Sensory Engagement.

Topic Progress:

Let’s start by talking about sensory engagement.

That’s a fancy way of saying that, as you’re doing mental rehearsal, you want to think about what all 5 senses would be experiencing if you were doing physical training. One of the main reasons that you do this is to provide what’s known as an “anchor” to your training. When you’ve repeatedly imagined a situation and then experience it, the more the actual experience matches up to what you’ve rehearsed in your brain, the more familiar it will seem. Your brain will basically say, “I’ve been here before. I’ve done this. I know how it goes and how it ends…and I know it ends well for me.”

Here are some examples:

What do you smell?

What does your firearm smell like before you shoot? How about after? When you’re under stress, does your sweat smell different?

What do you see?

How do your hands look wrapped around your firearm? As you’re moving, does your sight picture bounce or stay smooth? What is in focus? Your front sight? How much space is on both sides of your front sight? What visual cues tell you that you should fire? What is your point of aim? A number on a target? The center of mass? Can you see what’s happening inside your firearm as you pull the trigger as if you’re looking at it with X-Ray vision?

Do you have a full field of view, partial tunnel vision, or complete tunnel vision?

Does your muzzle rise straight up or does it cant to the side as it recoils? Does fire come out of the end of your muzzle? How quickly do you reacquire your sight picture after each shot? Do you see heat waves coming off of your barrel as you fire more and more rounds? If you’ve got a 1911, what does a stovepipe look like and what do you do immediately when you see one? How is your sight picture different when your slide locks back on an empty mag and what do you do immediately? Think about what your reloads look like. Think about what your malfunction drills look like.

Can you imagine being a cameraman and watching yourself from somewhere else in the room?

(1/3 of Olympians view themselves from both first person (as you normally see things) and third person (like a camera on the wall, watching you.)) Do you have an aggressive stance? Is your stance stable? When you move, are you moving efficiently? When you clear and draw your firearm, is there any wasted movement? Are you shuffling your feet instead of crossing them?——- What do you taste?

Is your mouth wet or dry? Is your throat tight or dilated? Do you taste burnt gunpowder after you shoot?

What do you feel?

What is each joint of each finger touching? How is your weight balanced? What is your breathing like? Can you feel yourself breathing with your diaphragm and your stomach going in and out? Can you feel your heart beat? Where do you feel it on your body? Can you feel your breathing and pulse rate slowing slightly and your field of view widening as you do combat breathing? How does it feel to draw your weapon? How is it different depending on your holster, clothing, and position? If you’ve got a retention holster, how does it feel to disengage the retention? If the retention doesn’t disengage immediately, what do you do? If your firearm has a safety, how do you disengage it? How does the trigger feel as you bring up the slack? How about as the trigger breaks? How far back do you release the trigger before it resets? If the firearm doesn’t go “bang,” what do you do? If you’re transitioning from one target to another, do you pivot at the shoulders, at the waist, or do you keep your entire upper body still and pivot using your legs?

What are you and or anyone else saying?

What does your draw stroke sound like? If you have a safety, what does it sound like as it disengages? Can you “hear” anything as you pull the trigger? What does a good discharge sound like? What does the sound of your trigger resetting sound like? What does the sound of a malfunction sound like and what do you do immediately when you hear this? What does the sound of your slide locking back after shooting the last round of a magazine sound like and what do you do immediately? What does it sound like when you’re firing pin drops on a bad primer and what do you do immediately?

How important are these drills? VERY important if you want to improve your firearms performance. Especially when you realize that your firearm is simply a tool and that your biggest weapon is your brain. The more you train your brain, the better it will be able to use the tools you have in your hands. These drills will help you improve your skills rapidly while saving you HUNDREDS of hours of range time and THOUSANDS of dollars in ammo and range fees.