is so important with shooting is in an emergency you will react as you have practiced.  If you practice catching your magazine and putting it down before grabbing a fresh one to reload, what do you think you will do if your life is in danger?  I’ve heard people say “I would never do that in a real situation”.  Sadly, many studies found Police Officers dead after a confrontation, with brass in their pockets.  Why?  When they went to the range, they would shoot (revolvers), catch the brass and put it in their pockets so they wouldn’t have to pick it up later, and then reload.  What happened in a real situation?  They did exactly what they practiced.

Do you catch your magazines when they are empty or do you let them fall.  They’re expensive, what if it breaks?  Think about it, if it breaks from a drop, did you really want to trust your safety to it?

Do you use the slide lock to release your slide?  Yep, that little button is a Slide LOCK or Slide STOP, not a slide release.  Why can that be a problem?  One, your slide may not come forward properly, resulting in a failure to go into battery, the round may not feed correctly…and…that little piece of metal can break over time if used for other that its intended purpose.  Plus, fine motor skills versus gross motor skills.  Maneuvering tiny objects is a fine motor skill.  What do you think is the first to go in a high stress situation?

Do you go to the range, practice a fast draw, fire three shots and re-holster?  Ok, what is wrong with that you may be wondering?  Step 1, fast draw…think SMOOTH draw.  Fast is slow, smooth is fast, minimize your movements.  Step 2, fire three shots, maybe ok, as long as you are on target and it is safe to do so.  Step 3, re-holster.  When should you re-holster?  When you are sure the threat is over.  Come to a low ready, assess, then decide if it is safe to re-holster.  There are no points for putting your gun back in the holster fast, look it into the holster.  Practice at the range, draw, fire, reassess, maybe take a couple more shots, reassess, re-holster.  Next round, draw, aim and don’t fire, maybe your target is running away.  Next, draw, fire, reassess, fire, scan left and right, then over each shoulder, all from a low ready keeping your gun pointed squarely down range.  Think about possible scenarios and practice the way you would use them in real life.  Make the habit to draw while assessing, fire if appropriate, reassess…

Safe Shooting!


  1. Ah, you point out many "range skills" vs. "real world" skills. Yes many range habits are not for a real world defensive encounter.

    Many points of debate here. I have been to schools that teach using the slide stop to return to battery during a reload, others teach what you say. I say that both have merit. In some pistols it becomes a non issue.

    The Smith and Wesson M&P will return to battery after a magazine reload if given enough force without engaging the slide stop. S&W actually points that out on page 16 of the Owners Manual. On the other hand I feel that I may have totally failed if I need to get this far. I have either shot 18 times or had a malfunction on this handgun forcing me to do the malfunction drill and perhaps reload.

    Running a Handgun is a fine motor skill period in my opinion.

    All of this is why I find all of this fascinating. So many different disciplines, so little time.

    I have found out that I do enjoy hearing totally different disciplines. I try to find what of them works best for me.

    Excellent post!

    1. Thank you. I'm chuckling over the point about needing to reload. While I agree on one hand, on the other, if something happens, I would rather have too many rounds than not enough. Statistics show the round count to be low in most real life encounters, but ... I took statistics, I'd rather have extras.

      Agree there are fine motor skills, like trigger control, but I have practiced that enough to be comfortable that I can find and pull the trigger if I need to.

      Interesting on the Slide Stop. My Ruger and my Glocks all read not to use the slide stop as a release. We teach wracking the slide, pulling straight back and letting it fly. Many people tend to ride the slide and that often causes the gun not to go into battery.

      Thank you for commenting!

  2. I agree with everything in the post except your statements about the slide lock release. According to Boss Man (who is a Master Gun Smith), when the 1911 was developed, the slide lock release was designed for one-handed use of the gun and has been built to withstand repeated use. In practice, I have seen fewer failures to go into battery by using the slide lock release than by using the overhand cupping method, not just with my own shooting, but with my peers.

    And who am I to argue with John Moses Browning?

    1. Thank you for your comments. My Ruger and Glocks both read that the little button is for locking the slide, not releasing it. I have seen failure to go into battery by wracking the slide, but only when someone either didn't pull it all the way back or they rode it forward (which seems to be common for new shooters).

      At least if it breaks you have a Master Gun Smith close by!

      Thanks for commenting.

  3. Great tips, Lynne! The part I need to work on most is the drawing - I got the rest down :0) Thanks!

  4. This was really helpful! It's so easy to create habits while practicing in the safety of a gun range. Your tips really help one think - what would my reaction be in a live situation? I've got a lot to learn still to practice the right way.

  5. Good points, Lynne. You are asking us to practice all the motions and thoughts we'd use in a particular situation. Practicing them in isolation will build the wrong habits.


    Thank you.