Many police departments have a standard for their officers of needing do be able to draw and put 2 rounds on target in 1.5 seconds. As a result, many concealed carry and defensive pistol classes have also set that same standard.
This is a good, solid standard that all shooters should aim for. Not just law enforcement, but everyone who owns a pistol for self-defense purposes.
But once you get to where you can draw and put 2 rounds on target in 1.5 seconds, does that mean that it’s time to move on to the next skill, drill, or exercise?
Let me ask the same question in a very different way…
If a young basketball player came to you and said that they had just made a free throw for the first time, would you expect them to be able to be able to make free throws in a game? In a championship game?
Would you expect them to be able to make free throws in the last second of a tie game?
Of course not.
Nobody thinks that achieving the standard (making a free throw in practice) for the first time, 10th time, or even the 50th time translates into not needing to practice the basics more.
If you were giving that young basketball player advice, you’d tell them to practice free throws as often as possible. If that kid played ball in college, you’d expect them to keep practicing free throws, several times per week. If that kid made it to the pros, you’d still expect them to keep practicing.
You’d expect them to practice until it was virtually impossible for them to miss anymore. You’d expect them to practice beyond the point where you expect them to make the shot, but to the point where you’re shocked if they missed.
But basketball is just a game. There’s no chance that lives may be at stake if you don’t get things right.
The stakes are AT LEAST as high with shooting as with basketball and we should approach shooting practice the same way that we approach practicing for sports.
Once you’ve got the basics figured out, it’s tempting to want to move on to high-speed-tactical-ninja-operator skills…
But you know what?
There really aren’t any high-speed-tactical-ninja-operator techniques—Just the application of basic skills faster, on the move, around obstacles, and under more and more stress.
If you’ve gone through any of our higher speed training from special operations instructors, you probably recognize this.
First you get your accuracy down with the application of solid basic skills–the fundamentals.
Then you add complexity like drawing from a holster and eventually drawing from a concealed holster.
You keep focusing on the basics while gradually adding stress in the form of a timer, movement, competition, awkward positions, standards, increased speed, increased accuracy, increased distance, fighting to your gun, malfunctions, etc.
Pretty soon, you’re doing something that many would call “high speed” but it still just boils down to executing basic skills.
So, how much should you focus on the basics?
Ask an NFL coach how much they want their players focusing on blocking and tackling, and they’ll tell you they want their guys practicing every day.
Ask a pro tennis coach how much they want their players practicing serves, they’ll give you the same answer.
In short, don’t stop practicing the basics when you can hit the target…practice until you can’t miss.
When I was boxing and doing MMA, I had to throw the basic 6 punches perfectly, 100x apiece, every day. I couldn’t stop on day 2 or day 20 when I looked impressive hitting a bag. I had to keep practicing until I could throw them perfectly when I was on the move, against a moving opponent, when I was tired, gassed, punch-drunk, or off balance.
In some circles, practicing until you can’t miss is called unconscious competence. Others call it mastery. It’s when you do something successfully so many times that you don’t have to think about it to do it successfully again.
It’s when you can still perform on autopilot.
It’s when you can still perform under extreme stress.
It’s the level of performance that you want to get to if you own a gun for self-defense…and it’s easier than you think.
Using old school training methods like live fire at a range, it’s expensive and time consuming.
Using old school dry fire training like what you find on YouTube, online articles, and newsstand magazines, it’s kind of boring and it’s likely that you’ll develop separate muscle memory for dry fire at home and live fire with real bullets.
But using new-school dry fire training, like what students do with 21 Day Alpha Shooter, it’s less expensive than live fire training at the range, WAY more effective, and it’s actually fun to practice every day.
Look at it this way…if you do dry fire drills for 9 minutes per day (all at once or 3×3 minute blocks) every day for a month, you’ll get in 1000-3000 reps. This could be in addition to any live fire practice that you choose to do.
Nine minutes per day isn’t very much time to spend on something that’s fun that you’re passionate about and could save your life. If you can only practice half of the time, that’s STILL 500-1500 reps per month. And once you reach the skill level you want, you can back off to practicing a couple of times a week.
Doing that many repetitions of anything with good form will help you be better at it, but one of the huge advantages of dry fire is that frequent small blocks of practice over time beats the traditional model of doing a bunch of reps in a single session.
Here’s an example of what it looks like when you put it all together.
When you break it down, it’s just execution of the fundamentals with a few curve balls thrown in. Sight picture, trigger press. Sight picture, trigger press. A little movement, a little speed, and a few complications.
Even though I did regular dry fire with my carbine, I probably shot less than 50 rounds of live fire with my carbine in the 6 months leading up to this video.
I’ve shot my pistol more, but the big thing is that I do a few minutes of dry fire practice every single day.
There were a few hiccups that I ran into during this course of fire that you probably saw 🙂
If you watch it closely, you might see a few of them…My carbine magazine was loaded with a random (inadequate) number of rounds, guaranteeing that I’d run empty.
I forgot to safe my carbine when I slung it and had to shift my visual focus and left hand to engaging the safety while clearing cover and drawing one handed with my right hand. It turned a 2-3 second transition into a 4-5 second one.
Then, my shirt got caught in the draw and I had to push the gun out to the side to clear it.
I was running my Glock 26 with 10 rounds and when it went dry, my thumb hit the slide stop and kept the slide from locking back.
When I grabbed the 2nd mag, I grabbed a handfull of shirt and had to take care of that before bringing the mag up.
Here’s the thing…as you add speed and complexity to your shooting, Murphy shows up and weird things happen. It’s a lot easier to instantly react to them without a lot of thought when you’ve got the fundamentals dialed in to where you can do them on autopilot.
So train hard, train often, and make it a habit of working through problems when they come up.
by Mike Ox
Mike Ox is an avid defensive and competitive shooter who has co-created several firearms training products, including Dry Fire Training Cards, https://se965.infusionsoft.com/go/dftcmedia/loadout
Dry Fire Fit, 21 Day Alpha Shooter, and See Faster, Shoot Faster. His brain based training focuses on accelerated learning techniques for shooting as well as controlling brain state and brain chemistry for optimal performance in extreme stress situations. Learn more about dynamic dry fire training for defense and competition at www.DryFireTrainingCards.com/blog