My last blog post about reloads garnered a little discussion on Facebook, and I think a little clarification may be in order on what I think has to happen on reloads. The ideal, is to not look the reload in. Where that becomes problematic, is learning to do it. There is a term that floats around called "muscle memory", the scientific version is called myelination (stolen from Mike Seeklander's Your Defensive Handgun Training Program) and is the process of strengthening a neural pathway so that it becomes "second nature" for you body to execute an action. Like a reload.
The problem is, if you do not execute an action correctly, the myelination process can become corrupted and fail. So we have to find a way to execute the action correctly in order to "write" the program correctly before letting the program run on itself. I think there are some key components to doing this. First is having a consistent and repeatable positioning of the firearm in space. With a handgun I pin the inside of my upper arm against my torso. This gives me consistency and stability so that the gun isn't "floating" and hard to hit with the reload. Second is being sure to execute the action (the reload in this case) as perfectly as possible many, many, many times in a row. This may mean moving at a slower than 100% pace initially, and may also mean looking the reload in until the program is successfully written. Once I can hit the reload consistently, on demand (the sign that the program has been successfully written), then I start increasing speed and start reprogramming my eye's to look elsewhere. But, in order to reach the highest performance level, for the initial learning process I need to look the reload in, then progress towards not looking it in.