Had a friend ask me a question yesterday, they wanted to know how I decide what to “practice”. The question was prompted by my weekly run with a gun efforts posted on social media.  She asked me why I would do that?  My response was simple, but something she had never thought about.   My time is limited so I need to make the best of my range time hitting as many areas as possible, in this case, fitness, shooting under stress (increased heart rate), target acquisition, impact observation (seeing hits and misses), weapons manipulation and equipment evaluation.    Exactly what each run accomplishes depends on what my mindset is for that day, it can focus on one or more, but either way it proves practical and useful.    

Its All the Same. 

My training model was adopted decades ago from a martial arts instructor but it applies to most anything that requires practice.  It encompasses  competition or practical application.  Its a simple sequence to keep from spinning your wheels. Training and practice is broken down into three basic categories.  Each is broken down further, but these cover it all.  Skillset, Mindset, and Application (or tactics). 

is first, how to perform what ever it is you are training to do. Pistol. shotgun, rifle, Judo, Karate, Kendo, cycling, running, you name it, does not matter. You need to learn, develop and continually improve your skills. It can be a simple drill or combination of drills, but it makes you more “skilled” at what you are doing.

comes next, learning how to properly train so your practice is useful, not just wasted  repetition. Establishing a goal oriented mindset so you progress. Then a winning mindset for fighting, competition or goal oriented mindset for accomplishment. Time is scarce,  mindset makes the best of that time accomplishing defined goals and outcomes.  Skillset without the proper mindset looks good on video but can be otherwise useless.

 or “tactics” is last and requires skillset and mindset to be real, lasting and effective. Its how you apply your given skillset, using the proper mindset to reach your goal. Maybe its to win a match or fight, or race, or simply to reach a given goal.  It’s  also the final measure of how effective your training has been, and whether your mindset  takes  advantage of that training.  Is it real, does it work, can you apply it. 

Too often we get sucked into one abandoning the others, mostly skillset. With “trainers” coming out of the woodwork there is a drill, skill, or method for everything, generally with someones name on it.   Mostly mindless repetition that makes you look good, sells training, and populates social media.   Void of the proper mindset and application its nothing more than eye candy.  Mindset without skills is just as problematic.  Thinking you can win does not make you a winner.  Tactics void of the proper mindset and the skills to perform will get you killed.  You need all three, balanced if you can.

Bottom Line

Next time you step on the range, practice dry, or move on to the mat ask yourself why you are there, what will it accomplish, and how will I use it.  Is it just “cool”, or “fun” which is fine so long as you know that, or can it be used.  Will it work in your application, on the field of play, mat,  or mean streets.  Does it make me better, stronger, faster,  or more skilled.  Can I apply it outside the training floor or square range or is it just theatre. Will it save my life and does it apply to me in the real world, not make believe.  All these things should be taken into consideration when practicing or training.  In a busy world where family, faith, and work eat up most of your day (and should) making every training minute count is critical, especially if that skill is designed to protect your family or save your life.  Make the most of  your training and stay focussed on what (skillset), how (mindset), and why (application), it will at best make you better, it may just save yours or another’s  life.