Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Zen of Practice

No, not the practice of zen.  Unless you're a friend or personal stalker, it might seem out of place when I say I'm a student of guitar.  I don't post about it often, not as much as Robb, but I say something every now and then. 

About a month ago, the guitar forum I visit the most had a discussion about books; one of those "what are the books everyone should have?" type threads that discussion groups dedicated to a single topic tend to have.  Several people recommended this book, "First, Learn to Practice". 
After reading the discussion and the "look inside" preview at Amazon, I got the Kindle version.  Although I'm not done, it's such a good book that I want to recommend it.  No, it's not that I think you're studying music, I want to recommend it for a completely different reason.  Although the author is a guitarist and the main point of the book is practicing music, I think his philosophy applies to practicing shooting, and just about everything else.   I'll reword his "big ideas" slightly here, but think about these in terms of your IDPA movements, range shooting, or any other activity you do. 
  • If your practice isn't fun, change things until it is.
  • Practice movement.  Performance will follow.
  • Practice and performance are two different things.
  • You know it when your hands can do it on their own.
  • You affect everything by concentrating on one thing. 
  • Don't worry about the hard parts.
  • Get your hands used to the feel of perfect.
There's more, including a whole section on habits: Be comfortable when you practice.  Be honest assessing how you did.  Be optimistic, persistent, consistent.  And although he never uses this exact phrase, he voices over and over an axiom I've heard in my training to be a better shooter:  "slow is smooth; smooth is fast".  Work on doing the motions slowly and perfectly, speed comes after smooth.
Now, granted, most people aren't going to think of practicing music directly carrying over to practicing for competitive shooting.  But, hey, this is a full service blog! 


  1. And all that applies to a lot more than just learning to play a musical instrument!

  2. I wish there was a way to apply these lessons to things like taking out the trash. It sounds almost as if the big lessons is patience with yourself, especially if you practice something like music alone.

  3. Sounds very Bruce Lee!