How Many Repetitions Does it Take?

gun training

To become a chess grandmaster seems to take about ten years… And what’s ten years? Well, it’s roughly how long it takes to put in ten thousand hours of hard practice. Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.

The above is a quote from Malcolm Gladwell, from his book “Outliers” which speaks to the fact that it takes a LOT of repetitive actions to become “world-class” at whatever it may be that you are trying to get better at.

In looking at this theory, we asked ourselves if this magic number applied to becoming a “world-class” concealed carrier. The question being, is the CCW life something that you can practice? Is it something that is inherent? Or is it more than that? This article is an attempt to take a look and see just what kind of answers we can reach.



In the world of sports, Michael Jordan is the stuff of legend. Many claim him to be the greatest basketball player that ever lived, and it's understandable given a career that included 6 NBA Championships and 5 MVP awards, but Michael Jordan, nor Brett Favre, nor Lionel Messi got where they were by being born into it. They practiced. They practiced hard. Stories of Michael Jordan tell us of a devotion to perfecting his shooting technique and stance that included 4 hours of practice EVERY DAY from the age of 8.

Now that kind of practice earned the title of best in the world, but let's face it. Not many of us, if any, have the ability to put aside 4 hours a day for target practice, drawing drills, re-holstering, shooting stance, using cover, shooting while moving, etc. But the idea that you are going to have to practice each of these aspects in order to improve should be obvious.

However, to be great doesn't mean that you need to be the absolute best. In fact, the thought of that is what deters many people from ever starting a journey like this. What you need to be committed to, is a level of practice that will make you entirely capable of defending yourself and those around you to the level that you feel necessary. You need to be better than any attacker or criminal that you may run into. The problem with that is that you don't know what kind of level that may be. We cannot tell you what kind of problems you may or may not face. What we can tell you is that the journey to becoming an effective concealed carrier lasts a lifetime. And whatever the level you feel you need to devote, you need to do it all the way. So will it take 10,000 hours for you to develop the muscle memory and skills to be a concealed carrier? No. The route you take in your physical training is entirely yours, but you must walk it.




Now when you practice, you are going to need to make sure that ou give yourself time to devote to both the physical and mental side of training. Like an athlete, you are going to have to practice and run mental and physical drills. Only through these drills can you build the skills necessary to properly prepare yourself.

In order to remain on this path and not give up on the training of these skills, you're going to need to employ and practice some mental fortitude. All too often, we can get excited about a big event in our lives, or making a big change only to see the interest evaporate after a few weeks. (See: New Year's Resolutions) Just as important, if not more so than physical repetitions is mental repetition. Exercises and drills are certainly going to help you perfect the physical motions and the muscle memory, but if you do not constantly let remind yourself and motivate yourself to continue down your path, you will likely give up.

Now that is an unfortunate fact and may sound a bit like a downer, but the intent is far from that. USA Firearm Training wants you to be entirely prepared for a situation in which you need to be called upon to defend yourself or others. The life of a concealed carrier is a noble one, but with that nobility comes commitment. It is entirely understandable for everyone to want to defend their livelihood from criminality, but the difference between a sheepdog and a citizen is that commitment.



We recently did an experiment internally. We asked interested employees and trainers to practice a specific holster draw drill 30 times per day or 7 days… or just a total of 210 repetitions over 7 days. These 210 repetitions made a huge difference for everyone that participated. From this experiment and from the other research in our industry here are some principles to take home…

  1. The vast majority of “rough spots” can be smoothed out with 150-300 repetitions of almost any sequence.
  2. Even if a person has done 200+ repetitions they can loose the muscle memory over time if repetitions are not continued/maintained.
  3. After the initial rough spots are worked out in the first 150-300 repetitions, doing an additional 300 repetitions won't double the skill level… but it will solidify it.



As you can see from this graph, skills build on a curve, aptly named “the learning curve”. As you go from not knowing anything, to starting to learn the skills, things will advance at a very fast rate, as new knowledge takes hold in your brain. This is the easy part. The tougher part is when through ongoing practice, your skills do slightly continue to grow, but at a slower pace. However, this does not mean that you are learning less. You have grasped the fundamentals, but the skills you are learning are being perfected. As you gain knowledge of the skills, these drills will be used more to maintain and reinforce the skills you built in the first hundred hours of training. Just like it would with any other physical exercise.



Now you know you needs skills… but if you don't know with 100% certainty what drills to repeat to build the necessary skills it may be time to take a look at Guardian Nation. As a member of Guardian Nation, you will remain knowledgeable, motivated, and well trained. You will have access to our archive of drills, organized by skills to which we add each month. Each Drill is presented by video to make it as easy as possible to learn and perform. In addition, you will receive drill sheets to download and print to help you run the drill wherever and whenever you wish in live and dry-fire environments.

You will also receive our Guardian Box four times per ear. The Guardian Box is a quarterly gear box that we only send to members of Guardian Nation. We will send it out once a quarter and it includes tactical gear that you as a Sheepdog will need.

And each year of your membership, you will receive a certificate to take an in-person class from any instructor in our network of 35+ instructors in 20+states. Class options include everything from a basic concealed carry class to advanced pistol and home defense courses.

On top of all of this, we will have monthly webinars with experts in the firearms and concealed carry fields, as well as many additional tips and tricks along the way.

Our goal is to make sure that you remain motivated and prepared for the lifestyle of the concealed carrier and that no matter how many hours or repetitions it takes you, you are ready to go and put in the effort to be the best guardian that you can be.

Best of luck with all of your future training. If you have questions, USA Firearm Training is here to help, should you ever need to ask. Just shoot us a comment or give us an email. We've got a whole team here ready to back you up in your CCW lifestyle.

About Craig Martin

Craig Martin grew up in the unincorporated town of Lewis, Wisconsin. From a young age, Craig was introduced to guns, as he was tasked with defending his backwood home’s wiring from a scourge of red squirrels.

Ever the animal lover, though; Craig couldn’t let these creatures die needlessly. So he would take his kills and leave them for the foxes, coyotes, and bears to eat at a deer feeder his grandfather built around their home.

His lifestyle made Craig understand that guns are a tool and ever since, has spread the word about how firearms are not a menace, like the red squirrel, but an item to help people. He instils this in every article he writes for USA Firearm Training.

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