Let’s face it, most of us do not have enough time in the day to accomplish all we need and want to accomplish. How do we find the time to become a better pistol shooter when each of us already have a full schedule with work and families? That being said, what are you doing to maintain or increase your skills with pistol shooting? It is great when we get that time to make it to the range for some quality range time in an attempt to put a tight shot group together. It is also disappointing to see the results of not having been to the range recently or regularly when we look at our target and see holes everywhere instead of a nice tight shot group. Doesn’t exactly build the confidence you were looking for. Especially knowing you may have to defend yourself or loved ones someday.
Shooting is a perishable skill and if you fail to train, you train to fail. Yes, we all have a base skill-set but would you like to see real improvement not only in your shot grouping but also the ability to put more rounds on target faster and more effectively? I want to offer you some of the techniques and practices I have learned over the last 3 decades as a firearms trainer.
Everyone wants to know the “secret” to becoming a great pistol shooter. Well, I have the answer and I will share it with you now. The secret to shooting is applying trigger pressure straight to the rear in a smooth continuous manner without disturbing the sight alignment. This is only 1 of the fundamentals of marksmanship but definitely the most important to master.
Sounds easy enough but to effectively accomplish this repeatedly can be a daunting task for some. It takes time and repetition to become proficient at any task. We may be able to correctly apply this fundamental of marksmanship occasionally but not consistently when shooting. Launching bullets downrange at a paper target can definitely be considered quality training but if you are not consciously working on a specific task, are you really getting the most bang for your buck? Those bangs can become quite expensive if you keep repeating the same mistake and not having better results.
I would like each of you to think about it and decide if you have ten minutes three times a week that you could dedicate to improving your skill set with this particular fundamental of marksmanship. If you decide you have that amount of time, I promise you will see better results when you go to the range. These improved results will be a direct reflection of your ability to practice effectively.
This is called the dry fire ritual and must be done the same way, every time! First, you will need a place alone, without any distractions. No family members, no T.V., no radio, no pets. ALONE! Secondly, unload your weapon and magazines. Visually and physically ensure the weapon is unloaded. Then you must remove all ammunition from the room. Out of sight, out of mind. This helps alleviate the “Murphy” syndrome. We all know or have heard of Murphy. When he comes around, bad things happen. Thirdly, make sure you have a safe back drop. An area where if Murphy did show up and you somehow shoot a live bullet, it will not harm any living thing. A brick fireplace, a dirt mound or any other item that will contain a bullet should Murphy show up. Never point a weapon at anything you are not willing to destroy.
Next, I want you to say out loud, “This gun is empty and I am going to practice dry fire”. It may sound silly to ask you to do this but when you hear something said out loud, it stays with you more so than mentally thinking it. Once you have verbally made that statement, it is time to decide what specifically you want to train on.
If you, like most of us, have not mastered the fundamental of trigger press or trigger control, now would be a great time to dedicate no more than ten minutes to the secret of pistol shooting. Applying trigger pressure straight to the rear in a smooth continuous manner without disturbing the sight alignment. You may watch your trigger finger as you do this or you can point in at a target with a safe backdrop and watch your sight alignment to notice any movement when the trigger falls. Sometimes, having a mantra as you are pressing the trigger helps maintain the steady continuous motion until the weapon “fires”. I have told students “one continuous motion, straight to the rear, until the trigger falls” as a mantra to maintain the steady pressure. By doing this trigger control dry fire technique correctly, you will begin to develop what some call muscle memory. It has been said that it takes ten thousand repetitions to develop muscle memory. If you are going to invest the time to do something ten thousand times, don’t you want to ensure you are doing it correctly so that you are not reinforcing bad habits? Take your time when conducting any dry fire technique to build proper muscle memory.
Now that you have finished your ten minutes of correctly applying trigger control dry fire, it is time to step back into the real world. You can reload all of your magazines and your weapon, should you choose to. Remember safe storage practices. Once this is done, again out loud say, “This weapon is loaded and will shoot”. This will reinforce that the weapon is fully loaded and can take a life or destroy property. Put the weapon away for at least 30 minutes and do not go back to practice “just one more time”. Remember Murphy shows up at times like this.
I will leave you with this. I have met and trained with some of the best pistol and rifle shooters in the world. One such person told me that “I only live fire to confirm my dry fire”. He was a nationally ranked pistol shooter. He also said that he dry fires one thousand times for every one live round he fired. If it was good enough for him, it is definitely good enough for me. By putting this ritual in your tool-box you are well on your way to developing conscious competency. I look forward to providing more useful techniques and practices for you. If you have any questions, about anything related to firearms fundamentals or tactics, please do not hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org