What training bad habits have you heard of?


When dry-fire practicing, you have to rack the slide after every trigger pull to reset the trigger. That can get you into a bad habit of racking the slide after every shot - yup, it happens!

What other habits have you heard of?


People trying to watch where shots land. And reholstering a firearm

I use negative targets and old T shirts to combat worrying about where the rounds are impacting plus t shirts give a little bit more realistic sight picture as far as shades and colors go.

Reholstering I’ve started scanning (at a low ready position) and counting to 5 before reholstering


People that are complacent in their training. Trying new things only makes you better. Also I don’t get the snatch the pistol to the chest and scan thing, especially with an unloaded gun. If another attacker pops out, you have to push the gun back out and get another sight picture. Keeping the gun out and moving it with your head makes sense to me.


Not so much heard of but caught myself doing and also witnessed in live fire training. I mentioned it here before, but when drawing from holster, if the draw wasn’t perfect I’d stop and start over. I then realized that in a real life scenario if I go to draw and get snagged on something, I may have taught myself to stop and start over, which obviously would not be good. Since then if it happens, I overcome whatever happens and continue until I’m on target.

During a defensive tactics live fire class we were drawing and firing while being timed individually. A couple guys continued to struggle, several times stopping and asking to reholster and try again, up to four or five times before finally getting a shot off. The instructor let them, which is fine I suppose, but I was hoping he’d point out that you don’t get a do over in real life and they should draw through the issue, get on target and fire, unless it wasn’t safe to do so there.

When I draw at home, which is several times a week, I do it with what I may find myself wearing; just a t shirt, a t shirt with a hoodie, multiple layers for the cold, etc. I have a very aggressive and exaggerated method for removing my cover garment(s) so that if the real deal should happen, it will be an automatic response.


Great points everyone!! Keep them coming!


I’m concerned about doing dry fire training because I know the possibility of developing bad habits. I’m still training to remember to release my safety. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking at Glocks.

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IIRC, David Grossman (in one of his books) talks about incidents where police officers were killed and the post-incident analysis showed:

  • an officer had double-tapped then lowered his weapon, even though he was being fired upon
  • an officer had put his empty magazine in his pants pocket, even though he was in the middle of a gun fight
  • an officer had put the spent brass (from his service revolver) in his shirt pocket, even though he was faced off with an active shooter

:astonished: :disappointed_relieved:
Pretty much that means that the double-tap-and-go-to-low-ready training worked.
And all the times the officer didn’t want to drop his magazine on the ground at the range burned in a neural pathway.
And all the times the officer emptied his revolver brass into his hand and pocketed it so he didn’t have to hunt around later and pick it up became so automatic that it was the thing he did when his life was on the line.
Under extreme pressure, people do what they trained to do. They do what’s wired in by repetition.
The lesson for me is really the “Train how you’ll fight… because you’ll fight how you trained” message… if you wouldn’t do it in a real life-and-death situation, don’t practice-practice-practice it in training.

I bought a SIRT type laser-training gun recently… not just because it’ll improve my skills and accuracy, but because it allows me to train dry-fire without having to rack my glock slide in between shots. I wouldn’t want to burn that in as the thing I do automatically. for failure drills, yes. for racking between single shots… not so much.


Totally agree. I can’t see why people train the same way every time. First off, It’ll kill you, secondly, it’s not fun. One training thing I see all the time that I can’t wrap my head around is pulling the pistol to the chest and scanning by turning the head. I’m scanning by pivoting my foot and looking down the barrel. That’s how I was taught.

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I’d heard of that situation, @Zee. It’s mind boggling that your body would revert to something that stands in the way of defending yourself (pocketing spent brass, not dropping the magazine), but it is a creature of habit!

Great post!


One of my favorite sayings is

Train like your life depends on it…
Because it does.

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We need shirts that say that!


@Dawn - there’s actually a biological reason why that happens. If you haven’t read David Grossman’s books On Killing and On Combat, I highly recommend them. There’s a TON of useful information in there about the biology of stress, why certain kinds of practice matter, and why our training fails us - or saves us - under extreme conditions. Part of what I love about his books is that the material is not only interesting and eye-opening, it’s actionable. You can take the information and put it to actual use in your own training. And you can figure out quite a lot about why you should, or should not, train a particular way.
BTW, I’ve also listened to both as audiobooks through Audible and they’re really well presented - having read both, I still keep them in my audio-library so I can listen to them a little at a time and pick up a tidbit every week or two that I can apply to how I interact with the world, either inside or outside the range.


Lt. Col Dave Grossman is the man. He has influenced me more than any one person when it comes to self defense AND defense of others. He has even changed some of the things the apply to raising my kids.

