Maintaining Proficiency(with minimal shooting)


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OrangePwrx9
August 7, 2009, 01:14 PM
We all know the days of unlimited low priced ammo are about gone. In most locales, handguns are easier to get than the ammunition they require. Without components, even reloaders are suffering. Burning through 500 rds. a week to "stay sharp" may well be a thing of the past.

Faced with future ammo scarcity, has anyone given serious thought to maintaining handgun proficiency with minimal shooting? Are there any exercises besides "dryfire dryfire dryfire....repeat as necessary" that can be used to maintain a fair level of competence (not talking championship marksmanship here)? Are there any creative twists to dryfiring that can make it more effective? Are shooter video games the answer?

It's dawned on me that double action revolvers would permit a rapid-fire dryfire drill while semi-autos would not. Should the ability to dryfire and practice without ammo be a factor in choosing a gun?

Finally, what do people feel is the MINIMUM amount of live fire practice that would allow tolerable competence and weapon familiarity?

BTW, I hate playing the zero-sum games the greenies play but, under the present conditions, a bullet not fired at the range is a bullet available for more serious purposes.
Bob

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Butter
August 7, 2009, 01:35 PM
Thought about it a lot since I am an apartment dweller and can't reload as easily if I had my own place. Had owned guns a long time ago in the past but without as much concern for real, effective competency, but when I wanted to jump back into ownership I decided I would do it right. Took classes and try to take at least two a year for defensive handgun and for the last 6 years would shoot 12,000-14,000 rounds a year which would include competition and the classes....and three days a week at the range firing 100-150 (occasionally more) per practice session.

Now, with my 6 month old daughter, the relative lack of inexpensive ammunition and the absence of reloads that I could buy, I had to curtail my practice sessions a lot. It comes down to money and convenience and not dipping too far down into the ammo I keep at home. So, what did I do?

Dry fire a lot and bought an airsoft pistol in a 1911 iteration--and then hit the range only once a week for 100 rounds of fire. I can do my pistol manipulations and presentation from the holster using the airsoft gun at home. Snap caps make it easy to do malfunction drills using one of my 1911s. Because of the type of trigger on a 1911, the airsoft does actually immitate the real thing very well.

The only thing I notice is not going to the range in a two week time period and then the first groupings suck in comparison to second box/bag of 50 rounds I buy if I am practicing for accuracy. Basically for me it's a question of getting used to recoil and aligning the sights after a shot that can't be accomodated in dry fire and airsoft practice.

MrBorland
August 7, 2009, 01:39 PM
Are there any exercises besides "dryfire dryfire dryfire....repeat as necessary" that can be used to maintain a fair level of competence (not talking championship marksmanship here)? Are there any creative twists to dryfiring that can make it more effective? Are shooter video games the answer?


I offered some thoughts on spicing up your dry fire drills a while ago. Rather than re-type, here's the link.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=5130037&postcount=3

Also, consider an airgun or an airsoft gun. Depending on what you already shoot, there's probably a clone available.

Finally, this may sound nutty and something for "the greenies", but try some visualization too, aka mediation. It's said time and time again that most of shooting is mental. If you're having trouble with your re-loads, for example, and can't even visualize yourself performing every detail of them well when you try, it's likely it's not your body movements that are the real problem, but rather that your mind is fighting it. I discovered this while waiting for a Drs appointment. To pass the time, I decided to go to my "happy place", which naturally, involves shooting a gun. I enjoy target shooting, so I thought I'd just "look" at a perfect sight picture; perfect focus on the front sight, and absolutely no wobble. Trouble was, I simply couldn't do it. Sure, I could visualize the sight picture, but I had just as much trouble maintaining focus on the front sight and holding it stable, even though I wasn't even using my body! AHA - I can't hold a better hold because my brain is fighting it! It was a real light bulb moment. Again, it's said time and time again that most of shooting is mental, but few of us address that directly. I'm sure there are big gains to be had there.

