By Tom McHale
Tom, introduces one of his firearms training routines, the First Shot On Target Drill, to improve draw and targeting speed.

For the First Shot On Target Drill, I like to start in the position above. It's basically the portion step in a draw where the support hand joins the firing hand.

Tom McHale headshot low-res square

USA –-( Normally Hollywood movies dish out useful gun advice about as often as the sun goes out, but every once in a while, a movie presents a surprisingly relevant learning opportunity.[1]

Take that corny 1980’s movie, The Karate Kid[2], for example. I’ll spare you the whole storyline, but in case you never saw it, here are the relevant plotline elements:

  • After getting triggered by Karate bullies, main character and overall snowflake, Daniel (The Karate Kid) decides that he wants to learn how to be a martial arts butt kicker.
  • He enlists the help of the Bruce Lee of local apartment maintenance guys, Mr. Miyagi.
  • Daniel shows up at Miyagi’s house for training and is immediately put to work waxing Miyagi’s cars and painting his wood fence.
  • After hours, or maybe minutes, of painting and waxing, Daniel get’s cranky about being Miyagi’s manual labor b&tch, until he learns a valuable lesson.

To understand Daniel’s epiphany, you have to know that Miyagi made his little Karate student helper wax and paint using very specific, and kind of weird techniques. The car waxing required the “wax on” to be done with a circular arm motion in one direction. “Wax off” was the same motion in the reverse direction. As for painting, that required a full arm brush stroke all the way up and all the way back down, kind of like painting a line from his knees to some point over his head.

I'm all in favor of practicing the complete draw to first shot sequence, but you can't always do that at every range.
I'm all in favor of practicing the complete draw to first shot sequence, but you can't always do that at every range.

Young Daniel-san whines, grumbles, and complains until he finally confronts the Mr. Rogers of Karate teachers, demanding to know when he can start to learn some sweet martial arts moves that will impress the chicks rather than doing Miyagi’s chores.

Without warning, Miyagi launches a series of punches at our young waxer-painter. To his great surprise, Daniel-san finds himself effortlessly blocking the attack using, you guessed it, the very same waxing and painting motions he’s been repeating over and over on the cars and fence pickets.

The proverbial light bulb goes on, and Daniel realizes that his apartment-dwelling Samurai has been teaching him the basics of self-defense movements by developing subconscious muscle memory. When his brain detects an incoming punch, there’s no need for thought; his arms are already pre-programmed to move in response.

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