My first post of this year briefly discussed my goal of doing 3,650 minutes of dry practice in 2019. I know these posts probably won’t interest most of you; they are mostly for my own accountability and for tracking my progress. Here are my results to this point in the year:
January 1 – 11: 200 minutes
January 12: 10 minutes
January 13: 0
January 14: 0
January 15: 0
January 16: 0
January 17: 0
January 18: 0
January 19: 0
January 20: 0
January 21: 10 minutes
January 22: 10 minutes, 10 minutes
January 23: 10 minutes
January 24: 10 minutes, 200-round range session
January 25: 10 minutes, 10 minutes
January 26: 10 minutes
January 27: 10 minutes
January 28: 10 minutes, 10 minutes
January 29: 10 minutes
January 30: 10 minutes, 100-round range session
January 31: 10 minutes
Monthly Target: 310 minutes
Monthly Actual: 340 minutes
Cumulative Target: 310 minutes
Cumulative Actual: 340 minutes
I was on vacation from the 12th to the 21st (Iceland and Ireland), so I missed a good chunk of the month. I am happy to report that I got up early enough to get in 10 minutes the morning we left, and had the energy to do 10 minutes the night we got back. In fact, when I got back I was itching to get to work. During the first 12 days of the month I focused on getting the gun out of the holster quickly and getting an accurate first shot. During this second period I maintained that skill but spent most of my energy working on reloads and trigger restraint.
With a semi-auto gun I worked out a fairly efficient system for working slide-lock and “tactical†” reloads (exchanging a partial mag in the gun for a “full” one, and retaining the partial). I could get in 12-16 reps of both in 10 minutes, as well as about twice that many draws. My process went something like this:
- With an empty magazine in the gun, draw.
- At some point, lock the slide to the rear and initiate a slide-lock reload, reloading a full magazine of snap caps.
- Reholster, then retrieve the empty magazine from the floor and stow it in my magazine pouch.
- Draw again (getting another rep of that in).
- Perform a “tactical” reload, putting the empty mag back in the gun and stowing the mag of snap caps in the pouch. This works both reload types, and is a nice, cyclical routine that feeds itself.
I did a couple days of revolver reloads. They aren’t nearly so easy to work. With the revolver I started with an empty cylinder and a full speedloader (of snap caps). I would execute the reload, “fire” any additional shots, and go through my reholstering sequence. Once the gun is reholstered I retrieved the loader and administratively removed the snap caps from the gun, and set the drill up again. This was much more time-consuming and I was only able to get through 10-12 reloads with the revolver in a 10 minute period.
During the first 12 days of this month I logged 200 minutes of dry practice, which equals roughly 800 draws. It also means that for 800 repetitions I pressed the trigger every time I drew the gun. I feel this was valuable practice at learning my new trigger, but I did have one concern. I didn’t want to inextricably tie the acts of drawing and pressing the trigger.
During the most recent portion of the month, I exercised some trigger restraint. That is, I drew the gun and moved my finger to it. Sometimes I would press the trigger, but usually I would not. Each time it was a conscious decision. In coming weeks I will do some specific drills to work trigger movement (especially the Wall Drill with a revolver).
I’d like to come up with an objective standard to track my performance on the range, while also working within the limits of what I can do on the range (single target, par time/turning targets). Currently I’ve been working a couple drills. The first is Dot Torture. At 5 yards I’m still not cleaning it, but coming very close (48 or 49 on a cold run). I will definitely keep working this one.
The other drill I’m using is a simple, single-round drill. From 3 yards, with a par time of __, draw from concealment and fire one shot at a 3×5 card (only hits on the card count). At my first range session of the year I was able to reliably hit the card in around 1.8 seconds. This is already down to 1.5. I doubt I’m going to get massively faster, so I’ll start increasing the distance, with 7 yards/1.5 seconds being my goal.
I’ve also messed around with the FASTest. I can clean it (sometimes) in under 7 seconds, but working it on a turning target/par time isn’t really the way it’s intended to be run. If anyone has ideas for tracking progress, I’m definitely interested!
The Bottom Line
In January I’ve spent 5 hours, 40 minutes working on my firearms skills, outside of range sessions. I did four sessions and fired 800 rounds this month; 650 9mm, 100 .38 Special, 50 .40 S&W. This was a fairly high round-count month for me. Ninety percent of this training was with my carry gun. As a result I feel vastly more confident in my abilities with this firearm. Not only am I cumulatively reinforcing myelinated pathways and automaticity, I am also walking out of my house every day (minus vacation) with recency-of-experience that’s less than 24 hours old. It’s a good feeling.
It’s not hard to find 10 minutes a day to dry practice. Take ten minutes you’d be spending vegging out on Instagram or in front of the TV and turn it into a tangible skill.
†I don’t know if that’s the in-vogue thing to call that type of reload these days, but that’s what I was brought up calling it.