Many students come to me in search of the secret of the seventh degree gun ninja. They believe that I will teach them some special technique, whisper some secret words into their ears that will cause them to instantly shoot better than everyone they know. It might happen. Depending on where they are in their personal development as a shooter, I just might be able to make a huge almost instantaneous improvement in their shooting performance. Fact is, it doesn’t happen very often for a number of reasons. Some students come to me demonstrating very poor technique, but are unwilling to even try another technique because they “know” this is the best technique, even if it doesn’t work. Some come to me with so many repetitions of bad technique that they simply can no longer adapt to new techniques. And, of course, some shooters come to me anxiously awaiting a change that will increase their performance. Most of those leave far ahead.
I will attempt to define the degrees of gun ninja, and offer a clue how to attain them.
A first degree gun ninja is safe. He understands the 4 rules of gun safety, and consciously applies them. He has good discipline keeping his index finger in register, and his muzzle never wavers in inappropriate directions. He is already better off than the vast majority of those who wear pistols as a part of their daily uniform.
Second degree ninjas are busy learning gun handling. They are working presentation from the holster, and reloads, and stoppage reductions. They think they are fast. In comparison to all of their friends, they probably are fast, but they’re not nearly as fast as they think they are. As he learns the basics of gun manipulations, the 4 rules of gun safety simply become a part of him. He no longer thinks of them, as they have become a part of his subconscious and he is very safe. Regardless of his shooting performance, he is very easily in the top 10% of pistol shooters worldwide. You will find very few second degree ninjas employed by any gun toting institution. Institutions simply don’t train to a level this high.
Third through fifth degree ninjas are building technique. They are mastering, or have mastered a very rigid platform. Their use of sights is appropriate to any given target, and their trigger control is more than adequate for any foreseeable need. These shooters are accurate, and are beginning to get fast.
While first through fifth degree ninjas are building, sixth degree ninjas are deconstructing. They are actively reducing. They have just realized that I asked them to do exactly what they needed to do way back in the beginning, but they added a lot of superfluous movement to everything I taught them. This is where they realize they are full of tics that do nothing but cost time. A fully mature sixth degree gun ninja is almost boring to watch. He’s so efficient, and so deliberate in his motions that he no longer appears fast. But if you’ll check the timer, you will see he is very fast. He has removed every perceivable unnecessary motion. He is elegant and efficient. He is also in the top 5% of pistol shooters worldwide.
If you’re still reading, I suspect you’re interested in the secrets of the seventh degree gun ninja. I won’t disappoint you. The secret to the 7th degree is drudgery and tenacity. The seventh degree gun ninja spends countless hours doing dry fire practice. It is boring, mind numbing work. Hundreds of thousands of repetitions of drawing the pistol and aligning the sights. Hundreds of thousands of repetitions of pressing the trigger and watching the front sight stand still. Like a landmark. Hundreds of thousands of reloads. More than just dry fire drills, he will be shooting at least 500 rounds a week of live ammunition, but the live fire is a mere fraction of the time he spends perfecting his craft. He never trains until he gets it right, he trains until he can’t get it wrong. He trains until he’s completely bored with it, but keeps training. Pistol shooting at this point, is driven into his subconscious like the brake pedal in his car. He no longer thinks about the brake pedal, he just slows the car with the brake pedal. A seventh degree ninja no longer thinks of the techniques required to operate a pistol, his subconscious operates the pistol while his conscious mind is free to address more important chores. The seventh degree ninja is dangerous. If he enters a competition, he’s in danger of winning. His shooting and gun handling skills have reached a point that it will require a very skillful competition shooter, adept at the game, to beat him. In a self-defense situation he is nearly unbeatable. His mind is free to seek cover, navigate an escape route, manage people around him, and if the need arises, his subconscious can be making solid hits through it all.
The training program of the seventh degree gun ninja is very nearly permanent. Don’t begin this level of dry fire and live fire training prematurely. Ensure that the techniques you are using are the techniques you will want to use later. Once a technique is burned into your psyche at this level of training, it will require easily twice that amount of training to erase and replace it with a new technique. Don’t rush through the lower degrees. Make them count towards your end goal. Keep an open mind and explore techniques different than your own. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of each, then choose the one that works best for you. Be prepared to change many other details to support a change, as not all techniques work well together in a package. Choose carefully.
A seventh degree gun ninja knows that he will not always be a seventh degree. If he’s forced to take a year off shooting for any reason, he will have to start again at sixth degree, or maybe lower and reconstruct what he had.