Dear Jon No. 1 – Improving Performance

Dear Jon:

This series of ‘posts’ will be the home-school ‘classroom’ portion of what will lead to a feet-on-the-range ‘practical’ series of exercises condensed into a clinic format.

You asked: “Can you do something, a class maybe, on improving performance?”

Coincidentally, near the time of your asking the following video was published. Only one ‘note of critique’ before: age is a number, unless you make it something else.  13 of the top 20 “overall” at the last IDPA match here at H2O are older than this “Sensei”.  “Free your mind and your… oh, cough… the rest will follow.”  Sensei “believes (truly)” that his age slows him down, therefore his age slows him down.

Of value: economy of motion; mix it up; change (‘control’) the timing. **Look at the still above, do you ‘see’ that the Martial Arts (MA) ‘punch’ is ‘almost’ one-handed shooting? (Gun thumb should be higher.)

Let’s go back before we go any more forward. In the announcement-preview of this series we gave you a couple of quality resources to get the ball rolling:
– Check out the instructional videos from Chad Thompson (there’s four of them up at youTube):
– Check out the Triangle Tactical podcast (they give tons and tons of fantastic advice):

OK. Let me try to get the horse back in front of the cart. You asked (paraphrased) “How do [you / I / we] improve performance?”  Never answer a question with a question, the literature says. Literature, yer fired.

By “what stick” are you measuring “performance”?  You have to define the ‘problem’ to solve or fix it. Or, you have to define the goal before trying to attain it.  Has the ‘competitive’ part of ‘competitive shooting sport’ infected you? If you are only “trying to be better than I was yesterday or last match” then you already have “improved performance” and continue to do so every match.  I’m off on this tangent, Jon, because there are ‘toolset’ limitations holding you back from ‘comparative ranking by classification and division’ improvements.  You shoot the match in the “as I carry” setup, while 99% of every one else is out here shooting in the “I’m going to win!” configuration.  You will never – never, I promise – be able to pull your shirt up and over during the draw as fast as the “accidentally weighted at the bottom IDPA fishing vests” seemingly fly back on their own.

The vests actually don’t “fly back” on their own. Those bottom weights lean them out and away from the body and gun so essentially they don’t exist as a ‘concealment garment’ (obstruction/additional step) during the draw.  So, want to shave some seconds (or 1/2s) off the draw-strokes: get a Cloak of Invisibility, ‘accidentally’ drop some eye of newt and toe of frog into that gun-side pocket, and learn the winning magicians draw-lean (drop the gun-side shoulder and lean ever so slightly so the weights pull the garment away – gravity, not skillz).

*** Interlude – Loved Words ***

I learned (no, not the hard way, because of ‘friends’) shortly after moving to NC that the police here have a special law / name for car racing: Willful Speed Competition. I do love it.

Gun-fights and competitions are exactly that.


I’ve hopefully given you a little bit to think about – and work through – in this “First Dear Jon Letter”.  My motto about all of the defense/security/gun-stuff: Mindset – Skillset – Toolset (in that order).  So, with the mind-set of “let’s improve *some* performance *something*” here’s your homework:

With NO GUN – karate means ’empty hands’ – take special note that IDPA “forbids” air-gunning but USPSA absolutely encourages it – NO GUN, only your empty hands:
– stand facing a target with your hands “at surrender” (above the shoulder line)
– say “Standby… beep” to yourself
– draw your air-gun (wearing that shirt over the gun? up and over – every time!) and engage the target STRONG HAND ONLY
– self assess: does it look like the MA video preview picture above (except: gun-hand thumb should be higher ~and~ there should be room in your fist to ‘insert gun – instant shooter’)?
– if it looks and feels good after, let’s say, 100 repetitions then let’s “mix it up” and focus on “control”
– do the same practice exercise another 100 times with a “par time” (no shot timer? get a training partner or an app) set the time from 1 to 5 seconds and try NOT to close the trigger (index) finger down until time is up.

One last thing. Back in July I posted the following to a facebook ‘event->discussion’:

Skill-set. 4 steps to the draw. Grip, clear/rotate, center, extend.

Mind-set. Want to be the best? Learn from and imitate the best. If your standard is “Thee Chad Thompson” and he gives his lessons free, then study them. And… practice!!!

The “master level note book” from this edition of Chad School reads: “He draws and fires the gun three times; he completes the motion empty handed or ‘dry fire’ FIFTEEN. He ‘practices’ five times as much as he ‘plays’.”

…was that fast? I thought that was fast! …and dag-gum that Chad is O-L-D! hahahaha (please don’t hurt me, Chad T 9LL Only)

Until next time, Dear Jon,