I have neglected dry fire for far too long now. Live fire too, for that matter. I would probably be embarrassed to go shoot at the range tomorrow. To compound the problem, I have recently been toting a J-Frame revolver either in the waistband or pocket. Say what you will, but I have also been considering, nay, coveting a S&W M&P 340 for concealed carry. Depending on how much punishment I’m willing to inflict upon my hand, I might even opt for the 340 PD, but I prefer the sights on the M&P. Right, wrong, or indifferent, the J-Frame is statistically sufficient for most problems that I might encounter. While it is easy to carry, it is most definitely NOT easy to shoot well. Thus, I have resolved to get back to work.
Something that I took from training with Mike Pannone years ago was doing ten draws before leaving the house for the day, just to make sure everything works with my carry system and wardrobe. I’m honestly not carrying everyday with the job I have now, but the premise is still valid. Hence, the first ten of 25 trigger presses with my carry revolver. Ten draws with a trigger press, from concealment. I use a 10-8 Dry Fire Target taped to my basement wall that I downloaded from Modern Service Weapons many moons ago. The target represents the proverbial 8” circle at 7, 10, 15, 20, and 25 yards, all on a piece of copy paper. From 4 yards away, the circles are scaled to the appropriate sizes. It’s very much an effective range target for pistols.
Next, five trigger presses strong hand only. One on each circle, from the low ready. Or, perhaps incorporating a strong hand only draw, just to keep that particular skill in the bank. Then, five support hand only, again from the low ready. Finally, five trigger presses, freestyle, from the low ready. Twenty-five trigger presses, incorporating the draw, strong hand only, and support hand only. That should about cover it.
Often, I will do more. I may add in a few failure drills on a reduced silhouette, just to avoid habituating only one trigger press per draw. If I want to make things really interesting (or fatiguing), one on 7, two on 10, three on 15, four on 20, and five on 25. Or reverse that… there are endless combinations depending on my motivation and available time, but the 25 trigger presses outlined above will be the nonnegotiable default. I also will often practice transitions, moving either right, then left, or left, then right on the three smaller circles at the bottom of the target. I’ve even started to do some pull ups on my Metolius Simulator 3D Hangboard and then some push ups in conjunction with my dry fire routine. Getting older is not for the weak, and I’ve got to keep up with my kids.
I use the revolver for a few reasons. First, it’s honestly what I’m most often carrying. Second, it’s good trigger finger exercise, by virtue of its double action trigger. If you can shoot a double action revolver well, you can probably shoot most anything well. Third, loading and unloading the revolver repeatedly doesn’t damage the ammunition, an especially important consideration in times of ammo scarcity. Fourth, it doesn’t really create training scars. You don’t have to rack the slide after a trigger press. You just have to pull the trigger again to get another rep. There is a definite aesthetic to its simplicity.
I’m going to make a concerted effort to do this quick routine daily for a while. Time will tell if it helps. With concentrated effort, hopefully I can see what errors I’m making and correct them through deliberate practice.
A few observations… I can really feel it in my elbow and forearm. The double action trigger is a workout. But, like Darryl Bolke says, going to the range should be like going to the gym. Same with dry fire, and perhaps dry fire is an even better analogy.
The low ready is advocated by any number of trainers that I could name. Hence, I choose to practice it. While presenting from the low ready, I’m dropping the front sight into the rear notch (and I’m being generous with that terminology when referencing my 642-1), the way that Paul Howe describes how he aligns the sights. That specific process is perhaps a bit easier from a compressed ready, but the low ready allows plenty of time to find the front sight as the gun is coming on target.
The 10-8 target teaches you to take the time you need to make the shot. I’ve caught myself going too slow when using the larger circles. But even after a few days, I can literally see a difference. I suppose that’s the point of the exercise.
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least briefly discuss safety. If you want to practice with an unloaded firearm in your home, you must be observant of the safety rules. Double and triple check that you are using an unloaded gun. Don’t aim at anything you’re not willing to destroy. Be sure of your backstop. I go so far as to leave the ammo upstairs in my home when I go downstairs to my basement to practice. My backstop is the foundation of my home, with only ledge and earth behind the basement wall. If I did somehow make a mistake, only my pride and the concrete (and my ears) are going to get hurt.
I’m not sure when I’ll get to the range again, but when I do, I’ll document it here. I may very well take the same target I’ve been using for dry fire and see if I can keep everything within the circles at four yards before putting up a B8 repair center at the real distances.
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