One of the most important things when it comes to training with a weapon, aside of safety, in my opinion is muscle memory. Not just muscle memory, but the CORRECT muscle memory. Once we teach ourselves or learn bad habits, it’s difficult to break. Case in point, I was teaching my wife the basics of my gun (unloaded and made safe) in anticipation of her taking an upcoming class for her LTC, and on many occasions I could be heard saying “If you put your damn finger on that trigger one more time I’ll break it!” That was how she learned from a family member, a loooong time ago. She has since stopped that, and her fingers are intact.
My son plays lots of sports. From day one I’ve always made it a point to correct bad habits and make sure he has the right form. He’s 14 now and you can see the difference between him and some other kids. Not saying he’s an all star, but he’s pretty much good to go while the coach is correcting other players form or stance. Better to do it early on than fight it later.
When I was in Basic Training, we had M16A1’s (just dated myself to those who know). We dry fired and trained for some tine before ever firing a round. It was boring and monotonous, but when I went to qualify I had a malfunction. I cleared it using the method we went over, and over and over, known by the acronym SPORTS and continued firing. Afterwards I couldn’t even really remember thinking about it, I just did it.
As for bad muscle memory, I work in public safety, and was taking a non weapon related class. Muscle memory came up, and the instructor told a story of a police department years ago that, while live fire training on the range, had their members pick up spent brass before moving. One of their officers was eventually killed in a shootout. They found brass casings in his pocket because as he was firing, he was stopping to pick them up!
My son recently took a faceoff clinic for lacrosse where they told the players it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to master a skill. As the saying goes, “Don’t train until you get it right, train until you can’t get it wrong!” Get going!!