When we talk about Speed with firearms regardless of the type of application, the first and most common mistake that is made is to think that there is only one type of speed.
In reality there are two types of speed that we must consider, to simplify and make the concept more understandable we will call them COGNITIVE SPEED and MECHANICAL SPEED, the latter being the one that you usually measure in the shooting range thinking that it is the actual one.
So let’s try to understand what are the main differences between the two speeds.
The first big difference is that the mechanical speed is absolutely subordinate and dependent on the cognitive speed, without a cognitive order that activates the gesture, action, motor sequence, there can be no mechanical speed because there is just no gesture or movement.
The second is that which sees the mechanical speed developing on predefined, pre-known and fixed motor patterns, while the cognitive one develops on perceptive, cognitive and motor patterns created at the moment according to the information processed in that precise moment.
If your cognitive system will not be able to analyze the information flows coming from the sensory sphere and process them instantly by sending the motor orders, you will probably be neutralized with your weapon still in the holster and it will not count if you hit the target in 0.50 when you are at shooting range.
Since it is normally what you measure when you train in the shooting range and that you place as an antagonist or partner of accuracy, let’s try to better understand what it really is and how it works.
Let’s start by saying that the gesture / movement is unique and you will never be able to reproduce another perfectly identical one and that every movement you make even if you repeat it thousands of times will be similar but not identical to the previous ones.
When we build a biomechanical-motor sequence, composed of a series of movements like the “handgun draw”, the main job is to build sequences that have correct and clean gestures / movements and that remain in a range of motor variations as contained as possible. The risk otherwise is that we always going to create different motor patterns in which errors are present and these errors are then memorized and mechanized by thousands of repetitions, therefore later it will be much more difficult to remove them.
At this point, however, we must necessarily define the movement, which is divided into three different types:
REFLEX MOVEMENT: This is ancestral, which does not require cortical and graded modulation by the stimulus. They are generally movements in response to the external environment.
RHYTHMIC MOVEMENT: it is a combination of voluntary and reflex movements. Generally the start is voluntary and the continuation is reflex, such as walking, chewing
VOLUNTARY MOVEMENT: this is certainly the most complex and generated for a specific purpose, unlike the others that are already present in the individual’s motor pattern, this can be learned.
For example, when we talk about handgun draw in extremely compressed times (mechanical speed) or when we talk about magazine changes in very compressed times, they are all voluntary movement sequences but which in a certain sense partly reflect the rhythmic one, because they are activated voluntarily but the continuation is so rapid as to be almost reflected.
The plans of voluntary activity are elaborated by the brain and executive commands are sent to the muscles mainly through the corticospinal system and the corticobulbar system.
The posture is continuously adjusted, not only before, but also during the movement, by posture regulation systems. The movement is made fluid and coordinated by the medial and intermediate portions of the cerebellum (spinocerebellum), with the relative connections.
So the speed with which you perform a motor action, a gesture, a movement is given by the speed of the execution order and the ability of the cerebellum to control the gesture which will be proportional to how many times you have repeated that gesture and how much and how you will have educated your brain to learn that gesture / sequence.
Every time you “make a mistake” drawing your firearm and shooting it is because one or more movements of the sequence have been performed in a different way from the “matrix” movement that was the correct one.
One of the most common mistakes made in training by almost all categories of shooters is to think that to be fast with a firearm you have to make fast movements, that is, that speed depends solely on how quickly that movement, gesture, sequence will be made, and is not taken into consideration at all if instead we are making the minimum number of movements necessary.
Let me explain better, very often sequences are built that have absolutely superfluous and useless movements or structurally wrong and ineffective, these obviously absorb time in the execution phase. The mistake is that instead of maximizing the effectiveness of the movement or sequence, minimizing the number of movements, we try to speed up all of them, even the superfluous and useless ones. In this way the mechanical speed will be based on ineffective motor patterns and forcing the speed will lead to error.