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Old June 19, 2014, 09:57 AM   #1
David E
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How Do You Practice?

When you go to the range to practice, how do you go about it?

I'm not referring to pure recreational shooting, but:

repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency.

So, to improve your shooting skills...

1) What drills do you run?

2) How long does your session last?

3) How many rounds do you typically shoot?

4) How do you identify areas that need work?

5) How often do you practice?
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Old June 19, 2014, 11:06 AM   #2
460Kodiak
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It depends on what type of shooting I'm practicing obviously. There is a huge difference between long range (hunting) slow shooting and shorter range defense shooting practice. I assume, give your recent threads that you are talking defense.

I strap on a holster and practice drawing and dry firing at home.

When actually shooting:

1. I don't run any particular "drills". I load the gun and try to shoot as accurately as I can and as quickly as I can at 10, 15, and 20 yards. I guess I start shooting from the "low ready" position, if that's the right term.

2. 2 to 3 hours typically

3. 150-350 rounds

4. I am not a huge user of standards, particular grouping sizes, or time when measuring my shooting. Lots of things can change your times and accuracy, especially if in a SD situation. So for me, my goal is to always shoot faster and more accurately than the last time, and as fast and as accurately as I can. We all have our good days and our bad, so my goal is to always improve. After each magazine or cylinder, I stop and think about what I did right, what I did wrong, what I need to improve on, and then make a very real effort to improve those items on the next go. For me, there is no better than this or better than that standard. There is better, faster, and more accurate than the last time.

So I guess when you ask

Quote:
4) How do you identify areas that need work?
I guess my answer comes down to : Careful consideration and observation of my capabilities from one shooting session to the next.

5. I practice as much as time and my budget will allow. I try to get out three times a month, but since I work 40-60 hours a week, time is often lacking, so at times it is only once a month. However, over using this "Better than Last Time" methodology over the last six years or so, I will say I am confident in my ability to effectively use a handgun to defend myself and anyone I'm with, and not cause collateral damage. I am by no means good enough to compete though. I think that type of shooting DOES require a lot of timed drills. For me, shooting is a hobby and a means to survive. If I had more time and money, I'd love to drastically increase how much I practice.
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Old June 19, 2014, 11:41 AM   #3
Ed Ames
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I'll bite.

Most of my practice isn't done at the range, and isn't really drills. I have a dry fire, present/reholster, and point/aim drill I practice at home. It takes 10 minutes and happens every day or two.

When I go to a range I might practice for an hour or two (I usually get there after work and leave when they shut down), but there are only two drills I do with any regularity.

Main drill:

Starting at low ready: raise/aim, fire, aim, return to low ready. Repeat 10 times.

Second drill:

Starting at low ready: raise/aim, fire, aim at second target, fire, return to low ready. Repeat until a "no rapid fire" warning comes over the range P.A. system.

How long? Drill is never more than 10 minutes. General practice 1-2 hours.
How many rounds: Drills, under 20. General: 100-200.

Identifying areas that need work: For drills: If, by the end of 10 rounds, I have more than one ragged oversized hole in the/each target, I need work. If the gun malfunctions either the gun needs work or I do. For target shooting, I read and try to improve my technique and knowledge.

Range practice can vary between twice a week and twice a year depending on externalities. For the past year or so it has been once or twice a month.


When I lived in California I would head out to BLM land in the Mojave about once a week and do a lot more drill-like practice. Typically I would choose a place where I could walk and reposition myself, and set up multiple targets at different ranges. I would then pick a specific scenario (standing in this spot, break 10 clays, knock down 5 bowling pins, move to the remnants of the camp fire and pop five plastic jugs, hit the bucket without using sights, etc.) and run through it as well as I was able. The target placements and scenarios were always different, though some elements were repeated. That could involve shooting a shotgun dry and transitioning to a pistol, or other more complicated scenarios.

