Mitigating A Training Scar With A Deliberate Pause

Anyone that has dry fired any appreciable amount of time has likely run into the scenario were you are in a hurry between reps (or timer beeps) to the point you are quickly releasing mags and/or re-holstering to reset for the next rep. This can be a bad habit, and as much as I hate to say it, it can lead to training scars. If you do enough dry fire you might find yourself doing such actions without even thinking. Lest you think it is not a training scar you should read this article by Mike Seeklander. In the article Mike goes into great detail of experimenting during his classes and being able to trigger this training scar time after time. This is not a good thing, especially if you ever strap on a concealed handgun.

Here is a very telling excerpt from the article:

Again the next several groups go through the drill and you can probably guess by now what happens…multiple students finish the drill, and UNLOAD their gun!   How can this be?  Are they unruly and disregarding my instructions?   No, they are not.   They are going through a stress induced anomaly that comes out when the brain is reaching for something to do.   At this point in the class I stop the group and point it out, as well as some other observations and mistakes they are making during the drill that NEVER happened during the previous training drills.    The teaching point is clear, stress causes things to happen that you might not predict.  Most of which are caused by the brain searching for something to do.   This is one of the reasons it is so critical to make sure during training to follow a set of logical and effective processes during each repetition of your training drills.   The processes should be designed and to increase your chances of survival in the event of a defensive shooting.   Training these processes must be done consistently during your training drills.  

In the article Mike discusses requirement that we should be able to “observe and realize the next logical step” in a situation. So it is with that thought I offer one way that you can work to break the habit.

A Pause – a simple 1 second break following a drill done in dry fire, or even live fire, can allow you to determine your next move; but there is so much more you can do. Let’s look at a scenario:

You are ready to dry fire. You have the gear you will be using (CCW or competition), a shot timer with par time and you have your smart phone open to the countdown timer. You are ready to do some drills, maybe it is Four Aces, either way you are going to perform that drill for 4 minutes. After a couple of reps you are dropping the mag from the gun back into your hand and holstering the instant your par time beeps and the drill is finished. What if you take 2 seconds to pause and reflect, instead of racing to re-holster and reset?

Dry Fire Array

There can be some serious benefits in the pause. In addition to determining the “next logical step” you could delve deeper and reflect on your own performance. Was your draw good? Did you see the sights or were you cheating yourself? How was your grip?  When did you place your finger on the trigger? In short, you can identify areas for improvement?  If you are honest with yourself there is quite a bit of improvement to be identified during that 2 second pause.

Of course there is no free lunch and the pause will lead to fewer reps in your allotted practice time. It is also worth mentioning that personally, I have to consciously think about the pause each time, otherwise I go back to my own accelerated Unload and Show Clear procedure.

In the end, a brief pause after you finish a rep will cost virtually nothing and offers quite a few positives, including breaking a training scar that Mike Seeklander has proven to be real. The next time you are practicing, either dry or live fire, give the pause a chance. You might be surprised what you learn.



  1. You can’t train subconscious action (shooting fast, reaction immediately after shooting) by dictating conscious action (“Don’t unload when you’re finished.”). You have to create the speak the language of the subconscious, and words ain’t it. Being on the street, however, is a clear signal to the subconscious that you’re not on a square range.

    I’m not worried about ULSC after a defensive shooting. I’m just not.

    1. I agree that simply saying, “don’t unload and show clear” won’t break habituation by itself. But reminding yourself to pause will train a new event into your subconscious. Habituation can be hard to change because it lies at the subconscious. You have to stop the process and work through the change in a slow meticulous way. It forces the subconscious to evolve. Making yourself pause, forces a change in the immediate ULSC example given. Plus, I have found it to be a good means to identify immediate failures in your drill and correct before you make them permanent.

      No one consciously screws up. This is really apparent in aviation industry, which I work in.

      Human factors are almost always to blame for maintenance errors and complacency is equal to environmental factors in those errors. What breeds complacency? Repetition without failure or change. The famous Einstein quote about doing the same thing over and expecting different results only applies to the scientific theory. Everyday people do the same thing over and over (text and drive) and they don’t expect different results, because there was no change in the previous events. Then a kid steps out in front of their car while they are texting – complacency leads to tragedy.

      I don’t worry about an unload and show clear in the street either, but it is not a habit I want.

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