2012-08-23 dry fire practice

Following TLG’s sample dry fire routine.

Week 2, Day 4 (basic routine)

  1. 20 reps of Wall Drill, from extension 2H
  2. 5 reps of Wall Drill from extension, SHO
  3. 5 reps of Wall Drill from extension, WHO
  4. 20 reps of Wall Drill from press-out, 2H
  5. 5 reps of Wall Drill from press-out, SHO
  6. 5 reps of Wall Drill from press-out, WHO

Really working on the eye-target line and ensuring eye focus shifting to the front sight.

2012-08-18 Dry Fire Practice

Following the TLG 4-week sample dry fire routine.

Week 1, Day 5

Movement

  1. 10 reps of wall drill from press out 2H
  2. 10 draws stepping right, 3/4 speed, 2H
  3. 10 draws stepping left, 3/4 speed 2H
  4. 10 reloads stepping right (reload on the move), 3/4 speed 2H
  5. 10 reloads stepping left (reload on the move), 3/4 speed 2H
  6. 10 reps wall drill from press out 2H

My first “missed” day. Should have happened yesterday (Friday), but that morning I had the thought of going into work early and then being able to leave early (and practice when I got home). The best laid plans… didn’t work out. Day ran very long. So of course, had to make it up as quickly as possible, so here the next day I did it.

Gotta remember … what shot is the easiest to mess up? The first shot. What’s the most important shot? The first shot. This session is all about “first shot”, because that shot after the reload? That’s a first shot. You can’t allow yourself to get in a hurry after the reload to get the gun back out there… else you risk rushing and blowing that first shot. Be mindful, and that’s also why the 3/4 speed in this is very useful.

I also love practicing movement like this. It’s simple, but it always makes me remember Tom Givens’ name for it: a “what the fuck” moment.

A month of dry fire – a review

For the past 4 weeks I’ve been following TLG’s dry practice routine.

I’m ashamed to admit it’s the most religious I’ve been about dry practice.

First, the frequency. This program has me practicing 5 times a week. In the past, at most I’d work 2-3 times a week, if that often.

Second, the duration. In the past when I did practice, my sessions tended to be longer. These sessions don’t take more than 10 minutes, if that.

Third, the solid program. In the past when I did dry fire, there was no formal program — I worked on whatever I felt I needed to work on at the time. If I didn’t have something solid to do, I had a few simple routines, like one from Tom Givens, that I would run through. But often that would cause me to gravitate towards specific things, and certainly other skills would be neglected or not get enough of the focus they deserved. On this program, just about everything gets covered and in a reasonable proportion.

TLG makes it clear this is an example program, but I think it’s a good one and certainly would recommend it as a starting point for others. I like that it focuses most essential skills like trigger press and sights, and on the press out. I like that it works a full set of skills so even “less important” skills like flashlight work isn’t forgotten, but it’s also not emphasized. I like there’s some flexibility to work on other things, like I used those sessions to work on the basics with my snub. My take is one should try the routine as-written, then see from there how it could change. I wouldn’t change anything too radically, but you might see that wow, my WHO really is bad and perhaps add a little more WHO time.

I think what opened my eyes to this approach was all my weightlifting. Since my teenage years, any time I picked up iron it was always some willy-nilly routine probably based upon whatever I read in that month’s Flex or Muscle & Fitness. It never took, and while I saw some progress, I see now that progress was merely because ANYONE will see progress in that initial beginner phase because the body easily adapts. But once you get through that phase, you need some greater smarts about how to progress — if only I had Rippetoe and Wendler, Starr and Tate, WFAC and EliteFTS back then. Following a solid program has made all the difference in the world. And the right thing to do is find a solid program created by someone else — not just anyone else, but someone who has a clue. They will probably create a program that’s right and correct. You follow it, you get your results. You stay in the game long enough, you’ll be able to formulate your own that best suits you. It’s the sort of progress I hear about all the time for lifters, and the concepts really are the same in any field so it applies just the same here to shooting.

