Slow to Smooth to Fast

The axiom is usually applied to shooting – “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” If you learn to move slowly, not rushing, not being herky-jerky with things, you become very smooth when you shoot, and more accurate than if you rush. After sufficient practice, smooth then becomes fast and accurate. I’m noticing this with my own practice, most recently last week, when I was taking my time and concentrating on not rushing and not trying to “beat” the folks two positions down who were shooting semi-autos. Everything flowed much better than it had in the past, even given that I was in pain and tired. Which means I need to practice more when I’m tired and at less than peak, because Murphy was an optimist.

The same thing applies to a lot of manual/physical skills. Flying in particular. I had several people comment that I handled the airplane very smoothly, not rushing, not making large physical inputs. In other words, I wasn’t whapping the stick back and forth to get a result, nor was I stomping on the rudder pedals. For one, doing that sort of thing can break the plane, which is considered poor form (unless you are a mechanic with house-payments. Then you can be very appreciative of the business generated by ham-handed aviators.) Two, it makes passengers turn various shades of green. Three, over-correcting tends to make things worse.

A lot of the first flight lessons is spent on getting students to relax, not strangle the stick/yoke, and to make small corrections smoothly. Even when a student accidentally snap-rolled a non-aerobatic aircraft, I responded quickly but smoothly, with the minimum control input needed to return the blue side to the top and the brown side to the bottom. Ditto when a freak outflow wind slapped my air ambulance plane into knife-edge flight. Granted, I’d had a lot of aerobatic training, so the world tipping over wasn’t new, just a surprise in those particular airplanes. I moved as fast as was appropriate, and smoothly so I didn’t break the plane or scare the passengers and med crew.

There are times to rush. There are even more times to move slowly and smoothly, which becomes quickly because you are not undoing or over-controlling. Firearms, planes, riding a horse or mule, working with power tools and hand tools, applying first aid . . . Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

Society too seems to have become herky-jerky, leaping from crisis to cure to cause of the week. Some people are just like that, but the world as a whole seems to have become more abrupt and “rough on the controls.” I won’t blame the internet, because everyone else already does :), but I suspect life would be far easier for more people if those running the place (or who think they are running the place) moved more slowly and smoothly. I know that rushing just makes me flustered and more likely to mess up whatever it is I’m attempting to do.

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.


10 thoughts on “Slow to Smooth to Fast

  1. “Fast is slow, and slow is fast.”
    A regular chant when I really want to HURRY UP AND GET IT DONE NOW!!!!

  2. Doing it right the first time is always faster than having to fix the original problem plus whatever it is you messed up to make things worse.

  3. Part of things is the flow entering a turbulent state, changing the dynamics of the system. Yes, you could say that this is caused by cargo cult idiots running many things. However, one can use a simpler model where the immediate direct effects of the idiots, and the immediate direct effects of the place we are in are different.

  4. Pingback: Slow to Smooth to Fast — Cat Rotator’s Quarterly | The zombie apocalypse survival homestead

  5. When problems cropped up on projects I worked on (hint, problems always crop up), various levels of management were putting the pressure on to “do something now” with no understanding of the problem and little understanding of how the project actually worked. I referred to this attitude as the “Fire, Ready Aim” philosophy. Results were predictable.

  6. A very nice little thought-for-the-day. Thanks.

    “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” Applied to firearms, that reminds me of a saying attributed to Wyatt Earp. “Fast is fine, but accuracy is final. You must learn to be slow in a hurry.“

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