Speed vs Accuracy

“Men are disrupted not by things, but by the view they take of them.” Epictetus 55-135 AD

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing happened.” Winston Churchill

Shooters seem to fall into one category or the other. Mostly it is a self imposed belief, and it limits your progress. If you carry a firearm as life saving equipment that belief could have grave consequences for you. People flex the narrative with misunderstood quotes taken out of context without looking at the performance factors that exist in the real world. The Force Science Institute has some very good research into the mental and physical realities on the use of force. John Correia’s YouTube channel, Active Self Protection, offers an endless procession of lessons for the armed citizen. In all likelihood you are reading this because you are struggling with one of the aforementioned areas. The good news is you can have both, speed and accuracy, but you will have to let go of some preconceived notions.

The truth is you already have both systems operating in your mind….

The truth is you already have both systems operating in your mind, you just tend to favor one process over the other. In Thinking fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman he points out that we have two ways of operating:

System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.

System 2 allocates attention to the effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations.

Create mindfulness

It is not about speed or accuracy instead it is about allocation of attention with mental activities that require effort. Open the mind to the possibilities of possibility, that you can change if you use system 2. Bad habits are changed with mindfulness, hence changing knowledge (information) to wisdom (experience). You must become disenchanted with poor performance by recognizing the sensations that are a part of that process. Become curiously involved with the sensations that cause the compulsion to shoot poorly, (over confirmation or lack of patience) which creates mindfulness.

Please do not conflate this next statement with political parties, but people tend to be conservative or liberal in their information and decision process, gathering or seeking. The first results in building internal structures that work well with known information, and their performance is usually fairly consistent. It also focuses on past performance with internal statements of “I will never make that mistake again”. The second, liberal, results in experimental exploration, and the intuitive ability to make quick decisions that are good enough, but oftentimes their performance is erratic with a focus on the future. Internal statements of “If I can just go faster, I can make up for previous mistakes.”

Let explore driving styles, if you drive fast , you just need to learn when to brake and how to approach difficult situations, so with a bit of information and visualization you will probably be able to drive more efficiently, with fewer mistakes. A simple bit of recognition and priming , you will be a better driver, although traffic will still drive you crazy (too slow). Now if you are a slow driver, your decisions process is not rushed, in fact you can probably monitor other drivers around you. If you are forced to drive fast it will feel reckless, out control, and your primed decisions will not available at this speed, therefore you will make mistakes. That is why it so hard to speed up, and the resistance and/or excuses are hard to overcome. Conservatives decisions are emotional in regard to change, liberal decisions are emotional when comes to control.

The power of visualization

Understanding your bias is the first step to making a lasting change. The self image, or internal programming, needs to be updated as performance demands increase. The power of visualization is the first step. Imagine from your point of view, what it would be like to be fast. Hands would move quickly, and efficiently, with the entire path laid out to the target. Now fast people imagine seeing your dot or sights line up acceptably with the target, and pressing the trigger with a bit of visual patience. Notice I never told anyone to slow down or speed up, which seems counter-intuitive, but it is not about our perception of speed, in fact we just need to “look deeply” (Massad Ayoob) with clarity. Self image is the concept that you are what you believe you are, but you need to be complete, not one dimensional. Practice does not make perfect, but it does makes permanent. If you continue to practice in the same way, only changing how much or how little you practice, why would you expect to change and grow. Pay attention, instead of controlling, be the observer, not critic. Program your mind to see just what is sufficient to the goal, nothing more or less. Structure needs to be malleable, discard that which does not get the results desired, and be willing to fail (experiment) and correct.

I use this method for training:

1-Visualize from your point of view

2-Create a preparatory index, be ready to shoot (Scott Jedlinski of Modern Samurai Project)

3-Breathe to create motion in both the mind and body

4-Listen, and feel for the start signal


6-Review what you saw

7-Correct without emotion

Try this process each time. Accuracy shooters will accumulate reserves of speed that are available on demand. Speed shooters will become accurate and efficient. You can have everything, speed and accuracy, if you are just willing to let go, grow, and change.