A common analogy to shooting with your unconscious mind is driving a vehicle with a manual transmission.
I get it. You’ve gotten the coordination to balance the throttle and clutch to get out of first gear and continue to shift through the gears as you gain speed. You’ve learned to downshift when approaching a stop or even “cheat” and shift to neutral and coast while braking to a stop. Sooner or later, you can do this without thinking about it and can drive around town in traffic.
Congratulations! You’d be a D Class shooter or Marksman in IDPA (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but still haven’t been to a match.
Let’s go to the track. I like VIR in Danville, VA.
Here, we learned the racing lines of the course during lecture and then head out with our instructor to run the track. Speed isn’t of concern, but you really want to run the car to it’s potential. So you stick the throttle on the straights and knowing hard turns are coming up, start lifting and braking early so you aren’t going to go out of control through the turn.
The thing is: your lap times are terrible. After a few sessions, your tires are worn. The brake pads are gone.
Getting new tires is easy, although spendy. So is replacing the brakes pads. After some mods, you can handle the car a little bit better at speed. Your lap times improve.
This is about where I am in practical pistol shooting. I can run mid-pack on the track, pass some people on the straights, corner decently. But there needs to be more patience and observation and analyzation to get better.
One of these days, there will be another AHA! moment which should take me into the next level. I’ve had some already that were significant. One being able to diminish distractions out on the field and another, seeing a little bit more concerning sight picture and recoil. But right now, I’m way too aware of my actions and technique needing work to be really shooting with unconscious mind all of time at speed.
There’s still too much thought going into each movement. Each trigger pull. Each reload. As I sit here, a little out of breath from running drills and grip exercises, I feel good to be practicing again.