That typically lasted about 2-3 hours and would involve a number of different weapons. I could easily go through 200rds per weapon. I identified areas that needed work by the misses. That was once a week when I lived in California, and three times (when visiting) since leaving.
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Old June 19, 2014, 11:52 AM   #4
David E
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How Do You Practice?

460, it doesn't have to be about defense, just not recreational shooting.

How do you keep track of if you were "better than last time?"

The thing about timed drills is it gives you a benchmark that you can measure yourself against to track progress.

When some people think "shot timer," they think that means all practice involves a timer monitoring each shot.

Some of my best practices are without a timer.

One untimed drill I like to do at the beginning of a session is to fire six rds each: two handed, strong hand then weak hand. 18 rounds total. Target is an IPSC silhouette that's at least 25 yds away, tho 50 is better.

If you're able, use 3 targets so you know which string fired which shots.

Makes me focus hard on the fundamentals from first shot to last.
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Old June 19, 2014, 12:22 PM   #5
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Quote:
How do you keep track of if you were "better than last time?"
I don't need to know whether I was better or worse than last time.

It's like practicing a musical instrument. When you pick up a guitar (or whatever) and start to practice, you typically go through a series of exercises as well as playing some music. You don't need to track whether you did "better" with the exercises (though most people are self-aware enough to know every mistake they made while practicing), you just need to develop the skills (and muscles) to play the music you want to play.
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Old June 19, 2014, 12:29 PM   #6
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I no longer practice live fire frequently. The cost of ammo has killed my interest in shooting. I used to shoot ten to twenty thousand rounds a year, but that was before Obama screwed everything up. I picked up training again, but Sandy Hook priced me out of the market for new ammunition for range sessions. Now that prices and supply have stabilized (until next time), I refuse to pay $20 for fifty rounds of 9mm.

I am in the process of moving back to 45 ACP. For now, I limit myself to dry fire and Airsoft (for training shooting on the move). I focus upon trigger control while dry firing; burst fire practice is not possible with Glocks. My primary "practice" is attending training twice a year. Ammo still costs too much, but I've decided I'd rather shoot the ammunition under the watchful eye of an instructor.

Hopefully, 2015 will bring ammo prices down to reasonable levels. I cringe whenever I buy a box of 45 ACP 230 grain FMJ for $25. I remember buying boxes of 45 ACP for $9.99-$11.99.
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Old June 19, 2014, 01:13 PM   #7
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Tomrkba, I can relate to the ammo costs. 18 months ago, I would've suggested getting into reloading, but powder is extremely hard to get right now. Still, that might change before ammo availability/prices stabilize. Walmart has just recently had bulk box 9mm Academy's shelves look pretty good for all but .22. Their prices are lower than what you're seeing, but 9mm is always cheaper than .45. If ammo cost is a concern, then it's not the best time to transition to .45

I've found dry fire practice to be very beneficial in building skills and familiarity with your gun. It's cheap, doesn't take long and makes a bigger difference than many think.

I hesitate to say this, but adding a shot timer to your dry fire routine can help quite a bit, as well.
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Old June 19, 2014, 01:15 PM   #8
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I get to the range once a month, maybe twice if I'm lucky. Hmm... I'll practice slow firing at 15 yards. I'll then head over to the action pistol range so I can draw from a holster and run around timed.

I'm probably at both ranges for two to three hours. Total rounds shot between 100 and 200 rounds. I focus on grouping size for the slow fire range. The action pistol range I try to hit the A zone on USPSA targets. I'll also focus on the plate rack and see how quickly and accurately I can hit those. I compete in action pistol matches every quarter. I'll also take a yearly defensive pistol class as a "treat" to myself.
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Old June 19, 2014, 01:16 PM   #9
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Quote:
I hesitate to say this, but adding a shot timer to your dry fire routine can help quite a bit, as well.
Never thought of that. How does it work with the mere "click!" of the striker? I do need to work on my time to first shot from the draw.
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Old June 19, 2014, 01:48 PM   #10
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My range is in the backyard.

