My parents are fond of telling the story of me as a young boy being put to bed and later walking into the living room proclaiming “Practice, practice, practice!” Now that in itself isn’t a very interesting, however I was sleep walking and after making this announcement I proceeded back to bed. I have no recollection of this event. I was struggling at playing the trumpet and must have heard it from someone!
A humorous story but the statement is certainly applicable to nearly any endeavor, especially pistol shooting. Of all the shooting disciplines, handgun shooting skill is the most perishable and it diminishes quickly. Therefore, it is imperative that you “Practice, Practice, Practice” regularly!
My recommendation is three-fold when it comes to practice. Remember that whatever you do in practice is what you will do in real life.
- Dry-fire practice: Dry-fire can be as complex as you are willing to make it, from using an unloaded & safe firearm, to using a purpose built laser training system. In any case, having a designated target and practicing target acquisition, grip and presentation/draw from the holster, sight picture & alignment to the target, and trigger manipulation is some of the best training for reinforcing the shooting fundamentals without any other distractions such as recoil, sound, other shooters, and other factors. It cannot be overstated how effective dry-fire practice is!
- Range time: You’ve been doing dry-fire, but there is still no substitute for live-fire practice. At the range where you are shooting at a static target, this is where we add the other missing elements missing from dry-fire practice: recoil, sound, other distractions. This is where we continue to focus on the fundamentals! For every round that goes down range, you should be consciously focusing on the fundamentals.
- Dynamic practice: Consider participating in USPSC or, even better, IDPA competitions. Here is where you put your skills to the test. Accuracy, time, and stress in a controlled environment will show you how well your fundamentals training is doing and where you need to improve.
Stay tuned as we delve into some specific strategies for practicing!