How Good of a Shooter Do You Want to Be?

If you want to be a good shooter, there is only one way to do it… Dry Fire. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s the “Secret to shooting like a Navy SEAL.” So many people these days want to take shortcuts to everything they do. Hell, I’m one of them, but learning to shoot is one thing there’s no app for.

The reason for practicing dry weapons manipulation (a.k.a. Dry Fire) is to neurologically teach your body the correct movements you would like it to do while under stress (Muscle Memory).

To do this you must SLOWLY go thru the correct movements EXACTLY how you want to do it when milliseconds will be the difference between life and death. You should NEVER try to go fast! Speed will come thru practicing smooth, deliberate, mistake-free movements. Remember, smooth is fast (but slow is just slow).

If you make a mistake while practicing, go back one step and do it right. You don’t want to reinforce making and correcting mistakes. Remember: Live fire only confirms how much dry training you’ve conducted, and bullets will magnify your errors. Below is a list of things you can practice besides just squeezing the trigger…

Speed will come thru practicing smooth, deliberate, mistake-free movements.

Review Fundamentals of Marksmanship and practice each one individually.

Pistol:

  • Shooting and moving
    • Forward, back, left, right, obliques
  • Shooting with both eyes open/picking up front sight
  • Draw
  • Draw with reaction hand
  • Magazine changes
    • Tactical Reloads
    • Magazine changes with strong hand only
    • Magazine changes with reaction hand only
  • Strong hand, unsupported
  • Reaction hand, unsupported
  • Immediate/remedial action drills
    • Failure to Feed
    • Failure to go into battery
    • Stove-Pipe
    • Double feed
  • Barricades
  • Turning
  • Shooting positions
    • Standing
    • Squatting
    • Kneeling
    • Sitting
    • Prone
    • Supine
    • Urban Prone
    • Fetal Prone
  • Scan and assess
  • Manipulating light(s)
  • Shooting with hand-held light

Rifle:

  • Finding natural point-of-aim
  • Picking up sight from low-ready (EO/Iron)
  • Picking up sight from high-ready (EO/Iron)
  • Shooting positions
    • Standing
    • Squatting
    • Kneeling
    • Sitting
    • Prone
    • Supine
    • Urban Prone
    • Fetal Prone
    • SBU
  • Barricades
    • Both shoulders/both eyes/off shoulder
  • Acquiring multiple targets
  • Magazine changes
    • Tactical Reloads
  • Immediate action drills
    • Failure to Feed
    • Failure to go into battery
    • Stove-Pipe
    • Double feed
    • Bolt override
  • Barricades
  • Transitions
  • One-handed shooting
  • One-handed magazine changes
  • Shooting and moving
    • Forward, back, left, right, obliques
    • Both shoulders
  • Scan and assess
  • Manipulating light(s)
  • Shooting with hand-held light
  • Slinging/securing your weapon/retention

Your goal should be to dry fire four times as much as you live fire. So if you plan to shoot for one hour this weekend, you should dry fire four hours this week. It may sound like a lot, but you just need to decide how good of a shooter do you want to be? Always try to have someone watch you when you train to make sure you’re doing everything correctly, and remember to log what you did in your range book!


 

13 Comments

  1. It’s like you answered all the questions I was going to ask and have been thinking about. I compete in multigun and do well, typically win the iron sight division. But I want to take my shooting to another level. I’ve known I need to dry fire but haven’t really gotten started. For one, what do I do…

    I also need to work on my pistol shooting, I took some time away from practice and it’s made my handgun skills suck…

    Your article is exactly what I needed. Thanks!

  2. Chris, I finally start with my dry fire practice. I wrote up a bunch if stuff and was at it for about an hour and a half. Working on fundamentals and trigger pull, draw and presentation, reloads etc…

    So the question is, how long are your typical dry fire sessions? I know you said 4 times as long as your live fire. I didn’t have a problem doing it for almost 2 hours but seemed kind of long for one session, but I’ve also never actually done focused dry fire training either.

    1. I recommend keeping your sessions short, so you don’t get tired of doing it. Mine are between 15 – 30 minutes.

      Remember that the 4:1 time ratio is actual shooting time. I’ve talked to a few people who were thinking about time to pack up, drive to the range, load up, set up targets, etc, etc…

      Have fun!

  3. Cool, that makes more since time-wise. I’ll break it down more and focus on certain aspect each session instead of trying to cover everything all at once.

  4. Chris, what are your thoughts on incorporating something like the Laserlyte Trainer or the SIRT lasers into dry-fire practice? Gimmick? Or do you see it as a useful tool? (With the Laserlyte I can actually use my own gear for training.)

  5. Chris,
    Once again another article I found to be extremely relevant. I have recently decided to start teaching. And yesterday after the range I found myself having a conversation with a fellow shooter, in which I said before I started giving classes I’d like to go back and take a refresher course on the basics. This was basically met with a “if you consider yourself a true professional then you shouldn’t need refreshed on anything.”
    Maybe I’m wrong but I disagree, to me a true professional never stops seeking new and better knowledge and also never stops utilizing the fundamentals nor becomes complacent.
    I was wondering what your thoughts on bushing up on the basics are.
    Thank you
    God bless

  6. Hi Chris,

    Is there away to quickly identify if you have squib load and not a failure-to-fire malfunction? Everyone tells me to listen for a low “pop” sound and puff of smoke. To be honest, both are hard to identify on the range during competition, especially when I’m running around trying to beat the time.

    Now I haven’t personally encountered this problem yet, but my natural instinct (or the way I was taught) would be to just tap, rack and bang. Now I feel like I need to eject my mag, lock my slide, check for squib, insert mag, release slide, and bang…

    Any thoughts or suggestions on a better way to safely and correctly identifying this type of malfunction?

    Thanks!
    Nick

    1. Hay Nick,

      In my 24 years of shooting, I have never had a squib! In theory, your immediate action should clear it out with no need for remedial action. I wouldn’t go straight to dropping your magazine.

      Sorry I can’t offer more, but I guess I’ve been lucky!

      Hooyah!
      Chris

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