I start with my LCP at 6' draw and quick fire one handed then I step back to 7 yards quickly do a reload and empty that mag. After that I'll shoot my 4566 at 7 yards using a modified Weaver stance usually 3 mags quickly.

Back to the LCP starting at 7 yards I'll start firing while backing up, repeat that till I finish off the box. To finish off the box of .45acp I break out the Blackhawk and shooting stick move back to about 30 yards and slow fire focusing on tight groups.

I used to do this once a month but with the cost of ammo now it's more like every 6 weeks and I don't do any other shooting.
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Old June 19, 2014, 02:34 PM   #11
David E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomrkba View Post
Never thought of that. How does it work with the mere "click!" of the striker? I do need to work on my time to first shot from the draw.

There are two, maybe 3 ways:

1) use a primered case with the timer sensitivity adjusted to "hear" it.

2) IF you have a sensitive timer (or app) it MIGHT be possible for it to register the "click," but it's not likely.

3) the way you can do it now is to use the PAR time. IE; it beeps to start the selected time frame and beeps again when the time frame has elapsed.

#3 is the most versatile. Working on your first shot time? Set the par time for 2 seconds with random start. Assume your desired start position. At signal, draw and "fire" on a specified target. This is when you use all the time allotted to ensure proper form, sight alignment and trigger press. Don't try to beat the second beep.

Do that 4-5 times, then take it down to 1.9 seconds. Then to 1.8, then 1.7 and so on, performing 4-5 proper draws in the time frame, using all the time available.

PROPER FORM IS REQUIRED AT ALL TIME FRAMES.

If you get to a time that you just can't beat, let's say it's one second, try to beat it anyway 4-5 times. Then set the par time for .9....and try and beat that.

If you're hearing the second beep and you're nowhere close, figure out why.

BUT, if you're almost beating it....take it down to .8 and try it 4-5 times. If you're STILL "this close" to beating it, take it to .7.....then .6 for 4-5 more.

Then set it at 1.00 second and try it again. I suspect you'll make it easily this time.

In the morning, I have students that can't break 2 seconds. After lunch, they're easily sub one second.

Hope this helps.
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Old June 19, 2014, 02:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
How do you keep track of if you were "better than last time?"
I go through a lot of targets and keep them on the back of my tail gate to keep track from one go/drill to the next. As expected, my shooting improves later in the session as I get warmed up. I look at my groupings from the beginning of the session and compare them to groupings from the end. I look for noticeable improvement in groupings from one go to the next, and often see them. I look for patterns to indicate if I'm jerking the trigger, or flinching. Trigger control is usually my biggest issue with shots going low and left to start, and coming back to center.

Then I typically take a picture of the last set of targets and keep them until the next practice time. I then compare the new results to the last and look for improvement or degradation of skills. Both have happened. The longer between practice, the bigger the first groupings are compared to the last groupings from the last practice session. And when I get to shoot frequently, my first groupings from the new session will be closer to the last groupings from the prior practice session. I realize it isn't terribly scientific. It is only a relative measure of one session to the next, but it does lead to greater accuracy overall, and forces you to always compete with yourself, leading to general improvement.

As far as time goes, I do not use a timer or a shot clock, and I shoot alone so I judge this for myself. Did I empty the gun faster into the target, and get good hits faster than I did on my last go around? A person can tell. I guess I'm counting one 1000, two 1000, three 100, in my head now that I think about it, but in general, you can keep track of whether or not your first shot and follow up shots are faster or slower. Like I said though, I don't compete so I don't worry about shaving a 1/8 second off or anything. I could see getting into that though if I had more money to spend on ammo, because it does take a lot of practice to get truly fast.

Quote:
The thing about timed drills is it gives you a benchmark that you can measure yourself against to track progress.
Agreed. I think if folks want to set a bar for themselves that's fine, and they should have at it. I just set a relative bar for myself because I see it as a matter of always striving to be faster and more on target (i.e. better) than I currently am. That's really kind of how I do everything in life really. No matter the skill or skill level involved, I want to do it better the next time. One could certainly hit their mark, and then set a new mark, but it really isn't important to me to have a set number. But I have no problem with those who do.

