Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Basics 5: Cup Stacking


I never heard of cup stacking until recently.  Or if I did I’m sure it was a late night talk show stunt to fill air time.  I never thought there would be a tactical lesson from stacking cups into pyramids, but there is.  Give me 4.5 minutes and I’ll show tell you what it is.




Okay.  I find it incredible.  The plastic cups seem to flow out of his hands like magic.  I’m amazed.

Austin wasn’t born that fast.  When he started it took over 2 minutes to do what he now does in 5 seconds.  To achieve that speed he practiced 3 or more hours every day for several years.  Now he doesn’t think about it, he just lets his body/mind do it.  The narrator explains how neural pathways have grown to allow this speed and skill.

Here the tactical side.

All skills are learned.

We have four levels of achievement.

  • Unconscious incompetence     We don’t know what we can’t do.
  • Conscious incompetence         We are aware of our limitations
  • Conscious competence         We know how to do something if we pay close attention to doing                                                                                                       it.
  • Unconscious competence     We don’t have to think about it, just recognize it and let the body                                                                                                         respond.


Back to stacking cups.  Austin is demonstrating unconscious competence.

So, reloading, clearing jams, drawing, moving from target to target and so many other skills can be expressed at unconscious competent levels.  This lets you focus on things like tactics, target assessment and the variables of self-defense.

How do you reach that level of performance?  You can’t buy it in a bottle or purchase it over the internet but it is available.  It’s practice. 

Sure, better equipment can make it easier.  An instructor can speed the process, but ultimately it’s time spent in repetition.

You don’t need to spend hours everyday.  How about ten repetitions?

Ten good draws from the holster.  Don’t worry about speed, work on smoothness and consistency.  Bored?  Okay, alternate days with 10 slide lock reloads.  Build on each by adding a perfect dry fire click with each draw.  Change your reload to include some variation of reload with retention.

That’s all it takes, 10 nightly repetitions until the skill is automatic. 


My friend’s daughter had an appointment in New York City, but had lost her bearings in the city.  So she jump into a cab and asked:
“Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Of course, miss,” he said while starting the meter.  “Practice.”


See, it’s so well known the jokes are even corny.

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