Every time a shooter fires or handles a weapon, they are training. Whether the training is beneficial or detrimental depends on the mindset and discipline of the individual. Weapons should be manipulated consistently, all of the time. This constant, consistent repetition will lead to the ability to properly run the gun under times of extreme stress, the kind of stress that might be encountered in, say, a gunfight. Remember that, in a critical incident, a person will not rise to the occasion but rather will default to their level of training. By striving to always shoot and manipulate the gun in the same way, shooters will develop "unconscious competence" or the ability to perform necessary actions under dynamic stress without conscious thought. It must be noted, however, that one action which must always be conscious is the pulling of the trigger. In the past, certain manipulations have ended with a trigger press which has resulted in unintended shots being fired. These manipulations have evolved, due to lessons learned in the real world, and now end with an assessment, however brief, to ensure that the threat still needs to be shot.
The Combat Triad, consisting of Marksmanship, Manipulation, and Mindset, is an umbrella concept to guide proper training. The Triad encapsulates the skills and conditions necessary to win, and not just survive, a gunfight. Marksmanship is simply the ability to hit a desired target and Manipulation is the consistent, efficient running of the gun. These two elements form the basis for gun fighting skills and need to be constantly practiced and refined. As shooters progress up the ladder of excellence and graduate to "advanced" training, they discover that everything is fundamentals and that "advanced" training is nothing more than the basics applied at speed and under stress.
Mindset is much more nebulous and is much harder to impart and observe. Mindset can be broken down into two types: Mindset towards a threat and Mindset towards training. Mindset towards the threat is the easier of the two to explain and is simply the willingness to do whatever is needed to win the fight. It is not enough that we survive the encounter; we must strive to completely dominate it.
Mindset towards training is a more difficult concept to convey. It is made up of the discipline and commitment to engage in the proper practice of fundamental technique at all times. History is replete with examples of when this discipline has failed and has been replaced with what is easier such as the infamous shootout in Newhall CA in the early 1970s, where the last trooper was found shot to death with an empty revolver and a pocket full of spent brass. Or the encounter caught on video where an officer performs a weapon disarm of a suspect holding him at gunpoint and then goes to give the weapon back to the bad guy. Both of these incidents happened not because the officers involved were incompetent or incapable; they happened because of lapses in focus during training. When short cuts are taken during training for expedience or simplicity, those practices become the standard.
The drills included in our courses are designed to teach proper technique and to force shooters to run their weapons in a manner consistent with what they will need in an actual engagement. Our courses teach a method of proper manipulation of the weapon system in such a way as to allow the operator to maintain situational awareness of their environment and to perform such manipulations in a manner that is efficient and biomechanically strong. Students are instructed to focus on performing the techniques and drills methodically and properly rather than simply trying for speed. Speed will come as a natural byproduct of smooth, efficient movement. Think "deliberate," not fast. Ours is not "The Way" only a way, but it is a method that is based opon combat and street proven technique.
To sum up, the old adage that "Practice makes perfect" is a vicious lie; perfect practice makes perfect, practice alone only makes permanent.