Quote:
If you're able, use 3 targets so you know which string fired which shots.
Yep. I do.

Quote:
I've found dry fire practice to be very beneficial in building skills and familiarity with your gun. It's cheap, doesn't take long and makes a bigger difference than many think.

I hesitate to say this, but adding a shot timer to your dry fire routine can help quite a bit, as well.
You aren't kidding! Dry fire practice IMO is one of the most important parts of learning trigger control and gun handling. It vastly helps develop muscle memory, which is vital to instinctive shooting. That's good advice about the shot timer. I may give that a try. I' also like to use a laser as a training device to help with trigger control. I'm unfortunate in the fact that I'm single, and live in the "Desert of Women" as I call it. But it is fortunate that I can play with my guns to my heart's content at home and no one cares. When I say play, I mean practicing dry fire of course. Guns aren't toys to me.

Regards

Eh... long post. Sorry
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Last edited by 460Kodiak; June 19, 2014 at 03:02 PM.
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Old June 19, 2014, 03:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David E View Post
BUT, if you're almost beating it....take it down to .8 and try it 4-5 times. If you're STILL "this close" to beating it, take it to .7.....then .6 for 4-5 more.

Then set it at 1.00 second and try it again. I suspect you'll make it easily this time.
OK, I'm super excited to try this. Been stuck at just over 1 full second on the draw for a while... I'll see if this breaks it lose.
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Old June 19, 2014, 03:18 PM   #14
David E
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Originally Posted by ATLDave View Post
OK, I'm super excited to try this. Been stuck at just over 1 full second on the draw for a while... I'll see if this breaks it lose.

Oh, yes! Yes, it will!

"To BE fast, you must GO fast!"
~ David E

460, thanks for the feedback, sounds like it works for you.
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Old June 19, 2014, 03:22 PM   #15
40-82
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David E.,

Very interesting idea of the use of a shot timer for dry firing. Is there a specific shot timer that you recommend?

I try to do some shooting every day with something for most of the year. Even if I shoot only a few rounds at the bullet trap outside my back door. By keeping my hand in it and shooting regularly, I have a better idea of what I can accomplish on demand. During November and December, when I do almost no shooting because of hunting season, it is easy to slide into remembering the best shooting I have done under the best conditions and lose touch with what my average performance actually is. I especially find it instructive to shoot in tricky light, or when I am a little winded.
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Old June 19, 2014, 04:08 PM   #16
David E
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Originally Posted by 40-82 View Post
David E.,



Very interesting idea of the use of a shot timer for dry firing. Is there a specific shot timer that you recommend?
There are several, PACT being a good one, but don't get their "Club timer" as it's too hard to decipher your results.

I have the most experience with the C.E.D. timers. I use their CED 7000 version. Retail is $119.95.
Quote:
I try to do some shooting every day with something for most of the year. By keeping my hand in it and shooting regularly, I have a better idea of what I can accomplish on demand. it is easy to slide into remembering the best shooting I have done under the best conditions....

That's a very good summation. It's better to shoot 6-12 rounds daily than 200 once a month.
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Two things separate the skilled shooter from the casual shooter: Distance and Speed.

Of the two, Speed is the most decisive.

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Old June 19, 2014, 04:18 PM   #17
David E
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How Do You Practice?

Another way to use a shot timer for dry fire practice is for the reload.

Set the par for 3 seconds and do the same thing as before. Keep in mind, you're dealing with your reaction time when you wouldn't have to during a range reload.
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Two things separate the skilled shooter from the casual shooter: Distance and Speed.

Of the two, Speed is the most decisive.

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Old June 19, 2014, 04:23 PM   #18
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The last few months I have been shooting 105 rounds in one session once a month (7 15 round mags).