I can see solid improvement in my skill. I still have a long ways to go, but improvement is there and I’m happy. I attribute it to a solid working of fundamentals AND that it’s done often. Again back to lifting… to see strength gains you have to lift, recover, and then during the period when your body “supercompensates” you lift again… so it’s always this level, dip down, peak up, and then continue progressing from that peak. That’s how you progress. If you lifted say only once a week, you will have come down off that peak when you start again and so at best you’ll maintain. If you lifted once a month, you’d never see any progress. And so it is here, dry practicing every day leading towards gain, instead of a couple times a week and merely maintaining. I would say that if a couple of times a week is all you can do, that’s alright — it’s a minimum to maintain your skills. If you want to improve, you gotta do more. I want to improve, I gotta do more.

The road ahead is long, but the journey is good.

I’m going to stick with TLG’s routine as is for now. I don’t see much reason to change. The “shooter’s choice” Fridays might change up a bit as I get to them (e.g. drawing from an off-body carry mode that is used on occasion; perhaps transitions from primary to BUG), but for now that’s all I can see changing.

2012-07-31 dry fire practice

Following TLG’s sample dry fire routine.

Week 3, Day 2, SHO (all drills SHO)

  1. 20 reps of wall drill from press-out
  2. 10 reps draw & fire, slow
  3. 10 reps draw & fire 3/4 speed
  4. 5 reps reload from slidelock, slow
  5. 5 reps reload from slidelock 3/4 speed
  6. 5 reps TRB
  7. 5 reps LRW
  8. 10 reps wall drill from press-out

All drills are strong-hand-only. So I reckon that means the weak-hand is 100% not involved. So all those reloads, all those malfunction clearances, one hand only. This is where a good rear sight like a Dawson Precision Charger is quite useful.

This is also illustration that while these skills are unlikely to be something you generally need, there’s merit in knowing and practicing them but with perspective. Note the skill is only worked once in the 4-week session (well, twice technically since you’ll do it again WHO next week), and when it is worked, it’s not worked for many reps. This way you don’t ignore the skill completely, but you also don’t spend more time than is warranted, instead spending that finite time on highly important skills like the press-out.

But of course, this is just a generalized routine. Your goals may necessitate a different approach. I think it’s a good template to start with, and eventually I’ll refine and change it to suit my needs.

2012-07-27 dry fire practice

Following TLG’s sample dry fire routine.

Week 2, Day 4 (basic routine) and Day 5 (malfunction clearances)

  1. 20 reps of wall drill from extension 2H
  2. 5 reps of wall drill from extension SHO
  3. 5 reps of wall drill from extension WHO
  4. 20 reps of wall drill from press-out 2H
  5. 5 reps of wall drill from press-out SHO
  6. 5 reps of wall drill from press-out WHO
  7. 10 reps of TRB, 3/4 speed, 2H
  8. 5 reps of LRW 3/4 speed 2H
  9. 10 reps of wall drill from press out, 2H

I just realized that I didn’t dry fire yesterday. Oops. That’s what I get for being in a hurry to get to work. I also didn’t get it done this morning… work’s been engulfing this week. So, let’s just combine the two sessions and get things done.

2012-07-20 Dry Fire Practice

Following the TLG 4-week sample dry fire routine.

Week 1, Day 5

Movement

  1. 10 reps of wall drill from press out 2H
  2. 10 draws stepping right, 3/4 speed, 2H
  3. 10 draws stepping left, 3/4 speed 2H
  4. 10 reloads stepping right (reload on the move), 3/4 speed 2H
  5. 10 reloads stepping left (reload on the move), 3/4/ speed 2H
  6. 10 reps wall drill from press out 2H

Karl responded to my question about the trigger, so that’s something for me to work on.

I also thought about something last night while standing on the back patio watching the dog frolic. And this is probably something that should have hit me a long time ago, but for whatever reason it opted to hit me now.

I work at 2 speeds. I work at dry fire speed. I work at live fire speed.

I find that in dry fire I work slower. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to trying to ensure everything is done right, or maybe it’s because I don’t feel the pressure and live feedback.

I find in live fire I work faster. There’s more pressure. There’s usually a timer and a set drill (whereas dry it’s just working some fundamental skill).

Yes sometimes I work with a timer dry and sometimes live is slow and no pressure. But it just hit me that I do this, and I think it may be causing me some leve of impasse.

I grant to some extent this is how things are and should be. That I should do some things slow in dry practice because that’s how you ingrain the right movements and motions. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast and all that stuff. But this should be a deliberate choice in practice. For example, how in steps 2-5 above they are done 3/4 speed, which TLG defines as “go at a pace you are doing things right and not fumbling”. So of course, that implies steps that don’t denote speed are done full speed.

