Muscle Memory II -- Position
From MMI folks differ in their definition of muscle memory but one thing in common is that when people discuss muscle memory, they mean position development.
I contend that from position development comes the neurological strengthening that allows someone to attain a confident position under any condition. The more you do some physical action, the more efficient the brain and nervous system become in commanding the body to do that action. More efficiency means faster as well as precise.
An observation is that few if anyone has mentioned the visual aspect of marksmanship and the development of a conditional response or reflex of trigger finger when the brain registers a good enough sight picture. I would think that to a good degree the speed of this action is more important than trying to train the body to be highly precise in holding a rifle up.
Lets say you were to coach someone in marksmanship where the individual was not allowed to use artificial support such as a bench rest or bipod.
Aside from the technical stuff, would you start by training them to identify a perfect sight picture with a fast and smooth trigger pull or would you focus your attention more on the physical actions needed to attain a solid physical position?
I would focus on the physical actions to get a good position. If you try to shoot as fast as you get a good sight picture you are in a losing race and will disturb that good sight picture and pull the shot. K
Originally Posted by rkflorey
The neurological strengthening makes for efficiency which leads to speed. Your MMI post on muscle memory is a pretty good way of describing this. Being fast on the trigger will come naturally as the individual becomes more confident that what he is seeing in terms of sight picture tells him that his position is good enough.
As for going too fast on the trigger with new shooters? I don't think that is too common. Most of them go too slow, allowing them time to second guess their sight picture and thus jerk the trigger. Normally a trainer or coach has to speed them up in order to get some consistency from them.
Last edited by LR1955; 12-08-2011 at 10:30 PM.
I am a neurosurgeon by trade, and there is a story about Harvey Cushing, the father of modern neurosurgery, having one of his residents come over to the house while the staff watched him play the piano. They determined that there was not enough time to consciously process the thought of pressing the keys with timing and the right order. When learning the piano, you learn good posture and position, and then by repetition are able to do the motor actions to reproduce the music that you hear as you do it, and it occurs in subconscious circuits that are much shorter and do not require conscious processing. Only by much practice and subconscious learning can this occur. I see no reason to expect a difference in learning to place a shot into a sight picture. Once we learn the proper positions and mechanics of discharging the weapon under control, we begin the process of repetition, so the subconscious circuits can then learn to place the shot into the point of impact visualized, much faster than we can think of the individual processes required to do so. If we start of with poor mechanics, it will be harder to maintain the control to be as accurate.
Of course, "muscle memory" is a misnomer. The muscles remember nothing (unless that is what one has between his ears). But the patterns of position sense and control can be learned at a level no longer requiring complex conscious input, which is just another way of saying exactly what LR1955 said.
I vote for initiating proper mechanics, balance, and technique, then working through repetition to gain speed with subconscious learning.
Agree, when proper body position is achieved you have NPOA nailed. Speed is easier because the weapon comes down from recoil into...the natural point of aim. In Appleseed shooters are taught the riflemans cadence. Shots are fired every two seconds using npoa, it prevents overthinking the shot thus building accurate speed. Admitted, in fast moving combat precision is often impossible. The Appleseed training is most valuable to those who would use a battle rifle to neutralize the enemies carbine armed troops beyond their effective range. Easy with our Grendels.
FoF / Alex:
Yes, but it is the visual system that sees what is perceived as 'good enough' and starts the process of firing the shot.
So, would you start by training them to identify a perfect sight picture with a fast and smooth trigger pull or would you focus your attention more on the physical actions needed to attain a solid physical position?
Understand the next step is expenditure of a huge amount of time and material to actually develop that position. This effort and resource expenditure must have a very clear purpose.
I would start with the physical actions to get a solid position. When training new rifle shooters I saw those that got into a solid position quickly, shot better and more confidently. I asked them and the response was pretty consistant. They felt that they had more time (relative) to take the shot. Those that struggled to get into position felt that they were taking to long and rushed the shot.
Taking more time in a training cycle to practice the basics paid dividends when it came to live fire and qualifications. Once the basics are learned shooters appear more confident shooting from unsupported or unusual positions. K
Once you have learned to find the NPOA and used it for a time you find yourself getting into it as you achieve target detection without conscious thought. You will have to adjust a bit as time allows.
As to training time, Appleseed can regularly take novice shooters and have them shooting near 4 moa on reduced size targets to a simulated 500 yds in two days. This is from field positions with mag changes and strict time limits.
Sorry, I get kinda carried away talkin about those guys. Alex
I agree with rkflorey.
Yes, I believe that trigger pull and sight picture is very very important. But, I think it's putting the cart before the horse.
I believe that you won't get too far with trigger pull and a good sight picture alone if you can't first put buttstock to shoulder, hand to grip, cheeck to stock, support arm supporting, finger placement on trigger. And, be able to opperate the bolt release, safety and mag release without looking and/or even thinking aobut it. Bringing the rifle to your head and not head to rifle. Use dominant eye. And yes ..... breath properly. Once you learn to do these functions repeatably and properly, then a person is able to concentrate on sight picture and trigger pull. Which when everything is put into play .... together .... it builds a better shooter.
You can actually learn the basics and practice them without ever firing a shot. I still practice drawing, changing mags etc (but not nearly as much as I used too)..... without firing. It allows a person to teach themselves important concepts without having to expend ammo, targets, etc. It is important to have someone there that can coach them too. I would teach the basics, then sight picture and trigger pull, then live fire.
That's just my opinion though.
This is turning into a damn good professional discussion. Hopefully others on the forum can pick up some good things.
Let me play Devil's Advocate for a second.
How does the shooter develop position without first being totally comfortable that he knows what a good sight picture looks like? Isn't the end state of a position attaining a consistent sight picture?