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Great recommendations, @Zee! I’m definitely going to check them out. I’ve read a bunch of his stuff already.

It’s just such a strange thing that the body wouldn’t go into complete defense mode and forget everything else.


It’s funny, because you kind of black out for a second and you’re just performing on autopilot. I remember a few incidents where all of a sudden I was behind a wall or aiming at somebody/a window with the safety off, and I kind of thought, “I have no idea how I got here.”


the books actually talk very specifically about that. Biologically, it has to do with being in what he calls “the black zone” - your pulse rate, breath rate, adrenaline, and neurological stimulation levels are over-the-top too high. When that happens, blood vessels constrict removing blood flow from extremities (causing loss of fine motor control), oxygen delivered to the brain is decreased, and some aspects of brain function are curtailed. That means the memory loss @James mentioned is common, and higher rational function is just not available. Basically, in that biological environment, your brain can’t work the way you’re used to.

What IS available is the neural pathways you’ve built up, and the pathways with the most myelin (nerve insulation) are the ones that work. That’s why the officers, in a life and death situation, double tapped and then went to low ready while still being fired on, put magazines in their pockets, and saved their brass but not their own lives. THOSE pathways were the ones with the myelin. That’s what their over-driven chemistry would allow to function.

There is a sweet spot for this kind of chemistry. Too little and you can’t perform what’s needed at the speed its needed. Too much and you can’t perform what’s needed and will run whatever autopilot is built up. The Goldilocks territory in the middle is where you want to be… where focus is high, function is optimized, and both neural burn-in and thinking are still working.

The important thing to know here is that adrenaline is going to happen and to understand how it impacts your function, both psychologically and biologically.

If you know how it affects you, know how to raise your stimulation level when needed (to increase performance), and can identify when you’re getting over-stimulated and know how to bring that back down, you can use your chemistry the way it was designed to work… to save your life or the lives of others, to respond to an emergency situation, and to do what is needed when life and limb are on the line.

The substrate to that, of course, is to train in the precise skills you’ll need in that situation (not the ones you need at the range), and to do the scenario work needed to prepare your thinking as well as your muscles. Both of those things lay down myelin (nerve insulation) and make those skills more durable under high-chemistry, and more reliable when things like fine motor control, brain oxygen and range of vision are compromised.

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It’s not like it was a super long time you’re blacked out either. Usually a second, and it’s not like when you wake up after passing out or anything, it’s more or less afterwards when playing the memory back you start thinking about “hey, I can’t remember that part.” It’s also funny what adrenaline does to the body while in a stressful situation.


@James I think of it like a biological all-hands-on-deck … your brain is putting 100% of whatever resources it has to the task of doing what’s needed, and committing that second or two to memory just isn’t a priority. It’s dispensable.
As a professional dancer, sometimes I’d find that over-driven state. I’ve had some performance where I have nearly zero recall afterwards, sometimes a minute or two but occasionally 15 or more minutes at a time with just a single “snapshot” here or there throughout the performance. it’s a very disturbing experience the first few times it happens. That being said, when you know the biological cause, you have a chance of mitigating it.
It can be pretty interesting to see the result from the outside, v.s. the experience from the inside. I’ve got one of those “no recall” shows on video… from the outside you can’t see that’s what’s happening at all. And the stuff I drilled and drilled and practiced and practiced… that delivered. But recall? yeah,NOPE. I’ve got recall going to the stage, 3 snapshots while I’m on stage, and recall from the time I’m leaving the stage. If I didn’t have video of the 12 minutes of performance, I’d have NO idea what I actually did.
And that’s in a situation where they aren’t ACTUALLY trying to kill me. :flushed:


Yeah it’s hard to say. I think like you said, you’re aware, because you don’t like all of a sudden wake up and have a freak out what was I doing moment. I think that you can focus too hard and be aware of what’s going on, but like you said, just can’t remember anything because the need for focus overrode the need for developing a short term memory of the entire situation. Kind of like levels of fun. I can remember going on a rollercoaster for instance, and the whole experience of a rollercoaster, but I cannot remember most of my deer hunt from last year where I shot a nice 8 point. I remember the highlights of watching him for 15 min before I got the shot, but all the memories save for the memory of when I let the arrow loose are fuzzy at best. Or taking a hard test, how many times were you so focused you only remember small portions of a test?

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Everything you do creates a habit, the military guys can tell you to drill and train till you dont even think about it, you know what’s gonna be asked and what is next.

Things to do to avoid this, never catch you mags always let them hit the ground, don’t run the same drill all the time change up courses of fire. If you always do the “double tap” then you may stop firing too soon when it counts. Practice multiple targets and distances.

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