Can you practice too much?

Question for you, especially my training/practical shooting friends: is it possible to practice too much? I actually think it is, especially when dry firing. If I’m dry firing a DA revolver for example, there is a point where I start to get tired and my trigger work gets sloppy and sluggish. If I keep practicing past that point, I’m only creating BAD habits and not training the good ones. Similarly, I feel like if I start “chasing” whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish, then it’s time to stop. Note though that “chasing” is different from pushing your envelope. Pushing the envelope is trying to see how fast you can perform – chasing is when you’re trying to force something that isn’t going to happen.

So, thoughts? Can you practice too much? Can practice become detrimental if done past certain physical limits?

8 thoughts on “Can you practice too much?”

  1. I have never had enough money to have enough ammo to practice too much, but from playing sports I would say on a macro level no but on a micro level yes.

  2. I think eric is right. You can definitely have practice *sessions* that are too long, but I think the level of over training overall is much higher.

  3. In Lanny Basham’s book on mental training in shooting (he was a gold medalist in rifle) he talks about this. When you are shooting well in a practice session, extend the session and keep shooting! When it feels wrong, stop the practice session–there is always tomorrow. You hit the nail on the head: reinforce the positive and don’t put yourself in position to fail.

    That said, I think there is some benefit to occasionally training when you’re “off” because some match days things just won’t feel right and you need to learn how to fight through and make the most of things. But the focus should be on figuring out how to plan, prepare and train to make things “feel right” come match day.

  4. I usually quit while I’m still shooting well. When I start getting sore or tired and shooting like crap, all I’m doing is reinforcing bad habits.

  5. My sister-in-law is into weight training, and she told a great story of her trainer standing over her when she was doing a lifting routine. His money line was “That set looked like shit, you’re done for today!”

    That wasn’t a statement of discouragement, just a point that she had pushed her body as far as it will go, and any further attempts to train more will simply do damage.

    Still eric is 100% correct, you can’t train too-much, just badly. You can always train more, but there needs to be intervals or rest to allow the body to recover, and to keep your mind from burning out.

  6. If we’re talking about building raw shooting skill (as opposed to worrying about developing mindset, physical or mental toughness, etc) then yes, there is absolutely a point in a given training day that you can burn out. Shooting after that point won’t lead to long-term improvement and may, as Tam pointed out, even produce reps of bad habits.

    In terms of dry fire, when it becomes tedious it’s time to stop. Adults learn best when they’re having fun. Pulling the trigger 100 times just for the sake of reaching 100 isn’t nearly as beneficial as pulling the trigger 12 perfect times and then stopping because you’re mentally worn out.

    The other key is knowing how to practice and knowing how to design your daily practice routine so that it doesn’t become tedious. Folks who try to put time or round count limits on practice are missing the point. A 100 round day can be brutally taxing and a 1,000 round day can be easy… it’s all about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

  7. Gotta agree with JM’s comment: Along these lines – on some days when I’m not really “feeling it” I’ve made the most breakthroughs.

    I’m not saying people should practice when stressed/tired, but rather that people should reflect on if they really ARE stressed/tired or are just making excuses…

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