Practice Makes Perfect.

By: Gary Kercher – Instructor

MMT (Muscle Memory Training) is an often overlooked aspect of practical defensive pistol training.  Why is it important?  Why be consistent?  Why develop good muscle memory?  How can we use practice time more effectively?

Muscle Memory Is Important?

When you examine and brake down a defensive shooting incident in detail, you find there is usually the aspects of noise, movement, the consideration on available cover, and the drawing of the pistol.  There are also many decisions to be made on whether to shoot or whether not to shoot.  In some cases, you can be distracted by concern for family members, friends, as well as bystanders that may be in the area.  Each one of these can keep you from thinking about how to shoot.  Proper muscle memory training can make that automatic.  You do not have to use your conscious mind to think about how to shoot, you can use the subconscious.  That frees up the conscious mind to deal with all those other things.

We all develop muscle memory. One example, while driving your car.  As you come upon an intersection, you see a stop light.  You do not go through a step by step decision making process. . . .

  • Step one: you see the stoplight or stop sign and realizing there would be an accident if you do not stop, your MMT takes over…..
  • Step Two: You take your foot off the gas…
  • Step Three: You must step on the brake.  It is “something that just happens”, because of muscle memory.  Time and reaction is all part of the MMT process that goes on in our everyday lives.  Having to go through that process in a systematic manner takes too much time.  Since every step requires a certain amount of time to complete and act upon, Muscle Memory Training takes over and we just do it without thinking of each and every step.


The more consistent you are, the more quickly you can respond and the more likely you are to be correct.  If you were to compare the human mind to a computer, you might come up with this comparison.  If you put garbage in you get garbage out.  We have all heard that computer term at one time or another.  The more work you give the computer, the longer it takes to complete the task.  This is why EVERY TIME you perform ANY act relating to shooting you must do it correctly and consistently because you are “programming” your subconscious.  In other words your MMT.

I always thought it was really amazing when I attended a shooting school and on that last day, that last hour or so, everyone would be shooting so good.  It was really noticeable the way we all showed up to class the first day of a 2 day course of instruction.  Now I am talking about the first day, 8 hours on the range, training and practicing shooting drills one after another, with a 2 hour low light training session that evening.  Now after that 10 hour training day we would drag our tired butts onto the range once again the next day for another 8 hours of training and shooting drills.  By the end of that second day we were all extremely tired, but the amazing thing is that even though we were tired, we all shot better then our first few drills on that first day.  Why?  Because we had two days of MMT.  Even though we were tired, our MMT took over and we just did the things that came natural so to speak.  While the instructors put us through our training they ultimately relied on that one natural thing they could count on.  That is, our natural tendency as humans to develop Muscle Memory.  This is just the best thing about training classes.  The way you can see the development take place over just a few days of training.  A transformation so to speak that happens right before your very eyes.  It is a real confidence builder and it can have a real positive impact on your Mindset.


Remember the comparison of the human mind to a computer, garbage in garbage out, practice done correctly is a way of properly programming yourself.  When you are consistent and correct in the way that you practice, you reinforce your MMT.  SPEED is the biggest cause of incorrect MMT.  Time after time, I have seen shooters properly perform an exercise once or twice and then try to go full speed, only to make mistakes.  Once or twice is not sufficient to create good MMT.  I once read that martial arts folks believe that it takes 3000 correct repetitions of an act in order to be able to do it correctly, on demand, and under stress.  My advice is to slow down, do it correctly, and perfectly.  I mean over and over again. Some shooters develop MMT faster than others, but in time we will all develop it.  Remember that consistent and correct practice will develop your MMT but inconsistent and incorrect practice will develop bad MMT.  We call this bad shooting habits.  Perfect practice makes perfect MMT.  Remember, that if you put garbage in, you get garbage out.  The speed comes naturally, but while your training yourself, control your speed and make sure you do it perfectly every time.  The key to developing the proper MMT is repetition, as many correctly done repetitions as possible.