What to Practice

Students often ask what they should dry practice. The answer to that question is not shootin’ more. The fundamentals of marksmanship are important, but a small part of the skills you need to practice. The things you need to work on are moving, communicating, the use cover and thinking – the fundamentals of fighting. The more difficult question is how to practice these skills? The best answer is dry practice.

The equipment for dry practice is minimal and affordable, especially considering the rewards. I highly recommend a “blue” gun, a plastic replica of your type pistol that comes in different colors according to the manufacturer. I use Rings Mfg, which Brownells carries. A functioning weapon can be used, but triple check everything to ensure safety, plus when using a live weapon always have a backstop capable of trapping any rounds if a mistake does occur. You’ll also need dummy ammo, again plastic replicas of live ammo. The “B” has these too - search their site for Saf-T-Trainers. Use your regular carry gear, and if you shootcarry concealed you practice concealed.

During practice I concentrate on slow, smooth, efficient actions, which leads to efficiency. In a confrontation, you can’t let the external circumstances dictate how fast or when you act. The only way to learn how to regulate your speed is through practice, just like with all other skills. Plus, going slow allows you to fine tune and polish the small details, and it is the little things that are so important.

The things I practice most are moving, drawing, and getting to cover. I approach this in a step-by-step sequence. For example I begin by clearing my cover garment, acquiring a proper grip on the pistol and taking one lateral step. All of these separate actions must be initiated at the same time.

Once that sequence is working well I’ll add drawing the pistol, sometimes extending the pistol out to a “low ready” position, muzzle depressed, safety on and finger off the trigger, and some repetitions I punch it out onto target ready to fire. I’ll also do some reps when I stop at a retention firing position, imagining the threat is so close I can’t extend the weapon out. I also start adding more movement, laterally and to the rear.

After performing these actions, and imagining the threat is down or gone, then I scan, checking the area for other threats, family/friends, an exit or better cover, and to break out of the visual “tunnel vision” that may result from stress. After checking the environment I holster, slowly, methodically, and continuing to scan.

I practice moving and drawing a lot, always working from concealment, which is how I carry. These actions need to be programmed into your brain so that under stress they occur at a subconscious level. Threat! You move, draw your weapon, and issue verbal commands. All of this happens at the subconscious level, freeing up the conscious mind to be thinking about what comes next.

Your initial response to a threat should be automatic. This requires a lot of practice. Get started today, so when the time comes you’re ready. ~ Tiger

Tiger McKee
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, located in northern Alabama.  He is the author of “The Book of Two Guns” - http://shootrite.org/book/book.html writes for several firearms/tactical publications, and is featured on GunTalk’s DVD, “Fighting With The 1911 - http://shootrite.org/dvd/dvd.html  McKee’s new book, AR-15 Skills and Drills, is available off Shootrite’s website: http://shootrite.org/AR15SkillsBook/AR15SkillsBook.html