It's dawned on me that double action revolvers would permit a rapid-fire dryfire drill while semi-autos would not.

It's one of the things I love about revolvers.

Finally, what do people feel is the MINIMUM amount of live fire practice that would allow tolerable competence and weapon familiarity?

Dunno. I do the great majority of my "shooting" at home via dry fire and air pistol. I go to the range once a week, and shoot about 250 rounds, the majority of which are .22LR and I feel I do ok for the average Joe. When I miss a week at the range, it really makes no difference. Most of my proficiency comes from practice at home.

Fumbler
August 7, 2009, 02:53 PM
I sometimes shoot in an action pistol league similar to IDPA.

I don't shoot as often as I'd like, but I have found that a lot of "visualization" mixed in with practicing a draw and dry firing will greatly improves my scores when I shoot in the matches.

Lots of people get a lot of good range time...but that time is spent standing still at a table. It doesn't matter how many rounds you send down range with that type of shooting.
You don't get an idea of how good you really are at self defense until you add the stress of moving around and ducking for cover to the stress of simply firing the gun.

Live practice is the best, but dry runs are very very helpful.

Try this: put yourself in some part of the house and imagine someone's trying to break down your door.
Run through the steps you'd take to get to your gun then imagine the intruder comiing through the door. Then, imagine where you would move, what cover you would take, etc and take whatever shots you need to at the imaginary bad guy.
You can run through all sorts of scenarios and it will help you even though there's no live firing.

One last thing, make sure your gun is unloaded first;)

.455_Hunter
August 7, 2009, 04:34 PM
Due to work and family requirements, plus a lack of easy to get to open shooting areas, I only put live ammo down range probably once every two-three months. Each session usually consists of 20-100 rounds, mostly centerfire.

I have no concerns about my ability to effectively fire my weapons in a defensive encounter!

Am I ready to compete in a IDPA event- NO, but you can maintain reasonable proficiency with relatively few rounds at irregular intervals.

Like others have said, your proficiency can be enhanced by appropriate fondling, handling, drawing and dry firing without leaving your house.

If you don't have a firing range on your own property, it is very difficult (plus too much $$$$) to put a 1000 pounds down range per month if you have other priorities in your life like work, kids, wife, home projects or other social activities.

QUICK_DRAW_McGRAW
August 7, 2009, 06:26 PM
there is a reason i have more then a few .22's, they are cheap and you can still train with them

Mastiff
August 8, 2009, 01:59 AM
I shoot wax bullets fired by a primer only in my basement. I keep the music turned up, and the neighbors don't notice. I understand they also make plastic and rubber bullets to fire via primer only for indoor shooting practice.
This is very cheap and readily accessible shooting practice.

MICHAEL T
August 8, 2009, 02:40 AM
How do people in this country every day defend themselves that haven't been to a range or even shot a gun in years Yet they do it 50. 60. 70 .80. years old men and women You can read about them here on internet or arm citizen in NRA . Civilians seem to hit more with less rounds than Police. before the combat hand gun mags Cooper and the gunfighting schools along with internet People defended themselves very well with 22, 25, 32, 38, and other calibers Yet today we must have a 357 40 45 and shoot 1000 rounds a week and go to schools over and over
Why? Is it really needed How often do police qualify? How about military ? . Its not all that difficult to defend you self with a hand gun. Ammo shortage or not . I believe your the weapon, the pistol just delivery system. If granny can take her dead husbands 32 and drop a BG then you should be able to. Just my 02

RedAlert
August 8, 2009, 03:01 AM
At Front Sight, they emphasized using the term "Dry Practice" not "Dry Fire" at all times. This avoids the confusion on the firing line and also helps establish your frame of mind during practice.

The Dry Practice does not improve your accuracy it does; however, improve your muscle memory. The constant practice in drawing the weapon, presenting it, practice in reloading, and clearing jams or malfunctions. So when it comes time to obtain the sight picture, the front sight, you don't waste time due to unfamiliarity with bringing the weapon to aim.