I am currently testing a 9mm DC so I shoot the first round double action followed by one or two rounds single action. I been starting at 7 yards, after a mag or two move back to 10 yds. This month I changed my practice to shooting at two targets side by side at 10 yards. I notice that on the left target I am shooting a ragged hole but the shots on the right target are a little scattered and a little low (although all of the shots are in a 10" bullseye). I finish by shooting some rounds from the hip at 3 yds.

As soon as my groups on the second target gets as tight as the first I am going to back up to 15 yds and repeat the drills. I always shoot my first round double action as that is how I carry my EDC.

Once I become proficient (group sizes are the same) and bored enough then I'll vary their height and practice more movement.

p.s. When I get really bored I'll switch to revolvers and 1911's.

I just acquired another D.C. which is going to become my EDC. As I can only get in about a hour of practice in the morning before I have to go to work I am going to add a second range day during the month.!

Last edited by BSA1; June 19, 2014 at 04:53 PM.
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Old June 19, 2014, 04:39 PM   #19
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BSA, here's a thought: designate one target for the DA first shot, the other target for the SA second shot. Shoot thru a mag or two. Note the groups. Next, reverse the target order for another mag or two. Note and compare groups. If one target isn't as good as the other, was it the target shot DA? SA? Or is it the one always on the left? (Or right?)

This will isolate what's going on so you can identify and work on it.

Then, if possible, try setting one target at 7, the other at 10. Take turns shooting each one first.
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Two things separate the skilled shooter from the casual shooter: Distance and Speed.

Of the two, Speed is the most decisive.

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Old June 19, 2014, 05:02 PM   #20
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The issue is mainly controlling speed of the sweep plus the fact the S.A. trigger pull on this particular gun is mushy (it is a early production Ruger). Later DA / SA triggers are much better than this gun (which also why it doesn't get shot much). However by mastering the horrible trigger pull on it will make shooting the other ones a piece of cake.

In fact my groups are tighter than is needed for IPSC so I can easily increase my speed but I like having all my shots in one ragged hole.
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Old June 19, 2014, 05:48 PM   #21
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It's a good idea to master a DA/SA auto. A spring change might do wonders for you.

One hole groups are a worthy pursuit, but personally for defensive purposes, I'd rather get two good hits NOW (anywhere on a paper plate) over two perfect hits one or even a 1/2 second later. (Two shots touching)
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Two things separate the skilled shooter from the casual shooter: Distance and Speed.

Of the two, Speed is the most decisive.

~ David E
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Old June 19, 2014, 06:02 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David E View Post
IOne hole groups are a worthy pursuit, but personally for defensive purposes, I'd rather get two good hits NOW (anywhere on a paper plate) over two perfect hits one or even a 1/2 second later. (Two shots touching)
In the context of USPSA/IPSC shooting, I heard a very good shooter say, "If you're good enough to shoot doubles [meaning holes touching], then don't." He meant that if you're consistently grouping that tight, you'd be better off speeding up and letting the grouping drift a bit.
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Old June 19, 2014, 06:48 PM   #23
David E
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How Do You Practice?

He's right. Unless you're shooting snake-eyes with a .16 split. THEN it's impressive as heck!
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Two things separate the skilled shooter from the casual shooter: Distance and Speed.

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Old June 19, 2014, 07:08 PM   #24
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Yeah, that's not my problem.


Yet.
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Old June 19, 2014, 07:22 PM   #25
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Actually I recently replaced all of the springs. So I am shooting it a lot to prove its reliability. This gun is what Jeff Cooper called a "crunch-n-ticker". It has lackluster accuracy and terrible trigger pull. The early Rugers are all that way. It is one of the few guns I can outshoot. For comparison with my Beretta 92 doing the same drill I would be shooting 2" groups.

There was a incident on the Internet where a father shot a perp that was shielding himself with the fathers daughter. A shot like that takes a lot of confidence in being able to put that bullet exactly where it needs to be while under stress.

As the saying goes "only accurate guns are interesting."

Last edited by BSA1; June 19, 2014 at 07:52 PM.
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