Dry Practice Report #2: January 12 – January 31

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

Focus Areas

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:

  1. With an empty magazine in the gun, draw.
  2. At some point, lock the slide to the rear and initiate a slide-lock reload, reloading a full magazine of snap caps.
  3. Reholster, then retrieve the empty magazine from the floor and stow it in my magazine pouch.
  4. Draw again (getting another rep of that in).
  5. 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.

Trigger Restraint

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).

Lessons Learned

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.

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Author: Justin

Justin Carroll is a former MARSOC Marine and veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Leaving service after eight years in the U.S. Marines, Justin continues his involvement with a variety of government agencies to this day. Justin began RevolverGuy.com in late 2016 with an simple idea: provide an source of high-quality information for revolver enthusiasts.

2 thoughts on “Dry Practice Report #2: January 12 – January 31”

  1. I like your thinking on trigger restraint… I feel like perhaps I will do that several times after any dry fire session, to remind myself not to shoot everyone I draw on.

    1. I think it’s a good idea. A lot of things can happen in the second and a quarter or so it takes me to get the gun out and oriented toward the target.

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