Underground Tradecraft: Daily Dry-Fire Training
(A reader asked recently about my daily dry-fire practice regimen. My initial response to this question is to advise the study of two extremely well-done books: Your Competition Handgun Training Program by Mike Seeklander, and Refinement and Repetition: Dry-Fire Drills for Dramatic Improvement by Steve Anderson…..This article is a description of what I actually do. –J.M.)
As much as I would like to be able to spend 2-3 hours every day performing dry-fire practice sessions with my sidearm and rifle, like most of you, the realities of family and work-related time constraints simply do not allow me to do so. Instead, I consider myself lucky and blessed to fit in 20-30 minutes per day, five or six days per week.
The vast majority of my dry-fire practice is conducted with my pistol. The simple reality is, due to time constraints, I have to focus on the more important weapon. While the “pistol is there so I can fight my way to my rifle” (Yawn…), the facts are, a) I am far more likely to be carrying my pistol on any given day than I am a rifle (since I don’t walk out of the bedroom without a pistol on…), b) if I need a gun, like right-the-fuck-now, it’s definitely going to be an asshole-puckering, oh shit, do-or-die survival situation. I don’t want to be wondering if I should have spent more time with my pistol and less with my rifle in the moment of truth, c) I’ve got thousands of man-hours more behind a rifle than a pistol. I KNOW I’m far beyond good with a rifle, and d) some seriously skilled, lethal motherfuckers with more real-world experience than I’ve every had—or will ever have—have demonstrably proven that expertise with a pistol transfers to the rifle far better than the reciprocal.
The most important aspect of fighting with a pistol is—of course—hitting what the fuck you’re shooting at, followed at an intimate distance with being able to get the gun into the fight: drawing the weapon. Speed reload when you’ve shot the gun dry are—at best—a distance tertiary concern, but technically difficult enough to warrant regular practice. Seriously…you’re in a fight with a pistol in your hand…A Glock 19 hold 15+1…If I run THAT dry, and am still alive, I’d better be running like a raped ape, or be able to pick up a gun from a dead dude if I’m so pressed for time that my speed reload will be the determining factor in living or dying.
I use my shot timer for my dry-fire practice, in a manner describe in Repetition and Refinement. I perform a minimum of thirty repetitions of each drill. To begin, I perform 10 flawless repetitions at a reasonable speed of the drill, focusing on perfect motor movement execution. Perfect practice makes perfect, after all.
I follow the initial set of 10 (which could be considered a “warm-up” if you will, by setting the timer at my current speed standard of execution for that particular drill (for instance, if I can currently hit 0.95 seconds for my draw stroke to sight picture, I’ll set the timer at 0.95 seconds). I then execute 10 repetitions that meet or exceed that time constraint. It’s stupid simple to know if I’ve achieved it or not…If the timer beeps before I’ve completed my action, that repetition doesn’t count.
Once I’ve got 10 repetitions performed to the standard, I will reduce the time hack on the timer by 0.05-0.10 seconds beyond my current standard. I will then perform 10 repetitions striving to beat the new time. I don’t insist on actually achieving it for 10 repetitions. If I could do it flawlessly, THAT would be my time standard, right? I just want to push my boundaries of performance.
Beyond that, my DAILY dry-fire practice is retard simple:
draw stroke from concealment to sight picture
draw stroke from concealment to first shot break
strong hand only draw from concealment to first shot break
draw stroke from concealment to first shot break, stepping left
strong hand only draw stroke from concealment to first shot break, stepping left
strong hand only draw stroke from concealment to position two/retention shooting position.
Speed reload from clandestine carry.
Speed reload from clandestine carry, stepping left.
Sure, I could spend a lot more time on it. I could do weak-hand only shooting, I could do side stepping to the right. I could do weak-hand only, performing a double back flip to the splits position….But why? This is an abbreviated routine intended to give me the most bang for the buck in the least amount of time possible.
Sure, I could get shot in the shooting arm and have to resort to weak hand. It’s been my experience though that if a dude is shot in the arm, one of two things takes place…
He’s so fucked up and in pain that he’s not doing shit except trying to keep from passing out.
He’s fucked up, but still has enough control to think his way through his problem. In this case, everyone I ever shot who took a round to the shooting arm was still able to shoot with it.
Or, as Pat McNamara points out, I could focus more on my fundamentals by doing only weak-hand skill development. This is just what I choose to do. I can get the fundamentals development this way, because I exercise self-discipline to make sure I don’t cheat myself during the training. I tape a quarter dollar to a silhouette target, across the room (15-20 feet away), and use that as my aiming point. I call my shots even during dry-fire.
This training session will take me anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on my personal performance on a given day.
Adding the Rifle to the Mix
If I’ve got additional time during the week, I might add a session of rifle dry-fire practice to the mix. If not, I’ll give up one pistol dry-fire practice session per week and do rifle skills instead.
My rifle program runs exactly the same as my pistol program, except instead of standing still, I drop into a firing position. I might do a set of dropping into the prone, one of the kneeling, and one from rice-paddy prone. I might perform my speed reloads from one of these positions, using a different position each week.
Here’s the deal with personal training practice: don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be. If you KNOW what you need to be able to do with your weapon, then do it. Set time standards for yourself and follow-through on trying to achieve and then exceed those standards. It’s not rocket science.