But then I get to the range and I find I go faster, and it’s not always smoother or I find myself going “gee, I had no problems with this dry”. Well, it’s because I’m not doing it like I did in dry.

My challenge to myself. Work hard in dry to do it like I should do it live, but this means doing it more correct and 100% acceptable hits, not going faster than I can handle. But the bigger challenge? Next time I do it live, I need to do it exactly like I did it in dry… at least, as far as I can perceive and measure it to be the same pace. So it may feel slow, and if it does then it does. But I want to try striving to do it all the same (except where explicitly different, like 3/4 speed) and see how it goes.

Probably not articulated very well here, but I know what I mean. 🙂

2012-07-17 dry fire practice

Following TLG’s sample dry fire routine.

Week 1, Day 2, draws.

  1. 10 reps of wall drill from press-out 2H
  2. 20 reps of wall drill from holster 2H
  3. 5 reps of wall drill from holster, SHO
  4. 5 reps of wall drill from holster, WHO
  5. 10 reps draw & fire at 3/4 speed, 2H
  6. 10 reps draw & fire slow 2H

All draws from concealment, but no extra stuff involved like moving on the draw. Just focus on the draw, the press-out, and the trigger press.

I noticed I reverted to closing one eye. It’s something I have to be conscious and “fight”. But I can tell my brain isn’t totally ready to see that sort of visual input “at speed” just yet. It’ll have to get there, and the only way is subjecting it. I do need to keep this in mind next time I do live fire, so my brain can take in that visual input.

 

2012-07-16 Dry Fire Practice

Following the TLG 4-week sample dry fire routine.

Week 1, Day 1

Basic routine

  1. 20 reps of Wall Drill, from extension 2H
  2. 5 reps of Wall Drill from extension, SHO
  3. 5 reps of Wall Drill from extension, WHO
  4. 20 reps of Wall Drill from press-out, 2H
  5. 5 reps of Wall Drill from press-out, SHO
  6. 5 reps of Wall Drill from press-out, WHO

Simple enough.

I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve finally hit a breakthrough with my eyes and am able to shoot both eyes open — I still see “double” but my brain is able to cut the path and know the right visual input. I shot the dry routine this way, and will keep shooting all my dry routines this way, because obviously shooting this way is NOT ingrained in me because as far as I can recall my life-fire is still closing one eye.

Shot with my full-sized M&P9, racking the slide for a proper trigger break every time. Of course, couldn’t practice reset. If someone can make a trainer in the M&P form factor that can simulate reset with a good ApexTactical-like trigger, oh, I would buy that in a heartbeat. I will generally practice this way, unless noted otherwise.

Also noticed a strong desire to firm up my grip, especially the ring and pinky fingers on both hands… which causes a lot of “pull” and tension in the wrist flexors. But that really helps me prevent any movement in the front sight as I work the trigger. Tight tight tight… and if you think you’re tight, you probably aren’t.

 

Dry Fire routine

I document my weightlifting because if you want to know progress, you need to measure it, and to measure it you need to record it.

I also think that the fact I post here somehow keeps me accountable.

So… I’m going to see about doing that with dry fire practice.

And like my lifting, it’s good to start with an established program. It gets you off the ground, it gets you working on things, and it can then help you see where you are strong and where you need more work. I know of some places I could use more work:

  • snub in general, but especially on the press-out ensuring I can get the timing for taking up all that long, heavy trigger press
  • longer-distance shooting, like 15-25 yards. Group shooting, shooting against the clock.
  • WHO
  • shooting more standards, more classifiers and qualifiers. Pushing myself and again, measuring myself.

and the list could go on, but I need to write writing and get to my point. 🙂

So I’m going to try embarking on a more regular and established dry fire routine, and document it here.

Where to start? I’m going to start with Todd Louis Green’s blog post that presents a 4-week dry fire routine. I think that’s a reasonable place for me to start. It keeps the individual practice sessions short, but the frequency is high and in many regards that’s more important. The routine focuses on all the fundamental skills, including one-handed shooting. I think it will make a good starting point.

I’ve been wanting to do this for a while now, but there’d always be some reason to not do it. Well, that shit stops now, and this shit starts now. 🙂

And so with that, off I go.