Still nothing replaces actual range practice.

9mmepiphany
August 8, 2009, 03:31 PM
i was taught that my dryfire should outpace my livefire by a factor of 5-10X.

i learned this from a creditable source who was a top tier competitor in USPSA. he used to say that livefire was only dryfire with added noise.

he was also a big advocate of breaking down skills...for isolated practice...and visualization practice combined with muscle memory drills. it's like concert pianist practicing the finger movements of piano scales when a piano isn't available.

a wheelgun is a great way to practice your DA trigger stroke and DA practice will improve your SA trigger stroke also.

an airsoft pistol is a great investment for home practice. the only caution is not to get a cheap plastic springer model. i'd look at getting a clone of my prefered gun in metal (weight) powered by "green gas" (self-cocking)

DAVIDSDIVAD
August 8, 2009, 04:30 PM
Buy a .22 conversion for your 1911!

badbadtz560
August 8, 2009, 04:44 PM
how about an airsoft pistol? or a pellet handgun? I don't recall having ammo issues w/ those :D

9mmepiphany
August 8, 2009, 05:14 PM
Buy a .22 conversion for your 1911!

i don't think the OP ever said what kind of gun he owns :)

LeonCarr
August 8, 2009, 05:15 PM
To kinda echo what some others have said, when I was shooting IPSC/USPSA hot and heavy one of the Master shooters in our club had found a quality airsoft pistol that looked almost exactly like his open class race gun, to the point where he was able to mount a C-More Sight on it. After a few months practicing with the airsoft gun in his garage, he made Grand Master. He claims that once you get "in the zone" the only difference in the two is the noise :).

Just my .02,
LeonCarr

DAVIDSDIVAD
August 8, 2009, 10:18 PM
i don't think the OP ever said what kind of gun he owns

hahah, I must've mixed up #2 and #1.

sorry.

21bubba
August 8, 2009, 10:40 PM
believe that a person can keep a reasonable proficiency by shooting about 100 rounds a month.

There's this thing called ability, a person can only become so "good" at a activity.

I know that if i throw a football 1,000 times a month i'm not gonna become Payton Manning, but if i throw it 50 times every two weeks i won't forget how.

Customtrigger
August 12, 2009, 01:39 PM
+1 I think this example provides a positive metal approach. I shoot only a couple hundred rounds a month sometimes and I do not forget how to shoot.

KBintheSLC
August 12, 2009, 03:23 PM
I fully understand the dilemma, as I'm sure the rest of us do. I have spent most of my range time using .22's lately. I bought a conversion kit for my Sig, and I use a scoped bolty and a 10/22 to stay proficient on rifle work. I shoot those every weekend.

Aside from that, I might use about 100-200 rounds of centerfire pistol/rifle/shotgun per month just to keep the rust off.

I think that one can maintain quite well with lots of dry practice too.

Andrewski
August 14, 2009, 04:48 AM
I'm surprised this wasn't the first response.

Nothing beats a .22 handgun for staying sharp.

earlthegoat2
August 14, 2009, 09:39 AM
Dry fire, a lot.

el gato
August 14, 2009, 10:20 AM
CO2 BB Pistol

Hk Dan
August 14, 2009, 02:28 PM
Pick up Steve Anderson's "Refinement & Repetition". It's geared for competition shooters, but can easily be translated into defensive drills. It's ALL dry fire, and an incredible resource.

Dan

krs
August 14, 2009, 02:55 PM
i use airguns right down here in my 30 ft. long downstairs office/shop. I've got a left hand and a right hand match guns with orthopedic grips, and I've got a S&W CO2 version of a 6" single or double action 586 revolver that uses interchangable 10 shot. magazines.

The match guns keep me in the ballpark for bullseye slowfire, and the Smith is good for draw and presentation drills as well as actual firng. That revolver is not too far from the feel of a real cartridge revolver. The trigger is good in DA, not as good as the real one in SA.

