I am a firm believer in muscle memory. When or if you find yourself on a two-way gun range, you’ll find that your training and muscle memory will take over and things will just seem to happen without much thought behind it. Let’s talk about getting off the X.

One of the downsides of training on many public ranges is their prohibition of movement. Not being able to move from side to side, forward and backward, can reduce the effectiveness of our training. While serving in 75th Ranger Regiment, I spent countless hours in a shoot-house with live ammo pre-deployment. I recall one of my team leaders getting after me for simply being stagnant while conducting a reload inside a room. He shouted, “Anyone can hit a target that’s standing still. Move, and get back into the fight!”

Dry-fire practice in your home: Get off the X

Dry-fire practice conducted over countless hours, repetition after repetition, is the framework for building muscle memory. You can never have enough practice, and it doesn’t always have to be done with live ammo. Here’s my advice for an effective and safe dry-fire practice routine:

  • Make sure the weapon is completely unloaded!
  • In a room of your home, tape up a small target against the wall a few feet away. The target can be anything. A one-inch pasty, silhouette, etc.
  • With an empty magazine in the weapon and an empty magazine on your person, lock the slide back to simulate that the weapon is dry.
  • Aim in on the target as if you are engaging it.
  • Now, realizing that the weapon is dry (click), get off of the X.
  • As the empty magazine is released, you should be moving, preferably laterally, or behind some cover.
  • Within the first step or two, the new magazine should be in and the slide sent forward.
  • Engage (still dry-firing, obviously), and repeat getting off the X.