Creating muscle memory and 2nd Nature

Can it be automatic?

I’ve written in depth about ways to improve your chances of winning a gun fight. I commonly mention muscle memory and second nature. My students hear me speak about these two traits during every class I teach. Whether it be a beginner class or an advanced class these two traits are very important while performing drills and training with firearms.

Muscle memory is a neurological process that allows you to remember certain motor skills and perform them without conscious effort. The retention from muscle memory can potentially last forever, barring any neurological or physical ailments. This is acquired by performing an exercise or movement correctly which helps the brain store the correct motor skill information.

Second nature is a characteristic or habit in someone that appears to be instinctive because that person has behaved in a particular way so often. This is acquired through previous repetition of an exercise.

If you are an avid firearms student or someone who trains in the tactical application of firearms use, you should be very familiar with these two terms and know their importance to surviving a gun fight.

If you own a firearm for self-defense and you are not familiar with the importance of muscle memory or second nature, then you are putting yourself on the losing side of a gun fight before it even occurs. Most people who purchase a firearm are happy with the idea that if they need it for self-defense, all they have to do is point, pull the trigger and the gun will function. Even if it was that simple, most people don’t consider the psychological response to threats of danger. Your body will do things that might work to your favor but there are many that will not. The levels of these responses will vary depending on your perception of the threat. I strongly suggest that every gun owner should get familiar with these body responses so they are familiar with how their body might respond.

The other thing you need to consider is that your senses will be heightened. During the “Fight-or-Flight” reaction to the scenario your focus might be heightened, and your information input will be overloaded.

There’s a lot of things happening, and most likely happening very quickly. The last thing I want to consciously have to devote brain power to is the proper operation of my firearm. That’s where muscle memory and second nature come into play. Modern day firearms are impressive, well-designed tools that function quite dependably. But, like anything else, there are factors that can affect their proper operation, including operator error.
Through constant training and performing drills that allow you to keep that firearm working through any malfunction or event, you can create the muscle memory to fix that gun.

What’s important, if you refer back to the definitions of muscle memory and second nature, is that the training and drills are done correctly and with repetition.

I think of my firearm, whether handgun or rifle, as an extension of my body. Something that I’ve had attached and becomes a part of me. I don’t think about how to grab something with my fingers or how to push something with my hands, arms, and body. It just happens after I’ve decided to do so. With training you can have that same experience with your firearms. If something needs to be done to keep that weapon working, it can naturally take place with second nature.

When you become in tune with your weapon system, you can also get to a point where you will recognize that something has malfunctioned, or when the firearm has gone empty without looking at your weapon. You will build a sensitivity to it and will feel that the normal cycling did not occur. This last skill mentioned takes numerous hours of training and thousands of rounds fired.

If you are serious about owning a firearm for self-dense, don’t cut yourself short. Mentally prepare and physically train to win the fight.
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Oz Johnson/Lead Instructor, NRA Certified
Karin Johnson/Operations Manager
[email protected]