It beats the heck of of dryfire practice that I've always found boring, like riding a stationary bike. At least with pellets I can score and see what I've done when I fire.

I highly recommend at least the Smith revolver. don't mistake it for the much cheaper similar looking Crossman revolver. Those are junky - the Smith is one that S&W can be proud of. Doesn't have an ILS either :)

There are differences in any simulation but if you can't adapt a little to changing situations how ya gonna' act when that guy comes to kill your wife?

Also, I'm firing about 1000 orounds of .22 a month these nice days.

9mmepiphany
August 14, 2009, 03:46 PM
It beats the heck of of dryfire practice that I've always found boring, like riding a stationary bike. At least with pellets I can score and see what I've done when I fire.

that's because you've fallen into the trap of becoming invested in the result as opposed to staying in the process of trigger management during dry fire.

it becomes more effective if you combine visualization with the trigger break...like Zen Archery

Dr_2_B
August 14, 2009, 04:44 PM
I agree that using a 22 with the same sight picture is a great way to stay sharp

eJack
August 14, 2009, 04:48 PM
We all know the days of unlimited low priced ammo are about gone. In most locales, handguns are easier to get than the ammunition they require. Without components, even reloaders are suffering. Burning through 500 rds. a week to "stay sharp" may well be a thing of the past.

Faced with future ammo scarcity, has anyone given serious thought to maintaining handgun proficiency with minimal shooting? Are there any exercises besides "dryfire dryfire dryfire....repeat as necessary" that can be used to maintain a fair level of competence (not talking championship marksmanship here)? Are there any creative twists to dryfiring that can make it more effective? Are shooter video games the answer?

It's dawned on me that double action revolvers would permit a rapid-fire dryfire drill while semi-autos would not. Should the ability to dryfire and practice without ammo be a factor in choosing a gun?

Finally, what do people feel is the MINIMUM amount of live fire practice that would allow tolerable competence and weapon familiarity?

BTW, I hate playing the zero-sum games the greenies play but, under the present conditions, a bullet not fired at the range is a bullet available for more serious purposes.
Bob

I learned to swim, not because I thought it could save a life some day, but because I enjoy it. I took every martial arts class I could make time for, not because I thought it could save a life some day, but because I enjoy it. I took first aid and CPR classes, not because I thought it could save a life some day, but because I enjoy it. I learned outdoorsman's skills in Boy Scouts, not because I thought it could save a life some day, but because I enjoy it. And finally, I learned to shoot, not because I thought it could save a life some day, but because I enjoy it. People go out and shoot 1000 rounds a month (or week or day) because they enjoy it (and they have more free time and money than most of us), not because shooting ridiculous round counts is necessary to be prepared to defend themselves.

IMO it would only take about 100 rounds a year coupled with dry practice when you have the urge to maintain what ever level of skill you have. The visualization and muscle memory developed in practicing the motions are far more valuable than live fire. Muscle memory is never lost.

krs
August 14, 2009, 04:53 PM
it becomes more effective if you combine visualization with the trigger break...like Zen Archery

I know that. Each shot is the match - make the one shot all, do it perfectly. Have another match of one shot. Cleanse your mind of everything - let the shot BE - nothing before, nothing after, nothing during exists much less does nothing matter....ohh-hh-hh-mmm....but when there are lapses into imperfect consciousness from perfect unconsciousness..... they are boring. :)

9mmepiphany
August 14, 2009, 05:04 PM
but when there are lapses into imperfect consciousness from perfect unconsciousness..... they are boring.

another truth presents itself :D

SharpsDressedMan
August 14, 2009, 06:45 PM
Not exactly the same weight in the hand, but I have a pair of quality airsoft 1911's that duplicate the grip, sights, and trigger pull pretty well. I can definitely improve on my point shooting, draw, and sight alignment with the airsoft, and do it pretty cheap. The .22 conversions come in a close second, but the airsoft can be used in any residence, without hearing protection of complaints from nearby occupants.

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